Friday, March 16, 2007

Why I hate Marvel Comics

This is a post that has been an idea that has been in the back of my mind for awhile. In order to give this thought a proper setting I need to give a little history on why.

First and foremost let me say that Marvel comics are the books that caused me to fall in love with comics for the last 40 plus years. I started reading comics around Amazing Spider-Man #6 and was in love with the Fantastic Four, Thor, Spider-Man, Avengers, Tales of Suspense (Iron Man and Captain America), Strange Tales (SHIELD and Doctor Strange) and all the rest. The Marvel heroes felt more real then the heroes of DC. The characters had personalities and had to deal with the daily problems of life just like we did, but when something bad was going down they were heroes who came to save the day. In the span of 28 issues Spider-Man went from a junior in high school to graduation day. Reed and Sue got married and had a child. Thor had to go off on an Asgardian quest and left the Avengers. Giant-Man retired and Iron Man had to leave so Captain America was left to reform the Avengers with heroes of less renown. What happened in comic (A) impacted comic (B). It was a shared universe, characters were growing and changing and events had meaning. The fact was that Marvel being more real world meant that the characters had human qualities and were not cardboard cut outs. This whole idea that Marvel has been more like the real world has gotten way out of hand, saying it was real was just a short hand way of saying Marvel characters acted more like us. You could relate more to a Marvel comic.

DC on the other hand had wonderful characters, but for the most part they were all boy scouts. Barry Allen's worse problem was being late for a date. Hal Jordan had similar girl friend problems as did Ray Palmer, Clark Kent and the rest. Batman was a caricature of what his character really is, as the Dark Knight was out in daylight all the time. Also the characters really had no real impact on their shared universe. Dc had hardly any multiple part story lines. DC had the best line up of characters, but were still stuck in the mode of each hero just having his own adventures, little sub-plots if any, just one or two new adventures per book.

During the silver age, Marvel brought me into comics and they forced DC comics to become more modern. Marvel had the older readership and DC the younger, but eventually Marvel became number 1 and it is rumoured that Stan Lee then said no more changes, only the illusion of change.

Over time I gravitated towards DC and have been a bigger DC fan then Marvel. Lately I find that I'm becoming more of an independent comic fan then DC or Marvel, but I try to read a lot of all types of material as my "What I'm getting Wednesday" post can attest.

Now with Civil War and the new status quo I actually find that I starting to have an active dislike for the Marvel Universe. This is very hard for me because the characters that made me love a medium that I have stayed with (okay I strayed for a year when I discovered girls and thought comics were for kids) for over 40 years.

As I stated I need to give some background on the reasons I hate (which is too strong of a word) Marvel. First off Marvel wants to be more real world. When you suspend your disbelief to sit down and read a comic, you still expect a certain logic and consistency. Having the super-heroes now all be essentially police officers of the government just breaks down too fast. Daredevil, Iron Fist, Spider-Man no longer really work. In reading the first couple of issues since the Civil War it feels like that these characters will operate outside the law. Well again my disbelief only goes so far and the other registered heroes know who these people are and now they just let them be vigilantes? What happens when the Thunderbolts go after Daredevil, gosh do you think Bullseye with super powered help can take him down? Iron Fist runs around in New Avengers now for no good reason and is dealing with a fiscal and personal crisis in his own book. Doctor Strange is now an Avenger? Captain America is dragged into court and assassinated? There is no strong internal logic. Tony Stark is omnipresent in almost every book, characters don't act like they have been portrayed for years. It is like the scripts are written and the heroes are then cast into roles. It used to be the stories wrote themselves. Finally the closer you bring the heroes into the real world the less sense a super-hero makes. If Iron Man had such an armour, the government would have forced him to come in and mass produce it for our troops and then we would be an imperialistic super power. Radioactivity kills people, chemical waste dumps kill people and if you really have super heroes it can't be the real world.

Next up is what the frell happened to the X-Men. This used to be a great group, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler and more. Now we have this crap ONE organization riding herd over them and have one lame group in space, one less lame group on a floating aircraft carrier and the core group on the most boring quest in space of all time. To avoid the Civil War, the X-verse has been squandered into their own little corner of the world. Marvel has finally beaten down the most successful franchise in history to books few fans really care about. Nice job.

Thunderbolts, we have a group of some of the most reprehensible villains now being touted as heroes. We are supposed to believe in the more real world or Marvel that the public accepts this crap. Now the Thunderbolt concept is the worse concept going on in Marvel, but Warren Ellis is making it work and I actually enjoy reading this book. I think the internal logic of the concept is inane, but the actual execution of the concept is being done in a very good manner. Ellis has been genius for the last couple of years.

Punisher War Journal is another book that is upsetting to me. I know Frank Castle is a killer, but he has lines that he won't cross and he only kills people who are shown as deserving to die. His recent taking out of multiple C and D list villains who usually only stole money pushes Frank over a line he doesn't cross. Wolverine has been shown to be a mass murderer. It is different to have a character who kills because it was the only way out or the person they killed was a really bad person, but the more indiscriminate the killing becomes the character becomes less of a hero.

To give it a little summary the reason I hate Marvel is that their status quo is unbelievable in a world of super heroes, their characters are cast in stories (the respect for the characters has been lost), the internal logic of the books has unforgivable lapses, the heroes are no longer heroic and no real change every happens. Tony Stark is Iron Man forever, Peter Parker is 26 forever, Johnny Storm is 24 forever, Cyclops is 27 forever and on and on.

Now I still have hope. If Captain America is really dead and they bring in a new guy as Cap and we get to follow his story then that would be cool. If as a company you want to have some morally ambiguous characters then use new characters and don't change existing ones to fit your needs. Yes I know characters change over the years, but you have to remain true to a certain core essence and that has been lost for almost every major Marvel character.

And that is why I hate Marvel right now. You have killed my heroes and I read on in hopes that it will change (I followed what I called asshole Batman for years until I got the "real" Batman back during Infinite Crisis). As I read on, though the easiest books to drop are Marvel Universe books.


  1. You make a very good point about Marvel. I haven't anywhere near your depth of knowledge about the comic book universes, but am vaguely familiar with a few of the newer developments.

    The characters appear to be turning into anti-heroes - especially the Punisher. This is a problem.

    Do you have any view on Lee Flak's Phantom?

  2. Strider - The Phantom is a great character and the fact that he aged and had an heir take over was an element that I loved of the old newspaper strip.

    I have to buy a collection of that strip one day.

  3. Sometimes I think about boycotting the Big Two (Marvel and DC for those of you that are slow of mind) for a year and read everything else.

    It's mostly better anyway.

    However, than I remember about Vertigo and have second thoughts.



  4. I'm currently boycotting all Marvel products til they get it through their thick heads that they've taken the wrong path and screwed up their universe. Marvel blows right now and is totally undeserving of your hard-earned dollars. Boycott Marvel and use the dough you save to try some of the great independent books that are out there.