Avengers: Infinity War opens today, and with it comes the promise of an epic storyline that not only represents the biggest assemblage of Marvel Cinematic Universe characters in one viewing, but potentially some canvas-cleaning to up the stakes too. Any one of the key Avengers team members — Captain America, Iron Man and Thor, in particular — could be sacrificed in some dramatic storytelling fashion.
The avid Marvel comics reader will recognize much of this storyline as drawing from the 1991 “Infinity Gauntlet” arc, where mad god Thanos acquires the powerful Infinity gems (stones in the movies) and uses them to wipe out half the universe’s population in order to impress his muse, the Mistress Death, resulting in an all-hands-on-deck brawl between him and scores of Marvel superheroes ranging from Captain America to She-Hulk in an epic space battle.
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Like most of the waking world, you’ve probably been counting down to the release of Marvel’s Black Panther movie, which hits theaters today. Black Panther has struck a unique chord with culture right now; coming not only at a time when there’s a deeper, unrelenting discussion about Hollywood’s diversity issues, but also against a wider backdrop around the political and social climate for Blacks in America. And despite the fact that the Black Panther has been around as a superhero character since the Civil Rights Era, he still hasn’t quite penetrated the echelons of the pop conscience like his peers. He’s been a household name in some places, but not everywhere. Not yet.
But all that’s about to change. The movie comes with a storm of energy and so it means that people are likely scrambling to find ways to get a grasp on this character. Now is as good a time as any for a primer on what Black Panther comics to read if you want to get to know the character…and what to look out for beyond the comics.
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You don’t know me, but picture this: a smallish black boy, aged anywhere between 7 years old and 18 years old (because really, in my mind I grew very little growing up) on the floor of his small bedroom with my back propped against the small toy-box chest in my room. If you’re flying above me, looking down, you’d see me slightly hunched over and all around me, comic books fanned in a messy array all over the floor around me. You’d see me studying and reading each one, sometimes holding two comic book issues up, one in each hand, at the same time, making sense of where they should go, then slipping them, one by one, into a protective case to stay fresh and new.
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