MARVEL 75th Anniversary Celebration
James Robinson – Writer
Chris Samnee – Artist
Jordie Bellaire – Color Artist
Cory Petit – Letterer
“Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge”
Bruce Timm & Stan Lee – Storytellers
Dave Stewart – Color Artist
Ferran Delgado – Letterer
Brian Michael Bendis – Writer
Michael Gaydos – Artist
Matt Hollingsworth – Color Artist
Cory Petit – Letterer
“That Parker Boy”
Tom Defalco – Writer
Stan Goldberg – Penciler
Scott Hanna – Inker
Joe Caramagna – Letterer
Len Wein – Writer
Paul Gulacy – Artist
Rain Beredo – Color Artist
Clayton Cowles – Letterer
“Marvel Comics We Never Made”
Brian Michael Bendis – Writer
Maris Wicks, Mike Deodato, Frank Martin, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Rachelle Rosenberg, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kevin Maguire, Marte Gracia, Joe Quinones, Francesco Francavilla, Sara Pichelli, Jason Keith – Artists
Manny Mederos – Lettering & Design
Marvel.com material by Paul Montgomery, Andrew Wheeler, and Andrew Steinbeiser
Paolo Rivera – Cover Painting
Review by Joey Braccino
Where were you…
When the world became fantastic?
75 years ago, a fledgling little publishing house called Timely Comics published Marvel Comics #1 (cover dated October 1939), which introduced the world to a gaggle of colorful, fantastical pulp superheroes: the original Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, and the flying detective, Angel.
2 years later, Timely introduced the world to Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s Captain America in Captain America Comics #1.
4 years after that, a classic “funny book” called Millie the Model illustrated by comics pioneer Ruth Atkinson debuted for Timely. Millie mixed humor and romance and ran for nearly 30 years, surviving the post-war downturn in the industry and lasting through the Atlas Comics era of that formerly fledgling little publishing house.
And for those two decades after Captain America’s debut, the industry did indeed see a considerable shift away from superhero four-colored fare and into romance, western, and pulp. Tights and capes were out of fashion and Timely gave way to Atlas.
And then, 22 years after Marvel Comics #1, in 1961, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby published Fantastic Four #1, and the world changed forever.
Here we are, 75 years after Torch and Sub-Mariner hit New York City in Marvel Comics #1, and the House of Ideas is celebrating with an over-sized anthology celebration that brings together some of the most influential creators in the history of the industry to tell stories of nostalgia of hope. There are some surprises in MARVEL 75th Anniversary Celebration #1, but those looking for ground-breaking, continuity-shifting material are in the wrong place; Celebration #1 is for the most part commemorative rather than canonical.
James Robinson and Chris Samnee start things off with “Anniversary,” a montage of iconic moments from Marvel history. Ben Urich, investigative reporter extraordinaire, narrates the story as he considers that repeated question—“Where were you when…”—and he reminisces about the origins of Tony Stark, the Avengers, Luke Cage, Millie the Model, Danny Rand, Peter Parker, Hank Pym, Bruce Banner, the X-Men, and so many more. The story is straight, heart-warming nostalgia, presenting the quiet moments as well as the iconic; where it really succeeds, however, is in capturing the breadth of time and the sheer scope in which the Marvel universe has existed. To see all of these moments juxtaposed in sequence—Millie and Steve Rogers opposite Luke Cage and Danny Rand opposite Tony Stark and Stephen Strange opposite Carol Danvers and Bucky Barnes opposite Peter Parker and Ororo Munroe—clearly captures just how all-encompassing and diverse the Marvel canon really is. And the final few panels, in which the newest icon in the Marvel U seems to be looking back on all of these events, reflects the hopeful and progressive future in store for the House of Ideas.
A strong start, but the real gem in Celebration #1 is the adapted version of Stan Lee’s very first story for Timely, “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge,” by comics icon Bruce Timm (of DC’s Animated Universe fame). Lee’s story was originally published in prose format back in 1941 in Captain America Comics #3, but now Lee and Timm have adapted the story for the comics page! Those familiar with the bombast and dynamism of those classic Captain America adventures will not be disappointed as Cap and Bucky battle some thugs and save the colonel! Marvel includes Lee’s original short story as well.
Tom DeFalco and Stan Goldberg capture the quintessential “Parker guilt” in the hilarious, heart-warming short, “That Parker Boy.” Goldberg, known for his iconic work on Archie, recently passed away, making this story (and the In Memorium at the back of the book) all the more poignant. It’s Goldberg’s Archie aesthetic that really makes “That Parker Boy” an engaging, fun story, and it perfectly reflects the core pathos of the Spider-Man character: the responsibility of heroism.
And what Marvel anniversary issue would be complete with out a Wolverine story? This time, Logan’s creator himself, Len Wein, takes the character on a surreal walkabout in the Australian outback. Bizarre doesn’t even begin to describe Wein’s story, but it is gorgeously illustrated by Paul Gulacy (The Hands of Shang-Chi) and Rain Beredo. It’s strange considering recent developments with the Wolverine character, sure, but it further cements the character’s legacy in the overall Marvel canon.
The weirdest part of this one-shot is the inclusion of an Alias short from creators Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. Don’t get me wrong–it’s awesome to see Jessica Jones take on a case, especially one that ends up being engrossed in Marvel history—but it’s still a bit bizarre to see such a gritty, clearly-MAX series (there’s a panel with Jessica on the john, as it were…) represented alongside an Archie-inspired Spider-Man story and a nostalgia piece like Robinson and Samnee’s. I do suppose it’s because of Brian Michael Bendis’ integral role in shaping the Marvel Universe over the last 15 years, and ultimately, it is a fun little short.
Sprinkled throughout are some hilarious, self-aware, “What If”-esque covers from some of the best artists in the business and several informative essays on various underrepresented moments in Marvel history, including one dedicated to Marvel’s inclusion of diverse characters in the canon.
Buy. Why not? Be a part of history! Marvel has continuously reflected and altered the landscape of global culture for 75 years, and this nostalgic, enjoyable 75th Celebration one-shot is an excellent way to kick off the festivities. Check it!