As I’ve said before on this site, there’s two types of comic fans out there: collectors and readers. I would definitely define myself as a reader. Of course, collecting comics can be fun, and I enjoy owning as many as I can, but I won’t go out of my to find gold-embossed variant covers or first printings or chase any sort of selling point like that. First and foremost, I simply enjoy reading comics. I would go on to say that I’m a bigger reader than most; I hardly discern between comics, and will read just about anything–I’ll even read Archie and Sad Sack if I’m given the opportunity. You can imagine then what a sensory overload it is to suddenly have access to 10,000 comics.
About four or five days ago I subscribed to the Marvel website, which offers access to a huge amount of digital comics, ranging over decades, including most Marvel series. So just in the time I’ve been subscribed, I’ve already read 63 issues! At the moment, my goal is to catch up with what’s going on with Marvel now, as there are so many things that I don’t understand. What is Spider Island? Why was Thor a robot for a while, and how is he a dude (or two dudes) again?
Some of the highlights of my reading so far include the five-part Ultimatum series (bloodiest mainstream comic event ever), Deadpool: Wade Wilson’s War, and Avengers Disassembled. I also read almost every issue that made up the event X-Men: Second Coming, and that was a really exciting series I could hardly tear myself away from.
I’ve also found some pretty weird stories by browsing around the website–the wackiest by far being “Shanna the She-Devil,” a comic about a shapely woman high-kicking around a jungle in a One-Million Years BC style bikini, a premise that in itself is a painfully obvious rip-off the Will Eisner comic Sheena Queen of the Jungle. I couldn’t make it through all of that one. Yesterday I started reading a more recent series called X-Infernus where much of the action takes place in Purgatory, and has Pixie pulling a giant sword from Nightcrawler’s stomach like Excalibur from the stone.
I feel like I’ve already learned a lot about the Marvel Universe. For one, it’s a complex place. It seems like all of their team books change rosters more often than most of us change pants. Jean Grey is basically Schrodinger’s Cat: there’s no way to know if she’s alive or dead. Magneto and Dr. Doom have killed countless people but are still regular guests at events at the X-Men academy and the Fantastic Four’s skyscraper. Oh, and that reminds me, the superheroes’ HQs are constantly being blown up. In Avengers Disassembled, the Avengers mansion is blown up, and in Fear Itself the Baxter Building they’ve moved into gets destroyed. Makes you wonder why they don’t just rent places.
I’ve found a handful of artists worth following, among them David Finch, Jason Pearson and Terry Dodson. I’m pleased to find out Mike Carey, writer of one of my favorite comics The Unwritten has written tons of X-Men. Right now, I’m absorbed in reading Brian Michael Bendis’ work with Avengers and New Avengers. Once I’m through with that, I’m planning to move on to reading Grant Morrison’s work for the company, including New X-Men, penciled by Frank Quitely.
I guess there’s not much point to this post except to say that I’ve learned Marvel is more marvelous than I previously imagined, although to follow changes in the universe, you practically have to have thousands of comics and loads of free time at your disposal.
–Just as a reminder, this is Marvel Month, so follow Panel Discussions for the next four weeks if you’re a fan of the company. Also, if you have any questions about Marvel that have been bothering you, write them in the comments box and I’ll see if I can find the answer while I continue reading everything.
–And also, make sure to check out my book The Madness of Art: Short Stories available on Amazon and through Barnes and Noble.