Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Seems to me it's been a pretty good year for Marvel. If you just ignore all the stupidity and misogyny going on in the Bendis corner of the universe (and I've surgically removed my Avengers love until somebody else is running that show), there's been World War Hulk and Incredible Hulk, a perfect mix of modern pop thrills and actual appreciation for the characters and history, hipster superheroes from Brubaker, Fraction and Ellis, the kickass cosmic epic Annihilation: Conquest and just solid post-Civil War superheroes in books like New Warriors. Sure, the X-Men are basically dull and lifeless, but really, Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely and company might have been the last hurrah for those characters. When even Ed Brubaker and Joss Whedon can't make 'em interesting to me, there's something wrong with that subset of the universe or with me. Allowing that it might be me, and I might just be tired of the X-Men, there's still a whole lot of readable (and strong selling) books at Marvel.
They've made best sellers out of the Hulk, Moon Knight and Iron Fist. I've loved these characters for a long time, but I didn't think anyone else would.
So what's the first thing they do, when they've got a good buzz going, Hulk is a cool character again, and folks want to read about him? They hand him over to Jeph Loeb, whose Wolverine arc was... well, calling it a trainwreck is being kind. Here's Paul O'Brien to explain.
And what does Loeb do? Well, in a move that seems more in line with DC than Marvel, he's starting off with a murder mystery involving "one of Hulk's oldest cast members." Hands up, anyone guessing it'll be a perfectly good female character. If your hand isn't up, you probably haven't been reading superhero comics lately. Maybe I'm wrong, though, and they'll just off Rick Jones or someone else who no doubt has more potential in him/her than this lame duck of a story.
Oh, and the Hulk? He's big, and red, and puffy, and looks like something you'd see watching Adult Swim while tripping on acid. And there's a mystery about who the character is. Because having just established Hulk in his classic look, with a new and badass personality and motivation, and a movie on the way starring Ed Freakin' Norton, the first thing you want to do is change *everything* about the character. After all, it worked out so well for Wolverine.
But maybe I should give Loeb the benefit of the doubt. After all, remember his Superman/Batman? And how it made absolutely no sense? Hmm. Well, what about his work with Rob Liefeld? Oof. OK, but what about his work on Wolverine?
If Tim Sale were involved, I'd have reason to be at least a little bit hopeful, as Loeb/Sale bring out the best in one another, and their collaborations always raise Loeb's game, occasionally (as with his Daredevil: Yellow) to an A-level. But this looks just awful.
And worse, 2007 has seen a Marvel Universe with no Mark Millar, and Millar is gleefully announcing he's going to save the company (presumably from making sense and having characters instead of indistinguishable action puppets) by having five books at Marvel next year. Yikes.
With these developments looming and the ugly-ass gun-toting new Cap, I'm starting to get a bad feeling about Marvel '08, at least in terms of my own interest. And DC is showing no signs of getting my interest back anytime soon. I'm sure I'll get my superhero fix somewhere, though, at Image and Dark Horse if nothing else. And if the last few years are any indication, even if DC/Marvel aren't firing for me in general, the small press and self-publishers will be producing plenty of good material.