Page 45 Review by Stephen
A thoughtful and poignant history of the innocent age of the Marvel Universe which would be any newcomers perfect introduction to that companys catalogue, this tells the tale of America at large and a photojournalist in particular witnessing the arrival in their midst of gods, aliens, metahumans, Inhumans, mutants, hybrids and a brave young man in a black-ribbed, red and blue suit who was destined to see the love of his life die after being thrown from a bridge by a sociopathic multimillionaire, her neck snapped by the poor, unfortunate suitors very own web line.
At which point the innocence is over.
Long before Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee's exceptionally touching and eloquent INHUMANS, this was one of the very first comics which Marvel released with an impressive degree of literacy, other than projects published on its Epic label, Jim Starlin's WARLOCK and THE DEATH OF CAPTAIN MARVEL.
In addition, it saw painter Alex Ross's rise to critical acclaim, and justly so. Unlike many painters who've brought their brush to this medium, Alex Ross has a deft, luminous touch which allows your eye to drift across even his most intricate pages as sequential art is supposed to.
Do please check out Rosss work in KINGDOM COME and JUSTICE (that one over Dougie Braithwaites pencils) cracking stories, both and the JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE WORLDS GREATEST SUPERHEROES collection of short stories about whose content Im a bit more ambivalent.
Along with ASTRO CITY and SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY this has also been Kurt Busiek's finest hour to date, as he observed the plight of individuals from ground-level, looking upwards into the sky, a perspective Ross was at great pains to duplicate, as the extensive interviews in the back of the MARVELS EPILOGUE (old separately at £4-25) makes abundantly clear.
It's a beautiful book which manages, extraordinarily, to recapture the absolute, slack-jawed awe one felt as a four-year-old on first beholding a superhero splashed across a comicbook cover, wondering what on earth these colourful creatures were, and where they came from.
Which is precisely what an equally gobsmacked and understandably tremulous public does throughout this surprisingly pensive series...
P.S. The MARVELS EPILOGUE honestly is the most delightful reprise, revisiting the events in UNCANNY X-MEN #98 (see X-MEN EPIC COLLECTION: SECOND GENESIS) surrounding a snow-blown Rockerfeller Plaza just before Christmas from a bystanders point of view.