The end of the Marvel Universe began on Wednesday. (I’d have had this review up then, but the shipment to my local comic shop was delayed in Winnipeg. The reviews of the other five issues in the series should be on the days of release.)
Title: Marvel Universe: The End (Issue 1 of 6)
Script and Pencils: Jim Starlin
Original Publication Date: March 12, 2003
Cover Price: $3.50US, $5.75 Can (this is higher than average because
it’s an oversized issue)
Set adjacent to current continuity, this tells the story about the end
of the entire Marvel Universe. It is the second entry in what was
promised to be a series of tales about the ends of major Marvel
characters. (The first entry was last year’s Hulk: The End.)
This is not the way I thought it would begin. A lot of prominent
characters are dead by the end of this issue, and there’s not an
Infinity Gem in sight.
Spider-Man says “What goes on here?” and, later, Iron Man says “Never
before seen such weird readings.” I’ve never seen that kind of
grammar from either character before, and it really stuck out.
Starlin has written several of these Thanos-centric cosmic tales, but
this one doesn’t read like the way I remember any of the Infinity
titles. Usually, the heroes band together for a major brawl around
issue four or five. That doesn’t look feasible this time around.
That’s original enough for a 4 out of 6. (The Thanos,
Dr. Strange, Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock combo isn’t exactly new.)
The artwork has its moments. Some characters and scenes
look great, but some of the characters depicted in the group scenes
just look odd. (She-Hulk, for example. Iron Man’s mask is more
depressed than I’ve seen it before, as well.) Silver Surfer, Captain
Marvel, Doom, Thanos, Thor, and Gladiator, on the other hand, all look
great. I give it 4 out of 6.
The story isn’t complete yet, as this is only the first issue
in a six issue miniseries. It’s a promising start, though the only
purpose it seems to serve is to set up the important players. I give
it 4 out of 6.
The characterization is minimal. We have an evil villain who
has no depth, a narrator, a large number of characters who have one or
two lines, and a well-handled Doctor Doom. One well handled character
is not enough. I give it 2 out of 6.
The emotional response was fair. I was surprised by the
general direction, and by how soon some of these characters were
killed off. The rest was mild interest in where this story is going;
it’s really just the opening chapter in a much larger story. I give
it 4 out of 6.
The flow worked well, since it was mainly a collection of
group scenes with several parallel conversations. The only moment
that seemed out of place was the switching of the narrator on page 3.
I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, it’s a decent start, but it’s really too early to
judge it completely. As the first issue in a series designed to make
me want to read on, it does a decent job, but I don’t know if I’d have
continued the series if I hadn’t preordered the first five issues
before this came out. I give it 3 out of 6.
In total, Marvel Universe: The End issue 1 of 6 receives 26
out of 42.
Additional Notes and Comments
The series continues every two weeks until issue 5, at which point it
seems to take a break, with the final issue presumably out in June.
I’ll be reviewing all six issues on an individual basis.