ComicsGeek

Secret Empire or How to Assassinate a Character

There are honestly times when I wonder if Marvel Comics even likes their characters. Over the last few years we have seen them nearly destroy long-standing characters in the name of a summer crossover. Peter Parker gave way to the Superior Spider Man and for some Spider-Man has never been the same. Cyclops of the X-men turned his back on Charles Xavier’s dream(not to mention killing him) becoming the worlds worst mutant terrorist and the character never recovered.

Now it is Steve Rogers turn. Through the summer most of Marvel’s books will be immersed in the Secret Empire crossover. No longer our Captain America, Rogers is now Captain Hydra. Not surprisingly there has been quite a bit pushback against this storyline.

Basic premise is simple. The Red Skull manipulated a sentient Cosmic Cube into fundamentally changing Steve Rogers into being a secret double agent for Hydra.

It is not unusual to try to put a character in uncomfortable situations or even fundamentally place them in situations that go against their true nature. Sometimes it can work wonderfully and show the depth of these characters we have grown to love over the years. It simply does not feel like this is one of those times. The trick is sticking the landing.

One of the problems many fans have is simply Cap secretly being a member of Hydra. Regardless of the story reason it is hard for fans to choke down. Hydra is not simply a villainous organization that Captain America has battled over the years, they are the comics stand in for the Nazis from World War II. Captain America more than any other character has represented the United States fighting the evil that the Nazis have always represented. Turning that on its head is flat-out offensive to many fans.

And no matter how many times Marvel and writer Nick Spencer try to insist that Hydra no longer equals the Nazis no one is buying.

The end game is the other problem. The Secret Empire story could be great and horrible at the same time. There are interesting ideas being put out here. The idea of how devastating a villain Captain America could be is intriguing and frankly devastating. The question is what is next?

To make the story great they would have to destroy the hero of Captain America utterly making him the premiere villain in the Marvel Universe. The usual method of returning things to some semblance of normal with Cap as the great American hero…I am not sure there is a way to walk things back. He has killed, he has murdered. Not random characters but friends, heroes that look up to him. That is not something simple brushed aside.

I have friends who insist this storyline makes Cap a tragic figure(as if he was not from the get go). I do not see it. If it was brainwashing or a dozen other comic related tropes maybe. But they used the Cosmic Cube. Marvel Comics ultimate deus ex machine. So not only does Rogers think he is loyal to Hydra. He is fundamentally changed to the core. He does not think he is loyal to Hydra, He is.

Ultimately changing him back to the Cap we all know and love in such a way will feel…it will feel like Bobby Ewing stepping out of the shower in Dallas-it was just a dream. That might actually be worse than making him a villain.

At the end of the day Steve Rogers will be damaged goods.

 

Advertisements
Standard
ComicsGeek, LiteraryGeek

Death in Comics.

Death. It is so final. Except in the comics.

Everyone dies it seems.

And they all come back.

Captain America.

Spiderman.

Superman.

Two Robins.

The list goes on and on. So many characters. Heroes, villains it does not matter. No one is safe. But as they say “no one stays dead in the comics, not even Bucky.”

A death should matter. It should be important. It should not simply be done to increase sales. As some kind of a sweeps ploy. These are characters that we develop relationships with, that we love or hate. Killing them and reviving them for no good reason is a waste.

“The Death of Captain Marvel” worked. It was wonderful, fresh. A hero dying not so much from the actions of a villain but from cancer, it brought humanity to the funeral of a friend. Jim Starlin set the table for many writers to follow.

“The Death of Superman” was done well. The unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. We all knew he would be back, but the death made sense. There were repercussions. New characters were born: Steel, Cyborg Superman, even a new unique Superboy. There was a sense of loss for all the characters in the DC universe. Superman came back as we knew he would, but the story still felt new.

For a time some deaths lingered. Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s sidekick, stayed dead for almost 40 years. Jason Todd, the second Robin, did not even last twenty years before returning to the land of the living. Their returns brought something new, new characters. Winter Soldier and a heroic Red Hood are wonderful, that never would have happened without their deaths and resurrection.

Recently we have had Captain America, Spiderman, Thor, the Human Torch, another Robin: all dead, will they all come back?

The question becomes who is next?

Maybe the question should be who hasn’t died yet?

In company wide crossovers the body count can get enormous, writers simply using characters they don’t care for as cannon fodder. Killing off perfectly good characters to try to create a sense of danger. What happened to crippling someone.

Maybe there is another way. As fans and writers we become desensitized to the carnage. Maybe we need a break. A moratorium on death. Give us time to step back and actually be surprised when someone does die.

There are creative people out there. Can we not find a way to create the same drama without the body count?

Should we not at least try?

Standard
ComicsGeek

Bruce Wayne is Batman

Bruce Wayne is Batman.
Peter Parker is Spider-Man.
And Clark Kent is Superman.

It really is not that difficult to understand is it? Ask anyone on the street who is Batman or Spider-Man or Superman those are the answers you will get. Yet every so often some writer or editor will think ‘hey I have a great idea let’s put someone else in the Bat-suit. It will be great, everyone will love it.’

No. No they won’t. The majority of us simply wait for Bruce or Peter or Clark to be back. It is not about being resistant to change it is about the hero and the man being one and the same.

I have written before…Superman without Clark is simply not so ‘Super’ there is something missing. Without the man within, with all his all-too human failings, these heroes are not so heroic.

In the name of change, or more recently diversity Marvel and DC seem to want us to accept different characters in long time heroes roles. Miles Morales as Spider-Man, Sam Wilson(Falcon) as Captain America, even Jim Gordon as Batman…these are well-built characters let them have their own identities do not steal someone else’s.

Then you have the practice of flat-out changing a hero’s race or sex in the name of diversity. Yes the new Thor has been written(and drawn) incredibly well but that is the exception. Usually it is heavy-handed and poorly executed. The new mixed race Wally West is the perfect example. You took a wonderful ginger(a minority on its own) who had done more for diversity than most under the skilled writing of Mark Waid and cast him aside. And for what to say that you had a more ethnically diverse superhero cast?

Here is a novel proposal: rather than take heroes that have been around for my lifetime(forty-plus years) and change them…why not create new heroes of every race, sex and all the diverse experiences that populate this planet of ours. Create new characters just do not stand on the bones of the old. Is that too much to ask.

Bruce Wayne is Batman. We will wait. He will be back.

Standard