“Re-imagining the greatest Marvel stories through folktales, myths, and fables from across the globe! In Avengers Fairy Tales, see Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the rest of the Avengers as you’ve never seen them before with all-new interpretations of Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, and the Wizard of Oz. In Spider-Man Fairy Tales, Mary Jane fills the shoes of another famous red-head in this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with super hero sensibilities! Will Spider-Man be able to save her on her way to Aunt May’s house? And in X-Men Fairy Tales, it’s a re-imagining of the tragic origin of Professor Xavier and Magneto! In the ancient African tale, “The Friendship of the Tortoise and the Eagle,” dangerous circumstances cause two pals to take violently different life paths…”
I am fairly certain I smiled my way through Marvel Fairy Tales, because, from start to finish, this graphic novel was a delight.
The most pressing question regarding this book is likely: Must you “know” the superheroes that have been recast as classic fairy tale characters in order to enjoy the six stories collected in it? The simple answer: No. It’s not necessary. The complicated answer: Even superficial knowledge will greatly enhance the reading experience, adding layers of emotion to the simplest of actions, and feeding the aforementioned delight as connections are made between the superhero and the role they were given within the fairy tale. My experience takes into account both sides of the coin; while I knew the majority of the superheroes featured in the book, I did not know others as well (if at all), and you’ll see how that affected my reading as I touch on each of the individual stories.
The last generalized note I’d make before moving on is that the didactic tone inherent to fairy tales is magnified here to the nth degree. In one case, the story is being told by an Avenger to a group of young children, and is literally being used as a cautionary tale. In other cases, it’s harder to discern why the moral or lesson was made so painfully obvious, but, either way, it didn’t put me off my stride in the least. Rather, it was almost…charming.
My favorite of the bunch! The reason being twofold: The Avengers – namely Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther – are perfectly suited to the roles of Peter and the Lost Boys; and Joao Lemos’ artwork is outstanding.
Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) and her brother Pietro (Quicksilver) wake one night to find a strange boy chasing his shadow across their room. The Captain urges the siblings to join him as he journeys back to Neverland, but once there, Wanda and Pietro are separated, and it falls on Wanda to lead the Lost Boys against Klaw in order to rescue her brother.
At first, I had wondered at Captain America being cast as Peter, but it makes perfect sense when you take into consideration how time works in Neverland, how it basically stands still, and that Cap – superhero Cap – is considered to be a “man out of time.” When that sunk in, gleeful would be an accurate way of describing my response (after I kicked myself for being slow on the uptake, that is). The remaining Lost Boys are true, in many ways, to their superhero counterparts – Iron Man is called Shellhead here; he offers Wanda a drink immediately after introducing himself (oh, Tony) – and the Wasp is a wonderful stand-in for Tinkerbell. Admittedly, going into this story I knew little about Panther (the Black Panther) and nothing at all about Klaw (the villain, but that probably goes without saying, yeah?), but found that that hardly mattered. (Although I did look up Klaw after the fact simply because it frustrated me that I had yet to run into him in my graphic novel reading frenzy.)
And the art! I would wax poetic about it if I could find the right words to do so, and just now they’re escaping me. Suffice it to say, I ADORED each and every page and panel. The way the characters were depicted tugged on my heartstrings – they look so innocent, so very young and sweet (even if mischief is their game). Joao Lemos’ art was whimsical and transportive; it pulled me into the story so completely, and, though I hate to use the word again, delighted my inner child.
“Created Equal” (Art by Nuno Plati)
In this Pinocchio retelling, Hank Pym is Gepetto to Vision’s Pinocchio. My knowledge of Vision is very, very basic, but it was enough to know that his superhero-self is an android – hence, not a “real boy.” I also knew little about the villain of the piece: Ultron. Despite that, it worked quite well for me, and I enjoyed the darker tones used in the art, how they echoed the somber themes that cast a shadow across the first three quarters of the story.
“Avengers Fairy Tales: Alice in Wonderland”
I have yet to officially meet the Young Avengers, and while I know some of them by sight – Wiccan and Speed, most notably – it wasn’t enough to truly assist my interpretation of this story, or how the young superheroes corresponded to their fairy tale roles, which meant that some of the nuances likely went over my head. While it felt a bit rushed, this piece was a solid addition to the collection. (And it certainly made me want to hasten my progress through the graphic novels I have at home in order to get to the Young Avengers.)
“Avengers Fairy Tales: Wizard of Oz” (Art by Takeshi Miyazawa)
My second favorite of the bunch! This one finds Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) stepping into green slippers, setting off down the yellow brick road to find the wizard, picking up a motley crew of misfits along the way. This story once again features Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, and you would be absolutely correct if you assumed that that had a whole lot to do with my enjoyment of it. Rather than go on at length about how fantastic it was, I’m just going to stick in a page (to the left) (and one of the panels [above]) that I loved (and it should be evident – if you’re at all familiar with my superhero biases – to understand why both made me immeasurably happy).
“Off the Beaten Path” (Art by Ricardo Tercio)
If I had to pick a third favorite, this would be it, which is surprising because I don’t consider myself to be a big Spider-man fan. (Though, to be fair, I haven’t read enough to have gotten into the character.) What I liked about this particular story was that Mary Jane is represented as a strong woman, ready and willing to defend herself; she wants her relationship with Peter to be an equal partnership. Peter, for his part, accepts Mary Jane for who she is, embracing her strength and independence, and stands beside her in the final confrontation. The whole thing was well-done, up to and including Ricardo Tercio’s art (sampled above).
“The Friendship of the Tortoise and the Eagle” (Art by Kyle Baker)
Honestly, this was my least favorite of the collection, but the story it was based on was a perfect fit for Professor X and Magneto and their troubled history/friendship. The art is harsher, less fluid, and relies on a more obvious but limited color palette.
Bringing this epic post to a close, I feel as though I only scraped the surface of the treasures found in this graphic novel. If you are even remotely interested in this and can get your hands on a copy, I would strongly urge you to do so.