Marvel Comics are 75 years old and they are celebrating their anniversary!
Ben Urich writes at his desk on the anniversary of the day The Fantastic Four got their powers. He poses the question: Where were you and what were you doing when the Fantastic Four first came to be?
Jane Fosters tells Dr Donald Blake to take a break in Norway.
As he gambles, Pepper Potts informs Tony Stark that Ho Yinsen is in the hotel. Tony doesn't want a meeting, he's sure their paths will cross another day.
Bruce Banner and Betty Ross have a picnic in the desert that will soon be off limits due to gamma bomb testing.
Hank Pym discovers and names Pym Particles in his lab.
Uncle Ben compliments a young Peter Parker on his photographs of Aunt May and wonders if he wants to pursue photography instead of science.
Matt Murdock punches in a shadowy gym.
Nick Fury drinks with Dum Dum Dugan in a bar and wonders if he'll help start an ambitious new project. Angel flies the skies.
Urich writes that the world changed that day, though marvels had been seen before:
Captain America is found in the ice.
The Winter Soldier is created and frozen.
Namor hides among the homeless.
But that day those four went into space changed everything. Watched by Major Carol Danvers as she flew her jet and as Sam Alexander watched The Rawhide Kid on TV whilst waiting for his Dad to come home, Reed, Sue, Ben and Jonny were bombarded by cosmic rays and, upon their return, transformed. The world continued its transformation from there:
Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters was founded.
Doctor Doom enslaved Latveria.
Luke Cage was imprisoned.
Wolverine was fused with adamantium.
Iron Fist was ready to face Shou-Lao the Undying.
Millie's modelling career was in full flow.
Storm walked the African savannah.
Doctor Strange discovered his sanctum.
Young Kamala Khan played in her back yard.
Urich poses one final question: Where were you when the world became fantastic?
This is a story truly befitting the comics aim of celebrating the 75th Anniversary.
It accomplishes that aim through clever and natural retrospective and stellar talent. James Robinson avoids the easy route of making each and every hero stand up to be counted but instead reveals the most intimate yet defining moments that have made them who they are today. There is only one blatant origin story here yet there are dozens at the same time.
It is quite an accomplishment to pre-empt all these famous characters in new ways that add to their mythos rather than cloud it. Take Peter being congratulated on his photographs. We've rarely (if ever) seen that scene yet it means so much to where Peter life took him and fits in perfectly.
Framing them with Urich's reporting is clever and is underused perfectly. The narrative bubbles do not crowd, simply guide the glimpses into the past.
That Robinson pins this story to The Fantastic Four is fine by me. Especially when the phenomenal Chris Samnee is drawing it. In fact, he could be drawing anything and it'd be amazing! He captures the sense of occasion here but, as ever, makes the quiet character moments an occasion in themselves whilst keeping consistent and detailed. I'd happily read the next thing he's drawing after Daredevil and hope it's Spider-Man related!
Lest we forget that this all happens in nine pages. Stellar storytelling worth celebrating.
A perfect story that captures the wonderful history, characters and world of Marvel's superheroes.