Marvel's "Luke Cage" Casts Its Misty Knight
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Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from Avengers West Coast #57, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated April 1990. This scan is from Avengers West Coast: Darker Than Scarlet, the trade that was published in 2008. Enjoy!
John Byrne’s wacky Scarlet Witch saga spawned, unbeknownst to him, a decades’ worth of terrible, terrible stories, and I wonder if these days Byrne sits up in his ivory tower while his nubile Canadian female servants groom his long, flowing beard and clip his toenails and thinks, “Why, WHY did I have Wanda go nutty? DAMN YOU, BENDIS!!!!!” But that’s neither here nor there with regard to the first page of issue #57, is it?
Byrne likes his splash pages, so we get this rather boring splash page that at least has a bit of a cliffhanger on it. Byrne begins with the bad guy holding Hank Pym’s hair and asking if Pym should be killed. Oh dear. Byrne, as an old-school writer, tells us exactly what’s going on: it’s right after issue #56 ended, we’re in a cottage on the AWC compound, the unconscious dude is Henry Pym (Byrne even tells us his various superhero identities), and the speaker is … dum-dum-DUMMMMMMM! That’s the cliffhanger, and I’ll spoil it for you: It’s Quicksilver, who just showed up to join with Crazy Wanda and Evil Magneto.
It’s not a bad beginning, writing-wise, but Byrne’s drawing of Pym is somewhat dull. He’s facing the right way – toward the correct edge of the page, in other words – but he looks rather peaceful, given the fact that Quicksilver just clocked him on the head. Pietro did hit him on the back of the head, though, so maybe that’s it. Paul Ryan’s inks aren’t perfect, as he doesn’t leave Byrne’s smooth lines alone (which is one way to do it, and not a bad one) and he doesn’t go rougher (like some other inkers in this collection, which tends to work quite well). Ryan’s kind of wishy-washy on this page, and so we don’t get the “classic” Byrne look because Ryan uses heavier inks on the cheekbones and around the mouth, but we also don’t get him imposing his will on the page. It’s certainly not terrible, but it could be better. Byrne’s drawing of Pym is strange, too, even though we can’t tell right away. Pym is lying on the ground and Pietro is holding his head up, but notice that it does not look like his torso or neck is bent in any way. It appears that Pym is sitting in a chair, but he’s not. So we don’t realize how off this page looks until we turn the page, and then we see Hank lying on the ground. It’s a bit odd.
So, yeah. This is a pretty dull splash page, but at least Byrne designs it so that we’re constantly moving to the right. That’s about all it has going for it.
Next: October begins with the first reader suggestion, and it’s one of the more famous first pages in comic book history! See other famous first pages in the archives!
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