Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Age of Drewatu




Ahem. Sorry about that. So, yeah, I'm getting ready to embark on the long promised reboot of the Marvel Universe. Finally after long years I will justify my scribbling a beard on Fing Fang Foom, Elektra, and Cyclops in the banner above.

In doing research for this project (subscribing to Marvel Unlimited, digging up my tattered Essential Marvel Saga, etc), I'm starting to get a grasp on the sheer scope of what lies ahead. This looks like it will be much harder than the DC Reboot for a few reasons.

First, I'm not writing to a list of titles. The framework of the 52 allowed me the armature to mold the clay around. I knew I had limited space (52 titles) and certain requirements (# of Bat-books >5) which weirdly gave me more freedom to tweak the setting. No disappearing down a rabbithole of the history of Thanagar or the origins of the Lazarus Pits. I mean, I did do that, but not in any of my blog entries.

Second, the approach I want to take is difficult. I mean, basically what I want to do is come up with the story of the Marvel Universe if Marvel Time did not exist. Obviously, taking a concept named after the setting from the setting is not easy. Marvel Time, that sort of fuzzy flux around the Marvel universe where things happened 'a few years ago' rather than 'in 1962' is a core part of the setting. That's why Marvel avoids all the reboots good ole DC goes through - because characters don't really age and history compacts itself to fit a given timeframe. Look at Spidey, for example, the dude (or his body at least) is currently, what, in his early 20s? Yet he's had how many adventures? How many experiences? Surely much more than could fit into the 7 or 8 years he's been Spider-Man (and that's even accounting for those experiences Brand New Day'd away by the Devil). To pin down events to a given year then move forward would unwind the tapestry holding everything together. If Spider-Man got his powers at the age of 15 in 1962, he'd be 66 today.

Third, the scope of the Marvel Universe is bugnuts insane. Villains range from dudes who use stilts to steal things from second story windows all the way up to godlike aliens who eat planets. Same thing for heroes - you have guys who are good with a bow standing next to gods of myth and thunder. DC gets some of this too, but you never get the same sense that some characters are simply out of their league in a given situation. Call it the Batman Effect, but in DC, any mortal with a certain level of training has a chance to defeat a cosmic conqueror. Maybe their chances are not as good as their pal who just happens to be the Last Son of Krypton, but they're not bad. You can see the Batman Effect play out semi-weekly in Young Justice, a show on the Cartoon Network based around the idea that the overlooked sidekicks are actually the most dangerous heroes. Hell, after catching up on that show over this past snowy winter, it's pretty clear that the most dangerous members of the Young Justice setting are the humans - Artemis, Robin, Sportsmaster, Cheshire, etc (and that's before to even get to Normal People in Power Suits). The closest thing Marvel has to the Batman Effect is Squirrel Girl and her ability to bring down baddies several magnitudes bigger than her is played like a schtick, the exception that proves the rule.

Fourth, the higher up you climb on the Marvel Power Ladder, the more insane things get. Galactus. Celestials. The Living Tribunal. Mephisto. The Elders of the Universe. Beyonders. Eon. The Asgardians. Even Death plays a part. You also have a heaping Celestial-sized handful of super-powerful MacGuffins like the Ultimate Nulifier, Cosmic Cubes, Soul Gems, Infinity Gauntlet, and probably dozens more pieces of junk that were Items of the Week in the 1960s. Getting all these cosmic powers to work together in a logical way has been the work of Marvel writers for decades. While DC spun its wheels in the Silver Age, Marvel kept ramping up the dangers. I mean, Galactus first appeared in 1966. The Living Tribunal in '67. If we keep plotting that trajectory, where the hell are we going to be in 2013?

Still, this looks like it will be a fun project. Marvel's roots are in sci-fi and there's much more of a sense that anything can happen (minor villain constructs a copy of Earth on the other side of the sun? Why not.), a sense that will be magnified once we get to a place where the classic Marvel heroes of yore start to age out of the business. Peter Parker will need to hang up his webslingers at some point, so Ben Reilly will get his chance, ultimately passing the torch to Miles Morales in the modern age.

I know nobody will really see it outside of random mentions on discussion boards (Hi, Space Battles!), but I didn't spend all those years reading Marvel Comics and not learn a little something about courage. But if you did happen to stumble on this site while googling (and I've seen the search terms that bring people here *shiver*), please stick around and enjoy


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