GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Marvel 'Battle Scares #1' Comic Review | I Smell Sheep

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Marvel 'Battle Scares #1' Comic Review

Writer: Chris Yost, Matt Fraction, Cullen Bunn

Artist: Scot Eaton


Army Ranger Marcus Johnson is hip deep in fear and death in Afghanistan when the Fear Itself mega-event hits the Marvel U. Returning home due to the death of his mother nothing is as cut and dried as it seems. Marcus is a wanted man, there's a mystery over his mothers 'supposed' murder and both Marvel's baddest Merc's and the toughest super's are after Marcus, but why? What exactly is the mystery of Marcus Johnson and how could he tear the Marvel Universe apart?


The silhouetted form of Marcus Johnson has been hinted at as a big noise from Marvel for some time now. Pimped as a major status quo shaking character Johnson is being billed as a Rick Jones for a new Generation. Where Jones was the psychedelic Everyman for the stoner generation, Johnson seems to be the exact opposite. The disenfranchised patriot coming home to a dead mother and a country plagued by powers and recession. A country he's spilled blood, sweat and tears for on the dusty plains of Taliban occupied Afghanistan.

According to writer Chris Yost: During Fear Itself "a very bad person learned a very big secret. The very bad person then used the insanity of the Serpent's attacks as cover to kill a school teacher in Atlanta, Georgia. It seems like not such a big thing, but it sets everything into motion." and that school teacher was Marcus Johnson's mother. In what is Being set up as the biggest secret of the Marvel U, it was pretty important that this story delivered some damn solid foundations and a gripping opener. To Yost and plotting wunderkinds Fraction and Bunn's credit, they have done just that.

This story sets up the all important Marcus Johnson, a non powered man, albeit bad-ass soldier as a real life figure set within extraordinary surroundings. The opening if Afghanistan is a great lead into the home front mystery and tells us everything we need to know about Johnson in the first few panels. He's a Ranger, he's cool under fire and in the face of insurmountable odds he will not quit. This may be romanticising the concept, but alas this is fiction and where a grittier writer like Ennis or Bendis say, might have jumped the internal monologue and balls to the wall heroics in favour of something less grandiose, it works here and makes the new kid on the block seem dangerous but fallible, vulnerable to the incredible circumstances he'll come to find himself in.

When the mystery begins it gets straight to the point. Captain America's in on it, something clandestine is going on behind the scenes and Johnson is no sooner done grieving than he's plunged into life or death scenarios with some by the throat action. Scott Eaton's pencils are clean if not slightly unremarkable. This is serviceable art that doesn't overwhelm the story, which here is the main focus.

With the characters introduced and the mystery primed this is exactly what you want from a first issue, with more than enough questions and promises of high concept action to draw you back for a second. I found I instantly like Marcus as a character, injected with just the right amount of balls, empathy and a genuine modernity that a lot of contemporary heroes lack. Johnson is a man of his times and right now he might be the most relevant character being written by Marvel.

Not just because he's a Ranger serving in a war that has been raging for the last decade plus, but because unlike so many other old-school capes, he's ethnically relevant to a generation of Black American's. A generation who are coming back to comics now primarily due to the likes of New Ultimate Spidey Miles Morales, but also the big screen Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) and characters like Luke Cage heading high profile super-teams like The New Avengers.

Where Rick Jones was the Everyman for a generation of post war kids dropping acid and listening to The Kinks, Marcus Johnson is a man who's seen the real demons of battle during war time and returned to a country that doesn't necessarily represent what he went to war for. His journey while a fictional one is very relevant and very real.

Running parallel to Yost, Fraction and Bunn's other brainchild Fear Itself: The Fearless, this is a book that will not only redefine the Marvel U, but reshape it in the coming year. The real question though it just who exactly is Marcus Johnson? What is his place in the Marvel U and what is the mystery that's so big it's being billed as the daddy of all Marvel Mysteries?

I'll definitely be sticking around to find out.


By: Mark McCann

For more comic reviews check out Bad Haven.


  1. I will admit that I am still on the fence about the graphic novels. I do love the artwork, but think my son would really appreciate this one :)

  2. Definitely want to know where they are going with this, sorry to say.

  3. Definitely want to know where they are going with this, sorry to say.