Inspiration 🎥📚

My first introduction to the world of superheroes was when I was 5 and my dad showed me the first Iron Man movie on TV. To him, the movie was just a nice, cool movie, but to me, Iron Man was the coolest thing that I had ever seen.

I begged for the toys from the repulsors that would make firing sounds to the arc reactor that would attach to your clothes and make cool noises when you pressed it. When I moved to the UK the next year, I realised I loved to read, and I started to read more and more books.

That’s when I discovered that all of the superheroes that I’d seen on the big screen not only had books, and that the plots of those movies were actually based on them! I was (and am) an aspiring artist as well, so the illustrations in the books really influenced my artwork and spoke to me, too.

These comic books were literally all I talked about with my friends. I at a time even tried to create my own badly-drawn, badly-planned comic books. I really, really love the world of comic books and this hackathon helped me realise that I was not the only one who had this relationship with comic books and superheroes, and each member of our team has an equally unique way they, too, fell for comic books.

While discussing ideas for projects, we tried to remember what problems we face as readers and collectors of these story-rich collections of beautiful art and intense planning, we decided on solving two of them. Firstly, it’s hard to decide on new comics to read when we run out, and secondly, it’s very difficult to keep track of the value of limited edition, first issue and other rare comics in the market.

As a result, we decided to create a one-stop platform to solve both needs effectively and efficiently.

What it does ❓🆕💰

Marvelous is your one and only solution to get the entire Marvel comic books listings and find where you can buy them at the best price possible.

Using Marvelous, you can choose your favourite characters and comic book creators from the Marvel universe, find all the series they are featured in, discover all the comics that were a part of those series, and find the best listings available for those comics on eBay and Amazon.

It’s as incredible as the Hulk and as amazing as Spider-Man!

How we built it 🔧🔨🧰

We used a diversified technology stack to build this Marvelous solution 😉

  • The web application’s front-end was built using React
  • The data communication with the Marvel API regarding the characters, creators, comics and series was achieved using an ASP.NET Web API deployed on Azure App Service
  • The web scraping functions to get the eBay listings for the comics were developed with Flask and Linode

Challenges we ran into 🏃‍♂️

  • We ended up getting IP-banned from Amazon.com because of the number of requests we made for testing.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of 🏆🏅

  • Deploying the web-scraper on Linode

The eBay listings are a crucial part of our project, and these are web-scraped. To avoid having a slow server that we had to run ourselves, we decided to host on the cloud, and chose Linode’s easy-to-use service to do so. This process was very streamlined and we’re proud we managed to host it on this platform. This was also our first time using Linode!

  • Worked with Marvel API for the first time with .NET

The Marvel API was one that none of us had ever worked with before. We literally got the API keys the day of the Hackathon! Nonetheless, we managed to traverse through the labyrinth of a JSON response and figured out what information can be used where.

  • Worked with React.js to build a Single Page Application

React.js, before we started, was an enigma to us. One of us had only heard that React was an ugly hodge-podge of HTML and JS, but actually, it can be very useful for creating single-page applications such as ours. We’re very proud we took a language and technology we had no clue how to use, but still could make something super cool (pun intended).

  • Empowering a Friend to Attend their First Hackathon

We all have great first hackathon stories, most of them thanks to MLH, but we’re super happy we convinced a friend to attend their first (of hopefully many more) of these events and have their own story for the same.

Update: We're SUPER stoked that the two first-time hackers on our team won a prize at their first hackathon!

  • Meeting Cool People

We all really enjoyed collaborating with each other. Whether it was Sreekaran roasting Aditya or Sagnik recommending anime, we all had a blast! In fact, some people like Aditya were so cool, we had to use https://adityaoberaiisacoolboi.com in our mockups for the web pages just to honour him.

What we learned 🧠

  • Prototyping and Designing in Figma

Figma is a browser-based UI and UX design application and was recommended by a teammate. So one of us used Figma, switching from Photoshop for the first time. We eventually did get the hang of it, though, and could easily craft neat UIs.

  • Building React Apps

React is an open-source JavaScript library used for developing User Interfaces. This was the first time we worked with React as well as creating an end-to-end web application. And it was a wonderful opportunity to learn and figure out how things work in web applications. From having always admired beautiful web pages to going ahead and actually building something for our fandom was a wonderful experience!

What’s next for Marvelous ⏭

We tried scraping listings from Amazon however were not able to do so due to restrictions from the organization. We will look for more ethical ways to do so and implement that feature in the near future.

Apart from the comics, the Marvel animated shows, movies, and games were some of the most amazing forms of media we were exposed to as children. We will try to bring support and listings for those too in the upcoming iteration of Marvelous.

Also, Iron Man and Spiderman have been a part of our childhoods just as much as Batman and Superman. So another major step that we will be taking next in the development of Marvelous is expanding beyond the Marvel universe to the DC universe for comics.

EXCELSIOR, TRUE BELIEVERS!

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