People have been talking about the “Death of the Marvel Universe” for months. Mostly because Marvel has been hyping the death of their universe for months. Said ‘death’ occurred in Marvel’s latest big event book, Secret Wars #1.
I’m jaded. I feel like Marvel (and DC too) is the ‘Boy who cried wolf’ when it comes to death.
Captain America died. He was shot right in front of us and they verified that he was dead! He came back. I’m still not sure exactly how and I read the books it happened in. Yes, it was just that convoluted.
The Human Torch was ‘killed’. He ‘died’ off camera and I was even one of the people interviewed by USAToday to comment on his death. When he came back (it turned out he really wasn’t ever dead) in the exact issue with the exact sequence of events I thought they would use I realized I had been reading too many super-hero comics. It’s not that it was a bad story, but it was predictable if you had read enough other super-hero comics.
Spider-Man died. Well, not really. Doc Ock over-wrote his own brain into Peter Parker’s body and took over. That didn’t hold either. Peter Parker came back pretty much the way I expected.
Wolverine died and he hasn’t come back yet, but he will, I have no doubt.
These are only the most recent deaths. There have been more in the past and there will be, I am sure, many more in the future. Marvel editorial is on record as saying the deaths are a mechanism to tell interesting stories and it doesn’t matter if they don’t stick. I agree with this, to a certain degree. I like a good story. At the same time, I find it impossible to get myself emotionally or intellectually invested in these stories any more. The revolving door of death and disaster has been used as a device so frequently that it has lost almost all meaning for me in the context of the super-hero universes. I can enjoy some of the stories, but when any story tries to milk an emotional response out of me over an alleged death I can only roll my eyes and think “Oh please…..fool me once…”
It used to be that you could say “if you don’t see a body then they’re not dead”. Once fans tumbled to this the companies just disregarded that altogether. Now they show the body and bring the characters back anyway.
So… THE DEATH OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!!!
I don’t think so.
The Marvel Universe will be back and it will be just fine. They have done a number of soft reboots on the Marvel Universe over the years, this one has a lot more hoopla around it, but I suspect that after the dust settles around the Secret Wars event we’ll have the majority of the characters we know and love right back where they were with a new coat of paint on a few of them and over time we’ll be back to the status quo for the majority of Marvel’s line.
If anything, I suspect this reboot of the universe will serve to make it more similar to the movie/TV universe that has already been creeping into the print books over the past couple of years. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s evolution. ‘Evolve or Die’ as they say.
This is all part and parcel with the super-hero experience. Don’t get overwrought about any change you don’t like because another change will be following along soon enough. Am I jaded? Absolutely. I freely admit it.
The main thing is how much any reader enjoys the stories. I got much more accepting of this when I got the Pokemon-like “gotta get ’em all” monkey off my back several years ago. I have pretty much every Marvel Comic from 1961 through 2011’s Fear Itself event (50 years of Marvel Comics is a pretty solid run…). That was when I pulled back and started to get only what I REALLY liked. I gave up on trying to get, read, and keep everything straight. Some people are rightly amazed that I was able to keep it up for as long as I did, but I know several people who continue to buy and read the majority of the Marvel and/or DC books every month because they don’t want to miss any aspect of the universe.
My current mantra for super-hero comics, that now only make up about 25% of my comics reading diet, has made me much happier as a comics consumer:
Get the comics you enjoy, skip what you don’t.
No death is EVER permanent in super-hero comics.
Not even the death of a Universe.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be some darn good stories told as part of the Secret Wars event…
Bob Bretall: firstname.lastname@example.org
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