If you’ve been reading my reviews at all, you probably realize by now that I’m a fangirl. Capes? Tights? Superpowers? I love it all. I grew up reading Casper, Richie Rich, Archie… and Batman. I watched Superfriends and the Marvel cartoons on TV (The Ramones covered the ’60s Spider-Man theme – you know that’s a classic), and waited on a line that stretched around a New York City block to see Christopher Reeve become Superman.
As a young adult, I graduated to books like X-Men, Justice League, and Gen13. I went to conventions and wandered the city, looking for new comic book stores. My living room featured his ‘n hers short boxes (easier to navigate in a small apartment).
And then, I took a break. Call it life. Call it raising a family and not having a chance to bag and board while chasing toddlers around. Call it whatever you want, but I was away for about 13 years. Coming back, I kind of feel like Captain America must have felt after they pulled him out of that ice.
So, wait – Professor X is dead? And Jean Grey is, too? Again? And Cyclops is dating Emma Frost? Has the world gone mad? What do you mean, Kitty Pryde is heading up the Jean Grey School – when did they take Xavier’s name off of it? WHAT DID YOU SAY HAPPENED TO APOCALYPSE AND ARCHANGEL? Deep breaths. Okay.
I started reading All New X-Men, and caught up on the big storylines through trade collections. My head is still spinning, and I’m not really in love with the sweeping changes that rocked my Marvel Universe, but I decided to hang on. Things change, right? Of course they do – except for the crossover. Ah, the multi-title crossover. Take your pick: Civil War. Siege. Fear Itself. Avengers vs. X-Men.
The stories hit the shelves, fast and furious, and they always give birth to new titles – but where are the lasting changes? What happened to mutant registration? Wasn’t Captain America killed at one point? Hell, wasn’t Bucky dead, too? And really, at what point are we going to find out that Professor X actually transferred his consciousness to the astral plane before Cyclops killed him, and he’s just waiting to come back and reclaim his X-Men?
My temper tantrum started with Age of Ultron. You may remember my recent snit after Angela’s much-hyped, yet lackluster arrival in issue 10 of Marvel’s latest post-apocalypse (not Apocalypse) tale. I thought it was a self-contained, temporary thing that would be over and done once the last book hit, but then I read this article over at Comic Book Resources.
Really, Marvel? “Fallout” equals MORE crossovers and more titles?
Look – I was with you during Onslaught/Age of Apocalypse. I LOVED that storyline. I dutifully bought every issue. Hell, I even bought the action figures. But it was a finite thing. Once it was over, everything went back to normal, and while there was some fallout (Gambit on trial as the X-traitor, for starters), it was within expected comic book expectations. I was mollified. But this. THIS. It’s too much. It’s all multiple-issue crossovers, and multiverses, all the time, and it’s so confusing at this point that it sucks my enjoyment from the Marvel universe. I realized, while commiserating with Whatcha Reading’s own Chuck Suffel that what Marvel needs a good Crisis on Infinite Earths to whittle this insanity down.
I recognize that comics are a business, and that right now, they’re hot again. Marvel has finally figured out how to make comic book movies – and how to make them well – introducing legions of new fans to Iron Man, Thor, Avengers and X-Men. This is a good thing; it propagates our species. But asking us to read every major Marvel title in order to follow a single storyline is just unfair. Does Marvel really need my money that badly? Why must it be all or nothing, Marvel?
Because that’s what it’s becoming. That same night, I read this article on IGN, which REALLY got to me. Marvel is canceling one of my favorite titles – Journey Into Mystery. The title that introduced us to Thor, 51 years ago. FIFTY-ONE YEARS. Kieron Gillen gave us a glorious story about Kid Loki in those pages, and the title was running high. Now, Kathryn Immonen, telling the story of Lady Sif – one of my favorite heroines – is ending the book after the current storyline with Beta Ray Bill is over.
Journey Into Mystery is not a book that ties into any of the other books, but it does take place within the Marvel continuity. I can buy this book and enjoy Lady Sif, kicking ass, without worrying that I haven’t bought 18 other X-titles that month, let alone Avengers, Iron Man, Uncanny Avengers, Avengers Arena, Secret Avengers, Dark Avengers – do you see where I’m going? So of course Marvel is going to cut it. And that’s where I throw my hands up, folks. At a time when I find more and more Marvel titles falling off of my pull list, Journey Into Mystery was a book I looked forward to every month. Add to that the revelation that Marvel is canceling Gambit, another book I enjoyed AND another book that didn’t require me to buy every X-title to stay with the story, and I see Marvel painting an ugly picture.
I find myself turning, more and more, to Dynamite, Dark Horse, and Image. Sure, they want my money – they’re businesses, and I respect that. But they give me quality, and they don’t try to soak me every month. I’m not a regular BPRD reader, and that’s okay! I can read Hellboy and Abe Sapien all I want, and they’ll shake my hand, thank me, and give me a great story. I love Red Sonja and Vampirella – they had one crossover event, and I was able to figure out what went on just by reading the collected trades. I feel respected as a reader and a consumer.
So, what do I do? Do I soldier on and try to stay up to snuff with what’s happening in the couple of Marvel titles I still read? Will I be left behind if I do? This shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but I hate feeling of being taken advantage of, and that’s what keeps coming up for me with Marvel books.
Or maybe I just need another cup of coffee.