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Big Changes for the Web-Slinger and Children of the Atom!

November 30, 2000 2:51 PM   Subscribe

Big Changes for the Web-Slinger and Children of the Atom!
In an effort to lure kids back to the quiet, almost antiquated pastime of reading paper magazines filled with stories about do-gooders, Marvel Comics announces an AMAZING re-organization of the X-MEN and SPIDER MAN. Yes, loyal arachno-fans, Peter Parker is going to start life anew as a "webmaster" for the Daily Bugle! The X-Men will go back to high school ... for MUTANTS! (PS: Captain America to be laid off.) Marvel's editor in chief announces other changes.
posted by rschram (11 comments total)

 
Far more interesting is that Grant Morrison will be writing for X-men soon. After all I know he has some fans here (Barbelith-*cough*).
posted by john at 3:01 PM on November 30, 2000


I'm under the impression that the "ultimate" titles are sort of an "alternate reality" sideline, and that the top existing titles will continue to maintain the same continuity they have been. Of course, as someone who was only recently drawn back to the X-titles after several years, I don't object to a shakeout in the main-line titles.
posted by harmful at 3:09 PM on November 30, 2000


Well I think the precursor would have to be the X Men: Evolution the cartoon show on the WB, which is very different and more slick than X Men shown on Fox.

In X Men: Evolution, they start as high school kids, and they are currently recruiting. Shadowcat, and Nightcrawler were among the "new" recruits.
posted by riffola at 3:50 PM on November 30, 2000


You're correct, harmful- The "Ultimate" line is an alternative universe. The original one will still be there for the "classic" fans- the new universe (not to be confused with The New Universe) is meant to draw in new readers unfamiliar with all the original history.
posted by dogwelder at 4:54 PM on November 30, 2000


Back in 1985 DC Comics took their entire line of superheroes and renovated everyone from Wonder Woman to Ambush Bug. In the long run it didn't do them much good. Marvel's doing too little too late.

Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four. These were great ideas but I think fifty years is long enough to squeeze anything useful out of them. I don't know. Maybe if they came up with original ideas which would cause people to want to read comic books again, maybe that might help.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:57 PM on November 30, 2000


Don't people still read comic books? I thought sales were OK?
posted by cell divide at 6:44 PM on November 30, 2000


Actually, I'm kind of intrigued that J. Michael Straczinski, creator of Babylon 5, will be writing for Spiderman.
posted by fpatrick at 7:40 PM on November 30, 2000


Don't people still read comic books? I thought sales were OK?

According to NPR news yesterday morning, sales for comic books have steadily been going down over the last two decades. A spokesperson for Marvel explained that their research shows many young people used to get their first comic books from older siblings. However, today there are less of those older siblings collecting comics, so they fear the number of avid readers is only going to continue to decline, unless they do something about it.

They're doing what they know might work. They're going to other media to get young people's attention. Movies and cartoons on television are good examples. They're also hoping to begin selling comic books in newer avenues; places where they know the kids of today are going.

The Ultimate comics are in alternate "worlds" from the storylines I personally grew up with when I used to read comics. The newer approaches to Spidey and the Mutants are under more social filters and cenorship. They're designed to interest parents and other conservative adults as "family fare." Personally I don't see this a good direction for the storytelling medium.

However, I recall back in the 80s that comic book companies were trying to mature their product, in order to keep the attention of young people as they grew older. The result created material not suitable for children, and it still didn't keep my attention. I haven't bought a comic book in several years, partly because the prices have become outrageous, but also because the stories just didn't hold any interest for me anymore.

Vigilante tales are fantasy. The stark reality of vigilanteism is not something that can be glorified, and it's not pretty. There's many organizations out there who have lost any trust or faith in the American government for example, and are chomping on the bit in hopes for an opportunity to take the law into their own hands. Instead of special mutant powers, they're turning to guns, and dressing themselves up in army fatigues.

This is not a good thing to teach children.

After looking at extreme examples of this problem in areas such as Waco during the Branch Davidian fiasco, suddenly things like Batman don't look very appealing. And X-Men has turned into a metaphor for racial discrimination. I don't know. The entire comic book industry has just turned sour. I don't think there's a future for it.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:13 PM on November 30, 2000


Waco was a Jack Chick tract. Don't blame comics. I grew up on Marvel - Romita / Kirby era - and so did all my friends. Number of friends involved in paramilitary anti-government cliques: Zero. Comics taught me that it is wrong to use your special electrical powers to rob banks; it is wrong to steal the serum Aunt May needs to live; it is really, really wrong to fly around on a jet-powered broomstick hurling percussive pumpkins at people's heads, and it's downright STOOPID to send a silver hippie to scope out planets you want to eat, because he'll screw it all up.

On one hand, comics are better than ever. Some of the art is astonishing, and some of the titles, like "100 Bullets" or Kevin Smith's "Daredevil" arc, are just plain fun smart work. And then there are the guys who are creating actual literature - Kantor, Ware, Lutes, Spiegelman, a hundred others.

I'd feel bereft if my diet consisted only of comics, but I'd feel equally deprived if my consumption of fiction didn't include a heaping serving from the comics group.
posted by lileks at 9:49 PM on November 30, 2000


I'm not blaming comic books. I'm blaming the idiots who presently own comic books. Awhile back there was this endless debate about whether or not the Ten Commandments belong in public schools, and if so, what other religious crap should we put in there? Y'know what I think should be etched into the walls of every school, in place of any religious dogma of every religion ever created? With great power comes great responsibility. Wow. That phrase should be lauded along with all the greatest nuggets of wisdom throughout humanity's existence. But to the masses, it's just a stupid childish comic book, and not to be taken seriously. And today to the corporations who own them, Spider-Man and Wolverine are just copyrights to be exploited for financial gain, and in consequence the true message gets lost or watered down into something without value. This cash cow's got some dry udders. It's time to quit leeching off the accomplishments of the great Stan Lee and others, and come up with something new. Or just accept bankruptcy and fade into oblivion.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:25 PM on November 30, 2000


Zach, I think that the problem, as with so many forms of literature, was that people saw artistic and commercial success (in this case, that of Frank Miller -- his Daredevil, Wolverine, and Batman work basically kicked off the gritty-vigilante trend) and tried to duplicate it (see Lobo, post-Miller Wolverine, ad nauseum). But without any of Frank Miller's talent, what you get are bad film noir/action-movie ripoffs with cheesy dialogue and dubious social value. Whereas Miller's work was at least a credible pastiche of those influences. (Not to mention the assorted and more ethically-nuanced takes on the idea in Moore & Co.'s Watchmen and V for Vendetta, which still defy easy pigeonholing for me.)

JMS has been doing a superhero book called Falling Stars; I read a couple issues and thought they were okay, although only Warren Ellis-penned superhero comics are really my bag any more.

But I think I'll do what I have been doing -- reading mostly Bone and various Slave Labor and Fantagraphics titles that I like.
posted by snarkout at 7:32 AM on December 1, 2000


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