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The Age of Marvels

June 16, 2010

Ed Brubaker’s tale of the early years of the Marvel Universe comes to a close with The Marvels Project #8, which brings us right up to the United States’ entry into World War II.  The Human Torch and Toro fly west to try and meet the enemy coming to Hawaii after Namor got information from the captured Atlantean about the traitor U-Man.  Seems Namor decided to cooperate on the condition that he could interrogate the Atlantean.  Namor realized that he had been in the wrong and ultimately decided to work with the U.S.  John Steele finally reached France and got information about the Nazi surprise attacks, and the information matched that of the captured Atlantean.  Captain America then asked the Human Torch to head west to take out the Japanese.  However, back in the present, as the Human Torch and Toro arrive, they realize just how many Japanese fliers there are, and how unlikely it is that they can destroy them all.  In the east, Cap, Bucky, and Namor protect Winston Churchill as he flies into Washington D.C.  The foretold surprise attack comes, and Namor attacks U-Man while Cap and Bucky handle basically everyone else.  Back west, the Human Torch and Toro try to take out as many planes and destroy as much as they can, but they’re unable to stop the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Captain America, Bucky, and Namor, however are successful.  Captain America later decides to keep the fight on the East Coast secret because of the sacrifice of all those lost at Pearl Harbor.  The five heroes ultimately band together as a team, the Invaders, who fight on all fronts of the war.  And shockingly, Namor made friends.  Red Hargrove died at Pearl Harbor, leading Nick Fury back into the war, ultimately leading the Howling Commandos.  John Steele continues fighting the Nazis by himself, but he disappears after D-Day.  Back in the United States, the Angel notes superheroes popping up everywhere and sees evil fought at every turn.  In the actual present, Steve Rogers delivers Angel’s notes on this time to his grandson, likewise a doctor.  He meets with the Two-Gun Kid, who is destined to go back in time and ultimately inspire Angel himself.  And the series ends as Angel’s grandson opens the box with the manuscript and Angel’s guns and mask, getting ready for a long read.

And everything ends by going back to how it begins: now, before the Two-Gun Kid returns to his own time and inspires Angel to become a superhero.  That’s some great story construction there, folks.  This was a very satisfying end to a superb look at the early years of the Marvel Universe.  It goes back to basically all of the ongoing subplots in the story, including Angel, Namor, John Steele, and Nick Fury.  It would have been nice to see the Destroyer mentioned again, but considering that he was only in it for a short while, it’s no big deal.  Brubaker really did a great job instilling emotion in the attack on Pearl Harbor and on keeping history the way it was, even with superheroes.  By making it too big a job for the Human Torch and Toro to handle, the emotion and meaning of Pearl Harbor is not lost; and yet it still makes sense that superheroes existed at the time, and that this could happen anyway.  Of course, the East Coast fight is more traditional superheroics, but Cap decided to keep it secret.  Steve Epting’s pencils are as impeccable as ever.  I really have nothing to say here, because I couldn’t possibly criticize him.  Except for maybe that his Winston Churchill didn’t look much like Winston Churchill.  But that’s really nitpicking, considering that Churchill was in a total of one panel and wasn’t the focus of the story in any way, shape, or form.  Even though other artists, like Olivier Coipel and Ivan Reis, may be better, they sometimes make mistakes.  I can’t say that I’ve seen Epting draw something that didn’t look awesome in his whole run on Captain America and here in the Marvels Project.  So he’s certainly got that going for him.  As before, I wish that there was some followup with this, that Brubaker and Epting could do an Invaders series or miniseries to tie in the pre-existing stories to their work here.  Unfortunately, that’s not happening, since I guess Brubaker doesn’t want to damage the already existing body of work about the Invaders and World War II.  Oh well.  At least this was a wholly satisfying story that really tied together the various strands of the early years of superheroes.

Plot: 8.8      Art: 9.3      Dialogue: 9.1      Overall: 8.9

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