As part of the dual celebrations of Marvel Comics turning 80 years old and Marvels turning 25, we the fans are treated to a brand new 16 page story and a another visit with Phil Sheldon and his family. The moment that Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross choose is a major moment in the lives of the newly minted X-Men, as this is taken right from the pages of Uncanny X-Men #98 in which Christmas is celebrated but spoiled by the return of the Sentinels. This time we get to see the events in motion, but from an everyman on the street point of view. Let us jump into this issue and get some SPOILERS!
Let me start by telling you that this story can be wedged into your collection of Marvels however you like. There are two stories that collect the life of the main character, Phil Sheldon. The first is the classic Marvels, and then there’s the 2008 sequel Marvels: Eye of the Camera. With Eye of the Camera, we see Kurt Busiek return with help from Roger Stern and new art by Jay Anacleto in the six issue story. After the 16 page story in Epilogue, there is an interview with Kurt and Alex — Kurt goes on to tell us that this story would take place between issues #2 and #3 of Eye of the Camera; but if you found yourself disinterested in the sequel or missed out on it, then Epilogue works perfectly after issue #4 of Marvels or Marvels Annotated.
If you found yourself purchasing the Marvels Annotated series, I would highly recommend to add this issue as it fits in with the style of the Annotated issues — story in the front, with interviews and extras in the back. This new Epilogue does have a price tag of $4.99, and I would say that it’s the best way to get the new pages if you don’t want to purchase a new, updated copy of Marvels that will probably collect the new issue and four part miniseries.
Now the actual 16 page story shows what it would have been like to be there at Rockefeller Center that Christmas Eve, and Alex Ross does his best to honor the late Dave Cockrum’s art, even including all the great cameos of Dave and Patty Cockrum, Nick Fury and the Contessa, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, DC Comics Editor Julius Schwartz, and even X-Men writer Chris Claremont. On the ground level, we get to see New York in motion and feel the excitement of the season, but then the drama unfolds and the sky explodes with the Sentinel battle that would continue on in the Uncanny X-Men comics (specifically issues #98-101).
Ross really gets to shine in showing his version of Storm’s transformation into costume and really creates a dynamite shot of a weather goddess before you. The colors really pop when you see Storm call forth the lightning. The next big art moment of the issue is the debut of Nova — the gold really amazes on the costume and powers. There is a big splash page towards the end that highlights Phil’s moments in Marvels, and what is nice about it is that they are familiar but they are a moment or two later, so they are just enough to feel new again.
Kurt does an amazing job getting back into the “spirit” of Phil Sheldon and I like the thoughts and reactions of Phil in this issue. We see that Phil wants to keep work out of this evening with his two daughters, but life in Marvel’s NY won’t let that happen. Kurt really does a great job showcasing the joy a parent would have seeing their children inherit the Marvel Universe, which makes sense, as while Kurt didn’t have kids when first wrote Marvels, he now has two. It’s fun to see Nova’s youth and eagerness to help in this new situation — he is even willing to help with clean up. Kurt does a great job of ending Epilogue on a sweeter note with Phil and his family then when we last saw all of them in either Marvels or Eye of the Camera; this time it feels hopeful.
The only drawback to this is that Epilogue is about one third of a typical Marvels story, so it opens a nostalgic wound just to leave you wanting more. Do yourself a favor read this issue, read the back portion, then go look at all the Easter eggs, and finally read Uncanny X-Men #98 to compare the art. It is a fun dive into the classic world of Marvels, and like I said, this will probably be the cheapest way to add the new story pages to your collection without buying another hardcover or trade paperback. Yet if you did get the Annotated issues, this is a nice add-on and closes the 25th anniversary celebration of Marvels perfectly.