“Daddy, what are you writing about?”
And so began my work on this particular article, written at the end of week four of self-isolation and social-distancing. The Princess has been on the couch, playing The Sims 4 and Disney Infinity versions 1 through 3. Meanwhile, I’ve been working from home for the day job, while managing BBP and conducting interviews for my next book as well. In between, I’ve been reading comics new and classic.
A few weeks ago, before Diamond shut down and comic shops were still open, Marvel released a 25th-anniversary edition of one of the seminal works of the past two and a half decades, Marvels. I say one of, but quite honestly, in my book, Marvels is thee great story from the House of Ideas.
First published as a four-issue limited series (along with a #0 issue) and written by Kurt Busiek and illustrated by Alex Ross, Marvels tells the story of the early decades of the Marvel Universe from the perspective of an everyman photographer named Phil Sheldon. Over the course of the story, we follow Sheldon as he observes and in some cases interacts with many of the biggest moments in Marvel history – the World War II exploits of Captain America, the original Human Torch, and Sub-Mariner; the Fantastic Four and their encounter with Galactus; the rise of mutants; and the death of Gwen Stacy. All of this is told by Busiek’s amazingly relatable dialogue and Ross’ unparalleled artistry. This was the book that put both creators on the map, deservedly so.
Over the years there have been multiple versions of Marvels, and I’ve had a bunch of them – the original softcover that came out in the mid-90s; a signed by Busiek and Ross hardcover with a wrap-around dust jacket; the 10th-anniversary hardcover edition; and the giant extremely oversized Marvels: The Platinum Edition, complete with scripts, additional covers and lots more.
The newest version, which I read digitally, contains the material previously released in these various formats but also has some excellent new content from last year, including a new X-Men centric epilogue from the original creative team. All these years later and the duo haven’t missed a beat. As well, these new collection features all the issues annotated, explaining all the references Busiek and Ross used for this unique and enduring work.
While there’s nothing like holding a copy of any version of Marvels in your hands, the book is currently on sale digitally for an absolute steal at $11.99 Canadian (it’s cheaper for your American readers). Until your Local Comic Shop opens and you can grab a physical version (I plan on doing that myself), this is a great way to experience this classic, timeless story.
And now, back to my girl, who is about to find out for herself what Marvels is all about.