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June 3, 2004 Meeting

by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross

Current Comic of the Month | About the Club

As the Heroes and Dragons Comic Club (HDCC) enters its second year, we've made a shocking realization:  Look through the list of books we've tackled, and you won't see a single Marvel Comic!

Super-heroes have always been larger than life.  From the godlike Superman and shrewdly brilliant Batman of World War II-era DC comics to the square-jawed leading men of 1950s science fiction, super-heroes embodied passion, motivation, and accomplishment beyond the ken of ordinary men.  While they played out moral melodramas based on human concerns, they were themselves far more than mortal.

That changed in the 1960s, when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby brought moral failings and human weakness to the world of the super-hero.  Through early Marvel comics like Fantastic Four and The X-Men, Lee and Kirby closed the gap between super-heroic concerns and human experience.  Despite villains who were were more dangerous than previous heroes' enemies, despite battles that were more spectacular and grander than those that had come before, the Marvel heroes had feet of clay.  They were, underneath their leotards and armor, human.

With that in mind, the Comic Club wants to tackle a graphic novel that addresses both the human and superhuman aspects of Marvel Comics.  A book that serves as introduction to the flavor Lee and Kirby brought to super-heroes.  A book where the heroes wear real clothes, sewn with their own hands, and carry the weight of real tragedies — all in the face of grand spectacle the Mighty Marvel Manner.

So face front, True Believers — at long last, the HDCC is delving into Marvel Comics, and we're starting with the 1994 mini-series Marvels, by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross.

If you're not familiar with this ground-breaking graphic novel, here's David Thompson's astute summary from The New Statesman:

Combining key scenarios from Marvel Comics’ sixty-year history with the almost photorealistic painting of Alex Ross, Kurt Busiek’s 1995 graphic novel Marvels has as its focus not a string of superhuman dramas, but the human bystanders who witness them. Told entirely from the perspective of a newspaper photographer, the story’s enormous span interlinks some of the medium’s finest moments. From the Frankenstein undertones of the 1940s Human Torch to the civil rights reflections of the X-Men, Busiek and Ross address the emotional impact of the fantastic, contrasting panoramic spectacle with notes of awe, fear, and alienation. Such is the book’s visual opulence and subtlety, the eye lingers over almost every page, absorbing period detail, both real and from its own fictional history. Lovingly crafted and strangely poignant, Marvels is no mere chronology of nostalgia, but an existential reminder of a capacity for wonder that adults all too often lose.

To enhance the reading experience, we're offering copies of the 10th anniversary hardcover edition to HDCC members at  unprecedented savings.  This edition includes the entire story as it was originally published (in four issues), plus sketchbook and background material from Marvels # 0 (the supplementary issue), a new introduction by Busiek, more design material from Ross, original scripts, and the full text of newspaper articles that appear in the series.  If ever there were a "definitive collection," this is it.

Join us in the H&D Game Room at 7:30pm Thursday, June 3 as we open the floor to a discussion of Marvels and Marvel super-heroes.


The Marvels 10th Anniversary Hardcover is available at Heroes and Dragons now, with a retail price of $49.99.  (Comic Club members pay only $30.95 when they show their membership cards at the counter.)

Comic Club members save 20% on all graphic novel purchases at H&D!

Previous Comics of the Month:

May 2004  | Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
April 2004  | Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
Hellboy: The Corpse
March 2004  | Superman Past and Present:
Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Man of Steel
February 2004  | Torso
January 2004  | Sgt. Rock: Between Hell and a Hard Place
December 2003  | Kingdom Come

November 2003  |

Batman: Arkham Asylum
October 2003  | Vault of Horror, Volumes 1 and 2
September 2003  | Blankets
August 2003  | Sin City, Volume 1
July 2003  | Astro City: Life in the Big City
June 2003  | The Golden Age
May 2003  | League of Extraordinary Gentlemen