This work by all-star comics writer Mark Millar might have seemed more groundbreaking if “Lost” co-showrunner Damon Lindelof hadn’t pointed out in his introduction that the plot’s central twist was a rip-off of the twist at the heart of writer Jerome Bixby ‘s “Twilight Zone” episode, “It’s A Good Life.”
Ideas are often about execution though and, for the most part, Millar executes well. While I could not directly relate to the divorce scenario set up in the story, it made sense how that would factor into driving the young protagonist’s life. A certain mid-1980s boyhood adventure mood, of the kind found in films like “Explorers” or “The Goonies” resonates throughout the series. Furthermore, the main plot – involving 1980s-era Marvel heroes coming into ‘the real world’ – served as an interesting tie-in of sorts with Marvel’s mid-1980s “Secret Wars” maxi-series.
That said, the story never quite reached its potential. It had a happy ending that was mostly-satisfying, but there was an unsettling amount of death and destruction leveled against the protagonist’s hometown that was not really addressed. This created an oddly dark mood to work that was advertised as a nostalgic look back on reading Marvel comics of the mid-1980s. While I don’t object to violence as an element of storytelling, the work was left lacking when the effects of that violence wasn’t felt through the characters. Had the series been a little longer, perhaps that aspect of it wouldn’t have felt so rushed.