In a new series curated by Alex Ross, featuring A-plot also co-written and drawn by Ross, comes a new series reflecting on and celebrating the Marvel Comics heroes we know and love. In many ways, this new six-part series reads like an anniversary issue since it celebrates everything from the classic Avengers to a crazy yarn involving Spider-Man. This anthology features stories by Kurt Busiek, Steve Rude, Frank Espinosa, Sajan Saini, and Steve Darnall. One of the more intriguing elements is of this new series comes from Alex Ross himself in an introduction, where he says this series is about giving the creators the ability to reflect a creative impulse. Hanging their stories on an Alex Ross lead tale is a great way to start.
Contained in this issue are three stories — opening with “Overture” by Alex Ross, then a Spidey tale titled “Spider-Man: Make My Day” by Frank Espinosa and Saajan Saini, a classic Avengers tale by Kurt Busiek and Steve Rude, and then closing to lead us to the next adventure. The entire narrative hangs on Ross and Darnall’s tale which is incredibly drawn and maybe some of his best work yet. It’s striking, dark, and may stick with you. It’s the stuff of Kingdom Come and Marvels before it and once again I’m struck by how awesome his art can be. It’s a clever premise too, allowing the anthology to work and yet allow creators to do anything they please. A smart way into these stories.
Following this is the Spidey story by Espinosa (with dialogue by Sajan Saini) and the art is gorgeous. I’m guessing it’s oil paintings panel to panel. At first, it looks expressionistic, but once you realize each panel is a work of art in itself you linger longer. The tale is a quirky one and it gives us a classic MJ and Peter good-vibes story.
Next up is the Busiek and Rude story that looks and reads like any Stan Lee/Jack Kirby yarn. It’s seriously clever and never loses sight of the voice and tone of the characters at this time. Titled “The Boy…and the Brute,” you can probably guess Hulk and Rick Jones play a part. It suits the theme of the anthology too and is a nice reminder of the old days at Marvel Comics.
It’s not a perfect tale, though I imagine when it’s collected it will read better. The Spidey story is gorgeous, but a bit long and redundant. The book also ends abruptly as there are a lot of Marvel ads closing it out that give it a thicker feel. If you’re unfamiliar with or just not a fan of the original Avengers, you may not enjoy the Avengers tale as much as others.
This is a nice collection that looks great and brings you back to the wonderment and heroics of the Golden Age of comics. Alex Ross reminds us once again he’s a master at mood and atmosphere, and for his art alone this book is worth picking up. This creative impulse will lead you to joy.