Monday, September 2, 2013

Issue Review: Miss Fury 1

The story begins with a battle on a museum rooftop between Miss Fury and some Nazi agents, but one of them tells her that he can travel in time.  An OSS agent, Harmon, saves her from the time-traveling Nazi, but when she looks through the museum skylight at a jeweled crown, the skylight smashes, and she falls down into a glowing machine that then teleports her to 2013 Manhattan.  From this point on Fury keeps switching every few pages from one time to the other, first the 1940s, then 2013, then back to the 1940s.  In the 1940s, she plans to steal the jeweled crown. She flashes back to when she got her powers, during a magic ritual in Africa, and to the word on the ship back home that her father died. Then at the museum party, as she scopes the place out to steal the crown, the time-traveling Nazi touches her, and she ends up back in 2013, with modernized Nazi warplanes bombing New York.

This is a story that, because of the time travel, could have been a confusing mess, but is written well enough that we can follow it.  We're not sure exactly what is causing the time travel, but the narration by Miss Fury assists us with keeping our bearings.  By the end of the first issue we know that the Nazis are trying to use time travel to conquer America, that the Nazi agent from the beginning of the story is behind it all, and that Miss Fury is switching in time between at least two periods 70 years apart -- 1943 and 2013.  The story is non-linear, so exactly what she's doing on the rooftop is unclear at first, though by the end it seems to be related to the jeweled crown.  Whether she was planning a simple heist or something else brought her to the rooftop is not yet clear by the end of this issue.

On thing I greatly enjoyed about this first issue was that it completely explains the origin of Miss Fury in four pages.  Presenting an origin this concisely in the very first issue has become passe -- these days, origins can take whole story arcs to tell, and sometimes aren't shown fully even then.  I like that Rob Williams showed us everything we need to know about her origins right up front in the middle of issue one. As an added bonus, the flashback was handled very deftly - no easy task with it coming in between scenes that keep flipping between 2013 and 1943.

The characterization of Miss Fury/Marla Drake in this issue is also quite strong.  She's very human and believable, while still being a bit over the top.  Striking that balance is not easy, but Williams does it very well.  Her dialogue is fun to read -- she's intelligent, a little bit sassy, and has a diamond-hard core. I definitely found myself liking her in this issue.

The art by Jack Herbert is also first-rate.  His layouts are original and creative without being distracting.  He does a good job with both action scenes and quiet personal interaction moments.  And the way he draws Marla/Miss Fury's face is absolutely gorgeous. She looks like a glamorous 1940s movie star such as Rita Hayworth or Ingrid Bergman. Herbert's backgrounds are full of wonderful detail, and his final full-page spread of New York being attacked by Nazi bomber planes is priceless.

Overall, this was a strong first issue and definitely made me want to read more.  My only real criticism is about the gratuitous bloody sex scene and "nearly naked" shots of Marla in the tub. Those really are not necessary -- they add nothing to the story and are clearly just there for the titillation factor. I understand that titillation sells comics, and in a weaker story I could see it being needed to make a few sales. But I don't think these were necessary here, when the rest of the story was strong enough to carry the book, and the art was so good in general.  However, that's a minor beef, and otherwise this is a very solid comic-book.

My score: 8/10

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