Wonders. A work of art

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Marvels is a gem, a different take on the world of superheroes that took place in 1994 four Eisner Awards: best limited series, best designer (Ross), best cover (Ross) and best unit number (# 2 Monsters). In the words of Stan Lee, it was “A giant leap that brings us to a new height in the evolution of illustrated literature”. That is, we are faced with one of the best Marvel comics in its long history.

The idea for the series comes from a very young artist who had already stood out for his participation in the miniseries Terminator: The Engraving (1990), in which he does all the artistic work: pencils, colors and covers. . Nelson Alexander Ross got stuck in Marvel with plans for a limited series of 10 indie issues with the most outstanding characters from the Marvel universe.

Busiek At that time, he was a seasoned screenwriter who had worked in the industry for 12 years and was known to enhance the more human aspect of the characters. When Ross, whom he knew from a previous Marvel Project that had been canceled (Open Space), explained the concept to him, he immediately saw the potential he had, but featured an outdoor figure, photographer Phil Sheldon, as a common link between the ten stories. But despite the visual power of Ross’s designs and the fact that the story was good, the publisher didn’t approve of the series. It was the direct intervention of Tom Defalco, The Marvel Editor-in-Chief, who made the necessary adjustments to flip the coin: First reduces the ten numbers to four and the second proposes this to be a Marvel Universe story from its beginnings (Atlas Comics) to the present day (90s).

Superhero in the background

From there, Busiek builds the history of wonders, as the protagonist calls them, based on the most relevant moments in the Marvel Universe; the difference is that he uses the journalist’s eye to tell the facts, pass the superheroes to be secondary characters. Where epic battles have been drawn in the rest of the comics, the emphasis here is on the damage they cause; Instead of heroism, the pages reflect the fear and helplessness experienced by the population as new overpowered beings appear.

The journey is both narratively and visually a delight. The two artists carry out exhaustive research for the work which leads them to review a huge amount of material. Busiek, to build a coherent argument; Ross, so that each of his thumbnails is true to what was posted. The story begins with the original Human Torch (1939), which is considered the first Marvel superhero, and over the pages we learn how citizens normalize the appearance of new figures: Namor, Captain America, The Fantastic Four… and how they influence their daily lives. Lives. In Marvels, not only do superheroes have their place, villains have their place too. Events such as the arrival of Galactus, Namor’s attacks on New York or the battle between Spiderman and the Green Goblin are told from a citizen’s perspective.

Phil Sheldon’s story parallels that of those who frighten and fascinate him In equal parts, he is a privileged witness of his birth and of great events, but he also suffers the consequences: he loses an eye, his moral convictions are shaken with the appearance of mutants and he begins a personal crusade to rehabilitate a Spiderman hated. .

Each panel is a painting

In the visual aspect, we are before one of the most beautiful Marvel comics, It was the work that catapulted Alex Ross to fame, who two years later would establish himself as one of the best cartoonists in Kingdom Come history, this time with the competition (DC).

Ross, from a family of artists (his mother was a commercial designer and his grandfather an illustrator), developed a hyperrealistic style closer to classical painting than to comic drawing. He borrows elements from his two favorite comic book artists: Berni Wrightson and George Pérez, but his big influence is illustrator Norman Rockwell. Each of its thumbnails is a painting, since paint with watercolors, and all are cared for in every detail. This is why his rhythm of the work is very slow, around 10 pages per month, and that makes him a rare bird in an industry where Stakhanovist production has established itself as the system to follow. As a curiosity for several of his vignettes, he uses real photographs as a model to achieve a more realistic effect.

Consequences

In 2008 Kurt Busiek published in miniseries format (# 1-6 #) the following, Wonders: Eyeil de la Camara, for the drawing he relied on Jay Anacleto, who is also characterized by a hyper-realistic style, but without achieving the excellence of Ross. The original creative couple was brought together in 2019 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Marvels and posted a final story of Phil Sheldon and his family that works as an epilogue.

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