If you are interested in the golden age of marvel comics then "Marvels" by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross was made for you. This at its most basic a trip down memory lane and while there is plenty to like for those who don't know all that much about marvel history either.
Marvels is the story of Phil Sheldon, a young reporter who is in New York when the first superheroes, or Marvels as he calls them, appeared. Each of the four stories that make up the Marvels surround Phil Sheldon's thoughts on some bit of marvel history.
The first book focuses on the appearance of the Marvels, most notably the original Human Torch and Namor fighting in the skies over New York City. He gives voice to the average man who feels the fear of knowing these people exist, the understanding that humanity in not as powerful as it was and the understanding that this is going to change everything.
The Second story shows even more heart than the first as it shows the appearance of the first mutants in the Marvel Universe and tries to explain the fear that people feel of the mutants while still loving the other heroes. This is examined as Phil Sheldon gets pulled into a crowd that is yelling at the mutants.
He continues to go through these attitudes until he finds that his daughters have been sneaking food to a young mutant girl. She is a perfect image of something that is both cute and fearful at the same time. Faced with one of the mutants he is able to see their humanity and it changes his opinion. This story continues through the appearance of the first Sentinels.
Continuing the trip through time the third of these stories begins with the first appearance of Galactus and the near worship of the heroes who had just saved humanity and the turn away from them this gratitude as the media turns on the heroes.
The forth story, "The day she died" is the first story in which Phil takes a truly active role. Now an elderly man and an advocate for the marvels he has decided that he should prove the innocence of Spiderman for the murder of George Stacy and starts and investigation that leads to Gwen Stacy. Through her Phil is able to see the true motivation of the Marvels and the bittersweet ending is nearly perfect.
Of special note in this book is the fantastic artwork. This is a fantastic story, but one of the chief strengths is the humanity and realism of the stories that is created through the artwork. These are stories that were told in an art style that feels almost cartoonish today so seeing them in a more modern and impressive style.
This is a book that looks at heroes from a more realistic perspective without feeling the need to look down at the stories as unrealistic. This book is a great reminder of what those heroes are.