Published on July 18th, 2012 | by Mike Harding0
Marvel Graphic Novel Collection Issue 15 Review
This week the Ultimate Graphic Novel Collection lives up to its name, the fifteenth book to be released is none other than Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross’ Marvels. Now I have a confession to make, I’ve never read this book until I bought it this week, and after reading it, I have no idea how that has happened.
I think it’s safe to say that Marvels, the four issue miniseries (the graphic novel makes the mistake of referring to it being six issues) released during the 1994 revolutionised the industry. If we were to compare it to a book today in terms of what it actually is then it’s a far superior version of the Frontline mini-series’. The book shows the Marvel Universe from the perspective of reporter/photographer Phil Sheldon. The book begins with the creation of the Human Torch, and has a nice story about from his perspective regarding the life he leads. We then see the same scenes from the view of Phil and the rest of the world. The story continues showing events surrounding the first sightings of Namor the Submariner, up to the death of Gwen Stacey.
Looking back at books that have been released since its initial publication, It’s hard to overstate the impact that the series has had since its initial publication. The most obvious effect of the series was to make Alex Ross a name that every comic fan knows. Alex has made his name synonymous with his style of art, and not a major comic book issue or event will pass without an inevitable “Alex Ross variant.”. Not only that, but he has also gone on to co-plot series such as Kingdom Come and Justice for DC Comics.
The other big thing that came from this book was that it Kurt Busiek the go-to guy for comic book continuity. Busiek scripted a long Avengers run which is still being reprinted in trade paperback (Avengers Assemble), but most notably, which shows how highly he was thought of, he was allowed to write the JLA/Avengers crossover.
The effect the series had, was far greater than the fates of it’s creators, the book caused the two major comic book companies to look at the characters available to them, and to really consider just what the fans were looking for. As a result of this, “Nostalgia” became a popular theme in comics for several years. DC admittedly lead the field in this respect with Green Lantern: Rebirth restoring the Silver Age Green Lantern Hal Jordan to prominence, taking over from his replacement, Kyle Rayner. More recently, Flash: Rebirth saw Barry Allen take over the main Flash title from his successor, Wally West. We saw the return of Captain America’s long thought dead sidekick Bucky, Jason Todd was brought back to life, and for a brief period we also dealt with the ramifications of the death of Gwen Stacey. Spider-Man himself was restored to his classic “single and a loser” status in Amazing Spider-Man by use of a very controversial retcon. The X-Men were rebooted recently so that they could revert from the subtle prejudice that Morrison explored in New X-Men back to the rather blatant racism that Chris Claremont delivered back on Uncanny X-Men in the seventies.
As I Mentioned earlier, Marvels Is interesting to read as it shows the world from a side that we probably never get to consider (Marvel’s Civil War being the only recent book that really touches on people’s opinions of Superhuman battles). We see the ongoing superhuman battles between the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, which, may not seem as spectacular as they may have in the past, look brilliant because of the artwork. However, to the citizens of the Marvel Universe, they are downright terrifying, “It must have seemed like a glorious aerial ballet,” Phil tells us of one such confrontation. “Dangerous, beautiful and thrilling. And maybe it was. But not for us. What we saw was carnage and destruction and confusion…”
The story examines how, a nation can fear and distrust mutants, even if they worship and respect heroes like Captain America, Iron Man and the Fantastic Four. We’ve all seen how it was established that Mutants would one day replace regular humans, and in this book the resentment that Busiek demonstrates derives from a sense of being completely powerless. “Who gave them the right to just come in and take it all away from us?” Phil asks, as he observes that mutants “were here to kick the dirt onto our graves.”
Alex Ross’ artwork is especially beautiful here. Again, this is one of those things you either love our you don’t. Personally I really like it, and i was particularly fond of the subtle smaller touches, for example, the decision to make Tony Stark look like Timothy Dalton. This might be down to the fact that Dalton played the villain in The Rocketeer, a Disney film just a little similar to Iron Man or it might be an attempt to tie Tony Stark to James Bond, with his suave demeanor and wonderful gadgets. Who know’s it could be entirely unintentional and I’m seeing things that aren’t there.
So enough of the yammering on about the book, is it good value for money? Without a shadow of a doubt the answer is yes, with the paperback version of this book currently around 12 quid, this book is worth every penny.
Extras? of course there are, and for the first time I feel that the publishers have got the content right. There is a foreword by Stan Lee, commentary on the second chapter by the writer Kurt Busiek, commentary on the third chapter by Alex Ross, and finally commentary by John Romita Sr. In addition to this there is an origins section which focuses on how the two came together to create the book. There is an artist workshop, showing how Alex Ros creates the work that he produces, and finally there are Alex Ross interpretations of various iconic comic book covers.
Book reveals include Avengers Forever (16 & 17) (part one already released), book 32 will be 1602 by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert, and book 33 will be Secret War (not to be confused with Marvel Superheroes Secret War). And of course this book is number 13.
The next book to be released is Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers Disassembled, which is always a good, read. It will be interesting to see what extras this book is garnished with.
So, finally, the current list looks like this:
*Titles in BOLD have already been released*
Book 01: Iron Man: Demon in a bottle
Book 02: Uncanny X-men: Dark Phoenix
Book 03: Captain Britain: A Crooked World
Book 04: Wolverine
Book 05: The Mighty Thor: The Last Viking
Book 06: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars part 1
Book 07: Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars part 2
Book 09: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Birth of Venom
Book 10: Spider-man: Kraven’s Last Hunt
Book 11: The Incredible Hulk: Silent Screams
Book 12: Wolverine: Weapon X
Book 13: Marvels
Book 14: Avengers: Avengers Forever Part one
Book 15: Avengers: Avengers Forever Part two
Book 16: The Mighty Thor: In Search of Gods
Book 21: Spider-man: Coming Home
Book 22: Spider-man: Revelations
Book 25: Spider-man: Blue
Book 26: Wolverine: Origins
Book 27: Captain America: The New Deal
Book 28: The Ultimates: Super-Human
Book 29: The Ultimates: Homeland Security
Book 32: 1602
Book 33: Secret War
Book 36: Astonishing X-men: Gifted
Book 37: Astonishing X-men: Dangerous
Book 40: House of M
Book 43: Iron Man: Extremis
Book 44: Captain America: Winter Soldier
Book 45: The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk part 1
Book 46: The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk part 2
Book 47: Fantastic Four: The End
Book 50: Civil War
Book 51: Fallen Son: Death of Captain America
Book 52: Thor: Reborn
Book 53: The Eternals
Book 55: World War Hulk
Book 56: Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters
Book 57: Wolverine: Old Man Logan
Book 59: Captain Britain & MI13:Vampire State
Book 60: Siege