Why I Lost My Faith in Marvel Books


The following rant has been done to death. If you would much rather read something never written before I advise you to read something else.

So, why did I lost my faith in comic books?

To put it blankly, because I don't want to believe in them anymore.

"Wow! What a loser! Captain America and Wolverine were never real, pal!" ... you don't say? When I say I don't want to believe them anymore, I mean that I can't feel the tension or the surprise or the sadness or happyness about what happens to these characters, nor I want to. Somewhere along Schism I simply lost my faith in the comic book industry (namely, Marvel mostly). I don't say this as a simple fanboy who didn't get his way, but Schism was marketed as one of the most character-oriented arcs in recent memory, and it simply fell appart, as things have been doing since it. Lets go back to when I started reading comics (again).

New X-Men Arcs

I had stopped reading comics after Archangel and Psylocke split up because Warren was being a wimp and Betsy was being unfaithful, something that was jarringly out of character to me, since I had read just how far they had gone for each other in the Crimson Dawn and beyond. I felt like it was a decision that was made in the shadows, without regarding the characters or readers that might have enjoyed them. So I quit. And I stayed there.

But Grant Morrisson came along, and man, I was back in. Now, I am not a fan of the space part of X-Men, Shi'ar Empire and all that jazz, but something about how Grant Morrisson wrote the X-Men hooked me up. The characters were the center of the story again, their struggles and difficulties, and the mutants were a struggling species aswell. All that I loved about X-Men was back, and it was great. Of course Morrisson's run was not perfect, and it was not the run I wanted, but it was the run the X-Men needed at the time.

After that Marvel went on a streak with the X-Men. It's almost as if they had decided to take the X-Men back to their core values as a comic book about a new species fighting to bloom and survive. They laid out the scenario, created new, compelling characters in the New X-Men (Cessily standing out as my favorite), Josh Whedon had his go with the Astonishing X-Men, we had Decimation, 198, Messiah Complex, X-Force, Second Coming... all laid out perfectly. The whole setting felt compelling and emotional because they made me feel like I should try and believe these characters were in risk, that any of them could die at any given moment. They mattered, and I was willing to believe it, because it was a very well-crafted illusion. I believed they lived in a world of their own.

X-Men Post-Second Coming

The X-Men had moved from New York, they had to worry about new mutants showing up, lots of stuff, and suddenly, we have the Schism. Schism was something we could have seen coming for a long time. It was sold as very dark moment for mutants (anyone, and I mean this, does anyone remember Prelude to Schism, and how that never actually made -any- sense when the actual Schism came up?), and in the end, what could have easily been a dramatic moment for mutatns, became a victory to a new team of Evil Kids that assumed control of the Hellfire Club (wtf?) and Scott and Logan fighting over a threat that didn't even feel that threatening to begin with. I mean, they survived a raid of Nimrods, Bastion, The Right, The Sapien League, all in one, and they have a big sentinel to fear? Not to mention the X-Kids destroy the sentinel in a few panels, without losing a single man. It felt like someone at Marvel woke and yelled "Hey! Lets make X-Men cartoonish again! Those guys are too serious!". It didn't correspond to the X-Men vibe that had been taking place since then. Jason Aaron then took most of the X-Kids back to Westchester for pure body count purposes (I can't really buy into those kids, who have been through hell, have seen their friends' corpses get eaten by giant silver lizards, etc, etc, ever being normal again, nor feeling like they should be). Julian Keller became a kid again, a bully, Omega Kid (one of the world's most powerful telepaths) decided he would play the rebel for the school... that was one huge disappointment, and it lifted my belief in comics.

Marvel Studios (conspiracy time)

As most of us know the X-Men and most mutants (aside from Pietro and Wanda, apparently) are property of Fox, when it comes to movies, just as Spiderman belongs to Sony. Marvel Studios has the Avengers property, and has been building it up for sometime now, and it's Marvel's main source of income. To simply put, The Avengers are what feeds people's families in the end of the day, the X-Men don't.

"What the hell does this have to do with you not liking comic books anymore?"

Call me crazy, but Marvel's decisions are made with movies in mind, not comics. Earlier this year Capcom released Marvel Versus Capcom 3 again, and the new characters were Ghost Rider, Doctor Strange, Rocket Rancoon (wtf!), Hawkeye, Iron Fist and Nova. All Marvel Studios properties, and not only these characters have all been considered for live-action movies (yes, even Rocket Racoon and Guardians of Galaxy...), not a single mutant was chosen to be there. Now, can you honestly say that those were the best choices, even when the fans were clamoring for Venom, Carnage, Gambit, Rogue or Cyclops to be there?

Marvel has been forcing these characters down our throats and I feel like they because of movies, without really caring for the character themselves. And that, my friends, makses me see comic books as nothing more than ink in a paper. And I don't care for ink in the paper.

To Sum It Up

For as long as I can remember being alive, I loved X-Men, and most of the Marvel Universe.

I can't say I love them now. These characters, people I followed my whole life, are but paper things that get no love from the people who write their stories. Marjorie Liu undid all the character development X-23 and Julian and Cessily had together (despite of what you might think about the pairing) to turn her into Wolverine 2, letting he walk all around Marvel U without a home or a cause. Archangel and Psylocke got back together to enjoy one of the best stories in comic book history, but now apparently Betsy is with Fantomex just because. Cyclops is doing his best crazy-man performance in AvX, Cable was back, the New-Xmen are all but gone and forgotten (until one of them needs to die, then they will come back), Pepper Potts came back from the limbo to get an armor herself, Wolverine and the X-Men is a book about goofy stuff that doesnt matter...

No matter how much they tell you, comic book characters are there to make money for the company, and nothing else.

And that makes them tools. Tools I can't help but feel no sympathy for


Stepford Cuckoos: Characterization Limbo?

I just realized something that, to me, is inexcusable: why are the Stepford Cuckoos still one-in-the-same clones of one another when they have normal hearts again?
For those of you who don't know the characters very well, here's the briefing:

"Once upon a time they were initially five powerful (albeit young) telepaths that worked in something akin to a mental hive-mind. The more they entwined their minds, the more powerful they became, so at first glance it was a nobrainer they stuck together. Emma Frost, their guardian, tried to make them into five mini-hers, but eventually two of them (Esme and Sophie) broke from the group, persuiting things they desired, and died. The three remaining ones stuck together, but slowly developed personalities, Celeste being the one who desired to live her own life, appart from the group mind, Mindee being the one who tried as hard as she could to keep their group together, and Phoebe being the aggressive power-hungry alpha of the bunch. Along came Phoenix Force, and to make a long story short, the three girls trapped the said entitity inside their hearts, and turned it into diamond, losing their capacity to feel, but keeping the destructive force at bay."
Somewhere along Messiah Complex and Second Coming, however, they lost those fragments. And here comes my question: Why writers keep portraying them as clones with no special traits? They try to get it on with anything that is hot (something I could see Phoebe doing, and even Mindee, if it's a group thing, but never Celeste, who was described as being pretty naive), don't have distinctive looks or even distinctive behaviors. Are writers that unfamiliar with the Cuckoos, or was it a decision to ignore Phoenix: Warsong completely? In that arc (the only one who had the Cuckoos explored as characters, along with Riot at Xavier's and Xorneto's Day in Manhattan) they had distinct personalities, and even though they were sisters, they didn't agree with everything.
I don't know. What grinds my gears is that I get this feeling that the writers just refuse to write them as individuals, being for whatever reason it might be, ranging from 'dude, you can't mess with them! They were the creation of Grant Morrison!' to 'They are cooler if they act like horror movie psychic clones'. For whatever reason, however, I think it's pretty inconsiderate to people who bought Warsong, read it, and specially for those who liked it.
Though I realize that they might lose their 'thing' if they are not hot psychic clones anymore, I just don't see it being right to ignore things that happened, and defined them. It's a violence to the characters, and it is really disturbing me, now that I realize it.
This, of course, was not the first time people would misunderstand the Cuckoos. For many, many times they would be drawn, in a comic, smiling, frowning, or anything the like, when they had no emotions at all. Although I understand they could be faking, I don't see why would they. Being Emma Frost's disciples, I can see them being the 'I don't give a damn about you' kind of person. Writers need to realize it's either hot psychic clones with no emotion, or three hot telepaths that look very much alike and feel very differently. It can't be three hot psychic clones who want to bang the healing dude just because the writer thinks it's cool.
Uncanny X-Men 510

Uncanny X-Men 510  

That Old Same Thing! Again!

I few weeks ago a friend told me X-23 had been identified as a lesbian, at last. I, naive enough, asked how did it happen, since I hadn't seen it nowhere, and then he showed me the Jubilee and Laura picture, where a vampiric ex-mutant is going for Laura's exposed throat. Funny story, I had just finished reading that same comic, and it never ocurred to me that the said picture was any indicative of her sexuality.
A similar situation happened when Cessily was referred as a 'gay cheerleader' in Pixie's dream world, in love with Laura's character inside the same dream dimension. On the same comic Cessily went on to clumsily land over Armor, and people stated it was obvious she was gay.
I know people tend to overthink things, and I usually don't approve of it, but hey! Here I am writting on this blog (this blog feature is awesome, by the way).
Laura and Cessily (two of my favorite characters) are quite interesting to see in this light, as they are both rather troubled and unique individuals, and that reflects everywhere in their personas, including in their sexuality. While Laura is a person without the moral restraints Cessily has, never having lived in society or anything resembling a normal childhood (with parents, friends, college, and such), Mercury was a popular cheerleader and chersished kid at home, to have it all snatched away from her with a quite traumatic mutation. All of a sudden her parents are ashamed of her, she can't be part of the cheerleader squad, she is the freak of the school, and all this pressure is put over shoulders that probably were never build to handle them. What tells us more about them, their characters, and their sexual choices: single panels or their upbringings?
Laura was raised in a very controlled enviroment, and it's quite safe to assume they didn't teach her to be heterossexual (it wouldn't be practical, to say at least, the less limitations she had, the better). As an instinctive person she has shown herself to be, at least in the beginning, I believe she would have no qualms in having relations with male or female, for as long as it arouses her. Honestly, I don't believe Laura to be gay, and if I had to pick a side, I would say she is strictly hetero. In her instincts I can see it being far easier to feel attracted to a male than a female, and things like 'mating' or 'having sex' making far more sense than making love or expressing her love through physical contact.
Cessily, on the other hand, was ripped from her natural enviroment abrupty and violently by her mutation, in an age she was busy discovering all the kinds of things about herself. If anything Mercury has a far less defined sexual orientation than Laura, because to X-23 it would be safe to assume she still feels aroused and desires physical contact (something most writters won't touch, and I understand), while Cessily is not even human. Maybe her desire to touch is solely based on a need to express her love, not to sate any biological urge. I can buy Cessily being gay or bi, and even being freaked out at being anything other than heterosexual (because she is driven by emotion and feeling, not urges or her body), but I believe it's something deeper than 'oh, teehee, the panel said it so!'. As Mercury ages she will start seeing things in a less biological prysm, and will start seeing people for who they are beneath the flesh, as things like gender might lose meaning completely to her. Or maybe she becomes super-facist about it, since she has to cling to every aspect of normalcry she can! That would be whack!
Panels won't really tell about these characters more than their stories and how they handle things do. Also... I don't know what people saw about that Jubilee-Laura panel. Crazy talks sprung over that! Wow!

I know I am late to speak about the subject, I just never really had an account before! Thanks for the time spent reading it!


The Dangers of X-Posure (Oh snap!)

So, I am a X-Men fan, above all others.
I always enjoyed the X-Books, but there was a point in my reading life when I realized that reading comics was pointless. That happened when Archangel and Psylocke broke up (Betsy was being a whore and Warren was being lame), and when that happened I found myself staring at the page and wondering "Wow, that made no sense at all. A writer or editor, someday, decided they had to spice things up, and broke these two up". That clash of reading a true, well-thought story against reading a fan-based series of events that are poorly conected to one another made me stop reading comics for quite sometime.
But, being the good, shameless person I am, when I heard Betsy and Warren were finally getting back together in Uncanny X-Force, I decided to buy those. I took advantage of a trip to the US, and bought all new X-Force numbers (not making the distinction between the X-Force, the one with X-23 and Domino, and Uncanny X-Force, the one I thought I wanted). So one thing leads to another, and I bought X-Force, Messiah War, New X-Men, Messiah Complex and Second Coming, and I was officially back on the X-Boat. I pretty much enjoyed most of it, but ironically enough, I didn't enjoy Uncanny X-Force at all.
That feeling of 'Man... it's so dumb that Warren and Betsy are still at this page in their lives... can't they grow up?"
Most of the popular comic book characters suffer from this over-exposure (Wolverine anyone?) one time or another, because fans demand to see their favored ones get more attention, and roar in rage when they are put on the background. Thing is, as a business, comic books either make the characters too stale, it doesn't matter how much they change. Warren is Archangel, then he is Angel, but with metal wings, and then just Angel, and then he can morph into both, and then he is wingless, it's an eternal cycle. I know most comic book readers feel this, but the question I have to ask is... aren't we to blame too?
I will tell you this: I am a X-23 fan. I like her story, I like how well-developed she was, and how she was really growing as a character, especially after joining the New X-Men, finding Cessily and Julian, and all that jazz. I really thought she was going somewhere. But then she joins X-Force, everybody finds out, she gets into a fight in Utopia with Noriko about it (Cessily is nowhere to be seen. So busy that girl), and leaves. She gets her solo title, and since then, she has not taken one meaningful step towards someplace else. She is just adrift, the same she started. And it makes me wonder if this is the right direction comic books should take characters.
If you move too fast, you have to keep changing the characters, to keep them interesting. If you move too slow, they become boring and predictable.
But since people love Laura so much, there's only so much she can get exposed before she gets the Warren/Betsy/Spidey/Wolverine/Somanyothers  treatment. She will end up getting back to Utopia, sticking with Julian, and suddenly her past gets back to haunt her, she breaks up with him, becomes an emotionless murderer again, all tha jazz. Or maybe Mephisto will just blackmail her. Oh, the battle scars some characters have will never fade... 
Marvel won't give other minor females a chance if people won't have them. Maybe comic book readers should be more tolerant, or maybe Marvel should put more effort in writting original stories to their stabilished characters? Or should they bite the bullet and write their least known characters better, and show the readers how interesting they could be?
Comment away!