We here at Toy-TMA are famous for our coverage of toys, games, and everything related to things kids-like. However, while we hit action figures, dolls, video games, and general kids toys, I feel we’re lacking on comic books. No more! As you may presently be aware, I’m well versed in all forms of culture that you could consider “childlike,” so naturally I’m a comic snob. No no, I don’t get my undies in a bunch about only reading “artsy” comics, but I’ve read a lot from everywhere. So to start out the comic coverage, I want to draw your attention to a four-issue limited series called Marvels. Shall we?
The Comic Book Club Rundown
Marvels is based in the Marvel Universe, so Spider-Man, Captain America, and the X-Men pop up here and there. However, what makes Marvels so interesting to me isn’t the fact that it contains super heroes aplenty. Marvels is told from the perspective of Phil Sheldon, a freelance photographer, from the very beginning of the Marvel Universe up past the death of Gwen Stacy (that’s not a spoiler, you should have known that by now). Of the four issues, you’ll get a nice canvassing of some major events in the universe’s history, such as the mutant woes, the coming of Galactus, and the fights between Namor and the first Human Torch.
While the characters are well known, this is a perspective we rarely get to view them from. The way they’re portrayed here isn’t necessarily in a purely positive light. People are terrified of them, they’re awed by them, and they’re ungrateful to them, just as you’d expect people to be if this were the real world. I thought it was really cool to see everything from the viewpoint of the regular guys on the street.
Suddenly Galactus doesn’t seem like just another villain come to take over the world. Now he’s utterly terrifying because no one knows what’s happening. It’s a very humble retelling of some big events and it really works to balance out the universe better and give it a hint of, dare I say it, humanity that it’s usually lacking.
All of this comes together due to the artwork of Alex Ross. Ross is probably my favorite artist in comics today since his style isn’t about rippling muscles and unheard of proportions. He takes a more naturalist stance with the characters, drawing them as if they were real people (and seeing the photos of his friends posed for inspiration makes it even more impressive). I prefer seeing Spider-man look fit but not with muscles bulging from every conceivable angle since it makes him more relatable. Add to this Kurt Busiek as the equally amazing writer and you’ve got a great combo at work.
So why am I encouraging kids to get into Marvels so much? Because this isn’t the typical comic book where strong guys punch each other repeatedly. This is something that’s really good, and we need to encourage more mainstream comics like this one when we can. I won’t say it teaches kids lessons or anything, but it is smart and entertaining. It could very well jump-start an interest in photography in young minds or get them playing make-believe but at a smarter level than before. If their usual imagination pallet is filled with the reds and blues of most super hero comics, Marvels will add the needed Fuchsia or Indigo to make them more well-rounded.
You can find Marvels here.