Marvel Comics has recently announced a “Fresh Start” event in the summer to relaunch its comics. To see a trailer of the announcement, check out the post here. But, to very roughly summarize it, there will be new creative teams of writers and artists on each title. That means new directions for characters. But, the editor-in-chief, CB Cebulski, and Joe Quesada are saying there are some fan favorite things returning. For example, Avengers will have the “big 3” of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor (not Jane Foster Thor) on the team. Speculation has been saying Peter Parker may reunite with Mary Jane (they haven’t been married in the comics for a while now). But, is this a good direction for the comics?
Why the Fresh Start?
There’s no full explanation for the restart of the comics lineup. In the trailer, it’s said that there’s a lot of fresh talent coming into the company. But, that means some talent has left the company. And there is one for sure of Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis has been instrumental in many of the recent stories that have even been translated to the movies we know now. If you’re curious about this, I have a post here.
But, Bendis moving on doesn’t warrant a full change. So, why change things up?
My take on it is a few reasons. One is slow sales of Marvel Comics the last two years compared to the other big publication, DC Comics. People are not picking up the titles as much anymore. At my local comic store they actually had a sale on the big titles that came out in a recent reboot (yes, Fresh Start is not the first and more on that later). The sale knocked down the price because they weren’t selling and they had a lot of them. And this is a store that doesn’t have a hard time selling stuff.
So why the bad sales? Well, here’s my opinion…
Reboot the Reboot
In the last 6 years, Marvel has rebooted its comics 3 times. And I probably need to define the reboot. Reboots in Marvel don’t totally redo the characters. Many of their histories stay. But, some things are retconned. And when I say some it can be major things, but not for all the characters.
For example, Miles Morales is a Spider-Man from the Ultimate Universe. The Ultimate Universe is an alternate Marvel universe, close to the original, but basically a modern interpretation of decades-old characters. It was a line of comics that let there be separate, fresh origins and stories of known characters without messing up the regular continuity. In the reboot of Secret Wars into All-New All-Different Marvel, Miles Morales is transplanted to the main Marvel universe. His Ultimate history is somehow still retained. But, it’s also that he somehow existed in the main universe all along. How does that work? I don’t know.
In a way, it has all been like making a copy of a copy. It doesn’t keep the full integrity of the original image. Where that may not sound like a good thing, there are problems that have needed correcting…
Retcons That Need Retcons
A couple of problems that have been somewhat separate of the reboots involve fan favorite characters. One is the X-Men. The original X-Men from the past are in the present. Their current selves are around. If that’s not weird enough, the originals are having things changed about them that, if they ever go back, would disrupt the entire space-time continuum of Marvel Comics. But, they have to go back at some point or it will disrupt the space-time continuum of Marvel Comics.
So, why were they brought to the future in the first place? The X-Men were getting out of hand story-wise before they arrived. Professor X was killed by Cyclops. Mutants weren’t being born anymore. It was getting weird. The hope was that the past selves would see all the horror and go back to change some things.
Unfortunately, it’s worse than what was before their arrival. Something drastic needs to happen with this retcon.
Another retcon that happened a decade ago was Peter Parker and Mary Jane being retconned to never being married. It was done magically in basically a deal with the devil to keep Aunt May alive. There have been some really great stories with Spider-Man, and not so great. But, fans often want them back together. People on the outside of the comics don’t even know they’re not a couple. It’s a strange set up for Marvel Comics to annul the marriage. It does need to change in some way.
So Is It a Good Thing?
It’s hard to say if Fresh Start is going to be the last start for a while. With quite a few reboots already been done another one isn’t entirely what the doctor ordered. Marvel Comics does need some fresh, good stories. I hate to say Disney buying the company is a problem. I was so excited and hopeful when they did. But, I see parallels between comics, shows and movie plots that happen at the same time. At first for Marvel Studios, they were using past stories from the comics. Suddenly there were parallels. It makes me think the comics are being influenced by the box office instead of the other way around.
An example? War Machine was horribly injured in the comics about the same time as he was in the Civil War movie. In the comics, he was gravely injured in the Civil War 2 event!
Another example is on television where the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a storyline where they lived a simulation of Hydra taking over the world, at the same time that Hydra took over the world in the comics. And the opener of the comics was almost exactly a scene in the show. Coincidence? Nope.
I think the movies and show strength comes from the great writing from the comics. But, they do need some fresh writing. The comic series event where Hydra took over the world was long and drawn out. It didn’t need to be. The X-Men comics are confusing right now. The originals run around with their present-day counterparts. It’s bizarre. There just needs to be some fun stories again.
Will that happen? It’s very possible. If there’s a fresh take on things with new teams of writers it may reboot things for the better. The fear is there being too great of a retcon and it brings continuity problems again. Things are hinting at bringing characters back to the way they have been way before, like Spider-Man and Mary Jane. Will that sit well with all fans? No. But, it may bring back a lot of others. It’s a launching point for many people. So Fresh Start can be fresh but needs to probably bring back some older staple things.
But, does Marvel need a reboot? I say yes and no. I don’t think you can tweak individual series to go back to the way things were. So much is intertwined. DC Comics does major, universe changing reboots that haven’t gone over entirely well. It’s actually become a joke for them. Will Marvel do something as major? Probably not. But, I think it will be a little bigger than just a couple series and characters getting tweaked. Either way, there is tweaking that is needed to get things back to a normal way of having good stories.
In my opinion, it’s a good thing, but with caution. I’ll admit I’m getting tired of the reboots, but the hope is some things I like returning and this will bring fun stories back.
What do you think about the changes coming to Marvel Comics? Let us know in comments below?