If you missed the six-issue History of the Marvel Universe or are just holding out for the extra-sized treasury edition, it’s time to get your wallet ready: the book is now available in comic shops! Originally running from July to December, this series aims to deliver the entire Marvel history as told by Galactus with the only life form left in the universe, Franklin Richards, alive to hear it. It’s an epic, fantastic blend of detailed Marvel history matched by even more incredible art.
How does the book look and feel? The book runs 232 pages and is 8.8″ x 13.2″ (a conventional comic book is 10 and 1/8″ by 6 and 5/8″). That’s right, it’s a tad thinner and a lot longer than a conventional comic book, which allows Javier Rodríguez’s lines and Álvaro López’s colors to shine even brighter. This book feels expensive from the second you open it up, with a smooth finish on the cover that’s slightly thicker than a comic cover but not heavy like a hardcover. The size of this book demands you open it on a table to read.
Does it come with any extras? The format itself is an extra I’d say, but aside from a few reprints of variants–typically laid out to four covers on a page–everything in this was in the single issues.
How does it read? Writer Mark Waid must have spent ages with his editors figuring out the timeline and what exactly they wanted to explain in each issue of this book. It’s impressive how much is packed into the book, rendered masterfully by Rodríguez and López in mostly collage style. This style allows the creative team to play around with the pages, making every page a work of art. There are a few double-page layouts as well and generally speaking, they incredibly stand alone page to page. You’d think that would make the reading experience disparate and hard to follow, but in general Galactus’ captions keep the flow of story natural. One section in the book, for instance, details real historical figures and their place amongst the Marvel history, and in another the machinations of the Celestials and their tinkering links up well too.
One aspect that keeps you on the edge of your seat is the moment Galactus and Franklin share as they await the end of everything. It’s a scene that we cut in and out of for the six-issue story and actually comes with its own annotation, cleverly wrapping up the narrative. There are of course areas the book glosses over finer details, but given the convoluted nature of events and other happenings in Marvel’s history, it’s a justifiable move.
What about the annotations? I had a blast reading the annotations and it’s quite clear a lot of care went into crafting them. Each annotation comes with a bit of art and that art is typically homages by the art team. This book goes deep as it is and the annotations only add to it. To complete the annotations there are also additional characters and teams listed off that aren’t discussed in the book itself. Each detail is brief but meaningful.
So I’m definitely buying this, right? You definitely should, especially if you’re deeply entrenched in Marvel Comics storytelling. I’d recommend first going page to page of this book looking at the art and not reading the captions. Sure, this might spoil the Galactus/Franklin side of the story, but I found myself lingering on pages so long I lost the thread of the captions and their epic storytelling mystique. This method does highlight how impressive this book is and quite frankly I’m shocked anyone at Marvel, let alone alive today could so seamlessly tell the Marvel history in an interesting and absorbing sort of way.