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Review: Marvelman Family's Finest #1

More of a curiosity for comics historians.

No Caption Provided
The earliest adventures of Marvelman, Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman are reprinted here, including battles with the King of Vegetables, Young Nastyman and the "money-mad scientist" Gargunza.

The Good

There's a dreamy surrealism to these yarns that can be quite charming. Somebody could probably make a whole series of columns poking gentle fun at individual panels and specific leaps of logic in these pages. I liked "Marvelman and the Giant Morrow" short the most because there's something wonderfully insane about a "King of Vegetables" just popping out of nowhere and issuing an edict against county fairs, only for Marvelman to put him in his place. There's also something uniquely appealing to seeing this suburban English riff on Captain Marvel - - to figure out the corresponding elements of the mythologies, to chuckle at coincidences like Micky Moran's "Daily Bugle" and to get a perspective on the later deconstructionism Alan Moore did.

The Bad

These strips are products of their times - - they weren't intended for modern audiences. Thus, their plots and dialogue can either be described as charming and surreal or crudely simple and hackneyed, depending on what you're looking for out of them. One of the stories is about a mad scientist whose latest scheme is dissolving mountains (for reasons that don't look to profit him at all.) Marvelman shows up, gives him a wallop, throws all his chemicals onto the moon and then comes the next day to clean up his mess. That's the story, with a button line about the dangers of science tacked on. I'll also say that, even if these started off as B&W strips, they desperately need color.

The Verdict - 3/5

Only hardcore fans with a historian's bent are going to enjoy this. It's a great curiosity for those interested in comics history and it can be fun for somebody already accustomed to Silver Age surrealism, but these aren't the stories that made Marvelman famous. They set a greater context for those already in the know, but if you know nothing about Marvelman before reading this, you're going to be wondering what the big deal is after you've read it.