Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1

Written by Kurt Busiek
Art by Jay Anacleto
32 pages, color
Published by Marvel Comics

Have you ever felt like a comic (or a book, or a movie, or some other form of art) wasn’t meant for you? I couldn’t help but shake that feeling the entire time I was reading Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1, and that was a strange sensation. I remember buying the original issues of Marvels at my local comic book store back in the ’90s, and absolutely loving them. And you see, I think that’s the problem. With the first issue of Marvels: Eye of the Camera, it seems to me that Kurt Busiek and Jay Anacleto have created a comic that targets people who haven’t ever read Marvels.

Phil Sheldon is a photojournalist, one who shot some of the most dramatic moments of World War II. Those times are over now, though, and things seem to be returning to normal. Unfortunately, for Sheldon, normal is now little more than a code word for boring. Then the impossible happens, and as the Fantastic Four burst onto the scene, Sheldon’s life is about to change for good.

Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1 is set between the first and second issues of the original Marvels mini-series; filling in the gap where all of the super-powered beings begin to make their debut in the Marvel Universe. On paper, it seems like a natural addition to Busiek’s original mini-series. Busiek’s work on books like Avengers Forever and Untold Tales of Spider-Man have certainly shown that he’s capable of being able to seamlessly slot in tales between other, already-published books and stories. The problem I think I have, though, is that at least with the first issue of Marvels: Eye of the Camera, it’s telling a story that didn’t necessarily need to be told.

Honestly, when I first started reading Marvels: Eye of the Camera, my immediate thought was wondering if this was an actual replacement for the original Marvels. It seemed to be covering the exact same events and ground as that first mini-series, and I was more than a little perplexed about the point of this new story. It wasn’t until I finally went and pulled my copy of the book off the shelf and took a closer look that I realized that I was mistaken; these actual stories, with the debut of all of those ’60s characters, weren’t actually in Marvels. The problem is, I suspect I’m not the only reader who had already mentally filled in this particular gap. It ends up feeling like a retread of something we’ve already seen (even though that isn’t the case); Busiek and Alex Ross had done such a good job before that this feels a little pointless. Sheldon feeling exasperated with his job? The sense of wonder with new heroes on the scene? We’ve hit this before. The end result is that as someone who read Marvels already, nothing is really jumping out at me. I was expecting something new, something sort of ground that hadn’t been covered in Marvels. While Eye of the Camera has five more issues in which to do so, right now it’s not hitting that mark.

I do have to say, though, that Anacleto’s pencils for Marvels: Eye of the Camera are absolutely gorgeous. Anacleto is at his best when it comes to drawing the every day, ordinary people here. His cityscapes, full of crowds of people milling about? I’d hire Anacleto in a heartbeat based on those shots alone. He does an excellent job of drawing the average looking person, and in a comic that focuses in no small part on the general public’s reaction to superheroes, he’s a perfect choice. The one interesting thing, though, is that when the superheroes do show up they also look a little more average joe than people might be used to. Personally? I love that Reed Richards looks a little weathered and ordinary (if he wasn’t stretching his body around you can almost imagine a slight pot-belly on him), or that Sue Storm isn’t drawn in a dazzling super-model way. It’s a much more human, down to earth look at the heroes, and I really appreciate that.

Marvels: Eye of the Camera #1 is a strange start to the mini-series. Hopefully future issues will bring something a little newer to the table; those expecting a sequel that starts after the conclusion of the original Marvels will certainly be disappointed, both in terms of timeline as well as ending up with a duplicate of emotional beats that we’ve seen before. If you’ve never read Marvels before, this will certainly feel a lot more fresh and exciting. For those who have, though, just be warned that it’s starting out with more of the same in every possible way. With this being the first of six issues, though, there’s always the possibility for things to change as the story progresses. Until then, though, it’s just a tentative all right. Know what you’re in for, and you’ll be happy.

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