The Fall Of The House Of Marvel

*Major Spoiler Warning For Civil War II, Secret Empire and Captain America : Steve Rogers*

Imagine for me, if you will, that you’re a seven or eight year old that’s going to Free Comic Book Day. You’re looking through and you pick up different ones here and there but then you see one called Secret Empire and it has Captain America on the cover. Well you love the Marvel films and love everything about Captain America…until you pick it up and realize that the entire issue is all of your favorite heroes being defeated by Captain America and agents of Hydra in the most brutal way possible.

Vision is infected with a virus, Scarlet Witch goes Catatonic, Thor drops the hammer, Black Widow gets shot, Iron Man gets stabbed, Quicksilver gets electrocuted, both Spider-Men are beaten within an inch of their life…and it’s lead by Captain America who then is able to pick up Mjolnir for himself while he stands on top of the bodies of Spider-Man(Peter Parker), Ms. Marvel, Iron Man, Quicksilver and Hulk.

Quick Recap : All of your heroes have been defeated before your eyes, Mjolnir’s entire history is rewritten…thus ruining most Thor stories, your other heroes like Captain Marvel and the Guardians are about to be killed by an alien race and worst of all : It was all part of Steve Roger’s Plan. He wanted to destroy the entire Marvel universe from within and he’s not brainwashed. It’s all him.

Everything I just told you about happens in a free comic that Marvel has published for mass production…that’s primarily targeted for children and people looking to get into Comics for the first time. In other words, This is the Fall of Heroes, The Fall of Good Writers, This is the Fall of The House of Marvel.

I don’t want to write this article. I want to tell you that everything is perfect in Marvel Comics, but as a Writer and a Fan I can’t sit idly by and allow this to continue without writing against it and that starts with this : I’m Sorry. I was Wrong.

A little under a year ago I wrote an article defending Nick Spencer’s Captain America plot twist where he was revealed as a Hydra Agent. I even compared the man to Stan Lee. I have never been so wrong and I want to apologize for the article because Spencer and Marvel have since proven that they don’t actually care about their fans thoughts and ignore the problems with Sales.

I want to be wrong about this article so badly, but I don’t see it happening.

Let’s rewind about about a year and a half ago. Marvel has acquired writers such as Kelly Thompson, Chelsea Cain, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Dennis Hopeless, Greg Pak over the preceding months and is focusing on building up a lot of their lesser known heroes and books and allowing them to flourish and become headliners alongside the likes of Iron Man and Captain America and everything seems to be going good. Secret Wars was a great event and we’ve got some really interesting storylines on the horizon with only a few problems here and there.(And that mainly depends on your view of Jane Foster as Thor.) It looked like Marvel was on the way to a brilliant new age of wonder and Then it all starts to fall apart around the time that Civil War II happens : War Machine gets killed by Thanos, Hulk gets killed, Hawkeye is his killer and is now on the run, Iron Man’s in a coma, Captain Marvel is now an outcast and of course : Steve Rogers is a Hydra Agent.

Seriously, It was like The Red Wedding of Comics. Joe Quesada, Axel Alonso, and Tom Brevoort basically came up to us and said “Rob Liefeld sends his regards” and then stabbed us. (I know that Bendis wrote most of the events I just spoke about but I feel like there was a lot of editorial interference during that.) But many of us still had hope, we said “Wait and see what happens.” “Nick Spencer’s had a good run.” or “It’s not the same Steve Rogers or something like that.” But we were all deceived just like the characters in the story and I get it : “Hey, let’s boost sales and get people talking about crazy things.” But that’s where their problem lies, no one likes this storyline. The only marvel comics that have consistently been selling were either Spider-Man or Star Wars Titles and that makes sense considering most of those have phenomenal writers with them whereas Nick Spencer is all flash and no substance. Once again, I admit that was wrong to write my previous article about Nick Spencer being a decent writer…but here’s why I did it.

Most people know me to be an optimist but I also try to think things through logically and logic never allowed to considered that they would actually do this with Cap. When Steve originally said, “Hail Hydra” for the first time it was at the end of his first new comic for a while and this was after he and Sharon had discussed them doing something drastic to take down this new Hydra regime. So I thought : “Hey, he’s gonna be deep undercover and then he’ll have to keep his secret and it’s basically gonna be like 24 only starring Steve Rogers.” All of that would’ve been fine but then they made it seem like he was brainwashed and I was ok with it…it’s incredibly overdone but comics have always redone a lot of storylines before but then the unthinkable happened. What’s changed in the last few months is that it’s not brainwashing, or regular reality warping that has changed him. No, what happened was the Cap that we knew was from a fake version of reality where WWII was won by the allies and Cap was a hero. Instead, what Nick Spencer is saying is that the Axis was the actual winners of the war and that the Steve Rogers we’re seeing now is the real one.

Let that sink in. Axel Alonso, Tom Brevoort and Joe Quesada all allowed Nick Spencer to say that the actual reality is one where the Nazi’s won WWII. That hurt and offended me just by writing about it. So just take a second before you continue reading.

Still here? Ok, so let’s just skip how offensive that is from a historical level because clearly Marvel doesn’t care about that. Let’s stick with what we know for right now. Marvel comics has a plethora of characters and if they’re going to do this storyline then I can’t think of a character that this would be worst for except Magneto, Black Widow or any character of Color. Literally name another Marvel character and the storyline could possibly work but not this symbol of hope. Which, by the way, has died. Rick Jones is a character that has evolved through the years but he’s basically the Jimmy Olsen of Marvel. Recently he was a tech-whiz that spilled a bunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets and then spilled Hydra ones as well. After this happens he’s captured for treason and tell’s Steve that Captain America is still his hero.(Wait, it gets worse.) Then he’s going to be executed by Firing Squad and his last words are “Avengers Assemble!” right before he gets mowed down. Yup, Congratulations Kids. There go all of your hopes and dreams.

Obviously this offends me as a Captain America fan but I’m fine. I’ve been through comic mishaps before and I still believe in heroes and I know that following this they’ll try to get Cap back on top eventually but the reason I’m worried is because we’re at a new place and Marvel has a lot of work to do to fix things. They have some absolutely amazing writers and if you stick to the right books then Marvel’s ok right now but this is a line wide event that makes multiple people uncomfortable. Marvel has also sent out promotional materials designed to be a Hydra Takeover of Comic Book stores and of different comic sites(It will not happen here. Period.) but different stores have spoken against it. The most poignant being from Greg Gage in Utah saying : “There’s a rise of anti-Semitic behavior in this world right now. The last thing I want to do is force my queer, Jewish employee to wear a Hail Hydra shirt.” I don’t blame him and yes, other stores like the event and are using it to boost their sales. That’s their right and they’re more than welcome to support it but as for me. I don’t support it.

Marvel has even had the audacity to say that the recent sales numbers could’ve been caused by Diversity and people’s hesitance to support Female Heroes or Heroes of Color. Considering that Black Panther was the best selling comic of 2016 and that characters like Kamela Khan and Miles Morales are fan favorites I’m fairly sure that isn’t the problem.

I just don’t know how they’re gonna turn it around and make this seem better for the company as a whole. I will be getting Secret Empire over the next few months but it’s only to stay up-to-date on the story. I’m ready for Marvel Generations/Legacy which is going to follow Secret Empire and is supposedly about getting back to the basic Marvel characters which could definitely turn things around but it’s still not going to be easy.

In conclusion, I miss Marvel. I miss Captain America. I’ll always believe that it will get better but it’s difficult when one of the heroes I learned that from has become a villain.

“Hail Hydra”: Why Nick Spencer isn’t Evil

I would say spoiler warning but no one else has cared about the poor people that were waiting a few days before getting their newest comics. Last week saw the release of Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 By Nick Spencer and Jesus Saiz, which I would’ve already written about except that I wrote about DC Rebirth #1 instead which I thought was going to be the biggest news story that day. I was wrong. I had read this issue and really liked it and thought it was an interesting route for Spencer to take but then I got online and the world had exploded. It was met with outrage by many, confusion by most and questions by all. It quickly went all over Facebook, Twitter and just about any outlet where people could complain about things. Even Marvel standbys such as Stan Lee, Chris Evans, Clark Gregg and James Gunn got in on the fun with different opinions and naturally your Fandom Correspondents have some too. WiseSage has already written about how it could always be worse, my article’s going to be a bit different. Whereas Sage’s probably made you laugh and cry at the same time, mine will either calm you down…or make you even  more upset.

I’ve read Nick Spencer’s run on Captain America since he started writing Sam Wilson: Captain America back in November and he has built a story that was not only entertaining but also very topical which is when Cap is at his best, no matter who has the shield. He’s a great writer that can juggle the themes of modern day stories alongside the colorful costumes and wild villains. So knowing that Spencer has already tackled racial prejudice, extortion and brainwashing as primary story lines I think it’s right to assume that he is a writer who takes his craft very seriously and also is someone who isn’t afraid to rattle a few cages. Time for me to get controversial: Spencer reminds me of another writer that didn’t listen when people told him something was a bad idea, Stan Lee. There was once a time where people said that having Spider-Man take on the drug conflict was a bad idea, Lee didn’t care and wrote one of the greatest stories of the 70’s. Now, is Spencer as good as Lee? maybe not but he’s a writer worth trusting in and you have to at least admire his courage to do something different.

I previously wrote about change in comics as a force that is constant. This is something that is especially prevalent in the stories of Captain America.

Remember that last time Captain America went through a major change?

 

 

No? What about the time before that?

 

 

…and before that

 

…and of course…The classic change

 

Captain America has always gone through changes and I think he always should. A few weeks ago, in defense of Superman in the latest DC films, someone wrote that Superman needs to be a mirror image of what America is, I absolutely disagree with that. He’s an ideal for what Americans should strive for and what humans should strive for. Captain America on the other hands needs to be a mirror of the current America. His entire character is based around the idea of America and of traditional ideals and morals that were the standard in the 1940’s, but the question is what happens when they meet modern problems that don’t allow for Morals and Ideals to even be a variable in the gray areas that we live in? That’s what this story will ultimately be about because it’s what is needed. Red Skull’s speeches speak to a generation that is angry and doesn’t know why, which breeds confusion and a longing for purpose, which Skull is more than willing to give…as long as that purpose is the glory of Hydra. Sound Familiar? Cause it should.

So we have modern problems and a classical hero to combat them. But how can he do that if he himself is part of that group?

Well first and foremost, I don’t think that he is actually part of Hydra. At the end of The Free Comic Book Day issue, which was the prologue to this issue, he is shown telling Sharon Carter that to stop this new Hydra he may have to do some things that he isn’t prepared for. That makes me believe that he is just undercover with them. Naturally, I agree that the flashback scenes are done very well to make it seem like this is the new status quo for cap but I just don’t see it. Spencer has said that this is a story that is going to take a long time to resolve so we might not know for sure what’s going on for the next few months so while we won’t ultimately know what’s going on in the next issue I still have faith that it’s going to be a great story.

Another thing to consider is that Tom Brevoort(Editor) and Nick Spencer are both huge Cap fans and I can’t see either of them doing something that would ruin him. But you have to think of the publicity on this, you most likely clicked on this article just because you saw the picture or the title and that speaks volumes of what it’s done in a public sense. This subject has hit major news stations in the same way it did back in 2007 when he “died” which is exactly what the publishers would want.

At the end of all of this I still believe in Captain America and I believe in creators doing stories that aren’t just the same as before. I think Spencer is destined to go down as a truly phenomenal writer and this story is really just the start for him.

Remember, Martin Goodman once told Stan Lee that no one would like a spider themed hero…thank goodness we didn’t have social media in the 60’s.

“I Remember all of them” Civil War’s Perfect Finale

*I can’t stress enough my major spoiler warning for this article. I will most likely be talking about every important thing that happens in the last 30 minutes of Captain America : Civil War.*

You’ve Been Warned.

As I’ve already said in my actual review, I loved this movie…so why write another article talking about it? Well one reason is that it’s worth it but the main reason is that I couldn’t talk about the fantastic finale. I believe it to be the greatest finale of any superhero film. Yes, I know what that means…better than Iron Man 3…better than The Dark Knight…better than The Avengers. I understand that many of you already think that such heretical thoughts should never be written but hear me out on this.

Civil War was the culmination of 11 different films(12 if you count Guardians Of The Galaxy). Marvel had built these characters up in a way that humanized them and made us fall in love with them. No matter how old you were or where you came from there was a certain magic whenever you saw the 6 Avengers in that line-up or when Winter Soldier caught Cap’s Shield or when Hawkeye made his speech about “If you step outside those doors, you are an Avenger.” Marvel had made these characters leap off of the page and most importantly in this case…set up the friendship between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark. They’re not old friends with each other like they are with Bucky Barnes or James Rhodes, they’re not contemporaries like Sam Wilson or Bruce Banner but they are the two leaders of this team that want to do what’s right. Steve and Tony both reinvented themselves to become the heroes they are, they’re both heroic outside of their alter-egos and they both suffer from severe trauma and loss. So what would cause these two men to fight?

Unfortunately, their own heroics is the cause of it. The battle against Ultron in Sokovia has made many people throughout the world view the Avengers as a group that brings nothing but destruction wherever they go. So the government comes up with a solution: The Sokovia Accords. Basically they want to make the Avengers a team that is sanctioned and controlled by the United Nations. Tony is all for this because he wants to protect people as much as he can. Steve is against this because he doesn’t want to be told when he can save people and he realizes that if someone does get hurt then all it’s going to do is shift blame to whoever gave the orders.

This is enough to cause a split between the two factions. Some of the Avengers are for it and some are against it. The initial fight is gradually built towards from here including the return of the Winter Soldier and the introductions of Black Panther and Spider-Man. I’m skipping over a lot to get to the finale so forgive me for that, I’m not exactly sure when the fight takes place time-wise but it is absolutely brilliant. It’s a 6 Vs. 6 match-up that we’ve waited to see since the first Avengers film and it’s finally happening. The reason this fight works is because it’s been set up so well and because it doesn’t get boring, we see scene after scene of superhero action for a solid 15 minutes and it’s still incredibly entertaining. I also love that they’re not trying to kill each other or anything Steve is just trying to catch up with Zemo and stop him and Tony is just trying to bring Steve in. The fight ends with Vision accidentally shooting down War Machine and severely wounding him while Steve and Bucky get away on a quinjet.

This is where the last 20-30 minutes become flawless. After making sure that Rhodey is safe, Tony goes to the raft, a prison for superpowered beings and speaks to Hawkeye, Ant-Man and Falcon. Scarlet Witch is basically catatonic when we see her, presumably due to the fact that Strucker kept her and her brother in cells and now she’s back in one. Hawkeye kind of steals the show in this part because he gets to take Daredevil’s part from the comic, he’s so angry with Tony and Renner pulls it off perfectly. Falcon tells Tony where Steve was heading because Tony finally believes him about Zemo and just wants to help him.

Once they all end up in Siberia, they realize that Zemo’s plan wasn’t what they thought and he shows them a video, a video of the Winter Soldier killing Tony’s parents. This showcases phenomenal performances from Stan, Downey and Evans. The battle between the three starts and it’s incredible. It has some great action moments but it’s the drama behind it that makes it perfect. The title of this article refers to one of my favorite lines

Tony : “Do you even remember them?”

Bucky : “I remember all of them”

This is some incredibly clever writing because we get everything we need to know about Bucky right there. He feels remorse and anger over the fact that he was nothing but a weapon for over 60 years.

While this is going on, Black Panther has followed them and he has learned that it wasn’t Bucky who killed his father, but Zemo. He tracks down Zemo, who explains that he lost his entire family in the Sokovia attack and that he planned to destroy the Avengers but how could he if Ultron and Loki couldn’t? He broke them from within. Zemo is the most underrated part of this movie. He’s manipulative and patient, which is terrifying. He has a definitive reason for hating the Avengers and his story works perfectly as the backdrop to the accords. He wasn’t just a recreation of the hero and he wasn’t just someone else to beat in a punching contest. He was fantastic and he’s also the only villain to win.

This leads to Black Panther’s shining moment where he “Won’t let revenge consume me” and instead of allowing Zemo to kill himself, he stops him and captures him.

Meanwhile you have one of the most brutal fights I’ve seen in a superhero film, Bucky gets his arm blown off, Steve is beaten bloody and Tony is just an emotional wreck and you can’t really blame any of them. Of course the now classical gut wrenching line is in there of :

Steve : I’m sorry Tony but he’s my friend.

Tony : So was I.

It honestly carries even more weight in the actual scene. The fight ends at a standstill and Steve and Bucky leave with Tony just lying there on the ground.

It ends with Tony returning to The Avengers compound and with steve breaking his team out of the raft. Tony receives a letter and a phone in the mail, the letter is Steve apologizing for the way things went down and saying that if they ever need him then he’ll be there.

It’s such a perfect ending and I love that this film hits every major point you need from a Superhero film. It still has it’s fun moments and it’s action moments but it’s a film that deals with accountability and remorse for your actions. It ends on a higher note than the comic and for me, it’s actually a better note to end on. Everything about this film balances well and it shows especially in it’s perfect finale.
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“Whose side are you on?” Captain America : Civil War Review

Last night, I felt like a kid again. I really did. I haven’t been this happy about a film since Star Wars : The Force Awakens and I can’t even remember the last one before that. Civil War is what films can be and what they should be. Now, I didn’t just say superhero films, I mean all films. The Russos, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeeley and Kevin Feige have crafted something that is absolutely amazing.

I’m going to do my best to make this a coherent review and not just me fanboying about it for an entire article. I’m just going to go subject by subject on it.

Story

The story in this film is incredibly Air-Tight. Markus and McFeely have done it again, every point happens in a way that it needs to go down and nothing was left unanswered. My cousin asked me something about the finale and I explained it to him about what the villain did just a few minutes prior, if you’re staying focused then this film will explain everything that it needs to and the questions that are left will surely be answered in the near future.

Many of you should know that the original Civil War comic is one of my favorites. It was the first comic that showed me that these stories weren’t just for kids. They had pathos and rich storytelling surrounding these phenomenal, classical characters and this film is no different. It handles the source material well in a way that every screenwriter needs to study for future adaptations. No character felt left out, even characters who had limited screen-time like Vision, Ant-Man and Hawkeye all have prominent roles to play and you don’t feel cheated at all.

On the other end of that spectrum, the film never feels cluttered or preachy which were two factors that I had mild concerns about going in. Instead, we got an adaptation that wasn’t scene for scene straight from the comic but we got to see the ideas of Civil War placed into the grander overarching story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I think that this was the right play, we still got many of the great scenes from the comic and it’s tie-in issues and we got a moral conflict where no matter who you side with on the subject you can still see that both of the men just want to do what they think is right. In the original comic they set up the main characters in a more black and white setting with Captain America as the hero and Iron Man as the villain. This isn’t to say that Iron Man wasn’t still a sympathetic character in the comic…he just didn’t really feel like that until Civil War : The Confession came out. In the film, you can see both sides a little easier and for me, it made it even better than I expected.

Acting

As I said above, no one was cheated in this movie. Every character had at least one great memorable scene and of course there are a few standouts. Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. have been working towards this over 7 films and it shows. They are at their prime in these roles and I never want them to stop playing these characters. Sabastian Stan’s return as the Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes is well worth the wait, he has some great moments particularly with Chris Evans and Anthony Mackie. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow never ceases to amaze me, if she doesn’t get her own movie soon then I will be incredibly upset.

The true standouts of this film were Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther and Tom Holland as Spider-Man. Their solo films are setting up to be absolutely phenomenal.

Boseman was great from the moment we see him as T’Challa the ambassador to when we first see him in the Black Panther armor. He can be regal and kingly in one scene and then switch to wild and vicious the next.

Holland brings an energy to the character of Peter Parker that you could only get from someone who is clearly having the time of their life on set. He’s a perfect balance of being occasionally awkward but always fun when he’s on screen.

Direction

The Russos have a vision that is exceptional and a big part of why it’s great is you can see that they have a reverence and love for the source material. They love these characters and this universe and they only want to make it bigger and better with every outing. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do with the next Avengers films.

Their fight scenes are as tight as you can get them. Everyone has a very distinct fighting style that showcases their powers and abilities in ways that remain entertaining and exciting. It never becomes dull and even after seeing it twice there were things that I kept picking up.

Overall

It’s clear that Marvel knows what they’re doing, they’re making films for fans because they themselves are fans. I love what this company is doing with their stories across all mediums and judging from what I’ve seen it’s only getting better from here.

Make Mine Marvel.