Pulling off those universe-shattering “everything you knew yesterday will be wrong tomorrow” budget-busting bookshelf-breaking crossovers is a bitch. Few of them prove to be worth anybody’s effort, most of them are contradicted within a few weeks of their conclusion, and there have been way, way too many such “events” for any of them to be actual events.
Marvel’s Civil War was different. For one thing, it was actually about something – it took on issues and concerns that were metaphors for what has been going on in the so-called real world. For another, it had at least three really, really interesting story-threads: the devolution of Tony Stark’s humanity, the death of Steve Rogers (as opposed to the death of Captain America, which didn’t happen), and the outing of Spider-Man and the resultant impact it had on Peter Parker, his career and his family.
I was left with a degree of personal involvement that had been much greater than previously. Marvel had instituted real change, and while we all know change is a constant and that at some point some of it would be contradicted eventually – somebody, at some point in the future, will probably resurrect Steve Rogers, although I hope not – the “event” ended with my being more curious about what would follow than any other such mega-crossover. Silly me.
O.K. Now we get to the spoilers, so if you haven’t read the last few Spiders-Man, and you haven’t seen any of the covers or house ads, and you haven’t listened to the hubbub at your friendly neighborhood comics shop, and you’d temporarily gone deaf and blind after seeing Alvin and the Chipmunks, you might want to stop right here. Or you can view this as a public service. And now, back to our regularly scheduled rant.
The Civil War sequel “One More Day” took a publicly exposed Peter Parker and gave him the worst of all Sophie’s Choices in comics history: either save his long-suffering Aunt May from certain death (for which he blames himself), or continue in his rewarding, beautiful marriage which has brought him happiness, grounding and the prospect of offspring.
OK, the situation sucks but there’s nothing wrong with the plot device. It served William Styron well. But from the context of Civil War, it takes on a different dimension: it was the choice becomes staying on this dangerous and exciting new path, or reboot back to status quo.
Mind you, comics marriages do not fare well. Superman and Lois Lane came off as a corporate-ordered afterthought following in the wake of an attempt to energize a television series that wound up being cancelled anyway despite a two-year commitment from the network. It should have been the biggest event in comics history; it wound up a fart in a blizzard. It also stopped a highly successful and well-produced run of Superman comics dead in its tracks.
Barry Allen and Iris West? Please. Next time, just drink the damn Flavor Aid (note: Reverend Jim Jones actually used grape Flavor Aid and not Kool-Aid). Even in the strips, marriage usually brought the storyline to a halt. It turned Li’l Abner into a parody of itself. Only The Phantom’s marriage seems to have worked out well, and since Mandrake The Magician was at the wedding, we have cause to doubt.
So what choice did Marvel’s masters make? Observe, I distinguish between the chiefs and the creative talent as I do not know what role these gifted people played in the decision. I do know that they didn’t try to sneak this one past the powers-that-be.
Here’s the spoiler: when faced with the choice between continuing on an exciting yet unproven new path and retreating to status quo, corporate America almost always chickens out.
The commercial comics mantra has become when in doubt, reboot.
The next Marvel event is going to be about the long-standing Skrull invasion. Maybe this will be the autobiography of the bureaucrats who hijacked Marvel’s Civil War.
ComicMix's award-winning and spectacularly shy editor-in-chief Mike Gold also performs the weekly two-hour Weird Sounds Inside The Gold Mind ass-kicking rock, blues and blather radio show on The Point, www.getthepointradio.com and on iNetRadio, www.iNetRadio.com (search: Hit Oldies) every Sunday at 7:00 PM Eastern, rebroadcast three times during the week – check www.getthepointradio.com above for times and on-demand streaming information.