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Why Douglas Wolk spent two years reading 27,000 Marvel comic books

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Douglas Wolk
Lisa Gidley
/
Penguin Random House
Douglas Wolk is the author of "All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Greatest Story Ever Told"

The result is "All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told," a guide into the Marvel universe.

Numerous heroes have been created under the Marvel banner. Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men are among the hundreds of characters that inhabit this particular comic book world.

Since its start in 1961, the publishing company has grown in popularity and is an ever-expanding comic book universe. Today, it stands at over 27,000 issues published.

That number can be daunting to those interested in picking up a comic book. That is where author Douglas Wolk comes in.

Wolk took on the monumental task of reading the first 56 years published by Marvel to make sense of the expansive universe. "All of the Marvels" takes readers by the hand for a look at how these comics have played a role in American culture over six decades.

"I wanted to be a guide to people who had not been to that territory before, or were curious about it, or had some experience with it," said Wolk. "I didn't want to point out 'oh these are the five highlights you must see,' but rather these are some paths you might want to take, these are some areas you might want to explore, these are some ways to look at the Marvel Comics story."

People interested in these comics can look at the sheer number of issues and feel uncertain of where to begin. Wolk assures readers that jumping right in without all the background knowledge is part of the fun.

"There is a chapter early on that is called 'Where to start, or how to enjoy being confused' and I think that's a crucial part of this," said Wolk. "You can go into this story and you're not going to know everything and that's fine. You were never supposed to. What the story wants from you is not your knowledge, but your curiosity."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Connor Stewart is an intern for KCUR's Up To Date.
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