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Marvel 1985 #1 Review

Marvel 1985 #1 review by Donna Jackson

Written by Mark Millar
Art by by Tommy Lee Edwards

It seems that everywhere you look, the eighties have made a return. Eight-bit video game characters appear on t-shirts worn by kids barely an age to have originally played them. Movie icons break out the whip or boxing gloves for one more hurrah. One-hit wonders roll on to the internet and bring their forgotten singles with them. Now it's comics' turn. Marvel 1985, like Kick-Ass, another current book by Mark Millar, takes place in our world. Both of its stars are teenage boys with an obsession for comics, but unlike Kick-Ass' s David Lizewski, the star of Marvel 1985 is not an action-starved glutton for punishment, nor is the world he resides in a haven for YouTube videos and MySpace friend requests. Instead, Marvel 1985 takes place in a quieter, less advanced America, within the midst of Reaganomics and He-Man cartoons.

Nineteen-eighty-five was a magical year. Mike Tyson, WrestleMania, and Nintendo all made their debut to America, "We Are The World" sang non-stop on radios across the country, and MacGyver was saving the day with a toothpick and some chewed bubble gum. In the comic book pages, Marvel was in its finishing stages of Secret Wars, its company-wide crossover that among other things, gave Spider-Man his black suit and made She-Hulk part of the Fantastic Four. Young comic fanatic Toby is currently embracing the latest issue, all while trying to survive his early teen years. His parents' messy divorce, his weekly shrink sessions, and his lack of focus in school make comic books the perfect getaway. At the same time, an old house in the neighborhood is being bought by some mysterious new tenants. One is short with thick dark glasses, and bears a slight resemblance to an old foe of the Fantastic Four. Even stranger (and much cooler), Toby swears he saw the Red Skull looking at him through the window of the house.

I predict that while most readers will be attracted to the glorified violence and humor of Kick-Ass, Marvel 1985 will find its niche with an older generation of fans. The premise is not new. DC has tried similar ideas with the now defunct Elseworlds and Realworlds series. What makes 1985 so charming is how it taps into the wonder and escapism that the medium of comic books provides us, especially at a young age. Like Kick-Ass asked why anyone wouldn't want to be a superhero, Marvel 1985 asks if a superhero could really solve the problems in our mundane lives as well as they can within 24 pages of storytelling.

Edward's hard lines and jagged faces work well for the story, and he draws an excellent Doom mask, but it's his night scenes that look the best. The final few pages of the books show a forest that is taken straight out of eighties' sci-fi teen movies like Flight of The Navigator. You almost expect to see a kid riding a bike with a blanketed alien in the basket through the forest. What we do encounter though, is just as interesting. I wasn't crazy about all the villains they introduced though. Doom and Red Skull were awesome, but the Vulture? There's a good reason why the chances are slim we'll ever see him in a live action movie.

Like many of these kind of stories, I worry that the payoff might feel a little too rushed or will leave us with more questions than answers on why the Marvel characters are in our world. But for a first issue, Mark Millar is 2 for 2 in new series. It's always interesting to read comics about someone who feels the same way about them as we do.

Rating: 8

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