Collecting Marvels #0-4. Within the Marvel Universe, heroes soar high in the skies, ready to battle the villains who threaten their world. Yet living in the shadow of these extraordinary icons are ordinary men and women who view the ìMARVELSî with a mixture of fear, disbelief, envy and admiration. Among them is Phil Sheldon, a New York City photojournalist who has dedicated his career to covering the exploits of the Marvels and their effect on humankind. Written by Kurt Busiek and masterfully illustrated by Alex Ross, Marvels presents a richly painted historical overview of the entire Marvel Universe, spanning from the 1939 debut of the Human Torch to the fearsome coming of the world-devouring Galactus ó and culminating in the shocking death of Gwen Stacy, Spider-Manís first love.
Ten years ago, Marvels was the breakthrough work for both of its creators: a worm's-eye view of the spectacle of Marvel comics history 35 years of glorious superheroes and terrifying super-disasters, told from the perspective of Phil Sheldon, a newspaper photographer who's experienced "the marvels" from ground level. Renowned artist Ross's rich, lush, nearly photorealistic style (he painted all the major characters from photographs of models) made his reputation and the book a landmark. The story, too, suggests a sort of grandeur that had largely slipped away from superhero comics by the early '90s, even as it describes the helplessness that normal people might feel in the presence of angel-winged mutants and rapacious gods from outer space. There are plenty of Easter eggs in Marvels for longtime comics buffs, although the book is structured so that new readers won't be lost, either. The level of detail goes much deeper than what's visible on the page, but its creators' command of that unseen background gives the story itself force and resilience. This new edition augments the original with over 200 pages of extras: four drafts of Busiek's original proposal for the series, all of his scripts, a short bonus story, dozens of Ross's sketches and related artwork, and a guide to the many celebrity cameo appearances Ross drew into the original.