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'Amazing Fantasy' collects an homage to pulp sci-fi with stunning art
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Amazing Fantasy’ collects an homage to pulp sci-fi with stunning art

Kaare Andrews’ gorgeous, versatile art and fantastical storytelling make this ‘What If…?’-style story perfect for classic fantasy and sci-fi fans.

Marvel Comics’ new Trade Paperback collection of Kaare Andrews Amazing Fantasy miniseries is a fun pulp fiction romp for fans of classic science fiction, new takes on longtime characters, and “What If…?”-style tales. While Amazing Fantasy has previously been collected in a Treasury Edition format, this is the first full trade paperback collecting issues #1-5 plus the “prelude” Wolverine Marvel Unlimited comic, and the book is an impressive homage to classic pulp with truly stunning art by acclaimed writer and illustrator Kaare Andrews (Spider-Man: Reign, Marvel Mangaverse: Spider-Man).

SPOILERS AHEAD for Amazing Fantasy #1-5!

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The main thrust of Andrews’ Amazing Fantasy is that the “afterlife” is actually a land of swords and sorcery, a world where Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben is alive and well, and science fiction versions of classic Marvel characters run rampant. The story’s three main characters are Spider-Man, Black Widow, and Captain America, who are all seemingly killed at various early points in their heroic origin stories and transported to the Amazing Fantasy land, where they are thrust in the middle of a brutal battle between several warring armies. The quickly unfolding story highlights the romance, action, twists, and unique blend of fantasy and science fiction tropes that made classic pulp science fiction magazines so popular for decades.

In some ways, Amazing Fantasy is Marvel’s version of DC Comics’ popular Dark Knights of Steel series – another medieval swords and sorcery-style “Elseworlds” tale – except Amazing Fantasy sadly does not work as well as DKOS, since the main characters know this world is a fantasy, so there is at times a real disconnect in terms of emotional resonance. Regardless, Amazing Fantasy is still a delightful adventure, and Natasha’s story – both before she is killed and sent to the Amazing Fantasy and during her time in this new land – is particularly resonant and impressively written, with the reader feeling real turmoil over her treatment at the hands of the Red Room and its Spiderlings. While some readers were upset with the twist of Uncle Ben’s Amazing Fantasy arc, a very controversial plot when it first published, it is always fascinating to see a variation on Peter Parker’s classic “With great power” origin, and how tragedy impacts everyone differently.

One disappointing aspect of Amazing Fantasy is that it seems to be lacking in scope when thinking about all that the Marvel Universe has to offer in terms of characters, cultures, and their relationships to science fiction. For instance, all three of the main heroes are white, and the science fiction/fantasy genre had historically been filled with exclusively white heroes until beloved Afrofuturistic authors like Octavia Butler and Samuel R. Delany became popular. An Amazing Fantasy sequel would greatly benefit from having a character like Monica Rambeau, Black Panther, or Dani Moonstar as a central hero, not a side or background character, who each could add more depth and nuance to the world of magic and mystery. Black Panther in particular – whose technologically advanced nation of Wakanda is a stunning example of ’90s Afrofuturism in comics – could make a compellingly complex addition to this already fascinating story if the world of Amazing Fantasy is ever visited again.

Amazing Fantasy

Marvel Comics

While it is wonderful that the Amazing Fantasy trade paperback includes Andrews’ prelude Wolverine comic – originally published as a digital-only Marvel Unlimited Infinity scrolling comic – it is a strange choice to stick a prequel at the end of the core five issues. As a first-time reader of the series it was very confusing when I saw a zombie-Logan appear out of nowhere, and it truly would have been helpful for that story to have gone first to prime the reader for Wolverine’s journey to the Amazing Fantasy. Fans of fully explained world-building and tight plot conclusions should be wary of Amazing Fantasy, as Andrews leans heavily into the unknowability of the magic land the heroes are dropped into, and the ending may be more unclear than some readers would like.

At the end of the day, Amazing Fantasy’s biggest selling point is its truly gorgeous art, and this reader thinks that the diverse and shifting art styles alone make this collection a worthy purchase and addition to one’s comic collection, even though there are certainly valid criticisms of the miniseries that would make some readers not interested. Not only does Kaare Andrews demonstrate truly impressive signature versatility of his art through the stunningly realistic covers and impressive cartoon-style panels, but he also slyly shifts the artistic style of the three main characters, giving the reader an artistic perspective shift as well as a narrative one, deepening the focus on each separate plot until they successfully converge together.

Amazing Fantasy ends up being an exciting and unique modern Marvel romance and action adventure, with beautiful art that outshines the at-times confusing plot, which works best collected in full in trade paperback form.

'Amazing Fantasy' collects an homage to pulp sci-fi with stunning art
‘Amazing Fantasy’ collects an homage to pulp sci-fi with stunning art
Amazing Fantasy
Kaare Andrews' gorgeous, evocative art makes up for any confusing world-building issues in this impressive homage to classic pulp science fiction and fantasy, with an engaging twist on beloved superheroes origin stories. While not for everybody, Amazing Fantasy is a fun "What If…?"-style exploration of one potential afterlife for Marvel's heroes.
Reader Rating1 Votes
Style, presentation, and plot truly feel like a return to classic pulp science fiction magazines
Andrews' covers in particular are stunning – almost worth the price of admission alone
Black Widow's story is a highlight of the entire arc
"Prequel" comic is confusingly placed at end of collection
Lacks the potentially limitless scope of a Marvel Universe alternate reality story
Ending is confusing and not explained properly
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