REVIEW: Marvels Epilogue #1

Mavels Epilogue Cover (Cropped)

MARVELS EPILOGUE #1 / Written by Kurt Busiek / Pencilled, inked, and colored by Alex Ross / Lettered by John Roshell & Richard Starkings / Edited by Shannon Andrews, Alanna Smith, & Tom Brevoort / Published by Marvel Comics / July 24, 2019

Marvel Epilogue Cover by Alex Ross

Marvels Epilogue opens up on the face of Phil Sheldon, a face familiar to you if you’ve read the original Marvels miniseries or its follow-up story, Marvels: Eye of the Camera. As a photographer for the Daily Bugle, Phil has been established as a kind of intermediary between the reader and the superheroes (called “Marvels” in Phil’s world). For decades, we, the readers, have put ourselves in the shoes of the superheroes. We also saw the rest of the Marvel Universe, the sometimes thankless ordinary citizens, from the perspective of the people keeping them safe from extraordinary threats. When we read Marvels and its companion pieces, we’re looking at the same universe we thought we knew through a completely different pair of eyes. Sometimes Phil’s perspective teaches us to see things in a new way, and other times, Phil gets close enough to the action to see things from the perspective that we’re used to. Especially when it comes to mutants.

Speaking of mutants…
Like I was saying, Marvels Epilogue opens up on the face of Phil Sheldon. And then it pans out and we get to see the X-Men. The issue is a retelling of X-Men #98, except that it puts Phil and his two daughters in the thick of things. The effect is delightful, especially when we get to see classic panels of the X-Men in front of the Rockefeller ice skating rink while Matt Murdock, Nick Fury, the Contessa de la Fontaine, DC’s Lois Lane and Clark Kent, real-life Marvel artists Dave Cockrum and Paty Greer, and more mill around the scene, all done in Alex Ross’s larger-than-life style. Alex’s Ross’s photorealistic art is something special, usually reserved for covers, and it feels like a gift to get an entire story of it.

The X-Men at the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. Panel from Marvels Epilogue #1, art by Alex Ross.
The X-Men at the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink with cameos in the foreground. Recreated panel from Marvels Epilogue #1, art by Alex Ross.
The X-Men at the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink. Panel from X-Men #98. Pencils by Dave Cockrum, Inks by Sam Grainger, colors by Janice Cohen.
The X-Men at Rockefeller Center in the original panel from X-Men #98. Pencils by Dave Cockrum, inks by Sam Grainger, colors by Janice Cohen.

The Busiek-and-Ross team does a fabulous job here, just like they did in the original miniseries. Kurt Busiek’s voice for Sheldon is the perfect thing to create a character who is both a narrator and a relatable human being, flaws and all, while Alex Ross makes you a True Believer. You look at Ross’s Storm getting ready to attack a Sentinel and you feel just as amazed as Phil’s daughters do. 

We start with Phil having a chance encounter with Wolverine on the street while enjoying a New York’s winter evening with his daughters. A couple of Sentinels attack a nearby building (where we know from X-Men #98, but aren’t shown now, that Scott Summers and Jean Grey are having dinner inside). Beth and Jennie, Phil’s daughters, watch, awestruck, as the X-Men take on the threat. The story isn’t anything new, though in true Marvels style, it does connect some characters and events who were active at the same time but didn’t necessarily appear in the same books, but the point of Marvels isn’t to give us a new plot—it’s to help us get a better understanding of stories we thought we knew. The creator interviews at the back of the book give even more insight and are worth a read. Marvels Epilogue, like Marvels itself, is a heartfelt love letter to the Marvel universe and is a recommended read for all fans.

VERDICT: 5 out of 5

By day, Steph is a software designer and a writer. She loves underrated characters and filling in continuity gaps. Her ambition is to one day create the ultimate headcanon, a theory so breathtakingly perfect that it causes Marvel to revive the No-Prize just to make sure she receives one.

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