Marvel Universe: Time and Again (Marvel)

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Experience is the crucible upon which men and women are both forged and broken. We’re all, each and every one of us, the sum of our collective experiences. The things that have happened to us, the things we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, the places that we’ve been and our interactions with others, they all play a part in helping to create the individuals that we become. Time and Again is a collection of stories that recount some of the lost, definitive encounters that played a part in developing the characters, and beliefs that lie at the heart , of some of the Marvel Universes most beloved heroes.  Hidden moments of Kitty Pryde, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Misty Knight Nick Fury and the Howling Commando’s, Miles Morales and Captain America and Bucky pasts are revealed in a brace of unflinching tales that reach into the heart of who they were and who they would ultimately become.

As a whole, Time and Again is a consummate collection that doesn’t suffer a dull or insipid moment and thanks to the sum of its parts, is never less than thoroughly engrossing. However, like all anthologies there are standout stories that’ll make the hairs on the back of your arms stand on end and send tingles of electricity down your spine. Tales like Tini Howard and Chris Sprouse’s Zigenfarm in which Captain America and Bucky lay their lives on the line in order to ensure that a trio of concentration camp escapees make it to freedom, whose narrative highlights the moral gulf that separates the opposing ideologies at war and the promise, and dream, that equality and liberty aren’t subjective, they’re the right of all men and women. Or Ethan Sacks and Andre Lima Araujo’s tragic Facing the Music that details the crushing realities that the Silver Surfer, while under the yoke of Galactus was forced to face and Dennis Hopeless and Djibril Morissette –Phan’s The Birth of Krakoa that uses Nick Fury and his Howling Commando’s to explore the thin line between the pursuit of knowledge through scientific discovery and playing god in the immediate aftermath of the initial A-bomb tests.

And then there’s Saladin Ahmed and Garry Brown’s story of the early days of Spider-Man and the Venom symbiote’s relationship that’s told from an unexpected, and intriguing angle that’ll make you rethink everything you thought you knew about parasitic extraterrestrial superhero suits. Beautifully illustrated, Time and Again is a compendium of stories that’ll stay with you long after you’ve finished reading them, one that hammers home the idea that, no matter where they come from or how they came by their powers, when all is said and done, every hero is shaped by their own,  and their encounters with, humanity. Incredible… Tim Cundle

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