Style Beats Substance In History Of The Marvel Universe #3
by Olly MacNamee
With issue #3 of History of the Marvel Universe covering the Silver Age and much of the Bronze Age of comics, there is very little room for writer Mark Waid, artist Javier Rodríguez, along with Álvaro López on inks and Joe Caramagna on letters, to do much in the way of storytelling. What we’re left with, then, is a quick shoot through Marvel’s greatest age of publishing in a flash with the heavy lifting left to the art. Which is lucky, because Rodríguez and López’s strong sense of design and dynamic layout really helps keep this book from simply being a checklist of Marvel’s greatest moments that Waid has to, well, wade through. That’s not a criticism of the writer, he’s got a lot to cover, so it’s important that he does it in style to tempt readers to continue with what is, in effect, a long-form illustrative Wikipedia entry really.
As with the previous two issues, the history of the 616 is told across a series of splash pages and double page spreads that could well stand on their own as posters in their one right. And, within these carefully planned an produced pages there are other deign flairs to admire, such as when we witness Galactus’s first visit to Earth, as reflected through the Silver Surfer’s cosmic powered longboard, or when Hank McCoy mutates into his furry blue identity. The book is packed full of great, nostalgic moments from Marvel’s past, but with a careful eye for design. Not one trick seems to be repeated and that in itself is testimony to the skills Rodríguez, in particular, brings to this mini-series. I can imagine when its eventually collected in a trade, it’ll be an immense book to behold.
This is a book that’s guaranteed to have you feeling nostalgic for the yesteryear of comics, and at a time when Marvel was at the top of its game and producing socially aware heroes such as Black Panther, Luke Cage and Captain America’s brief stint as Nomad. A groovy era recounted in an art style that is both contemporary but also evocative of the simpler, more economic artwork of the past, as well as suggesting the influence of Will Eisner’s eye for design on every page too. an appropriate style for such a venture as this.
History of the Marvel Universe #3 may well be yet another attempt to consolidate Marvel’s very convoluted history, but it’s certainly done in style and out now from Marvel Comics.