"All of the Marvels": Author Douglas Walk on the "biggest story ever told"

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Mastering the Marvel Universe

Mastering the Marvel Universe 05:05

Since the Dawn of Time (technically, the 1960s, to beryllium precise), a communicative has been building: a azygous connected communicative involving thousands of characters, and millions of pages of comics. The Marvel Universe, says writer Douglas Wolk, contains the biggest communicative that has ever been told. "It each happens successful the aforesaid setting," helium said. "Stories that happened successful 1961 oregon 1962 person consequences successful comics that are coming retired this week."

Wolk, a Marvel expert, patiently explained to analogous Luke Burbank (a non-comic-book person) that Marvel mightiness beryllium the longest-running and astir voluminous communicative told successful quality past … and it's each connected, meaning if The Hulk stubbed his toed backmost successful 1979, Captain America could beryllium dealing with the consequences successful 2022.  

"All of those events are its history, its past, what it tin gully connected for this perpetually-evolving story," said Wolk. "Not conscionable a continuous communicative going connected for six decades, but the continuous communicative going connected successful many, galore threads astatine erstwhile that tin transverse each different astatine immoderate time."

Marvel started publishing comics successful 1930s, but according to Wolk, it was lone successful the aboriginal 1960s that Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby pioneered the thought of having each the characters unrecorded successful the aforesaid universe. 

marvel-spider-man-1920.jpg Spider-Man was introduced successful 1962 successful Marvel's "Amazing Fantasy No. 15." A transcript of that comic publication was auctioned past twelvemonth for $3.6 million.  Marvel Comics

Wolk had been a instrumentality of Marvel Comics since helium was a boy, but his son, Sterling, didn't commencement disconnected sharing his emotion of (as helium calls it) "spandex violence." But then, Wolk recalled, "Eventually helium was like, 'Oh, but superhero comics are a analyzable system. I similar analyzable systems. Hey, Dad, I'd similar to work each the Marvel Universe comics, not successful the bid they were published, but the bid of events happened to the characters.' I was like, 'Okay, that's a beauteous gangly order!'"

So, they acceptable retired connected a father-and-son adventure, tackling a seemingly intolerable challenge. 

dougals-wolk-and-son-reading-comics.jpg Douglas Wolk and his lad embarked connected a Marvel-ous adventure.  CBS News

"You conscionable person to find a mode successful and rotation astir wrong it," Wolk said. "There's tons of weird and boring and arcane and confusing parts, and determination are beauteous and magical and fascinating parts."

They recovered themselves jumping astir from comic to comic, devouring leafage aft page, contented aft issue. "But I started thinking, What would it really look similar to work these fractional cardinal pages of comics, to work the 27,000 superhero comics that Marvel had published since 1961?"

It was astatine this constituent that Wolk started to alteration from Mild Mannered Portland Writer to Dr. Marvel Brain (a.k.a, 1 of the fewer radical connected Planet Earth to work "all of the Marvels"). That became the rubric of the book helium wrote astir the experience.

all-of-the-marvels-penguin.jpg Penguin

Wolk said, "Superhero comics are stories astir our satellite made overmuch bigger than life, and turned into this enormous, endless ongoing soap opera."

It seems hard to ideate now, with Marvel films regularly breaking container bureau records, but for years they struggled to get their enactment adapted for the large screen. In fact, the archetypal Marvel diagnostic movie was really "Howard the Duck," a container bureau weaponry truthful atrocious it was virtually declared "The Worst Film of 1986."

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has travel a agelong mode since then, churning retired deed and aft hit. But of people it each started with the comics, which is wherever things took an absorbing crook for Douglas Wolk: 

"On the past page, we spot Dr. Strange hanging retired successful his survey astatine home, and connected his bookshelf we spot a transcript of 'All of the Marvels.' The publication I wrote exists wrong the comic story. I could not beryllium happier astir this!"

dr-strange-all-of-the-marvels.jpg Dr. Strange, with a small airy reading.  Marvel Comics

An antithetic root story, but impervious that there's country for everybody wrong the Biggest Story Ever Told.

See Also:

The marvelous beingness of Stan Lee ("Sunday Morning")Wonder Woman done the years

For much info:

"All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told" by Douglas Wolk (Penguin), successful Hardcover, eBook and Audio formats, disposable via Amazon and Indiebounddouglaswolk.commarvel.comMarvel Unlimited (Subscription required)

Story produced by Anthony Laudato. Editor: Mike Levine. 

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