In the past few years, since about 2012, Marvel Comics has tried relaunching several times, it’s comic book line. Not a full reboot in the vein of DC’s 1986 Crisis On Infinite Earths, which rebooted the entire DC timeline, but in the sense that all the titles get new number 1 issues, new creative teams, gender/race swapping sometimes characters, and more, in an effort to shake things up, to get people interested in reading the Marvel comics again, as readership is down across the board. In some cases it’s because of their “let’s shake things up” attitude towards change that turned some readers off to the comics, while still going in drove to see these characters at the movies and on Netflix.
I’ve already written about the problem with modern Marvel comics as a whole last year, in the lack of continuity aspect. Which, if you missed that, you can read it here: https://reelgeeksguide.com/2016/08/19/an-open-letter-to-marvel-about-the-state-of-the-marvel-universe/
And what I’m writing about now is a whole other issue, And this also falls into that lack of continuity issue, and that’s this new culture of the star writer. I hate criticizing anything about getting attention to writers, being one myself, but this is an age now in comic books where the author is prized above all, moreso than the character or the series itself.
It really seems to me that in this new way of doing things at Marvel, they’ll bring on a writer for a book, somewhere outside of the comic book writing realm if possible, somebody with some legit cred, a New York times best selling author, some columnist somewhere, and they’ll be brought onboard to do a series, and they write the series as though they’re writing a semi long form graphic novel being broken up into monthly chunks, just that book. If the character is a bigger one, such as Iron Man, Peter Parker Spider-Man or something then they’ll still be in their other books, but what’s going on in the writer’s book does not affect, is not even mentioned in the others, let alone any crossover type events which might be going on in the company, because the writer has their story planned out to a T, and that’s the only story they are telling.
When the story is over, so is the series, and they bring back a new number one issue 6 months later with a new creative team, etc. This sort of storytelling works great in independent books, but if you’re doing something for a major comic book company, you should have a little more respect for the character, the history, and the fans, then just writing a story that you wanted to tell.
The story, the characters, should always come first, the character is bigger than the name attached to the character at the moment. In the past creative teams left all the time, but the story still went on, because the character is bigger than the writer. If I’m ever fortunate enough to work on anything as such I will remember that, it’s not about you, it’s not about what you want to say, what clever at the moment topical references you can throw into your book, it’s about what the story needs to say.
Case in point with all of this, I’m reading Civil War II right now, on their Unlimited App, so I’m 6 months behind on all the major stuff that’s come out since, but three issues into this thing, and it’s extremely disjointed, they’re still setting things up, no conflict yet, other than arguments. By issue three of the first Civil War event, there were two decided teams, conflict, and action. Here, we’re still establishing the reasons for the conflict, which should be pretty cut and dry. One side wants to use this new kid’s power to prevent crime before it happens, (ala Minority Report) and the other disagrees saying that infringes on freedom (also like in Minority Report) And in the other books, they’re still setting up this story as well, well the authors are fitting it into their story telling somewhat, for better or worse. It’s a real mess of a story when it really doesn’t have to be, is what I’m getting at here.
I hope that maybe one person can read this article, and hopefully they’re also frustrated like me, to what Marvel’s become. They’ve lost their way, they need to remember that the characters, the stories, and the interconnectiveness of it is what made Marvel so popular back in the day when it was Stan and Jack in the bullpen. That’s what made Marvel fun and it can be that way again. All they need to do is remember that the story is bigger than the writer.