Friday, February 13, 2015

Marvel Comics & Me

Like DC Comics I was first introduced to the Marvel Comics characters via Television shows.  I saw the 1960’s Spider-Man animated series in reruns.  My Uncle Bob had various Marvel comics most of them were Adventure into Fear featuring Man-Thing and some Tomb of Dracula from the early 1970’s.  I was a little young to understand them, plus they scared the bejeezuz out of me.  Spider-Man in the mid seventies appeared on the educational program The Electric Company.  In the late seventies I was introduced to Hulk and Spider-Man as Live Action Shows on  Primetime Television.  Like many kids of the Seventies I was enamored with Bixby and Ferrigno on The incredible Hulk.  It was cool; even then I saw the Jekyll and Hyde parallels.  Also there were the 1979’s animated shows The New Fantastic Four, Spider-Woman and the Thing.

In 1979 my brother and I got the big Trash bag full of comics when my family lived on Adak, Alaska.  Among those were Ghost Rider, Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Power Man and Iron Fist, and more.  We were still under a ban from buying superhero comics that was imposed by our mom. In 1982 after we moved back to Oxnard, California, I started buying my own Comics.  I started with the encyclopedic Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.  In 1983 I discovered the Uncanny X-Men with issue 174.  I was hooked.  The X-Men spoke to this kid born different. 

During the 1980’s I tried other Marvel Comics titles, the Avengers, Mighty Thor, Hercules, Iron Man, Captain America, Silver Surfer, Strikeforce: Morituri, West Coast Avengers, New Universe and more.  I also discovered their creator owned imprint Epic and enjoyed many titles there: Alien Legion, Dreadstar, Starstruck, Groo the Wanderer, Marshall Law (a Judge Dredd clone), the Shadowline line of books, and others. The Mutant books kept hold of me.  Uncle Bob was a fan of the Magazine Heavy Metal. Marvel produced their variation of a Mature Audience Anthology Comic Book Magazine called Epic Illustrated; Uncle Bob was a fan of that as well.  I used to read those too. Some of the Epic imprinted Comic series started there as serials. 

Also in the Eighties Marvel was all over Saturday Mornings and the afternoon with Animated series.  I watched Spider-Man (1981), Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends (1981), and the Incredible Hulk.  Back then the animation was the best out there.  Now it does not hold up that much.  Like the 1970’s marvel shows some of the portrayals were not that faithful to the comics.  During this time I saw The Marvel Super Heroes, featuring Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Iron Man, the Mighty Thor and the Incredible Hulk, from 1966 this show had very rough and rudimentary animation.  I was not a fan.

In the 1990’s I kept with the Mutants books and was trying some lines that were more interesting like Clive Barker’s Superhero line Razorline.  I was still reading books from the Epic Comics imprint as well.  I tried the Malibu books, including their Ultraverse, before and after the buyout by Marvel.  I was not too impressed. In 1996 after the Age of Apocalypse event in the Mutants books I decided to get out of comics entirely.

I came back to Marvel when the Ultimate Marvel started in 2001 with Ultimate X-Men. I was never a big Spider-Man fan so I did not follow Ultimate Spider-Man.  I tried to get back into the main X-men books, but I had been gone too long to be able to follow them.   I tried various What Ifs and alternate reality books.  I stopped the ultimate books after Ultimatum, which I did not even buy. I came back after the death of the Ultimate version of Peter Parker.  Those Post Peter Parker Ultimate titles were fun.

During all this Marvel came back with good Animated and film adaptations of their characters. I was there for the failed attempts into film adaptations by Marvel: Howard the Duck, Captain America with Matt Salinger, Punisher with Dolph Lundgren.  I saw some of the 1990’s X-Men and other Marvel animated shows.  I was not that impressed, but they were better than The Marvel Super Heroes from 1966.  In 1998 with a D-List character Blade starring Wesley Snipes, Marvel finally had a successful movie adaptation.  Then the X-Men films, the Fantastic four films, Ghost Rider, Punisher films,  and the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films came along.  During this time there also was the bad B movie Man-Thing as well.  I did not care for the films Daredevil and Elektra, but I was never a big fan of them either. Then Marvel studios began their own productions starting with Iron Man.  This led to the Avengers and the current run of Marvel Superhero films.  For the most part I enjoyed these films, some better than others. I missed the last Sam Raimi Spider-Man film, like I have said before Spidey is not my speed.

There were also the great Marvel animated television projects: X-Men Evolution, the Spectacular Spider-Man, Wolverine and the X-men, The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Ultimate Spider-Man, Avengers Assemble, and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.  Lions Gate with Marvel Animation produced a series of direct to video animated films that were great: Ultimate Avengers: The Movie, Ultimate Avengers 2: Rise of the Panther, The Invincible Iron Man, Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme, Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow, Hulk Versus, Planet Hulk, and Thor: Tales of Asgard.  I own all of those plus the Black Panther series. The Black Panther was part of the Marvel Knights Animated line that was a hybrid of comics and animation.

In 2009, Disney bought Marvel.  They had all their licensed comics properties end up at Marvel after those agreements ended. That merger resulted in Big Hero 6, a Disney Animated film based on a Marvel Property.  That is a film I love.  Marvel in the non-comic book media seem to be sky-rocketing.  I like both the two current Marvel TV projects Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter.  They have the five upcoming Netflix series: Daredevil, A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the Defenders.  Daredevil and A.K.A. Jessica Jones are to be released in 2015. I cannot wait.

Basically I am really not as involved anymore with the comic book side of Marvel, but their properties are great in other media.  I am not saying I won’t come back to Marvel.  I am interested in the newest incarnation of Ultimate Marvel, but there is a big plan to shake up their comic book continuity this year.  I will need to see what happens and figure out how I feel about it.  That Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion. 

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