The author Douglas Wolk wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times telling his experience with his son in reading Marvel’s history, mostly in chronological order, and:
He liked it when I read out loud to him, and I liked doing that too, so that’s mostly how we operated at first. To my surprise, he reveled in the earliest Fantastic Four and Hulk comics, bursting out laughing at Stan Lee’s corny jokes. They were stories made to thrill 10-year-olds, and 50 years after they were created, they still work just fine for that purpose. We were having fun together, more than ever before.
I’m glad somebody’s recognizing Lee’s sense of humor still holds up well, and above all, the entertainment value the stories built upon in their time. It’s something most PC crowds today regrettably won’t thank Lee for in the years after he’s sadly gone. But when père et fils reached the company wide crossovers in the 2000s pretty early, they began to take a less objective approach:
I understood that Sterling’s interest was liable to wane at any time: Getting over brief phases is what kids do, and arguably what I had failed to do. But he kept reading, and after a few months, he decided we should skip forward to the “modern crossover era” that had begun around 2006, as most of Marvel’s comics, from “The Amazing Spider-Man” to “Fantastic Four’” to “Captain America,” started to intertwine more, often responding to shared fictional events from different perspectives.
He was totally into it. The plot threads tightly strung between two or 10 or 30 series at once were exactly what he was looking for. Marvel crossovers became our shared ritual, the thing we did on afternoons and weekends: sitting on the couch, reading through “Secret Invasion” and “Avengers vs. X-Men” together. We bonded over Thing-vs.-Hulk fights and “Secret Empire” and Doctor Octopus. It’s given us a shared body of lore that we can talk about or draw on for conversations about other things.
When I read this, I groaned in despair. Mainly because they inexplicably took to elevating the post-2000 crossovers above even the older ones, and while I don’t think the early crossovers like 1984’s Secret Wars were all that great, I can’t understand what’s so monumentally special about the post-2000 crossovers (or why this article doesn’t make it clear the whole concept began much earlier), which is where things really began to collapse into pointless mishmash resulting in a situation where stand-alone storytelling was rendered meaningless, as the crossover stories mattered far more.
I’ve sometimes thought one thing the early Marvel crossovers had going for them is that, unlike the DC crossovers originally beginning with Crisis on Infinite Earths, they weren’t written with the adamant intention of killing off characters whom the editors decided on a whim were expendable, rather than make it possible to use them as storytelling vehicles in scripts with a character-driven, self-contained approach. Yet even that began to change after the turn of the century, recalling Avengers: Disassembled seemed to exist to get rid of at least a few characters like Jack of Hearts, and even if that still wasn’t the case by a long shot, the leftist political agendas were becoming increasingly forced in at the expense of entertainment value. Yet Wolk and company are comfy to the max with that? Good grief.
The citation of Dr. Octopus is enough to conclude père et fils had no issue with One More Day‘s obliteration of the Spider-marriage, and what was so great about Secret Empire, a crossover whose main purpose was turning Captain America into a Hydra-Nazi? I just don’t understand this at all. What’s clear is we have here somebody who’s not on the side of real fans, and probably never cared about or appreciated Lee and John Romita’s development of Mary Jane Watson either. It’s a terrible shame, but it demonstrates how there’s only so many PC scribes out there who will never pen an article for a mainstream paper giving a meatier, objective view of comicdom, why it collapsed and who’s responsible.
That’s why I just don’t see the point of a mainstream newspaper op-ed focusing on these subjects if they only intend to take such a fawning view of what modern mainstream storytelling is like. Anybody who’s that lenient on mainstream creators for corporate owned creations who’ve ruined the material for the sake of political correctness can’t have their own fandom taken seriously.
Originally published here.