The Marvel Universe's origins have a long, convoluted history stretching back for eons, and across decades of comics stories. Fortunately, the aptly titled History of the Marvel Universe, by Mark Waid and Javier Rodríguez, not only streamlines the chronology but is also chock-full of familiar characters, events and settings, serving as the ultimate love letter to Marvel Comics.
The prologue takes place at the end of all things, as Galactus and Franklin Richards remain as the only survivors before the universe is consumed in entropic heat death and reborn in a new Big Bang. As reality as they know it enters its final stages, Franklin and Galactus reflect on the everything that came before, appropriately starting at the dawn of creation.
Waid is particularly well-suited for retelling the history of the Marvel Universe, having spent much of his time at the publisher exploring his deep love for the characters and their legacies, most recently as co-writer of the weekly series Avengers: No Surrender and Avengers: No Road Home.
However, History of the Marvel Universe may be Waid's most ambitious project yet, as he leaves no stone unturned. The history moves at a brisk pace, covering millions of years of backstory on each page, while remaining breezy enough for both new readers and longtime fans alike to follow. Having said that, it's a history lesson, and for readers perhaps looking for an epic brawl setting up the story, the new miniseries is more of a contemplative and comprehensive stroll.
What makes this debut issue excel is the art by Javier Rodríguez, with inks by Alvaro Lopez. The vibrant, colorful universe and its extensive library of characters are rendered with visual aplomb. Each page is packed with content that longtime Marvel fans will appreciate and pore over to pick out their favorite characters. And while major events are covered, there are enough offbeat, deep cuts within the Marvel library to appeal to those looking for more obscure details, including ones not related to superheroes at all.
History of the Marvel Universe delivers exactly on the promise of its title and premise, as all-encompassing chronicle of the fictional universe's exhaustive backstory. It's absolutely loaded with content, and Waid and Rodríguez leave nothing unaddressed as they briskly tour the Marvel millennia. With the age of heroes still unexplored, the pacing will likely slow down in future issues to tackle the biggest names and events. However, this miniseries streamlines the origins of the universe itself while its creative team's love for the universe is exceedingly clear.