Tuesday, April 1, 2008

FLD's State of the Marvel Universe Address for 2008

As I have noted in days past, my relationship with Marvel Comics will likely always be strained. While I resided in the X-House throughout the 80's, the forced exit of Chris Claremont and several years worth of continued subscriptions turned me forver into a mutie hater. The mass exodus of most every worthwhile creator, writer or artist, from Marvel titles in the 1990's was in no way endearing. Finally, as a retailer, the aftermath of the Heroes World debacle and subsequent distrbution wars assured that I would never again wholeheartedly Make Mine Marvel. However, though there have been many ups and downs over the course of his tenure, I feel the influence of Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada has been extremely beneficial to the company, and especially in light of DC Comics' slow meltdown over those same years, I find Marvel has earned back many of my dollars and much of my interest. Today, I'd like to address what I feel the company is or will soon be doing right, wrong, or in question.

Several years ago, I was at the customer service department of a major retail chain, and noted in the distance a spiral folder marked "Patriot Act" that was about four inches thick. I've worked fairly benign jobs where we had to undertake training in the event of a terror attack. I find this all about as humorous and useful as old "duck and cover" instruction videos in the event of a nuclear exchange. Our modern United States calls for examination of this sort of bueracratic maneuvering and propoganda in our art, which at Marvel translates to the Super Human Registration Act. A intrusive, presumptous, aganda-laden backdoor draft? Oh yes, this is exactly the sort of thing the MU needs. Whether you're a Stark supporter or marching in the streets, the Marvel Universe thrives on polemics and adversity. Of course giving S.H.I.E.L.D. access to all that sensitive information regarding the nations superhumans in a terrible idea, but Stark clearly had the best intentions, and the as yet unopened Pandora's Box allows for a myriad of future stories. For goodness sake, the Red Skull is going from his government post in the "Red Dust" story arc from a few years back to potentially being the next president, ala Lex Luthor. Imagine the possibilities.

On matters relating to Captain America-- Steve Rogers is not truly dead, as he is irreplaceable. Steve Englehart covered this in the 70's, Mark Gruenwald in the 80's and 90's, and now Ed Brubaker is the messenger in the oughts. I hate this Bucky/Winter Soldier nonsense, but I have high hopes that mess will hinge on the resurrected Sacred Cow being a Skrull. If we're lucky, someway, somehow, Jason Todd will also turn out to be one.

This leads to the Secret Invasion, which seems to have been in the works since Secret War. The more I hear, the more I love this. So very many wrongs could be righted with this device, and regardless, the premise is both classic and very much of the now. My only regret is this business about a Skrullian prophesy relating to the Earth, but if it allows for a touch of jihad, I'll allow for it.

I propose a Defense of Marriage Act for comic book couples. Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Sue and Ralph, Peter and Mary Jane... where does it all end? Lois and Clark? Sue and Reed? Certainly not Dinah and Ollie. Are there no creators or editors emotionally healthy enough themselves to sustain a happy, enduring union between man, woman, android, xenomorph, or what have you? On the other hand, mainstream comic books are crafted with the intention of making them idiot-proof. A great writer can make a marriage work, but the companies want to sell you Character X, not expensive, unreliable talent. Single super-heroes are the safest bet, but in the future, could we please avoid horrendous resets like "Spider-Man literally makes a deal with the devil for the most baffling reason." Maybe Marvel doesn't trust creators to sustain major life changes like marriages, but for their own sakes, they should trust their talent to help them get out of such binds. Like the Star Wars prequals, virtually any random individual pulled off the street could have written a better story than "One More Day."

The first Annihilation mini-series is still sitting unread in my closet, but based on general information, congratulations are in order on revitalizing the "cosmic" bin. So long as Captain Marvel turns out to be a Skrull, all seems right in that area.

Allowing Jeph Loeb to play with characters in motion has always left me wondering at how low below the national average some comic book editor's I.Q.s happen to be. This Hulk relaunch does not amuse, but as the new Incredible Hulk movie looks to be worse than Ang Lee's, and without the inspired casting, I guess it's good the book reflects the outside media. Meanwhile, we have Matt Fraction and Sal Larocca on a new Iron Man book. Everything I see and hear about that flick makes it seem invincible, and the book may well earn its descripter. My totally straight adoration of Robert Downey Jr. continues to swell.

For the most part, Marvel seems to have pulled back from the star-shtupping that DC has so pathetically embraced like the last dork to shack up with the one girl passed amongst a group of friends. Stephen King may have been around the block himself a few times, but Marvel clearly made the best of his multudionous "experience."

Not to be painted as a flip-flopper, but while I opposed it back in '87, I'm all for the Mutant Registration Act today. The Genetically-Challenge are an insurance nightmare, taxing our infrastructure while taking our jobs. Amnesty would be a huge error, and I would like to take this opportunity to incite pogroms, internment, or just a big ol' fence between us and them. Genosha was just a myth to draw mutie sympathy.

Thank you, God bless, and good night.

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