Marvel Goes TRON

Greetings, programs! This may be old news to those of you who keep a close eye on the new arrivals section of your local comic book store, but Marvel has released a series of collectors’ covers in honor of TRON: Legacy. Come on in and check ’em out.

When Disney bought Marvel, it was only a matter of time before stuff like this started happening. I don’t care to hear the official explanation that Marvel tried to pass this off as an homage to Disney, as if the infighting, inflated egos that run the oh so humbly self-branded House Of Ideas all put down their current “let’s make fun of DC characters because we’re pissed that we don’t work there” bullshit and banded together to love TRON. Whatever. Marvel IS Disney now. Not that that’s a terrible thing as long the properties and characters are handled correctly. But let’s not bullshit the public. We all know the score. Marvel didn’t decide to do this. They were instructed to. You work for the Mouse now, Marvel. You will participate in the games until you die playing. End of line.

That said, this really wasn’t a bad idea. Certain energy-based and/or invulnerable characters aside, superheroes that walk in front of Dr. Gibbs’s laser should be able to be digitized and placed on the Grid, just like anybody else. How their unique powers and abilities are translated to the Electronic World could provide a hell of a lot of good fiction… or it could be a steaming pile of shit. Fortunately, it turned out pretty well. In an effort to make this more enjoyable for you, Constant Reader, I’m going to put these covers in the order of ascending wonderfulness, from crappiest to best.

All of these pics link to larger versions. Click ’em and get ’em before Marvel makes me take ’em down.

WOLVERINE #4 TRON VARIANT
Written by JASON AARON
Penciled by RENATO GUEDES
Tron Variant by BRANDON PETERSON

It occurs to me that this whole idea had the potential to produce some absolutely atrocious results, but I’ve gotta say – for the most part – these are pretty well done. That said, we’re starting here with the worst of the lot, the only one I would actually call an outright failure. There’s just so much that could have been done with a TRON Wolvie, and they did… whatever the hell this is. I dig that they made his claws solid miniature jet walls, I really do. But that’s not enough to make a good cover. It’s like they had that one good idea and then just gave up.

Wolverine is one of Marvel’s most popular, most instantly identifiable characters. If you know comics, you know Wolverine. But nothing at all about this cover screams Wolverine. All I hear when I look at this are the resounding hollow echoes of a complete lack of effort. This should have been iconic, but it’s not even particularly good work. Logan’s victim is derezzing and the cubes are flying upward, but Wolvie’s not striking from below. It would appear that he hasn’t struck yet at all. Not only that, but he looks like he’s got a Brandoesque mouthful of cotton balls. And his costume conversion to the Electronic World? Boring. This isn’t just a bad Wolverine cover, nor is it just a bad TRON cover. It’s poorly made comic art, and there’s never an acceptable excuse for bad art to end up on a comic book cover. Bad form, Marvel. Bad, bad form.

INCREDIBLE HULKS #618 TRON VARIANT
Written by GREG PAK
Penciled by PAUL PELLETIER
Tron Variant by MARK BROOKS

You know what, I take back what I said. This cover is also a fail. All the artist had to do was look at any given TRON Legacy movie poster to find a flattering angle to draw a light cycle. It would have been so easy. But instead we get this yellow and blue mess. Ghost Rider is apparently plummeting down the surface of an electronic waterfall, but he can’t jump off because his penis is stuck in the bike. Seriously, this is shit. It could have been so cool, and it’s just shit. Inexcusable.

NEW AVENGERS #7 TRON VARIANT
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Pencils & Cover by STUART IMMONEN
Tron Variant by MARK BROOKS

These next three covers aren’t bad exactly, just a little uninspired. It is beyond me why Marvel would waste a huge blockbuster movie tie-in on a character as obscure as Ms. Marvel. I had to do a bit of search engine sleuthing just to find out who was in the pic, and now that I know, I still couldn’t tell you anything about her. Who in the hell is Ms. Marvel? I can think of about 30 Marvel characters that would be better served, and would serve better, as a TRON tie-in. What about an Electronic World version of Cyclops who shoots a jet wall out of his visor? That could look unbelievably bad ass if done properly. Or how about Iceman, who instead of creating ice creates jet walls he can ride on or encase people in? That would work. Or how about The Invisible Woman, who would appear to derez and reintegrate at will, or a TRONned out Bishop who has the user-like power to redirect energy beams like Flynn demonstrated in the first movie, or any one of a hundred other characters more identifiable than Ms. Marvel?

THOR #617 TRON VARIANT
Written by MATT FRACTION
Pencils & Cover by PASQUAL FERRY
Tron Variant by BRANDON PETERSON

Thor is well drawn, but a total yawn. He looks like any other random, heavily muscled superhero in black leather. They should have kept the cape and made his hammer the focal point of the picture, instead of making it a tiny footnote in the background. A big ass TRONned Mjolnir would have been awesome. Use the picture to tell the story of how Mjolnir works in the Electronic World rather than sticking with the tired old lightning routine. Come on, Marvel, you’re not even trying.

AVENGERS #7 TRON VARIANT
Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Pencils and Cover by MIKE DEODATO JR.
Tron Variant Cover by BRANDON PETERSON

Spider-Woman… well, I think her intended appeal is pretty apparent. Like Power Girl, Spider-Woman has almost always been drawn as chesty, but she’s lookin’ mighty top heavy even for a girl used to sporting double Ds. Apart from her ginormous chest hams, though, her outfit sucks. It’s like any other TRON bodysuit with some cheap neon spiderwebs tacked on. Total afterthought. Serviceable, but far from outstanding. Spider-Woman is a pretty cool character which I have enjoyed in this, her classic incarnation, as well as the former redhead in the black and white Spidey suit. For a great female character in the Spider-Man mythos, this should have been so much better. As it is, she looks like a TRON background character in a Dollar Store Halloween costume. Not good enough.

AVENGERS ACADEMY #7 TRON VARIANT
Written by CHRISTOS GAGE
Pencils & Cover by MIKE McKONE
Tron Variant by BRANDON PETERSON

Now we’re getting somewhere. Quicksilver may be a blatant Flash ripoff, but at least he makes a good TRON character. I can’t help but feel that Marvel missed an opportunity here by not having him leave a jet wall in his wake, but they also seemed to have missed the opportunity to draw the ground that he’s running on. Why is he flying through space? There are no clouds or stars or planets in the Electronic World, at least not that I remember.* This pic would have been so much cooler if they’d had him running on the game grid, destroying light cycles with his jet wall, no need for a cycle of his own. Still, they did a damn good job of making him look like someone who actually belongs in the world of TRON, so this is definitely a step in the right direction.

*-[Chris’s Note: Just watched TRON: Legacy again, and there are, in fact, clouds. Lots and lots of clouds. More clouds than Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, A Walk In The Clouds, Up, and the Cloud City scenes in The Empire Strikes Back combined. I honestly can’t tell you how I didn’t remember this, because a full 95% of this movie is fucking clouds. It’s like a neon nightclub version of The Weather Channel.]

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #33 TRON VARIANT
Written by MATT FRACTION
Art & Cover by SALVADOR LARROCA
Tron Variant by BRANDON PETERSON

Now this is more like it. Yeah, putting a mechanical character in there seems like kind of a no-brainer, but it’s hard to deny that this is one sweet looking comic cover. It’s a great action shot and might have placed higher on my list, but, like I said, the mechanical connection was a little too obvious. Plus they’ve used blue/orange contrast which has been DONE TO FUCKING DEATH. Why do this? I don’t recall Iron Man ever being orange. Why not use a combination of red and yellow lighting against a black suit? Yeah, this looks pretty sweet, but I think there’s a little room for improvement here. It’s certainly not as good as this:

SECRET AVENGERS #7 TRON VARIANT
Written by ED BRUBAKER
Penciled by MIKE DEODATO JR.
Tron Variant Cover by MARK BROOKS

You know what I said about Ms. Marvel being obscure? Well, that goes double for Moon Knight. I’ve tried looking up info about him in the past, and apparently everyone in the world – including the people at Marvel – agrees that Moon Knight is what Marvel has because Marvel cannot have Batman. Who is he? What does he do? What are his motivations? I don’t know. Who cares? Nobody cares about Moon Knight. Nobody cares.

But this pic… HOLY SHIT. Moon Knight is pretty cool looking without the circuit lines, but as a TRON program he kicks 68.71% more ass than ever. I would like to have seen his hood lit from inside like Flynn’s was in the film, but I doubt the Marvel artists had access to that scene when drawing this. The only actual complaint I have about this, and it is minor, is that they should have made the background a different color to better accentuate that this guy is made of white light, rather than the overall light blue light that pervades the Electronic World. Still, this is just amazing. I only wish this was an action figure. That bitch would be sitting on my desk watching me type right now.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #651 TRON VARIANT
Written by DAN SLOTT
Pencils & Cover by HUMBERTO RAMOS
Back-up Story pencils by STEFANO CASELLI
Tron Variant by MARK BROOKS

Oh, hells yeah! TRON Spidey is PERFECT. From the chrome eyes to the energy beam web line, there is absolutely nothing I don’t like about this pic. This is how you do a Marvel Universe/Electronic World crossover. You don’t just light up an existing costume or put a character into a TRON suit. You start from the ground up. You redesign major elements of the character’s outfit to look like they were always a part of the TRON universe, while maintaining those distinct visual characteristics that make the hero instantly identifiable. You put him in a familiar action pose, which contrasts against the completely alien environment of the Electronic World. In short, you do what the laser did to Flynn; you digitize him and remake him in the computer’s image. This is how you do it. It’s just so damn pretty. But as great as it is, the next pic is heads and tails above all the other covers on this list. Feast your eyes, programs:

CAPTAIN AMERICA #612 TRON VARIANT
Written by ED BRUBAKER
Penciled by BUTCH GUICE
Tron Variant Cover by MARK BROOKS

HOLY. FUCKING. SHIT. If you had asked me before seeing these pics which Marvel character would have looked the best after getting the TRON treatment, it would never have occurred to me to choose Captain America. Not in a million years. But, oh my god. This is fucking FANTASTIC. The dual colored light circuits and the redesigned suit are amazing, and would have made this the best of the lot all on their own. But the shield takes the cake. There’s a lot to look at on this cover, so when I first looked at the shield I thought it looked pretty amazing and left it at that. What I didn’t realize immediately is that it’s hollowed out like an identity disk. I’ve gotten 2,415 times smarter since then.

Because it’s being thrown, it’s difficult to tell if the shield maintained it’s scale during digitization or if this is, in fact, an identity disk with a star circuit in the center. And in the end it doesn’t matter. This pic is perfect either way you choose to see it. I might get a lot of static for saying this, but based solely on this cover art, I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with a TRON/Captain America series. I would buy that. I would actually start following a Marvel series based on the strength of this image alone. Come to think of it, it’s too bad they didn’t have the balls to do a full blown Marvel/TRON crossover series, because I frankly would like to see what would happen if a veteran disc hurler like Captain America had to go one on one with Rinzler. I think that’s a battle I could get into.

If you really want to understand the skill and detail of these covers, click the pics above and check out the high resolution ink and pencil drawings before colorization and lighting effects were added. This goes beyond skillful shading and perspective. This is art. Simply masterful. Nice work, Marvel, these really shine.

I was going to wait for my TRON: Legacy review to get into all of this, but a spirited discussion with a fellow TRON fan renewed my eagerness to publish a couple of TRON related articles I’ve had on the back burner. Today we’ve looked at official, professionally published art. In my next article, we’ll take a look at some fan made TRON art. Some of it is humorous, some of it is thought provoking, and some of it, trust me on this, will absolutely blow you away. In the meantime, my friends, my fellow conscripts, I’m getting run down and I need to find a power pool. This is Gold-3 to Gold-2 and 1; I’m getting out of here right now, and you guys are invited. So long, suckers.

END OF LINE


2021 UPDATE: There was no next article with TRON fan art. As happened so often, Past Chris gathered the promised images but never got around to putting the words together. Fortunately the images weren’t lost, and you get to enjoy them right now. Dontcha just love a happy ending?

Digitized DC Comics Superheroes

Digitized Marvel Comics Superheroes


The TRON: Legacy covers were promotional variant covers only, and did not reflect any actual story elements in the comics. However, in Wolverine #7 (published November 11, 2020) the Electronic World made its first canonical appearance in Marvel Comics. While battling across Blightspoke, a nexus of dying realities, Wolverine and his adversary were shifted through several collapsed universes, one of which was the Electronic World, better known to TRON fans as The Grid.

DC Comics readers will notice that Wolverine appears to have also traveled through a now defunct version of The Green, DC universe’s dimension of shared plant and fungus consciousness, where he is fighting that realm’s defender, Swamp Thing. Current DC continuity separates floral consciousness of The Green from the fungal consciousness known as The Grey.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments