Book: Marvels


Welcome to New York. Here, burning figures roam the streets, men in brightly colored costumes scale the glass and concrete walls, and creatures from space threaten to devour the world. This is the Marvel Universe, where the ordinary and fantastic interact daily. This is the world of Marvels. Collecting Marvels #0-4, by award-winning creators Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross.

I don’t know when it happened, but I think I’ve fully become a Marvel fan. I mean, I will still like Batman movies and television efforts of the Flash, but when it comes to choosing to purchase a Marvel or a DC comic? A Marvel title would always win. And after reading Marvels, my love for the Marvel universe is all the more underlined.

This was my realization: Marvel knows their market is diverse and accepting of out-of-the-box concepts. And so they welcome diverse and out-of-the-box concepts, and are willing to believe in them. Of course, this is hardly a surprising realization. Marvel, after all, is the company who risked everything to build a film production outfit to make movies they want made. And I love them for it.

Before I dive into Marvels, I want to thank my friend Chris Cantada for recommending the collection. While I love reading comics, I don’t really actively seek them out. So it’s really helpful when a friend recommends a title. Or a reader. You guys can recommend titles to me too. Recommendations are always welcome.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the collection:

Marvels is the story of superheroes told from the perspective of the ordinary people. Our main character is a photographer who becomes witness to many of the fantastical things that have been happening in and around Manhattan–and has gone through the different stages of being exposed to such things.

Instead of superhero origins, we are thrust into the background with the people who have been living in the boroughs before, during, and after each battle. We are made to be one of them. And it is, pardon the pun, marvelous.

One of the more interesting parts about comics, especially in Marvel, is how each superhero is received differently by the bystanders. You have the X-Men who are despised and reviled; you have Captain America who gets celebrated at every turn; the Fantastic Four are celebrities, while Spider-Man is continuously painted as a bad guy even as he saves New York time and time again. And now, finally, we get a take on the way.

We fear the unknown.

Whenever something out-of-this-world crazy happens in our world, we are aghast. We are afraid. And then we become curious. Now, imagine if that out-of-this-world crazy thing is capable of thought. What if it’s human? Or human-looking? The fear is amplified. Because we know what we’re capable of, as human beings. We know what they can be capable of too. And we know that they can be more because they are more.

Until they become heroes, and then we celebrate them.

But until when do we celebrate the powerful? History has shown that the public makes or breaks a celebrity figure. We are the ones responsible for the Justin Biebers, and the Miley Cyruses, and the Lindsay Lohans. We put them on pedestals and make them feel invincible. We are the ones who make excuses for them when they do something… less than clean-cut. Until such time when we feel we can’t control them anymore. And then we start painting them in a bad light.

This is the thesis of Marvels. Until when is a hero a hero? Who hails them as heroes?

We do.

The power of the super-powered isn’t as powerful as public perception. And the responsibility to be fair and just isn’t in the hands of the Marvels. It’s in ours.

And I applaud Marvels for its clear depiction of this power.