Marvels Epilogue #1 Review

by Charles Martin on July 24, 2019

Marvels Epilogue #1 Review
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Alex Ross
Letterers: John Roshell & Richard Starkings

"Mah-Vels" backup strip
Steve Darnall with Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross
Artist: Mark Braun
Letter/Designer: Josh Johnson

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Hot on the heels of its annotated 25th-anniversary re-release, the seminal Marvels series gets a final piece of all-new storytelling: An epilogue from the original creators, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross.

It's accurately titled. This is a coda or a capstone, a nice little bit of dessert to polish off a feast. Epilogue is just 16 pages, (plus ample bonus materials) - really, just three scenes.

And it is glorious

If you bought the annotated Marvels, you must slip this onto the end to complete the set. It'll be there when they're collected and re-collected, but it's well worth grabbing now if you already like Marvels.

I think the most important thing to say is to strongly second Mr. Busiek's opinion voiced in some of the supplemental interviews: Alex Ross's interior skills have gone leaps and bounds beyond their already-formidable 1994 level. The visual brilliance of Marvels has never really been arguable; this final serving closes the book on an incredibly high artistic note.

It's Christmas at Rockefeller Center, and the Sheldon family just happens to be passing when Sentinels attack the X-Men. 

The supplemental material contextualizes this comic by pointing out a lot of the incredible continuity work. This new story is scrupulously interwoven into the fabric of X-Men #98 by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum. Both the art and the script borrow heavily from the original, delivering some of its best sights and lines in significantly enhanced ways.

Epilogue also takes the Marvels story in a new direction thematically. Rather than focusing on zeitgeist like the original or on protagonist Phil Sheldon like the "Eye of the Camera" sequel series, this little vignette is all about legacy. 

It shows us one new thing in the always-evolving world of Marvels: The first time Phil was there for a Big Hero Moment together with his daughters. And there is great magic in their sharing of that moment. 

This is the perfect backward glance to throw at Marvels in 2019. It's not the last word in the story, chronologically speaking. But it is a celebration of the story and its impact. It is the truly optimistic finale this series always deserved.

Past Marvels comics have shown Phil Sheldon grappling with good and evil, light and dark, optimism and bitterness. The original series ended in tension between those poles, with the man himself succumbing to bitterness but passing the baton to a more optimistic assistant.

The Epilogue takes another shot at that baton-passing, and it leans much harder into optimism. Phil shares a sense of wonderment with his daughters. Kindling that fire in a new generation refreshes it in an older one. It's a fitting tone for a triumphal Marvel story in 2019, when the enduring appeal of the company's heroes has never looked brighter.

And because this is a story crafted by Kurt Busiek, a serious master of the form, it's not just superficial puffery. The torch-passing theme is echoed in the heroic skies as well as on the civilian pavement - the Sheldons get to experience the debut of a brand new (for 1976, anyway) hero. 

Past Marvels comics gave Phil the refrain, "It never ends." But where that was once almost a curse, here it becomes a celebration. The Marvel universe never does end. It rolls on down the generations, in creators, readers, viewers, and heroes. There is always someone new to pick up the torch.

Marvels Epilogue is rightly named and eminently worthy, a fitting capstone to an all-time great series. It might not quite be a satisfying standalone story, but in its proper context, it is magnificent. It's beautiful and confident and resoundingly positive - exactly what the final chapter in a story that celebrates Marvel's boundless potential should be.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
The supplemental material even explains, with impeccable logic, why this story couldn't reproduce the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee cameo from X-Men #98.