June 19, 2009

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Marvel Romance Redux

Re-Written by Jeff Parker, Roger Langridge, Jimmy Palmiotti, Keith Giffen, Peter David, Kyle Baker, and others
Illustrated by John Buscema, John Romita, Sr., Jack Kirby, Dick Giordano, Gene Colan, Jim Starlin, Don Heck, and a heck of lot of others
Original plots frequently by Smilin' Stan Lee or Jack Kirby
Marvel

Shortly after I finished the Boom parody book, I started on this one from Marvel. Again, this is current writers putting words in the mouths of old comics, though this time it's from the Mighty Marvel Bullpen, back when they were still writing and drawing romance comics.

And let me tell you, Jack Kirby doing romance comics is something you need to get this anthology for alone. Only the King would do "Kirby Close-Ups" in something as stylistically bland as a romance comic.

Before I talk about the writing, I do want to get into the art. Joke all you want about the subject matter, John Romita Sr., Dick Giordano, and Gene Colan could sure draw pretty comic book women. Buscema and Kirby are kinda out of the element here, but the page layouts are awesome. And I mean, really--Jim Starlin doing a romance comic? Is that why Thanos lusts constantly over Death?

It all sort of makes sense now.

I have to admit, I liked this set of stories a bit better than the others. This is probably because there were more writers involved (I only named my personal favorites up top) so it didn't have quite that feel of same-ness. It doesn't hurt that in addition to Giffen, Peter David and Jeff Parker are added to the mix, and both end up with the best stories in the collection, and Langridge clearly has the chops, based on what I've heard about his Muppet Show book and the Fin Fang Four stories.

That's not to say the rest are too shabby, it's just that it's hard to argue with the pitch-perfect comedic stylings of David, who does everything from bringing Patsy Walker's hero continuity into her romance comics to pointing out the various artistic mistakes to telling us how god-awful Stan Lee's original story was. Seemingly the longest in the collection and full of little gags, it's the shining star in the collection.

Other notable fun include Jeff Parker creating "President Stripper" and a Men in Black style parody where romantic aliens threaten the earth (aliens seemed to be a favored theme) while Jimmy Palmiotti riffs on comic book fanboys and social conventions that are out of place today.

This was also a better outing, in my opinion, for Giffen, as his story of hot hitwomen uses the original story in a totally convaluted and Giffen-y way. His other story is not quite as good, but the idea of a distracted secret agent is still pretty funny.

All in all, the humour here is definitely more in line with my style. Perhaps because Marvel required "cleaner" jokes or perhaps it was just a different crowd, there was definitely a stronger dose of the cerebral, as the writers gave this more of a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 feel instead of a Saturday Night Live aura.

As I said with "What Were They Thinking?!", your enjoyment of this will vary depending on your funny bone. I think either way, there's a lot here to be enjoyed, but don't rush it if you can help it. Because I had to make sure I got this one back, I sped through things a bit more than I would have liked.

Riffing on old comics is a lot of fun, and you can tell everyone involved enjoyed it. I do wish Marvel had given Stan and John a chance to re-do at least one of their old stories, though. Maybe next time...