This week’s question of the week:
“So my question to you after reading your site.
If someone had access to nearly all marvel and dc comics, back to even the Timely era of Marvel. Where would you begin reading? My plan is not to do more then 50 of a series in a hit to prevent burnout but I also am a bit unsure if I should begin in the beginning or the silver age era or just throw darts at a board?
At the end of the day it’s my decision I know, but I was hoping for some thoughts from someone who I can see is educated in the craft.
Thanks for the question, Joy!
First off, if you can point me in the direction of the library or comics shop that provides access to nearly all Marvel and DC Comics, I’ll be there yesterday. That sounds amazing!
It’s an interesting question, and as you observe, a lot of this is going to come down to personal preference and reader tastes.
I talk about this a bit in my 3 approaches of highly successful Marvel Comics readers, but the temptation to go all the way back to the start can become an enormous burden fairly quickly. This is coming from a guy who has spent every week in 2016 reading a new year of Marvel Comics starting from 1961, so pour out some salt on a wound and eat some grain (that’s the saying, right?).
Nonetheless, if you want to get up to speed with modern comics, you simply don’t need to read Golden Age Superman. Not only that, but if you’re used to more modern comics, you’re probably going find the production values, thought balloons, and oh good golly all that redundant copy mind-numbing. I love some Silver Age Marvel books, but they also put me to sleep about 15 minutes every 2 issues. It’s significantly slower going than what we’re used to in 2016.
If you’re interested in the history of the medium, though, then yeah, I’d run it back to Action Comics #1 and read those early Superman and Batman comics. There’s a whole realm of production from Joe Simon and Jack Kirby that is well worth your time.
If you’re not an actual historian, and don’t play one on TV, I’d put some caps on this reading approach. Unless you’re just completely inhuman (Are you there Black Bolt, it’s me, Dave?) we’ll probably be used to flying cars, time travel, and sentient avocados by the time you finally hit the Silver Age.
So here’s how I actually would approach this wonderful comics utopia, were I to encounter:
Read as much Golden Age Superman and Batman comics as I can stomach.
Read as many Gardner Fox stories as I can get my hands on.
Read enough Justice Society of America to make my Dad proud.
Read at least an issue of every Simon and Kirby production I can find.
Read the Timely Comics beginnings of the Marvel Universe, with the original human torch and Namor.
Find a copy of Seduction of the Innocent, and write nasty jokes in the margins.
Read as many EC horror comics as I can stomach.
Read Jack Kirby’s Green Arrow comics
Enter the Silver Age. High-Five strangers with wild-eyed excitement and the raging beard of a man who hasn’t left a comics shop all year.
Or… you could just start with The Flash of Two Worlds and progress with comics as we know them. That… that might be an easier answer.
Either way, enjoy the comics!