Thursday, July 29, 2010

Captain America Out of Time

An announcement that came out of Marvel is that Mark Waid will be writing a Captain America story about Cap being a man out of his time. Instead of Cap coming back in the sixties he will be coming back I guess in the late nineties or something because the Marvel sliding continuity scale is going to be used. Ultimately if it is a good story the idea of a man out of time can be interesting, but the sliding time scale always presents problems.

The way I understand it is Marvel has decided that everything started 10 years ago or so and everything has happened since then. So that mean the FF has fought Galactus, met the Inhumans, Reed and Sue have had two kids, the Torch has had five or six major relationships, the Avengers have built a huge rouge gallery, Hawkeye has been a crook, then an Avenger, then Giant-Man, then Hawkeye, founded the West Coast Avengers, was killed, was resurrected, was Ronin and is now Hawkeye again all with the last 10 years.

If you try to shove 50 years of stories into the last 10 years nothing makes any sense. How can Cyclops have gone from being an orphan to having siblings everywhere, Jean Grey die and be reborn, Cyclops have married her clone, had kids, gone from Westchester to San Francisco and on and on in only 10 years.

I know they have done it to try and protect the idea that their characters don’t age, but considering Marvel was built on growth of their characters what they have created is stagnation to the nth degree. How did the FF get their powers if their origins happened 10 years ago. It seems dumb to have stolen a rocket ship and launched into space and been exposed to cosmic rays to gain powers. Why did none of the Astronauts from the sixties and seventies ever develop powers? Bruce Banner ran out to protect Rick Jones from an explosion in the nineties? I don’t think above ground testing would be in play at that point. Iron Man apparently invented his armor in Afghanistan, I hope that war last because where do we go next.

The sliding scale makes no sense at all. Have you read any of the history of the characters like Black Widow and Hawkeye and Mockingbird in the back of their first issues? Marvel leaves their entire history out there and then expects us to believe the sliding scale stuff.

It actually starts to change the characters. Waid says Steve will be delighted how far racial and gender equality have come along. I think he has never talked to anyone who is from WWII, because they never even thought of gender equality at all. Steve Rogers being gone almost sixty years would not be an icon anymore as the 24/7 news media would rip him to shreds with coverage.

The times we live in and grow up in shape us in many ways. The vast majority of these comic characters were created or recreated in the sixties. The time period is why so many are involved in journalism of a type that hardly exists anymore. By holding these characters to an artificial ten years it makes them even more unreal then they are. In addition to keeping the same people under the masks Marvel is making it harder and harder to care about their characters when part of what makes them who they are is constantly erased.

I like the idea of the series as it was the concept being explored in the apparently orphaned series “The Twelve” by JMS and Chris Weston. The problem with doing this series is they are time stamping Captain America once again and the series loses its relevancy within two years of being published as Cap now showed up in the year 2001.

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