My Marvel Years
April 29, 2004 2:26 AM   Subscribe

My Marvel Years. [via, via]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken (16 comments total)
I sold my collection and stopped paying attention to comics when I was 14 -- a long, long time ago -- but this excellent memoir from the London Review of Books brought a flood of memories swirling back. I was a Marvel Comics kid, too, back then, and I wish I'd written it.

I've recently started reading Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan, and it's thrilling. Makes me wonder what else I've missed in the two and a half decades since I opened a 'comic book'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:31 AM on April 29, 2004

Thanks for the post: all things Ellis are good in my mind (though Transmetropolitan never clicked with me). Brian Michael Bendis too.
posted by yerfatma at 4:01 AM on April 29, 2004

Stavros, don't miss Preacher.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:47 AM on April 29, 2004

His observation that the Invisible Girl was the most important of the Silver Age Marvel characters was pretty interesting. I've been rereading the Lee/Kirby FF books, and her development is actually pretty funny. She doesn't do much at first; then, apparently in response to some reader complaints, the FF periodically break the 4th wall to address the reader and tell them just how useful she is to the team... the best of these moments include Reed Richards standing next to a bust of Abraham Lincoln and talking about Lincoln's mother, and this weird non sequitor to an Army general about how having a hot chick on the team keeps up morale.
posted by COBRA! at 7:54 AM on April 29, 2004

I was a Marvel kid, too, albeit one who came to comics in the mid-1980s. My uncle had a box of '60s Marvels (If he'd kept them, they could have paid for my college education) in the basement, and I liked some of them, but never understood the Kirby worship. What other people found epic and exciting, I mostly found bombastic and pretentious. Couldn't get into those stories the way I could with, say, the X-Men, who were all fucked-up and tortured in a way I could relate to. And I was more of a John Byrne fan, art-wise. But that's just my two cents.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:53 AM on April 29, 2004

Stavros - Also, "Y: The Last Man" is well worth taking a look at...
posted by kahboom at 9:12 AM on April 29, 2004

I have a copy of the latest DC: The New Frontier under my desk, waiting to be opened and read during my lunch break. Great stories that fill in the cracks of characters you know, and it keeps perfectly in line with this subtle wave of Silver Age nostalgia.

And Stavros, Ellis's The Authority is worth your attention as well.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:21 AM on April 29, 2004

I came of spending age in the early nineties, which was the era of moral bankruptcy, with multi-part crossover collector's edition holofoil wraparound covers. And I never liked Wolverine, which made it even more difficult to read Marvel at that time.

Probably the comic that I associated with, at first, was Captain America, but I stopped reading it when Cap got hooked on drugs and the whole series became an after school special for about a year. What attracted me to the character was, for one thing, that he didn't have any real super-powers to speak of, but all the other superheroes generally acknowledged that he was a bad ass. Similar to Batman in the DC Universe. Also, I liked that he wasn't particularly popular anymore.

After September 11th, I'm afraid to go back and see what they've done to him. Does anybody read it? How do they deal with it? Another good thing about him was the idea that the America he became a hero to fight for had been replaced by a morally ambiguous world while he was trapped in a block of ice. My fear is that they've made him into a flag-waver again. Anybody know?

Oh yes, and The Infinity Gauntlet series blew my mind, and I read Warlock until Jim Starlin left. The cosmic power fantasy, sure.

Thanos became a farmer! That was great!

Stavros, skip Preacher if you value your life. Or, just read the first two books, which are good, then imagine the same jokes repeated for a few hundred more dollars.. I mean pages. Then, at the end, be disappointed.

There have been tons of threads about What Comics Should I Read, and they more or less delineate the canon of modern graphic novels, so I hope this thread isn't going to just cover the same territory. Yes, there's tons of great stuff you missed, and if you're reading Transmet, you might as well start with Warren Ellis and move outward in ever expanding circles to Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, et. al..
posted by Hildago at 9:51 AM on April 29, 2004

This AxMe thread leaps to mind.
posted by mwhybark at 10:02 AM on April 29, 2004

After September 11th, I'm afraid to go back and see what they've done to him.

It's funny: I was just talking about this with a co-worker (I stopped reading Cap around the time I think you're referring to: 15 or so issues into Ron Lim's run); apparently they've split him into two books with one of them being all-terrorist action. The other book isn't that much different, but a new writer is coming on board promising to bring back the old enemies.

On preview: the two books don't feature half of Cap's body. More accurately, he now has two books.
posted by yerfatma at 10:16 AM on April 29, 2004

all-terrorist action.

funny though, because that's how Captain America started, was as a patriotic, WWII-era, smash the Japs type comic. It's sort of like a return to his roots in a way.
posted by Miles Long at 10:51 AM on April 29, 2004

Oh my, did this article conjure up memories. I remember The Eternals all too well. I never understood it, didn't recognize the significance of Kirby and read it over and over again. Indeed, that comic and an early Chris Claremont issue of the X-Men (where Magneto traps them under Antarctica, reduces their brain functions to the age of children and has a robot named Nanny feeding them) are my most vivid memories of comics from my youth.

I am going to feel very old now - if you need me, I'll be in the corner gumming my porridge.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:24 AM on April 29, 2004

this is a great article. Very well-written. Of course Marvel boys always have a great vocabulary.
posted by Miles Long at 11:35 AM on April 29, 2004

I may even have my copies of The Eternals and 2001 stashed away somewhere. I too remember being excited when they came out, thinking that this was my chance to board the Kirby train, which had left the station long before I started reading comics. And then I realized that the train was actually pretty damned dull. For me the comics to read were Man-Thing (natch) and Tomb of Dracula. I also loved Gerber's subversive (for the comics) Defenders, Master of Kung Fu when it was drawn by Paul Gulacy (great pop culture references--like Kim Newman's novels), and Dr. Strange. I think Chris Claremont wrote it then. Oh, those simple joys, and the intensity with which I pursued them!
posted by Man-Thing at 3:36 PM on April 29, 2004

The most frustrating thing for me was those wee colored ads for hostess twinkies that sounded like manna from heaven and you couldnt get them in the uk.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:58 PM on April 29, 2004

cf, also fwiw humanoids (in conjunction w/ DC :) is republishing a bunch of cool french comix (jodorowsky!) from over the last few decades, "bringing you the best that Europe and the world has to offer in formats worthy of the material..."
posted by kliuless at 6:49 PM on April 29, 2004

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