‘All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told’

Books Entertainment Reviews

This book was brought to my attention by this article from The Guardian.

What Is All of the Marvels?

This amazing menu is the result of years of hard reading, because, as you know, the universe of all Marvel comics has been connected since 1961 and has been expanding ever since.

Douglas Wolk notes that they are the longest continuous, self-contained work of fiction ever created: over half a million pages to date and still growing. Longer than the ancient Indian Sanskrit text The Mahabharata, and any other ancient epic tradition.

And the epic task of reading all of it has proved daunting (but feasible), and a victorious Douglas Wolk has emerged the winner, having read everything from Alpha Flight to Omega the Unknown.

Who Wrote This novel?

Douglas Wolk is a Portland, Oregon-based author and critic. He has written about comics and popular music for publications for a long time and even hosted a radio show on WFMU from 1999 to 2001. This is his fourth book. Not only has he made a tour for us to map out our visit to the Marvel comics universe, he has also launched a Patreon site in January 2019, members-only, where participants collectively read and discuss a single issue of a Marvel comic book every day.

Why Read All of It?

As Wolk says, so we don’t have to. This is a map, a piece of cartography, a journey. The first advice he gives us is to wander off the path and see what springs up. He will stop over a particular issue, (let’s say a specific volume of the Fantastic Four) and tell us about the evolution of its characters and the appreciation of the public towards its themes and issues. He will totally recommend Squirrel Girl and some weird ’90s action group everyone else seems to have forgotten about.

He has taken notes, seen the similarities, remembered the odd details, and wondered about any particular character you might want to know more about: Thor, Spider Gwen, King T’challa, or The Thing. And, yes, he does so with plentiful side and foot notes.

He is the weird uncle that can sit on a bar and recite from memory the names of any supervillain known to man, and I honestly tought that only my husband could do that.

He talks about chronology and offers you an index to follow, but here is another bit of advice:

Speaking of the audience: The third chronology of the Marvel story, and the most important by far, is the order in which you experience it. For the parts that are available to you, that order is determined only by you. To imagine that it’s possible to do that “wrong” is to deny your own powers, both literally and figuratively.

Stray off the path, start whenever you want, and have fun. That is what the Marvel comics universe is all about.

All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told was released on October 12, 2021.

Publisher: Penguin Press
Publish Date: October 12, 2021
Pages: 384
Type: Hardcover
EAN/UPC: 9780735222168
BISAC Categories: Personal Memoirs Comics & Graphic Novels

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