Chris Claremont Anniversery Special #1
Celebrate Chris Claremont’s enormous impact on your favorite Marvel comics of the past five decades with an all-new story! Dani Moonstar is drafted for a mission across time and space for an incredible psychic showdown against the Shadow King—joining forces with characters created and defined by the pen of Chris Claremont!
Review by Duna Haller & Gabriel De Jesus
Two of the main virtues in Chris Claremont’s storytelling work are the strength his stories entangle by themselves (even taking apart issue by issue or with short arcs), and the fundamental role they have played in shaping the broader Marvel universe, with deeply defined and complex characters, backgrounds and relationships. In this Anniversary Special, Claremont shines the focus on said broader universe, using Danielle Moonstar’s journey to become a Valkyrie as a pivotal point of view for revisiting some of the defining stories and characters he created or has shaped significantly, like Binary/Captain Marvel, X-Men like Gambit and Storm, the Fantastic Four, Dark Phoenix for a brief cameo, and, most prominently, Hela and the Shadow King.
This comic has a full plate and a coarse way of putting the ingredients together. The transition between scenes, and the premise itself, help towards a disjointed feeling in the narrative: Hela puts a test to Danielle Moonstar, and that test connects via undefined magical/time stuff with some of the historical moments of Claremont’s career all over the board, reenacted by different artists and introducing Dani on the picture one way or another. By the structure and raw premise, this issue loses one of the perks we are used to in Claremont’s writing: the story, by itself and without the whole body of references from different eras and runs, falls apart and gets messy. Dani’s legacy and strength gets highlighted by the end of the issue, but, with all the disjointed moving parts around it, it feels difficult to connect with the core of what that strength and Hela’s recognizance of her truly means.
One thing this issue definitely is, is visually astounding. Bill Sienkiewicz’s digital art is intriguing, with a watercolor like coloring, an artistic and sinuous approach to comic medium and filled with symbolism. It is as visually impacting and emotionally charged as his old art, but absolutely reinvented and with notorious growth to it, and it fits super well with bookends of the story, filling with visual symbolism what narratively is lacking at times.
The pages in between are drawn beautifully by Sean Chen, Diego Oloreugui, and Brett Booth on pencils with Marc Seering, Roberto, Poggi, and Adelso Corona on inks.. With so much material to cover, the changing artists are the primary clue to the transitions in each story Each artist pulls style and design cues from the era their segment is referencing. The colors by Chris Sotmayor, Rachelle Rosenberg, Erick Arginiega and Guru-eFX flow together to provide a consistency to the story while also showing a progression, with each of the three middle stories growing darker. Tom Orzechowski’s lettering is the ice on the cake of the art, with lettering that adjusts perfectly to sudden narrative and visual changes, and that places highlighting just where it’s needed.
The Chris Claremont Anniversary Special has a clear objective of revisiting and honoring the work of an iconic writer, which it does a good job of doing. However its value to a reader may likely be determined by the familiarity of Claremont’s body of work. The end result is narratively disjointed, self-referential to the core and at times lost in its remembrance of greatness and creates a barrier to newer readers., However, the gorgeous art and coloring highlight some of the most interesting ideas and its relationship to Claremont’s defining body of work.
Chris Claremont Anniversary Special: Lost Down Memory Lane
Writing - 5/10
Storyline - 4.5/10
Art - 8.5/10
Color - 9/10
Cover Art - 7/10
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