I wonder if it would be possible to read one of the big comic book series like, say, Superman or Batman, all the way from the first issue up to the current day. Thinking about this, I can easily see that at least the following points are problematic:

  • Continuity: Often storylines spread over multiple series of the same franchise. One would have to do quite a bit of research to find out the relevant titles
  • Availability: Getting a hold of old issues, even reprints, can be difficult, especially if one would try to access them roughly in the order determined by point 1.
  • Time: This is not only the time chasing up old comic book, but also reading all of them sums up to a challenging task, given the sheer volume of books that have been published over the years in a long-running series.
  • Money: Even under the assumption that one could find less sought after books at garage sales or read them in a library or borrow them from someone, I imagine the costs for such an endeavour must be immense.

Thus my question is whether reading one of the mega-series cover to cover is by all practical means impossible. Or, in more quantitative terms, how would one go about estimating the time and money required to re-read one of the long-running comic book series in its entirety?

closed as off-topic by Jenayah, TheLethalCarrot, RDFozz, Bellatrix, Vanguard3000 Oct 3 '18 at 1:03

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  • "This question does not appear to be about science fiction or fantasy within the scope defined in the help center." – Jenayah, TheLethalCarrot, RDFozz, Bellatrix, Vanguard3000
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  • I often have similar ideas. Try adding all the references and inspirations the series builds upon! ;) – n611x007 Jul 15 '12 at 7:55
  • what I do is simply start it and read it in a pace what is joyful. If I would give myself a "task" it would quickly turn into boredom. I take my joy from collecting a portion of the works and I read them when I feel like it, then either continue or sleep the process for several weeks, depending on the joy/fatigue ratio. It helps to define a max timeout though, eg. 1-2 months, for resting, to be able to finish the project. If a bottleneck arises it's best to skip it as you would do naturally if you'd really read the series as it emerges from the 30s. Keep track of the bottlenecks though. – n611x007 Jul 15 '12 at 8:03
  • Points 2 and 4 could be addressed if we ever see a Napster/library.nu-like piracy site dedicated to comic books. Though Superman might be a less-than-ideal franchise to work with, considering all the dumb spinoffs over the years. Would Superdog or the Jimmy Olsen issues be required, or could you skip those? On a more serious note, how many lines are there in a typical comic book? They're not exactly War and Peace. – John O Jul 15 '12 at 22:22
  • 1
    I've voted to close as off-topic but to be honest this equally falls into primarily opinion-based and too broad. – Jenayah Oct 2 '18 at 21:44
  • I read the 1986 Superman reboot through to the present day 8-9 years ago (my actual physical comics), and read the Avengers from issue 1-up (missing a couple of books the "The Crossing" (hardly a big loss) and the West Coast team, because I was reading them electronically via Comixology) over the past few years (slowed down until the full Celestial Madonna storyline was available, and more when I got to Avengers Vs X-Men and started catching on the X-titles I hadn't read yet). Of course, I've spent stupid amounts of money on comics over the years, so I may not be a good example. – RDFozz Oct 2 '18 at 22:30
  1. is series dependent, but I didn't find many problems till I got into the 90's era. Then it became almost impossible to enjoy a lot of story lines.

  2. DC Archive is nice for the batman/superman stuff from the golden age. But this will be hard, though online searches do show up a few series 'around' (I won't elaborate, use your imagination).

  3. Time, in getting them, it wasn't so bad, but I had a resource available that gave me a bunch of old books. Reading at 8 hours a day, it took a few months to read all the flash and green lantern books (from golden age to just before blackest night). I think about 3 months each. (yes, I had time and money to do this).

  4. It gets expensive, more than you want to know. but dc archive books to help a lot.


Availablity / Money

If you don't mind black & white reprints, some like Amazing Spider-man and Uncanny X-Men from marvel are pretty well covered in the early issues via the essentials line. Amazing Spider-man is covered from 1-248 (roughly 1984) and Uncanny X-Men is covered from 1-53, 94-272 (roughly 1991) at that point back issues become more viable.

There is also DC's showcase presents, but these don't tend to start at 1 for some series, such as Batman and Superman, but do for Green Lantern and others.


For Superman / Batman you could narrow the scope by reducing it to the "modern" incarnations

E.g. the Superman: The Man of Steel series by John Bryne. There is a handy reprint trade series that uses this as the jumping on point also called Superman: The Man of Steel which has 6 volumes so far.

Batman is harder, as although changed by Crisis, it had a more fluid approach to continuity, but personally I'd consider Batman 404, the start of the modern era (not to say there isn't good stuff before it).

Looking back at the OP, I think I've misunderstood the continuity requirement, but I'm going to leave the info I wrote here.

  • Awesome! Thanks for that... – Thomas Aug 23 '12 at 0:30

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