Tuesday, February 2, 2010

First Look at John Romita Jr. on Avengers

Marvel is starting to pull out all the stops as it hypes the upcoming Heroic Age event that will see Marvel return to its classic roots beginning with the relaunch of Avengers. The latest bit of news from the House of Ideas: artist John Romita Jr. will be joining writer Brian Michael Bendis to form the creative team for Avengers when it reboots this May.

Before we get into the commentary too much, here's a look at the first bit of promo art from Romita Jr., courtesy of Marvel (and, as always, click on the picture for a bigger version):

So, what does this mean for Earth's Mightiest Heroes? Well, from my point of view, that will depend greatly on who will be inking Romita Jr., a detail Marvel has yet to announce. There's no question that Romita Jr. has the chops to pull this off, as he has been one of the steadiest and most reliable artists in the Marvel stable for the past three decades. Actually, steady and reliable don't really do him justice, as he has a unique style that, at its best, calls back to classic artists like Kirby and Steranko while still being uniquely specific to Romita Jr.

The only issue with JR Jr, really, is that style, which in the wrong inking hands can become perhaps too stylized. When inked with bold blacks instead of the tiny crosshatchings he seems to favor, JR Jr's art really takes off; but when it gets to sketchy, it loses its power for me. This bit of promo art is actually one of the sharpest JR Jr pieces I've seen in recent years (not that I can claim to have been following him too closely); if the finished product on Avengers is done in this style, then I for one think this is a great move, as this depiction of the new Captain America is particularly sharp.

Whether or not Bendis and Romita Jr. form a good working team, of course, is something that is more difficult to predict, but for now, anyway, this seems like a good start towards giving the new Avengers book a strong foundation.

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