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Wednesday, January 27, 2010 

In what way will Marvel heroes be heroic again?

USA Today reports that Marvel is announcing a new project called "The Heroic Age", likely another crossover, but what's also in question is just how sincere are they about making their heroes heroic again:
Marvel superheroes are leaving the dark side.

After seven years of grim and grimmer story lines, including a superhero "civil war" that pitted Iron Man against Spider-Man and the death of Captain America, Marvel Comics will usher in a more optimistic "Heroic Age" approach in May.

"Heroes will be heroes again," says Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada. "They've gone through hell and they're back to being good guys — a throwback to the early days of the Marvel Universe, with more of a swashbuckling feel."
Unfortunately, there is reason to doubt they're really serious, because:
Quesada pushed a complete makeover for Spider-Man two years ago in a "Brand New Day" story line, which wiped out Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane and repositioned the hero as the teenage loner he was in the 1960s.

In the upcoming Avengers' story line, however, the changes will remain in continuity and will not be a "reboot" of the franchises involved.
The problems with Spider-Man now aren't just the wipeout of the Spider-Marriage, but that since this was done, Peter Parker has been portrayed largely as a slacker and a jerk. And if Spidey isn't depicted heroically, and even his action scenes are a cop-out, and Marvel continuity as a whole is in a shambles, how can we expect them to deliver convincingly?

Plus, who's behind this move in the writer's seat?
Likely to give the "Heroic Age" considerable fanboy cred will be the participation of writer Brian Michael Bendis, who was chief architect of the "disassembly" of the Marvel Universe in the first place. Most recently, he has overseen the "Dark Reign" story line where villain Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin) has taken charge of the superhero community. That approach ends with the "Heroic Age."
Bendis has already done enough damage as it is, and sales for his run on the Avengers have finally - and deservedly - dropped. If he could do as awful a job as he did disassembling the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, why should we trust him to do any better putting them back together again? Why should we even trust Joe Quesada not to add his editorial mandate negatively to the mess?

If the same people who gave us something so awful are still minding the store, then this latest move can only be assumed as yet another publicity stunt. For all we know, the Avengers could be depicted just as badly as Peter Parker is now in Spider-Man, in terms of personality, and their adventures filled with either gratuitous violence, or just pathetic action. Plus, Bendis is the "master" of decompressed storytelling, and that too could easily bog things down.

That's why there's little reason to be optimistic about this latest news, any more than for DC's Brightest Day, which likely won't be.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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