Marvel: All-New, All-Different Does Not Necessarily Mean All-Better

After 75 years of comic books about iconic super-heroes, Marvel is ending its universe as we know it. Earth-616 (where the mainstream continuity takes place) and the Ultimate Marvel Universe collide, resulting in the destruction of both. This major event started in May and it is called Secret Wars. What lies ahead for our heroes and villains after the series is still shrouded in mystery. Who will live, who will die, and how have they been changed? Very few details have been released, but Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso has stated that they are not afraid to bring drastic changes. During a press event in January, he stated: “This is putting an endcap to decades of stories and starting a new era. When you see the scope of the event, [you will] see what we’re willing to do. This is a place where we’re going to be bringing new pieces onto the board and taking old pieces off. You guys will be yelling and screaming, loving and hating in equal measure.”

This might seem like an extreme step, but it is easy to come up with some theories about why Marvel would choose to do a reboot of sorts at this time. I believe that one of the most important reasons is as simple as attempting to increase sales. Marvel has been through ups and downs over the years, and even came close to bankruptcy in 1996. Their fortunes have certainly changed since then: their comics have regained popularity, and they have created an extremely popular cinematic universe. While the films based on the graphic novels have attracted a large new audience, it is a challenge to get them to read the comics. This is not because there is no interest in them, but probably because the Comic Universe is so large and complicated that it puts people off. I have personally been interested in the comics for years but have, until recently, always been put off by the challenge of understanding such a large universe. Rebooting the franchise is most likely the best way for Marvel to attract new readers. A brand new era with brand new characters and story-lines will make it a lot easier for people to start reading from the (new) beginning without having to bother with the 75 years of old material.

The strategy is not without problems though. While it is simple to hit a reset button and start the stories over again for the characters, Marvel cannot simply tell the same origin stories over again. That way they are sure to lose their old and loyal fanbase. Why should they be spending time and money reading the same stories over again? In order to appeal to both the new and old fans Marvel had to compromise. They destroy the universe as we know it, drastically changing everything and everyone. That way the new era will be fresh and unexplored to everyone. But at what cost?

So far Marvel has played their cards close to their chest. We still don’t know which characters will live and which will die during Secret Wars. Some characters have been revealed as survivors, and some storylines have been hinted at. My impression so far is that Marvel is aiming to make their line-up of characters more diverse, both when it comes to genders and ethnicity.4608913-cgxqdihwgaa1uif X-23 (Laura) is taking over as a new Wolverine, Sam Wilson becomes Captain America, we have a new female Thor, and one of the few characters that have been revealed as survivors is a Native-American (Red Wolf). I understand and respect that Marvel is putting effort into making its universe more including. In the 60s, when the comics were first created, the world had a very different view on genders and race. It is no surprise that a company centered in America at that time would mainly feature male Caucasian heroes. While they were sometimes supported by female Caucasian heroes, the women were designed to be visually pleasing for the male readers (no women reads comics, right?). That Marvel is trying to stay relevant to the times is clear: they have introduced heroes with different ethnicity, religions, and sexualities. My only issue with these changes is that Marvel is making changes to the established characters instead of creating new ones. While it is great to see African-Americans becoming more represented, I’m not a fan of Sam Wilson becoming Captain America. Steve Rogers’ Captain America has such a long spanning history and is such an established character that is seems wrong to me that that anyone else takes over that name. Before any of you play the race card I want to say that I would have felt this way regardless of the skin-tone of the person taking over. Wilson is great as Falcon. When he takes over after Cap, I would have liked to see him do it under a new name. I’d like to see him do his own thing instead of mimicking the previous Cap. The same goes for new Wolverine and new Thor. I like seeing more women on the front lines, but I would have preferred it if they made their own identities instead of just following in the footsteps of others. Why must Marvel change the loved and established cast, and possibly putting off the current readers? Captain America will always be Steve Rogers to me. When I see Wilson donning the costume I can’t help but think: “That is not my Captain America.”

Meanwhile there are many characters that we haven’t heard anything about yet.4608492-cgxptahxeaaonpaThe Fantastic Four comics were recently canceled prior to Secret Wars. What will happen to the team that has been a central force since the very start of Marvel? We have seen one image of Thing in a Guardians of the Galaxy uniform, suggesting he will move to the cosmic storylines. But what about the rest of the FF family? And what will this mean for the current GoG line-up? Marvel has also dropped some hints about Hulk. While they have confirmed that Bruce Banner will be present, they haven’t stated that he is going to be the Hulk. Alons said that “The all-new Hulk … this character is certain to cause debate. The same people who went crazy with female Thor will have a field day with this one.” While we don’t know anything more than that, I am worried about what all these changes could mean for the Universe that we know and love. I wonder if Marvel is trying to create controversy on purpose so that the new era will get more attention.

Is the All-New, All-Different brand really for the better? I dislike that the new changes are at the expense of the established universe. I don’t know about other Marvel fans, but I’m not All-Happy to see characters that I am invested in being drastically changed. It is not only about them changing, but seeing other characters taking over their place. While some central characters are still present, we don’t know to what extent. The old fans seem to draw the short straw as the universe they have been following is suddenly destroyed and replaced by something new. While the new universe won’t necessarily be bad, it still won’t be ‘my universe’. The new fans that are picking up the comics after seeing the movies might be in for a nasty surprise too. After seeing the Avengers in action on the big screen, they became interested in the characters that they were introduced to in the cinema. Picking up the new era of comics might put them off as the characters they have connected to don’t exist anymore. The characters are there to some extent, but they have given up their names and taken new roles. Will that encourage new readers to keep reading?

In the end, we won’t really know what Marvel has planned until the first issues of the new comics are launched. I don’t think Marvel will go into a lot of details about anything. Right now they are building hype so that people will buy the new issues as soon as they are released. While I do understand that Marvel is doing a reboot to accommodate for new readers while creating brand new material at the same time, I feel a bit skeptical about how this will affect the characters that I have an attachment to. I hope that Marvel proves me wrong. I hope that the new universe comes together in a great way that stays true to the things that made us fans in the first place. I would hate to open a new issue and think: “This is not my Marvel.”

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Iselynne

Iselynne is a viking and passionate gamer who finds it really awkward to write about them-self in third person. They are currently fighting a severe addiction to chocolate milk and their favourite Pokémon is Bulbasaur.

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  • Great article! I totally agree with you about being intimidated about entering the comic book universe. I have been interested in so many comics for years, but never know where to start. I also cheat, and read wiki’s about anything I’m interested in. For example, when I saw Guardians of the Galaxy, I didn’t go to the comic book store and buy any of the graphic novels. I just wiki’d what I was interested in. I wonder if there are many others like me and that could be impacting the industry as well…

    • Iselynne

      Thank you Mek!
      I was just like you until very recently. I spent hours on Wiki sites and researched as much as I could. I could say that She-Hulk was one of my favourite Avengers, but I had never actually read any of her comics. I think there is a lot of people like us, and I think that might be one of the reasons that Marvel is doing this reboot. It would be a great place for new readers to start.

      If you do decide to get into the comics at some point, I highly recommend it. I’m having a lot of fun reading them.

  • spider gwen ( bride of GWENom ) is one story i hope they do.
    the female thor well i read the punchline about her endgane and in typical ( QUESADA cronie controlled marvel) im not surprised.
    as far as the female wolverine thing , im all for 23 taking over the claws for the time but i have a tummy fetish so im angry about the costume change *fanboy grumble*

    the lack of creativity via QUESADA CRONIE MARVEL is something i expect cus THEY HAVE ZERO IMAGINATION ( just look at how many infiniity gaudlet/thanos things they spat out after ; or how many people have clones now , including SHULKIE/APOCALYPSE/HULK/LOKI).

    @iselynne:disqus ps i loved the FURY ROAD review , so keep on being a bad ass 🙂

    • Iselynne

      I did hear about the theory that Marvel ended Fantastic 4 because of the issues with the movie rights. Some also speculated that they would do the same thing with X-men (the gang will still be around after Secret Wars). I don’t see how it will make any difference for Fox at all though. Even if the comics end now, Fox will still have 75 years worth of quality comics to draw stories and characters from. They will also still have the rights to the main characters and to the term ‘mutants’. The X-men films make them a serious amount of money. I just don’t see how this will hurt Fox at all.

      X-23 is one of my favourite characters, so I do like that she will get a bit more attention. But, as I mentioned, I’d like her to have her own identity, her own drives, and her own style of costume instead of just copying Wolverine. Now she risks being reduced to a Wolverine wannabe.

      And thank you so much for the awesome feedback! That really means a lot to me!

      • ive told him ( brother bear ) that disney doesnt like competition

        ( look at pixar and the debacle with everything SW …up to and including dark horse comics ) ; so its no wonder that disney is mad as *h3ll* for not getting the rights back.

        the one thing i really hope to see is SHIVA (the adamantium guardian of weapon X *wolverine #50, btw* ) get into it with 23 AND RANCOR ( his 1990s grand daughter from the future) and let claremont write that miniseries …make it beyond the mutant massecre level bloody XD

  • @iselynne:disqus and also the issue on the FANTASTIC 4 ,
    disney set the kill squad to end them since fox didnt want them to have the license back ( so its DISNEY being *censored* again to the competition ,and what better way to remove a franchise than to remove it officially off the map via a mini series) .

    if you dont believe me think about STAR WARS and how since herr maus got the control how everything has to be on MARVEL comics or disney channel *ok so they fleeced CN in broadcasting fees for rebel alliance or whatever its called now after CLONE WARS* ; how everything after disney got control of SW didnt count as official SW cannon (unless it was 1-6 , cw and rebels) as per their buyout .

    then PIXAR which was cutting edge animation storytelling before , but then became generic disney BS with zero out of box ideas ( suicide, lawsuits , *ahemBODY JEWELRYahem*, all the innuendo’s in Cars and incredibles)

    sorry for the long second post but i dont like disney for being this grubby and i hate quesada with a justified passiion.

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