Marvels, quite simply, can’t live up to the potential of the first issue. The present action is about thirty years. Thirty years, four issues. It’s not going to be a solid narrative. Busiek has a couple opportunities to tie the first and fourth issue and doesn’t. It would have worked better without the same narrator throughout.
This issue does have the Gwen Stacy stuff, though, and it’s incredible. Busiek and Ross cast her as an angel in Marvel Universe and it works. It does work. Maybe it’s a little cheap–it’s not like no one but Gwen Stacy could appreciate these things, but there’s just something so … affecting about using her. It’s unfortunate the book has to contrive a relationship between her and the narrator for it to work.
Marvels is a wee self-important and a wee overbearing. It’s like no one ever realized what worked best.