Sunday, 29 March 2009

TPB Review: Marvel Visionaries - Busiek

Marvel Visionaries: Kurt Busiek, includes Untold Tales of Spider-Man #1-8, by Busiek / Olliffe.

Nowadays, Spider-Man's vast history is the subject of countless series', some more succesful than others. However, to the best of my knowledge Kurt Busiek's Untold Tales was the first series to attempt to plug the gaps in between early Stan Lee and Steve Ditko issues. Although the book was a commercial failure and was cancelled after Busiek left with #25, it has been critically acclaimed since, which led to Busiek getting his own 'Marvel Visionaries' volume.

The most immediatley obvious thing about the series is its retro style. The stories are all done in one, with concurrent subplots running throughout. Many of the stories are far from serious by modern standards, and come across as a little silly, particularly the team-up with the Human Torch in #6. However, it could be argued that this is Busiek's attempt to capture the feel of 60's comics, and he certainly achieves that. While his attemps to create new villains fall a little flat Busiek handles the classics excellently. His portrayal of Sandman is particularly impressive. Another plus is the characterisation of Spidey. Busiek takes into consideration that he had only been wearing the webs for a very short amount of time when these stories took place, and so portrays him as somewhat inexperienced and naive, a nice detail. He is also very careful with continuity, the stories fit neatly into place with the Lee/Ditko issues, and it would be very interesting reading them side by side.

Finally, Pat Olliffe's stellar art must be mentioned. His style is very close to Ditko's while still retaining it's own unique style. His renditions of Spidey's villains are about as classic as it goes, it's a shame that he has pencilled very little mainstream Spider-Man.

Overall, while Busiek and Olliffe's Untold Tales is perhaps slightly outdated, and a bit of a dramatic shift from the modern storytelling methods of today, it is still an excellent read for fans of the wall crawler.


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