Sometimes writing about comic book movies is a lot of fun, and sometimes it is WORK. Nobody has really been paying much attention to Marvel's upcoming animated flick Big Hero 6, and since I cover the Marvel Studios beat at Movies.com, I took it upon myself to read the most recent 2008 mini and the original first issue that kicked the property off in 1998 (titled Sunfire and the Big Hero 6, itself a spin-off from Steven T. Seagal's short late-90's Alpha Flight run).
I wasn't a fan. Scott Lobdell's original mini-series just barely skirts an uncomfortably stereotypical "ah-so, most honorable reader" line, and he's further weighed down by Gus Vasquez's noticeably rookie pencils. Veteran writer Chris Claremont and manga artist David Nakayama teamed up for the second mini in 2008, and while it's arguably improved, it's still a bit of a mess. The series is about young Japanese operatives who never really gel as a team, sent on a mission to protect mysterious artifacts by a Japanese Nick Fury surrogate named Furi Wamu (she's even missing an eye). I never got the impression that any of the creators involved on any of the Big Hero 6 minis had any kind of handle on the team's personality or larger purpose. Claremont makes a noble attempt at more light-hearted fare than what he's known for, but the five issues just aren't particularly inspired. There's a lot of visual manga cliches as well, such as having all of the characters spend an issue in their beachwear.
Now, despite not liking the characters or the books themselves, I actually still have high hopes for the movie. One of the bad things about the property on the page is that it's still a bit of a blank slate. That makes for tedious reading after a fistful of issues, but it also means that a movie has free reign to approach the team in a way that matters. Maybe the Disney movie will kick off new interest, and we'll see a worthwhile ongoing Big Hero 6 book in 2014?