Hannah Scharlin-Pettee's Blog

An Oberlin course blog

Hannah Scharlin-Pettee's Blog header image 1

Marvels vs. The New Frontier

March 1st, 2011 by Hannah Scharlin-Pettee · Uncategorized

I’m so glad that these two were the first comic books assigned to read! I thought both served as excellent introductions to at least a few of the super heroes in the Marvel and DC universes. I personally liked Marvels better than The New Frontier, simply because I enjoyed the art more and found the story much more compelling. It’s the relationship between the art and the story that I want to discuss–namely how the art of a comic book (drawing style, montage of panels, coloring, medium, etc.) affects how the reader engages with the story. For a comic book narrative to be successful, it’s paramount that the tone of the story and the artistic style compliment one another, just in the way films utilize cinematic tools of mise-en-scene, lighting, cinematography, etc. to achieve the tone of the film.

Both Marvels and The New Frontier succeed in this manner. Obviously, Marvels is a much darker book, exploring the relationship that “ordinary” civilians have with the existence of super-powered human beings. The colors are often slightly unsaturated and pastel, perhaps to invoke a sense of nostalgia or age. Bright colors are used for the costumes of super heroes (I’m thinking specifically of the gorgeous spread at the beginning of Book Two of Captain America), which draws attention to the contrast between ordinary folks and super-heroes. The medium, as far as I can tell, is paint, and the drawing style very realistic, all of which feels more mature than the more flashy and “cartoon” aesthetic of The New Frontier. Don’t get me wrong–The New Frontier is a lot of fun–but at times I felt like the story/art was superficial and overly romantic. Some of the characters were drawn so alike (or at least the character design relied on formulaic archetypes) that I couldn’t emotionally connect to them. Unfortunately, the characters’ identities and subtle personality attributes were lost on me. Comparatively, the art of Marvels felt real, and so did the struggles and hopes of the characters.

In fairness ,Marvels and The New Frontier are VERY different books. There’s a joy and free spirit that The New Frontier and the melancholy Marvels sometimes lacks. I take it that the intentions of DC stand in sharp contrast to those of Marvel when comparing the two texts. But all in all, both books were totally awesome. Does anyone know if there’s a follow up to Marvels?

→ 1 CommentTags: ···


February 21st, 2011 by Hannah Scharlin-Pettee · Uncategorized


→ 3 CommentsTags: ·