History of the Marvel Universe #4

by Krownest on October 16, 2019

Author: Mark Waid
Artist: Javier Rodiguez & Alvaro Lopez
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment

History of the Marvel Universe #4 finally gets into the dense 80s era of Marvel, when many of Marvel's most famous stories were released. The first issue dealt with events of the distant past, while #2 dealt with the 20th century, and #3 the beginning of the age of heroes. Since #3 told the origin stories of heroes like Spider-Man and the Avengers, #4 had the freedom to delve right into stories without much explanation. The issue opens on the Phoenix Saga, which was teased at the end of the last issue. We then see a few more origin stories before getting back to the action, this time Moon Knight, Nova, Dazzler, Captain Britain, Spider-Woman, and Ms. Marvel (Later known as Captain Marvel). 

The next section goes over a few more major storylines, like the Michael Korvac Saga, and the Fourth Host of Celestials. Hank Pym becomes estranged from the Avengers due to his inner demons getting the best of him. The New Mutants are formed by Charles Xavier, and heroes like Beta Ray Bill, Spectrum, and She-Hulk get their origins explained. And on one page, we get two of the most famous Marvel stories at the same time. A one-page spread explains the Beyonder's Secret War, the 12-issue saga from the mid-80s. And right next to that, Spider-Man gets a panel dedicated to his struggle with Venom.

The rnext few pages are a little more expository than the rest of the issue; we learn about the Power Pack, West Coast Avengers, Cloak & Dagger, X-Factor, and Morlocks all in a row. There's a really cool page dedicated to Baron Zemo's Masters of Evil (and Armor Wars). That storyline is one of my favorites, just because I grew up watching the same story play out in Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. A huge two-page spread explains the aftermath of the Mutant Massacre and birth of the Midnight Sons. After briefly introducing X-Force and Deadpool, a page is dedicated to the Infinity Saga, though the iconic Snap only gets a small panel. The rest of the issue shows the conflicts with the Kree Empire, Stryfe, Carnage, and the famous Clone Conspiracy. The issue ends with the Age of Apocalypse storyline, and a tease at Franklin Richards being the focus of the next issue.

I must say, while this series is right up my alley (I love timelines and continuity), it's getting a little too expository. The first couple issues balanced the the exposition with the framing story really well, but now it feels a little too much like just exposition. Franklin and Galactus only appeared briefly at the beginning (not including Franklin's appearance as a child). The amazing art helped me engage with it, but I'm started to get a little bored. I'm sure that'll change once the series reaches the more modern story arcs, though. As always, I love the Annotations at the end; things only get a one-sentence explanation in the comic part, so it's nice getting more details at the back, and issue numbers for people who might want to read these stories. Overall, while I'm getting a little bored of it, I still love History of the Marvel Universe.

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