What a man learned from reading the 27,000 Marvel comics

Now in its fourth “phase,” the Marvel Cinematic Universe spans over 70 hours of movies and TV shows. It’s a huge franchise – but it’s tiny compared to all of Marvel Comics itself, whose superhero literary universe has been in continuous publication since the early 1960s. All in all, the story The company’s epic spans over 27,000 individual issues – with new installments released every Wednesday.

Marvel’s story was never meant to be read in its entirety, and at this point it’s so long and vast that consuming and understanding it all seems like an impossible endeavor. But that’s exactly what author and comic book historian Douglas Wolk set out to do. Over the past five years he’s read every Marvel comic ever made and then turned what he discovered into his latest book, All the wonders: a journey to the end of the greatest story ever told.

It is a fascinating chronicle of a truly chimerical enterprise. Wolk’s book works both as an entertaining introduction to the big picture of Marvel history, and as a deep dive into some of its weirder corners. (There’s a really fun chapter that argues, without being entirely kidding, that rather than Spider-Man or Captain America, it’s actually Linda Carter – AKA Night Nurse – who can be the main character in the Marvel Universe.)

Even before Wolk took on this Galactus-sized project, he was already one of our big comic book critics. (His previous effort, Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean, is one of the most engaging books ever written on the subject.) As a fan of Marvel (and masochistic quests like this), I wanted to explain to him why he took on this mission and what ‘he learned from all those hundreds of hours spent leafing through the back issues of Dark hawk and Kung Fu Master.

Here are some of the biggest revelations he shared from our conversation. And before asking: no, he doesn’t intend to repeat All the wonders for DC Comics. (“I have to take my eyesight into account,” Wolk jokes.)

What a man learned from reading the 27,000 Marvel comics

All the wonders are on sale now.

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Lisa M. Horner