Saturday, 10 December 2016

FOOM (Friends Of Ol' Marvel)

The Marvel Comics' Universe and the current film line-up of The Avengers

Oh, Mum, what did you do?

We all have childhood memories that we think leave a long-lasting effect. My brother and I were distraught when we came home from school one day to find my Mum had had a clear-out and decided to get rid of a huge pile of original Marvel comics…. Now, of course, they would probably be worth a fortune. So I credit that event with two things:
  • my loyalty to the Marvel brand and
  • my reluctance to throw anything away.
The genius of Marvel Comics’s Stan Lee was that he drew on the 1960s developing pop-psychology to present to teenagers a compelling escapist fantasy of legendary wish fulfilment. The comics spoke directly and emotionally to fans who felt marginalised, like Peter Parker in Spiderman. Stan Lee even addressed the reader from within the stories, asides just like in Shakespearean comedy. Stan Lee seemed like a childhood friend, so it’s a great joy to see him pop up in Marvel film cameos. I remember the first “club" I belonged to – Friends of Ol’ Marvel or FOOM – I wonder how many people, like me, kept hold of the club magazine….?

Arrested development?

How come I’m hooked on Shakespeare but I also love the X-Men, Spiderman, Thor, the Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer and The Avengers? Is my development so arrested that I can’t distinguish between Quicksilver (in the X-Men) and Hamlet (in Hamlet)? Both Quicksilver and Hamlet have father issues…. And the underlying theme of the X-Men is the same as one of the strands in Hamlet – the outsider trying to
  • fight for personal and political justice
  • work out his own destiny and
  • control the impulse to revenge….

Searching for father

Eclectic Tastes: The Bible, Shakespeare, Marvel….

Definition of Eclectic: not following one set of principles, ideas or systems but using many parts of different ones.
An eclectic person is someone with catholic, broad-ranging and all-inclusive tastes; someone who sees no difference between “high” culture and “popular” culture, “elegant” style and “vulgar” style. I think that’s me. I think I have eclectic tastes. Yes, I love Shakespeare, but I also love the Marvel Universe and will happily watch a superhero film the same day as reading Measure for Measure. As evidenced in the image on the right I think of Shakespeare as an action hero and I see nothing incongruous about Sacha Goldberger's outfits for a few of the Marvel characters. My appreciation of Marvel characters preceded my Mum’s notorious clearout of old comics. You see, no-one, throughout my childhood, ever told me what to read or watch. Nothing was ever censored. Picking up an encyclopedia or The Bible or Shakespeare felt the same, to me, as picking up the latest edition of Fantastic or Terrific or The Mighty World of Marvel (the UK versions of Marvel comics.) (Click the links on the titles for a trip down memory lane if you remember these comics.) I’m glad I have eclectic tastes. There are so many more things to enjoy…. Excelsior!