Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"But What Does It All Mean?" - The Purpose of the Blog

The Marvel Universe is big.  Really, really big.  Just taking those comics published after 1961 into account, it's made up of well over 20,000 individual stories, and those are just the super-hero titles. Add in westerns, sword & sorcery, romance and the myriad other genres included in the Marvel Universe and things get even more out of control.  Needless to say, reading them all would be a huge undertaking.

My plan for the blog is not just to read them all, but to provide detailed indexes as well.  It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but the sheer scope of the project has left me stymied.  The problem isn't just the number of comics involved, but the number of comics still being published every month.  I could write an entry for Fantastic Four #51, say, but there's no telling when another comic will come along and reveal something new pertaining to that issue, necessitating that I go back and revise what I'd already done.  I'd spend more time keeping track of this stuff than I would writing new entries.

My original plan was to do the comic write-ups only taking into account the comic in question, and any issues published before it.  So if I once again use the example of Fantastic Four #51 (hey, it's a great comic), my initial entry on it wouldn't have taken into account anything published after that date.  With each new comic I added I would have gone back and revised the older posts, and I was also planning on doing a series of books.  It was a serious undertaking, and well beyond the scope of a simple blog.  Hell, it was way beyond the scope of one person's lifetime.

So I'm going simpler.  I'll write up detailed entries on the comics, starting with Fantastic Four #1.  I'll try to include as much information as I can, on the issue in question and any connections it has to other comics in the Marvel Universe.  I'm not going to be as rigid about it as I was in my original plan, though, and I won't be going back to revise anything.  I'll just do the best I can at the time, and keep moving forward.

Why Fantastic Four #1?
Technically  speaking, the Marvel Universe was born in 1939, with the publication of Marvel Comics #1 (the first appearances of both the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, among others).  But those aren't the comics people think of when they think of Marvel.  The birth of Marvel as we know it came in 1961, with Fantastic Four #1, and the many super-hero comics that followed.  Marvel in the 1960s brought a new maturity to super-hero comics, and a level of inter-connectivity between its various titles that had never been seen before.  That's where my interest lies.  And to be honest, I just don't want to read all of those comics from the 1940s; most of them aren't very good.

What Comics Will Be Included?
Over the years Marvel has constructed a mostly cohesive universe made up of tens of thousands of stories.  To my mind, every comic they've ever published takes place in Marvel continuity, unless it's specifically excluded, or contains something that rules it out definitively.  The westerns count.  The romance books count.  I even count Marvel's Star Wars comics: they do take place, after all, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

For the purpose of this blog, I have to be a bit more discerning, because I can't cover everything.  The books I'm going to deal with are those specifically set in the Marvel Universe, beginning with Fantastic Four #1.  In the beginning, that will mostly be the super-hero books, but later will branch into a number of different genres.  If a title is specifically set in the MU, and published after Fantastic Four #1, I'll cover it.

There may be some comics that, while they technically meet all the criteria for inclusion, I will be leaving out.  I'm thinking here of Millie the Model and Patsy Walker, who are a part of Marvel continuity, but whose stories have no bearing or relevance to anything on the super-hero side of things.  The number of titles they appeared in, and the lack of relevance to anything super-hero related, means that I'll only cover them tangentially.  The westerns are another genre that I'll probably steer clear of, again due to volume and lack of interest.

Regarding the super-hero comics of the Golden Age (the 1930s to the 1950s), I'll cover any that are reprinted in a comic published post-1961.  I'm happy to do entries for them as they come up, I just don't want to have to deal with to decades worth of them before I get to the stuff I really want to write about.

How Long Will I Be Doing This?
With the number of comics set in the Marvel Universe, and the rate that they are still being published, I could do an entry a day for the rest of my life and I'd only be scratching the surface.  I know this is an impossible task, but I don't care.  I'm just going to plug away at it, get as far as I can, and not stress out about it.  I'll cover what I cover.

So that's the blog, and what I plan to do with it.  I should be back soon with a quick history of Marvel Comics up to 1961, followed by some short bios of the most important Marvel creators at the time.  Then it's on to the real meat, and the place it all began: Fantastic Four #1.

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