Telling stories in the past that reveal unknown connections is a somewhat divisive move. Some fans like to see the fictional world gain a more coherent design as characters have no relationships to build stories upon in the future. Others wonder why everything has to be connected to everything else and question why these relationships weren’t mentioned beforehand if they supposedly existed. The best way to please both groups? Put a creative team like Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting on your book, because nothing pleases like a quality comic, which “The Marvels Project” #1 most certainly is.
Purporting to shed some light on the Golden Age Marvel universe and how the various heroes published by Timely (the company that would eventually become Marvel) tie together, “The Marvels Project” shares some plot and conceptual points with “Marvels,” but where that work examined these events from a civilian perspective, Brubaker is showing us them from an informed one, an insider’s view of how superheroes came to be, rising during World War II. Beginning in 1939, the War continues in Europe, but America has not yet been drawn into. FDR, though, obviously wants to join the fray and sees involvement as inevitable, and is already working with Allies against the Nazis.
Beginning two years prior to the United States’ involvement in the war allows Brubaker to reveal the behind-the-scenes actions the government was undertaking to fight against Germany, which ties into the secretive nature of the creation of superhumans at the same time. By linking the real and fictional, Brubaker plants the seeds for a compelling story in these pages. While only the opening chapter, quite a lot of information is given and may overwhelm some, but, no doubt, everything covered here will play a big role in future issues.
Dr. Thomas Halloway is our way into the story as he narrates. What role he will play exactly is unknown, except that he is the Golden Age Angel, a mostly forgotten hero of that time. His voice is suitably informed and overarching, gaining the confidence of the reader and possessing a clear understanding of the events of the series. At the beginning of the issue, he has an encounter with the Two-Gun Kid, who has seen the future firsthand, and that encounter is the perfect prologue to set the stage for this series. We all know what will eventually happen, what begins here, and that gives these events a grander, larger feeling — a bigger sense of importance.
Anyone who’s been reading “Captain America” knows that Steve Epting is at home drawing regular people as he is at drawing superpeople. More than that, he’s spent some time depicting this very time period in flashback in that title, so he is the most natural choice to illustrate this story. Quite simply, he nails it one hundred per cent. His realistic style is the right fit for this story, which is so centered in real events and contains real people.
While only an introduction to the players of this story, “The Marvels Project” #1 already demonstrates that the hype on this project may also be the reality. Not to be missed.