If you missed out on the incredible Treasury Edition, Marvel Comics is releasing their series Marvel in trade paperback this week. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Marvel is a celebration of Marvel Comics and its 80 years of history. Alex Ross curated the anthology series, and the main plot is also co-written and drawn by Ross. While I’d recommend the Treasury Edition as it allows for a better appreciation of the art, this new traditional sized trade paperback will be the ideal version for some to fit in your collection.
Over six issues, stories cover it all, from the street-level heroes to the cosmic. That and a treasure trove of creative talent contribute to the run, including Kurt Busiek, Frank Espinosa, Steve Rude, Dan Brereton, Eric Powell, Paolo Rivera, Alan Weiss, Bill Sienkiewicz, Scott Gustafson, Ryan Heshka, Daniel Acuna, Hilary Barta, Doug Rice, Sal Abbinanti, Adam Hughes, Gene Ha, Mark Waid, Lucio Parrillo, Greg Smallwood, and Lee Bermejo. As a love letter to Marvel characters, each creator brings a different look, feel, and focus that makes the collection feel quite special.
The story collection is held together by a somewhat conventional story by Alex Ross that is lifted up by his incredibly epic and realistic art. The story is atmospheric, wonderful to look at, and stretches the imagination.
Similar to the Treasury Edition, this collection features each of the six issues in linear order, even though each issue opens with Alex Ross’s story and closes each issue with it too. This main plot connects the issues, but ultimately all the stories stand alone. One can assume the A-plot is there to keep readers coming back, and it certainly gives this book a through-line to read from cover to cover.
From the very start, the stories are great. After Ross’s story ends, there’s a Spider-Man tale titled “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 allowing the anthology to work and yet allowing creators to do anything they please. A smart way into these stories.
Once again, similar to the Treasury Edition, there is back matter, although it’s shrunken down to fit in the smaller format of a conventional trade paperback. There are sketches by Acuña, process pages by Paolo Rivera, inks by Hughes, process pages by Parrillo, and thumbnail sketches, cover concepts, and an unused Spider-Man cover by Ross. Most of these pages are shrunken down to fit four comic pages per page.
For readers who dislike extra-sized comics, this is a must-buy version of Marvel. It’ll fit comfortably on your shelf with your other trade paperbacks, and it’s an enjoyable read too. Every story holds up on its own and entertains in different ways. Rarely do you see art this epic and inspiring.
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