As many of you know, I’m a Marvel guy. Always have been. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Batman. And DC has its share of other cool/compelling characters. But top-to-bottom, Marvel is, and has been for a long time, the better of the top two comic juggernauts. The recent successes of Marvel Studios has extended that gap.
But Marvel just can’t stop messing with their core characters in ill-conceived attempts/publicity stunts to keep them “interesting” or boost sales. Instead of just writing better stories or fleshing out new aspects of these stalwarts, they think it’s a preferable to just change who the character is all together.
Spider-Man, the flagship character of Marvel Comics, has been the alter ego of Peter Parker since he first graced the pages of Amazing Fantasy #15. But since apparently the writers at Marvel are lazy or just don’t understand what it is that makes Spider-Man so compelling, they have screwed around with supporting characters time and time again. The most egregious of these being the reveal that Gwen Stacy had had an affair with Norman Osborn and gave birth to his twin children. It was a blatant slap in the face of the fans who had held Gwen Stacy in such high regard, and complete character assassination. It took the defining moment of Peter’s life (Gwen’s death), and made it feel dirty, sleazy, and tainted.
Not satisfied destroying the secondary players in the Spider-Man saga, they eventually targeted the Wall Crawler himself. As Dr. Octopus’ body is dying, his mind is swapped with that of Peter Parker. So no Otto Octavius is in Peter’s body, and Peter died in Octavius’. Even worse, Marvel had the gall to call this book The Superior Spider-Man, as if this is somehow better than the Spider-Man we had before.
Captain America is one of the oldest, most iconic superheroes in all of comics. Following the events of the Civil War, Steve Rogers is assassinated on his way to trial for standing up against Superhuman Registration Act. Shortly thereafter, he was brought back in a story that is way too convoluted to get into here. Read Captain America: Reborn if you’re interested in how…and if you’re not interested, it’s still a pretty good read. Now, in the most recent run in the comics, Cap had the Super Soldier Serum drained from his body. And instead of it just making him go back to the small, scrawny ordinary man he was before, his body essentially caught up to his natural age rapidly. Rogers is now a shriveled old man. Who if anyone is going to take up the reigns of the Star Spangled Avenger? That is yet to be seen.
Now to top things off, Marvel has announced that Thor is going to become a woman. More correctly, Donald Blake is going to no longer be the embodiment of Thor, and a yet unidentified woman is going take his place. This wouldn’t be such a big deal, as it’s not the first time that someone else has assumed the role of Thor (Beta Ray Bill anyone?), if Marvel hadn’t pretty much admitted that it’s just for the publicity and an attempt to appeal to female readers.
First of all, changing foundational parts of established characters just for publicity is always a bad decision. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth of your readers, and any additional fans you may get won’t stick around if the stories are good. Plus if you ever change things again, you take a big risk that they will leave.
Secondly, how sexist is it that Marvel thinks that women are only interested in female characters? I know plenty of geeky girls, and most of their favorite characters are male. Why is that? Because the male ones are more well-written! Instead of taking an established male comic icon and changing their genitalia, write better stuff for the established female comic characters that are so often overlooked.
Well kiddos, I probably won’t post any next week. I’ll be in Haiti with limited access to the inter-webs. Catch you all on the flip side. Excelsior.