Every kid who has ever read a comic has fantasized about what would happen if the heroes in the funny books could exist in real life. In this book we meet Toby and we see what happens when super villains roam free in a city with no superheroes.
The story begin with two men at a drafting table and text that reads, "In nineteen sixty-one, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the marvel comic universe. Or so they thought..."
We see Dr. Doom standing tough against the energies of the Beyonder. Earth's superheroes rally together and attempt to leave Battleworld but instead find a giant sized Dr. Doom with all the powers of the Beyonder. This excites our young comic reader and protagonist Toby who orders Secret Wars 1-10 and pre-orders the rest of the series. On his way out of the comic store, he notices a toy that he never knew was made. The neck bearded shop keeper puzzles over the fact that the H.E.R.B.I.E. toy in question has not been made.
We find out that Toby's parents have been through a divorce which led him to withdraw into his comics. We also meet Toby's father Jerry and his step father Hart. Both of which seems like decent men. Jerry is a loving father who is going through financial troubles. The walk to the "old Wyncham house" where Jerry use to play as a child. The house is going to be turned into a nursing home and a short man in a visor offers the pair valuable comic books from the sixties which they refuse. Toby thinks that he sees the Red Skull in the window.
At school, Toby tells his friend Darius that he saw a man dressed as the Red Skull. Darius is weirded out and afraid that someone will beat him up just for hanging out with him. While Toby thinks that there's something familiar about the short visored man. At home, Toby's mom Julie harasses Toby about his dad passing up the valuable comics offered to him at the Wyncham house. "This is why your father will be buried in a pauper's grave," she says.
When Toby see the Vulture on the news, he goes alone to investigate the Wyncham house. It is there the here see Dr. Doom engaged in a conversation with the short visored man who is in fact the Mole Man. They speak of a man who they must obey. A man who ripped a hole from his world to theirs. Doom notices Toby and sends Mole Men after him. Toby runs away and is knocked back by a tree; except that it isn't a tree. Toby is on the ground looking up at the Hulk.
This is a really good book. The world set up in the book feels very much like the 80's with various comic covers sitting on the shelves of the comic store (including the Secret Wars) and a nice Masters of the Universe reference. Reading it even made me feel like it could've been an 80's movie (Monster Squad anyone?).
Toby and his father Jerry are characters who readers can very much identify with. Toby who plays the role of the smart, adventurous but misunderstood child and his father is an honorable man down on his luck. The family dynamic is also good. It's good to see that even though Jerry is divorced from Julie, he can still get along with the step-dad Hart.
The art is good even though it looks a little rough. Edwards has a knack for clearly showing his characters emotions. They look like they could be thinking more than their speech bubbles are saying.
With all the big world changing events that have been let downs in the past couple of years, marvel has finally put out something worth reading. Although it's not huge in scale, it captures an element of humanity in it. Its familiar without being predictable or boring. Five webs.