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Friday, June 29, 2018 

Why does IGN want bad changes in Iron Man to stick?

Stan Lee once said he thought it a good idea if writers would use the "illusion of change" as an approach to character developments and drama in Marvel books. An interesting and worthy argument clearly lost on the IGN writer who's asking why changes in Iron Man's books aren't sticking:
These days, few ongoing Marvel Comics series last more than a year or two before getting relaunched. Iron Man is certainly no exception to the rule. In recent years we've seen the character cycle through new creative teams and new storylines, always seeming to revert back to square one in the end. But if the seesawing nature of Marvel's Iron Man comics isn't unique, it is unusually frustrating given the role this character plays in the Marvel Universe.
But the meaningless changes made to Shell-Head's world - including the recent SJW diversity-pandering - aren't frustrating? Not even the fact many of the SJWs they were catering to didn't even want to read the products offered? I don't see what he's getting at.
Writer Warren Ellis and artist Adi Granov basically set the tone for modern Iron Man comics with their 2005 storyline "Extremis." There, Tony was faced with the undeniable realization that he had failed to evolve with the times. He was a futurist who had lost touch with the future. And in response, he designed a radically new advanced suit that was as much biological as mechanical, rededicating himself to making Iron Man the most effective and advanced hero possible.
But not the best written, a fact that can be laid at the feet of many of the writers since the turn of the century, not the least being Ellis himself. What I am aware of is that political correctness has largely destroyed the storytelling quality for many superheroes, who may not even be able to lead a genuine romance life when they're out of costume, in effect destroying a lot of the elements for making a great story to read about.
"Extremis" paved the way for some compelling new Iron Man storylines, with Tony becoming director of SHIELD, an international fugitive and then the head of a brand new, philanthropy-minded corporation called Stark Resilient. For a time it really did feel like the character was evolving and growing to become a truly 21st Century Iron Man. But at a certain point, that sense of forward progress stopped. The 2012 relaunch played a big part, abruptly shifting to a more traditional (and distinctly movie-inspired) status quo. The same thing happened with the 2015 relaunch post-Secret Wars and again just this month with the debut of Tony Stark: Iron Man. In every case, Tony is rudely snapped back to a familiar status quo and essentially back right where he started in 2005.
Depending on the elements involved prior, is that such a bad thing? Because I think some of what's cited explains well enough why the "teflon effect." (By the way, why do they make it sound like evolution and growth for Tony is only recent and not during the Silver/Bronze Ages?) Putting Tony in charge of SHIELD puts him in way too big a position to make an effective superhero. If he became president of the USA, that would certainly test the limits of believability, because heads of state usually have all sorts of staff who'd be wondering where he was if he kept his armored job secret from them. And being a fugitive isn't something that fits Tony's character so well either. Nor do the crossovers they just mentioned, which don't seem to concern them regarding the harm done to talented storytelling. The column continues to get worse with the following:
It's not as though creators haven't continued to add significant new elements to the franchise. Kieron Gillen revealed that Tony was adopted and introduced Arno Stark into traditional continuity. Tom Taylor chronicled the exploits of an evil Tony Stark in Superior Iron Man. Brian Bendis introduced Tony's biological mother, Amanda Armstrong, and heir apparent in the form of Riri Williams. The problem is that so few of these changes seem to have lasting significance. Superior Iron Man proved to be an especially annoying case. That series ended after a mere eight issues, with Tony's evil personality shift being quietly swept under the rug after Secret Wars.
Wow, so they're basically confirming they're fine with retconning Tony into an adopted orphan whose "real" mother has one bore of a background, and whose "real" father has far worse. If it's still canon, that's bad, as the "evil Tony" mishmash would also be if they kept it up. Predictably, no mention of whether introducing the Williams character as a replacement was even accompanied by talented writing any more than the retcon to Tony's parents.
If anything, this problem only seems to be intensifying with the advent of Marvel's Fresh Start relaunch and the debut of Tony Stark. Reading the first issue of that series, it's almost like the past several volumes of Iron Man never happened. Riri Williams is MIA, as are key supporting characters like Amanda Armstrong and Mary Jane Watson. Stark Enterprises has suddenly transformed from ailing corporation to cutting edge super-science factory. The fact that Tony is inexplicably back to wearing his Extremis armor only further creates the impression that the character has been effectively rebooted again. Why is a hero who's supposed to constantly be upgrading and improving himself always reverting back to an outdated model?
Because the upgrades they speak of aren't organic; certainly not the "son of a devil" premise Gillen concocted. IMO, the columnist's only confirming he has a low opinion of Stan Lee's hard work from the Silver Age when he debuted IM in 1962, hence, he has no business taking a job reviewing and opining on any comics, past and present.

Furthermore, Mary Jane Watson's role in IM was contrived to begin with, and does nothing to appease Spider-fans offended at the omission of the Spider-marriage, which the columnist is obviously uninterested in asking be restored. So he has no business commenting on Spider-Man topics either.
To be fair, there's only so much a reader can judge based on one issue of Tony Stark: Iron Man and a couple chapters of The Avengers. Moreover, writer Dan Slott has proven time and again on Amazing Spider-Man that he's able to draw on decades of existing continuity and push characters in unexpected new directions. Ideally, he'll be able to do the same for Iron Man in the months and years to come. But that doesn't change the fact that the constantly seesawing nature of Marvel's Iron Man comics is growing more and more frustrating. No matter how good individual stories may be, in the end it rarely feels like this hero is making lasting progress.
And it never feels like IGN's making any progress, if these are the kind of buffoons they hire to comment on comics, or even video games, their main focus. They sugarcoat Slott's past record with Spidey, and it's clear they'll do the same and serve as apologists for his IM run, no matter how poorly he could wind up handling the women appearing in the series, along with Tony himself. It sounds like they've currently singled out IM as a product ripe for misuse, which is just what's bound to happen, and that's not a good thing at all. Nor is their insult to Stan Lee's old argument in favor of "illusion of change". It's clear no matter how terrible the story elements introduced in today's scripts are, they consider them something to canonize till the bitter end of time, and no criticism can be accepted. That kind of thinking is just what devastates many once great creations, and exactly why the writers IGN is employing are unfit to shine shoes. Besides, they're supposed to be a site about computer games, so maybe it's time they abandoned their comics section and just concentrated on all those silly video games for a change, eh?

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When Stan Lee was writing the books, he was constantly changing things. It was only when he became publisher and other people were the ones who would be making changes to his characters that he started talking about keeping the status quo, subject to the "illusion of change".

If changes are made and discarded in a way that makes it seem like continuity no longer matters, then it starts to feel like the stories don' t matter; why bother reading if the events make no difference to the on-going story and the counter is going to be set back to zero next year anyway? You don't want to sacrifice the illusion of reality to the illusion of change.

The illusion of change made the comics more accessible to causal readers who did not need to read a year's worth of stories to understand one poorly crafted monthly comic on expensive paper. Getting rid of the illusion of change makes subset of readers stick around and age with the characters but make the characters inaccessible to new readers. Changes also indicate there is an intention that they will stop telling stories about characters as a particular story comes to a conclusion. In order to keep making money off a property, they will have to introduce legacy characters or do prequals.

Stan Lee changed things slowly enough that lapsed readers and new readers were not confused by a new status quo. That takes talent. Most creators and companies decided that they could make more money by going for for drastic changes based on topical topics or fashion (social trends) then introducing changes slowly over time.

Re: Warren Ellis' Iron Man.

Believe it or not, I haven't gotten around to reading Extremis. I look forward to it being a work more in vein with Warren Ellis earlier wor, like Storwatch or evin Counter X, where he introduced changes organically--and not like Kanark or Wild Storm.

The technology that Iron Man has had seemed to be based on existing technology,such as transistors. Stan Lee kept Iron Man believable that way. Nanotechnology, in the manner that Warren Ellis presents in Extremis, does not exist. Extremis is not believable.

Warren Ellis did not give Iron Man a 21st century update. He projected his own transhuamnist leanings that postulate radical technological change is on the horizon. I've got news for Mr. Ellis, the so-called science fiction writer. We can barely keep nano molecules stable let alone built sophisticated technology with it that can be enbedded into the human blood.

Re: Warren Ellis' Iron Man.

Believe it or not, I haven't gotten around to reading Extremis. I look forward to it being a work more in vein with Warren Ellis earlier wor, like Stormwatch or even "Counter-X", where he introduced changes organically--and not like Karnak or "Wild Storm".

The technology that Iron Man has had seemed to be based on existing technology, such as transistors. Stan Lee kept Iron Man believable by basing Iron Man's armor on existing technology. Nanotechnology, in the manner that Warren Ellis presents it in Extremis, does not exist. Extremis is not believable.

Warren Ellis did not give Iron Man a 21st century update. He projected his own transhumanist leanings that postulate radical technological change is on the horizon. Well, I've got news for Mr. Ellis, the so-called science fiction writer. We can barely keep nano molecules stable let alone built sophisticated technology with it that can be embedded into the human blood.

.". He was a futurist who had lost touch with the future. "
Tony was not initially portrayed as a futurist. He was a cutting edge industrialist and and an engineer.

Technological determinism was never really popular with any of Marvel's major superheroes, when they were initially conceived. Technological determinism from my impression was more popular with supervillains. If hip, progressive comic writers want to write superheroes as totalitarian villains who think technology will fix all human problems and only they are fit to rule, (Wasn't that a major plot point of the ultra realistic, ultra-progressive Authority, also by Warren Ellis, who's also really progressive, btw) that says more about them and their peers in the Intelligentsia than how those characters were initially conceived.

In other words, we DON'T " need a Disney princess who's had an abortion"

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