In 1984 the growing popularity of TSR’s product line finally managed to gain a license for the Marvel Comics Universe with the release of the Marvel Super Heroes RPG.
It was in interesting endeavor and featured the new table mechanics that were sweeping TSR at the time as well as a heavy reliance on battle maps. Years later, the success of Wizkids Heroclix showed full well that even in a flagging comic market such a miniatures-driven model could work, but back in 1984 the game never fully achieved orbit. Still, it did have a massive number of supplements, and I truly enjoyed the several campaigns I played in the universe, both with pre-established heroes and ones that I’d made up on my own.
But one thing the game could never be accused of was not having intrinsically good art. Smartly, TSR simply put the Marvel Bullpen to work on creating art for the game and so it has that very early 1980s standardized comic feel. There is nothing unique about it, as it would be another five years before comic art started to take on a completely different style that bent more toward the talents of particular artists instead of making everything look alike.
Anyway, the yellow box cover was done by none other than John Romita Sr. and he gives everyone a great showcase of the standard ‘heroes exploding onto the scene’ image.
Inside the box, in both the Campaign Book and the Battle Book, artists from the Marvel Bullpen like John Byrne, John Romita Jr, Walt Simonson, Art Adams, Gil Kane, Steve Ditko, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Jack Kirby add their support. I mean really, can it get much better than that, even if the entire book is done in black and white?
Here we see the old-school essence of comics when things were funny, there were clear-cut villains and heroes, and the last vestiges of an honest America still clung to the rising tide of 1980s corporate capitalism. I miss those days, and although seemingly bland, I miss the artwork with a heartfelt nostalgia.
Artistic Rating: 3 [out of 5]