Marvel offers a trio of books that are not your usual comic books. Spider-Man: Blue, Daredevil: Yellow, and Hulk: Gray each allow you access to the title character’s inner thoughts. All three characters have suffered loss and are still working through it. The art has an old school feel to it and it fits the flashback approach of the storytelling perfectly.
Spider-Man: Blue is based around Spider-Man talking to a voice recorder to get his thoughts out on the loss of Gwen Stacy. He talks through it as if he were talking to Gwen. The book starts with the defeat of Spider-Man’s first villain, Green Goblin, and goes from there. Calling this book another retelling of the Spider-Man origin story would dismiss the different focus and narrative.
Daredevil writes a series of letters to his lost love Karen Page. The title Daredevil: Yellow is a tribute to Daredevil’s original costume coloring, made from the robes of his murdered boxing father. This story is closer to an origin story with panels spent retelling how Matt Murdock’s father was murdered and how he and Foggy Nelson completed law school and opened their own practice. The story, with a sad theme, manages to maintain its humor and edge. In the story, Karen is credited with coining “The Man Without Fear” tagline for Daredevil and recommending that he change his uniform to red instead of yellow.
Hulk: Gray uses the medium of Bruce Banner talking to his friend, the psychiatrist Doc Samson. With a reference to Hulk’s early printing quirks between green and gray, the book’s art looks to fit the time period the most. The story carries well with Bruce narrating the struggles of Hulk and particularly his love for Betty Ross, daughter of his enemy General Ross. Showing both sides of Hulk the monster and the caring but not in control Bruce Banner, the story covers the Hulk’s origins with the same confusion Banner must have felt going through such a transformation and still trying to figure everything out.
All three books are well worth the read by any fans of the characters or Marvel comics in general. They were made by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. I like the deeper themes and different take on the character’s origins with quirky artwork.
They remind me of another book that was a favorite: Powerless. With a focus on Spider-Man, Daredevil, and Wolverine, Powerless is from the perspective of a psychiatrist providing services to powerless (and never had super powers) Peter Parker, Matt Murdock, and Logan.