Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"Marvel Comics"
-- a report by Occasional Superheroine
(age 12)
(I found this school report as I was going through some papers the other day. I wrote it in Junior High. It was typed on this old tall black manual typewriter and had pictures cut out from Marvel Age pasted on the cover. My teacher at the time was so flabbergasted -- not only that a female wrote this but that anybody my age remembered who Bulletman was -- that the next day he gave me oversized treasury editions of Superman & Batman. Here are excerpts. I don't know, I keep seeing this amalgam of Sally Brown & Napoleon Dynamite reading this in front of the classroom. "Ol Nessie...")

(from the Introduction)
The date was 1938. The comic was ACTION COMICS. The hero was SUPERMAN. He was the first real superhero, and he spawned hundreds of imitations. There was: Capt. MARVEL, WONDER WOMAN, Capt. AMERICA, DAREDEVIL, BULLETMAN, GREEN LANTERN, HUMAN TORCH, HAWKMAN, THE FLAME, BLUE BOLT, BATMAN, SHEENA, PHANTOM LADY, SUB-MARINER, and many more. It was the Golden Age of Comics, and they sold by the millions. The plots were small, the quality was low-but no one could beat the price-10 cents.

(Stan & Jack's big idea)
STAN LEE and JACK KIRBY had a big idea. The comicbook veterans thought of the most radical ideas in that time about comic books. Heroes that were human. Complex plots. Art that was more than just art. The critics thought they would fail, the rival companies (mainly D.C. Comics, of Superman fame) said it wouldn't last an issue. But Stan and Jack didn't care. They took the company that was Timely and then Atlas, christened it Marvel, and they, an artist called Steve Ditko, and a couple of inkers, started what is now known as the Marvel Universe.

(The origin of the Fantastic Four)
But cosmic rays bombarded the ship, and the four suddenly got superpowers! They reacted to this with nervousness, tension, stress, and in Ben's case, berserkness. The world was not reacting to this with clearheads, either. In the old days, this never happened. A normal man would be granted superpowers and act like nothing happened. The superheroes wouldn't fight amongst themselves. Not here.

When letting go of a crook because of sheer lazyness, his beloved uncle was murdered. By the crook he let go. In which he learned that "with great power comes great responsibility."

But this hero was something no major hero ever was. He was blind. This was never tried in the history of comics. But that was what Marvel was and still is. Radical.

(The Hulk)
But Marvel had its strange, inhuman keepers of the peace, too. In 1964, a big green behemoth joined the bunch. He was the Hulk, and there was a twist to this one. Not a mindless monster was he. When Prof. Bruce Banner got shot through his body with Gamma rays that was supposed to be used in nuclear bombs. He was a casualty of the Nuclear Age.

(Dr. Strange)
Dr. Strange was a master of the art of Black Magic. He traveled in different dimensions, fought psychic demons, the like. But the plots were very complex. You really had to think with this one.

(The Punisher)
The Punisher was a man right out of the army, ready to start a life with his wife and kids, when a crazed murderer kills them. The police tell him there is nothing they can do. Almost losing his mind, he dons a costume and becomes the Punisher, all-purpose vigilante. And this was before Bernhard Goetz.

(The Champions)
The Champions was comprised of members from other teams. They were the first team to disband because of poor financial management.

(Secret Wars)
1984 introduced Secret Wars a limited series that was a mega-success. A god-like entity called the Beyonder whisked away the most popular characters in the Marvel Universe and watched them fight. Believe me, it has more plot than you think. Anyway, it rejuvenated Marvel, who was sinking.

(The New Universe)
With much fanfare, in 1986, they introduced a new universe called, originally enough, the New Universe. It introduced 8 titles that had nothing to do with the Marvel Universe. Marvel says that this new branch is more realistic and down to earth. In any event, it did not live up to its hoopla, critics and readers agree. But it's not a total failure, since it's too early to tell.

(In conclusion...)
Thus ends my report, but not Marvel's success which at this point is guaranteed. Marvel dominates 60% of the market. It is branching in the areas of animation and Movies, and is doing well. So here's to Marvel, the company that saved comics from oblivion. Excelsior! Nuff' said.


  1. Wow. I wasn't even reading comics when I was 12. Nice!

  2. Kudos...although when I was 12, I was still firmly in the DCverse.

  3. I started reading X-men when I was 4 (I learned how to read on X-men comics and Ms. Wiggle books).

    My brother and I started organizing our comics from the last three years, we had to buy a new bookcase just to fit them somewhere rather than taking up our entire living room floor.

    And thats JUST Marvel. I only recently (in past few years) got into DC stuff.

    When you are subscribed to 80+ titles a month, it gets a bit busy tryin to store/organize it all!!!