While I was travelling, I loaded a bunch of X-Men comics onto my phone for the airports. I haven’t stopped reading and I started blogging about my reread in Part I two weeks ago, which covered X-Men #1 (Nov, 1963) to X-Men #20 (May, 1966). It’s been a lot of fun, with not too many cringey moments.
This second post, I’m continuing my reading, but altering the experience a bit. I’m not just going to include the core X-Men series. I think I would like to try reading the stories in the chronology that Marvel sort of had in mind for each story.
So I’m going to start including guest appearances and cross-overs and later series that added history to this period. So this post will cover Strange Tales#120, Fantastic Four #28, Tales of Suspense#49, Journey Into Mystery#109, and X-Menissues #21-23, all of which were published between 1963 and 1966, and Volume I of X-Men: First Class, which was published in 2006-2007, but whose events occur before X-Men#24. I hope this ride is not too disorienting for you or me!
Working on novels and such took me away from some of the main Marvel storylines just before Secret Wars until just after Civil War II (so I just missed a lot). I’m in the process of catching up on some Marvel real estate.
Lately I’ve been reading The Mighty Thor (they’re up to issue #13) and The Unworthy Thor (they’re up to issue #2).
For you completists, Thor goes way back to Journey Into Mystery #83, when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made up the Asgardian god and made him fight aliens. Thor has been a popular character in Marvel who, along with Hercules, brought the divine to the Marvel Universe.
Asgard and Tales of Asgard brought in a ton of new characters into Thor’s orbit in the 1970s. The 1980s gave Thor a huge boost under creator Walt Simonson who defined the character for many modern readers.
Adam Warlock was one of those brooding, tragic, lonely heroes I gravitated to as a thirteen-year old, along with Dr. Strange and Son-of-Satan and the oddball Defenders. I’ve broken up Warlock’s chronology into the three phases. I covered the first, the pre-Jim Starlin era, in my first post. I covered the first half of Jim Starlin’s 1975-1977 run, the Magus saga, in my second post.
Today, I’ll discuss the last half of Starlin’s run in the 1970s, where Thanos plays the big heavy. As always, this post is nothing but spoilers, so read it with your eyes closed if you still haven’t read Warlock. If you’d prefer to read the comics first, they’re all available at comixology.com; today’s Adam story covers Warlock 12-15, Marvel Team-Up 55, Avengers Annual 7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual 2.
So, although Thanos helped Adam Warlock killed his future evil self in Warlock 11, he doesn’t come back immediately. Thanos is the Titan with a plan, and so Starlin takes a couple of episodic detours.
First, Pip the Troll, the moral degenerate who is Adam’s only friend, avoids arrest by trying to spring a prostitute from her pimp. Hilarity and tongue-in-cheek ensue. I’ve never been a Pip fan, but I get how Adam’s unique and tragic fate means he gets to have one friend in life (one and a half if you count Gamorra).
Then Adam fights the Star-Thief, another original and surreal creation of Starlin’s. A man born on Earth, with a functioning brain but bereft of the five senses, the Star-Thief is completely trapped in his mind. With nothing else, he explores the inner parts of his brain, gaining tremendous power and a grudge against humanity that makes him want to extinguish the stars.
I’m an unapologetic geek. I don’t just watch genre shows and read genre books, I immerse myself in them. The ones that stay with me, that I actually decide to devote myself to, linger with me, becoming part of the fabric of my internal world, the thought processes that help me deal with the mundane levels of reality. I analyze these cultural components, trying to pick them apart to figure out why the events unfolded the way they did and, more importantly, what I can learn from it. (For an example, consider how I found an excuse to talk about Thoron my Physics blog, using the film as a lesson in how to be a good scientist.)
Black Gate is also dedicated toward this sort of exploration, publishing not just fantasy fiction but also thoughtful commentary on the genre, in both the magazine and also on this blog. (At this point, I feel the need to point out Aaron Starr’s recent excellent post “The Gods Never Urinate,” which is an exceptional case of this.) Even on our Twitter feed, @BlackGateDotCom, we try to share as much of this sort of material as we can.
But let’s really think about what’s going on here. The genre of science fiction and fantasy, more than any other, reflect upon the fundamental nature of reality. They can do this literally, metaphorically, or (when at its best) in complex combinations of the two. So you have reality, and then you have the genre literature which is reflecting upon that reality.
And the truly motivated fans don’t just read the literature. Remember, the word “fan” comes from “fanatic.” If you don’t obsess at least a little bit, you aren’t a fan, you’re just someone who likes the show or the book. Fans go a step further, and we reflect upon the genre. We reflect in our own minds, and through the written word, both online and in print, in podcasts and vidcasts, and in person at gaming stores, comic shops, bookstores, conventions … or, let’s be honest, any time more than two of us are in contact with each other. The depth of the analysis can vary widely, of course, but that reflection on the genre is the defining trait of fandom.
Fandom is the process of reflecting upon the reflection of reality. …