Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Marvel Universe Ends with a Whimper...

 has lost sight of their readers. More than ever. they have become an event driven market, eschewing all else to bring the next big thing down the pipeline, as often as they can, with no more interest in telling a coherent or interesting story than an Expendables film (if you enjoy films like that, you're in luck!).

I've been on the fence about the event setup. On one hand, some of them are actually interesting, and have lasting changes. On the other, there are really terrible stories that arbitrarily change favorite characters to fit some new demographic (usually to fit in with the Cinematic Universe).

Being a Spider-Man guy, the most recent event I read was Spider-Verse. It was The Expendables: Spider-Man edition. It had some good moments, some good characters, some shittily arbitrary character killings, and a fading promise to change things forever for our friendly neighborhood arachnid.

But it didn't. The only "lasting" change was the death of characters outside the 616 universe. And that lasted all of three issues after, because the Marvel Universe has come to an abrupt... And strangely arbitrary, halt.

Marvel is getting it's first official "reboot" to it's continuity. In honor of that, all the current series are going out on a high note -- wait, that's not right. What is this shit? Amazing Spider-Man ended with a completely mis-written Black Cat becoming the BBEG, and everything else just grinding to an unfulfilling halt. The last villain Spidey fights is an abortive story featuring ex-Thunderbolt Ghost.

Ok, maybe that's a fluke -- damn it! Spider-Man 2099, what is this shit? You finally have a semi-interesting arc and some relationship development... And your story just freaking ends? Did... Did no one tell the writers that the universe was ending? Was it a surprise? How can you not even attempt to give serious character resolutions? Beating the bad guy of that particular issue doesn't count!
I don't even see Spidey 2099 here...

... Apparently, if you don't read two specific Avengers series, Secret Wars just kind of happens. These stories you wanted to see fulfilled, the characters you wanted to follow further, well, tough shit. Marvel doesn't care about that, it's time for the NEXT BIG EVENT!

I'm more disgusted than that time Doc Ock was making moves on MJ while in Peter's body. Or that time Peter walked in on Aunt May and Marvel decided to give us a splash page of old people humping. Or that time...

... You know what? As much as I tote myself as a Marvel fan, I'm not impressed with Marvel at all lately. One or two good titles doesn't cut it. Constant events aren't enough. Cut that shit out and go back to writing compelling, character-driven stories that are both super heroic and relateable. Stop... Stop everything else. Just stop.

Marvel, stahp.

Going forward, Secret Wars is marginally interesting because the new status quo; whatever emerges from this ugly, mismanaged DC-knockoff of an event, might give me some things I want, and have wanted for years as a reader.

Here are some of the things I'd like to see follow this tepid fading of my favorite characters, and if I don't see some of them, the things that may cause me to lose interest in another goddamn reboot:

1. Peter and MJ back together.
The "breakup" was an all-time low for Spidey comics. The return of single Spidey has not benefited story telling in any way, and instead devalued marriage as an institution in Marvel comics -- something they've done as often as possible.

Bonus if they take the storyline where Spidey is a dad. One of the greater sins of the Clone Saga is the fate of their child, who is stolen and then... Completely forgotten? Wait, what? Seriously?

It would be especially poignant for me, who will be raising a little girl. The possibility of watching a little May Parker (assuming name isn't changed) grow up alongside my daughter would be especially touching.

... 'Course, that would require Marvel to let their characters age. Because storytelling is hard outside of a vacuum.

2. Bring back Ben Reilly.
Ok, I have said this at every turn, and at pretty much every event. My wish was granted for all of three issues in Spider-Verse, sort of. And then they freaking killed him again.

... Uhg. Go to hell, whoever planned that one out. Null points for originality, do not pass go, do not collect your paycheck for ruining this fanboy's dream.

3. Let the MU age.
Tied to one, but letting real time pass in the MU, even at a slower rate, would be something I'd love to see. I have decades worth of Spidey comics, where the hero is 20-something. He used to be in high school, and some of the best stories were about Peter dealing with the things that come with age.

4. Stop with the constant events.
This isn't going to happen, but Marvel is going to find out that their constant money-grubbing strategy of inter-connected titles that criss-cross through events isn't going to work. It failed miserably in the '90s and, while they've definitely learned from it by keeping most events behind a unique, solo-running title book, they have been circling that whole of repeated mistakes for awhile.

5. Don't try to cram the old MU's timeline into 8 months.
DC's NU52 reboot tried to shuffle DC's timeline to fit a very truncated schedule. It was one of the weakest parts of the reboot, and every time they referenced something from "before," it served only to confuse (and annoy) readers.

Marvel has announced the new universe will start eight months after the events of Secret War. Why? Because storytelling is hard, and Marvel has become lazy. Seriously.

I'm worried they are going to try an keep the things they don't want to retell in those eight months. Things to refer to that really happened in the old MU, but the writers don't want to bother with in the new MU.

6. Don't retell old storylines.
If you're going to make us suffer through a half-assed reboot, after a half-assed event, don't offer us half-assed copies of classic stories! They've already been written, you gorram hacks, and we don't need your slight "surprise" twist.

If only...
Do I expect this wish to be met? No. No I do not. We are going to get recycled garbage for years, because why else give us such a lackluster reboot? I'd have more respect for what they were doing if they DID hit a reset button, at this point. Start from square one. New origins, new everything, but keep it new! It worked for the Ultimate Universe... Right up until it became over-inundated with events (which, honestly, had many more interesting ramifications than any of the 616's events).

7. Don't change a damn thing with Spider-Gwen.
Seriously. Just let this infant series pick up where it left off, and ignore all the rest.

... Of course, that won't happen. Which is another slap in the face from Marvel: "Hey, True Beleiver! Here are a bunch of new series! And some of them are good! Bahaha just kidding, they're only around for an arc or two, way to waste more of your money on our connected universe model, jackass. Excelsior, nerd."

Rant done. I'm going to go start Secret Wars and sigh at my stupid addiction and inevitable hypocrisy. See you on the other side, Marvel.

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