From the stack: I ♥ MARVEL: MARVEL AI

February 17, 2006

C.B. Cebulski joins with three Japanese artists for three tales of super-hero romance in I ♥ Marvel: Marvel Ai (Marvel). It’s a bit of an oddity, but it’s a mostly pleasant one.

Cebulski and Tomoko Taniguchi team for “Meld with You,” a look at the Scarlet Witch’s first date with the Vision. This classic Marvel couple gets the full-tilt shôjo treatment, with borders and backgrounds swirling with flowers and stars. Cebulski provides a sensitive script that explores the couple’s early concerns and conflicts – can the android’s emotions be genuine, or are they a calculated response? Taniguichi’s adorable illustrations are a nice counterpoint to the deep feelings on display. (It is a little odd to see the Black Widow jammed into the role of Wanda’s giggly school chum, along with the Wasp, but it’s consistent with the shôjo vibe.)

There’s a decided Moto Hagio feeling to “The Silence of the Heart,” a look at the unusual challenges of marriage from the perspective of Medusa, queen of the Inhumans. Kei Kobayashi takes maximum visual advantage of Medusa’s swirling, living locks as she contemplates life with a husband, Black Bolt, who can never speak to her. It’s a lovely string of internal musings in a science fiction context.

How much you like “Love Is Blindness” will depend on how much you like jealousy-driven catfights. I don’t like them at all, so watching the Black Widow and Elektra in a rooftop throw-down over Daredevil doesn’t do much for me. Cebulski and illustrator Toga opt for pictograms instead of dialogue, which doesn’t really elevate things very much. (I keep calling the story Owly: Just a Little Bitchy in my head.)

Even with that, and the frankly bizarre anatomy on Gez Fry’s cover, there’s still a lot to like in the book. Cebulski and his collaborators have taken an unusual but often moving look at some classic Marvel couples.