The State of Marvel
Sometimes we must look at the past to see where we will go in the future. It is with this in mind, True Believers, that I have come to discuss the current State of Marvel. It has been nearly three months since I reviewed Marvel Legacy #1 for you. In my review I warned new readers to shy away from the issue while proclaiming that it may one day become required reading for Marvel Zombies.
Marvel Legacy was a promise to return many of Marvel’s core characters to their rightful place. All of this was to take place while still embracing many of the new characters that replaced them.
This is perhaps nowhere more evident that in Captain America. Steve Rogers treatment leading up to Secret Empire polarized readers more than any other. They took the kid from Brooklyn and turn him into what he hated most and it was a slap in the face of 70 years of storytelling. I however, like many of you out there, stuck with him to see what would happen and was sorely disappointed.
Three months later with a new blockbuster creative team in the form of Mark Waid and Chris Samee, Cap is doing only marginally better. Steve has fallen from his position as the head of Hydra and came crashing back down to earth. In a story-line remarkably similar to Superman’s Grounded, we see Steve Rogers traveling across America. Here he hopes to reconnect with the American people while searching for a new home outside of New York.
While I can applaud the few issues that have came out for returning Cap to a more recognizable from as well as one and done stories, they leave much to be desired. It is almost as if Waid and company are playing it too safe here and need to branch out. Yes, I and many others want to see a Cap we recognize — however, we do not want to read a superhero-themed Andy Griffith. The classic stories of Ed Brubaker and Roger Stern would serve as a worthy template for the direction of the Sentinel of Liberty going forward.
Many reader were likewise upset when Jane Foster took up the mantle of Thor, but I say to you Nay! Aaron’s run on the Mighty Thor shall go down in the annals as one for the ages. While not all of the stories are equal in quality, and many a question still lay unanswered, the Odinson has rarely been in more capable hands. With The Mighty Thor #705 rapidly approaching, we see the death of Jane Foster on the horizon and the return of the the Odinson as the leading figure within the book. It is with a sad heart that I will welcome the Odinson back unto the fold for Jane Foster will be sorely missed. My only hope is that she remains in the book as a sort of conscious for Thor, there to remind him of where he has been and where he should be going.
In The Incredible Hulk Greg Pak and Greg Land have returned us to the Planet Sakaar. The Hulk has long been one of my favorite reads and in the months leading up to the Return to Planet Hulk I had completely lost interest. I must now say to you I have never seen such a turn around in a title. Often it takes months if not years for a title to climb out of such a dark place. Maybe the return of Bruce Banner in the upcoming Avengers: No Surrender storyline renewed Pak’s love of the Green Goliath. Whatever it was, I for one could not be happier. The Hulk’s return to Sakaar has once again rocketed the issue to the top of my read pile. Storylines such as these are what remind me why I love comics and I can only hope the upcoming World War Hulk 2 is as much fun as the original.
Daredevil has always been insulated from the larger Marvel Universe and it seems as if the effects of Secret Empire passed over Hell’s Kitchen. On the heels of Mark Waid and Chris Samee’s stellar run on Daredevil, Charles Soule and Ron Garney relaunched the title in February of 2016. Now quickly approaching issue #600, Daredevil continues to be one of the most stable comics published by Marvel. The title began to flounder after the Muse storyline, but has been given a new life with the Mayor Fisk arc. Seemingly ripped from today’s headlines, the Mayor Fisk story is off to a great start. With the Kingpin in the mayor’s seat, current issues of Daredevil remind me of classic Bat-Man and Spider-Man stories where our hero is hunted by the police. How this will play out only Soule knows, but I for one will be there to find out.
Until this point I think Marvel has largely been doing well at keeping its promises. Now let’s look at where I think it is failing. Avengers No Surrender is an event book. Call it what you want Marvel, but I dropped the Avengers line because of the price of admission. Like Jimmy McMillian said, “the rent is too damn high” for me to be buying a weekly title that I can read in less than 15 minutes. Sadly, I have to give Marvel Five Pinocchios on the “no more events for a year and half” promise.
I recently picked up the new Spectacular Spider-Man title by Chip Zdarsky. I went into it with high hopes based on Zdarsky’s recent work on Howard the Duck but was disappointed. I do not know if it was Zdarsky’s writing on the character or the fact that Marvel has changed the Wall Crawler so much. Spider-Man was once one of my favorite characters in comics and I can now barely stomach the character. I am one of those who believe that Spider-Man should have remained married. Peter Parker is the nerd who won, he finally got the girl and lived happily ever after. Now this is not to say his life is perfect but Mary Jane should be there to help him when he needs it. That and lastly Spider-Man is Spider-Man, he is not Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark and should have never been written as such.
While in the Punisher they have put Frank Castle in the War Machine armor and it is the dumbest idea I have ever heard, almost as bad as Frankencastle. Frank Castle is a simple man, and he uses simple means to dispatch criminals. The idea that he would use power armor for more than 5 minutes seems to be completely against everything that has come before unless I missed something. I am not reading the new Punisher and hope that they quickly return him to his roots.
While I did not touch on everything Marvel is putting out now, I did try to discuss the titles that I am or was actively reading. There are a number of other good titles that they are putting out now that I have not been reading long enough for me to pass judgment on. Titles that I would recommend you be on the lookout for are the New Marvel Two-in-One, this series seems ripe with promise as well as the return of the Fantastic Four. Thanos and Doctor Strange are both well written and I enjoy them for what they are: good, solid comics with brief flashes of greatness. Hopefully, Marvel will right this ship shortly and comics will be better for it