26th Nov2020

‘Marvel #2’ Review (Marvel Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Various | Art by Various | Published by Marvel Comics

Back in the Spring the first issue of this book slipped out, though I don’t think its launch got quite the reception Marvel was expecting. I think it did OK, but wasn’t a game changer as such. The book was two things. One, the start of a semi-regular companion book to the series of Marvels: Snapshots one-shots, all of which have been excellent by the way. Two, the chance for Alex Ross to finally set out his original idea that in the past had ended up as the groundbreaking Marvels book. Alex originally had wanted to publish an anthology book set in the Marvel Universe, allowing all sorts of creators to write and draw stories with whatever characters and eras they fancied. Variations on that theme have appeared in the thirty years since Marvels came out (Thirty years!), but Marvel has allowed Alex to set out his idea with, er, Marvel.

If you read the first issue, you’ll know the format. A framing sequence from Alex Ross and Steve Darnall (with Kurt Busiek credited as storyteller), featuring Nightmare and Dr. Strange, leading into the anthology proper. Nightmare has captured Strange, and is picking through his mind, finding these new memories of old events. His first ‘bite’ is ‘Danger Room is Down’, written and painted by Dan Brereton, taking us back to the very early days of the ‘new’ X-Men. Blue Costume Warren Worthington, classic costume Cyclops, Sunfire and Thunderbird both members, and a Marvel Girl Jean Grey. It’s a fun character study at heart, of the early issues merging the old and the new X-Men. Character conflicts, mistrust, doubts on all sides, and the realisation that it’s not just the physical teamwork that makes the X-Men, but the fact it’s a big family. You need to be accepted into the family as much as demonstrate useful powers. Brereton clearly has fun here, and it’s nice to revisit a place and time I really like.

Next up is ‘Leave the Demon, Take the Cannoli’ by writer and artist Eric Powell, the title of which promises it to be as offbeat as you would expect from Powell. We are in Latveria, sometime in the past, and Dr Doom has captured the Silver Surfer. He has a powerful demon possess the Surfer and sends him off to attack, who else, the Fantastic Four. Unknown to Doom, two thirds of the FF are away, leaving just Ben Grimm. Ben is amusing himself wearing Johnny’s entire collection of underwear until he gets back, before popping out for some cannoli’s. As you do. It then descends into a very funny bout of slapstick as Spider-Man also arrives for Aunt May’s cannoli’s, and they fight over the last one. Then demon Surfer appears, with Doom, and all out chaos ensues. When the dust settles, Surfer is freed, Doom has escaped, and both Spidey and Ben have lost their treasured cannoli. It has ended up in Latveria, where a Trump-like Doom muses that it was all worth it to capture a cannoli. Heh.

The last story is ‘Unphased’, featuring The Vision, written and gorgeously painted by Paolo Rivera. It’s an affectionate character study of classic Vision, an attempt to get in his mind a little, to appreciate an underappreciated character. As Rivera points out, Vision is one of the most powerful Avengers, yet he is always second fiddle to Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the rest. Is it because he is a synthezoid? Not trusted? No matter to him. We see Vision at his best rescuing people from a collapsed building and showing that sometimes artificial people have more humanity than some people do.

I really enjoyed this. Yes, the stories are slight and non-essential, but they are still worth telling and the artwork is stunning. Even the short framing sequence is excellent. These are mini-love letters to times and characters that mean something to each creator, and I love that little extra touch. I think we all have a story in us featuring our favourite characters, do we not. These guys get to indulge them. And why not.

Sometimes it’s the little things, the little stories, that make us enjoy the big stories even more. This book is such a little thing.

****½  4.5/5


Comments are closed.