It’s been a full year since I took advantage of Marvel Unlimited’s SDCC sale and dove down the comics rabbit hole.
And it’s been great.
My initial plan was to read as much as I possibly could during my discounted month, focusing on titles my library didn’t have, then cancel before I traveled over into Regular Price Land. I figured I’d stick to characters I already knew I loved, or who had been recommended to me; various X-Men, maybe, and the Runaways, and possibly the Guardians of the Galaxy so I’d be primed and ready for the movie.
So I gulped down RUNAWAYS (which I’ve gotta write about one of these days), and I read some solo X-titles, and I fell hard for HAWKEYE after Anastasia urged me to read it. But when it came time to explore the Guardians of the Galaxy, all my plans died an ignoble death.
The short version is, the Guardians pushed me into the whole idea of crossovers, which taught me the joys of Marvel Cosmic, which gave me a good idea of the interconnectedness of Marvel’s multiverses, which got me ridiculously excited about the width and breadth of this complex, ever-shifting story.
Because Marvel comics are basically a whole bunch of smaller stories that make one big story when you read them all in concert. It’s impossible to see the entire story at once, not least because the folks in charge keep retconning things and mind wiping various characters, but that’s okay. The very fact that it's possible to try makes the Marvel Universe the sort of thing I eat straight from the jar.
That's not to say every part of the story is on the same level as all the others. I’ve discovered a few comics that out-and-out bore me, plus many others that do dodgy shit or contribute very little to the wider universe without at least being entertaining in their own right. Even some of the less exciting properties have pointed me in interesting directions, though. ANNIHILATION, my first proper crossover, introduced me to Nova (who I love and adore and am totally not crying over right now), gave me a good grounding in the interstellar cultures that occasionally visit Earth-616, and delivered a number of good space battles. It was more than worth a couple of less engaging miniseries.
And like I said above, this GOTG-related crossover helped me see how interconnected this universe is. I threw myself into Explorer Mode and didn’t even think of cancelling my membership when my discounted month was up. In fact, I went ahead and got a yearly subscription (after another solo month, just to be sure). This was too much My Thing for me to back away from it.
I’ve been reading my arse off ever since, with the odd break so I can at least pretend I’m not totally hung up on Marvel. As of August 5th, I’ve read the equivalent of 211 trade collections. I’ve discovered a new favourite literary character in Kate Bishop (light of my heart; breath of my lungs), realized how much I like young superheroes, reignited my teenage love affair with the X-Men, and decided Carol Danvers is the fictional character I'd most like to be BFFs with. I've raved about my faves to anyone who’ll listen, and I’ve had a marvelous time writing about my response to it all.
But even with all that reading under my belt, I’ve still got a ton of unexplored territory ahead of me. I’ve had almost no contact with Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four. I know fuck-all about the Ultimates Universe, beyond my brief dip into Miles Morales’s series. And even though the X-Men have been my soft focus for the last couple of months, I’ve barely even scratched the surface of their lengthy, complicated history.
So I'm gonna keep going. My Year With Marvel will continue until next February, seeing as how I started posting this February, and I’m 95% sure I’ll be renewing my yearly Marvel Unlimited subscription come the end of September. It’d be nice if the Canadian-American exchange rate improved by then, but I may have to grit my teeth and accept the cost no matter what.
I’ve still got so much to read. And it's gonna be great.