Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from WildC.A.T.s/X-Men: The Golden Age, which was published by Image and Marvel and is cover dated February 1997. This scan is from the WildC.A.T.s/X-Men trade paperback, which was published in December 1998. Enjoy!
I LOVE this trade paperback. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. We get a bunch of creators killing it on these stories, and the first issue is Scott Lobdell and Travis Charest (back when he actually, you know, drew more than a panel a month), with “WildStorm FX” on colors, while Richard Starkings and Dave Lanphear lettered it (although I don’t know who did this page).
Let’s consider this glorious page (okay, it’s not too glorious, but still, it’s keen). Lobdell sets up the scene perfectly well – the first word in the book is “uncanny,” which is cool because it certainly fits, and then “Eikert” exposits a bit – a long-time reader knows that Logan is pretty much immortal, but perhaps somebody doesn’t, so Eikert’s statement gives us some background. Lobdell does a decent job on this first page giving us some background about the plot – Logan has stolen something from the Nazis, and bullets don’t faze our hero one tiny bit. That’s always nice to know.
Charest is phenomenal, which isn’t surprising. As with many comics, the first panel is an exterior shot establishing the location and the time frame (if “The Golden Age” didn’t clue you in), as we see the Eiffel Tower and a Nazi soldier. We might not know that dude’s a Nazi, but the helmet has a fine Teutonic feel to it, and of course we quickly see the Nazi emblem in the background next to the panel. The word balloon leads us across that background “panel” to Panel 2, where Charest introduces Eikert. Yes, there’s a ton of cross-hatching, but Charest uses it to shade his face well – we don’t see his eyes, which is nice, and although he’s clean-shaven, the hatching gives his face a bit of a sinister mien. Charest closes in on Logan’s face, and there’s even more cross-hatching, but Charest contrasts Logan’s rugged face with Eikert’s polished veneer. We don’t see Eikert’s eye brows, and Logan’s are big and bushy. Eikert’s face is chiseled, while Logan’s is a bit craggy. And, of course, Logan is smoking.
In Panel 4, Eikert’s face is even more shaded, foreshadowing the moment later in the issue when he turns into a Daemonite. His eyes are black and he’s smirking slightly, which is awfully creepy. Of course, Hauptmann is firing to the right of the panel, leading our eyes that way. Charest draws Eikert on the left, and the word balloons revolve around Hauptmann’s head, drawing our eye toward it and then down to the rifle. In Panel 5, Charest drops the ball slightly – shouldn’t those bullets actually hit Logan? It looks like they all miss. That’s very strange. Anyway, the way we read a panel means we see the word balloon and move both down and to the right, so we see Logan smoking, but the smoke also draws our eye to the open and empty safe underneath the word balloon. Obviously, Lobdell has clued us in to the fact that Logan has stolen something, but Charest makes sure to put the safe in there, which is nice. I’m still really unsure what’s happening on the right side of the panel – what are the bullets hitting, and where is the smoke in the upper right coming from? Odd. The coloring on the page – and in the issue itself – is neat, because it’s mainly black and white with those touches of sepia, so there’s the olde-tymey feel to the book, while the starkness of the coloring allows us to see every line that Charest draws. It’s a good choice – Charest’s artwork in color is good, but in black and white with minor coloring, it’s stupendous. (And, if you’re wondering, some of the books on the shelf are Tale of the Body Thief by Anne Rice; The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby and The Pump House Gang, both by Tom Wolfe; and Green Eggs and Ham – the Absolute Edition, apparently, because it’s gigantic. So there you go.)
I don’t know if this trade is still in print, but it’s awesome. Lobdell and Jim Lee do the Silver Age story, James Robinson and Adam Hughes do the Modern Age one, and Warren Ellis and Mat Broome do the Dark Age story. They’re all excellent. Trust me!
You know that I’m going to tell you that there’s still time to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and suggest a first page you’d like to see in October! Soon it will be too late, and then you’ll cry! See if you don’t!
Next: I cheat again, because it’s a very special day and I knew exactly what comic I wanted to feature. It’s not the best first page, but it’s still one of the funniest comic books I’ve ever read! Find more funny comics in the archives!
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