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And the Raping of Childhood Continues... 
27th-Oct-2006 12:23 am
...and given what sort of bizarre pedophiliac creatures I've been electronically exposed to in the last several months, that's saying something and not saying it lightly.

I want to talk about comic books right now.

I'm not going to go into the usual long-winded, over-blown hyperbole-and-metaphor-overburdened espousals on the wonderment and childhood four-color glory that is/was/ever shall be comic books. Let's face it: some of the best writing and art ever done in this field can never be shown to a single child below the age of, say, fifteen (and only younger if you're a particularly sadistic parent). From Alan Moore to Neil Gaiman, DC to Image and back again, comics are there. And thankfully, I think in some way shape or form, they always will be.


...apparently Marvel Comics have finally decided to quit copying DC for their writing/publishing strategies, and instead moved to emulate an even more insidious, nefarious, disgustingly two-faced and loathesome sack of monkey-sputum: Neo-Conservative "Christian" Republicans.

How so, you ask? By the simplest of tactics (and in this, even the Republicans are unoriginal): Orwellian history re-writing, and validation by heroes of the past.

There's a great line in the all-too-prophetic song "Hook" by Blues Traveler, and it goes like this:

"To confuse the issue I refer
To familiar heroes from long ago."

To most politicians, that's considered par for the course. Go trump up some comparison to anyone who would fit for the moment: JFK, MLK, RFK, the KKK, whatever alphabet-soup of bastardized history you care to exploit. Bring them up, prop their corpse next to you at the lectern, and rake in the applause for your undeserved and wholly vicarious merit. Or in the case of the eighty-odd corpses left to rot in the last five years under Manhattan, those valiant and 'never-forgotten, never left-behind' victims of 9/11 that seem to have conveniently escaped the notice of our President and the Mayor and Governor of New York, you bask in the odor.

Thus it has come to pass that Marvel is doing this themselves. Only in this case, they needn't go digging up Wally Wood or Mark Gruenwald's remains for the sickening puppet dance.

No, in this case, it strikes to a very heroic bone in my core indeed. Stan Lee.

Now, I want to clarify something: I was born in 1977. For the most part, by the time I even really comprehended comic books beyond anything more than quickly-digested bits of colorful escapism, never even reading the Bullpen pages much less knowing who was "in charge," Stan Lee was little more than a titular figure for Marvel. The real office duties of editing, writing, and all-around decision-making were already off to others.

So I'm not one of these ravening fan-boys who slavers at the thought of, I don't know, licking Lee's left descended testicle in exchange for the ultimate answer to the ultimate question of who would win in an olive-oil-soaked pillow-fight between Spider-Woman I, Emma Frost, and Black Widow (for the record, it's a trick question: we ALL would win).

But I *do* respect the "House of Marvel" that Lee is indisputably one of the major founding pillars of.

But in its latest marketing monstrosity, Marvel is releasing this series called "Stan Lee Meets..." with each issue being some famed character creation of Stan's who meets him in his 'everyday' real-world life (or, as Stan refers to it, they come to visit him and say hi while living this adventuresome existence that he merely 'published' for them).

The first one, "Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man," I bought. Hey, what the hell, right? I'll even listen to a couple Republican primary speeches to gauge just how fucking lunatic they really are. I thought it'd be a kid-like kick.

Fine and dandy.

But now I get "Stan Lee Meets Dr. Strange," and I'm horrified.

Why? Because in this issue, after meeting the titular second figure, there's a little second 'extra' story, involving one of Stan Lee's most famed/hated characters: Impy, aka The Impossible Man, the Last Survivor of the Planet Poppup (where the incredibly-powerful race of people got so utterly bored with having a hive-mind of incredible power, they actually invited Galactus to come and devour the life-energy of their world, leaving their only 'adventurous' scion to annoy the heavens).

And what does Impy do? Pretty much what Impy has always done: flitted around and changed shape, popping in and out of various superhero "friends"'s lives to see what they're doing and basically bug the living fuck out of their spandex-tight-tressed lives.

But instead, what does Impy discover? That nothing in the Marvel Universe as he knew it is as he knew it.

Wolverine's in the Avengers. There's a new hero named Sentry operating out of a "Watchtower" that looks like it would've given the Beast from Krull wet underwear nightmares. There's basically a whole lot of post-Civil War bullshit that's totally fucked up the Marvel Universe. Even Reed Richards and Sue are breaking up and going through 'trial separation' motions. I can't even recount to you how much bullshit has plastered its way over the face of the Marvel world. Hell, they don't even leave shitty alternative-world possibilities to be laughed at in What If? anymore--they publish them as actual continuity "alternative universes," or "multi/omni/supra/delux-o/verses", whatever-the-fuck.

Impy loses it. He can't believe this. He storms the offices at Marvel to find business-as-usual (surprisingly, Marvel is at least honest here, in depicting that basically their creativity is reduced to rehashes and shitty and ridiculous remixes of their worst 'hits'--I'm surprised not to see a grim-and-gritty Forbushman series already out, penned by Miller).

Stan Lee corrals Impy finally, and explains that all of this is good. "Change is good," he tells the Impossible Man. He even recounts that Impossible Man himself, when first introduced, garnered Lee tons of hate mail (back in those primordial centuries when you still had to write by hand, on paper).

In other words, he totally defuses Impy with a long line of horseshit to put his own "Excelsior!" stamp of validation on what has, frankly, become a fucking joke of itself.

And in this, Marvel is obviously pulling on the old man's check-strings. Getting the Old Stan-the-Man glow of approval to beam its light on a pathetic, pale shadow that is the current Marvel creative vortex.

"Change is good. Even I have to change."

Yeah, Stan. Except what you're leaving out for poor "Impy" and the newer readers who might not realize it, is that even when you changed things drastically, you never necessarily changed them out of character with the people you were moving around, or yourself in the end. Sure, your heroic ideals and characters might've been corny later on, and we all got a giggle at how utterly out-dated some of your Who Wants to be a Superhero? concepts were.

But when Spider-Man dramatically said he quit, he wasn't going to be Spider-Man anymore? That was still IN CHARACTER for Peter Parker.

When the Avengers had to usher in new members, including controversial 'villains' Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch? That FIT the team, and you wrote it to make it work WITHOUT CHEATING OR DERAILING for the sake of sales.

They didn't, for example, suddenly have Peter Parker doing a fucking PRESS CONFERENCE ADMITTING HE'S SPIDER-MAN TO THE WORLD because he's now wearing crappy gold-and-red 'armor' and WORKING FOR NEO-NAZI TONY STARK while taking part in the "Civil War" involving THE COMPLETE AND TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF ANY SORT OF INTEGRITY TO THE HERO/VILLAIN COMMUNITY IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE.

They didn't have 'splinter' realities like the Ultimates that, in the end, have become frankly far-better written, drawn, and overall handled than the ORIGINAL FRIGGIN' CONTINUITY.

When "The Man" wrote and directed Marvel Comics, drama was not the same as 'shock value' bullshit. "Character development" was not the same as "arbitrary redesigns" or "wasteful, ridiculous retro-active continuity rewrites to cover up horrible, short-sighted storyline errors like the Clone Saga."

In other words, Stan, "Change" is good. "Mediocre sucking" is NOT.

And the fact that Marvel would bring the Old Man out into print, with great artists like ALAN DAVIS illustrating no less, to do a series that has quickly just degenerated into so much pandering to a desperate propaganda attempt, is truly the raping of my childhood.

The current heads-that-be want to somehow vainly put a thin veneer of 'old time Kirby-and-Ditko-era classic dynamic and fun' on it, and are actually doing worse than just taking a good thing and going bad--they're actually trying to rewrite history, using the history-makers themselves, to suggest that somehow this is how it's ALWAYS been done.

My big question, then, for the Marvel Zombies running the show upstairs at the Bullpen: if you really want people to believe this is 'always' how it's been done, maybe you can explain why the movie merchandising is better than ever, but the actual SALES and READERSHIP numbers, even WITH increased per-copy prices and better printing/art, has gone significantly down from its ten-cent-an-issue halcyon years.

My feeling is that having Stan yell "Excelsior!" and push Impy down the stairs screaming "CLAREMONT!" the whole way down IS NOT going to change any of that hard, cold fact.

Your writing has become abysmal. Your character tie-togethers, cross-ties, and various 'developments' that are only slapped in for shock-value and then covered-up with so much white-out when you shamefully flop (AGAIN!) is just an awful testament to how GOOD this stuff was even as recently as fifteen years ago, before the "Dark Days" of multiple-cover same-issue spreads and false-collectible market speculation-driving ran Marvel to bankruptcy in 98, and most of us right out of our few escapist opportunities into the 'real world' of Dubya and shitty news, day in day out. With no reprieve. Except DC's Vertigo line.

Fuck, you can't even blame the readers. I've read some of the writers shrug and say "Well, the people didn't want to see big epic events really. They don't like it." Bullshit. DC even made some green back on that horrid "Zero Hour" continuity cleaning-house they did. Hell, even Perez and "Infinite Crisis" got me to read those again.

But I'll never touch another issue of this "Civil War" abomination you're dragging out. A Thor-clone? Reed and Sue divorcing, while Reed sides with Peter Parker and Tony Stark to lead a superhuman fascist police assault team to arrest every 'non-compliant' superhero, all the 'non-citizens' and 'unpersons' now flying around?

This is crap. This is pandering, fuck-all-with-story-let's-find-that-Millar-guy-and-blow-him-to-get-him-gracing-our-office-again crap.

Get some good stories back. And for God's sake, guys, try to remember that this was supposed to be FUN first. Dramatic soap-opera pablum last.

And for Christ's sake, have the balls to just say you suck, or keep denying. Take ANOTHER page from your Republican Obi-Wans: deny, deny, deny, and when all else fails, completely ignore and try another distraction-tactic to get people's minds off your last fuck-up.

But don't dig up Stan Lee and start having him spout off platitudes about how great your current stuff is, and how he approves of every last bit of it.

And for the record: I LIKED the Impossible Man. He was the first 'villain' who didn't want to rob banks or take over the world. He just wanted people to have fun with him. His powers were actually amazing, and unlike Green Lantern he didn't constantly turn into giant boxing gloves and goofy green-lightbulbs. He was the silly conscience as Marvel too often slipped into grim-and-gritty social 'consciousness.'

I LIKED him, and with this issue you utterly took my favorite 'guilty pleasure' little-green-man of Marvel and made him part of a mouthpiece effort that frankly leaves a Catholic-priest taste in my altar-boy mouth, and I don't like it.

So Marvel, take a hike. And leave Stan Lee alone. You might have seen him as a corny figurehead for you to muck with, and try to retcon all OUR real-world memories of enjoying comic books, but we all know that in the end...it's about the fun, and the consistency of character. It's what heroes are really suppose to be about in the end, whether it's comics or firefighters at Ground Zero or just a guy saving a cat from a burning house in Arkansas.

Don't try to re-write the very idea of a hero or their adventures for us just because YOU can't remember.
8th-Nov-2006 07:17 pm (UTC) - Mr. Bendis' Impossible Man story
At first I was really enjoying the story, thinking it Marvel poking fun at itself, as in the panel showing cobwebs on Mr. Quesada's drawing table. The last page outraged me as much as it did you. This was my reaction:

"See! See! Stan the Man loves what we're doing! So there, you whining fans who don't gush over every change and retcon we serve up! How dare you have the gall to complain that any of our wonderful stories are ill-conceived, poorly executed, or too decompressed; or that any characters are acting out of character/being idiots to further theplot/killed!!"

Upon further reflection, I noticed that Mr. Bendis didn't have the guts to include characters who should have been in the line of those waiting to complain to Mr. Lee: Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch, Magneto, Professor X, and the Vision -- characters that Mr. Bendis harmed for his "Avengers Disassembled" and "House of M".

How shamelessly self-serving can a story get?
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