The ‘History of the Marvel Universe’ isn’t so much a comic book as it is a double sized prose issue with comic images. In its 48 pages, this issue covers everything from the first appearance of the superheroes (or Marvels as they’re called in the Marvel Universe) during World War II through the recent events of ‘Fear Itself’ and ‘Spider-Island’.
As with most things with a massive scope in Marvel, the ‘History of the Marvel Universe’ is narrated by the being known as the Watcher. And while the Watcher takes us through several decades of Marvel comic history and generations of heroes, the title does manage to hit nearly every major event within the past five decades of Marvel’s history. We get obvious touchstones such as the creation of the Fantastic Four, the formation of the Avengers, and Civil War. We also get major events from the main characters. It details the death of Spider-Man’s first love Gwen Stacy and the various changes in lineups of the Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four. On top of all the usual stuff, the title also manages to touch on lesser-known or unpopular characters like the Power Pack, Howard the Duck, and Dazzler.
With so much ground to cover in such a short time, the ‘History of the Marvel Universe’ serves more as a primer for new readers than an encyclopedia. For that, you’d have to check out the recently released ‘Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe vol. 2’. But for only $3.99, Marvel’s given new readers a simple brief overview that is more than adequate to catch up on where the various Marvel titles are at this point in time. For older readers like myself, it’s a fun, if frantically paced, ride down memory lane (unlike ‘Avengers Origins: Thor’).
As nice as it is to have a cheap handy guide to the past fifty years of the Marvel Universe, the highlight of this issue is the artwork. Along with the Watcher’s dialog, Marvel has reprinted art from the original comics. There’s images from celebrated artists like Jack Kirby, Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Jim Starlin, and more. In flipping through the pages, it’s interesting to see how art styles have changed through the various eras.
If I have any complaint with this book, it’s that the art isn’t larger. I would’ve rather paid a little extra for a 100-page comic with the same story and more art. But, for the price, it does exactly what it needs to and recaps Marvel’s immense history in an attractive little package.
HISTORY OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE #1
Written by MIKE O’SULLIVAN, PATRICK DUKE, KEVIN GARCIA, JACOB ROUGEMONT, and ROGER OTT
Art by VARIOUS
Cover by SCOTT EATON