Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Reader's Diary #1811- Kurt Busiek (writers), Alex Ross (artist): Marvels

I just recently came across this article by Tom Baker at WhatCulture! called "10 Marvel Graphic Novels You Must Read Before You Die" and at number 1 he's placed Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross's Marvels.

Now having read it myself, I can't say that I'd argue. It is a remarkable book.

Marvels follows a photojournalist named Phil Sheldon whose been documenting a world filled with Marvels (superheroes) since the 30s to the present day (the 70s, in this case). Having seen others try this street view, adjacent to the action approach and it... not really succeeding, it's amazing how well Busiek pulled this off. It's never boring, not for a second; you get enough superhero action even if they're not the focus.

I really can stop thinking about what it all means. I think there's a strong case that the Marvels in this story are really no different to the everyday person, than our militaries and governments are to us in real life. At one moment they can seem heroic, at another demonic, and thus we keep see-sawing between fan-like adoration and hostile distrust. We never have the full story and what portions we get are controlled and though we know this, we still too often believe that reality is black and white.

And Busiek also makes this about comics. Comics give us these rich metaphors and the medium is as important as any other art that philosophizes on our existence.

Which brings me to Alex Ross. His art is stellar and the work he puts into these drawings and watercolours is evident and superior to most superhero art I've seen. It has a Norman Rockwell quality which is clearly intentional at times and fits the above themes brilliantly.

You do not need to be a long time Marvel Comics fan to enjoy this book by any stretch but if you are, you will certainly appreciate all the cameos and Easter eggs (including some non-Marvel references) immensely.

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