Thursday, January 28, 2010

Editorial Diatribe from the Catacombs: "The Heroic Age!"

Marvel Comics will soon be toning down grim and gritty storytelling elements and making their heroes "good guys" again in an upcoming revitalization billed as "The Heroic Age". Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada says this isn't being initiated as the result of Disney's purchase of the company, but has been in the works for over two years now.

Why is a reversion to actual "heroics" necessary in the first place? I really don't think that the guy who is most responsible for dragging the Marvel Universe down into the gutter is the best choice to take charge on an endeavor such as this and that goes double for Brian Michael Bendis, who is pegged as lead writer, after his "dark" this & that, whatever titles get cancelled or rebooted; allowing this purge to get underway.

To me this seems like an admission that their characters haven't been heroes for the past several years. They have regularly depicted top echelon heroes killing both friend and foe, including the Civil War travesty which led to Dark Reign, and they've also routinely, ramped up adult sexual elements in what was originally an entire fictional, all-ages universe.

In an odd way this reversal also makes poor business sense. Joe Quesada has hinted for some time now that Marvel would take their heroes to a really dark place before finally pulling them back again. What kind of half ass strategy is that? First chase away readers who don't like a darker, more mature Marvel Universe, and then risk turning off all of the newer readers who DID like it AND actually stuck around for the new status quo by shifting back, yet again.

Quesada has presided over a decade in which Marvel basically abandoned their established concepts, characters, and creative talent; then handed the reins over to a small handful of creators who disdained the old order. I like the work of a few current Marvel staffers and support their efforts, but I would prefer to see both Quesada and Bendis move onto other projects or companies, hell even Hollywood - since they both seemingly respond to that kind of stuff much more than comics.

My own feelings on what is more representative of Marvels true "heroic age" is summed up in the John Buscema illustration that accompanies this rant, but any number of Marvel artists work between the companys 1961 debut and on into the late 1980's (or perhaps even the very early 1990's period) would suffice.


cash_gorman said...

I think what people are overlooking in reading the news-story is it doesn't actually promise a shift or change in the tone of the stories, that they will be less adult, that there will be less deaths, etc. It only promises a return of the heroes, ie no more Dark Avengers.

I don't think JQ or Bendis actually recognize that their heroes aren't heroic. It sees nothing wrong with Brubaker's complete retconning Bucky's most iconic moments and making him a trained assassin to do the dirty jobs that Captain America couldn't and that Cap was complicit in that. That the Agents of Atlas head made a deal with a terrorist organization that killed American agents and currently feeds bad guys to the bad-guy dragon they've allied themselves with.

All they are really promising is that there won't be a book with bad-guys as the Avengers, a chance to launch the Avengers with yet another #1 issue.

Chuck Wells said...


Just more spinning of the gimmick wheel by the demonstrated & well-versed gerbils who run Marvel.

What saddens me is that so many readers will continue to buy this stuff, and/or defend the trolls who produce it. These are the same kinds of "fans" who call the rest of us "haters".