We Need To Talk About Marvel by Jordan Ferguson
It's the discussion that runs through every fan of capes and tights since time immemorial: Marvel or DC. It's the Edward and Jacob of comics fandom, and when you pick a side, the loyalty runs as deep as any devotion to a sports franchise.
And while my own allegiance is squarely with DC (owning Batman > everything), Marvel has always played a crucial part in my love of comics. Marvel's what brought me in as a kid who loved Todd McFarlane's work on Spider-Man. Marvel brought me back when they first hired Joe Quesada as Editor-in-Chief and took a writer-centric approach to creative teams. You remember the glory days of the Joe Quesada/Bill Jemas show: J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr. on Spider-Man; Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely on New X-Men; Peter Milligan and Mike Allred on X-Force/X-Statix; Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev on Daredevil; Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos on Alias; Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Oeming on Powers...
Well, they've always had their Bendis love.
I was giving Marvel so much of my money in the first half of the last decade I might as well have just had my paychecks donated to them before I even saw them.
Even as DC started eating more and more of my comics budget, there was no question Marvel was the cooler company. When I got out of regular buying, they were mid-Civil War and entering what the most unified period in the history of the Marvel Universe.
And what do we have now? We have DC wiping the slate and re-launching their entire publishing line, and we have Marvel giving us... Avengers vs. X-Men.
What? Really? This is the best the House of Ideas can give us? Look, I'm not going to rail against tentpole crossovers or complain about "event fatigue." That song's been going for over five years and nobody's listening, because they always sell out anyway. But if you're going to whip out semiannual events, you should try something new. Avengers vs. X-Men? This isn't anyone's major event; this is a two-page fanfic in Wizard magazine. This is a conversation any of us could be having over pitchers and nachos, not a 12-issue miniseries. Twelve issues, people. This is the backbone of Marvel's publishing schedule for the next year.
I understand the big M's thinking: give the people what they want, let them see if the canonical 'official,' version of these fights fall in line with what they think might happen. In the case of something like Avengers vs. JLA, that's interesting and worth publishing, because no one ever really expected it to see it. But a contest between two properties owned by Marvel? It's boring, and what's worse, it's lazy. Siege and Fear Itself weren't exactly barnburners of excitement, but at least they played in a different sandbox and felt like they were continually building on what went before. But this? This is forced and uninspired. I acknowledge slagging on something months before it's published is the worst kind of comic book bitching, but I think we can all safely assume larger threat emerges somewhere around issue eight, team-up ensues, some B-lister with a small but vocal fan base dies in the process (let's say, I don't know, Cannonball), larger threat is narrowly defeated, life continues as normal. Oh wait, I mean, NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME!
When DC becomes the risk-taking and edgy publisher and Marvel starts eliciting yawns, we're through the looking glass, people. Strange days ahead.