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Friday, January 15, 2016 

Kotaku's sugarcoat of Marvel reboot has no mention of Sue Storm's fate

Kotaku wrote a gushy take on the ending to the new Secret Wars crossover that seemingly reboots the MCU, and curiously leaves out any mention of what's happened to the Invisible Girl, as they tell what's being done with Mr. Fantastic:
The final issue of Marvel’s everything-changing event series bids farewell to the fictional father figure of its superhero reality. Reed Richards doesn’t exit the stage quite the way we’ve been led to believe, either.

[...] The changes so far have given readers a Spider-Man who runs a global tech conglomerate, a female Wolverine and a Hulk who isn’t Bruce Banner. All of this takes place eight months after the end of Secret Wars. The Fantastic Four is no more, and the Human Torch and the Thing fight evil on different super-teams. The whereabouts of Reed Richards (the original, not his evil alt-reality counterpart) have been an ongoing mystery for a while, with allusions to his apparent death.

[...] Secret Wars has been happening on a cosmic scale. It is set on a patchwork planet created by Dr. Doom after snatching omnipotence from mysterious beings who were orchestrating the end of all existence. What’s made the series the best mainstream crossover event in recent memory, though, is that it’s actually a focused character study. It’s largely been concerned with Victor Von Doom and the way that the archvillain has embodied godhood, but there’s been an increasing focus on his lifelong enemy, too. After surviving the erasure of the multiverse, Reed Richards has found himself in a reality where his life has been stolen. He’s been focused on working with the Black Panther, Namor and other survivors to come up with a way to defeat Doom-turned-God. The scenes where he reckons with what’s been lost, like the ones below from Secret Wars #6, have been wrenching.
Oh, some cosmic scale alright. It's been more on a "commercialized" scale, or one that's editorially mandated; let's remember the moratorium they imposed on FF-related products. And if they're so concerned with "character study" of Doom, then it's clear they've sunken into the continuing obsession the mainstream have with supervillains. There's far too much of that already, and heroes by contrast haven't been handled as well in this century, if at all.
The difference between superficial and meaningful change can be hard to chart in superhero comics. Death, estrangement and other reversals are just storytelling tools used in panels and word balloons. But Marvel Comics’ latest mutations have been consequential in game-changing ways. The company whence Iron Man, Captain America and the X-Men sprung isn’t just a comics publisher anymore. Even before its acquisition by Disney five years ago, Marvel was acting on ambitions to make their characters the source of an ambitious multimedia business. Those ambitions have been largely met, manifesting in a reality where multiple Marvel-branded movies and TV shows come out every year.
Sigh. They're not even a comic publisher in the true sense of the word anymore. All these movies and TV shows, among other forms of merchandise, came at the full expense of the zygotes. In the forseeable future, there likely won't be a publishing arm any longer, and increasing prices have seen to that. It's been pretty clear they don't have a care in the world for all these famous creations except as grounds on which to build adaptations in the movies.
This issue’s best subtext is in how Hickman comments on the real-world shifts that are seemingly influencing how Marvel is grooming its stable of characters. Despit rampant speculation, it’s never been explicitly confirmed that 20th Century Fox’s command of the Fantastic Four film rights is the reason that Marvel isn’t publishing a monthly series featuring their beloved super-family. But the way that the publisher has reconfigured its fictional landscape is clearly prioritizing characters whose film and TV rights are under Marvel’s control. For example, the X-Men franchise is another one whose multimedia rights are controlled by a non-Marvel/Disney entity so the new Marvel Universe is a place where mutants are becoming extinct while the Inhuman population booms. Those are the same Inhumans who are a major part of Disney-owned ABC TV show Agents of SHIELD. If they are what they seem to be, editorial decisions like these—driven by outside factors—are a big change from how Marvel used to craft its storylines.
If Hickman's not commenting on how the influence is negative, then I honestly don't see the point of commenting at all. Besides, it's not like Marvel has to publish an ongoing monthly pamphlet series at all times. An occasional miniseries could work even better today, ditto a shift to paperback format instead of the already dated pamphlet format. The whole notion they have to do every single thing 12 times a year is ridiculous, yet Kotaku's writers never think about that.

And if the editorial is influencing all this, then that's honestly very poor influence, yet the writer shies away from actually saying so. At the end, they say:
[...] Fittingly, Secret Wars ends with Reed Richards peacefully resigning himself to the idea of a new Marvel Universe built off of the emotional resonances of the old one. He can’t be part of it now, but serves in a role that’s a tacit acknowledgement that he’ll always be the foundation stone upon which Marvel’s superhero successes were built.
Curious why they don't say whether it's disappointing it's come down to the notion Reed would be kicked to the curb, vaguely reminiscent of how Hal Jordan was as a Green Lantern in the mid-1990s. And I couldn't help notice that Sue Storm got no mention in this puff piece. I wonder why? It won't surprise me if she's been dropped, quietly or otherwise, along with Franklin, and for now, it's clear she too has been marginalized, something that also happened to DC's Hawkgirls (both Shiera Sanders and Shayera Thal), now that I think of it. Once, it might've been thought bizarre that the Big Two would throw away so much potential, both big and small, with characters major and minor, all for the sake of a commercialized platform, in the worst ways possible. Today, it's no longer surprising at all. The Fantastic Four are just the latest victims of this weird cycle, and Sue Storm has been turned invisible in a bad way.

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