Have a drink. It might help that mortis attitude of yours.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Thoughts for Tuesday

I just want to start this post by saying I don’t hate Marvel comics. There are those people out there who think so but it’s not true. There are many Marvel titles that go straight to the top of my “to read” pile. Nextwave, Moon Knight, and Runaways are long time favorites not to mention the new love I have for Incredible Hulk thanks to Greg Pak’s amazing writing job. So I do like the comics that are put out by Marvel. I just have issue with how the company does its business and how that business affects the story.

We are in the age of the blockbuster, grand scale stories with big endings and even bigger action. The comic industry is no exception as huge crossover events take control of what we see from May – November. There are preludes and tie-ins and each of the Big Two does it. DC had its Identity Crisis that led to Infinite Crisis that led into One Year Later/52. Marvel has House of M that led to DeciMation that led to Civil War. Both companies are guilty of big events but I think Marvel is guilty of doing so at the expense of story and character.

Scarlet Witch destroys the Avengers; the superheroes get together to maybe kill her and bam House of M. I had no problem with event; I was really excited about it. It felt like something that would happen. A story based on motivations that I would believe. Then it kind of screwed around with all the alternate world stuff, basically becoming a huge “What If” and went out with a whimper. There were ramifications here and there but ultimately I didn’t see much of a lasting effect. Peter never really told Mary Jane that she wasn’t in his perfect world. Hulk was quickly shipped off to space, Sentry and then Ronin showed up in the Avengers. Sure 90% of the mutants disappeared but it barely registered in some of the titles.

Then comes Civil War and we forget House of M. It was almost as if Marvel went “Well, that didn’t really work. Let’s get started on next summer.” That is the problem. There is no build, no sense of what has gone before affecting what happens next. How does House of M lead to Civil War? Certainly not as well as Identity Crisis led to Infinity Crisis. If the Registration Act was a result of the government getting pissed off that the superheroes caused reality to be rewritten then I could feel more for the story. Instead the Act comes up in Spider-man (although apparently Stark has been fighting it for years) and then takes on a new level of serious (before we even got a handle on the old level) when Nitro blows up a town. This looming law leading into a disastrous war all created and put into effect in the span of six or seven issues. That’s artificially making up a problem just so you could have a big event.

I would still be o.k. with Marvel if they hadn’t changed characters to suit their needs. Look at what happened to Spider-Man. Here is a guy who has held his own for decades, a great man, a hard fighter and a pretty damn fine scientist. During the build towards Civil War he has been an idiot. He is all “Yes, Tony” and “No problem, Boss.” He has been turned into a naïve rookie, not a veteran do-gooder. I believe that recent Spider-Man would naturally follow Iron Man, would unmask, fight Captain America, and everything else he has done. But the recent Spider-Man is not the Spider-Man of years past. He has been fundamentally altered so that he could fill the role of the superhero with the epiphany. I don’t understand why they couldn’t have found a character whose personality was more suiting to the role.

Now we stand on the threshold of Hulk War in the summer of 2007. It comes out of Hulk being pissed about being shipped into space and returning with an army. That’s cool; I can absolutely see it coming out of Planet Hulk. How does it come out of Civil War though? I have no idea.


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