Board Logo
« The Death of the Marvel Universe »

Welcome Guest. Please Login or Register.
Nov 20th, 2017, 12:19pm



« Previous Topic | Next Topic »
Pages: 1  Notify Send Topic Print
 thread  Author  Topic: The Death of the Marvel Universe  (Read 1930 times)
Will

ImageImageImageImageImage


member is offline

Avatar




PM

Gender: Male
Posts: 706
xx The Death of the Marvel Universe
« Thread started on: Feb 13th, 2012, 1:30pm »

Coincidentally I was looking for long-term Big Two Sales Figures and ran across a rather interesting site; a site dealing with how the industry has imploded and just where the cracks started.

I think this article gets to the heart of not only what's happening with the DC 52 garbage, but what's been ailing the market on a far-longer timeline.

A few excerpts:

1974: "that famous meeting." From change to "the illusion of change."

Alan Moore (in 1983, writing in Daredevils issue 4) recalled what happened:

"You see, somewhere along the line, one of the newer breed of Marvel editors... maybe it was Marv Wolfman, maybe it was someone else, had come up with one of those incredibly snappy sounding and utterly stupid little pieces of folk-wisdom that some editors seem to like pulling out of the hat from time to time.
This particular little gem went something as follows; “Readers don’t want change. Readers only want the illusion of change.” Like I said, it sounds perceptive and well-reasoned on first listening. It is also, in my opinion, one of the most specious and retarded theories that it has ever been my misfortune to come across."


Gene Phillips, of the Archetypal Archive blog, recalls a discussion in The Comics Journal 63 (1981):

"[Steve] Englehart, who first came to work for Marvel in 1971, described a change in Marvel's editorial priorities "around '74," which led, in 1976, to at least three talents leaving Marvel at that time: himself, Jim Starlin, and Paul Gulacy. When Kim Thompson inquires as to what editorial restrictions were being promulgated, Englehart said:

"Well, just "don't be so bizarre. try not to progress so fast." There's that famous meeting that happened before the quitting time when Stan said, "I don't want progress; I want the illusion of progress now. We don't want people dying and coming out of the strips [a reference to the death of Gwen Stacy], we don't want new girlfriends, we want to try to keep it the same."


[...]

1987: the loss of Jim Shooter

The final nail in the coffin was the loss of Jim Shooter. Shooter presided over the most successful period of Marvel's history since Stan Lee. Why? There may be many reasons, but for our present purposes let's just focus on one: Shooter cared about continuity. Look at his New Universe or his other comic companies (Valiant, Broadway, etc.): continuity matters. But Shooter was forced out. The bad feeling toward him is legendary. When he left, John Byrne famously sang "Ding Dong The Witch is Dead!" In the New Universe comics (already crippled by near zero funding) they blew up his home town, Pittsburgh. They closed down most of the new titles he started: New Mutants, Marvel Fanfare, Power Pack, Avengers Spotlight, Cloak and Dagger, etc. X-Factor survived but was turned into a completely different book. Everything associated with Shooter, the man who loved continuity, became anathema. In the years that followed Marvel raced in every direction at once, without any steadying hand on the tiller, and destroyed itself in the process.

[...]

1988+: writing quality declines

When Shooter was kicked out, Marvel also lost some of its best writers, and not just Steve Englehart. As Shooter recalls:

Shooter: "After I left, they almost systematically got rid of the writers. Roger Stern, Michelinie, Chris Claremont for Christ's sake."

MDT: "They all went over to DC."

Shooter : "DeMatteis, Louise Simonson. It's like they got rid of the writers one at a time, so the artists were writing the book. P.S. That didn't get any press. Nobody cares when the writers get squashed." The devaluing of writing reached a peak with the Image effect: many of the the most profitable artists left Marvel to form Image comics. The focus at Image was on art (as the name suggests), and writing was almost an afterthought. To some extent Marvel followed the trend. The 1990s had the worst comic writing in living memory. Even the good writers turned in poor work. As one fan recalls, "Guys like Claremont, Byrne, Miller, Simonson, Micheline, Stern, Mantlo, deMatteis, all were at the top of their game under Jim Shooter's watch. Is it a coincidence that many of these creators devolved into indulgent parodies of themselves when they had more 'creative freedom' after Shooter left?"


From 1989: death is no longer meaningful

From the beginning, Marvel comics were famous for meaningful deaths. Sure, villains often died and came back, but heroes stayed dead. Earl Wells identifies the heroic death as one way that you can distinguish Stan Lee's work from someone else's ("Once And For All, Who Was The Author of Marvel," The Comics Journal 181). In the early days, Franklin Storm, the Gargoyle, Wonder Man, Al Harper, etc. all died in heroic sacrifices. The comic sometimes voted the greatest ever - Fantastic Four 51, This Man, This Monster - ends in heroic sacrifice. Every comic reader from the 1970s can remember Gwen Stacy's death. Death were permanent (though occasionally a clone or impostor would pretend to be the dead person). Death had a huge impact, because it really mattered, and the possibility of death made all other dangers meaningful.

But Marvel Time means permanent change is anathema. Readers who grew up on Marvel Time expect nothing to seriously change, and something changes they want it back the way it was! In 1983 Elektra came back from the dead. The cracks were beginning. In 1986 Phoenix came back (perhaps that name made it inevitable). Then after Shooter left the dam burst.

"Up till that point [the return of Phoenix], there were a decent number of characters whose deaths were so seminal that they were considered dead permanently. But once such a major one as Jean Grey's was overturned (with the blessing of the EIC at that), then the floodgates started to open, and other people tested the waters. And we got some good stories of some important dead characters, but we also got a lot of mediocre ones, and an overall feeling that death is transitory. That wasn't always the case in Marvel comics."

- Tom Brevoort

[...]

1991: the original Marvel Universe dies

[...]

"The end began in 1991, as, Stepford-like, the Original Marvel Universe was replaced by an overlapping second Marvel Universe – although nobody realized it at the time. In this world, the characters began to act bizarrely. The formerly demure Invisible Woman became a slutty exhibitionist. Wolverine devolved into a noseless caricature with gnarly bone claws. Spider-Man endured the much-maligned “Spider Clone Saga.” Iron Man suddenly became 19 years old again. The heroes of the preceding thirty years soon became all but unrecognizable. "It was in 1991 that the editors at Marvel Comics decided that the characters had evolved too far from their beginnings and that not only was there to be no more character development, but much of the previous character development was to be undone. Therefore, Wolverine, for example, who had just spent 15 years overcoming his savage animal instincts to become a man with a deep sense of honor, was summarily returned to square one – even being put back in his original yellow and blue costume (which he’d abandoned in 1980) – to symbolize the undoing of all character development! Now that’s just cheeky. Spider-Man’s marriage to Mary Jane Watson was busted up, because kids apparently couldn’t relate to a Spidey who had a wife and was a grown-up. Eventually they even made him 16 years old again.

"Torturous story lines were introduced to explain away inconvenient events, such as one in The Fantastic Four where Alicia Masters Storm – the Thing’s former girlfriend, now wife of the Human Torch – was revealed to be a shape-changing alien. The real Alicia knew nothing of this marriage, and hey, presto! – she and the Thing could continue the same tragic love affair that had long ago exhausted its story potential." The chaos continues: Peter's parents are synthoid things; Fake Aunt May; Teen Doctor Strange; Maximum Carnage; Tentacle Callisto; New origins for Hulk and Spider-Man that are quickly ignored; Simonson's Doom, Slott's She-Hulk, Jones' Hulk and Davis' Clan Destine saying stories they don't like never happened; Nightcrawler Is a real Demon; Gwen Stacy Slept With Norman Osborn and had twins, which Osborn trained to become assassins to hunt down Spider-Man; Wolverine is Sabertooth's son, then not a mutant but a Lupine, then able to regenerate from a single cell; the Summers family tree, so infamous that it's an official "TV Tropes" trope name: e.g. Cable has two moms: Jean and Madelynne. They are both biological to him, and Nathan Summers is older than his own dad. Then what of Spider-man, avatar of The Spider God, with wrist stingers, a poisonous bite, the ability to talk to arthropods, and night vision; One More Day; the list goes on and on. Marvel gave up all serious attempts at continuity. "


Official policy: ignore any problems

Rather than fix problems, official policy is to now ignore them, as these examples illustrate:

"Outside of the internet, if you were just reading AMAZING SPIDER-MAN for the past two years, you'd have no idea that he was ever married, or that Mephisto was involved. It's you lot online that keep bringing it up, not us."

- Tom Brevoort

"This [Peter's baby] is a storyline that hasn't been mentioned in print for about 15 years now, and I don't expect that to change in the slightest moving ahead."

- Tom Brevoort again

Q: "What is or what WILL be the status of the Gwen Stacy clone that's still alive?

A: "Her status will likely be the same as her status has been for years now: out there somewhere, not bothering anybody or being referred to."


- Tom Brevoort again

Rest at link:

http://enterthestory.com/comics/realtime_marvel_universe.html
« Last Edit: Feb 13th, 2012, 1:34pm by Will » User IP Logged

TheMidnighter

ImageImageImageImageImage


member is offline

Avatar




Homepage PM

Gender: Male
Posts: 1227
xx Re: The Death of the Marvel Universe
« Reply #1 on: Feb 14th, 2012, 02:18am »

Awesome.

I wasn't around in the 70s to know all those editors and writers left/were forced out but I can definitely relate to what they say about the 80s and beyond. Especially the 90s have an infamous aura for being shallow, being incredibly successful for a short time and almost running the industry in the ground.

As I read the excerpts you posted, I really found myself slightly surprised by the fact that I know most of these exaggerated stories but never stopped and think about how many and how absurd they actually were.

I am a long time X-Men fan. It's the comic series I will give up last. But, damn, they're making it hard to stay loyal. It started way earlier but the thing I hate the most from the recent years is how every writer thought it was cool to kick down Professor Xavier. Xavier used to be the moral compass of the X-Men, the man with the vision, the father figure of the X-Men and all mutants that needed.

But now, it seems as if every time some 'new revelation' from Xavier's past shows that he killed more young mutants with reckless and stupid decisions or kept secrets from the X-Men that end up biting them in the butt. The best example of recent years is X-Men: Deadly Genesis where Ed Brubaker managed to not only devalue Xavier completely but also found a way to shit on Giant Size X-Men t (1975) and kill off Banshee (whose daughter in X-Factor actually laughed when he was dead and said something along the lines of "Ha! He'll be back. How many times was Colossus dead? How many times did Jean Grey return? No, my dad'll be fine in three months").

Reading it like this really saddens me. Marvel seems to go back to the "Team A vs. Team B!!!" days with the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men crossover, a 12-issue (excluding preludes and tie-ins, of course) work of art that will use an incredibly stupid reason for them to be at odds and that gives no explanation whatsoever why these two teams -- who have been comrades for a very long time -- cannot just sit around the table and talk about their difference in opinion. Even if there is a scene like that, it will most likely be interrupted by a stereotypical 'hot head' such as Wolverine. Great plot device, guys. You read it here first. Use it royalty-free.

The last truly great X-Men story I read was New X-Men by Grant Morrison (2001) and I thought the Messiah Complex (2007) story was pretty darn good as well, since it really felt as if things happened, people perished and things were at stake.
User IP Logged

"One among you will shortly perish."

My free music
snipe
Administrator
ImageImageImageImageImage


member is offline

Avatar

Master Dick


Homepage PM

Gender: Male
Posts: 1956
xx Re: The Death of the Marvel Universe
« Reply #2 on: Feb 15th, 2012, 05:28am »

Thanks for showing us this. Fantastic read.
User IP Logged

TheMidnighter

ImageImageImageImageImage


member is offline

Avatar




Homepage PM

Gender: Male
Posts: 1227
xx Re: The Death of the Marvel Universe
« Reply #3 on: Feb 22nd, 2012, 1:01pm »

Reading this and other pages on the guy's website, I've dropped all my monthlies. I just can't bring myself any more to support DC and Marvel's policies of doing everything in their power just to not have to think up any original stories. It seems as every month, every book features a monumental event that you cannot miss, while in reality, it will be overruled, overshadowed or turned around in three months or less. I just want to read the character development, the small stories, big and small personalities, the occasional f'ing awesome climactic climax that actually got built-up towards and all that in one series that doesn't need 'events,' crossovers, reboots or a falling out between friends just to create more the same books with new #1 featuring characters so immature they can't even talk about a difference of opinion.

I'll keep my eye out for the off-beat Vertigo, Oni Press or Top Shelf gem or collections featuring old stories that I love but that's it.
User IP Logged

"One among you will shortly perish."

My free music
Will

ImageImageImageImageImage


member is offline

Avatar




PM

Gender: Male
Posts: 706
xx Re: The Death of the Marvel Universe
« Reply #4 on: Feb 23rd, 2012, 09:45am »

Vertigo has always been standardized, as a brand, by its creators instead of vice-versa. Through this, there's actually meaning to a title's insular continuity, at least in my experience, and a further sense of the stories going somewhere.

When the stories are genuinely interrelated this allows for, -- perhaps not a deeper reading -- but a more coherent, direct idea of intent rather than one of osmosis and subconscious instead of subtext as we to often get with Marvel.

So I can cross-reference Transmetropolitan 4 with issue 59, whether that's as mise en scene or just a line of dialogue, and find embedded ideas that inform and build upon or into each other.

I think the Vertigo imprint could work wonderfully with Batman; LOTDK was, at its best, a very limited cousin to the concept or what it could be with an established icon.

Superman is an interesting example, as well, but at the same time the character's cliches are almost like a form of pop-art-that-is-ridicule or the obverse; Superman may have become an Andy Warhol painting. Not as mythic or Rorschach-like as Batman, but instead an icon that is powerful corporate kitsch and nostalgia: everything that was wrong with Bryan Singer's movie? No. But half; the other problems coming with updates that feel like betrayal and subversion.

Stream of consciousness. But Superman is, possibly, the most confusing character so far as cultural growth and limitations. At the same time, I think there have been periods where he worked in a positive, Marvel-like (and of course, that's not a standard that still applies as synonym or demonym) manner as far as monthly continuity; The Byrne reboot was very, very good on a number of levels.

Then, suddenly, Loeb remakes Krypton into a 50s cliche, and out of nowhere Mark Waid incoherently reboots the character into an internationalist liberal reporter (with some Smallville tropes, for whatever reason). I think I lost track after that.

On the Marvel side, they hate continuity so much that even keeping the Ultimate line relevant has become difficult or non-existent -- though I think that has as much to do with corporate demands as pure incompetence.

For instance, I'm pretty sure Ultimate Spider-Man now stars Miles Morales because both marketing and editorial want to force fans back to the main title, now that they've rebooted it.

A backlog of continuity no longer exists, since they've wiped half of it out while pretending that this doesn't matter. At the same time, TPBs of JMS' run are still being pushed, even though none of it really happened "now".

The site, on that same note, got me thinking about that issue as well; that is the lack of interest in back issues as continuity. And from that, the lack of any type of classic storylines that are relevant from the last twenty-plus years.

The contradiction is striking: on one hand the market is now such that monthly titles only exist to sell TPBs, yet those same TPBs are quickly outmoded by short-term think as regards monthly comic book sales and "events".

Does this make any sense?

One More Day is a story that is so bad, illogical and damaging that it's not only a slap to prior continuity but a story, even as it's continuing to unfold, that most be ignored as continuity.

Somehow they topped the Clone Saga.

So, that leaves me with nothing to bother with as far as Marvel's flagship. There was Ultimate but they had to destroy that as well, missing the point that one of its strengths was a continuity defined mostly through a single title and writer. Or forgetting it on cue.

The semi-recent move to the mainline Spider-Man purely starring in Amazing is only to cover for the title's piss-poor sales, which is why they went to a schedule of three times a month, pretending that the aggregate-yield was the same as selling one issue per at 120, 000 units.

None of this is done to help storytelling. How many years were all the big characters appearing in 4 titles, as base, per month?

How can continuity make any sense with that much material from that many writers?

Rhetorical.

What's striking about this subject is how badly the art has been mangled, and how sales have continued to suffer.

The blind leading the blind.
« Last Edit: Feb 23rd, 2012, 09:48am by Will » User IP Logged

TheMidnighter

ImageImageImageImageImage


member is offline

Avatar




Homepage PM

Gender: Male
Posts: 1227
xx Re: The Death of the Marvel Universe
« Reply #5 on: Apr 13th, 2012, 5:03pm »

While watching this YouTube movie I could not stop thinking about this thread.

I started re-reading my three New X-Men hardcovers (by Grant Morrison) and stumbled across this read. Again, quite appropriate.
« Last Edit: Apr 13th, 2012, 5:39pm by TheMidnighter » User IP Logged

"One among you will shortly perish."

My free music
TheMidnighter

ImageImageImageImageImage


member is offline

Avatar




Homepage PM

Gender: Male
Posts: 1227
xx Re: The Death of the Marvel Universe
« Reply #6 on: Apr 22nd, 2012, 07:59am »

What book are you talking about, robin paul?
User IP Logged

"One among you will shortly perish."

My free music
Pages: 1  Notify Send Topic Print
« Previous Topic | Next Topic »

Donate $6.99 for 50,000 Ad-Free Pageviews!

| Conforums Support |

This forum powered for FREE by Conforums ©
Sign up for your own Free Message Board today!
Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Conforums Support | Parental Controls