Iron Man 7

It appears as though sagging sales, fan backlash, The New York Times dropping comics from its “bestseller” list, and a general consensus that Marvel has lost its way has finally pushed the “House of Ideas” to return to its roots. Bleeding Cool reported Feb. 6 that a back-to-basics approach will take place in 2018.

The website said:

“Last week’s Marvel creative summit I am told by well connected sources who have proved themselves in that past there was more of a focus on what DC Comics internally called “meat and potatoes” comics that preceded their doubling down on the popular characters and bringing back old favourite takes with DC Rebirth.

I am told, as Marvel brings back the X-Men line with a bang, to expect a return to more of a status quo for titles such as Thor, Iron Man, Hulk and more. A more familiar looking Marvel Universe by the autumn – although, just as with Captain America, as classic-look-characters return, expect new characters to keep a number of their books. …

I am told to expect that Secret Empire will be a bit of a last hurrah for this kind of [politicized] storytelling from Marvel for a while. A little how Marvel writers were told to get the use of the Marvel 616 dimensional nomenclature out of their system before it was done away with for good…”

Twitter, YouTube, and other social media websites were abuzz — in a positive way — with this news, but your friendly neighborhood blogger would like to remind everyone that actions speak louder than words — and Bleeding Cool reporting.

While it is true that Marvel has flinched in the face of a growing number of fans who are sick and tired of political preaching shoved into their books, it is also true that its writers and editors only made the right decision when all other options were essentially taken off the table.

If Marvel had to hemorrhage fans to DC Comics for months on end before its top brass decided to retreat on their social justice crusade, then it stands to reason that they will return to their old ways as soon as possible. Even Bleeding Cool’s report indicates that this is merely a tactical retreat by the New Puritans.

At this point in time Marvel has done nothing tangible — I repeat, nothing — to engender good will among the fans it has alienated for years.

There has not been any admittance that loyal customers were treated like dirt while classic characters were needlessly dumped upon for the sake of diversity.

Now is not the time to let up, but to stay increasingly engaged in terms of holding the publisher accountable for partisan or sloppy writing. Until Marvel and its creative teams consistently deliver the goods and extend an olive branch to those who were told to “eat a bag of d***s,” then they should not be patted on the back.

It is time to be cautiously optimistic, but it most certainly not the time to shake hands with writers and artists who have rarely missed an opportunity to sucker punch long-time readers.

David F Walker Twitter bag

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

21 comments

  1. I said it before, I’ll say it again:

    “I’ll believe it when I see it,”

    and even IF I see it, I’ll be questioning every step of the way how genuine it is as opposed to how much they want that DC Rebirth comic money that spawned them a SERIOUS net profit by comic book standards. It seems Marvel’s trying to do a DC Films:

    DC Films is DESPERATE to catch up to the MCU without laying the groundwork and it rings false, hollow, and just plain bad. The guys over at Marvel Studios and Marvel TV actually took their time with the material to grow it into the envy of Hollywood. DC wanted in on that action as fast as possible and it backfired and yes they too had to exhaust EVERYTHING from bad movie reviews, to unfavourable video game reviews despite sales, to low merchandising sales, to a mediocre television broadcasting season, to 5 years of the New 52 failing MISERABLY for them to FINALLY go “what did we do wrong?” and fix things. Marvel hasn’t lost everything on every front, despite the MASSIVE hits they’ve been taking in the comic wallet AND via social media, so it does stand to reason: Sleep with one eye open.

    1. “Marvel hasn’t lost everything on every front, despite the MASSIVE hits they’ve been taking in the comic wallet AND via social media, so it does stand to reason: Sleep with one eye open.”

      Exactly. I’ve seen too many people on social media who are giddy about this when, at the end of the day, we only have Bleeding Cool’s word that this will all go down…next year.

    1. “And all of this ASSUMES that the readers they slighted will willingly return? I think that might be a reach.”

      Yep. Marvel has a lot of work to do with fans it alienated. Good stories will go a long way, but some of its creators have been busy burning bridges for years.

    2. “People who were insulted like that rarely forget, even when they forgive you know.”

      Yep. I’m perfectly willing to forgive, but it’s sort of a two-way street. Marvel’s creators have to be legitimately contrite.

    3. I wonder if this Marvel rumor is true. Marvel has vocally stated that the old characters are gone for good, and the current approach is now Marvel. But then there is Marvel’s flagging comic sales.

      Before Marvel morphed, I was quite a Marvel fan. At one time I collected more than 40 Marvel books per month. But since Marvel adopted its new attitude and approach, I lost interest and voted with my funds. I now purchase only about three Marvel super-hero titles and a couple of the Star Wars titles. What’s more, I’m not particularly committed to the few titles I buy from Marvel. A change to an artist or writer that I don’t care for, and I’ll drop these titles too. From what I understand, many Marvel fans have dropped almost their entire Marvel pull lists, and that trend, which seems evidenced in Marvel’s comic sales, lends some credibility to the rumor. But as Doug points out, that’s all it is: a rumor.

      Still, even if Marvel reboots with the old characters, I will be cautious about returning. It seems far-fetched to believe that the same creators who have made the public statements and published the work that they have will fundamentally change. Marvel Comics may reluctantly restore the old characters for fiscal reasons, but as long as the editorial and creative staff stays as it is the basic approach will likely remain. Marvel needs some new editorial and creative staff with truly fresh story ideas who want to write the classic characters. Without that, yes, the old characters may return, the veneer may change, but the substance will remain.

      I find that I am enjoying what DC is now doing and have increased the number of DC titles I purchase. Many of the DC creative teams are first rate, and DC has plenty of titles from which to choose to satisfy different kinds of readers. I’m very happy buying principally DC books and some independent titles from Image, Dark Horse, IDW and others.

      As for Marvel, I guess we’ll see. But I agree with J.R. Handley’s comments. I certainly am not going to give my hard-earned disposable income to arrogant, malicious writers and artists of the type cited in Doug’s post. (And frankly some whose malice and arrogance greatly exceed their talent.)

  2. I agree, it’s one thing to say “factory settings” thinking it will put smiles on faces, but if all the more mean-spirited elements remain in place, then it won’t matter if Tony is back in the suit or if Thor is worthy again. Marvel will have a tough year ahead of them rebuilding all the bridges the heroes have burned with their supporting casts, not just their relationships with other heroes…Secret Empire will bring the heroes together, but I imagine Steve Rogers will have to spend the next twelve months being rebuilt/redeemed afterwards with everyone predictably falling out with him over actions that weren’t of his own choice due to being corrupted at the core, but since when was the last time Marvel heroes and supporting casts actually reacted in regards to a morally just sense of understanding? (sigh)

    There’s no word on what this means for Spider-Man either…technically, they have already begun restoring Peter to factory settings with Renew Your Vows, but that is a seperate timeline…unless they pull a “Superman Reborn” and merge the realtiies together (and Slott had left vauge hints both realities were the same last year during “Power Play”)

  3. I generally like comics that explore politics—that is, political *principles*, not partisan politics. Civil War worked very well precisely because it asked a political question: Hobbes or Tocqueville? Kingdom Come worked well because it similarly explored different possible meanings of freedom. Where many of Marvel’s current books fail is that they’re so obviously partisan and that Marvel has seemed to be out to wipe out the old order entirely.

    I see a few signs that they’re returning to the old order: Daredevil returning to the Church (though I fully agree with your assessment of Father Jordan); Thor *seems* to be on his way to worthiness again (the latest issue of Unworthy Thor is fantastic, by the way); Tony’s not dead and Riri is Ironheart, not Iron Man. These are all small, but they all *seem* to support what Bleeding Cool has been reporting.

    1. “Civil War worked very well precisely because it asked a political question: Hobbes or Tocqueville?”

      I would say that Civil War started out well, but quickly became a joke because they turned Iron Man into a Cheney-esque madman. Marvel wanted to ding the Bush administration with its Patriot Act allegory, and they needed to turn someone into a “bad” guy. That was Tony. But it didn’t have to be that way. That’s why the Registration Act initially started out as just registration, but soon afterward it became, “Oh, you have to actually become an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D once you register.” Huh?!

      I liked the questions that were posed, but the quality of the writing was all over the map depending on this issue. I purchased about 75 percent of the Civil War books because it got too partisan and I bowed out.

    2. I tend not to read Civil War as an allegory. Sure, you can make comparisons to gun control or to the Patriot Act (and certainly Millar meant to suggest such comparisons), but I think that the political ideas in the book work very well in spite of the intentions of its creators. I read it as a meditation on the merits and risks of subsidiarity (or federalism, if you prefer).

      I understand your objections to the book (and you’re certainly not alone), but I have a very high opinion of it.

  4. Some thoughts about the X-men/Marc Guggenheim portion of the bleeding cool article that set this off:

    I don’t really trust Mark to be apolitical. I do trust that he will toss his politics aside for a good story or make some point about a character.

    As a lot of people know, Guggenheim runs the Arrow show, and I watch the show regularly, though I’m not always a fan. This season, there was a scene where people at a crowded night-time event were threatened by this season’s baddie: Prometheus. When the panic began, various gun owners in the crowd STARTED FIRING RANDOMLY IN VARIOUS DIRECTIONS. The villain wasn’t sighted, they just fired wherever. Than team arrow showed up, seized their weapons (no intention of returning them) and sent them home. That scene was full of the stupid of a pure bubble liberal, there was even a dialogue with a dumb and confused sounding gun owner says he has a right to defend himself, and of course, our not-really-morally superior hero shutting him down…of course the guy was (scripted to be) firing at random things, so I’m inclined to look the other way… I don’t know if Guggenheim wrote that, but I doubt he lost any sleep over how stupid it was.

    Also about the Bleeding Cool article: I’m constantly annoyed by writers who feel free to comment about something they not only know nothing about, but hope no one else remembers either so they just toss it out there. The minority angst of the 90’s X-men wasn’t an every issue thing. The big bad super-evil racist William Stryker was only present in a one-shot until Bryan Signer decided to elevate him. In those days the X-men stories definitely emphasized the plot over politics, angst, racism and various other things….this was why, when incidents did happen, they had more weight, and a lot more thought put into it. Kitty’s confrontation with a group of protesters outside of the school comes to mind, when she argues for toleration with the crowd without descending into a sputtering death scream like kids do today. It may not be realistic, but it was memorable. The Genoshans were presented as a flawed and normal people with a serious social problem, it was very compelling and effective because of the humanity of most of the genoshans…as compared to the psychotic purifiers of later years.

    It’s important to remember that a lot of us ‘moderate anti-racists’… guys that don’t have fantasies about people we think are racist being mass-murdered in a camp… stopped reading X-men a long time ago. The core audience of the last 15 or so years are like the resident X-men guy you used to have commenting here. People that are invested in the political angle of racism, rather than the real thing. I don’t think this will get very far. I hope it does, and I may pick up a few issues.

    1. “This sounds too good to be true. Plus Slott will probably still be on Spider-Man, so it isn’t all good news.”

      If it sounds too good to be true, then that is probably the case. 🙂

  5. “There’s no word on what this means for Spider-Man either…technically, they have already begun restoring Peter to factory settings with Renew Your Vows, but that is a seperate timeline…unless they pull a “Superman Reborn” and merge the realtiies together (and Slott had left vauge hints both realities were the same last year during “Power Play”)”

    That’s actually my biggest question; what will happen to the RYV series? If that has to get axed for this new direction to go forward, I’m going to be through with Marvel comics.

    (I’m not sure what Slott was hinting at, but RYV is not the same reality 616; it’s been given its own world number, so was a parallel universe from the get go.)

    I think that Marvel’s “Rebirth” was actually some time in the planning. I recall seeing a YouTuber making a video claiming that Marvel was trying to replace X-Men with Inhumans, and at the end of it, he made some comment about the “Resure-X-ion” story was coming out, and speculated what that might be (he wondered if something was going to happen to retcon mutants into Inhumans, or something).

    It’s also a safe guess that not everything will be exactly back to formula. The X-Men relaunch had an ad in the last RYV issue, and it doesn’t show Professor X, so it looks like he’s still dead. 616 Wolverine wasn’t there, but Old Man Logan and X-23 were, so it looks like he’s still dead too, with his successors still in place.

  6. The X-Men relaunch is’nt meant to be reviving any character, just the world-building tone with less emphasis on themes of exstinction and whatnot, and more about the group functioning as human beings and emphasising their relationships etc. Marvel’s Rebirth is likely a more leaner approach

    I know RYV has it’s own universe number, but Slott hinted through the deja vu thing in Power Play Peter and MJ had experianced the fight with Regent before, so there’s that. Also there’s the fact Slott is tying up virtually all of his loose ends, the vauge OMD hints in Spider-Man/Deadpool and the fact the marriage is being reprinted this summer.

    It might not go the way I hope, but something is going on, and yes, I would worry about Renew Your Vows being a victim of a potential OMD reversal because Lois and Clark series was cancelled after the decision was made to make the married Superman the main character again during DC’s Rebirth

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