Marvel Comics turns 80 this year and the party has not stopped all year long — from special trade paperbacks like Decades to classic series like Tales of Suspense coming back to commemorate the anniversary. A big part of that celebration is Marvel Comics #1000, a special 80-page behemoth involving 80 creative teams, the biggest names in comics, and the beginning of something that will change Marvel Comics forever. Something so massive was bound to be a very difficult project to kick off, which begs the question, is it good?
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Eighty years! An army of legendary creators! One story! All in one sensational hardcover! In celebration of Marvel’s 80th anniversary, we have gathered the greatest array of talent ever to be assembled between two covers! Names from the past, the present and even the future! Every page is filled with all-new work from this cavalcade of comics luminaries! A mystery threads throughout the Marvel Universe — one that began in MARVEL COMICS #1 and unites a disparate array of heroes and villains throughout the decades! What is the Eternity Mask? And who is responsible for the conspiracy to keep it hidden? As secrets are peeled away, answers await the entirety of the Marvel Universe! The landmark event is collected together with an awesome assortment of bonus features!
Why does this matter?
Al Ewing is dubbed the “mastermind” in the back of this book and for good reason. He not only writes the most one-page stories in this collection, but he also writes a historical accounting of a centuries-old plot that ends the book on a hell of a cliffhanger.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
After you crack this book open and begin to read the stories within it’s immediately obvious this is a labor of love. The 80 creative teams involved include some of the biggest creators to ever write a comic let alone a Marvel Comic and each story feels like a love letter to the character or story they’ve chosen to focus on. The book starts shrouded in mystery and in fact begins with the single panel below in the center of a black page.
The panel is from Marvel Comics #1 and serves as the beginning of an interwoven story by Al Ewing. It’s a mysterious scene that plays into the dark corners of the universe where decisions are made and plans are plotted. Over the course of the issue, we learn a little bit more about a mysterious group, a mysterious mask, and where it came from. It’s a clever idea as Ewing pops in and out as you read this collection with developments of these three strange men, their purpose, and ultimately how they are involved in a cliffhanger that dabbles in Marvel Comics history. It’s a clever way of tying this massive tome together giving it a singular purpose and to give the many creators something to hang their hats on.
Another element that ties this book together so well is a caption on every page that lists the year in a red dot and adds context to the story (generally what comic the page is referring to or what iconic thing happened in that year). After the first few pages, I found myself searching for the caption (it pops up here and there on each page). It’s also a great way to revel in the impressive history of Marvel Comics.
As far as the stories go well over 90% of them are excellent be it fun goofy stories like Joe Hill and Michael Allred’s hilarious Doctor Strange story to Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka’s excellent She-Hulk story that makes the case for the “she” in her name. No matter what each story pays homage to each page serves as a way to celebrate the character–and with the caption that comes with it–the history. Other standout one-page stories include Erik Larsen’s (colors by Nikos Koutsis and Mike Toris) Spidey/Thing story that’s super fun, Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s (colors by David Curiel) heart-wrenching Spider-Man story, Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez’s fun Captain Marvel story about rules, Ryan North & James Harren’s beautifully drawn epic Galactus story, Kathryn Immonen and Stuart Immonen’s Patsy Walker’s fun selfie story, and Jeff Lemire’s clever time-travel story. There are quite a few momentous moments too like Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham’s Miracleman story that is a celebration of comics, a Daredevil story by Joe Quesada, Kevin Nowlan (inks), and Richard Isanove (colors) that is instantly iconic, and a Spider-Man story by Brad Meltzer and Julian Totino Tedesco that’s all about legacy. There are many more stories worth discussing, but I’ll let you experience them yourself.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
There are maybe 2 or 3 stories that don’t quite work, didn’t have enough time, or were awkwardly told. Given that fact, one page really isn’t enough to tell a substantial story and it makes sense a few tales will falter. It’s a solid collection of stories and it’s actually quite impressive so many are so very good.
If you were to nitpick, Al Ewing’s single story that pops up throughout the book does have a slight pacing issue. It pops in quite a bit in the first quarter but pretty much is absent in the middle of the book. When it does pop back in at the end of the book it takes a minute to realize the story has picked back up.
Is it good?
If you’re on the fence about the historic nature of this book (since Marvel Comics never actually earned its #1000 issue) fear not as the impressive list of creators and their impressive stories deliver. I recommend you bask in Marvel history for an extra-sized extravaganza and pick this up.
Remarkably enjoyable, even delightful, Marvel Comics #1000 chronicles the dark mysteries and the endearing characters offering a chance to acquire a deeper appreciation for Marvel history.