Friday, August 24, 2012


MarvelsMarvels by Kurt Busiek
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Photographer Phil Sheldon experiences what it's like to live in a world of super heroes, from the rise of the Human Torch in the late thirties all the way to the dawn of the mutants, the first appearance of Galactus, and the death of Gwen Stacy.

When Marvels first hit scene, I was a wee lad of 17. The internet was in its infancy and comic shops were dying by the dozen. As it became easier to come by comics, or "graphic novels" if you're too cool to read comics, I always had a mind to read this but didn't pick it up until recently.

Maybe it was just nearly twenty years of expectations but I wasn't wowed by this. Sure, the premise is cool and Alex Ross is still Alex Ross but not a hell of a lot happens. Busiek's writing has never done much for me and this is no exception. I think Busiek should send Alex Ross a fruit basket or something every week considering this is the book that moved Busiek on to bigger and better things.

Don't get me wrong, I like Phil Sheldon's odyssey through the Marvel universe from an everyman's point of view. It's cool seeing what he thinks about things and how his life unfolds alongside superheroes fighting in the streets and sky of New York for decades.

A brief sidebar, if I may. One thing that always bugged me about the Marvel Universe is how the mutants are continuously feared and/or shat upon but the regular superheroes are idolized for the most part. Really? Is it more likely that the X-Men are going to destroy your house during a battle than the Avengers? Is a mutant more dangerous than someone like the Spider-Man? Anyway, back to the show.

Maybe my less than stellar reaction to this book is due to almost 20 years of speculation on my part. I kept thinking, when is stuff going to happen? I feel like Alex Ross's artwork was wasted and should have been used on a story with more action, more like Kingdom Come, which I rated higher than this but probably won't hold up well under a re-read.

So yeah. Marvels. Fantastic art, kind of a meh story for me. It may have been a case of wrong book, wrong time. Your mileage may vary.

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  1. This was Busiek's first big break, but it left him typecast as a quirky, poetic kind of writer. His real breakthrough was the run on Untold Tales of Spider-Man, which demonstrated that he could do more "normal" superhero stuff.

  2. It seems that you've managed to completely miss the point of a story that wasn't exactly subtle. It wasn't a superhero story. It was the story of a man coming to terms with living in a world that had superheroes in it.