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Is Silence Truly Golden?
This week, we look at some of the recent "'Nuff Said" stories from Marvel Comics
By Tony Whitt
December 19, 2001
Cable undergoes a change of life in the quiet landmark, CABLE #100.
© 2001 Marvel Characters Inc.
Fans have known about it for quite a few months now, but we're now in the thick of Marvel's latest storytelling stunt. A large number of regular issues from their many superhero titles including quite a few omnibus-sized anniversary installments are going silent for one month. Bereft of (almost all) dialogue and captioning of any kind, these issues are telling complete stories in pantomime in an effort to shake things up and boost sales across the line. While some of these offerings are rather ingenious, quite a few others suffer from the loss of verbal content. As is the case with all of these grand experiments, there was bound to be a hit-or-miss quality to the entire affair.
We'll be reviewing quite a few of these individual issues over the course of this week, but let's launch our up-close look at the "'Nuff Said" subseries with two issues that demonstrate both ends of the spectrum an entertaining variation on the norm or a disappointing flop. So, without further ado, we must ask that everyone in the audience remain completely silent for the duration...
Nathan Summers celebrates his landmark 100th issueand makes a startling change. "'Nuff Said"!
Nathan Summers travels to Peru to change the course of a revolution being planned by a group called the Shining Path. If he succeeds, he'll be one step closer to building the bridge between this time period and his ownand perhaps his own time will be more peaceful as a result. Before that can happen, though, he must clear the mutated Techno-Organic virus from his body, a process that may be even more dangerous than inserting himself into a Peruvian revolution...
David Tischman and Igor Kordey quite wisely decide not to make this entire issue a "'Nuff Said" story, and it's a damned good thing, too. Luckily, the portion of this issue that is
"'Nuff Said" material actually works. The only way these stories really work is if the writer and the artist are so completely in sync on the story they're trying to tell that no words, or at least very few, are needed to convey that tale. Obviously Marvel's not willing to take the chance that all their creative teams can do this, so they've included the script for each story at the end of each issue. Or part of it, anywaythe complete script is only available at Marvel.com. Except in the case of CABLE
#100, the script for which, at the time of this writing, is not
available on the website. Good thing that Tischman and Kordey are so in sync that, after those first few teasing pages of the script run out, we don't need the rest, right?
Seriously, though, these two have done the best job I've seen so far this month on a "'Nuff Said" story. Nathan's Askani trance and subsequent self-healing are just the sorts of things that actually can
be rendered without captions or dialogue, and without harming the integrity of the story. Although I gave Kordey a bad rap for his recent work on NEW X-MEN
, his art is perfectly rendered here, bringing to mind an early Steve Ditko. This team definitely knows what they're doing.
The rest of the issue proves this, too, especially the opening story in which Nathan turns the Peruvian revolution to his own purposes. Granted, some of the plot requires the series proposal written by Tischman that is included as another special featureit's a very complex plot, even with the inclusion of dialogue and expository captions. Otherwise, everything is lucid and clear, and the proposal tells us exactly what this new turn in Nathan's life will give us. Well, not everything
, of course.
I hardly thought I'd be saying this about a "'Nuff Said" issue, and especially not about Cable, of whom I'm admittedly not terribly fondbut this is the perfect issue for new readers to start with, especially if you like gritty, real-world type conflicts and want to get away from all the "mutants-as-oppressors-and-oppressed" crap that usually goes on even in the best X-titles. This one isn't one of the best yetbut it'll get there if this issue is anything to go by.
Iron Man and Titanium Man tussle in the silent shroud of space in IRON MAN #49.
© 2001 Marvel Characters Inc.
IRON MAN #49
Silence is golden (and red) in this "'Nuff Said" issue
As Iron Man works on bringing a new Stark Industries communications satellite on-line, the Titanium Man, an old enemy he thought was dead, works on a new plan to take him off-line. After attacking Stark Industries and taking out Tony's launch crew, composed of Pepper, Happy, and Sun Tao, the Russian heads into space for the second part of his missiona battle to be fought in the silence of the vacuum.
By the way, I didn't get any
of that from "reading" the images, which should already tell you whether this "'Nuff Said" book actually did what it's supposed to do. Once again, Marvel's hedging its bets by including the partial script at the end of the issue (with a complete version only accessible online at www.marvel.com). Can you say "marketing ploy," boys and girls? Anyway, the scripts provide a fair clue as to whether the writer and artists are in sync, as well as allowing the reader to see whether the story he perceives was the story that was intended by the creative team. Neither appears to be the case for this issue of IRON MAN
Granted, Frank Tieri's script would be difficult to render in some casesat one point the script calls for Titanium Man to grab the satellite that Iron Man's been working on and hit him with it, something that would have been extremely difficult to render on even a splash page, let alone one panel of a page. The guest artists, Chris Batista and Rich Perotta, wisely choose to ignore this. Unfortunately, they also choose to ignore several other bits that Tieri calls for in favor of filling the page with as many oversized, action-packed panels as possible. Some of these ignored bits are the many computer screen captions that Tieri calls foreven though these are, in a sense, cheating on the "'Nuff Said" concept, they would have elucidated a couple of panels which otherwise make no sense. It also makes absolutely no sense to include the few computer panels and newspaper clippings that feature words here without
including the sound effects onomatopeia that we've come to love so much. Word to the wise, guys: "no words" means just that. If you're going to have the one, you can't have the other. Unfortunately, this team hasn't decided between writer and artists what is permissible and what is not.
Sadly, this lack of synchronization between the members of the creative team leads to a story which, though fast-paced, is frankly difficult to understand unless you read the script at the back. I have no doubt that at least one team will have a bonafide hit this month, but for this group, it's a gimmick that ultimately fails. As we can see, the "'Nuff Said" concept is a clever one, but one that demands a great deal from so many disparate creators that it remains to be seen whether any of these stories will be remembered as "classic" or just a waste of time.
Issue: No. 100
Author(s): David Tischman, Igor Kordey
Issue: No. 49
Author(s): Frank Tieri, Chris Batista, Rich Perotta