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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 328: The Brotherhood #5

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from The Brotherhood #5, which was published by Marvel and is cover dated November 2001. Enjoy!

Really?

Back in the Bill Jemas Era, possibly the last great creative era at the Big Two, lots of weird series got their chance, and The Brotherhood was one of them. The buzz around this book was that the writer would be known simply as “X,” and the consensus seems to be that “X” was Howard Mackie, but I guess no one has ever confirmed that. Did this weird situation help the book or hurt it? Beats me, but the comic certainly didn’t last that long. This was during Marvel’s “realistic” era, so this comic was basically the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants without the silly name or the boss costumes. I don’t know. It wasn’t very good, but I liked it. Yes, I suck.

Anyway, this splash page doesn’t really do much, does it. It’s a woman getting a swirlie. Well, okay, we find out she’s not getting a swirlie on the next page – her face is just in a barrel of water – but you thought it was a swirlie, didn’t you? Anyway, “X” doesn’t have much to do on this page, so let’s consider what Manco, Palmiotti, and Avalon Studios do on this page, shall we? It’s almost jarring to see Manco actually drawing something without it being a blatant trace job – he’s better at tracing than some of his peers, but it’s still tracing – and this is a pretty good drawing of a woman whose face is being forced underwater. We can glean a few things from this face – she has a bindi on her forehead, so we can infer that she’s Hindu (although not only Hindus have bindis these days), especially as the colorist makes her skin a bit dusky, implying that she’s South Asian. Manco also puts a collar with a lock on her, implying that she’s not terribly traditional and might be a bit Goth. Just from this drawing, the readers can infer a great deal about Malon (that’s her name). That’s not a bad thing at all. Manco gives her a pinched expression as she keeps her eyes closed tightly, but we also get an open mouth and the bubbles flowing from the corners, because it helps provide context – would we know she’s underwater if not for the bubbles? – and because it helps provide a nice frame for Malon’s face. As Malon is inside a barrel, the credits and the title encircle her, but I imagine that the idea of the credits being a halo had occurred to the designer as well (I imagine that letterer Babcock put the credits where they are, but I’m not sure). While the page might not be that exciting, it is pretty well designed. Plus, when you open a comic and see a woman being drowned, I imagine you want to know how she got into that predicament. Maybe you don’t, but it’s still dramatic!

Man, I miss the Jemas Era. So much weird stuff going on at Marvel!

Next: Is this Joe Rice’s favorite comic EVER? I know that he really hates some of the comics in the archives!

4 Comments

Ah, I remember Brotherhood being fascinating. Maybe not exactly good but fascinating.
Though of course this was also the time when I was giving up on reading the pamphlet format so I have only sporadic issues of this series, and I don’t think this issue was one of them.

Howard Mackie has said numerous times that he was not the writer “X” on The Brotherhood, he had already been more-or-less blacklisted by Marvel at that point (right when Mutant X was cancelled).

Also, I’ve been a fan of Leonardo Manco’s artwork since his days on Hellstorm, and I’ve never had the impression that he’s a “tracer”. If he is, he’s a god damn AWESOME tracer, especially compared to others like Greg Land and Salvador Larroca.

Chris: Fair enough about Mackie. I just know that was the big rumor back in the day.

And have you seen Manco’s work recently? I agree, he’s a very good artist when he draws stuff, but recently, he’s been using celebrity likenesses a lot more in his artwork, and while “tracing” might be pushing it, he’s been using Photoshop quite a lot. I like his older art a LOT more.

The last work of Manco’s that I remember seeing was his Hellblazer run with Carey, Mina, and Diggle. He did change his artstyle pretty drastically at the run’s end, it was like he suddenly switched back to the sketchy, loose style he used when he first entered the business with Hellstorm.

If he’s been using celebrity likenesses in his recent stuff, yeah, I’m in agreement with you there. I hated it when Salvador Larroca started to put celebrities in his work (like Newuniversal, god that was awful) and I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t look any better coming from Manco. Seeing a recognizable “real person’s” face in a comic immediately ejects me from the story, its so out of place and jarring that it turns me off of the comic as a whole. S’why I don’t buy books from Greg Land or Bryan Hitch anymore.

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