In a history article at the New York Post, which, as expected, doesn’t dwell on any of Marvel’s worst mistakes, horrible company editor Brevoort made a very troubling statement about prince Namor, one of Marvel’s first stars:
“The Human Torch was less a superhero than a Frankenstein monster run amok, and the Sub-Mariner was a virtual terrorist, staging attacks on the surface world on behalf of his undersea nation,” Marvel’s executive editor Tom Brevoort tells The Post.
Marvel would continue to create characters in that mold — conflicted, not squeaky clean — for decades to come.
Excuse me?!? It’s true Namor was no saint, but he was far from murderous towards innocent humans, and battled the really threatening villains like the Nazis during WW2. So what’s the big idea Brevoort has of declaring Sub-Mariner a literal terrorist? And the original robotic Human Torch an out of control monster? You could easily get the idea reading this piece that Marvel went on to create not so much anti-heroes, but rather, deadly criminals no different from the actual villains they fought. And let’s not forget Brevoort was the one who claimed the Sandanistas, by contrast, weren’t terrorists.
The article also brings up Captain America, and says:
And although the hero was tied to World War II, he has somehow transcended that era and remained relevant to this day.
“I think Captain America is a simple idea that can adapt to fit the tenor of the times while maintaining an underlying conceptual power,” Brevoort says. “He’s the ultimate patriot, but more than that, he’s the ultimate realization of the ideals upon which our nation was founded.
“Captain America isn’t a ‘My country, right or wrong’ sort of a patriot; rather, he holds himself — and by extension his country — to a higher ideal.”
Predictably, no mention of even so much as the 2002 Marvel Knights story that set the Star Spangled Avenger on the path of artistic destruction, which saw Cap believing what 9-11 Truthers do – that his country actually hires terrorists to commit violent crimes and the attack on the WTC was an “inside job”. If memory serves, Brevoort may have even overseen that tale himself, which began a book that soon became unreadable, and unbearable. What business does he have speaking for stuff he didn’t create, and doesn’t value? Or not telling what he really thinks? The article also says:
During his years with Marvel, Kirby created or co-created hundreds of characters, many of which are now billion-dollar intellectual properties that fuel TV shows and films.
That’s another problem. I’ve come to detest corporate ownerships, which have done little more than dumb down famous properties into catastrophes. Which has been the case with superhero comics for over 15 years. And on shared universes, they say:
It’s a concept that we take for granted now: the shared universe.
But it’s an innovation that Marvel helped perfect in the 1960s in its new superhero titles. In 1963’s “Fantastic Four” #12, for example, the supergroup battles the Hulk.
“The fact that not only did the Marvel characters live in a real-world city [New York], but would also encounter one another very casually as the months went by conveyed a greater sense of reality and verisimilitude about the nascent Marvel Universe, giving readers more of a sense of it being a genuine place where all of these heroes and villains co-existed,” Brevoort says.
The concept has bewitched Hollywood, from DC’s superheroes to Universal’s aborted Dark Universe.
But it’s all gone down the drain since. Consider: since the turn of the century, continuity as we know it has been largely destroyed in both Marvel and DC, mainly because of company wide crossovers, and also because some characters like Wolverine begun turning up in far more books than would make sense storywise, including Bendis’ Avengers, and as a result, continuity became a shambles. Without self-contained storytelling and creative freedom that isn’t applied selectively, there can be no coherency for a shared universe to be effective. Then they tell about the Bronze Age:
One of the ways that Marvel was able to capture an older readership than those who traditionally read comic books was by filling its comics with more than just fistfights.
Today they’re not even winning over that much because the stories have lost whatever character driven edge they had, and the stars no longer have convincing personalities. They’ve either become Mary Sues, or been replaced by such characters. When they get to the 80s:
The ‘80s are rightly remembered as the decade when comic books got serious — and sometimes seriously dark— by embracing more mature subjects and storytelling.
The revolution arguably started in 1980, when a young New York transplant named Frank Miller took over writing and drawing Marvel’s on-the-brink-of-cancellation series “Daredevil,” borrowing from hard-boiled crime fiction and manga and turning the series into one of the most sophisticated reads around. (His work was the basis for Netflix’s “Daredevil” series.)
That we now accept that comics aren’t just for kids began, at least in part, here.
The trouble is that today, they’ve almost entirely driven kids out of the market, and whatever is supposedly aimed at kids is now filled with stunning indoctrination propaganda of the sickest kind. And should the 80s be remembered for darkness, rather than merit-based storytelling? Hey, I admire Miller’s DD stories from 1979-87, but it’s because they actually had as much meaning as entertainment value, and weren’t heavily agenda-driven like today’s abominations are. But does the wider public really accept comics aren’t just kids stuff? Sometimes, I think even that’s uncertain. On the 90s, they say about Deadpool’s 4th wall-breaking:
Other characters had been similarly irreverent, but Deadpool became perfectly positioned to offer meta-commentary on the eventual superhero screen-bloat with his hilariously cutting 2016 movie and 2018 sequel. Who better to stick a pin in the sometimes ridiculous nature of comic books than a comic book publisher itself?
I wonder why Deadpool matters here, but not She-Hulk’s 2nd series from 1989-94, which was also notable for its own 4th wall-breaking humor, and maybe more so? Just because Deadpool made it to movies first doesn’t reduce Jennifer Walters’ own significance. And on Marvel conquering movies in the 2000s:
“The manner in which they have built one film atop the next has created a series of big event films for an entire generation of moviegoers,” Brevoort says. “People will remember going out to see ‘Avengers,’ or ‘Infinity War’ or ‘Endgame’ in the same way that prior generations memorialized seeing ‘Star Wars’ for the first time. It’s a hell of an achievement.”
Sure it is. So says the same man who’s done his part to ruin the zygote. Funny thing is, I’ve seen some people on some online forums arguing the Marvel movies like Avengers don’t have re-watch value, and they’re probably right. In that case, why must we look at most of these films as such a big deal? The Captain Marvel movie’s a sign they’re losing their edge regardless.
We could also look over this Hollywood Reporter piece recommending 80 comics to read on the 80th anniversary, which starts out well enough but predictably degenerates into sugarcoating by the time it reaches the mid-90s. For example:
X-Men: Alpha, X-Calibre Nos. 1-4, Gambit and the X-Ternals Nos. 1-4, Generation Next Nos. 1-4, Astonishing X-Men Nos. 1-4, Amazing X-Men Nos. 1-4, Weapon X Nos. 1-4, Factor X Nos. 1-4, X-Man Nos. 1-4 and X-Men: Omega (1995-1996)
The massive “Age of Apocalypse” storyline ran through a number of different series, but that merely underscores the ambition of a narrative that literally rewrote the entire world for a four month period and re-examined some of the X-Men tropes from a new angle. What would have happened to the X-Men without Charles Xavier…? The answer, it seemed, was genuinely apocalyptic.
It may be one thing to do an alternate reality asking what the X-Men would be like under Magneto, but stuffing it all into such a huge crossover was going way too far, and quite honestly, it was just pointless. I may have argued before that I believe it could all be done in a simple stand-alone miniseries, but they have to keep doing all this stuff in events spanning multiple titles and parts, instead of limiting it to something simpler. Then they go on to say:
New X-Men Nos. 114-116 (2001)
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s makeover for the X-Men franchise involved ditching the superhero hero trappings, doing away with the idea that mutant kind was an evolutionary off-shoot and instead firmly stating that they were the evolutionary future, and reinventing the series as a science-fiction soap opera where humanity are kind of the bad guys. Needless to say, it was wonderful.
No kidding. “Kind of”? I’m sorry, but that misses just how isolationist the premise was, and an insult to the original vision, that mutant humans were equal to their non-powered counterparts. If humanity was supposed to be bad, that suggests Moira MacTaggart was too, before Jonathan Hickman turned her into a mutant as well, and took away much of what made her significant. At worst, it was another demonstration of how isolated some superhero comics are becoming, and yes, that could include even comics where the stars aren’t superheroes per se. Morrison’s scripts were also irritatingly violent and grotesque, and the way he put such emphasis on Magneto as viciously evil was one-dimensional to boot, and a pathetic cliche.
Captain America Nos. 25-42 (2007-2008)
In theory, the death of Captain America shouldn’t have had the impact that it did; comic fans are cynical enough to know it wouldn’t stick. Score one for Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting et al for creating a story that made everything feel permanent and “real” — and for keeping Steve Rogers dead long enough to let Bucky Barnes step up as the new Cap.
Oh please. In retrospect, such a premise doesn’t age well. Certainly not when it gets to the point where Steve Rogers is turned into a combo of a Nazi and a Hydra agent. At least, when this was written, they hadn’t gotten to the point yet where the hero was deliberately replaced with a POC in the costume for diversity-pandering. But it’s still no excuse.
The Invincible Iron Man Nos. 8-24 (2009-2010)
In the wake of the first Iron Man movie, Marvel put the comic book Tony Stark on a redemption arc of his own that had a particularly intense idea at the heart of it: In order to escape his past, Tony Stark needs to wipe his brain and then reinstall it. But… what if things went wrong?
They certainly did. Mainly when Kieron Gillen took to retconning Tony Stark’s background so Howard and Maria Stark were no longer his biological mom and dad. Something else unmentioned here.
Punisher: War Zone Nos. 1-5 (2012)
It was a story decades in coming, but eventually, Frank Castle went too far, and the superheroes of the Marvel Universe had to take him down. Turns out, though, that the Avengers versus a guy with guns and a bad attitude wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed.
It wasn’t very impressive either. Just another example of tearing down a vigilante character simply because he kills criminals, no matter how murderous and violent said criminals already were. Now here’s where things really get awful:
Superior Spider-Man Nos. 1-31 (2013-2014)
It’s one thing to kill off Peter Parker and replace his mind with that of Doctor Octopus for a cliffhanger ending; the real trick is doing something worthwhile with it afterwards. Turns out, even a fake Spider-Man can learn that lesson about great power and great responsibility after all.
Oh, just what the world needs. A fawning view of a story that put Peter Parker in limbo just so Dan Slott could spend a year or so focusing on the idea of Doc Ock living in the poor guy’s body, to serve some kind of “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” mishmash metaphor. It was nothing more than a pure atrocity, and even if they intended to reverse it all in eventual time, that’s still no excuse for Slott’s blatant direction. He recently complained about Spider-Man killing in Avengers: Endgame, but apparently, so long as villains are doing the torture and killing, in their own bodies or in their heroic rivals’ bodies, that’s completely okay. Such hypocrisy indeed.
Captain Marvel Nos. 1-6 (2014)
Pulling Carol Danvers out of her perpetual flux of superhero identities and giving her the name of the man who had given her powers might have been a controversial move when it first happened, but the work of Kelly Sue DeConnick and a number of artists — here, David Lopez — proved essential to give Marvel a Captain Marvel it deserved.
Ms. Marvel Nos. 1-5 (2014)
With Danvers upgraded to Captain, it fell upon a new character to take up her old superhero name, and Kamala Khan filled the bill and then some. Optimistic, determined and fearless when the chips are down, she’s an updated Peter Parker, and an embodiment of everything good about Marvel’s heroes.
Hmm, no mention of how Carol Danvers became “Carl Manvers” in the former, and the latter was a bland, dreary excuse for Islamic proselytizing, which in Arabic could be called “dawah”. Neither sells very well, but when leftist politics and tribalism go front and center, nothing matters anymore.
Daredevil Nos. 1-18 (2014-2015)
After years of continually more grim and darker stories stemming from the Frank Miller era, Mark Waid’s arrival to Daredevil felt like a breath of fresh air. Combined with the art of Chris Samnee, the two created something that felt timeless and honest within the structure of adventure fiction.
I seem to recall Waid’s take on DD included some leftist propaganda too. But they have no interest in dwelling on even that much.
Thor Nos. 1-8 (2014-2015)
When the original Thor realized that he wasn’t as worthy of carrying Mjolnir as he believed, the hammer just went out and found someone else to be Thor, instead. As refreshing as that change may be, what really makes this short-lived series sing is the fact that the new Thor’s secret identity was kept secret all the way to the end, adding an extra layer of mystery to events.
How come no mention that someone was Jane Foster, who’s now become a new Valkyrie instead? Or how this was all just another diversity-pandering joke? But even that pales next to the following commentary:
The Vision Nos. 1-12 (2015-2016)
Deconstructing the robotic Avenger’s dreams of emulating humanity at the same time as it deconstructs the myth of American suburbia, The Vision is what happens when American Beauty crashes into the Marvel Universe.
Uh oh. Would that be the 1999 movie starring Kevin Spacey, which glorified perversions such as pedophilia and/or statutory rape, and after Spacey was exposed as a rapist in real life, is unlikely to be screened in theaters and on TV again for a long time? With that kind of comparison, I’d rather not read the above miniseries at all.
Black Panther Nos. 1-12 (2016-2017)
The signing of Ta-Nehisi Coates as writer for this series was a big deal when it was announced, but the fact that he delivered such a strong story for Brian Stelfreeze and Chris Sprouse to illustrate is what makes this something worth revisiting again and again.
With the politics Coates goes by, that’s why I’m sure it’s not. Finally, there’s this:
The Immortal Hulk Nos. 1-13 (2018-2019)
One of Marvel’s current highlights, and perhaps the strongest sustained Hulk run in the character’s history, Al Ewing and Joe Bennett transform the series into a horror story and look underneath the hood of what makes the Hulk tick. It’s not always pretty, but it’s utterly compelling.
I don’t see what’s so compelling about a horror story where the Hulk is dismembered, even if the pieces actually all take on a life of their own.
And it all demonstrates why, sadly, there’s nothing to celebrate from Marvel anymore, since they lost their way long ago, and Brevoort’s not saying anything to prove he respects their creations. There’s really no point in announcing an anniversary for Marvel at all.
Originally published here.