That’s it…right there. Do you see it? It’s a line. That line represents the amount of bullshit I can take before dissing something that I genuinely like.
Now, see over there? That’s Marvel. Marvel is beyond the line, indicative of the fact that at some point they crossed it. I do grow increasingly tired of their bullshit stories, no matter how effectively entertaining some aspects of them continue to be. There’s awesome characters that have meaningful and/or humorous interactions with each other, great villains and some real personal battles for our favorite heroes to go through. The artwork is usually great, and some of the ideas have really breathed new life into comic books for me.
If I’m enjoying Marvel comics so much, then what is my complaint? Time travel.
One of the greatest X-Men storylines was Days of Future Past, which involved mutants from the future coming to the past and telling the X-Men that something has to be done different. Bishop was from the future, as well as Cable. There was a really interesting event called “Age of Apocalypse” that explored the idea of what would happen if Apocalypse won and the X-Men were living in the aftermath. These ideas were usually pretty cool and solidified Marvel’s storytelling ability to the fans.
Cut to the present, and what you have is a bunch of stories trying really hard to recreate the greatness of the past. Now that the Avengers have fought the X-Men and major changes have been made to the Marvel Universe because of the circumstances surrounding that conflict, you would think that the writers would really take the opportunity to continue shaking up the status quo and deal with the current issues at hand while always presenting a hint of what was to come for the future. Instead, we get an almost continuous stream of stories involving time travel.
The All New X-Men is about time-displaced original X-Men from the 60’s living in today’s world and dealing with our problems. I can deal with it because it pits a non-douchebag young Cyclops against douchebag Cyclops, focuses slightly on an oft-overlooked awesome character in Beast and it brings back Jean friggin’ Grey which was always one of my favorite Marvel females. Storm’s kind of a bitch, and Kitty Pryde will always seem young and irresponsible to me for some reason. Jean Grey was supposed to be necessary to the team, not expendable. Anyways, time travel has occurred.
Thor: God of Thunder’s first 10 or so issues deals with a time-traveling God-Butcher and three versions of Thor from different times during his life. This story was excellent and is still one of my favorites, but the fact is that it does deal with time travel.
A few months into the Marvel Now! rebranding, an event kicked off called “Age of Ultron”, in which Ultron wins and Marvel’s merry mutants are subjected to deal with the consequences. First off, does that sound familiar? Go back and read what I wrote about “Age of Apocalypse” and get back to me. Secondly, the solution to the issue of Ultron taking over the world is time travel. They travel back in time and deal with Ultron like he was John Connor. I don’t wanna spoil it if you haven’t read it, but if you get the reference then you get the reference.
Hot on the heels of “Age of Ultron” is the event called “Infinity”. This deals somewhat with the consequences of “Age of Ultron” because it claims that breaking the space-time continuum or something was bad and caused by time travel. The effects of this are likely to be the cause of the end of the Ultimate world, which I am happy about because that whole deal was just a big eyesore on Marvel, sitting there as if to say “Hey, comic fans! Look at this! We have no idea what the hell we are doing!” Anyways, seeing as how apparently time travel is now universally considered a bad thing, you would think that heroes would stop using it…
In Superior Spider-Man, the Spider-Man from 2099 decides to use time-travel to fix a problem now that something in the past is going to kill his father. With gaping plot holes, this time travel is also being used by employees of Horizon Labs to (I’m just guessing here) find out that Spider-Man is Doc Ock. Or something, I’m not sure. The story is great and the characters are really awesome in this book, but it’s one of those “again with the time travel!” moments for me.
Speaking of having more time travel than you can shake a stick at, Marvel has just rolled out a semi-event called “The Arms of The Octopus”, where a possibly time-displaced Doctor Octopus is saturated with radiation and confronts the time-displaced original X-Men! The Superior Spider-Man shows up, decidedly unconvinced of that this Doc Ock is the real deal (which he is pretty much an expert on, lol), and decides to involve the Hulk. Don’t get me wrong, the first installment of this thing came out today and it’s a pretty fun read but not only is there the issue of time travel here but the time-displaced X-Men are already caught up in an event called “Children of the Atom” at the moment. Couldn’t they have used this event as something for the X-Men to do while Infinity occupies the Avengers’ time, and then had the next major event be Children of the Atom after Infinity wrapped up? It really does seem like three major events that have characters appearing at the same time who don’t seem to be concerned with what they are doing in other comics is kind of annoying.
Speaking of Battle of the Atom, guess what the major storytelling component is in THIS event? That’s right…time travel. X-Men from the future have come to the present to tell the X-Men from the past to go home, but then X-Men from the past and present travel to see other X-Men from the future and get a different story about the people who have visited the present from the future. Did you catch all that? Again, the characters and art are excellent. The story is not done all that horribly. The action is actually good. This is true of all of the time-related books I’ve talked about here. What, then, am I complaining about?
Stories that require time travel should be scarce, in my opinion. Using time travel to solve your comic universe’s problems is potentially dangerous to the sanctity of your canon and continuity because you can go back in time and kill off characters and change storylines, basically undoing stories that fans have committed to memory as happening. This concept is highlighted by the “Age of Ultron” event, where the characters had to go back in time and change as little as possible so that Ultron couldn’t take over the Earth but nothing else changed about the Marvel Universe. What purpose, then, did the story serve other than to kill off Ultron once and for all? And can we really believe he’s dead forever, considering there’s an Avengers movie sequel called “Age of Ultron” coming up? Will Marvel really not have the big villain from their billion-dollar movie franchise in the comics when that movie comes out? It didn’t really tackle anything at all, did it? I have considered that the whole point of this event was to have an excuse to kill off Ultron and bring him back in the image the movies present.
Also, look at the time-displaced X-Men I’ve been talking about. In one issue, young Cyclops almost dies and it causes old Cylcops to fade out a la Back to the Future. When young Cyclops is saved, old Cyclops stops being less opaque than usual. This proves that the young X-Men from the past are directly connected to the X-Men of the future, but shouldn’t we consider what happens if the X-Men never go back to their time? By having old Cyclops there alongside young Cyclops, isn’t the story trying to tell us that Cyclops (and, for that matter, everyone else except for maybe Jean Grey) goes back to their time and has the entire ordeal wiped from their minds by a 1960’s Professor Xavier? Cyclops has been tragically affected by the death of his bride, the fact that he killed Xavier and he doesn’t like being an outlaw very much. The only reason we still consider him to be a good guy is the idea that if he could go back and fix it, he would. Well, his younger self’s presence should be the quick answer to his prayers, but it apparently isn’t. There are a few ways to do time travel, and by hinging old Cyclops’ existence to the well-being of his younger, time-displaced self Marvel proves that they don’t know how to handle it seriously. As a reader, my only drive to keep reading is to see what, if any, consequences this all will have on the story and Universe as a whole.
Time Travel should have consequences, and Marvel isn’t convincing me of that when so many stories are doing the time warp again…and again...and again.
I had a dilemma as to whether I should gripe about time travel or discuss other things going on in the Marvel Universe first, but then a Charlie Mic from the future came and told me what to do. I’m sure my future was bettered by that visit, because why on Earth would I travel back in time unless it was going to have far-reaching consequences? Right!?!?!
Okay, clearly I haven’t moved on.
Anyways, Thor is starting a new story arc and it involves Malekith the Accursed. For those of you who don’t know, he’s the bad guy in the upcoming Thor sequel titled Thor:The Dark World. At first I was discouraged by this, but then I realized that this comic is not a cash-in and Malekith is much different in the comics than he is in the trailers for the movie. In the comics, it seems that after being banished and defeated so many years ago Malekith has gone quite insane. He looks like the artists were trying to give him a Joker-y look to him…and it looks like the artists did a damn good job. The writing is also top-notch, and whereas once I was concerned that the next Thor villain was going to have some big shoes to fill after the awesomeness that was Gorr the God-Butcher I am now pleased to announce Malekith’s arrival to you all.
Other than that, there is another villain that I’m happy to announce the return of: Carnage! The Superior Carnage has been kind of a weird comic for the last couple of issues, but the most recent one established (finally) who was going to be Carnage and who was Carnage going to fight. This Carnage has used guns so far alongside his signature symbiote-borne weapons, and sports a little bit of a different look. Though he’s probably just as crazy as Cletus Cassidy was while he was in the suit, the new guy (some scientist guy with no legs…kinda like what they did with Venom) exclaims that Cassidy was an idiot who just wanted chaos everywhere and that he will be…how should I put it…Superior?
Still excited for Marvel comics, despite some of the shortcomings! Thor: God of Thunder is definitely about to ramp up again, Spider-Man books are consistently entertaining, and hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of this X-Men event so the story can have our heroes tackle some actual villains instead of the consequences of their lives. If anyone reads the Avengers (I don’t, can’t justify more than 3 comics a week really) then let us all know how that’s going.
Remember how I said a Charlie Mic from the future visited me? He also told me that YOU were going to use the comment section. That’s right, so you better do it or it might have dire consequences for the future of mankind.
Thanks for reading!