Comic Fodder

How to Abandon All Your Favorite Characters

A while back, I commented about DC’s curious actions to basically sideline some of their biggest characters, precisely at a time when people were becoming more interested in them because of the movies. Well, at least we still have the Marvel characters.

Wait a second, I blinked.

The Marvel characters are disappearing now, too. The meta-event Dark Reign is cutting across almost every Marvel title, and the villains are taking over. The Hulk was one of the first casualties. After an attempted reboot in the movies, they shoved him aside to showcase a Red Hulk for several months, and he is only now getting back into the action. Ms. Marvel was next. Ms. Marvel was a character that had fallen aside for several years, but Kurt Busiek and George Perez revitalized her for their already-classic re-launch of the Avengers title. This success helped to give her a chance at a regular monthly series.

Marvel has now killed Carol Danvers, the main character in the title, and replaced her with a villain, Moonstone, in disguise. Lest you think these are isolated examples, let me also remind you that they killed Steve Rogers a little while back, and put Bucky in the Cap suit (there’s still a couple years to go before the Cap movie comes out). The Dark Reign Hawkeye mini-series stars Bullseye, not Hawkeye. The latest strategy by the comic masterminds has been to take Logan, who just starred in his own Wolverine movie, and replace him in his own title!?! Logan’s son, Daken, will now be front and center in the Wolverine comic.

Now, I know sometimes companies like to imitate each other, and sometimes just repeat themselves (for the current Dark Reign saga, see a slightly similar thread in Acts of Vengeance). Did Marvel get jealous at seeing Batman and Superman go AWOL? “Hey, we can get rid of our most popular characters too!” Will there be a shouting match started when people point out that Steve Rogers disappeared first?

Villains are just taking over left and right. At DC, the Secret Six is composed entirely of villains, and they just had a ‘Faces of Evil’ event to highlight more bad guys. Solomon Grundy got his own mini-series, Flash’s Rogues got a spotlight series during Final Crisis, the Human Flame is the subject of one of the Aftermath titles, and the Terror Titans got six whole issues. Combine this with the absence of Superman and Batman, and you have an unholy state of affairs (for a short while, Final Crisis was even trying to claim “Evil Wins!” but I don’t count that).

Meanwhile, the villains are running roughshod all over the place at Marvel as well. Not only is Dark Reign going strong and subverting every title, until not even one of the Thunderbolts roster has any redeeming quality, but the War of Kings meta-event makes it hard to tell who the good guys even are! Granted, Vulcan has a screw loose, but the Inhumans are eerily mysterious about their long-term intentions, and their takeover of the Kree was anything but passive.

It has made for some fun stories, and interesting parallels for both companies to have this amount of villainous domination at the same time. I question the soundness of taking characters like Batman and Wolverine off the board precisely when the movies are doing so well. Traditional marketing would have suggested some comics that were movie tie-ins, but we’re not getting that lately. It’s almost as if someone told the marketing departments to just leave the funny books alone, and let them tell their stories. Perhaps that’s true, and the comics are being left to their own devices, to create the next big movie project, while marketing devours every other format instead. As long as the stories are good, I’ll take it. While the jury is still out on the direction of some of these things (I’m looking at Batman in this case), I’m eager to see where they go from here. Uh oh, here comes Blackest Night…

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Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

I think the saddest thing about this situation is how formulaic it has all become.

I mean, c'mon, are they really going to bring the original Captain America back soon? (...yes, and how many times has this been done before?)

Also, the 'event' books are just killing storylines. The tie-ins are bizarre, and not particularly interesting.... How many 'Final Crisis' books can DC publish? (Wasn't the core title bad enough to get them away from the whole concept?)

-- Posted by: TonyJazz at May 22, 2009 1:33 PM