Wearing my Cei-U! hat (which I've learned is surprisingly -- OK, maybe I should've expected it -- evocative of Galactus' headgear) this morning ...
As I've mention before, there was a long period where I simply didn't buy or even read comics. In 1988, I sold two-thirds of my collection and tucked the remainder away in the back of a closet. I'd loved the Marvel and DC characters since toddlerhood* but of late the crass commercialism and dreary downerism of the Big Two had me disillusioned and ready to move on. I was a grown-up now, after all. I worked in an office; I wore a suit and tie. I didn't need comics anymore.
Years passed. And then one day while attending a trade show at the University of Washington, I stopped by the U's bookstore on a break. Just browsing, no intention to buy... until I found myself staring at the cover of a book. It was an astonishingly realistic painting of Giant-Man striding across the rooftops of New York as seen from street level. And just like that, it all came back.
#1. Marvels #1-4
Needless to say, I bought that trade paperback, took it home and devoured it whole. Then I read it again, slowly, letting Alex Ross' art wash over me. It was if the man had been living inside my head, for here was a visualization of a Marvel Universe that hitherto had existed only in my imagination. Contrary to what some of his critics claim, Ross does some fine storytelling here in service of and expanding on Kurt Busiek's perceptive, wistful script. I didn't, of course, agree with every creative decision they made (I don't like Ross' Sub-Mariner, for one) but who cares? What's important is that Kurt and Alex rekindled my love for the heroes of my childhood and showed that, by Crom, it is possible to tell an adult story about them without deconstructing the genre or ladling on the profanity, gore and sex.
This may sound silly but Marvels gave me hope at a time in my life when there was nothing I needed more.
I summon the gamechanger!
* No toddling in my case, alas. I was more of a flopper.