There is always a reason for people to complain about the comics industry. Some people want diversity, some don’t. Some people want continuity, some don’t care. Some people want the status quo of the hero to remain unchanging, and some want progress. No matter what the industry does, there seems to be an issue with what they do from someone who is willing to complain.
Newsarama recently released a story about a Marvel editor thinking no one wants any more diversity… if you read the comments, the man is obviously oblivious to the problems they are actually part of creating.
Today, I’m going to play a little “what if” and act out what I think would happen under an Emerald Specter run Marvel… (we are going to assume that there are no upcoming events to worry about, like Generations or Secret Empire)…
New York Times – April 3, 2017 Marvel Comics has a new sheriff in charge. Disney, owner of Marvel, has decided to bring in someone with a new vision for the company, something to bring Marvel into the 21st century.
DJ Allen, the owner and operator of EmeraldSpecter.com, has big ideas for the company and is willing to make sweeping changes to the company in order to take the industry into the future…
“This company has prided itself on continuity and making sure that every character you read is connected to everything they’ve ever done,” said DJ, at the press conference announcement. “The idea of continuity is a double edged sword and we are going to be making some changes to the way things run so that we can bring forward new ideas as well as paying attention to the old.”
Since there are a few folks out there that love continuity, we need to include a means for that continuity to continue. We also have folks that want to see progress, so we need to include a means for continuity to matter but also allow for progression of characters to happen (i.e. if someone dies, they stay dead and if someone else wants to take over the identity, then they won’t be replaced by a resurrection). We should also need a place for alternate (What If? scenarios) to occur without interfering with either of the other two spots.
Looking at what success the company has had with the Ultimate line, I’m going to propose a split of potentials and sort of start things off brand new. The “continuity heavy” line will remain Marvel 616 and can continue the way that things have always gone. I enjoyed the Ultimate line and was very sad to see that disappear in favor of merging everything into the 616, so I’m suggesting here we “splinter” off of the 616 for the progression universe… don’t relaunch the Marvel Universe from scratch, I’m talking about just taking things in the new direction… and I’m calling this Marvel Prime.
Marvel Prime will take the new diversity characters and give them their own titles with their own names. Miles Morales’ Spider-Man and Peter Parker’s Spider-Man can’t share the same name, that’s not only confusing but when people from the outside are trying to figure out whether a new issue is coming out for “their” Spider-Man, the search is nightmarish. I suggested when Miles was brought into the 616 to identify him as Spider-Max, and since I don’t have any input on whether that would be super popular, I’m running with that. Ironheart shouldn’t be in the Iron Man title, that was for Iron Man… Ironheart will have her own title. You seeing the idea on this one?
Characters in Marvel Prime will age… no more “Marvel time,” so Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Clint Barton, etc will all get old and will all eventually die. That may be from old age, or from some other cause but there will no longer be a Tony Stark Iron Man at some point in the future. We need to move forward with newly created characters, concepts, and maybe even brand new teams.
Some of the best characters in Marvel right now were created long after the 616 basic crew was… Inferno and the newer Inhumans are far more interesting than the royal family. The All-New X-Men group being brought into the present day was a brilliant twist and giving them their own thing was awesome. I like Mosaic, who is the newest character in the Marvel Universe… I like Sam Wilson as Captain America because Steve Rogers would be 300 years old or something… Jane Foster’s Thor is far more interesting than the 50th time we’ve all seen Odinson do the same thing again… Spider-Gwen is a fresh new idea that I think should be running “mainstream” instead of some pocket universe that needs to include dimensions travel.
The point is, we want to move into the future… but the 616 can remain however it wants to be… thus requiring the need for the next offshoot that Marvel has always needed but only DC has really ever capitalized on: alternate versions and “period” stories.
Steve Rogers can be Captain America eternal in the World War II setting as people tell story after story about Cap in a book that won’t affect Marvel Prime. Thor can have all the adventures he wants in a “Journey into Mystery” style period book. What about the alternate versions of the characters, like Fantastic Four by Gaslight (set in Victorian England or something), Captain America Revolutionary (set in the Revolutionary War), or X-Men of the Roundtable (the X gene manifests in King Arthur’s Court)? DC does stuff like this all the time and it is fantastic!
So, Marvel 616 for the continuity laden comic fans Marvel Prime for the progression of the universe as it should be in the real world. Then we have the Marvel Shards, which I’m calling the alternate versions or the legacy stories that can be told without being involved in the mainstream continuity of the 616 or Prime.
Is that so terrible? What we’ll end up getting is more effort put into making new characters and giving newer readers something to latch on to instead of having to see Captain America, created something like a hundred years before they were born, and forcing them to research the hero before fully understanding them.
You’re likely going to see a DC version of this column, too, as they’ve got an even larger problem than Marvel does when it comes to continuity. I didn’t make the sweeping changes that you probably feared and I didn’t reboot anything, which even I am tired of seeing.
Something else that could be done is a line of graphic novels, the comic version of movie releases, where someone could create their own Marvel Cinematic Universe in comic form and give us all another great take on characters that wouldn’t exist eternally. Marvel Graphic Novel Universe (MGNU)? Who knows?
Think on it.