It is a good time to be a comic book geek.
Which I am, but not at the uber-frenzy level of, say, those guys on Comic Book Men. F’rinstance, I can’t tell you in which issue Daredevil changed from yellow spandex to the red combat suit, but I did own that comic. I owned a ton of comics growing up. Comic books taught me how to read. Comic books gave me heroes.
I separate my comic bookishness into Before Marvel and After Marvel. BM, which was about 1961-1964ish, I read Sgt Rock and GI Combat and some other random titles like Magnus, Robot Fighter. Then, one day, a pal evangelized me with Fantastic Four #1
and I became a Marvel True Believer. Every Saturday, I took my 25-cents-a-week allowance over to Carl’s Drug Store on Sheridan Avenue in Lawton, OK, and bought two Marvels and one pack of baseball card bubble gum…ah, those were the days. I’d get FF and Spiderman and just about every other Marvel title that came along, including the Two-Gun Kid, but my main loves were X-Men, and Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos.
That Nick Fury was, of course, a very different Nick Fury than the one currently depicted on screen. He was a tough, cigar-chomping white guy who led the Howling Commandos (Dum Dum, Gabriel, Frenchy, Izzy, Rebel, Junior, and then Pinky) on raids against the Nazis.
Captain American and Bucky helped out on occasion, although they weren’t regulars. But they showed up enough to pique my interest, and when the Avengers found the frozen Captain America floating around the Arctic Ocean, then that title became my numero uno.
The larger-than-life Marvel heroes– like Cap, Professor X, Doctor Strange, and Thor– were my reads up until 1969, when I moved to the lesser heroes, like Daredevil and SpiderMan. I guess I was losing faith in all-encompassing power; error and human failure were a bit more realistic. When I got into the martial arts in the early 70’s, then it was all Iron Fist and Shang-Chi, and then the scary stuff, Ghost Rider, and that extraordinary Tomb of Dracula series, and then…sort of left it all behind. Those childish things, you know. I had one last burst with Adam Warlock, when my son got the Infinity Gauntlet series (which is why I’m happy about the Guardians of the Galaxy movie), but, other than a few compilations, haven’t read anything since.
So, I meet this recent onslaught of Marveldom with great glee. It’s like finding some old 8mm’s of your childhood and reliving the experience, but in HD and SurroundSound. Now, yeah, sure, these ain’t your Grampop’s Marvel stories; best I can figure out, they mostly derive from the Ultimate series, of which I am mostly ignorant. But your childhood memories are more shadow than substance, anyway, and as long as it walks the talk, s’fine.
After all, even Godzilla needs an update from time to time.