Trigger Warnings – None
Vague Marvel Universe Spoilers
Hey so yesterday got a bit out there didn’t it, with the dark side of myself and the whole self-acceptance and inconsolable rage that controlled me for half of my life kinda deal, that was probably a lot to drop on people out of the blue, seeing as you have no idea what to expect from day to day on my blog. I kinda like that, keeps it interesting and refreshing each time you pop in, might consider some themed weeks in the future but for now I’ll stick to the sporadic pinball routine of flinging darts at a wall covered in topical post-it notes for something to ramble about and seeing as yesterday was a heavy topic, I decided I’d lighten things up today with a discussion about comics, those paper things that Hollywood got a hold of and made cool by injecting them with Tom Hiddleston and Robert Downey Jr.
Comics are a weird medium that are sort of declining in popularity and not because of paper being outdated, books still sell, but instead comics struggle with having a confusing well-established continuity and universe that is entirely unfriendly to new readers so unless you grew up reading Amazing Spider-Man, you’re not likely to start anytime soon. However, with the characters in these books growing in popularity and the confession of a profound love for all things Marvel no longer being a social faux pas, there is a possibility of a new age of comic lovers, should they find a safe doorway into the medium. Understandably, this is quite difficult, starting things halfway through is not the easiest way to do it but it’s not entirely impossible. So, if you’ve enjoyed your Dark Knights and your Thor movies but you need some more caped crusaders to scratch the itch, here’s a hint on how to get into it, not from an avid comic fan by any means, but by a writer, a generally ‘nerdy’ fellow and someone with too much time on their hands that they actually decided to write this
The key is start wherever you want. Seriously. You do not have to start at the very first issue of The Incredible Hulk to enjoy it, you simply have to find a character that interests you from first impressions and take a read. I know one issue with comic books is they’re not readily available, you have to go somewhere that sells them especially and if you ask the guy at the counter “Where do I start?”, he’ll smirk and silently judge you for your ignorance, the nerd culture is not a warm welcoming society, I think that’s pretty obvious. Just go in, act natural and take a browse, look for a familiar character or just a comic book with an interesting cover, one covered in explosions or rippling muscles or whatever. Ok, buy it, that is your single investment in the universe of that series for now and just read the book. If you find you encounter a moment that refers to an event you know nothing about and it interests you, look it up on the internet, lord knows comic book history is probably easier to find more in-depth information about than say, your own family history, considering one has a devoted fanbase and the other has some slips of paper in filing cabinets somewhere. If you don’t find yourself interested in this past event they’re all referring to, spoiler alert, it won’t get more interesting for you. The Marvel Civil War sounds dull? Ok, avoid Captain America and Iron Man comics, stick to the films… wait… ok, you’re screwed there but you get the point.
You see, comic-book nerds, such as they are, will judge you for not knowing all there is to know about their particular favourite franchise but they spent years building that archive of superhero trivia, they began learning as kids and just kept building on it but you can start at any age and at any point. I mean, take TV as an example, you don’t have to start at Season 1, Episode 1 with every single show you watch. Futurama, Simpsons, Family Guy, Archer – all shows you can enjoy without knowing the full backstory to every single character, having that knowledge just allows you to enjoy a few extra jokes the writers slipped in for the dedicated fans but on the whole TV universes and film universes set themselves up to be accessible at any given point down the line, some take exception to it but for the most part that’s how it is. Doctor Who, another good example, I did not start my love for the show with William Hartnell, I started at Eccleston, liked what I saw and then when my Dad revealed that actually Doctor Who is a reboot, not a brand new show and when he was growing up, he watched Tom Baker fight the Daleks, I started working backwards through the continuity and still have a lot of gaps in there. Whovians, forgive me, but I have watched very little of the Fifth Doctor, Sixth and not even a single Seventh doctor episode, but I don’t sit there watching Capaldi screaming “Why is this so confusing? Should I start from the beginning?”. No, fictional universes are easily documented in meticulous detail, just fill the gaps with an internet search or a discussion with a friend who shares the interest
DC Comics have done something pretty smart on this matter, they knew their universe was a complex mess of backstories so announced a huge relaunch, which did piss off the hardcore fanbase but when DC cleared the mess up by saying the relaunch will basically go in the same direction as the original, all was well again and the fans sorta piped down about the whole affair. Admittedly, kinda defeats the point of the reboot but with their new series of books being made available as digital downloads, there’s no more hunting in the dark caves of a specialist store somewhere following a monk who smells strongly of Doritos into the promised land of Aquaman comics, now you can read about it on your tablet and it’s out there in the eyes of the mainstream as a recommended read for those whose internet history suggests a fondness for Batman movies. Good move DC, let’s see if Marvel follows suit
Anyway, this should have at least cleared up some tension for you folk if nothing else and this isn’t me trying to push you all into a comic book shop as if I’ve sold out to either Marvel or the Android’s Dungeon, this is just a light topic that isn’t going to offend and it might help some of you who maybe can’t wait til May to see Iron Man go toe to toe with the Hulk and need something to tide them over or perhaps to further your passion for a universe you already take an interest in, maybe reading the comics will make the films better or worse, it will at least change how you view them. I have no real business writing this, I don’t read comics myself but as a writer with grand schemes for a long running series of my own, I want to put this out there in case my ambitions ever take wing and ten years from now I hear kids complaining “I’d get into TDWC, but I missed the first three seasons so I don’t understand what’s going on”