If you used to read Marvel comics as a kid, you have probably tried to imagine what the world would be like if characters such as Spider-man, Daredevil, the X-men and Fantastic Four were real. Right?
That’s exactly the exercise the authors of this mini-series have set out to do, and quite brilliantly so.
Marvels is a reversal of perspective on the Marvel universe. Rather than watching the action unfold from the perspective of the characters (like they do on their regular super-hero titles), this story purports to explore the reactions of the population to the dawn of the age of heroes.
What would life be like in the 1940-50′s if suddenly super-powered creatures showed up and started fighting each other everywhere, including the major cities? Can you picture the sheer sense of awe and terror that people would have felt in such a scenario? In short, that’s what Marvels is all about.
1 – Why should you read Marvels?
This is a great book for anyone who’s lost faith on the super-hero genre. Granted, most of the stories published by the big companies like Marvel and DC are not exactly masterpieces by any standards… but this one here is one of the few and precious exceptions.
If you used to love these characters when you were younger, you will absolutely love the humane and realistic treatment they received in this book:
Not only visually (the artwork by Alex Ross is astounding), but also narratively; in this book, marvel super-heroes are embedded with a fresh and unprecedented depth of character which is unlike anything you’ll remember from back in the day.
2 – What you may not like about Marvels.
If you’re approaching this book looking for a traditional story about super-powers, you might get a bit confused.
Despite of the fact this book pays homage to the golden age of super-heroes as well as some of the most prominent characters in the Marvel universe, it really doesn’t feel like a super-hero book at all (which is actually a great accomplishment, but still… people hoping this will be a regular super-hero book may not appreciate this marvelous tale).
Asides from people who are utterly and irrevocably fans of the super-hero genre, asides from people for whom classic formulas are not meant to be tampered with… it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this book.
3 – Something unique about Marvels…
Even though the story is called Marvels, the narrative actually hinges on a normal fellow.
Truth be told, the main character in this book has no extraordinary powers whatsoever – except the persistence and determination which are expected from a skilled news photographer.
The story itself follows the life of Phil Sheldon, a remarkable but very human professional whose admiration and awe concerning the so-called “Marvels” knows no boundaries.
Through his eyes, the reader is treated with a beautifully woven dissertation on what does it mean to be a normal person in a hypothetical world where titans roam the modern world.
And what a world that would be!
4 – Where to buy Marvels or get further information!
Marvels was originally a 4-issue mini series, which in the meanwhile has been collected in trade paperback format, roughly 200 pages at $15. You can get it from Powell’s Books or via Amazon, down here: