How do you begin to sum up 75 years of Marvel storytelling in a single anthology? How do you go about capturing countless frantic page-turns from the counters of yesterday’s malt shops right up to today’s lost weekends with the Marvel Unlimited app? Marvel Comics’ Executive Editor Tom Brevoort hopes to recreate a slice of the experience with the MARVEL 75th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, 64 pages of daydreams made manifest coming this October.
Featuring all-new tales from the likes of Stan Lee and Bruce Timm, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Len Wein and Paul Gulacy, James Robinson, Tom DeFalco, Stan Goldberg, Scott Hanna, and many others, it’s much more than a time capsule. It’s a love letter.
“I knew that I wanted to do stories that would celebrate Marvel’s long history,” says Brevoort. “I knew that I also wanted to utilize a number of our classic creators, but not in an ‘Old Timer’s Day’ sort of fashion. And I knew that I wanted the overall package to touch on as much of the overall span of Marvel’s publishing history as possible—not just the very recent nor the very old material. So it’s a particular aesthetic balance I was trying to achieve.”
Pairing writers and artists with their respective stories offered a unique opportunity. In some instances, Brevoort paired creators with characters they originated or made famous. In other sections, he looked for exciting new combinations.
“In the case of Len Wein, it was [editor] Mike Marts’ idea to reunite Len with his most famous creation, Wolverine,” Brevoort explains. “In the case of Bruce Timm, I hit on the notion of turning Stan Lee’s very first story, a two-page text feature, into an actual Captain America tale, and Bruce seemed like a guy with the right set of skills to be able to take on that job. I had an idea for a story that would show what all sorts of other Marvel characters were doing during the time the Fantastic Four were embarking on their rocket journey, and that sounded like a James Robinson story to me. And when I mentioned the project to him, Brian Bendis came up with the notion of he and Michael Gaydos doing a new Jessica Jones story that would have her investigating a case with a legacy element to it.”
Sadly, so many of the writers and artists who contributed to Marvel's rich history have passed on. Brevoort hopes that the presence of those late storytellers might be felt in some way:
“We’re planning on doing a piece or a section to remember those Marvel contributors who are no longer with us. It’s not all put together yet, so we’ll see how it works out.”
The 64-page special spotlights numerous characters and eras. Limiting that showcase to any page count represents a major challenge in itself, but then there’s the cover. Zeroing in on the concept and artist for such a unifying image seems an impossible task, or so you might think.
“It really kind of boils down to that cover image—that you can open up a Marvel comic and become instantly drawn into a world of color and fantasy and adventure.”
Pick up the MARVEL 75TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL this October, look for more news and interviews coming to Marvel.com, and celebrate all year long at marvel.com/75 and on Twitter using the hash tag #Marvel75