Marvels was Marvel’s answer to DC’s revolutionary Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and Watchmen by Alan Moore. Kurt Busiek and superstar artist Alex Ross created a limited edition series with breathtaking artwork that aimed to re-instill a sense of wonder by imagining just what it would be like to actually live in that world where superheroes first appeared.
“Experience the Marvel Universe from a whole new perspective – yours,” the book’s blurb proclaims. “Welcome to New York. Here, burning figures roam the streets, men in brightly coloured costumes scale the glass and concrete walls, and creatures from space threaten to devour our world. This is the Marvel Universe, where the ordinary and fantastic interact daily. This is the world of Marvels.”
Marvels is an epic narrative that charts the birth of the Marvel Universe through the camera lens of Daily Bugle news reporter Philip Sheldon. Creators Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross created a protagonist with whom the readers can relate to; making us experience the way superheroes are perceived by ordinary people. While collateral damages caused by superheroes were recently explored in movies such as Civil War and Batman v Superman, Marvels did it 25 years back.
Unlike typical crossover events, Marvels doesn’t require its readers to know the name of every superhero under existence. The story begins around WWII, introducing us to the world’s first Marvels – Human Torch, Namor and Captain America, before moving on to the Cold War, by which time, the Avengers, Fantastic Four and the X-Men are already formed. The book interconnects different characters and story arcs better than any comic I know. Unlike the MCU movies, we don’t get front row seats to top-secret SHIELD/Avengers meetings. The protagonist (and the reader) remains in the dark here, causing a sense of tension to prevail throughout the book.
In this special edition, we see Busiek and Ross reunite for a new epilogue that pits the all-new, all-different X-Men in a deadly battle against the Sentinels, with the now-retired Phil Sheldon and his daughters caught in the middle. Marvels is not just a superhero story. It is a fitting tribute to the world’s history and how humans adapt to changing times.