Welcome to the first “What I’m Eating” column. A column where I talk about all of my recent gastronomical adventures eating various endangered anim…. Oh… This is the Eat Your Serial blog? Not the Eat Your Narwhals one? My bad. Let me restart.
Welcome to the first “What I’m Eating” column. A column where I talk about all of the serialized entertainment that I’ve been consuming, and I regurgitate it out to the masses to try and get you reading/watching/absorbing some awesome and creative stuff.
So what have I been eating? Well, on a large scale, it has been all Avengers all the time for these past few weeks. Is it still cool to talk about the Avengers or is that sooooo last weekend ago? See, the Avengers happened to be a pitch-perfect movie (not just as a comic book movie, but as a straight up movie), and it has left me giddy for all things Avengers. And the best thing for me is that I can retreat to my closets full of comics to keep the excitement going. Lots of people seem to have seen this movie and loved it, yet I’d wager that 93% of them haven’t read a comic in a really long time. If you are a part of that made up percentage, loved the movie, and want to dig into some great serialized fun featuring all the characters you just saw, here are some recommendations of what I’ve been re-eating lately (gross).
IRON MAN. Yeah, Iron Man sure is cool in all of those movies that have collectively grosse seven hundred million billion dollars, but did you know that he got his start in comics? Of course you did! Have you read any of them? (Awkward pause). Well, here we go! If you want to start from the beginning, this collection features the introduction of Iron Man’s acclaimed armored career. But you’ve already seen the movie, so why not jump ahead to some exciting and new (to you at least) material! Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Start sure does love his booze… maybe even a bit too much. In the comics, Stark’s alcoholism becomes a really dangerous problem especially when you realize you’ve handed the keys to a multi-million dollar war suit to a drunk. This is chronicled in the classic Demon in a Bottle arc, which is one of, and perhaps the most essential Iron Man story ever written. If you’re looking for something a little more current, the most recent run of Iron Man features a fantastically nutty story where to protect national security, Stark has to delete his brain… but don’t worry… there’s a backup hard drive out there somewhere. There’s a reason I love comics, and I think this shows exactly why.
CAPTAIN AMERICA. For years, the appeal of Captain America has eluded me…. Who knew the key to making me care about his character was killing him off. The lead in and aftermath of the death of Captain America storyline are some of the finest Marvel comic books written in the last decade.
BLACK WIDOW. It’s funny, despite the great job the Avengers movie did with Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, the character really hasn’t had the chance to shine in a solo comic book series. That said, the aforementioned Captain America stories heavily feature her character, and she’s awesome.
HAWKEYE. This dude is a purple Robin Hood knock-off. I will not recommend you seek out any essential reading on the character, because he works best as a bit player stirring the pot in a team setting. Or on a roof shooting arrows. Not rife for characterization, this one…. Though there’s a new series on the horizon for him, so maybe that will change, but not likely.
HULK. There is no doubt that the giant green guy stole the show at the end of the Avenger’s movie. He’s never been a personal favorite of mine in the comics, but I’ve heard nothing but praise for the Planet Hulk series. Hulk gets transported to an alien world after a betrayal by Tony Stark and his buddies (but that’s a story for another day and another column), where he, well… he starts punching things. A lot. It was pitched as Gladiator meets Hulk. To be honest, it is beyond me why I haven’t read this already.
THOR. The idea of a Norse god talking like an extra in a poorly written Shakespeare knock-off never really resonated with me during my comic reading youth (also known as the time when it was “ok” for me to read comics, and it wasn’t a symptomatic of my stunted emotional development). However, a recent relaunch of the title, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Oliver Coipel, humanized the character and, quite frankly, made him great. After spending a few years dead (he got better), the character came back invigorated and more relevant than ever. And then his movie came out, and made him more invigorated-er and more relevant-er. But still, those stories are well worth a read.
NICK FURY. Things will get a little bit confusing here, because we’re all used to the cool as $#%& black Nick Fury played by Samuel L. Jackson in the Marvel films, but in the comics, he’s been a crusty old white dude for decades. With that said, he’s a crusty old white dude who’s had some great stories written about him. None better than the recently finished Secret Warriors series, wherein Fury, off the grid, needs to assemble a team of unknown heroes to take care of business that the big dogs (aka the Avengers) can’t know about. Jackson’s Nick Fury does actually have his roots in the comics, namely the alternate universe series, The Ultimates, that features a Nick Fury who looks and acts a whole lot like Samuel L. Jackson. It’s a bit confusing and circular, but hey, it’s comics!
LOKI. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki was immense in both Thor and Avengers. His character has a long history as an antagonist, but it’s his recent turn as a protagonist that is most worth your while. It’s whimsical, fantastical, weird and creepy, and it stars a Loki that’s been resurrected as an adolescent. Don’t worry, it’ll make sense in context and more importantly, there’s a talking Hell-dog. Journey Into Mystery is really that good, and quite possibly my highest recommendation on this list.
“But Shawn!” you’re saying. “I appreciate this list of stories featuring all the heroes in their solo adventures, but the coolest thing about the Avengers was seeing them all on the screen at the same time! Recommend me up some full-fledged Avengers comics to eat!”
To which I respond first that you should again, not take this column title literally (so don’t eat my recommendations, they won’t taste all that good), and then respond with…
THE AVENGERS. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have had a creative renaissance lately, widening their membership to head scratching, but no less satisfying members like Spider-Man and Wolverine. Get in at the start of the modern run of Avenger’s stories with the first volume of Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers. It leads to a huge, multi-title, multi-year spanning story that leads to an epic civil war, an alien invasion, and the rise of their dark counterparts. All cool, all fun. There’s also The Ultimates, the aforementioned alternate universe Avengers that is a bit more gritty and real-world. Or as real-world as any of this nonsense is.
Did I say nonsense? I meant unparalleled awesomeness. Now go and eat it, all of it.