As a 59 year old white heterosexual male I understand that I am no longer a target market. Heck at this point I’m sure my opinion means less to a major corporation then almost any other point in my lifetime. Still why Marvel lost me is at least an intellectual exercise for me to put a rationale on what is at the end of the day an emotion decision. The emotion is due to a parting of ways from characters that inspired my love of comics.
I think first and foremost it is price point. Every Marvel book is now at least $4. The trend to making more and more titles $5 is frightening. Due to a discount structure and the way I buy my books I have never felt the full force of the $4 price tag. I have felt the creep in overall cost. I make a good wage and have an indulgent wife, so how much disposable income I can drop on comics is for the most part at my discretion. A $100 a week in books is not too much. Still I want a bang for my buck and Marvel no longer delivers. The $4 price point “gives me” a “free” digital version of the comic. Problem is I don’t like digital comics and could care less about having a free digital version. I gave away my digital books to a friend of mine. So the extra $1 is a total waste of money. As Marvel is the highest price point of the bigger publishers dropping 5 Marvel books coming out next week reduced the retail price by $20. Image has some $3 and many $3.50 books and DC still has many $3 books. Plus Marvel is pushing that $5 envelope very hard with Secret Wars and Old Man Logan clocking in at $5. So if those five books are a savings of $25. That means I could try 8 DC $3 books for the same price of 5 Marvel books or 6 $4 books from an independent company. Pure dollar and cents make Marvel the easiest to drop.
Next up is the convoluted never ending stories. I love a great epic storyline. Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli is the best Daredevil story ever done and one of the top ten storylines ever done. I have the Artist Edition of the story and recently re-read it. It still holds up as one of the best stories ever done. What we have gotten to in many modern comics is the never ending epic and a cast of characters to make Game of Thrones seem like a small cast. The biggest offender is Jonathan Hickman and his Avengers / New Avengers run. These two books both had around 40 plus issues meandering all over the place with a cast of at least 100 different people. This all lead up to the highly convoluted Secret Wars, which after two issues I gave up. I have a decent IQ, my retention for comics is decent, but the story was not even making any coherent comic book sense. Worse is all the run up to get us to Secret Wars seem to have no ending or basis of impacting anything. I understand that trying to comprehend the Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire can take a lot of time, study and reading to just begin to comprehend all the elemnets. The same with the rise of Nazism in Germany. There are myriad amount of elements that allowed this to happen in a country of rationale people. I should not have to be that involved to try and understand this story line. Worse is that many elements are left on the wayside and scattered like so many Chris Claremont X-Men sub plots. I just ask that Marvel entertain me. What they are doing instead if expecting some cool concepts and pretty art to make it work. It doesn’t work. As educated and literate as many of today’s writers are, the stories told my Miller, Byrne, Shooter and Claremont were far superior.
Another element that has pushed me over the edge is the seeming progressive liberal agenda being pushed in comic books. My personal politics are libertarian with probably a slight left tilt, as I’m very liberal on social issues, fiscal conservative, less government when possible and for getting us the heck out of the Middle East. That is a preamble to the fact that if you want a transgendered hero, more female heroes, more racial differences in your heroes, that is all well and good, but do not do at the expense and denigration of the heroes that had been there before. I think Thor might have been the one that drove me over the edge. Female Thor shows up and she is better than the old Thor. Not only that but it was a lot of male bashing. You do not build yourself up by dragging others down. I for one have always wanted change, so change is good, but change just to change is crap. I think DC, prior to New 52 had the right idea. Mr. Terrific from the golden age had been replaced by a new black Mr. Terrific in the modern age. Michael Holt had a great back story, was a genius and was every bit of the hero. In other words the next generation of the hero. Batman letting Dick Grayson take over and his son be the new Robin was a great change. In fact Batman had a great history and having female iterations of the characters and did a bang up job with a lot of those characters. Heck the FF could have done a great job by letting Valeria grow up and run the next generation of the FF. Iceman could have had a son and he could have been gay. But artificially making Thor unworthy and obviously trying to force fit retroactive personalities on characters who have decades of back story does not work for me. I feel like it is an agenda to diversify. Making the characters look different, but all have the same voice is not diversification. Diversify the voices telling the stories, bring in other writers with different viewpoints and let the stories be more organic. I know from reading a lot of different articles that the color of the writers and editors is lily white and the voices inside would make USC Berkley proud. So whether there is a true agenda or not, who knows, but I feel like who I am is not valued as a customer.
Finally, and perhaps this is the most telling the characters are dead. By never allowing characters to age and move on, the million stories told about the characters have made them dried up worthless husks. Stories are told with no regards for who the characters are, they are told to tell some story either the writer or editorial staff comes up with. The lack of imagination is astounding as writers are apparently unable to writer older heroes, married heroes or whatever the case maybe. Instead gimmicks and time jumps are used to artificially make an event or story. The Cyclops, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Tony Stark, Storm of today are unrecognizable after the many stories have been told about them over the years. In fact most of the characters have few defining characteristics that are stable. No one is who they were and often it changes from comic to comic. There was a time where I felt the characters were so strong that no matter what writer was telling a story you knew how a character would react to a situation because you knew them. Now, it feels like this are just exactly what they are drawings on a piece of paper with words inserted into their mouths by whoever is the current writer.
All of that has led me to leave Marvel behind. My wallet thanks me and I have my collection of great stories to re-read at some future time. As Disney moves to make Marvel more of a licensing publisher operation I’m sure financial success will continue. For me the fun and desire to read the current stories is dead. Sadly something of my love for these characters has died also. I guess we will always have Amazing Spider-Man 31-33, as opposed to Paris.