CAPSULE REVIEWS: Nick Fury #1 & Black Bolt #1 (Marvel)

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

This time around I’m going to try a new format where I combine a couple of brief reviews into a single post.  As with all opinions of artistic offerings, your mileage may vary.

Nick Fury #1
Rating: 3.5/5 – Sparse Story with Over-Designed Art
I can understand if someone loves this, but to me it felt vastly over-designed on the art side (with artist Aco trying WAY too hard to be Jim Steranko) and too little story content (by James Robinson). When I mentioned to Shawn that the artwork was over-designed, he replied that he liked the art but felt the story was generic, the Nick Fury character seeming like he could have been anybody.  I think because the characters were not driving the story, the art and the page design took center stage with everything else feeling like elements being carried along on the page.  There seemed to be 6-8 pages of actual story in the issue spread out across 3 times as many pages.  I didn’t dislike the art, but it really overshadowed the story and made the whole read seem like something not worth $3.99 to me.

This is a book I will definitely not be returning to.  The art, while beautiful, for me worked against the storytelling which itself moved too slowly to get me hooked on the series.  Maybe I’ll give it a try again if I find issues in a $1 bin down the line, but it’s not getting full price support from me.

Black Bolt #1
Rating: 3/5 – Black Bolt Gets the “Moon Knight” Treatment
This is both long time Marvel character Black Bolt’s first solo series and Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer Saladin Ahmed’s first comic.  I’ve never read Ahmed’s prose fiction, and he seems to be an accomplished author, his 2012 book Throne of the Crescent Moon was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. To me, this felt like reading Moon Knight #1 from 2006, written by Charlie Huston (also a novelist fresh to comics, at that time).  The pacing didn’t feel right for a single issue comic.  Pages are used setting mood via repetitive phrasing that would feel perfect for setting the stage when it’s a few repeated paragraphs in a 25 page prose chapter that flows seamlessly into Chapter 2 of the novel. It didn’t work nearly as well for me when it was the first 4 pages of a 20 page comic book with a month long wait for issue 2.  I didn’t feel like a whole lot of forward motion was achieved in this issue, but I suspect it will read much better as the first chapter in the inevitable collected edition.  There is also a “what is real and what is not?” sub-text flowing through the book enhanced to some degree by the somewhat abstract nature of Christian Ward’s art.  Nothing felt grounded, the “let’s have some action” interlude with Crusher Creel inserted in the middle of the book felt out of place given the surrealistic nature of what came before and after it.

Ultimately, I think Ahmed will make a fine comic book writer if he can get a handle at pacing stories that will work for both monthly installments and the collected editions.  I definitely didn’t think I got a satisfying chunk of story in this issue, and would recommend this as a “wait for the trade” series.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
) By Fans who Love Comics for Fans who Love Comics

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