Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Marvel Universe: Maybe it's time for a reboot?

Geoff made this comment on the post about Captain America getting killed in the Marvel Comics...
"Marvel is a crazy universe. I can't believe the did this."
Me neither, Geoff. But it does lend some validity to something I've been thinking for awhile, about the Marvel Comics universe...

It's this "moving time" principle by which Marvel establishes that all of its comics are canon, even though most of them now contradict real-world stuff. I mean, it's like Tony Stark was originally wounded in Vietnam and that's what led him to become Iron Man. The thing of it is it's 2007 and Stark would now have to be, what in his sixties-seventies by now, if he started then? The Fantastic Four's fateful spacelaunch happened because America had to beat "the commies" - as Susan Storm put it - into space. See where the problem there is?

Well, the thing of it is, Captain America is firmly established as a product of World War II. So is Nick Fury. And with more and more years that pass by, well... it's really starting to stretch belief that these guys, even with the Super Soldier Serum and the Infinity Formula would still be fighting the good fight. There's a few other things mucking-up Marvel's moving timeline, but World War II is the big kahuna of them.

So, maybe it is good and proper that Captain America die now. And let him stay dead.

And maybe along with him, Marvel can do something drastic to make these stories last forever, instead of creeping into obsolescence.

So here's my proposal: with Captain America, and the events of the Civil War, let the Marvel Universe as we have come to know and love it... have it stop. Right here. In 2007. Make that the new immovable date in Marvel history. Everything that has happened in the Marvel Universe, let it be reckoned as happening between World War II and 2007.

And then, reboot... or perhaps "reboost" would be a better way to put it... the entire shebang.

No, I'm not talking about something like the Ultimates line (which put me off with that ridiculous "Ga Lak Tus" thing). I mean something more daring... and the more I think about it, more right.

Marvel should start every character in the Marvel Universe as they are now, and then, year by year, chronlogically age them as they would in real life, if their lives really did start at 2007 and proceeded forth.

Yes, I mean let's see them grow. Let's see them age. Let's see them meet all the challenges that come with those things. And then, one by one, let them die.

If Peter Parker were a real person and he was 15 years old in 1962 when Spider-Man first appeared, he would be sixty years old now. Personally, I think an older, wiser Spider-Man would be a wonderful thing to behold. Peter Parker is the paragon of everything that is good and noble about human character and determination. But for him to mean anything as a symbol for us... well, he has to be like us. With all the weaknesses and frailties that come with living a life bereft of things like whole-body cloning and whatnot.

Whether at the hands of one of his enemies, or from illness, Peter Parker should be given the chance to die like the rest of us. All of these characters should. Because that's what it's going to take if they're meant to persist as metaphors for everything that is good, and bad, about humanity.

If Marvel is wise, they will do this. Start a long-term strategy where the characters from this point on will age chronlogically alongside real time. And one by one, let them go into that long twilight.

But as they go, introduce new characters to take up the mantle after them.

Let some new kid pick up the shield and go forth in Captain America's name. Give Spider-Man a child who inherits Parker's abilities. Let there be a new Fantastic Four led by Franklin Richards... with his daddy Reed advising the team as "leader emeritus". As for Hulk: he might be one of the few characters who could persist for some time, what with his gamma-enhanced biology. The same with Wolverine. The fun thing about those guys is that they are going to live a long, long time: well, let's see how they adapt to the changing times and let them be a "cipher" through which we come to see the world around us in the way that only comics can do.

I don't think that this would mean the end of the "classic characters". Not by a longshot. Marvel can still publish stories set within the 1941-2007 timeframe, and this would give them a chance to re-interpret a lot of those pre-existing stories so that very messy thing called Marvel continuity could finally get the cleanup it's been screaming about for ages.

(Hey who knows: maybe in long-term Marvel canon, the "clone saga" really didn't happen after all.)

I really doubt the honchos at Marvel are going to follow through with something like this though. But that's how I would manage things if I were editor-in-chief over there. Use Captain America's death (assuming he stays dead) as an opportunity for some much-needed growth against rising graphic stagnancy.

If nothing else, think of this: the X-Men would die. And they would remain dead... forever!

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