Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Marvel Noir: Marvelous detectives?

With its recent advertising campaign for the December-launching Marvel Noir line, the House of Ideas drove even average comic fans crazy trying to figure out what series or event the posters were promoting. Was it another Secret Invasion-size event? Was an A-list character getting a reboot? Was a fan-favorite writer returning to Marvel?

"Every time one would come out, the comic book Web sites would go nuts with people trying to figure out what's going on," remembered Dennis Calero, artist and co-creator of X Men Noir and the posters in question. "Some people were saying it was Frank Miller coming back to Marvel and doing X-Men like Sin City, which isn't too far off from what we're trying to do."

Marvel Noir began as a series of similar pitches by different creators: David Hine (Silent War) and Fabrice Sapolsky, editor of the French magazine Comic Box, developed an idea for Spider-Man Noir while Fred Van Lente (Incredible Hercules) and Calero (X-Factor) went a little uncanny with X-Men. X Men Noir displaces versions of Marvel's premier group of mutants into a 1930s world ripe with corruption and distrust, much like any great noir story. As powerless vigilantes, the X-Men of this world serve more as realistic analogues of their 616 Universe counterparts, such as the sharp-shooting Cyclops, the diamond thief Iceman or a certain life-stealing Southern belle.

Of the three series: X-MEN NOIR, SPIDER-MAN NOIR and DAREDEVIL NOIR, the Man Without Fear has always strayed closer to the realm of the hard-boiled than the others.

"No doubt, DAREDEVIL has always tipped its hat to the noir tradition and its aesthetic," the editor acknowledges. "With this series, writer Alexander Irvine and artist Tomm Coker push it even further."

"The core question it asks is, how would things have been different if Matt Murdock were to have become Daredevil in the crucible of the 'roaring '30s?'" Alonso goes on. "What road would he have traveled if, say, the option of becoming a lawyer had been taken off the table? Would he have adhered to the same personal code? Indeed, given the type of hoods who ran rampant in Hell's Kitchen during that time, would he have been able to?" Besides ol'Hornhead, Alonso promises that fans can also expect to see noir-ified versions of "Foggy Nelson, Wilson Fisk, the Owl and Bullseye."

As a fan of old-time gangster movies and gritty cop characters, I am more than enthused about these series.

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