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.

Comics 101: The Big Two

New to comics? Great! I have way too much information about the subject so I decided to do a series of articles on it. Last time, we discussed how comics are for everyone to enjoy and today we’ll be discussing the differences of the two primary comic companies: DC Comics and Marvel Comics. Most people are either a Marvel or a DC fan. I absolutely love both, they’ve both done amazing things for the industry as a whole and comics would not be where they are without them. Naturally I won’t be able to go over every detail of the two companies but I can at least get the basics down in this one and then build from there in future segments.  One of my first thoughts when starting this series was clearing up the who’s who of comic book characters and what company do they belong to. Why isn’t Batman a part of the Avengers? Why can’t Spider-Man join the Teen Titans? All of these questions and more will be answered soon enough.

In the mid 1930’s, comics weren’t anywhere near as big as they would become in the next five to ten years nor had anyone heard or thought of the concept of the superhero yet. Most of your comics were reprints of the comic strips you would find in the Sunday paper until a few smart businessmen, writers and artists started to publish their own material in the books. Now any comic fan or historian has their own choice of who did this first, was it Martin Goodman? Was it Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson or was it Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster’s Superman that was the first? In all honesty it’s anyone’s guess. That period of time had many other things to worry about such as the end of the great depression or the oncoming war in Europe that no one really focused on comics yet…but they soon would.

In 1937, Detective Comics premiered under National Publications. Now, this is an important title to remember for two reasons:

  1. It’s the comic where Batman got his start, 27 issues later.
  2. It’s the reason that same company would be called “DC”

DC is unquestionably the first of the major comic companies and as such, we’ll be talking about them first.

  • Major Heroes:
  • Wonder Woman
  • Superman
  • Batman
  • Batgirl
  • Aquaman
  • Green Lantern
  • The Flash
  • Shazam
  • Green Arrow
  • Black Canary
  • Nightwing
  • The Teen Titans – Team
  • The Justice League – Team
  • Major Villains:
  • Lex  Luthor
  • The Joker
  • Sinestro
  • Black Adam
  • Deathstroke
  • Darkseid
  • Captain Cold
  • Black Manta
  • Ra’s Al Ghul
  • Harley Quinn
  • The Suicide Squad – Team
  • The Injustice League – Team

Throughout it’s extensive history DC has had some major landmark moments such as creating the Superhero genre, introducing some of the 20th century’s most endearing characters, starting the silver age of comics,(Showcase #4) buying up multiple comic companies in the 60’s and 70’s, (Thus, doubling their roster with the likes of Captain Marvel/Shazam, Blue Beetle and The Question) and of course, having the first major superhero film and show.(Batman ’66) It has naturally had to change with the times over the years, as is to be expected but by doing that they also revolutionized the same industry that they helped to create. What I’m primarily referring to is the idea of Multiverse.(I’ll be going more into that in Part 4 or 5 of Comics 101.) The basic premise of the idea is that there are multiple earths/universes happening simultaneously, some with small differences (like Clark Kent not becoming Superman until his mid twenties) and some with massive changes (like Clark Kent becoming Ultraman, an evil superpowered dictator.)  The main reason for this was to explain how there could be so many different versions of the same comic characters, like an older and younger Superman who are in the same universe but one of them is from a different earth…Which leads me to the main thing that separates DC from Marvel: Legacy Characters.

Legacy characters are a very important and key aspect to the infrastructure of DC comics. The main reasons for this is because almost every hero in DC has another hero before or after them. Whether it’s Nightwing, Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl or Aqualad they are the ones who will one day inherit what their mentors left behind. These characters have gone on to become some of DC’s biggest stars, Nightwing alone has gathered a huge following since he switched from Robin in 1984. Some could even say that some of these characters are more popular then their predecessors, prime example for this being Wally West being more popular as the Flash than Barry Allen. (Admittedly that last point could easily be contested but I’m just speaking in generalities based upon my generation’s love of Wally.)

DC Flourished throughout the years creating the first Superhero, the first superhero team,(The Justice Society of America) creating the first team of Teenagers,(The Teen Titans) making Batman the Dark Knight that he was meant to be,(Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams run in the 70’s), creating the first event comic,(Crisis On Infinite Earths) helping to make the 80’s one of the best decades for comics and of course, helping to make the 90’s almost unbearable to read. In 70 plus years, it’s been a great company that for better or for worse can’t and shouldn’t be forgotten or unread by any comic fan.

So why do the multiverse and legacy characters matter to DC but not to Marvel? Well the multiverse does matter to Marvel,(See 2015’s Secret Wars and the preceding Avengers and New Avengers runs by Jonathan Hickman) just not quite as much as it does to DC. As for the legacy characters, the thought process comes from the fact that Stan Lee didn’t really like Sidekicks. In his career, characters like Bucky Barnes and Rick Jones were really the only technical sidekicks he created. He always dealt more with the ideas of teams like X-Men, Fantastic Four and the Avengers.

Speaking of Marvel…let’s head on over to their side

  • Major Heroes:
  • Spider-Man
  • Captain America
  • Black Widow
  • Captain Marvel
  • Iron Man
  • Hulk
  • Wolverine
  • Hawkeye
  • Jessica Jones
  • Ant-Man
  • Black Panther
  • Daredevil
  • Avengers(Team)
  • X-Men(Team)
  • Fantastic Four(Team)
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy(Team)

 

  • Major Villains:
  • Red Skull
  • Loki
  • Venom
  • Green Goblin
  • Magneto
  • Thanos
  • The Mandarin
  • Kingpin
  • Dr. Octopus
  • Ultron
  • Dr. Doom
  • Mephisto
  • The Thunderbolts(Team of reformed villains so technically they’re anti heroes)
  • Masters Of Evil(Team)
  • Brotherhood of Evil Mutants(Team)
  • The Sinister Six(Team)

Marvel began back in the late 30’s as Timely Comics, creating characters like Namor and the first Human Torch and of course, Captain America. The main problem with the heroes of Marvel(and to some extent those of DC as well) was the fact that most of them began because of the second world war. So why have those heroes if there wasn’t a war? These were the questions that the companies would ask during the late 40’s and early 50’s. They took some characters and tried to adapt them into horror comics, which had horrendous consequences when Frederic Wertham tried to ban comics during the 50’s. It got bad enough that Marvel, which was currently called Atlas Comics, was about to go bankrupt and close the doors forever. Stan Lee, who was about to leave the company, was given free reign to write anything he wanted to and so he created a family of superheroes, the first family, the Fantastic Four and then Marvel became a global phenomenon. Character after character and story after story, Lee, Kirby, Ditko, Heck, Mantlo, Layton, Thomas, Aparo and the rest were building the company into something that would shape the the history of comics for the next 50 years.

Marvel has also had many great moments in their history such as bringing back Captain America,(Avengers #4) Creating the first Anti-Hero,(The Punisher) creating stories that feature real life events, (Amazing Spider-Man 98-100 where Peter tackles the growing problem of Drugs) creating the first main Graphic Novel,(The Death of Captain Marvel) utilizing the first cross media publication rights,(Star Wars, G.I. Joe, Transformers, ROM, Secret Wars and many others) helping to make the 80’s one of the greatest decades in comics and of course, helping to make the 90’s unbearable to read.

Overall, both of these companies have clearly given much to the lore and history of comics. For many fans, they are the only comics. I’ve loved both of them for very different reasons throughout the entirety of my life and I always will.

Next time on Comics 101 we get to talk about the films, how they got started, why certain characters can’t crossover and how they’ve affected the comic fandom as a whole. Did it help it or hurt it? Check back soon to find out.