Over the last six months, Marvel has produced some of the coolest one-shot stories in a long time. They’ve been paying homage to their history by celebrating niche genres they once produced, from horror to war comics. Conveniently collected in the Timeless Tales trade paperback, readers can get a taste of their throwback stuff, whether it’s horror, suspense, romance, westerns, or even cartoons.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
In celebration of Marvel’s 80th anniversary and the comic books that captivated hearts and minds across generations, join us for scintillating sci-fi stories, soul-crushing war stories, terrifying horror stories, uproarious comedic stories, alluring romance stories and action-packed western stories! Revisit the tales that celebrate the heroes, heart and humor that have come define the Marvel Universe!
Why does this matter?
Marvel Comics continues to celebrate their 80th anniversary in style by spinning highly creative stories, and this is yet another. Some of their top talents are behind this collection like Al Ewing, Cullen Bunn, Dennis Hallum, Gail Simone, Roge Antonio, and Garry Brown to name a few.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
I wasn’t quite sure what the reading experience would be like for this collection since it collects 150 pages of unrelated one-shot stories. Thankfully though, the format is perfect, thanks to an afterword following up each story to give readers context as to what the genre you just read meant to Marvel Comics. It’s a nice dose of history, basically, with some fun factoids, like how Stan Lee pushed for horror comics, or how the Marvel publisher Martin Goodman in the ’50s pushed Western series by slapping “kid” into every title. There are some great tidbits if you’re a casual comic fan or a history buff.
The stories contained here are quite eclectic and each one sets a high bar. I suspect if you like the genre you’ll probably love the story here. I wasn’t a huge fan of the war chapter, but I’ve never been into war stories so that makes sense; regardless, both of these stories have an interesting take on the genre. The horror and suspense chapters are possibly the best of the bunch due to their originality and how they push the genre in surprising ways.
Many of these genres focused books collected here also come with multiple stories save for the western, cartoon, and horror-focused chapters. The romance chapter is quite a lot of fun thanks to the supernatural and sci-fi angles of the stories. Gail Simone’s “The Widow and the Clockwork Heart” with art by Roge Antonio was a highlight thanks to the vivid futuristic world and harsh twist. Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum’s story, with art by Annapaola Martello, comes with a bittersweet ending. The two stories collected in the Journey Into Mystery chapter are great entertainment for different reasons — they both unnerve in the best of ways and succeed in crafting unique takes on common horror stories. The first involves the weird in the form of scientists on a mission and the second involves the weird with Boy Scouts in the woods. If you dig horror and experiencing that tingling feeling on the back of your neck, you can’t go wrong with this comic. Long story short, there is a lot of bang for your buck in this collection.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
Like I said above, some of the genres being celebrated here won’t be your cup of tea. I wasn’t a huge fan of the war stories, for instance, and the cartoon story is cute albeit not gut-bustingly funny either. Regardless, considering the sheer scope of content in this book, there’s a lot here to enjoy.
Is it good?
I missed quite a few of these issues as they came out and I’m kicking myself after reading them collected here. Marvel Comics and their creators have done an excellent job capturing what is so great about these genres, from westerns to romance, horror, suspense, and even the cartoons. If anything, this collection shows Marvel has a robust history of printing comics of all types, even if their main draw is superheroes.
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