For years, I have loved the collaboration of 2 of the great names in comics: Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. They have worked together on so many great titles such as BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, BATMAN: HAUNTED KNIGHT, BATMAN: DARK VICTORY, and CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME… These are obviously for DC Comics but they have also made books together with Marvel Comics that I like to call the “color books.” No, it doesn’t mean that you can get some crayons or markers and stay between the lines. The premise is that they take classic heroes and well-known stories and fill in the details of the events. Confusing? I’ll explain with each title in a bit. With Marvel, Loeb and Sale have done such titles as DAREDEVIL: YELLOW, SPIDER-MAN: BLUE, HULK: GREY, and the upcoming CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE. These are some of the most well-known and best stories about these characters that have ever been written.
Loeb’s words and Sale’s art are a beautiful match. The art reminds me a bit of memories and it makes the books feel like you’re seeing the stories the way the characters remember it. I have been a fan of Tim Sale’s since I came across it well over a decade ago. There is a simple-complexity in his art that lets you focus on the panel but not pull you out of the story.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE
I’ll start with CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE because, well, it hasn’t been released yet. Only the “0” issue had been released back in 2008 as a preview issue of the series before the actual run. It was to be based on a time when Cap and Bucky were fighting ze Nazis in WWII before he became a cap-sicle. The book was listed as being “worked on” and it seemed like it was going well until suddenly…it was canceled. There was no real reason as to why Marvel scrapped it but I think it may have been when comic sales and Captain America especially was in a lull. The film IRON MAN was releasing in the same year and this is when Marvel Studios blew up. Fast forward some years later and now Cap is everywhere. So this series will be released in September 2015 and we shall see how it happens.
This is my second favorite out of these books. It’s about Matt Murdock in the red Daredevil costume, swinging around New York and reminiscing about Karen Page. She was one of his great loves and had such strong feelings for her. In his memories, it was back to when he was in the classic yellow outfit, still a little green but making a name for himself. It’s a sweet story and shows a side of how Matt was struggling with having feelings for Karen, being a hero, and also being a civilian.
This is a great story but when it was released, I didn’t know how it fit in with these books. It was the only one that wasn’t a story about tough emotions and focused on Bruce telling Doc Samson how he felt right after the gamma bomb incident. The only part that was superb was when they threw Iron Man in the mix but in the original suit or maybe the second because it was a gold color. There were no gadgets and just Hulk and Iron Man going toe-to-toe. I don’t dislike the book in the slightest but it is probably my least favorite.
And now to my favorite book in the “series” and maybe my favorite Spider-Man story ever. This is a beautifully written and illustrated story about how once a year Peter Parker/Spider-Man feels “blue” in his sadness. It’s the day that the Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacy and Peter’s heart still has a void for the girl. While rummaging through some things in the attic, he finds a tape recorder and begins to tell the story between defeating Norman Osbourne/Green Goblin and right before Gwen died. This isn’t just some sappy kissing book but a very heartfelt telling about the details between the lines in the existing comics. I won’t go into too much detail because I think it’s too good to spoil.
The bottom line is that these are some of the best books that Marvel has to offer. Classic heroes in classic stories that hold up as if they were written last month. These books are well-written and have beautiful artwork that makes them real page-turners. I can highly recommend the Marvel Color books without hesitation.