"Cosmology" by Joe Casey, Brian Holguin, and Ed McGuiness
The first issue of Mr. Majestic is one of my favorite superhero stories of all time for a pretty simple reason…it's an actual no bullshit for real superhero comic…
What I mean when I say that of course is that in the superhero genre, this underlying theme that anything goes, that these are stories where the impossible can, will, and should often happen is sometimes lost in our quest for ever more "realistic" viewpoints and storytelling approaches. Superhero comics have become almost too civilized in recent years, and in order to preserve what is truly great about them, there are times when all common sense must be tossed out the window in the interests of spectacle and legitimate wonder. And writers Joe Casey and Brian Holguin bring an overabundance of both to the table with a very simple question…remember when superheroes could move planets?
The story's premise is wonderfully 'Silver Age,' which is what I think we're still calling superhero comics that actually embrace and celebrate the type of insane high concepts that really should be the foundation of most superhero comics. A force of absolute annihilation has marked our entire solar system for destruction, and the only way to save it is to remake the entire system before it returns through a series of clearly impossible, yet clearly awesome superheroic feats. Things like, and this is just paraphrasing, giving the planet Mars its own set of rings, or shifting the Earth into an orbit around Jupiter, or creating a second sun, or even adding a tenth planet to the absolute edge of our solar system.
The really fun thing about this story (you know, on top of all that stuff I just mentioned) is how this "operation" is conducted over a number of years, overseen by a number of presidential administrations, and aided by more than a few elaborate distractions. It's mystery, politics, and science fiction all smashed together in one tremendously epic package that also manages to offer some great character moments on top of the widescreen theatrics.
Now some of this high praise will sound a bit familiar, as I have often mentioned in public that Joe Casey has written a TON of my favorite comics, but I also don't want to marginalize Brian Holguin's contributions here. Figuring out who's responsible for what clearly isn't the point here, because even among worthy competitors, this story always stands out, and I expect that'll be true for years and years to come. Both writers deserve a tremendous amount of credit, and it doesn't hurt matters that Ed McGuinness turned a major corner here, and would soon hit the fast track to comics' artistic A-list. It's just a great showing from all involved, and the kind of story and perspective that would later inspire (and rightfully so) fawning praise (from myself and many others) for Morrison and Quitely's superb All-Star Superman series…except "Cosmology" came out in 1999. And it's still one of the best, most creatively inspiring superhero stories I've ever read.
Check it out immediately if you've never had the opportunity…it's a real live superhero comic, and a pretty great one at that.
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Brandon Thomas writes comics and writes about comics. He's written stories for Dynamite, Marvel, DC, and Arcade Comics, and co-created The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury, with artist Lee Ferguson, which is available right now from Archaia in OGN format. His personal blog is The Fiction House, and his Twitter handle is @mirandamercury.