Saturday, October 23, 2010

Make Mine Marvel

Greetings True Believers.

You may recall that I, along with some like-minded and awesome chums, am currently partway through watching every episode of Doctor Who in order. We've nearly reached our first regeneration (SQUEE!). Well because one ludicrous, humongous challenge is never enough I have decided to undertake another.

I've been reading a lot of comics recently. Mostly The Walking Dead and Transmetropolitan. I love comics but ever since I became obsessed with Batman at the age of about twelve my comic reading has been a bit aimless, well apart from the pursuit of Batman titles (which always leaves me grinding my teeth at yet another huge game-changing crossover event).

On a whim I started reading the Fantastic Four from the beginning, then found myself seeking out contemporaneous Marvel comics (e.g. Ant-Man and Thor) to get a sense of the moment, if you will. I like to look at things in context.

I idly wondered if there was some sort of guide to the publication order of Marvel comics. I googled it. It was a fateful googling. I discovered Travis Starnes' The Complete Marvel
Reading Order. "Challenge accepted" I tweeted flippantly. I had decided to read the Marvel Universe continuity in publication order.

I'm going to reserve the right to skip titles if find I don't like them as I don't see the point in slavishly reading something I'm not enjoying. Actually I was going to skip Ant-man because I think he's a bit ridiculous, but it turns out I really like him because he's a bit ridiculous.

I'll generally skip anything
not connected with the main timeline. Titles set before or after (e.g. the 2099 series) I'll skip. I've already made a couple of exceptions to this rule though; Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos and Conan.

At the time of writing I'm up to mid 1963 and finding it all very enjoyable. They are an interesting reflection of their time, prominently featuring Cold War concerns, radiation, communism, an obsession with transistors, magnetism and science in general. It's interesting to see how some attitudes have changed since the sixties too...

It's also interesting to see Stan "The Man" Lee and his colleagues refining their style as they launch new titles and the characters and books gradually become more sophisticated. I reckon there are some good lessons for writers here, and I may
be posting about this some in the future.

If anyone cares to join in, or is already under way, feel free to say "Howdy!".