Marvels, as I argued fifteen years ago and apparently am going to continue to argue today, feels more like a DC title than a Marvel one. It’s a combination of things–there’s something about Busiek’s narrator; he’s too common to be a Marvel protagonist, he’s too ugly, too sensitive. It’s also Ross’s art. Marvel comics have the superheroes on the street, doing their thing like it’s no big deal. They don’t look out of place. Marvels instead presents them as fantastic.
It’s not a perfect comic–I have a lot of questions about Busiek’s version of historical events and he’s way too blasé about repercussions of major events–but it’s damned effective. Ross’s art here isn’t his subsequent (and current?) style of the barrel-chested superhero, the Superman and Batman who eat lots of Ho Hos. They’re athletic, idealized… marvelous.
Is Busiek really the first one to call them Marvels?