Technology continues to be an amazing force and I’m always amazed at even the little things that technology can achieve. Until I was in High School I used to read Marvel comics every month when a new issue would come out. There were only three Marvel comics I cared about: (which happen to be some of the most famous ones) Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, and X-Men.
I liked Spiderman because he was really witty. Even when he was getting beaten up by his enemies, he would still make fun of them with all sorts of wise guy remarks. I also liked the fact that he always had a lot of real-world problems. Unlike a lot of other super heroes he always had problems. His best friend’s dad goes crazy and he is constantly battling with him. Jameson, at the newpaper, is always writing bad articles about Spiderman. No matter how good of a job he does, Jameson is always dragging his name through the mud. He has issues with MJ about why he is always dissapearing. Unlike Lois Lane, she doesn’t naively accept this, she gets ticked and goes out with other guys. Also, for most of the time, his Aunt May, who he so dearly loves, hates Spiderman.
I liked Fantastic Four because of the different characters, although Thing was my favorite. He, like Spiderman, was always cracking on people. He was also a huge guy made of rocks, but he was afraid of the Yancy Street Gang. Mr. Fantastic was really cool because he was always working on all sorts of neat gizmos. Also, FF was one of the groups whose main enemy was a communistic dictator, Dr. Doom, who ran a country in Eastern Europe.
What drew me to X-Men was the fact that I understood, from an early age, that it was a metaphor for racism. In the X-Men comics, the people of the US hate mutants. No matter how many times they save the American people, they hate the X-Men simply because they are different. This is a fact that, I am sure, played a subtle part in getting the youth of 40 years to understand that hating someone for being different was wrong, especially if they were good people. Up to now, the story has been timeless. The Romans hated the Christians for being monotheistic. Almost all of Europe hated the Jews because they were not Christian. Anglos hated blacks because they were darker in skin colour. People hated the mutants because they were different. Additionally, because they had power that the people feared, just as many feared (rationally or irationally) that 19th century blacks should not be educated, lest they rise up against the whites. Of course, as a kid I was also attracted to Cyclops’ laser eyes and Wolverine’s awesome claws. These characters all had a story too and Wolverine’s always intrigued me the most since he knew nothing of his past and the more he found out, the more complicated it got. The movies really don’t do 40 years of comic books justice.
The reason for this post, however, is a recent purchase I made at Best Buy a couple of days ago. On 11 CD-ROMS I bought the ENTIRE collection of The Amazing Spiderman comics from issue 1 to the last issue in December 2003. This would have been an insane thing to do in real world for two reaons. First of all, it would have cost a fortune to get all of those first issues in good enough a condition to read. Second of all, it would have taken up many, many more shelves than I have to devote to comics. With technology, however, I can have all of the 40 years worth of comics in about 2 inches of CDs. Trust me, it’s not the same reading it on the screen. I like feeling the newspaper-like paper of the older comics. There was a very nice grit to it which I liked. I also liked when they switched to the higher quality paper that allowed for more vibrant colours. However, when it comes to being able to carry with me, and read the entire collection of comics, this is unparalled. If I wanted to, I could take this with me on a long plane trip and remain amused for quite some time.
I read issue #1 and I must say it was very funny. The art style is VERY different from the art style used when I used to read it. Peter Parker looks more like an adult than a teenager. He also isn’t quite as witty yet, but I think that Stan Lee, the script writer, was getting a feel for the character. One also has to take into consideration the time period in which it was written. I’ll have to keep a close eye on the credits and see if it’s actually another script writer who introduces the vitriolic wit of Spiderman. Also, so far he has helped stop a bad guy from getting some secret plans to some commies, standard fare for the Cold War super hero, I’m sure.
Overall, I really like the experience. They have a cupon here for $10 off of something so I may check it out. I saw something on Tv wondering how Marvel would make money in the new era of comics, I think this is definitely a good strategy – making the original comics available. They are redoing a lot of the stories, and that’s fine for a new audience – they don’t identify with a superhero defeating the commies. But, there’s something about the old ones that I pine for. I’d definitely buy similar collections of the X-Men and Fantastic Four.