Written and Illustrated by Jonathan Hickman and Dustin Weaver
This is quite frankly, a stunning book. It is beautiful. You open it up and you know it is something special. The art and writing is credited to both Hickman and Weaver on the inside front cover. I would imagine that a good deal of that has to do with the synthesis that is necessary in a great comic book. On the art side, it is fairly obvious that Weaver is the penciller, but at the same time, the panels are dynamic, experimental, yet still intuitive in their progression.
Weaver steps up to the challenge that Hickman has thrown him and draws unnaturally perfect beings in the Iter. He handles the beauty of Florence and the grit of modern day Rome with ease. The Da Vinci panels are a primitive steampunk like none other before it. The Egypt sequence is full of visceral battle and in contrast to the infinite expanse of the celestials hiding under Rome.
Furthermore, he easily plays on our concepts of the characters, Da Vinci with his flowing hair is a built adventurer. The agents Stark and Rogers look like their modern counterparts. The Brood and Galactus in previous time periods.
Much of this is obviously the genius of Hickman. The mad science fiction writer of tomorrow. Yeah, I’m a fan. There is no denying it. I think Pax Romana, Transhuman, and The Nightly News are some of the most exciting comics of the 2000's. When Hickman made the jump to Marvel, it seemed like they sucked the big ideas from him. Secret Warriors has its moments but might be a tad bit overrated. His Fantastic Four seems to have the big ideas and seems to be building to something, but at this point it is unclear.
Right at the onset of this comic, Hickman lets us know he is back. Not only is he back, he is taking the entire Marvel Universe on an incredible ride. This is a secret history of Marvel. Leonid is Elijah Snow, getting ready to explore the unknown and with him is Leonardo Da Vinci, resurrected through time.
This is epic comics at its most breathtaking, cutting a wide swath across history and full of moments to make the comic geek giddy with excitement. Furthermore it sets up a grand mystery that will keep the reader engaged going forward. Certainly, it will have its detractors, this is a more high brow affair then “snikt!” and spandex. Folks will wonder where all the action is (even though it is there). For me, however, this is as good as comics get.
Pull list: Afterlife with Archie, Bodies, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Coffin Hill, Dead Boy Detectives, The Fade Out, The Goon, Harley Quinn, Hinterkind, Iron Fist: The Living Weapon,The Maxx Maximized, Miracleman, Ms. Marvel, Multiversity, Rasputin, Rocket Raccoon, Sandman: Overture, Silver Surfer, The Walking Dead, Wonder Woman