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Kurt Busiek (Author), Alex Ross (Illustrator)

Marvel Comics (Publisher)

In the early 1960s, when Stan Lee and a coterie of now legendary artists were creating the Marvel Universe, all the stories were set in a very real location, New York City, and most often in the borough of Manhattan. Before then, superheroes inhabited fictional places: Superman up up and awayed over Metropolis, Batman was the dark knight of Gotham. But the creations of Lee and Company—Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil—had their adventures in the Big Apple. Superheroes popped up all over New York City, and with superheroes came supervillains. Titanic battles ensued. No thought was given to how average New Yorkers were experiencing this whole new world until three decades later, when writer Kurt Busiek authored Marvels. Busiek mines the Marvel Universe’s early history, retelling tales of the era from the point of view of Phil Sheldon, a newspaper photographer who witnesses those epic clashes. It’s a solid tale told well. But the real revelation in Marvels is the stunning artwork of co-creator artist Alex Ross. Ironically, Marvels eschews the Marvel method, in which a penciler lays out and draws the story, an inker embellishes the drawing and yet another artist adds the color. Instead, Ross hand-paints every page. Ross, a master of color and light, achieves a heightened realism never before seen in illustrated fiction. The collected edition includes a ton of bonus artwork and a brief essay from Ross on how it all was accomplished. The year it was published, Marvels won three Harvey and three Eisner Awards.

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