Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


‘The Super Hero’s Journey’ (review)

Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell
Published by Marvel Arts/Abrams Books


I had no idea what to expect with the release of this book. I had been hearing a lot about it, but I couldn’t really decipher if it was a memoir or a graphic novel or some weird hybrid between the two.

I jumped in headfirst to try and figure out exactly what this is.

I am glad that I did, as this book is one of the best releases of the year.

It starts off with a young boy from Edison New Jersey in the year 1966 who is coming home from church with his family. This family is writer/artist’s McDonnell’s family and this is part of the autobiographical story.

They stop at the local pharmacy to pick up some things. For the young boy, he picks up comics.

This transports him and the reader to the Marvel Universe of that time period.

It really feels like the 1960’s Marvel too, as McDonnell nails the feel of that time period perfectly. We see the Fantastic Four and we see Spider-Man going about their lives as they used to do.

But there is something else going on here. A bigger threat than anyone ever expected possible. Something that might threaten more than just the Marvel characters in the story.

The first indication of this is when we first see The Watcher.

Usually that means that there is going to be a big happening in the comics. The same can be said for this book.

We get a good indication of where McDonnell is going when we see Iron Man. He is going through a hard time, and not just in an Iron Man kind of way or a comic book character kind of way. He is going through basic problems with every day life.

McDonnell finds a spiritual connection to these characters and examines their own mortality. It is a beautiful take on the familiar and a fresh perspective. The Hulk appears and McDonnell shows us his love and his pain. We see The Avengers trying to get along and find their way in life as well.

It is poetic and sweet even how every character in the book is given a different outlook under McDonnell’s lens.

We start to realize that the villain behind the plot seems to be Doctor Doom.

He is sending negativity throughout the Marvel Universe.

All of the heroes are experiencing some form of it, too. Yet, you start to see and realize that McDonnell’s theme is coming into focus. We see that the negative energy in the book mirrors the way negativity has permeated itself into the modern world. How are the heroes supposed to fight this? How are we as people supposed to fight this?

This leads Reed Richards to team up with The Watcher to try to figure out a way to make the world positive again.

It is fun watching the old 1960’s comic books being reused and repurposed in this manner. We have direct panels from Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Don Heck mixed in with the classic Stan Lee dialogue and together it creates something we haven’t seen before. And it is pretty great.

We get to see Reed Richards jump through The Negative Zone first, trying to stop Doctor Doom. He then jumps around to some really creative places.

In one sequence for instance, he jumps to the old Marvel romance comics. I laughed out loud at this, as Reed chases Doom through a series of covers, all to do with romance. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen Doctor Doom in a wedding dress (based on a real comic book story).

Oh, and Galactus is making his way to Earth.

Reed tries desperately to find the one thing that can put the universe back together.

Everyone is at each other’s throats! The universe is in jeopardy! The stakes are high!

Can Reed (with help from the Watcher) save everything?

The resolution is quite beauty of and resplendent in a way that few books like this are.

By the end of the book, I was completely enthralled and moved by McDonnell’s thesis here. He not only shows why these characters mean so much to him, but also why their existence, alongside the reader’s own, is so important.

The two quotes by Jack Kirby, one at the beginning of the book and one at the end, are perfect and perfectly placed. Everything is.

The Super Hero’s Journey is a superb book, and rightfully an instant classic.

It reminds me how I got into comics and, more importantly, why.



Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply


Forces of Geek is protected from liability under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and “Safe Harbor” provisions.

All posts are submitted by volunteer contributors who have agreed to our Code of Conduct.

FOG! will disable users who knowingly commit plagiarism, piracy, trademark or copyright infringement.

Please contact us for expeditious removal of copyrighted/trademarked content.


In many cases free copies of media and merchandise were provided in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. The opinions shared on Forces of Geek are those of the individual author.

You May Also Like