MARVEL’S 616 [Series Review]: Excelsior!

Kevin “Pastor” Palma

Over the summer, SDCC had a panel on Marvel’s 616, a Disney Plus exclusive Marvel docuseries covering different aspects of Marvel, both as a professional and as a fan. I absolutely loved the panel and that gave me high expectations for the series, yet beginning with the first episode they managed to not just surpass those expectations but any hope I had for how good it could be. There’s something in it for all Marvel fans, new and old, casual and obssesive…

If, like me, you’ve been engrossed in Marvel Comics lore, have knowledge and appreciation for the work put in by writers and artists, and have a deep love of campy action/adventure live action TV shows then, also like me, you’ll likely be completely engrossed by the first 4 episodes.

The first is honestly the best episode of the entire series, though not by much. It goes in depth into the story of the background and creation of the Japanese Spider-Man live-action TV show that ran from 1978-79 and influenced so many later shows, especially during the mid-late 80’s and 90’s. This episode is absolutely wild, and I literally could not stop smiling throught the duration of this episode (5/5).

The second was all about the trailblazing women in the early days of Marvel Comics and some of the women they’ve passed the torch to. It was fascinating to understand the mentality that some of them had as creators coming up in a male-dominated industry. For instance, I’d always wondered why Ann Nocenti, one of my favorite writers whose Daredevil run in the early 90’s is one of my top 3 Daredevil runs and possibly top 15 Marvel runs by any creator all time, never had an extended run with a high profile female character and she touches on that in this episode.

Episode 2 shines a spotlight on some of the most amazing creators who went almost entirely unappreciated due to their gender and then shifts that spotlight to other modern creators who face a similar struggle in addition to one based on religion when it focuses on Sana Amanat and G. Willow Wilson‘s work in creating Kamala Khan, Marvel’s first Muslim character with a solo title (4.5/5).

The third ep focuses on the stories of two Spanish artists, Javier Garron (Miles Morales: Spider-Man) and Natacha Bustos (Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur), and their journeys to becoming professional comic book artists (4/5).

The fourth is just as insane as the first if you have similar tastes to mine. It begins with comedian Paul Scheer discussing some wild, obscure characters with some Marvel writers in an attempt to pitch a Disney Plus series based on a fresh set of characters before he finally settles on the team of Brute Force. The team is buck wild, the description of the issues is the same, and his attempts to make Brute Force happen are absolutely hilarious. The best part about this episode is what Scheer actually ends up showing the Disney executives. This episode was just an absolute blast from start to finish (5/5).

While none of the four final episodes were really about aspects of the Marvel fandom that I identify with, they were still well put together, informative, and above all enjoyable. The fifth spotlights several cosplayers in preparation for New York Comic Con (4/5); the sixth delves into the toy community within Marvel (3.75/5); the seventh follows Dan Slott, a creator who’s work I thoroughly enjoy, as he gives insight into what the traditional Marvel writing style was while also trying to meet his deadline (3/5); the eighth and final episode delves into the journey to put on two Marvel stage productions at a high school (3.75/5).

Overall, the 616 docuseries is highly enjoyable and absolutely worth checking out for any Marvel fan as well as many casual viewers who may not necessarily consider themselves True Believers.

Overall = 4/5 Marvel Bibles

Kevin Palma

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