The true superhero is Douglas Wolk – who has read through 27,000 Marvel comics

In March 1963, the Fantastic Four had a fractious encounter with Spider-Man and a dust-up with the Hulk — a busy month which effectively launched the Marvel Universe as an ecosystem of characters whose individual stories all contributed to one giant narrative. There is nothing quite like it: an endless, collaborative roman-fleuve of wildly variable quality, constructed over several decades by hundreds of writers, artists and editors, driven by a combination of personnel changes, marketing schemes and hasty improvisations. As a 14-year-old Marvel nut, I had a decent handle on it; but now, if I nostalgically check out a character’s Wikipedia page, I’m swamped by an unfathomable splurge of deaths,