|Slowly rebuilding the collection...|
I sold off my entire ~1500 issue collection of Marvel comic books in 2003, a collection that included some real gems like an entire run of Rom Spaceknight, the entire run of GI Joe, and first appearances of some cool characters like Captain Marvel (Mar-vell of the Kree), The Stranger, and the Abomination. I still regret that decision.
I stopped reading comics around 2001 but really my interest began to wane earlier, in the late ‘90s with all the “Heroes Reborn” garbage and the first reboots of the classic Marvel titles. It just wasn’t the same Marvel I grew up with. I convinced myself I “outgrew” comics about 20 years ago.
I was contemplating my favorite tabletop games the other day, as well as perusing my bookshelves and suddenly I realized: I still love comics! My bookshelves are filled with artist biographies and in-depth histories of the creation of our favorite spandex-clad mythologies. Meanwhile, Super Mission Force has quickly become my go-to wargame while my favorite RPG experiences have always been comic-book games like TSR’s Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game, as well as Mayfair’s DC Heroes. Surprisingly, I haven’t been too interested in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, catching (but thoroughly enjoying) only a handful of the movies but still upon reflection I realized: yeah, I still love comics.
Work, school, and domestic duties still occupy nearly all of my time but I can usually steal just a few minutes of each day to read. I try to always have a novel going or an interesting website cued up. Then it hit me: why not read the Marvel Universe, from the start?
I managed to pick up quite a collection of the official high-quality scans of Marvel comic books on DVD-ROM released by GIT Corp from 2005-2007. Unfortunately, those discs came out right when the MCU, and associated interest in the source material, really started to gather steam. Instead of continuing the contract with GIT Corp and offering scans of the entire library, Marvel stopped licensing the scans. The technology has almost caught up now to bring Marvel’s plans to fruition: there are now streaming services allowing one to read almost any title at their heart’s content. Unfortunately these books are recolored when digitized and just don’t look the same. I’m thrilled that all these old comics are available, I just want to see everything: those benday dots, the old sea monkey ads, just to maximize the nostalgia.
Anyways, I’m giving myself 5 years to read the first 30 years of Marvel comics. Actually I can’t cram in every Marvel title, far from it. I’ve got seven of the biggest titles on DVD-ROM (Hulk, Iron Man, Amazing Spider Man, Uncanny X-Men, Avengers, Captain America, and Fantastic Four). In addition to these I’ve added Thor, and Daredevil (to get the street-level perspective). I’m also anticipating a few “floater” spots in the reading schedule, so I can work in old favorites with smaller runs, like Captain Marvel (Mar-vell of the Kree from the 60s-70s), or X-Factor, or Secret Wars, or something.
My start date is November, 1961, with Fantastic Four #1, and I’m reading the books in publication order. My stop date will be November, 1991, exactly 30 years after the publication of FF #1. I’ve selected this seemingly arbitrary date because: 1) I don’t want to continue this project to my death, and 2) it lets me avoid the Liefeld years at the X-Men, teenage Tony Stark, Onslaught, the reboots, and all the other stuff that showed that comics should’ve ended in the 90s. Really I just want to read the height of Marvel like Gruenwald and Claremont in the 80s, while finally capturing all the key moments those creators built on like Lee/Kirby/Ditko’s 60s work, and the Buscema/Thomas 70s.
My goal is two books a day. Right now it’s easy since I’m reading the early 60s stuff which was frequently 10-13 pages of material max, with less exposition than the real angsty stuff of the 80s. Also, when I finally get to the books I had as a kid (~’81-’96), I should pick up speed, as I read some of those books backwards and forwards a hundred times. Some of the panels are still burned into my psyche. If I can keep up the pace, over the next five years I’ll read the first 30 years of continuity for approximately 10 Marvel titles.
‘Cause you gotta have goals.