Kris Justice

Agents of Atlas 6 (March 2007)

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Parker ends Agents of Atlas with M-11. It’s very appropriate since he’s been the biggest mystery of the series and to the team members. There’s something incredibly tragic and beautiful about the character; Parker goes for it and succeeds.

It’s too bad M-11 couldn’t carry a limited of his own.

The issue itself, setting Jimmy and the team up as Atlas, is a talking heads book. There’s action and layered narrative, so it doesn’t seem like a talking heads book… but it is one.

The big surprise is a surprise, even with the hints, the main one–which would have occurred in the original adventures of the team–isn’t present. Parker constructs not just a great ending and perfect setup for future issues, he creates a space where he can just let the characters talk to each other.

It’s a fantastic issue, a perfect close to the limited series and even more.

CREDITS

The Master Plan; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 5 (February 2007)

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And here again, Parker does the improbable. The issue has a relatively short present action, something like a half hour. Maybe a little more, but the big part of then issue isn’t long, as watched on a clock. Well, actually I’m wrong–it’s indeterminate.

Parker sticks with Derek as a narrator, which brings–I’m realizing for the first time–the human angle. Jimmy’s the only other regular person, but he’s too extraordinary to be a good narrator. Instead, Derek–already an outsider since he’s from Wakanda–provides a great perspective; he’s earnest, not at all naive, and human. It’s through Derek’s narration, the reader gets to see why this team is so spectacular. He even talks about it if they aren’t paying enough attention.

Oh, I haven’t gotten to the more issue specific plotting stuff. Parker fits the redemption of one character and the secret origin of another and a big fight scene in here.

CREDITS

The People’s Leader; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 4 (January 2007)

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Oh, Jeff Parker, how I love thee.

This issue–this modern Marvel comic book–takes place over a week. Maybe even a few days more than a week. Parker resolves the previous issue’s cliffhanger, brings in a new character, has two big action sequences and has time for character development and a bunch of summary action scenes.

Derek narrates the issue, bringing a bunch of humor to it, but Parker also uses his narration to move certain story aspects along. For instance, SHIELD is now involved with the team’s activities, but we never have to see them because Parker is using summary storytelling–and the narration–so well.

The titular Atlas organization finally shows up, for real, this issue too. So Parker spent about half the series getting the team together. And now he’s going to finish the story in just two more issues.

It’s so nice watching his masterful plotting.

Just a treat.

CREDITS

Return of the Queen; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 3 (December 2006)

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After opening with a nice fight scene–it starts with just Jimmy, then brings everyone in–the issue moves to some Atlas investigating. The book’s title still doesn’t make any sense in the context of the content, which is kind of awesome. I wish I remembered what I thought it meant at this point during my first reading.

This issue features the most elaborate flashback so far, as Bob tells everyone his recent history. I think it runs for five pages and they’re just these magnificent summary pages. Kirk handles them beautifully, though it takes a while to catch on the flashback projection means all the characters listening will somehow appear in the flashback.

Parker also starts the M-11 stuff here. At this point, the robot has said more off the page than during any issue. I really wish Parker would get to do an M-11 limited series.

CREDITS

The Dream Team; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 2 (November 2006)

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Derek, the SHIELD agent, narrates this issue. The result is a more procedural issue, like Parker is trying to keep the reader a few steps removed from the principle characters. He does it a few times, more obviously, in the narrative, like when Venus says hello to a changed Bob.

A little about the art. I like Leonard Kirk; I like his superhero stuff. He does a good job on this issue and the series so far, but one of the things about coming back to it after Parker’s gone on with the series–it’s clear Kirk isn’t the ideal fit. He’s really good and I’d never be making this comment if I were fresh to Atlas, but here we are.

He doesn’t, for example, get Venus. She doesn’t have the right mix of sexuality and innocence.

Parker ends on a nice cliffhanger, closing a perfectly paced issue. It’s simply wonderful.

CREDITS

Building the Army; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Agents of Atlas 1 (October 2006)

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Coming back to the first Atlas series is a bigger treat than I thought it would be. I don’t remember much about it, but I certainly didn’t remember Parker uses Gorilla Man as the narrator for the first issue. It’s a nice entry to the setup because–strangely enough–Ken is the most human member of the team. His recollections make this issue immediately distinct, even before the second or third page, when he’s revealed as Gorilla Man.

But Parker also sets up the mystery really well. I’d forgotten most of that aspect too–SHIELD is trying to figure out what old man Jimmy is up to with the Atlas Organization–and the way Parker weaves it all together is very nice. It’s not revolutionary, but it is nice.

Where Atlas is singular–and it even starts this issue–is the tone. It’s never played for laughs or meant to be light, but it’s always fun.

CREDITS

The Golden History; writer, Jeff Parker; penciller, Leonard Kirk; inker, Kris Justice; colorist, Michelle Madsen; letterer, Dave Lanphear; editors, Nathan Cosby and Mark Paniccia; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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