There are few names that hold as much awe in the entertainment industry as Marvel does. From humble beginnings as Timely Comics to the film powerhouse that is Marvel Studios, there has been more content flowing from these minds than almost any other group. So much so, that there is seemingly no way to know the intricacies of each facet of the Marvel Universe(s). Lucky for those lacking warehouses full of dusty pages, people like Dan Casey exist. Casey holds a self-proclaimed degree in Marvel Comics and shows off his knowledge in his book, 100 Things Avengers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.
Before telling our Giga Geeks why this book is a valuable resource and overview of the Marvel yarns, let me first tell you about my lack of comic book knowledge. I am nowhere near a comic nerd, nor could I take that title by association. My early years were spent blowing the dust out of Nintendo cartridges and pretending to be a Power Ranger. I also grew up during the 1990s, which was what I now know to be a bit of dry spell in the comic book industry. Yet, I did love Marvel’s characters in other media, like the classic cartoon iterations of X-Men and Spider Man. That guitar-heavy opening from X-Men still rings clearly in many of my early memories.
A few comics were passed down to me when I was a kid—some beat up X-Men and Street Sharks—but no one I knew was really into them. It wasn’t until the first few Marvel films hit theaters that I rekindled that need for these super heroes and heroines. Actually, I remember my father taking me to see X-Men in the summer of 2000. This was also a great bonding experience for both of us as we walked away not liking the film and making jokes about it. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the first Spider-Man film much more than the X-Men (2000) movie.
It wasn’t until I entered college in 2010 that I got a real taste of the comic world. A humble comic shop called Counter Culture Concepts opened that same year and it wasn’t long before I made lasting friends in that cramped space. If it wasn’t for that store, I never would’ve owned a decent pile of comics. As a side note, my girlfriend even painted an awesome mural that was a stark contrast to the American paintings on the opposite wall.
My story proves that I’m not a guru of comics at all, merely a Padowan on a journey towards being a Jedi. Therefore, Casey’s collection of Marvel knowledge awakened me to a multi-verse of stories created over decades of talented work.
Casey starts by explaining Marvel’s history, and then works his way up to the more practical bits of know-how, such as mixing a shot of The Incredible Hulk (which is guaranteed to get you smashed). There’s so much knowledge to be gained even from the first few chapters. I had no idea Jack Kirby joined the dark side of D.C. Comics at one point!
After discussing Marvel’s origins, Casey outlines the back stories of almost every character in the film canon, or the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) as some might call it. These segments are great due to the addition of where those characters are in the current continuity. In some instances it also gives those who lack key points of comic knowledge a hint at what’s to come in future film projects from the House of Ideas. Case in point, the Vision was merely a visual character for me, but I now know him to be one of the deepest characters in Marvel. Also, I didn’t know he was an android, but that’s not the point.
After shedding light on most characters in the MCU, Casey goes on to discuss major events throughout the years. He outlines Civil War and Secret Invasion with passion and precision, bringing major plot points to life with minimal wording. During my stays at the comic shop, I had always wanted to pick up the comics containing these events, but for some reason or another never did. Now I wish I had—I will eventually—as those stories mark things I want to see in future films.
The end of the book holds some neat things Avengers fans should try outside of films and comic books. Most interestingly for me, there’s a Shawarma recipe by Natasha Feldman and Julianna Strickland, the women behind Cinema & Spice. While I’ve yet to try this mystery food, I do have plans to film my attempt. The last chapters also hold a call to action for comic book fans everywhere in hopes that the community can give back, celebrate Free Comic Book Day, and find a local comic shop.
These last few things on the Avengers-fan bucket list are very important. I will attest to the awesome potential hidden down alleys. Some of my best memories of college come from behind the glass doors of my local comic shop. Dan Casey and I, advise everyone to find a shop and experience one of the greatest things about loving comics: having friends as passionate as you are about fantastic stories portrayed in panels.
After reading Casey’s book, I feel more confident in my overall knowledge of Marvel’s heroes and heroines, as well as being a part of the comic book community. I feel like I just finished studying for the mid-terms in Marvel 101 and I’m ready for the test. Professor Casey, I can honestly say I had more fun in this class than any other. Will you be teaching Marvel 102, also?
100 Things Avengers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Dan Casey is available through Triumph Books.
Also a big thanks goes out to Triumph Books for sending me this book and Dan Casey for toiling away for its completion. Stay cool.
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