Thursday, 27 October 2011

Where Has My Marvel Universe Gone?

I've been reading comics for about 20 years, which is kind of scary when I think about it since I started reading them when I was 8 years old.  I got my start with Marvel, and while I spent some time collecting a lot of DC and read books from other publishers as well, I have always read Marvel books during those 20 years. 

I hardly recognize the Marvel Universe anymore.

I am finding it harder and harder to stick with the characters that I have loved for all these years. 

This is what Spider-Man
should have done.
I refused to buy the Spider-Man titles (other than the very rare mini-series, such as Spider-Man/Human Torch) after the resurrection of Aunt May, as Amazing Spider-Man #400 is one of the best "death of" stories ever.  I was at the point where I was willing to forgive and come back when the reveal of Gwen Stacey and Norman Osborn's twins came about.  That drove me futher away then the Aunt May thing did, and since then the added atrocity of (poorly) magic-ing away Peter and Mary Jane's marrage came to pass.  It's too bad, because Spider-Island sounded like a pretty fun concept, but since I now feel I've outgrown the character I haven't picked it up, nor will I return to the Spider-titles.

I no longer recognize the Avengers.  Ever since Avengers Disassembled I haven't recognize the team.  To me, the Avengers are the go-to team when the world is in danger, and around the time I dropped New Avengers (approximately #35), I really felt that the then-current line-up would have no real chance against a Skrull Invasion or the Masters of Evil.  That line-up mostly remains in place today, and I cannot stand the writing of Brian Michael Bendis on the Avengers to even entertain picking up the current adjectiveless Avengers title.  From what I've seen on-line it's still not "my" Avengers anyway.

Thor has undergone some really great character development over the past few years under J Michael Stracynski and Kieron Gillen.  Then Matt Fraction took the reins and I no longer even recognize the character.  Under JMS Thor was quicker to think and slower to act, he had a grandeur to him that made you feel he truly was a god.  He no longer spoke in Shakespearean tones but still had a tone of voice that conveyed he was something special.  When Fraction took over, that was all thrown out the window in favour of a brute who smashes first and thinks later, if at all.  He is a petulant man-child who is angry at his resurrected father (despite the two making peace under JMS), who recently died as prophecized (even though JMS made a large point of the breaking of the Ragnarok-cycle signalling a fresh start for the Asgardians).  If not for the hammer I don't know if I'd recognize him.

Continuity is ignored, a lot.  I'm not talking about contradicting a story from 20 years ago, I'm talking about contradicting a story that came out 2 months prior.  As mentioned with Thor, it looked like Matt Fraction didn't even glance at the issues put out by JMS or even Gillen before he got started.  Characters are free to be on multiple superteams across the country at the same time.  Wolverine has long has the superpower to be in every book put out in a month, but to have him be a regular member of the X-Men, Avengers, and X-Force is a bit much, especially when the X-Men were living in San Fransisco while the Avengers are based in New York!  Spider-Man is having solo exploits, running around with the Avengers, and is a member of the Future Foundation!  Considering how often Marvel has their books crossover with each other, this is pretty hard to swallow.

I remember when a character crossing over to another book was special.  It didn't happen every issue because the books had sub-plots, character development, and a main plot of it's own to move forward.  Now it seems almost every book has to be tied-in to whatever Event-of the-Month is happening, and it really derails the other books from doing anything of note.  The best books from Marvel, I feel, are the ones that can hide in their little niche corner away from the main events to tell the stories they want to tell.  Daredevil, up until Shadowland, was a great example of a brilliant book that pretty much got left alone.

There is a splash page in Secret Invasion that has always stuck with me.  In it, a ship full of Skrulls disguised as "classic" Marvel heroes is squaring off against the then-current Avengers, and honestly, I found it very hard to not root for the Skrulls since they looked a lot more like heroes I know and love.

I just cut out The Mighty Thor and Secret Avengers from my pull list, and I'm not sure how long my other Marvel titles are going to last.  As a Marvelite for 20 years, that makes me really sad.


  1. Jay, I could say the same thing about myself. I've been reading comics for about 20 years & started at Marvel also. I've also been finding less & less Marvel books I want to read & have recently been cutting back what Marvel titles I read/buy. The only one I've truly been enjoying is Avengers Academy.

  2. I agree with all your wrote; it's exactly how I feel about the MU of today. For me I felt a disconnect start to happen in the late 90s. Under Joe Q that disconnect has become a rift. I'm still passionate about comics, but I don't recognise the current Marvel Universe.


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