Television introduced me to the superhero genre, but it was the cover of Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 that really ignited my passion for the Marvel Universe. The image of Spider-Man in his new black-and-white costume and an all-star cast of heroes waging war against an infamous cast of villains convinced me to read my first Marvel superhero comic book. It was from there that I dove head-first into a love of all things Marvel. These Marvel comics helped me see the type of person I wanted to become and inspired me to become a positive influence in the lives of others.
A DC Beginning
As a kid, I loved waking up early on Saturday mornings to watch superhero cartoons. I remember waiting for those “kiddie shows” to end so that I could watch Super Friends.
Wearing Underoos emblazoned with my favorite hero’s insignia, I sat watching in awe as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and others saved the day. The mornings’ adventures continued with Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, but once the larger-than-life presence of the Super Friends went off the air, Spidey felt more like a consolation prize.
In time, I developed an interest in the G.I. Joe franchise. Hasbro did a brilliant job of marketing its G.I. Joe: Real American Hero toys in commercials, the weekday afternoon cartoon, and the Marvel comic book series. I raced home from school each day to watch the newest episode of G.I. Joe. Occasionally I walked up to my neighborhood discount store with rolls of pennies in hand to buy the latest release in the toy line.
When I was too old to buy the toys (or too embarrassed for anyone to know I bought them), I turned to Marvel’s G.I. Joe comic books. Once a month, I went to the comic book store with my cousin to buy the latest G.I. Joe book while he bought other Marvel titles. I seldom paid attention to the books he chose, but that night Spider-Man seemed to jump off the cover and invite me to pick up the book. I would never forget it.
Stories of Triumph
That night I read Secret Wars #8 and soon continued through the back issues of the series. I was hooked. Secret Wars renewed my interest in familiar characters and introduced me to superheroes like the X-Men that I would follow for years to come. I lost myself in the storylines and forgot about everyday problems, spellbound as the heroes overcame challenges and made a difference in the world.
Even as I got older my interest in the Marvel Universe did not wane. I stopped regularly buying comic books, but I sometimes purchased graphic novels to keep up with the major storylines. I was in college when the X-Men and Spider-Man animated series premiered, but I woke up early every Saturday morning and tuned in – this time minus the Underoos.
Rooted in the Real World
Perhaps what I love most about Marvel comics is how grounded in reality these stories feel to me. Superheroes with unimaginable powers overcome challenges and help others around them. The selflessness that these characters exhibited inspired me to become more than the shy, nerdy kid in the corner who rarely engaged in conversation. Instead, I got involved in the community and tried to set a positive example for others.
I was so ecstatic to see the development of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it allows me now I can pass down those great stories to my children. I hope that they will one day learn the lessons that Marvel comics and television series taught me. The Marvel Universe continues to inspire me, and it all started with Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8.