Double-Teaming It: 1985 #1 review

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The ’80s was a great decade for comics. At Marvel, you had Chris Claremont on X-Men, Frank Miller and Klaus Janson (and later David Mazuchelli) on Daredevil, John Byrne on Fantastic Four… and of course, Secret Wars, Jim Shooter’s 12-issue mini-series starring almost all the major Marvel heroes and villains of the time. So it comes as little surprise that Mark Millar and Tommy Edwards have decided to revisit the comics of that era, specifically Secret Wars, which was just ending in 1985. There’s a twist, however: the story doesn’t take place in the Marvel Universe, but in the REAL world. Or as close to “real” a fictional story can get, anyway.

13-year-old Toby loves Marvel Comics. To him, they’re a simpler world than the one he lives in, a place where “every problem can be solved in twenty-four pages” (that’s two more pages than today’s comics!). Yet things begin to take a turn for the weird when he begins to see these very characters pop up in the real world. It doesn’t take long for other people to notice them too, but most dismiss them as whackjobs in Marvel costumes. While Toby draws the same conclusion at first, he soon realizes these are much more than cooks in suits. Too bad nobody believes him. Especially since most of the Marvel characters are villains…

Spiffy’s take: Like you mentioned, it was like an infusion of love for 80s, which I got a kick out of. I loved how it started with Toby narrating Secret War after the follow up to a killer first page: “Stan Lee and Jack Kirby invented the Marvel Universe. At least that’s what they thought”, or whatever. Awesome.

Goki’s take: I agree, that intro was a very nice touch. I think part of what makes 1985 #1 work so well is Millar’s fleshing out of Toby and his personal life. His parents are divorced and his dad, though an honest man and an inspiration to Toby, is kind of a deadbeat. His mom is remarried to a man who disapproves of Toby’s comic-buying habits, which makes Toby’s dislike of him all the less surprising. Furthermore, Toby’s parents make him see a psychiatrist every week, which makes his sightings of Marvel villains seem even less reliable than it would otherwise. Toby’s dysfunctional life makes his attitude toward comics understandable, but also ironic, as Marvel is known for its flawed characters.

Spiffy’s take: Some of the best stuff was the family issues Toby was having and just the portrayal of a boy comicbook reader that anyone reading can identify with. While this issue was mostly build up, I have a feeling we’re going to see an epic 5 issues to finish the thing. Millar is at his best with stuff out of continuity or elseworlds (Superman: Red Son, Wanted, Kick-Ass and you could say Ultimates and Ultimate X-Men as well), and I expect much of the same with this.

Goki’s take: Ditto on all fronts. There’s something very personal about the story being told here; you feel both Millar and Edwards seem to be putting a bit of themselves in Toby and the world he inhabits. Speaking of Edwards’ art, it suits the story perfectly. the level of detail he puts into each panel really sells us on the idea that Toby’s world is supposed to be as real as our own. Edwards also does a great job of giving the villains an ominous and creepy aura whenever they appear; if you can make the Vulture look scary, you know you’re doing a good job.

Spiffy’s take: I don’t think I’ve read anything by Edwards, but he’ll be a favorite by the time this mini ends. The guy at the store said he’d read Archie if Edwards did the pencils for it, and while I’m not sure I’m that fanatic, he was really great. There was so much detail, especially in the day to day “real life” scenes which you don’t always get to see. Just a thought, but he could probably do Daredevil really well.

And knowing my luck, hes probably done DD.

Goki’s take: Haha, I think he has! Anyway, another thing I liked about 1985 #1 was its accessibility. While it references a specific period in both real-world and Marvel history, you don’t need to know much about either to get what’s going on. People might scratch their heads at the Gary Groth, Comics Journal and Cerebus references, but none of these things are important to the main story. Millar is pretty good at making comics new-reader friendly, so this doesn’t come as too much a surprise.

So the verdict? It’s a very good comic with an intriguing story. This isn’t the average Mark Millar story, but he’s doing a spectacular job of telling it.

Spiffy’s take: 1985 #1 was easily my favorite issue of the week.

Goki’s take: I’m not sure it was my absolute favorite, but it was definitely a great issue. Stories like this one don’t come around often, so pick it up!

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6 Responses to “Double-Teaming It: 1985 #1 review”

  1. gokitalo Says:

    Slight behinds-the-scene secret for you: Spiffy and I didn’t actually have this conversation! Basically he combined two posts he did on a message board and showed it to me. I then spliced them with what I’d written so far and voila! Instant two-way. I think it turned out pretty well. How about you guys?

  2. spiffyithaca Says:

    Well done with the splicing Goki, like I told you. But really great review and I’m really excited about this mini series right now. If only it was weekly.

  3. davidry214 Says:

    [A HANDSOME MAN ENTERS]

    Well done you two, though I didn’t know Spiffy posted about comics outside of this blog, and that makes me feel hurt (not really, at all). Sounds like a very cool book, and though I’m not buying it, I have to imagine I’ll get it in trade some day.

  4. Lia Says:

    It better have Freedom Force in it at some point…

  5. gokitalo Says:

    BWAHAHA, you and your Freedom Force. Although seeing as it’s Millar, prospects don’t look promising…

  6. Goki’s Giving Judgment- May 2008 « Goki’s Giving Groin Says:

    […] Marvel 1985 #1: Fly DOWN (review HERE) […]

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