Oh Marvel. For every good comic that is published there seems to be five more that are just barely tolerable and five that just make readers want to claw their eyes. There seems to be a few problems that need to be addressed.
1. Reusing the same storylines.
How many times are the X-men going to be wiped out or sterylized. This time its negative effect of Terigen Mists, ten years ago it was M-Day. Same thing happening with a new twist. Keeping on the subject, Civil War 2 is happening. Because the first one was oh so much fun to read…and not painful at all…With so many writers that you have on your team, or former writers, somebody has to have the chutzpah to say, “We need something new” or, “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
2. The Same Writers.
Haven’t you guys noticed that its always the same guys that keep writing the stories? Let’s be honest, Brian Michael Bendis was, at one point, churning out some of the best of Marvel. Now…he’s kind of past his prime. New writers are finding it hard to break into the comic book genre since it seems to be the most exclusive club after Broadcasting. These first two go together like PB&J: worn out writers and old ideas. No fresh meat or fresh ideas. There are great writers out there. But Marvel does not seem to want to hire them for fear of failure…or fear of different ideas that are way too out there. This part is rather ironic since for decades Marvel was challenging convention and government and pushing the limits of what you could have in a comic.
3. Writers who don’t read source materials.
This can go to any writer of any comic books or television industry. If you are a writer who comes in and wants to do a book that includes a few characters, or you’re adding on to an existing title, like Birds of Prey or Young Avengers, and you haven’t read the source material, it shows. Let’s look at a recent example. Kieron Gillen took over Young Avengers and while he claimed to have read source material it became evident that he skimmed it, if that. He failed to understand the characters, their backgrounds and importance, as well as their personalities. He took what Heinberg wrote and disregarded just about everything beyond the surface. There’s fanfiction with better characterization than what Gillen brought to the table. This isn’t the only example, but it’s the freshest in my mind. Writers need to go back and take the time to understand the characters they are writing, otherwise what’s the point? They might as well create their own characters.
4. Not Everything Has to Be Like the Marvel Cinematic Univerise (MCU)
Don’t get me wrong. I adore the MCU. But character stories do not need to change to better emulate it. It would be like if everything became set in the Ultimate Universe just because it was the most popular book ever. That’s insane. Comic Books should, nay, must be different from the movies. New readers are brought in by the movies and if they see the same thing, what’s the point of reading? You do not have to change 30 years of continuity which has defined the characters just to push the MCU. The two should remain close to each other, but in the end different. This is of course excluding comics that are written specifically to tie into the MCU. This can also be applied to cartoons Marvel and Disney are producing. Use this as an opportunity to pull new viewers into the world of comics.
There was absolutely no reason to change Wanda and Pietro’s backstory from mutants and children of Magneto…to…um…still not quite sure I understand. And while we’re on the subject. Stop punishing the X-men for what Fox does. Half of the X-men are basically Avengers now anyway. Focus on the comics and making those into a profit too. Comics still matter.
5. Remember Questions of Morality are Fun.
Now that doesn’t mean the story has to be so complex that everything ends up confusing. It means that a story needs to be rich. Take House of M, one of my favorite events, a complex story where the plot wasn’t too congested. But the people were complex. Everyone was struggling with different ways of dealing with the Scarlet Witch, which proposes a moral question of what to do with a now mentally unstable, yet immensely powerful mutant? The world of M creates more moral dilemmas for the reader. Is this world better, for whom, and should the new world really be changed back if everyone got what they wanted. There is also an excellent question from a political perspective being brought up, who is in charge and how does policy effect people and whom does it benefit. Is the Monarchy of M somehow more morally superior? Stories can challenge us without confusing us.
I’m really enjoying the Robin’s War saga from DC right now, partially because I get to see all the male Robin’s in their natural habitat and partially because of the interesting moral question it poses of childhood heroes, and what it means to be a Robin. Plus, it’s always fun to read a comic which shows government screwing up.
6. Enough with the Big Events.
Seriously. Marvel, I love you, but find a better way to advance your stories and your characters without having some large scale mess happening every six months. Bigger is not always better, like government. It was fun the first…three or so times you did it. Now it’s getting old. Create storylines and blend characters. But not every event has to be cosmic because that’s where you end up confusing and annoying your readers. Battle of the Atom started out well, but it seemed like the writers had no idea what the end would be and ended up with a really idiotic half-thought-out ending that created more problems than solutions. A good event that incorporates different teams has to have an ending that is at least thought out and not rushed.
7. Progressive does not equal good.
Okay so while Kamala Khan has grown on me, I still think forcing diversity and forcing progressiveness into anything is bad. If you want more LGBT…etc characters do it. Just do it with the same care you would show to your own children. Create those characters and don’t change existing ones. Comic Book readers are interested in new characters that represent them. So create some new characters who are African-American, or Jewish, but stop with the race-bending, gender-bending, sexuality bending. It gets old after a while. Introduce me to new characters. Wow me. With that being said, don’t marginalize the old characters and push them behind because someone thought they were outdated. Well written characters, old or new, are well written characters. When I got into comics I read Spider-Man and X-men. After a while, however I finally decided to pick up a comic like Runaways and Young Avengers, where I didn’t know the characters. But I loved every moment of both of them.
8. Do not be afraid to push actual boundaries…in a good way.
Remember when Stan Lee said screw the Comic’s Code Authority and published a comic about drug abuse without their seal of approval? Stan pushed what was the norm and created powerful stories that did make people angry and were controversial. Marvel, let’s be honest, the last time you did something controversial…no one thanked you for making Iceman gay. How about this, which one of the genius writers thought it would be fun to make Spider-Woman a pregnant superhero about to pop? We had a pregnant woman with powers: Jessica Jones, remember her? She just had a TV show come out? Question decisions and question story suggestions.
9. Stop labeling everything you don’t like as right-wing.
Don’t give me that look, you did it with the Tea-Party, and you did it more recently with Sam Wilson, who I will only refer to as Falcon Cap. Falcon Cap was fighting against the Sons of the Serpent, who had previously fought the Avengers, and the Young Avengers. Apparently being put in a coma by a magical teen wasn’t enough for them. They are racist, disgustingly anti-everything, and represent the KKK and White Supremacists in the Marvel Universe. They are not conservative. Nothing they believe in is in anyway conservative and if you are interested in learning what is, I will gladly help. Some of your characters are way more conservative than you realize, while we’re on the subject. Yes! Comic Books are riddled with politics, but alienating and demonizing your own readers is only going to further hurt your sales. Conservative does not equal bad, evil or horrible, remember that.
Marvel, you are having problems, and its time to look at it with the Rose-Colored glasses off. Time to remember what made Marvel great and why people come out in droves to see every movie that’s released. Let’s remember where comics came from and remember that for them to succeed they have to continue to grow and change in a natural way, not forced to be progressive and edgy.