Publisher Marvel Comics
Writer Ed Brubaker
Artist Steve Epting
Colors Dave Stewart
Since Marvel has had the preview pages of this book floating around for awhile the introductory pages were by now well worn territory, but it still set the stage nicely. We open with the Two Gun Kid, now an old man, dying in a hospital and being attended by a Dr Thomas Halloway. The old man regales the young doctor with his memories of the world to come and the strange heroes that will populate it as the Two Gun Kid had lived in the future for awhile. Halloway thinks it is a strange form of dementia but is fascinated by the stories and even takes notes. The old man dies and bequeaths his six shooters to Halloway, saying from one hero to another. The year is 1939 and the start of the super human era is about to begin. I was not exactly sure who Halloway would become, but a quick internet search lets me know he is The Angel, an old golden age non-powered costumed hero.
The rest of the comic is almost being told like a history book, which is what this is all about as it is the highlight of Marvel’s 70th Anniversary celebration. Brubaker does a great job giving us so many familiar scenes. For those of us familiar with the history of Marvel/Timely comics, Ed make it still feel like it is fresh. He is interweaving all the pieces into a tapestry and is tying things together that had never been tied together before, but as you read it, it does not feel like a classic retro-con, it feels like this was the “true” story.
We see FDR talking about financing Dr. Horton project of an android man (The Human Torch). We see the Germans “fishing” with depth charges to get Atlantians for their research. We also see Namor as his avenging son self shutting down one such operation. Next we find Dr. Erskine as a German Scientist working with those mer-people obviously looking to create a super human. We see Nick Fury and Red Hargrove get enlisted to rescue a German scientist wanting to defect. We see the Human Torch escape and cause a huge fire in New York and looting breaks out. We then see Dr. Halloway jump into action and start to realize maybe he needs to be more active in trying to save the world.
It is a great use of the “actual” history of the Marvel Universe being put together to make it feel like this was the plan all along. I’m not a continuity nitpicker, but I like how Ed is remaining true to the original stories and add minor touches here and there. The research to create a super soldier being based off Namor’s people, Nick Fury rescuing Dr Erskine who will go onto create Captain America is just a great chain of events. This issue was an excellent read and shows off Ed’s skill as a writer.
Steve Epting as the artist did a good job in conveying the story. Steve had tons of details and since it was a period piece he keeps everyone in the clothing of that time. Steve has a nice solid style that borders more on the realistic side, but not photo realism. This was a solid art job that served this story well. If it feels like I’m damning Steve with faint praise, I guess I am. His work is always very good, but his quite style is not going to have people clamoring to buy a book just for his art.
I was not sure what I was expecting going into this book, but what I got was a great day one of the MU book. Ed worked in all the familiar elements, but kept the story new and moving along at a nice pace. It was fun to see little things like Fury and Red Hargrove being brought into the story. I’m a little curious if this material will be considered actual canon for Marvel as it sets a lot of things in a specific time period, but I hope it is as it is telling a very good story.
This feels like a mini-series that will be a very good read with solid artwork, but I do not thing this will be a “wow” book as it is a retelling, but origin stories done well are a perennial favorite. This is the origin of Marvel Universe and if done right could be a series that can be read again and again. If the rest of the series is as good as the first issue it has a chance to be a great all time type favorite.
Overall Grade A – Ed Brubaker shows how good of a writer he can be with a strong start to a re-telling of the start of the MU. Steve Epting’s strong art is a great compliment to Ed’s work and fits this book like the proverbial glove.