Marvel Presents (#1 – 2) – John Warner

1 out of 5

The origin (sorta kinda) and first appearance of Ulysses S. Bloodstone, poorly-defined immortal.

It’s never a good sign when your origin story requires a post-script to explain it. To be fair to writer John Warner, he cops to this in that post-script, but explains that scheduling hijinx prevented the tale from rolling out at the expected pace, leaving him to fill in a conclusion for this supposed-to-be-longer tale, with some details that couldn’t make it relegated to the cutting floor. And, also in fairness, the plans for something more complex are visible, in the vaguely Lovecraftian powers from beyond that energize the bloodstone and gift a caveman super powers and longevity; that is, I’ll allow that there’s definitely a good comic book story somewhere in here. But, uf da, is it poorly told. And whether that poor telling extended to a poorly detailed script, or whether the 3-artists-in-2-issues were just rushed, the art is pretty shaky, not only technically – clunky foreshortening; unclear sense of space; unfollowable action – but also in how it connects to the narration, with what’s happening sometimes seeming far away from what we’re told is happening.

Warner is firstly overly poetic – taking a page or so of flowery language before any of what he’s babbling on about has any context – and then sinfully forceful in a lot of telling versus showing: characters announcing their full names and what-they-do-and-what-they-think; Ulysses whole backstory told via mind-linked flashback that occurs literally mid-battle, halting any sense of urgency, given that it lasts for, like, the entire issue. And then there’s just the general lack of focus: monsters show up; Ulysses shows up; stuff happens. I’m being glib, but also sort of as specific as I can be, as the way Ulysses flails about – and again, this might partially be due to the poor art – follows no real A to B to C logic, and besides stumbling in to some buildings, who knows if those monsters were ever really a threat.

This was continued on as back ups in Rampaging Hulk after a fashion, once Warner had a better grasp on what the character was, a good hokey, pulpy tone to use, and was paired with more consistent artists.