Jim Starlin is back..and this time he brings us The End of the Marvel Universe!!
Written by: Jim Starlin Cover by: Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom Art by: Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom Colors by: Christie Scheele & Heroic Age Letters by: Cory Petit Assistant Editors: Marc Sumerak & Andy Schmidt Editor: Tom Brevoort Editor In Chief: Joe Quesada President: Bill Jemas
Where to begin? I think it's important to note that the wonder of any Jim Starlin project if nothing else has always been the cover. Marvel Universe: The End begins with that very type of "ohh, what's this?" cover and moves on to deliver so much more. The story begins with Thanos the "Mad Titan", who has always been a reliable fixture in any number of Jim Starlin's epic cosmic stories. Indeed, once again Thanos opens the narrative to claim that he alone has caused the end of all reality..and that we missed it! And in that same fell swoop, on the same page, ON HIS KNEES even, a humbled Thanos reveals that victory was but a joke, therefore leading to a self discovery of how very foolish he was in the first place. Powerful stuff. And that's on THE FIRST PAGE.
The story proceeds from that point narrated by Thanos in a retrospective look at events leading up to his current self pity and remorse (with a brief interlude of narration by Jean Grey). The roots of the current crisis seem to be embedded in the missing link in Egypt's long history of pharaoh rulers, Akhenaten. This self proclaimed spokesperson for the god known as Aten has very little recorded history other than the fact that he did rule once..but his body was never found. We learn the truth behind his ending on earth, and just as we find those facts out the story kicks into overdrive. Some authors shy away from huge casts and multiple storylines, not being able to manage those very well. Those same authors, if given the opportunity and challenge, surely wouldn't [spoiler]kill off the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four[/spoiler] in the very first chapter of course! Jim Starlin isn't "one of those" authors. Everything that we have felt about these characters comes to a crashing halt as impending doom enters the fray. "But these are gods! These are heroes! They've overcome plenty in the past!". All that is lost as you witness ease at which the adversary decimates the ranks. And Marvel Universe didn't even see it coming! Those who did surely didn't have time to prepare, and once they became aware, were judged on the spot. The results were not pretty.
Jim Starlin uses not a heavy hand in this, the end. Clique and "been there, done that" cannot be used loosely when you read (and re-read) the events. It's shock to witness, and it makes you wonder what's going to happen next. I mean, what COULD happen next. This is only book one of six, mind you. Mr. Starlin crafts a nostalgic style of storytelling that reminds one of his earlier legendary work on The Infinity Gauntlet yet remains totally relevant in today's world. In this era of trying to de-costume the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe, Starlin manages to approach the costumed routine (staying in continuity, rest assured..the X-Men are as they appear in New X-Men and the rest of the X-Books) while mixing it up with the reality of today's politics and world leaders. The events (if we are to believe that this could happen) are believably portrayed. The reader can imagine the characterization of the "real life" people that are portrayed in this book as well as the established Marvel Characters.
And what a number of characters there are! The Avengers, The X-Men (From all the books). The Avengers! The Fantastic Four! Doom, Namor, Eternity, Infinity, Thor, Zeus, the list is amazing! But it doesn't feel cluttered! Starlin is the master of this sort of thing, he made his mark with this type of cosmic, all encompassing tale.
As great as his story is, Starlin's real testament to this book is the art! Classic in it's presentation, it stands relevant in today's market just as much as it did over a decade ago. Only this time, he's gotten BETTER (if you can believe it). Add in today's paper quality and coloring (wonderfully done by Christie Scheele) and you have the perfect compliment to the words moving the story along. Starlin really is in a class with the greats, and it's refreshing to see that it's just as exciting as I remember it from when I was still in junior high school. And lets not forget that a great inker is always the key to the finished product as well, and Al Milgrom delivers unconditionally. These guys work great together. Amazing attention to detail and perspective mixed with open panels of cosmic greatness with no boarders gives the reader an impressive visual treat that would be worth the price alone (the fantastic story is an added bonus if you look at it from that point of view). Few artists today can make that kind of statement while being a veteran in this industry.
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I haven't been this excited about picking up the next chapter of a series in quite sometime. The hook is there. I remember when I read about this, and some of the players involved, I couldn't help but think of the past and ponder the conclusion of "hasn't this been done before?". But my worries were washed away as soon as I got a few pages into it and realized that Marvel Universe: The End is anything but redundant and worn out. The cosmic, "crossover" type book isn't dead. If anything, it's rejuvenated the fanboy in me. The only flaws I can see are trying to relate this book to the Marvel Universe proper. Small things like Xavier in his wheelchair and Captain Marvel not yet succumbing to his cosmic insanity could potentially throw of continuity nuts, and detract from the story if the reader focus's on those minor details. And they are minor, only worth mentioning as a warning to those people. You know who you are.
If you remember the greatness that was The Infinity Gauntlet and how it made you feel back then, pick this up. If you are newer to the industry and want a taste of what you missed, then this book is for you. And if you're a Marvel fan wondering how the man who brought us some of the greatest saga's in Marvel Comics history would chronicle The End, then you owe it to yourself to check this out.