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 artwork on a single comic book story. Today’s artist is Marshall Rogers, and the issue is Scorpio Rose #2, which was published by Eclipse and is cover dated November 1983. This scan is from the Coyote trade paperback, which was published by Image in 2005. Enjoy!
Rogers worked with Steve Englehart again on Coyote and Scorpio Rose in the early 1980s, even though issue #3 of the latter series never came out, due to Rogers getting involved in some “non-comics situations” that delayed him, according to Englehart. But we got two issues, and I want to check out the second one, as we’ll see some evolution in Rogers’s style from the past two days.
Scorpio Rose is a Tarot card reader who, it turns out, is 400 years old. When she was a Gypsy in the Carpathian Mountains back in the 1500s, she was raped by a demon, which tore away part of her soul and condemned her to eternal life. Now the demon is back, living inside the human form of a dude named Igor Gravesend (now THAT’S a name!), and Rose escapes to another dimension. There she meets Zachariasz, whom she was supposed to marry 400 years earlier before the demon ripped his throat out. Well, that has to suck. Zachariasz’s soul went to the other dimension, however, and that’s where Rose finds him. All he wants to do, apparently, is reach “Hecate,” where he will dissipate. That’s where we pick up the story, as Rose accompanies him toward Hecate, where she hopes to find some answers about the demon.
Rogers is inked here by Tom Palmer and painted by Joe D’Esposito, and on this page, it’s lovely work. Palmer’s thick lines and D’Esposito’s lush colors really help create a nice scene. The pink sky, the orange leaves, and the red trees add a sheen of nostalgia to the scene, while blue-skinned Zachariasz stands out. Rogers, once again keeping his mind toward fashion, puts Rose in a leotard and long leg warmers. She looks like she could be an extra in an Olivia Newton-John video.
Rogers choreographs a nice chase here, as the “fiend” tries to track down Rose, but she manages to escape him at the last second. The black really works here, as it hides a lot of Rose as she runs, so that parts of her are negative space, engulfing the rest of her. Rogers links the fiend and Rose in Panel 1 through the fiend’s laughter, which leads our eyes from the background to the foreground. In Panels 2-4, Rogers switches to a frontal view, as Rose runs toward the reader, heightening the feeling of danger, as she’s leading the fiend toward us as well. Notice the way he draws Rose in Panel 3, for instance. It appears that his lines aren’t quite as crisp as they were in the earlier examples from the past few days. I’m not sure if that Rogers or Palmer’s heavy inks – I have never been a big fan of Palmer’s inks, and that’s the case here. If it’s Rogers, I’m not sure how to explain it, but if it’s just that Palmer is inking him too heavily, it’s unfortunate. Palmer’s heavy lines do make the fiend look more fiendish, which is nice, but it still seems like he makes Rose look a bit too brutish.
Zachariasz escapes the fiend, but he’s in bad shape, so Rose comforts him. Rogers gets rid of solid lines as panel borders, which adds a bit of softness to the scene, which is what he’s going for. One thing we notice is that Rose looks a bit more awkward than the artwork we’ve seen the past two days – she’s kneeling on the ground, so she’s not moving, but Rogers seems to pose her more stiffly than we’ve seen. Perhaps it’s Palmer’s inking again, as it remains fairly heavy, but Rose still looks awkward. The close-up of her face as she begins to cry is done well – Palmer’s thick lines add good definition to her hair, and D’Esposito’s coloring and shading helps create the mood of despair that fits the scene. It’s a bit difficult to take Rose seriously with those leg warmers, but such is life!
I’m not entirely sure why Lorelei has blue-ish skin, as no one remarks on it in this issue. She claims to be centuries old and she claims that she mated with an alien, but it’s never clear what she is, exactly. I imagine that would have come out in issue #3, had that ever seen print. As nicely as Rogers draws Lorelei, I noticed again that Igor is sitting rather stiffly, and I don’t know why. However, Rogers does draw a beautiful Lorelei, and Palmer leaves her alone for the most part, which makes her stand out among the heavier inks around her. We can see the production values on this comic, as D’Esposito does a wonderful job with the paints in Panel 3 and Panel 6, making the steam rising from Lorelei’s cup a beautiful fog, obscuring half of her face in the first panel and her eyes in the second panel, turning a simple cup of tea into a mysterious cover. It’s a nice touch.
It’s hard to explain the difference between these pencils and the art we saw in the previous two days of Rogers’s work. It’s still clearly Rogers, but it just looks a bit stiffer, as if he’s lost some of the fluidity that made his work on Detective and Detectives Inc. so dynamic. Tomorrow we’ll move forward a few years and check out some of his artwork from when he was clearly doing something different. Maybe I’ll be able to suss it out then! Until then, there are the archives to peruse!
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