Uncanny Origins was a 99 cent line of comics from Marvel running from 1996 to 1997. Each story offered up an origin story for a different hero, likely to draw in younger readers. Marvel has been slowly re-releasing these tales, first with a “Mutants & Monsters” edition featuring issues #1 through #7, and this week issues #8 through #14 rounds out the series appropriately dubbed “Myth & Magic”. In this edition we’re first introduced to Nightcrawler, then Storm, Black Cat, then Black Knight, Doctor Strange, then Daredevil, and finally Iron Fist. You can see where they got the title!
This is a digest-sized trade paperback meant to introduce younger readers to the heroes, and to that end it does a good job introducing each character. The opening Nightcrawler story by writer Bill Roseman, artist Mark Campos, color artist Scott Rockwell, and letterer Jack Morelli is quite good. This is a character who has an origin with familiar parts like joining the circus, or a Frankenstein style turn as a town of folks carrying torches makes him flee. What Roseman and Campos do so well here is capture the youth of Nightcrawler as he’s growing up and all his fears of the unknown. From learning how to fly on the trapeze to Xavier giving him a new direction as he fears his own mutant nature, you gain respect for the character.
We don’t always see these characters in their youth or teenage years, which makes this book stand out. We’ve seen Storm begging on the streets as a child, but this book works off that well. I can’t say everything in this book is canon, but it’s still a fun way to explore the characters. Seeing Doctor Strange deal with an abusive father or the Black Knight’s youthful bravado helps add color to the characters. It’s rather touching to see Doctor Strange come to grips with his father at the end of his story, for instance.
The art is done primarily by Marc Campos with M.C. Wyman drawing the Daredevil and Iron Fist stories. The art style by Campos is cartoonish and very angular, giving it a lot of energy. That helps up your interest when layouts can be limited to four or fewer panels per page. That said, the layout design does well to explore the space, layering and stacking to keep your eye in the right place.
I could easily see a kid picking this work up and being totally enamored by the character stories within. There are relatable moments for youth to grab onto and at the same time the creators have done well to capture a bit of the magic that makes these heroes sing.
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