Tag Archives: Secret Wars

No More Fantastic Four?

I came across this news story via a Twitter Moment, the phrase “Fantastic Four writer” instantly triggering the thought of Jonathan Hickman – and being right, in this case!

Since as I’ve said I’ve pretty much stopped reading or keeping up with Marvel comics since the end of Secret Wars, I was surprised to find out that one of the comics that has not come back since then is Fantastic Four. The characters just aren’t there, there’s no title, all that. At this point, it’s been nearly 2 years. Thus the question – where are the Fantastic Four?

There’s been whirling theories about Marvel, their comics, and their movie rights. It’s been going on for a while – here’s a link to an article I wrote about that in 2014. If you look at the comics and merchandizing and things lately – or things like Guardians of the Galaxy getting a theme park ride at Disneyland – the focus has been on the Marvel Studios films. When properties like Spider-Man and the X-Men and all feel like they used to be the premier Marvel characters, and now all of a sudden we all know who the Guardians of the Galaxy are… something is happening.

I’ve pretty much argued before that what’s going on here is mainly business decisions. The interview with Hickman makes this seem the same – business business business. But he points out that we’re seeing something different between, say, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. It’s not just that Marvel lacks the rights to both and is keeping them down – it’s that Fox (which has the movie rights to both teams) hasn’t made a good Fantastic Four movie yet.

Fair enough. For another example, Marvel has been all over Deadpool related stuff, and they don’t have those film rights – and you take a character like Gwenpool and you’ve got a Spider-Man/Deadpool crossover character that nonetheless is getting attention from Marvel, despite the doubly complicated movie rights involved there.

No Fantastic Four because no good movie makes some sense. Again, you could come up with conspiracies – for instance, the thought that you don’t want to produce new ideas for Fox to try to run with in making yet another reboot. However, if they want to try to do another film, I would recommend going with an already established Fantastic Four – skip the origin story – and just do a story like “Solve Everything,” Hickman’s first storyline from his writing run. Have the kids in it. Have travel and exploration and science. You could do something different from standard superhero fare.

Which is also something of the point when it comes to the storytelling side of there being no Fantastic Four comic: what story do you tell with them?

Secret Wars ends with the Fantastic Four (and the kids and all) in an interesting place. They are in some ways the least affected by the events that ended the Marvel Universe; in other ways, they are the most burdened by it. The basic assumption at this point is that they are super busy doing interesting and important things. Honestly, the longer they keep them off the page, the more work they’re going to have to put into figuring out what cool or interesting thing they have been doing with their time.

Really, they’re ripe for imagination work, for interesting ideas and new things. They always have been. There’s a reason I think that they worked so well at the core of Hickman’s storyline. Reed at points functions as the voice of the author, explaining the problem and plot to us in no uncertain terms.

I argued before that the problem they seemed to be running into with the X-Men, more than anything, was that they were dealing with a fundamental societal problem without easy solutions, and if you do actually resolve it, you’re largely done – or at least, they’re no different from other superheroes. If mutants get equal rights, if they end up living in harmony with humans, you’re just done. However, if you show that no progress has ever been made and it’s all been for nothing, well, that’s kind of a stalemate as well.

The Marvel Universe reboot theoretically let them reset that whole tension, but it’s still there. It’s just quite simply harder to write X-Men stories as time goes on. However, it should be easier to write the Fantastic Four – you just need big ideas. You need vision. Or maybe, anthology style, a bunch of smaller or shorter ideas. And maybe they’re lacking that right now, and waiting on it. Maybe they have that, and are waiting for the right time – for a big crossover event or something.

Or maybe, maybe they’re just waiting for a good Fantastic Four movie. Or for the rights to revert back to them. I don’t know, but it’s interesting to get Hickman’s perspective on it!

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Audio

Hickman’s Avengers – Comparative Opinions Episode 49

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week, David finally gets to fully geek out about Jonathan Hickman’s run writing Avengers and New Avengers, as Holly finished reading it all! Spoilers abound as the two talk through the story from start to finish. If you don’t plan on ever reading it, hey, this might cover you! But really, you should read these.

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros

My Short Thoughts on Evil Captain America

I keep reading the headlines about the current Secret Empire storyline in Marvel Comics, and feeling like I should say something about it. My previous writings on comics are some of my most-read material, after all, and here’s all the writing-about-comics material you could ask for!

But I knew I had said something when Captain America first hailed Hydra, and I just went back and read it. And basically… one year later, but all the same thoughts. To enumerate,

  1. It’s probably in poor taste to be doing this with Hydra, given Hydra = Nazis. Just read a similar point on The Mary Sue.
  2. The movies have been getting based on the comics; we’ve reached a point where the comics are being based increasingly on the movies (and wider MCU).
  3. This is all a product of Secret Wars, so it’s a new universe and a new Steve Rogers so it doesn’t have much bearing on what’s come before.

The Mary Sue article I linked to basically argues that that first point invalidates the later two, and perhaps, fair enough. But they also provided exactly what I expected: evidence for point three.

Maybe that’s real Steve Rogers! Who knows, there were quite a few of them on Battleworld. Whatever. The Marvel Universe is dead to me and I’m just really having trouble caring. Should they maybe leave secret Nazi storylines alone? In the current political climate? I mean, DC is responding to the current political moment with the Doomsday Clock:

How about you – are you reading Secret Empire? What are your thoughts on all of this? I’d love to know, because I’m unlikely to read these comics anytime soon myself!

Thoughts on Marvels Comics Sales in the News

So I saw a the story flying around in my news feed, and just had to shake my head. Marvel blaming their move to more diversity for decreased comics sales? Here’s a great write up (with lots of sales numbers) on the question:

I had to stop and remember that I’m certainly someone who stopped buying comics, so maybe I have some things to weigh in… reading that article actually just gave me more to think on.

The big thing was that Marvel has been seeing sales drops ever since Secret Wars – which was when I stopped reading new Marvel comics. I think Jonathan Hickman did an amazing job of killing off the Marvel universe, and I’m okay with the thought that the universe is done and I’m good with it. I plan on still reading some older comics still via Marvel Unlimited (which seems like another thing that must be chipping away at physical comics sales), but I’m not feeling much interest in checking out any of the All New All Different Marvel Universe.

Man, I set up multiple segues there. Let’s see…

All New All Different Marvel? Yeah, lots of new ideas out there, and I have to agree with the article I shared – they were throwing things at the wall to see what stuck. Lots of titles started and stopped. And I know I haven’t been following them, so whatever. And it seems plenty of other people haven’t been either, given the big sales drop.

But the universe died, the storylines changed, what characters were where doing what changed… and it’s entirely plausible that those new configurations just haven’t drawn people in. Or, they’re going to take time to draw people in – time that they’re not being given by being canceled. Rebooting everything is kind of like starting over, and at the start you have to draw people in and stick it out. Except that they were doing new things with known characters, so you’re both having to start fresh and carry in all of the baggage of 50+ years. You know, the true point of a reboot is to cut loose baggage…

Physical comics? Man, who knew that was still a thing. I mean, probably people who live in a place where there’s even a single comic store… We have a trade paperback store. Which is another thing that takes away from the sales of individual comics – the knowledge that all of these things are going to come out in trade paperbacks, and that you can wait for that time, for a more survivable and shelve-able material. I mean, I just was going through my old box of comics and had a lot of feels, but the trade paperbacks have been living on a shelf in the living room.

And beyond physical comics and trades, there’s digital. I don’t know how much that’s taken into account for a conversation like this, and I don’t know how well digital does versus physical. I know that when I went crazy buying comics, it was with digital. I had to reel myself way back in, which again had me back towards the trades (or their digital equivalent). There are so many options for how to buy comics, and with so many titles out there, buying things in a set is really nice. Digital is actually a really nice way to own comics, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Oh right, diversity. Yeah, all of that before saying much of anything about diversity. Because I feel like sure, maybe that’s a factor – and maybe especially a factor among the more “traditional” comics buying crowd. Because if I were to try to determine who is buying physical individual weekly comics, the main folks seem like people who have been doing it for years. They’re following a character, or a creator, or you know, a lot of characters and creators. They may not be picking up something new. They seem to clearly have been hit by Secret Wars – as the article said.

The article also said that all those title changes mess with people who are buying their comics at a comics store, where you set up subscriptions or pull lists. They mess with your existing “traditional” buyers. Meanwhile, as the numbers presented for some of the trade paperbacks versus individual comics seem to show, I think some of the new readers being brought in – or the sales support coming from book fairs and librarians – are in trade paperbacks. Or other formats. And when people are waiting to buy a trade, and you’re cancelling the series within the timespan of the first two trades, there’s no time for people to show their support.


Anyway, I don’t know. The article is right – there’s a whole lot of factors at play. You could dive back in to the X-Men conspiracies. I’m sure there’s data they’re tracking about whether it seems like the movies are bringing in truly new comics readers – or maybe just old hats like me. Or maybe no one.

Which could be a part of where all of this ends up going – will these huge movie franchises end up killing off the comics industry that spawned them? Or at least the base universes they come from, the Marvel and DC universes. Will some other new universe rise up and be the new one to read – maybe something like Valiant? Time will tell. What do you think?

Science Fiction and Religion – The Apocalypse

Is there just an apocalypse waiting?

From Avengers #3 by Jonathan Hickman.

I love Hickman’s Avengers. I’ve written about that fact before, and especially one of the things I love about his Marvel work – and his other comics – is how he works with both science and mythology. In Avengers, especially, he works on larger, over-arching mythology for the whole Marvel Universe. Its origins… and its ending.

That ending was last summer’s big crossover event, Secret Wars. I reviewed that recently. But it was a lot of time and comics leading into it, not just one crossover and everything is over. The apocalypse did not happen suddenly, although it may have felt that way if you were reading other titles… or just reading about the whole thing in the press about it.

No, in reading the whole thing, the buildup and then the collapse, I got to thinking of two things. One is the obvious, I suppose: other apocalyptic literature. Religious especially, the sort that seeps out into shows like Supernatural or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We were reading a lot of the book of Daniel recently at church, and it’s also just chock full of apocalyptic dreams and visions. So the end of the world: symbolism, signs, and things that are either super literal or completely metaphorical…

The second thing I was thinking of, however, was the Final Fantasy XIII series, wherein the world ends between Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns. In particular, at the end of XIII-2, time itself ends, and the power of death along with it… but as Mr. Fantastic might say, everything dies, and ever so slowly that world does too.

Taken all together, you get what I considered as the alternate title to this blog post: how to end the universe.

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