Robot 6

The mix-and-match strategy of Marvel NOW!

The cast of Uncanny Avengers (not pictures: Devil Dinosaur, Millie the Model, Star Lord)

Marvel is shaking up its sandbox like seldom before with the launch of Marvel NOW!, making co-stars out of characters that previously had only brief interactions with each other. This strategy of mixing and matching for team books could inject new life into character dynamics, or it could water down what makes characters unique.

At the end of 2004, Marvel and writer Brian Michael Bendis got flak for putting perpetual loner Spider-Man and X-Men-exclusive Wolverine on the same team as Avengers standbys Iron Man and Captain America for the launch of New Avengers. While there are still some fans who complain about this eight years later, sales told Marvel all the publisher needed to know. Soon Luke Cage was an Avenger. Daredevil, too (in a way). Wolverine became a member of everything. Namor became an X-Man. (The Namor I used to read would respond to such a notion with, “the Sub-Mariner will star in thine own perpetually canceled solo series or none at all! Imperius Rex!”)

Now the unexpected mashing together of characters is reaching a new level after the ultimate sandbox throwdown of Avengers vs. X-Men. Who would ever have guessed that Thor and Havok would be teammates (Uncanny Avengers)? New Mutants Cannonball and Sunspot on Hickman’s Avengers is madness! Putting the Punisher on a superhero team (Thunderbolts) is so blasphemous to writer Greg Rucka, he’s done with the character (OK, among some other factors). And Avengers Arena is a veritable grab bag: throw in some Runaways, some Avengers Academy, some Annihilation, and shake vigorously.

On one hand, this is a great way to inject life into the chemistry of a book’s cast. I mean, Cyclops and Wolverine have been getting on each other’s nerves since 1975. The Marvel Universe is full of characters with strong personalities and opinions, so there’s no need to keep to the same old routine. The new technique seems to be to shake things up trading card style: an X-Man over here, an Avenger over there, add in a popular solo character, a cult favorite on the side … voila! You’re Marvel NOW!

With a shared fictional universe like Marvel, which has had characters passing in and out of each other’s titles since the early ’60s, you’d think this approach would’ve been used before. But aside from the semi-annual crossovers, special epics, team-ups and guest appearances, the Marvel Universe has mostly remained a pretty segregated space when it comes to building a cast for a longer ongoing narrative. (There are exceptions, of course: The original New Warriors starred lesser-known characters from several corners of the MU.)

But maybe there’s a reason it hasn’t happened to this degree until now. For those who have read for even a little while, some of this just seems kind of odd. And why is that? It reminds me of when I’d play with toys when I was young (definitely not last week, no sirree). Sure, I might have had my Transformers, G.I. Joe, Star Wars and ThunderCats action figures all come together for a big adventure sometimes, but it never lasted long because … well, just look at them: The scale was all off. The Transformers were too small, the ThunderCats were too big. G.I. Joe and Stars Wars kind of worked, I guess. That’s kind of a silly way to think about it, but it’s a visual representation of how the characters existed in specific and unique worlds very much tied to them as characters. That might make for fun visits with each other but it just doesn’t feel right to make them permanent residents.

You could argue that the Marvel Universe isn’t quite that varied as those four different fictional universes, and I would agree. But there’s an aspect that rings true. Some of these characters exist in distinct environments and stories, and to yank them out and throw them into a mishmash waters things down. Some of the mixing and matching can and has worked — but pushed too far or too much, and you get Lion-O towering over Optimus Prime. And that’s just wrong.

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45 Comments

They seem to be applying the same mix-n-match strategy to their creative teams as well, putting writers and artists on books they’ve never written and is even against type for (Aaron on Thor, Allred on FF, Hickman on Avengers and Bendis on X-Men spring to mind as attention grabbing choices right away).

DeleteMyCommentBecauseUDisagree

October 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm

But if it’s the same characters, and the same creators, then is it really new?

And if it’s nothing new – then why are we getting excited about the same old stuff

RegularSyzedMike

October 3, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Delete beat me to it. This is fan fiction at this point. Make something new and let some of these characters die of old age already!

Just because a writer has not written a certain type of character, why would that disqualify him or her from writing that character? Give it a shot if the premise interests you and see where it goes…

As for the arguments that this is the “same old, same old” and “why not try something new.” Fan boys don’t want new. They want the illusion of change and deep down, they want more of the same. Its silly really. Best evidence for this train of thought is the extreme difficulty for new characters to get a foothold in popularity. You get a few rare instances of this, like the Winter Soldier so many years ago but… its very hard.

Marvel knows exactly what they are doing and you get the fans pointing fingers and claiming “I see what you’re doing!” Well, yeah, its exactly what Marvel thinks you’ll buy.

Like the owner of my LCS says “the market dictates what the market wants “

I find the only people who want the X-Men in non-X-Men books are the Marvel fans who have maybe read one X-Men series (usually Whedon’s Astonishing X-men, which honestly is extremely overrated). X-Men fans don’t give a flying fuck about Wolverine and Co teaming up with a bunch of characters that really only became popular again BECAUSE Wolverine was teaming up with them. House of M sold because it was basically a lesser version of AoA. Avengers writers – stop stealing X-Men shit!!

As an X-Men fan, and to use the Sandbox analogy, it’s like you’re playing with a bunch of cool Transformers and a kid walks up with his Go-Bots to ask if he can play too. I’m okay with that, and I don’t mind him playing with a couple of my Transformers since most of his toys are lame (although he has a couple of cool Go-Bots). But when he stops playing with all but one Go-Bot and is now playing with half your Transformers and dictating how they’re going to act with the toys I’m playing with, I’m going to get annoyed really fast.

The Avengers have like three REALLY popular characters (in a relative since, and I’m not counting the Hulk until he’s been an Avenger for at least a year; Red Hulk doesn’t count), and what do the writers do? They started by taking a couple of the cool and very recognizable X-Men (wolverine, Storm), and now they’re taking another (Rogue) along with some awesome B-List characters that deserve development in an X-Book where they can interact with other X-men but are instead getting shoved into an atmosphere where they don’t belong (Havok, Cannonball, Sunspot).

Avengers writers, please play with the hand you’ve been dealt, you have some fan-favorites that are also underrated gems like Vision, Wonder Man, etc. Use them. Because the next Avenger movie is probably going to make the former into a household name, and you could maybe build up enough interest in the latter that he could show up in the third. Why build up X-Men in an Avengers book? You don’t have the movie rights to them, you’re only doing publicity for Fox by putting characters they have the movie rights to into comics that are going to sell better because of the combination of a hot movie using the same name and the fact that they’ll be starting at new number ones.

I look at this as a way to get more people reading different comics.
By putting other xmen characters in teams with avengers its giving the chance for the fans who just know the avengers team from the movie and say “Hey look, we have other characters too!” and they are teaming up with the characters you like so read more about them!”
It’ll open up a broader interest in all the Marvel books by hopefully having people think “I like this Havok guy and he’s also in X-factor so maybe ill check out that book.”
I think what they are trying is a good idea.

@ Matt
The thing is, I don’t think Havok is going to be in X-Factor anymore. X-Factor is supposed to be getting a lineup change after #245 and I would bet Havok is getting kicked to the curb so that he can be in Remender’s UA. I like Havok, but the only Avengers I care about seeing are the Mighty Avengers cartoon and the movie.

I don’t care about how Havok interacts with Avengers characters, I want to see him interact with X-Men characters, which he hasn’t had a lot of time to interact with since the writers brought him and Lorna back from space. My big problem with this new initiative is that a lot of X-Men characters who haven’t got the spotlight before in the X-Books but should have are now getting the spotlight in Avengers books. While I doubt we’ll see much growth with Cannonball’s character in Hickman’s Avengers, but if it does happen I won’t get to see it since I’m not paying $4 a month to see it happen alongside characters I’ve tried to give a chance before but still don’t give a fuck about. I want to see that growth happen alongside his fellow X-Men, because that’s what Cannonball is first and foremost – AN X-MAN.

I don’t have as much of a problem with the Avengers using Wolverine since he’s too big a draw to permanently remove from the X-Books; he’ll always be an X-Man, plus a lot of his potential has been explored so Avengers writers using him so their artists have something cool to draw versus Red Falcon and Black Knight doesn’t bother me anywhere near as much. But characters like havok and Cannonball only have cult fans, so they only warrant an appearance in one book a month and now those books are going to be Avengers books. They’re X-Men with tons of potential to explore (especially Cannonball, who would be the leader of the X-Men book I’d propose to write for Marvel), and now that potential is going to be used up in Avengers books that even X-completists won’t give a fuck about and Avengers fans are just going to be confused by these characters they’ve never seen before and asking themselves why Marvel didn’t just use Vision or Yellowjacket.

Here’s an idea Marvel, instead of using characters from other books that I already care about to get me to read the Avengers, actually put writers and artists on the Avengers books that will make me give a damn about real Avengers characters. Make me give a shit about existing Avengers instead of making a bunch of non-Avengers into Avengers in some kind of desperate gambit to undo all the gains DC has made. Because all this makes me want to do is drop your books and start buying even more Nu52 books.

DeleteMyCommentBecauseUDisagree

October 4, 2012 at 8:42 am

To continue the theme – I just looked at the preview pages for Uncanny Avengers #1. It is basically Avengers versus X-Men #13

@ Delete

So we should never have continuing characters? By your logic we should only be releasing #1 issues every month where every book is about a new character/s. Yeah, I get attached to characters I like to see on a monthly basis because they’re usually written well and I like having some kind of familiarity with some of my entertainment, fuck me right?!

Yes, we need new stuff (and I’d agree this problem is only getting worse), but I’m sick of seeing this argument in comics by the indie-zombies that if something isn’t 100% new, it’s a 100% rehash. As I pointed out, there’re a lot of characters who deserve development because they haven’t really had any meaningful character arcs but they do have a lot of potential that can be explored. I’d rather see these characters get explored before bringing in new ones (although yes, at some point, sooner rather than later, we are going to need those new characters), and I’d like to see them explored in the books they were MEANT to be in.

A shame that Havok didn’t last long in X-Factor. I’ve really enjoyed him as a character since his last X-Factor and Mutant X series. But I don’t buy 20 page $4 Marvel comics. So there goes that. Although I’m confident I should be able to get issue one for free from my shop (like AVX).

“Delete beat me to it. This is fan fiction at this point. Make something new and let some of these characters die of old age already!”

Which makes me disappointed that the book with new characters, Avengers Arena, is promising to kill a lot of those new characters.

i’ve been reading comics since 1985, i don’t know why people would get upset about some of these people joining teams, with one exception: the punisher. spider-man is a natural fit: he’s briefly joined the avengers before, and really the only thing that’s kept him off teams was his own self confidence.

the punisher on the other hand has always had an extreme disdain for heroes, and half the time wants to kill them for getting in his way. to put him on a team really goes against character, unless it leads up to him killing half of them. he wouldn’t be against using them to achieve his own ends. but if it becomes the typical super-hero team that never kills the bad guys, it would make no sense.

but at the end of the day, if something is well written enough, you can let a lot of this continuity stuff slide. the main point is, is it a good read? that’s really what matters

“but at the end of the day, if something is well written enough, you can let a lot of this continuity stuff slide. the main point is, is it a good read? that’s really what matters”

The Thunderbolts under Daniel Way? It’s going to be Red Hulk spouting edgy dialogue, Punisher and Venom killing freely, Deadpool being memes, and Electra being non-existant. That’s my bet as someone who dropped his Deadpool because he became too unlikable.
Oh, and it’s completely destroying the original Thunderbolts. You know, the team the NEEDED the push?

I used to have the mindset that the seperate franchises should remain seperate but I’m all for seeing something new. Cannonball and Sunspot aren’t “New Mutants” anymore. In fact they’ve been around as long or longer than characters like Psylocke and Gambit. It’s only natural given what Cyclops did that some X-Men characters would want to leave the fold. Havok, Rogue, Cannonball & Sunspot are prime candidates so it isn’t exactly against the grain unless if you only think of them as X-Men characters. I remember way back when John Byrne and Chris Claremont did a Marvel Team-Up with Spider-Man & Havok. He has potential to be popular outside of the X-Men universe.

Now I’m not saying they should completely do away with keeping some things seperate but Uncanny Avengers will deal with the meeting of the Avengers and X-Men world. Cannonball & Sunspot are two characters new to the Avengers much like Justice and Firestar were during Busiek’s run. People were and are against Spider-Man, Wolverine etc being Avengers but it’s worked. I always wanted Spider-Man to be an Avenger. Wolverine I never thought about until New Avengers and again that’s worked for me. As for Punisher being in the Thunderbolts, I don’t consider them heroes. Red Hulk, Deadpool, Elektra & Punisher? Nah they’re vigilantes. They do good but they don’t play by the rules. Deadpool was another one that people couldn’t see on superhero teams (myself included) until Remender proved us all wrong with Uncanny X-Force. Like it or not it worked. Change sometimes is good even if we’re reluctant to give it a chance….

As long as their mixing and matching could I get my plate of comics before they go ahead and pour the wolverine sauce all over everything. I use to like it on x-men, but now I’d rather have it just on Avengers. It’s not that good of an ingredient and has really ruined X-Men.

I shouldn’t probably say anything but there is a new Avengers book coming out in a few months. It will be called “The Newer Mightier Alpha Avengers.” After much thought and concideration they choose the line-up by drawing names out of a hat. The line-up will be…

1. Wasp (Yes, Jan is coming back. Look for “The Return of the Winsome Wasp”, a 17 issue bi-weekly series soon.
2. Moondragon
3. Puck
4. Volstagg
5. The Orange Hulk (or Orulk)
6. Triton
7. Galactus

Make mine Marvel!!!!!!!!!!!!

The avengers side are plain boring so they have to go steal members from the x-men just to make their side interesting. My guess is that the ‘x’ books are dominating in sells compared to avengers books.

I am going to react to the initial announcement, which I did and thought, wow, why is Cannonball and Sunspot on Avengers, there are other Avengers characters I want to get page time before them. Then I thought about it, hey I like Cannonball and Sunspot, Hickman is a fantastic writer, I am sure he has a reason of them being there, he’s juggled lots of characters on Secret Warriors and FF to great success, I am going to give this a shot. And I also realised, these are not my characters, Marvel owns them, I own none of them, it might be a move that I would not make, but hey, these are the guys Marvel trust to write the book, so hey, might as well just enjoy it, as long as it is good. I am also not going to cast a negative judgement on this until I have read some of the stuff, it seems some people just post stuff in the heat of the moment. The only thing I do disagree with strongly is the Punisher, I would not normally pick up Thunderbolts, but I would like to see how he is being utilised, I think the end of Rucka’s run where he takes on the Avengers is leading into his role in the Thunderbolts, but yes, initially something does not sit right about that.

>Implying the Avengers hasn’t been a mishmash since the beginning

Malaysian have one word that describe the current rooster of Avengers very well. The word is “Rojak”. And I do not like Rojak.

Looks fun to me.

@dddd

It hasn’t. The Avengers began as a team founded by characters that had potential, but not enough popularity to justify an ongoing title (the only one who did have an ongoing title before Avengers #1 was the Hulk, and that was a six-issue run). All the Avengers characters were Avengers first and foremost, up until New Avengers, which forced itself as the book everyone had to read to understand what was going on in the Marvel Universe.

I personally believe this has the potential to be disastrous. One of the biggest problems with AvX was that it had multiple writers writing characters they had little to no familiarity with. Also, AvX shook up the bag of action figures (to somewhat borrow the analogy used in the article) and a few got played with, while the rest were stuck at the bottom of the bag with nothing to do. I mean, it was supposed to be Avengers vs. X-Men, but it ended up being Avengers vs. five X-Men, with everyone else playing in the background at best.

Some people believe Marvel Now! is a chance for folks to start checking out new books and new teams since a character or two they are already familiar with is going over to a new book, team, etc. I can see that notion being accurate to a degree; however, I see more potential for people to be so turned off that they end up picking up less books than they were before Marvel Now! kicked off.

Hypothetically, let’s say you’re an X-Men fan, and have had little to no interest in Avengers affairs before. Okay, let’s also say that you’re a Cannonball fan. You’ve been picking up X-Men books, and you’ve been picking up New Mutants books over the years due to being a fan of both X-Men, Cannonball, and most likely plenty of other X-characters from those books. Well, picking up a New Mutants #1 or any other X-book #1 would be right up your alley probably, but picking up Avengers #1 in the hopes that the one character you’re interested in gets some face time, might be hard to justify at $3.99 a pop.

For me personally, I like X-Men. I have always liked the X-world for so many reasons that don’t cross over to any other superhero worlds. Basically, I mean I like X-Men for almost none of the same reasons I like Batman, Green Lantern, etc. I want to read X-character stories and don’t always care how many X-books I have to buy to get stories for all the characters I like. Sadly, even as many X-books as I’ve bought and read over the years, I still haven’t gotten nearly enough stories about C and D level characters as I would have liked. But now, Marvel is asking me to follow Avengers books in the hopes of getting more X-character stories. My wallet just can’t justify that expense, and I’ll be sticking with my now four X-books I pull for better or worse.

So I am not that guy who played with his action figures last week (ok…I did too, but it was with my daughter); although my College roommate use too as an adult, and I respected him for it…I would say he is more in line with Marvel’s target audience (and DC). We are both cartoonists, so we have a lot invested in the medium…we put down tens of thousands on a major in Comics.

I am the guy, who likes Sups, but diversified when the quality let me down. For me the big books this year are still Love & Rockets: New Stories No. 5 & Building Stories

I am also the guy who spent most of the year crying fowl on Marvel & DC for their treatment of Kirby or other creators, women and current employees, corporate greed and lacking responsible stewardship of the medium & industry.

As a true human, I hypocritically would fall back to fanboy serfdom in the face of insurmountable failure. When we were unable to get Marvel to profit share with the Kirby family for co-creating the Avengers…eventually I saw the film.

Still loving superhero comics enough to brake my ethical bonds (Hay, if Stan Lee can’t learn from his own funny pages, why should I), I have been looking for an opportunity to embrace Marvel and DC’s comics. After all…they do employ people I know and supporting great cartoonist is a key to keeping comics viable.

Other then the occasional checking in for almost two decades I have observed Marvel & DC from some distance. I think it was the creation of Bishop or Cable that did me in. Perhaps half a dozen times over the years I would pick up a Marvel or DC main title…but nothing grabbed me. Most down right made me sad (they really were as terrible as my Indy/Alternative snob friends would accuse them of being).

Still, all this time, I wanted an in. Tom Strong, Promethea or The Authority, didn’t itch that scratch. 1960-1990 back issues didn’t either. Avengers Forever, Strange Tales, Captain Britain & MI13, New Frontier, Long Halloween…all great, but nothing was keeping me buying Marvel or DC.

I missed my X-Men most of all, but anything quality would do. With DC52 I walked away from an experiment that resulted with perhaps some regular up to date readership (I cheated and knew I already liked Greg Rucka and JH Williams Batwomen…and I totally get and support Greg leaving now…as I am rejoining as a fan). Ultimately it was Batwomen (not always…but still compelling enough when it hits the mark) and Batman (Scott Snyder may over dialogue…Villain soliloquy…but he and Greg Capullo…total surprise there…I don’t know why…make a great Batman story). Two out of 52 ain’t bad, fits the budget.

Still I had made mine Marvel as a kid & mutants were my people. So I tried Schism; Jason Aaron & Carlos Pacheco were quite good. Enough, that I tried the two new series. Wolverine & The X-Men fell apart for me, not because of Chris Bachalo, but because of the chemistry created with Aaron. As for Uncanny X-Men…I just hate Emma Frost and Scott Summers. They make each other about as unlovable as possible.

So surprise this past week I caught up on Avengers v. X-Men. The entire idea I thought I would object to. Never liked the Phoenix (love Rachael Summers…but that’s it). Again, hate Emma & Scott. Never cared for the Wolverine & Scott machismo. Not a big fan of crossovers to sell more comics; dilutes the work usually. Don’t know anything about Hope. Most of all, as a set up for the Marvel NOW! (Stupid title) and comics like Uncanny Avengers, All New X-Men & New Avengers…I must have been out of my mind to see what is going on.

Yet, I kind of liked it. Scott is an ass…and now he is we’re he should be as a character. In fact, almost everyone in the Avengers and X-Men improved as characters. Enough so I am seeing this a chance to get to my Marvel version of Batman and Batwomen. I am looking for a substantially good product. So impress me.

The top contenders:

Uncanny Avengers

I have liked Cassaday’s art, but have not found his comics very readable. Remender’s bibliography is suspect. But I like the line up and AvX really leads into this.

All New X-Men

Brian Bendis has never blown me away and Stuart Immonen is like Cassaday; like it, but have not been enticed like a Byrne, Cooke or Davis. I should hate the concept (see above, how I feel about time traveling mutants, Bishop & Cable). However, I loved the first 10 issues of X-Factor and to see the original X-Men out of time seems almost as enjoyable. I also love the concept of Jean Gray’s School for Gifted Youngsters. I secretly hope that this book will have Kitty Pryde in it (since she teaches there). She is my favorite superhero…if only Longshot was there two.

One, maybe more issues:

Captain America

Romita drawing a Kirby Sci-fi Indiana Jones book may make this a sleeper hit…IF that is what it is.

FF

Matt Fraction maybe great, but I have always wanted to like Mike Allred and never found the right book. I think having Ant Man, Madusa and She-Hulk together may help me.

Thor God of Thunder

Jason Arron is the only reason I am giving this one a chance.

X-Men Legacy

I like Legion…and he is getting a shot here.

New Avengers & Avengers

Everyone swears by Hickman; same people who turned me onto Rucka and Snyder. So here I go…

Fantastic Four

I like that they are in outer space…

So we will see what happens with this Comics reader…this go round.

Basically, this is a legitimate in for some of us and the odd cabal of team dynamics are noted, but I am putting that aside for what seems to be otherwise interesting concepts that come out of an event book I actually liked (I am as shocked as you).

Also, let’s look at Avengers vs. X-Men like a major sports game. People take their sports teams and championship games VERY seriously, like many comic readers take their comic stories and characters and how everything is handled very seriously as well. Hypothetically you’re a San Francisco 49ers NFL fan and they lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super Bowl. I, for one, would not be up for reading, watching, or being involved in any way with the Steelers. A) because I didn’t like them in the first place, and b) because they just kicked the ass of my team.

Now, just imagine that the Steelers didn’t win fairly, and that the NFL were the ones to decide the Steelers would win. Now, not only would you not want anything to do with the Steelers, but you’d be hesitant to even involve yourself with the NFL any further.

Maybe that’s stupid, but that’s the parallel I’m drawing at the moment.

I think this approach is long overdue. All it takes is good writers who have mastery of the characters and their histories and motivations so that great stories can unfold with truly new interactions. This is far more exciting to me as a reader than DCs new 52 most of which I’ve dropped after 6 years of steady DC consumption.

Everybody seems to forget one or two things.
The marvel characters are not a “sandbox” THEY ARE MONEY. Why have Quesada destroy the X-men? Only because Avengers is a Marvel studio franchise and X-men are Fox and Avengers make more money for marvel. It’s all business. They are nothing to do with core fan who read comics (like me) since 1975. All they want is make money then every year an event and every year several relaunch. A number 1 issue sell TOO well.
Look at Bendis run. Eight years ago there were too much mutants, the Scarlet witch and vision were in the avengers, Hawkeye and antman were alive and well, etc. Now the mutants are back in numbers, Scarlet witch (who had killed people and destroy the avengers) is back like a best friend, Vision is again vision, Hawkeye and antman are alive and well. Finally nothing happen in 8 years except Wolverine and spider-mar are everywhere and the x-men franchise is in limbo (poor Scott a hero of my childhood) because avengers make more money.

“Then I thought about it, hey I like Cannonball and Sunspot, Hickman is a fantastic writer, I am sure he has a reason of them being there, he’s juggled lots of characters on Secret Warriors and FF to great success, I am going to give this a shot. And I also realised, these are not my characters, Marvel owns them, I own none of them, it might be a move that I would not make, but hey, these are the guys Marvel trust to write the book, so hey, might as well just enjoy it, as long as it is good. I am also not going to cast a negative judgement on this until I have read some of the stuff, it seems some people just post stuff in the heat of the moment.”

Wow, why couldn’t people show this kind of support for guys like Darwyne Cooke and JMS back when Before Watchmen was announced? I know this is a dead subject, but it’s crazy to see all this kind of support when Marvel does this, but everyone cries “Injustice!” because Alan Moore tells them too. Sheep I tell you.

My problem is not that new things are being tried, it is that heroes and villains in many of these cases are doing things way out of character. The character should drive the story not the other way around. Many characters at Marvel and DC have gone this route of the past several years, it has got to the point that you can’t tell who a character is from their personality, just their costume.

Honestly, the mix-n-match approach of this degree is long overdue.

I have never liked the segregation approach. It lead to a staleness.

I guess that’s why I always like Acts of Vengeance. If only for a few months, it shook things up.

@ Mike M

Which is a real shame in this case since the X-Men used to be one of the best at making their characters feel like separate and unique individuals rather than a costume with powers (which is weird because the all the X-Men usually only have one power that helps in defining their personalities). Now they’re reducing them to a bunch of fan-fiction cyphers (mind you, fan-fiction can be good, but it one of the typical problems with bad fan-fic is the said use of cyphers).

Look at the situation with Cyke, where they did the typical hack-writing technique of knocking down an established character (Xavier) so that another character who gets to wag his finger at him gets built up (Cyke). Then he became this paragon of what the X-Men should have been for the past twenty years (according to assholes like Brubaker), whether it’s consistent with his character or not. Marvel then realized it’s mistake, turned him into a villain, and are now back-peddling with this All-New X-Men crap idea (which sounds even more like a bad fan-fic premise than Utopia).

I’m only being so hard on Marvel about this because I love the X-Men so much and I know Marvel could be doing so much better with what is to me the greatest of comics franchise.

Black Manta: the sad fact is, I would buy that book. I’m part of the problem. :(

@ Anonymous

Xavier wasn’t knocked down for Cyclops. Morrison already had him realize he was outdated and leave the school, and not only Claremont had realized the same as far as Dark Phoenix Saga, but IN THE 60′S they already had the same storyline- Xavier out of the picture for Cyclops to lead.

That said, the reason for so many “Xavier is a bastard” storylines is simply lack of creativity- the “students realize their saint-like mentor is a jerk” is old as dirt, and it was easy with a character that was already suspected to have many secrets anyway.

And Marvel didn’t “realize a mistake” into turning Cyclops the X-men’s leader, because that was simply the only logical course for the franchise to go to, and the one the character was being built to since Stan and Jack, Claremont forced attempt to remove him to make way to his pet Storm notwithstanding.

What happened is that they wanted to make the X-men franchise subordinate and absorbed by the Avengers one due to the movie rights, and Cyclops is not a character that would have any reason to take orders from Rogers or the government and can’t easily fit into it, so they had to demonize him to remove him from the picture. Simple as that.

Of course, their plan wasn’t entirely successful because, due to terrible writing, as well as Gillen’s excellent one in the Uncanny tie-in, most reviewers and fans actually ended up siding with Cyclops, and now of course Marvel has to backtrack saying that was what they intended all along.

It smacks of desperation, period.

There was always SOME movement if different characters between books and teams. She-Hulk was on the FF for a while. Beast was an Avenger for awhile. But over the past seven years or so this have just gotten chaotic and schizophrenic. It’s all shock-value and it’s very transparent. If you could actually build a good Avengers franchise on your own, of its own right, you wouldn’t need to bring in Wolvie and Spidey. I’m not totally against ideas like that, but it’s pretty obvious that it wasn’t done for storytelling purposes and the “misplaced” characters never seem to grow from the experience. It’s all just a disorienting mess that all too often actually ruins characterization. You end up with generic characterizations for everyone (e.g., Cap and Wolverine and Iron Man and Spidey all tending to have very similar “voices” in Bendis’s Avengers).

I think what they have done with Cyclops is great. I feel more interested in him now more than ever. The stuff from Gillen on Uncanny has been great, and even though he has been painted as a villain during A vs X anybody who can appreciate any nuance in story-telling understands that he is not.

@ OmegaAlpha

I can see your point about Xavier (and I can agree with a lot of what you’re saying, I think we can agree overall Marvel is fucking up the X-Men), but I’d still say Marvel knocked him down to make Cyclops look better. Morrison, yes, was showing how Xavier had become a bit outdated, but he was showing a new role for the character, a role that got shoved to the side because of the bastardization you mentioned. I still say this was done so that Cyclops could wag his finger at Xavier and be the hero, so that the only logical choice left was for him to take Xavier’s place as the head statesman of the X-Men (something I think Xavier is still perfect for; he doesn’t need to be the leader of the X-Men, or their teacher, but he should still be what was essentially the ambassador of the mutant community).

And what did Cyclops become? The dictator of Brubaker and Fraction’s fan-fic Uncanny X-Men, the “general” they thought he should be and that they tried to retcon into saying this was what Xavier had trained him to be. Wait, WHAT?!?! When did Xavier EVER teach him to turn become an uncompromising, militant asshole that alienates all of mutant kind from the humanity they’re supposed to help? Did I miss those issues of UXM?! I remember when Cable did basically the same shit in Cable and Deadpool (a superb series by a GOOD X-scribe, Fabian Nicieza), and Scott sicced the X-Men on his ass. But when he pulls a Magneto-Avalon, suddenly it’s okay and the only logical choice for the character?! WTF, Marvel!

Mark my words, this whole NOW! thing, at least for the X-Men, is going to tank, if not sales wise than critically. For one, Jason Aaron has been writing what is one of the best X-men runs of all time, and is the current best X-book; his book should be the flagship X-Men book. Second, as I said earlier, the X-Men characters are noted for their individuality despite their usually one-note powers that they could easily come to be defined by. Bendis shoe-horns characters into plots (works for the Avengers which are a little less focused on characters, but something bad X-Men runs are noted to do). He writes talking heads that have no individuality. And he built his Avengers career on stealing other franchises characters and plots (as I said, House of M is a talkier, less exciting, and overall just LESSER version of AoA). What’s he going to steal to build an X-Men career? Moonknight? If Marvel wants a book featuring the original 60s X-men transported to the current time, they should let Joe Casey write it. If they don’t realize this when Age of Ultron (he pulled the damn AoA thing twice? REALLY?!), they will when the first ANXM arc is done and it sucks.

Marvel has been steadily trying to downplay the X-men in favor of the Avengers ever since Jemas and Quesada first took over. Is it any surprise that we have this merging now?

@Anonymous.

I agree with you 100%! I WAS an X-World completist. I LOVED the franchise. It’s why it’s been copied so many times over the years (next stage in human evolution- Mutant X and Alphas TV shows).

I LOVED every title. The main title, the spin-off, the satellite book, the solo book, the junior team book, etc. etc.

To have the X-men in Avengers is just… unfair. I respect the Avengers world and am on the up and up in terms to it. But have I ever collected it? No. I was just never a fan of Iron Man, Thor, etc. AND NOW, in order to follow my X-characters I now have to collect some Avengers title (ANOTHER $4?!) that I otherwise would never even have glanced at?

Unfair.

The X-men, IMO, have sucked for the past decades. It’s arc to arc and no bleed through betweem them. There is no character progression (unless it’s an event) whatsoever. And… Dark Cyclops has now ruined it ALL. I’m now dropping ALL X-titles (so… ALL MARVEL titles).

Anon. if you EVER write for Marvel. Sign me up, man. Just promise you won’t pander to the “new readers” and just write good stories. It’s funny/ironic. I was one of the ones that championed a Marvel Studios Avengers movie (since Fox owns X-men. I boycott all those films BTW) and now I feel that, with the influx of new readers BECAUSE of those movies, the stories in the comics have suffered a great deal to pander to them. Wow.

Everything has to be about the Avengers, is the problem. If I want to read the X-men, I can’t really do that anymore. X-Men Legacy is now the only X-Men book left. All New X-men of the original X-Men isn’t going to cut and Wolverine’s book is a bout a school for a bunch of super-powered freaks who aren’t mutants, too.

The X-Men was the greatest comic around for so many years and because they wanted the Avengers to be the top book, they destroyed the concept of the book and did their best to lower its sales, even if they didn’t realize that’s what they were doing.

Not to mention, they did a reboot about two years ago where they tried this big ‘Heroic Age’ thing that I read some of. I couldn’t figure out what the theme of the book was, because it was just another title about the title like ‘The Initative’. How did they do a story about 50 super hero teams? They didn’t. It seems they just do stuff at Marvel for the past 8 years and don’t think of what to do afterwards or where it goes. Everything will be different next year too, when they do ‘War’.

Again, with the ‘war’. How many series have they had with ‘war’ in the title?

Let’s just go crazy with this —
Archie Andrews an Avenger !
Richie Rich w/ Iron Man in Marvel Team-Up!

The ONLY time this & your average cross over makes any sense is when its an ORGANIC natural thing for said character.

Would a highschool nerd hang out by choice with a goth kid or a college jock.
Teams are no different than CLICKS.

None of what I am seeing in the current Marvel U seems organic… just forced. Like Spiderman & WOlverine in the avengers stil is to this day. FORCED.

“Some of these characters exist in distinct environments and stories, and to yank them out and throw them into a mishmash waters things down. Some of the mixing and matching can and has worked — but pushed too far or too much, and you get Lion-O towering over Optimus Prime. And that’s just wrong.”

That is also my biggest concern out of Marvel Now. I’m not against Marvel Now and some of the concepts coming out soon. My concern is Marvel not knowing when to quit a good thing when it’s time and ruining it in the long run, which has already happened recently.

At first, I’m positive the stories will be exciting and the character dynamics compelling. But what will the long term effects be? I fear it will be the same that happened to Wolverine and Spider-Man when they put them in the New Avengers book. That decision at the time was pure gold and it worked. Why? First, it allowed new character interactions not seen before, at least as a regular gig. Second, because both characters are essentially outcasts, so they fit. Wolverine was always the loose cannon of the X-Men and a loner, and Spider-Man has always been an outcast of the Marvel super-hero community. So placing them in the New Avengers book made sense, because at the time the New Avengers were outcasts themselves. The problem comes when things get push too far and for too long. As soon as the status quo of the MU changed and the New Avengers team changed with it, Spider-Man and Wolverine should have left the books. They didn’t, and that led to a loss of identity for both characters as they’ve been regularly mishandled ever since. Wolverine is unrecognizable as a character today. His uniform and powers are the only link left to the original that proved to be so popular among x-readers. Spider-Man is following the same path, taking it longer because of stronger solo titles that help delaying the inevitable end result. All this happens because Marvel didn’t know when to quit. Now apply this to the upcoming Avengers and X-Men merge and it’s easy to understand why long time readers are apprehensive. The end result could be disastrous, with the loss of identity of the various characters involved and ultimately a loss of variety in the MU stories.
This isn’t a big problem for Marvel if you consider only the new or casual readers, but if they keep it up, they’ll lose the readership that kept the Marvel publishing business going for all this decades, and they won’t gain new long term readers to replace them because in this process they’ll lose what made the Marvel universe so compelling to begin with.

I honestly don’t even know why I read comments anymore, and it isn’t even just on comic news sites, but all sites, if we all have anything in common, it is that we bitch and moan about EVERYTHING. I include myself in that as well, I’m not gonna sit here and play holier than thou. But c’mon, it’s comics buy it if you like it and leave it if you don’t and shut up about it. If it is really something that everyone is pissed off about…. do not buy it. Lord know that One More Day pissed me off, but you know what people bought it and the staus remains the same today.

I am excited about Marvel NOW, yeah there are books that make me groan, and groan I shall as I walk right pass them to pick up the books I do want. It does not weaken Cannonball to be an Avenger. Am I the only person who actually reads both X-Men and Avengers?

@ Dre

Thanks, it’s actually my dream to write the X-Men, I think I could write them for the rest of my life if I had the chance. It’s because they can do pretty much any kind of genre you can think of because they’re so versatile. They don’t need spill-over support from the Avengers if they’re written right. They could stand on their own. I don’t mind the occasional guest-stars, or even a couple of X-Men who’ve been heavily explored joining the Avengers to support a book that just doesn’t have anything going for it other than traditional superheroics and the soap-opera aspect Bendis kinda shoehorned into the books (another thing he copied from the X-Men, only it’s done much better in the X-Books because they’re not a bunch of talking heads with carbon copy personalities/mannerisms; at least, not until Bendis completely takes over the X-books like he did with the Avengers…)

You want superhero X-Men? Boom – Astonishing X-Men. 24-style thriller/espionage with a little black-ops thrown in? Boom – X-Force. Mutant sitcom? Boom – X-Factor ala PAD. Traditional mutant soap opera? Boom – old school Uncanny X-Men. Mutant degrassi? Boom – generation x/hope/New Mutants/New X-men/WatXM. They can do just about anything. That’s what I appreciate about the books and why I want to write them – so much opportunity for the kinds of stories I can tell, plus a gazillion established X-Men who haven’t had the character exploration they deserve that I could actually develop.

And the big problem with Cannonball being in Avengers (btw, like I said, I would do A LOT with him in my own X-Men run if given the chance and actually have him interact with his old teammates from across his different team memberships) is that Hickman is going to have an ongoing cast of 24 Avengers. Cannonball is not only going to be off-limits to other X-Writers now (he’s not Wolverine, so he doesn’t warrant multiple team memberships), but the amount of character work you’ll see with him is going to be miniscule for the $8 a month you’ll have to pay to keep up with his exploits. That’s bullshit. If you want him to be an Avenger, at least do some more significant stuff with him as an X-Man before you do so. He’s fallen off the radar a bit since the 90s when he was at his peak exposure (when I could actually see him as an Avenger because they made such a big deal about him being a good leader and skilled fighter with a lot of potential for growth. Potential that was never realized because he got shoved to the background again until Carey started his run, before slipping into obscurity again). This is just one example of the huge problem with this mix-and.match BS.

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