Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Some Thoughts About Secret Wars, Divergence And What It All Means...

Happy Hump Day People!

Today I was going to take a brief few minutes to talk about the upcoming Secret Wars/Soft reboot of the MU, and where I stand on the issue. I figured I'd express my views on it, and whether or not I felt it'll benefit Marvel fans in the long run.

I was even going to explain that it really comes down to two main and often times conflicting views on what's best and entertaning;
The Publisher/Company/Corporate view and the Fan's view.

But the more I thought about it, the more I had a hard time not playing devil's advocate, and taking Marvel's side.

Let me explain.

I can see where Marvel(now owned by Disney) has a responsibility both to Disney and it's shareholders to continue to market and make as much revenue as posible to make them happy. It just comes with the territory.

That's why we see the never-ending cycle of events and mini-events continue to occur. They sell, despite the many protests of fans, especially the older one like myself.

That's in large part because the days of un-decompressed storytelling and allowing titles and characters to breath betwteen mega events is by and large, over. Done.

You can probably blame today's society's obession with sound bytes and a general short attention span for that, since more and more generations of people are being conditioned to only take the time out to read and process shorter and shorter bits of information.

Hey, I have to concede that I find myself sometimes feeling that way too, unless I'm super into the subject/topic matter.

All that being said, the writers, editors, creators' main job is to sell to as many people as they can, all of these events they cook up.

Much like papa Stan Lee, they have to shill them all as life-changing, earth-shattering events and promise that "Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again!".

But we all know that's never the case.

Every time they replace characters like Thor, Cap, or IM, they wind up evitably bringing them back, and restoring the status quo.
That's just a fact because while we all want change and something new and exciting, but we also want our classic heroes to relatively stay the same.

And they do.

That's the major problem with publishing comic characters for 70 years.
You eventually run out of fresh things to do to them.

Then there's the fact that comic fans have been maintaining interest longer than they used to.
Legendary Comic Editor Julie Swartz famouslty said that "Comic fans only stick around for three years."

Well not aymore, and because of that, such issues such as continuity and the like have become both huge and necessary albatrosess around the necks of publishers of the big two.

Lets be honest here, we the fans are not 100% blameless here.
We can bitch and whine, and threaten, but when it really comes time to put our money where our opinions are, most of us simply punk out.

You want to hurt an organization that makes it's living of selling products on a consistant basis,

That's how you make a statement. By voting with your wallet, because basically it all comes down to money. That's what makes the world go around.

My point is that fans, by and large, are fickle. Very fickle.
They say they're outraged one minute, but act a totally different way the next. It's that indeciviness that ultimately hurts their cause when it comes to legitimately gripping about the poor decisions these companies and creative teams make.

Now that's not to say I'm doing an about face, or changing my positions on my hate and dislike for Didio and people just like him(which Tom Brevroot is dangerously close to becoming).

Fuck no!

In fact if anything, this upcoming event, along with the DC's Convergance, further illustrates what's currently wrong with the line of thinking in regards to the non-stop events.

On DC's end, Didio lies non-stop, claiming that certain events and storylines "were always planned that way", when we all know what bullshit that is.

Marvel's Tom Brevoort does the same thing.

Times like this, you'd wish both sides would just be more open and honest with their fans.
It's simply showing respect to your customers, and that should never be a bad thing.

As I understand it, Converance was born as a distraction, something to help fill the time, a placeholder in the marketplace while DC undergoes the big move west to California.

And despite all the nostalgia that they'll be rolling out and pushing hard, in the end it won't mean a thing.

That is to say, the NU52 isn't going anywhere anytime soon. It's here to stay, but to pander to the older      audience they've by and large (intentionallly?) driven away, they offer one last look at your childhood heroes before locking them up and sealing them away forever.

So basically, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Nice to know right?

Secret Wars on the otherhand actually does matter in the sense that by the time it rolls around, the Marvel Universe as you've known it since 1961 will no longer exist.

Yep, that's right. In case you haven't already heard, the universe that Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and countless others built, is dead.

Don't believe me?
Here's the truth directly for the horse's ass' mouth:

“Once we hit Secret Wars #1, there is no Marvel Universe, Ultimate Universe, or any other. It’s all Battleworld,”[Executive Editor Tom] Brevoort said.
“The Marvel Universe will be Battleworld, and every single piece of those worlds will be building blocks for the universe,” said Alonso, adding that all the universes represented in “Battleworld” will have “legs” moving forward.
“…We are taking the best and biggest pieces of [Marvel history] and seeing how easily they coexist with one another,” Alonso said in answer to a press question about this being a ‘reboot.’ “We don’t expect all our moves to make everyone happy, but we think it will make for a really fascinating read through Secret Wars and beyond.”
  This is pretty much as bold a move as Marvel's ever made since it's inception more than 50 years.
Now I'll be honest.

Initial impression?
The concept sounds cool and exciting enough. After all, all of your favorite alternate and What If? universes will be represented in a re-imagined Battleworld, where they get to duke it Battle Royal-style for survival.

But then what? What's the main motivation behind doing all this? What's so broken(besides time apparently) that the current regime at Marvel feels the need to do something this drastic?

Hasn't the Marvel Now initiative been financially successful enough?

In any event, despite how much this move reeks of being just like CRISIS, the new MU going forward will be a mash-up of hand-picked characters from each alternative historical universe. A Greatest Hits/Dream Team thing of you will.

But yet  the entire history of the MU still remains?
Yeah doesn't make sense to me either. 
As always, we shall see.....


Dan W said...

Nice post mr! You're right about both being companies at the end of the day and needing to increase profit margins etc, and that's why in many ways core characters will never die / change. Death in the Family proved that years ago. You can't 'kill' Robin because he's arguable more famous than anyone else they own outside the big two and his likeness sells a lot of lunchboxes. Someone gets that lunchbox and tracks a comic store down, they need to see Robin - not a void.

Same for Marvel's movie Avengers, Spider-Man, Batman and all the A-Leaguers. 'Where' their adventures are based (in continuity / revamped battleworld or nu52) is irrelevant from a business perspective as long as Captain America still looks like he does in the movies (sorry Falcon you're not going to keep the gig) so little johnny with a Cap bedspread knows what comic to grab to compliment his manchester tastes.

Personally, I am not a fan of DC52 (except Geoff's Superman - which reads pre-52 and really needs more press). Part of the reason why that is, is little has actually changed, and it doesn't seem like DC have an overarching vision, but are just limp from tie-in to tie-in of whatever is going on in Justice League next. You can literally hear them scrambling to make the donkey a stallion.

Convergence is more of the same.

Battleworld on the otherhand is actually changing things.

It's bringing a Conan/Dungeons and Dragons world of territories together of previous Marvel epics and pitting them against each other. Worlds within worlds. Where Iron Mans Armour Wars reshaped society, where the Age of Apocalypse lasted longer than Magneto splitting the Apocalypse... it sounds fresh, it sounds creative, and whether of not it lasts (and I'm not thinking it will) I'm looking forward to at least getting a whole truckload of awesome out of it, because unlike DC, Marvel does sound like they have a plan.

Marvel is a strike in a bowling alley, while DC is bouncing round like a pinball machine hoping it could be the same. When DC stops trying to be Marvel, comics will be a better place.


Dale Bagwell said...

Amen Dan, Amen.
How often since the Nu52 began, have he heard Dildo and Co, and various other writers claim that everything they're doing is planned?

Yet contrary to that, how many creators that wind up leaving, either due to editorial interference or something else, report back much differently.
I'm more inclined to believe it when former creators like the legendary George Perez explains what a disorganized madhouse it was(and seems like it still is) over there. No wonder he left.

And it's not like I;m letting Marvel off the hook for the shit they done, especially leading the charge for countless launching and re-launching of #1's for their titles, all because those new sparkly 1st issues translates to immediate, but very short-term sale boasts.

It's like the fancy, 3-D hologram cover gimmicks from the 90's, just toned down more, but no less deliberiate and unappologetic in its balant money-grabbing.

Marvel's SW is proving to be a soft reboot, but one nonetheless. Some call it needed, especially in regards to reconciling the different universal continuity with the Ultimate U(which stopped serving its intended purpose ever since 2005's Ultimatium) and the MCU.
And citing the current MU being much too complicated for newer fans to understand.
But isn't the NU52 equally as confusing?
Overall, I think the current MU was fine the way it was, minus all those never-ending events.

I'm curious myself, as to which versions of our our beloved Marvel heroes exist in the new Post SW-MU going forward, and which ones don't.
I fully expect Cap to be restored(even though a popular rumor is that he'll be replaced with his Ultimate Universe counterpart) Wolverine to be brought back(unless Marvel's dead serious about downplaying and shuffling the popular mutants off due to movie right issues) and well as the ultimate fate of the FF.
Thanks for reading and commenting Dan. Enjoyed reading your two cents.

Dan W said...

I actually like reading old Marvel's and seeing subscription pages with around 12-18 titles on them. It makes me miss those days and the older I get the les sure I am cohesive universes can exist at bigger sizes.

Do people want five different Superman / Spider-Man titles (can they afford five?) or one awesome one, a team up title like DC Comics Presents (to highlight other acts), and focus on making those the best that they can be, rather than filling the void.

It's hard for me to stay interested in the big two and size is part of it. If Wolverine appeared in Cap it used to come with an editors note explaining how he got from Wolverine to Cap. These days none of that matters, and I dont think they realise that's part of the cool.

It's what Valiant is exploiting. They've promised nine / eleven titles max and they seem pretty true to their word.

I love alot of the Big Two characters as any fan generally does. But Ghost Rider is a boy racer, the Avengers have more teams and members then I can count, and they are just two examples.If its not insanely huge - its new and modern. Lets just appreciate the core of the concept and focus on good titles not mass, but as accountants are the new C.E.O's I don't think that will ever happen.

Poor Jarvis. Avengers used to be earths mightiest. now they are 'everybody but you'. Its surprising they show up for anything. By the time Jarvis txts them all the world will be all but conquered.

googum said...

What is with those Convergence covers? The sort-of half ones...

Battleworld is leaving me cold for multiple reasons. First, it's the culmination of everything Jonathan Hickman has been doing, from Fantastic Four to Avengers. Admirable that he's done it, and Marvel's kept it going, but it hasn't entirely worked for me. (Bendis didn't either, though; so the last Avengers writer I enjoyed was...Geoff Johns? That seems ironic.)

Part of the game plan may be to salvage Miles Morales from the Ultimate universe, which seems reasonable enough. Marvel's NYC might have Spidey, Ultimate Spidey, Spidey 2099, Spider-Gwen, and who knows who else swinging around for a year or so, before editorial decides that's diluting the brand and pares it down again. (Something like that seems to be going on in Hulk now.)

I am slightly concerned at the rumor that Marvel's going to drop support for any characters they don't have the movie rights for, like the X-Men or the FF.

Dale Bagwell said...

@Dan: Exactly.
Another reason(if not a really big one) why I'm glad alternatives like Valiant exists. They're not bogged down by complicated history that doesn't sync up or countless unnecessary reboots(Bloodshot excluded)

Very right on with the whole Avengers thing. Having all thoe memebers made sense at the time for the Infinity storyline, but afterwards it should've been paired back down.
Idk why it' so hard for these companies to not over saturate the market with spinoff? Did they not learn anything from the JL spinoff debacle from the 90's?

@Googum: Those covers are the Chipp Kidd variants. He's sually a very solid illustrator, but these covers....not so much.

Yeah, the Spidey brand's being deluted for short-term market gains, but all we know eventually they'll have to be either dowplayed or removed from the board all-together.
For now though, Spidey's gonna' have lots of company, especially with Spider-Gwen since for some odd reason, she's really struck a nerve with fans.

I'm curious about Battleworld myself. I'm hoping it'll be much better than when DC did during IC.
I think so, but we'll see.
If anything else, I'm damn curious as to what the new post-SW MU will look like, and what changes and returns it'll bring.
Will they bring back Wolverine, but take the FF and X-Men off the board?
I was reading a comment on the message board, and it was suggested that Marvel could keep the FF, just shuffle them off to other teams, like they've been doing with Reed anyways.

COuld work.
I'm sure if the heads of Marvel really wanted to keep the characters that they don't have the movie rights too around, they'd either change the names and costumes, and/or put 'em on different teams for awhile.

As always we'll see.

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