Greetings from the Odinson,
OK, boys and girls, this week we are going to try something a little different. In life, there many, many ups and downs. Hence the metaphor life is like a rollercoaster. All throughout life, every single man, woman, and child is faced with decisions, trials, and tribulations. How they handle these moments becomes the core ingredients that shapes them individually as human beings.
Recently, the Odinson has come to notice a very significant shift in the world of comic books. Marvel Comics to be more exact. This is quite significant for the Odinson for Marvel has been my home away from home for the better part of my life. I like DC Comics too, but Marvel is, without a doubt, my favorite comics universe. However, as the time passes by, and the years roll on, as they tend to do, the Odinson has come to a very alarming realization about his All-Time favorite comics universe. Not only may the Marvel U be passing me by, but it may be leaving me behind and forgetting me all together.
Now some may be scratching their head and asking where is the Odinson going with this? I find sometimes that when these moments of contemplation and self-reflection arise a great way to reaching some kind of resolution is to talk it out. So, welcome to an Odinson introspective therapy session.
Out with the Old and In with the New
I believe the children are our future… Isn’t that what Whitney Houston said? In the realm of the Marvel Universe there is a movement that is taking over. It is a movement of youth and diversity. Classic iconic heroes are being replaced by younger, hipper derivatives. While the Replacement Hero is nothing new to the realms of comics, this is something different. Replacement and Legacy Heroes in the past have more times than not seemed organic to the story being told.
When Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash, gave his life in Crisis on Infinite Earths to save the planet, it made perfect sense that Wally West, longtime Kid Flash and member of the Teen Titans, would step up and take on the mantle of his mentor and become the next Flash. After the Death of Captain Marvel it made perfect sense that his son Genis-Vell would want to carry on the family name. It even made sense when Carol Dancers eventually wanted to honor and take on the mantel left behind by the man she loved, the man who inspired her, and the man that empowered her. When Batman’s back was broken by Bane it made perfect sense that a New Batman would take up the fight for justice in Gotham City. These are just a few examples of Replacement and Legacy Heroes. There have been many examples throughout the years, and for some reason these never bothered me. Perhaps it was because it didn’t feel like the old was being pushed aside to make way for the NEW. It just felt like a natural progression in a running narrative. However, this new movement, or should I say “All-New” movement, at Marvel has got me feeling a little confused.
This new crop of next gen heroes at the House of Ideas seems more like double-dipping into a cash cow that has already produce great rewards.
Here is what I’m talking about.
The Old: The Incredible Hulk – Bruce Banner was a scientist of the Atomic Age who was caught in the heart of a Gamma Bomb. Miraculously not killed, Banner found that whenever he gets angry, he would transform into a 1,000 lbs. rage monster known as the Hulk.
The New: Totally Awesome Hulk – Amadeus Cho is a Korean-American teenager who just so happens to be one of the most brilliant people alive. Now, he is empowered by with the limitless strength of the Hulk.
The Old: The Mighty Thor – He was the Prince of Asgard, the god of thunder, and the son of Odin. Now, he is unworthy.
The New: Mighty Thor (Jane Foster) – She is a doctor who has cancer, and now wields the unparalleled might of Mjolnir, the invincible hammer of Thor.
The Old: Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) – She was empowered by aliens with super human abilities far beyond those of mortal men and is the premiere female super hero of the Marvel Universe.
The New: Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) – She is a Muslim-American teenager with super cool stretchy powers who idolizes Carol Danvers. (So, I guess I can cut her a little slack for the name.)
The Old: Steve Rogers: Captain America – He was a super soldier manufactured and forged during the harrowing days of World War II who now fights injustice in modern times as the Sentinel of Liberty.
The New: Sam Wilson: Captain America – He was once Steve Rogers’ high-flying partner. Now, he is the current wielder of Captain America’s invincible shield.
The Old: Wolverine – He was a super human mutant that was transformed by the Canadian government into the ultimate weapon.
The New: All-New Wolverine – She is a teenage clone of the original who currently struggles with toeing the line between right and wrong and living up to the legacy of her honored predecessor.
The Old: The Amazing Spider-Man – Bitten by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker was endowed with the super powers of a human spider. After the tragic murder of his beloved Uncle Ben, a murder he could have prevented, Peter learned that with great power there must also come great responsibility.
The New: Miles Morales: Spider-Man – He is an African/Hispanic-American teenager who possesses all the powers of Spider-Man and then some. He hails from an alternate universe that no longer exists.
The Old: The Invincible Iron Man – He was a billionaire, playboy, philanthropist who built a high-tech suit of armor to enforce justice. He uses his genius level intellect to try and usher in a better tomorrow for mankind.
The New: Ironheart – Riri Williams is a brilliant African-American teenager who reversed engineered Stark technology and built her own operational Iron Man-like armor using only materiel she could find on her school’s campus. NOTE: At least they didn’t call her Iron Girl.
The Old: Nova (Richard Rider) – He was a teenager who was recruited and empowered by a galactic police force. He grew to become a man who spearheaded the resistance against the Annihilation Wave and became one of Marvel’s most legendary cosmic heroes.
The New: Nova (Sam Alexander) – He is a teenager who inherits his alien-born super powers from his father and quite often bites off more than he can chew as he tries to learn how to be a super hero.
The Old: Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) – He was a stuntman who made a deal with the devil in order to save a loved one. As those dark deals often do, Blaze was cheated and he became a Spirit of Vengeance and repo man for hell. With a flaming skull, this Ghost Rider streaks through the night on the back of a flaming chopper.
The New: Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes) – He is a Mexican-American teenager who while trying to escape the gang-ridden street life of his neighborhood was gunned down by criminals. Now he is a Spirit of Vengeance seeking revenge against those who would do harm to others. With a flaming driving helmet, this Ghost Rider burns across the highways and bi-ways behind the wheel of a haunted flaming muscle car.
The Old: The Uncanny X-Men – They were the Children of the Atom, mutants born with extraordinary powers and abilities who fought for a world that feared and hated them. Over the years, some have passed away, but all of them have, for better or worse, been changed by their life experiences in the Marvel Universe.
The New: The All-New X-Men – They are Professor X’s original five teenage students displaced from the past and brought to the present day Marvel Universe. They still possess the optimism and wide-eyed inexperience of youth, but after interacting with their very different and, in some cases, extremely jaded future selves, will they positively affect the current state of the Marvel Universe, or will it have a negative effect on them?
Now, right off the bat, I must explain. It is not the diversity of these new characters that concerns me. I realize that in the sixties, when the Marvel Universe was in its infancy, the landscape was dominated by white males. It was a product of its time. I am all for diversity, but even more so than diversity, I am for originality.
As the high-flying Falcon, Sam Wilson was already well established as one of the premiere African-American super heroes in the history of comic books. Amadeus Cho is absolutely one of the best original characters created in the Modern Era of comics. Robbie Reyes has an origin story that is amazing and stands on its own without the help of a franchise name.
From Miles Morales to Kamala Khan, from Riri Williams to Robbie Reyes, all of these great characters should stand on their own. Instead of holding onto the coattails of what has already come before, wouldn’t these diverse new characters be better served by establishing their own legends? The Black Panther, Shang Chi, Vixen, Lady Shiva, Spawn, Luke Cage, and Katana are all legendary characters of different color and creed, and they stood on their own without the help of yesterday’s heroes. In Giant-Size X-Men #1, Marvel didn’t replace the original X-Men with Cyclops-Boy, Marvel-Boy, Beast-Boy, Ice-Kid, and Angel-Lass. No, they assembled a diverse group of heroes from around the globe. Not only was this one of the most interesting aspects of this new team of X-Men, but names like Storm, Nightcrawler, Sunfire, Colossus, Thunderbird and Wolverine have become iconic names in the Pantheon of Marvel Comics.
So no, it is not the diversity of these NEW heroes that concerns me, it’s their youth, and what that means. It almost feels like the old generation is being pushed aside to make way for the NEW. Characters in the comics are supposed to be eternally youthful, but this youth movement at Marvel makes icons like Peter Parker, Tony Stark, and Bruce Banner feel old. It makes me feel old.
Dear reader, make no mistake, I like every single one of these new, younger characters. I just think they are being done a disservice by being stamped with a franchise name that has already come before. They would be better served with new, cool super hero names of their own so that their legends can stand on their own. We need more originality in comics, and less repetitiveness. Every one of these new heroes could be so great if they could just drop the training wheels the House of Ideas has shackled them with.
In the end, the Odinson is really dealing with an aspect of life that every single human being will have to come to terms with at some point in time or another. The Odinson is getting old. I realize that a lot of my observations above about youth taking over and things are not how they used to be are not any different than what any other man in history who is facing down middle age has said in the past, and will say again for every generation still to come. I fear I am clinging desperately to an idea of what the Marvel Universe is when it is no longer mine to hold.
I think talking aloud about this subject has helped. I have loved comics my entire life and will love, support and talk about the medium until the day I die, but I have also come to a realization. It is now time to pass the torch down to the next generation of heroes, the next generation of creators, and the next generation of readers. The future belongs to the young. So, I’ll step aside, for now, but I will be watching and reading, and you can bet, I will be talking about it. So Sayeth the Odinson.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell