Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross – Marvels
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Superhero Sci-Fi, Graphic Novel
Started/Finished: 16 December 2012
Where did it come from? / Why do I have it? Lent to me by a friend who thought that I’d like it, and I figured I’d better read it before I moved.
But won’t someone think of the
people on the streets?
Summary: News photographer Phil Sheldon lives in an amazing world: the Marvel Universe. He was there when the Human Torch was first unveiled, he was there watching Captain America fight the Nazis, he lived through the era of the Fantastic Four and the mutant panic that came with the rise of the X-Men. Many of us are familiar with the exploits of superheroes from their perspectives, but what about from the perspective of an everyday person? What about the people who have to live with the flaming cars and demolished buildings after every battle to save the Earth from destruction by evil forces? What does living in a world full of Marvels do them, and to their sense of what it means to be human?
Review: As I have admitted before, I am only vaguely acquainted with the Marvel Universe, and most of that is via various movie adaptations than it is through any of the comics (and *certainly* through not any of the original comics.) So while I really liked the concept of this book – what’s it like to live in a world where you are one of the shrieking masses fleeing from the Hulk throwing train cars around Manhattan? – I didn’t have the background to get really invested in the story. In some of the vast amounts of supplemental material in the back of the edition I read, Busiek states that his original intent was to write several new stories, but instead was urged to place Phil as a bystander to some of the early foundational effects of the Marvel Universe. Because Phil is, like I was, an outsider, the broad strokes of the plot are easy enough to follow. But I constantly felt like there were huge areas of detail and backstory and meaning and subtlety that I was missing out on… because of course, there were. Still, it was an interesting spin on the typical superhero comic, and I thought it asked a lot of really interesting questions, even if I didn’t always agree with the way it answered them. The art was lovely; primarily paintings done from real-life models (some of the photo comparisons in the section at the back were equal parts amazing and hilarious), it was both realistic and yet slightly more luminous than real life. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: While this was understandable and enjoyable for someone like me, I think it would be best appreciated by someone who was raised on a steadier diet of superhero comics, and Marvel comics in particular.
Other Reviews: I can’t find any, but it’s possible that it’s getting lost in the search results with other Marvel Universe stuff that these authors have done. If you’ve reviewed this one, leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.
First Line: Horton. Phineas Thomas Horton. Quite possibly the greatest scientist of his time. He was my father.
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