Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Purpose of Heroes

Assemble!

Hello, Marvel Writers!

      “A man needs heroes.  He needs to believe in strength, nobility, and courage.  Otherwise we become sheep to be herded to the slaughterhouse of death.  I believe this.  I am a soldier.  I try to fight for the right cause.  Sometimes it is not easy to know.

      “But I do not sit back and sneer in cowardice at those with the courage to fight.  The blood of good men makes the earth rich, as it is here.  When I die sword in hand, I hope someone lives to sing of it.  I live my life so that when death comes I may die well.  I ask no more.”

Sackett’s Land by Louis L’Amour

So wrote Louis L’Amour, best known perhaps for his novels of the Old West such as Hondo, Last Stand at Papago Wells, The Quick and the Dead, The Californios, and numerous others.

Stan Lee started something great when he penned the first Fantastic Four comic book.  He gave readers a glimpse of a universe with heroes, human in that they had flaws and foibles, but magnificent in how they rose above those things when necessity demanded their utmost in courage.

They had, and have, tempers.  They got and get sick, they broke and still break bones, and they retired and still retire (at least for a time) when they were and are emotionally drained.  And yes, they made and continue to make mistakes.  They fought and still fight with each other as much as with their enemies.

But despite all that, they were still heroes.  That’s why people continue to read about their adventures; why they go in droves to view the movies at the theaters.  If these flawed, breakable people can stand up to an evil, no matter the pain they’re in, no matter how tired they are, and say, “No.” – then why can’t we, the fans, do the same?

Yes, Iron Man, Cap, and most definitely Thor, are not real.  No one is going to be walking down Fifth Avenue and have to jump out of the way of a battling Yellowjacket and Ultron.  But what if one of us readers or viewers someday ends up with a choice between helping someone or saving ourselves in a crisis?  What role model will we have to steady us as we say, “No, I will do what is right.  I will help.”

Not all of us have great real life role models.  There are many fortunate people who do, but what about those who don’t?  What are they going to have to inspire them?  The answer is heroes.  Even if they are fictional – and there is no shortage of them inside or outside of comics and theaters – they are characters we can relate to more strongly than we can relate to actual flesh and blood people from time to time, especially in hazardous situations.

I’ve already listed several of the Marvel characters whose behavior of late has been less than inspiring.  None of it sounds particularly heroic when compared with earlier Marvel stories, does it?  So far Captain America has been the only hero to stay anywhere near heroic on and off the battlefield.

But how much longer is that going to last?  He’s already been ‘killed’ once, and he has been changed into at least three different animals in the same number of stories: a wolf, a tyrannosaurus rex, and don’t get me started on the incident where he ended up a spider.  That plot line was absolutely and completely disgusting.

How long can this go on?  How long will readers pay to read comics that spin their wheels in amoral mud?  And if the movies become as depressing as the comics, only the television shows will remain.  How long will it be before those are gone as well?

What I’m trying to say, fellow writers, is that people don’t need stories by ‘artists.’  It’s nice, and they’re great reads.  However, art usually comes about when the author isn’t striving for it, but for story and character.  Moreover, readers don’t want ‘stories’ that ‘delve into the human psyche.’  Psychologists are available if people want a psych evaluation.

What readers and viewers want – and what they need – are good stories well told with heroes who espouse morality and great ideals.  That’s all they want.

And unfortunately, my friends, right now we’re not getting it.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled and Frustrated True Believer)

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Poker – Gambit Style

Gambit

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Bonjour.  C’est la vie, as the French say.  And the Cajuns of Louisiana – which brings us to the next Marvel character under discussion here: Remy LeBeau, a.k.a. Gambit.

The first introduction I had to Gambit was in the 90’s television series.  His back story there is one I have often found to be a likeable twist of storytelling: a thief (or other sundry character) joining a team of good guys to be reformed into a real hero.  It was great to see Rogue and Gambit fight – as much with each other as with the bad guys!  Because of her powers, Rogue wouldn’t let Gambit get close to her, but it was clear that he really did love her, and vice versa.

Now that you see how the TV series shaped my opinion of the character, imagine my consternation when I began reading about his comic book history.

Much of it makes very little sense to me, I admit: the few X-Men comics I have are fragments of story arcs, and the ones that include Gambit have him pretty close to what I saw in the TV series.  So the winding maze of his life events in the comics are lost on me faster than a cat would get lost in a pile of yarn.  The two things that did jump out at me were: a) his assistance in the slaughter of the Morlocks (aside from one small girl he purposely rescued), and b) his expulsion from the X-Men.

To both, all I can say is, “What?  How did this happen?  Why did this happen?”

Gambit has always had a soft spot for children (as shown in how he treated Jubilee in the TV series) which has been more likeable than his tendency to flirt with every lady he meets.  If there is a list out there of the top ten flirts in Marvel Comics, I hereby nominate Gambit for first place!

To get back to the point, I can easily see Gambit working to protect a Morlock child from death; but aiding and abetting the killing of countless other Morlocks, several of whom were also undoubtedly children?  That’s not the Gambit I came to know.  He wouldn’t have helped; he’d have turned on his employer (Mister Sinister, I believe it was, in these comics) first, and died before he got too far into the tunnels rather than commit murder.

As for his expulsion from the X-Men, it’s uncharacteristic of the X-Men on its face.  The X-Men have accepted Wolverine as a teammate, Archangel, Emma Frost, and even Mystique at one point.  Wolvie’s record is far from clean; Archangel has been used by several bad guys to kill numerous innocents, and more perhaps when he’s ‘lost’ himself in misery or pain; Emma Frost is constantly shifting between good and bad, and DO NOT get me started on Mystique.  So after accepting these and other less-than-good citizens of the Marvel universe into the fold, suddenly the X-Men decide that Gambit’s not good enough for the team, after all he’s done for it?  That’s a bit out of character, isn’t it?

And sending him back to work for Sinister is just plain wrong.  Once bitten, twice shy.  Sinister is trouble, and being a thief for as long as he was, Gambit would know better than to risk his neck by running with a man who wouldn’t think twice about slitting his throat.

To top it off, the whole fiasco has thrown a giant monkey wrench in the romance that he and Rogue had going.  Talk about a sad thing.  After Jean and Scott, Rogue and Gambit were two of the X-Men who deserved to be together romantically.  Getting them married would also have been a big plus, and a way overdue event for the team.

Why do this to Gambit at all?  Was it to make him a more complex, or appealing, character?  He was already both with his easy manner, which hid a genuine distaste for his past actions and a desire to leave them behind.  Was it to make him a really dark, really noir protagonist?

Why?  All it’s done is to ruin him as a hero.  Gambit was an intriguing member of the team for his remarkable desire to be good cloaked in nonchalance.  Now he morally resembles the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

With all due respect, fellow writers, he really didn’t need a slime bath.  He was just fine the way he was, and readers are going to miss the old Gambit, as they are going to miss other wrecked characters, several of whom I have listed in other letters.

So au revoir, fellow writers!  The aces are in your hands. All we True Believers have got at the moment are a set of black eights.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)

Song of the Mockingbird

Mockingbird

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Just out of curiosity, have you ever seen an actual mockingbird?  They’re very pretty birds about the size of the average man’s fist, and they have light brown-grey feathers.  Each wing has a white band across it, and they hold their tails at about a forty-five degree angle most of the time.  They have a beautiful song, when they’re not mimicking other bird calls, that is.  They can be found from rural towns to big cities all across the country.

So when I learned that there was a Marvel super-heroine called Mockingbird, I was immediately put in mind of the talents of this particular little avian.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only was she a ‘normal’ human, she was also farsighted and needed glasses!

Heck of an idea someone had to pair her off with the Marvel hero who has the sight of a Middle-earth elf!  Hawkeye and she seemed to be as much of a match as Susan Storm and Reid Richards.  They were definitely a more likeable pair than Jean Grey and Scott Summers, or at least they were to this reader.

And so we come back to the question that I asked in “Fletching and Nocking”: why have Mockingbird finish her split with Hawkeye?

Yes, the escapade in the West Coast Avengers comic line is definitely a cause for tension between them, although I think they could have handled it better than they did.  And yet, after she is a prisoner of the alien Skrulls for several years, once she returns, Bobbi Morse shuts her husband completely out of her life with a divorce (after having a good cry first).

They are currently hinted to still love each other but they continue to avoid acting on that love.  Despite this, when Hawkeye dated Spider-Woman, Mockingbird was shown to be rather embarrassed by the whole idea, the first time she’s shown any emotion over one of his ‘romances.’  Why not have her act on that embarrassment, and at least tell him off?  He’d probably take it from her before he took it from anyone else he knows.

Why is Mockingbird avoiding Hawkeye like this?  Wouldn’t it be more likely that all that time in captivity aboard the Skrull ships would make her miss him more than before?  Say you were held prisoner on an alien ship for an untold number of years, away not only from the planet that you loved but the most important people on it, people who may get killed at some point soon in an alien invasion you were powerless to fight or stop.

Eventually you get rescued and, on seeing them safe, split off from them for most of the next twenty years (after a perfectly natural tearful reunion)?

That’s kind of heartless, depending on who you are.  In other cases, it would be a sign of going crazy.

Right now it looks like Mockingbird has been avoiding Hawkeye and the Avengers.  The last time they fought side by side was at least two years ago, and she never showed up in the entire Avengers vs. X-Men storyline. Not only that, she never thanked Hawkeye for getting her help before she was given the serum mixture that saved her life.  It wasn’t his idea to give it to her, but he let Fury give the juice to her all the same, just to keep her alive.  All that work and she doesn’t even say thank you?

And again, why give her superpowers?  As I’ve said before, Mockingbird’s strength was the same as Hawkeye’s and the Winter Soldier’s.  She was a normal human who fought powerful bad guys and won – rather recently, too – such as when she faced off against the Wrecking Crew singlehanded.  No one was going to argue that she had no place on the team during that fight; she was as accepted by the Avengers before and after that, powers or not.

In that battle, she didn’t have powers.  And that made her even more valuable than any other team member when push came to shove.

After all the hard knocks she’s taken lately, fellow writers, I would say it’s time to give Mockingbird a break.  Let her spread her wings with the rest of the team, and fly beside her Hawk.  The results may be surprisingly fruitful in plotlines.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)

Cyclops and Wolverine

Cyclops and Wolverine

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Round Five, people!  This time we go over to X-Men characters Cyclops and Wolverine.  So let’s start with the obvious question: why have these two polar opposites been switched?

Cyclops has, recently, been turning from stalwart leader (or ‘teacher’s pet’ in Logan’s book) to mass murderer on a scale that would make Magneto cheer and dance.  Meanwhile, Wolverine has exchanged most of his berserker temper for the chance to be a principled leader of the X-Men.  Until he deems it necessary to finally take someone down, that is; something he only does in private.

What, exactly, did I miss?

Wolverine was never this gentle except to girls (Shadowcat, Rogue, and Jubilee, for starters).  In the case of the latter two youngsters, this was because he empathized with their tortured or lost emotional states; while Shadowcat needed a strong man she could relate to almost as a fighting father-figure (she already had the female equivalent with Storm).  At the same time, all three girls gave Wolvie an extra purpose to keep fighting: a young innocent to protect at all costs so they wouldn’t end up like him, dead, or worse than dead.

Cyclops’s job was to get the plan ready and execute it, all the while staying true to the principles of Professor X.  He was the young King Arthur to Professor X’s Merlin; he listened, did what he was told, and everything got accomplished in (almost) the right way.  It was no picnic, to be sure, but it was the right thing to do.  To help keep him on the straight and narrow was Jean Grey, his Queen Guinevere who was loved by Wolverine but, unlike Arthur’s wife, stayed true to her love (when her mind wasn’t being manipulated or something of that sort).

Now the positions have been reversed: Cyclops has exchanged Professor X’s teaching for the speeches and ‘grand’ gestures of Magneto while Wolverine has suddenly straightened up and keeps his claws sheathed until necessity demands they be bared.

Why?

It seems that Jean Grey’s inexplicably permanent death (at least in the ‘present’ time of the recent comics) is the root of this change.  On top of that, with the Professor’s sudden loss of direction in his teaching and without Jean to hold him straight, Cyclops is being dunked into his baser nature – and wallowing in it.

Yet Jean’s ‘death’ has had the opposite effect on her clawed knight.  Instead of reverting to his brutish tendencies as he has in the past when she ‘died’, Wolverine has decided to become civilized and adhere to the Professor’s original statutes; at least until such time as his animal rage needs to be unleashed to stop a villain permanently (or as permanently as it has ever been in the comics).

While Jean Grey and Scott Summers have never been favorites of mine, they have been two of the strongest pillars in the X-Men comics, keeping the team on the path of right and forbidding them to go wrong.  Without that support, the X-Men have begun to deteriorate.  Already the team is split: half of the team is firmly entrenched behind Wolverine on the unsteady ethical high ground while the other half blindly follows Cyclops into the moral sewers.  Others can’t make up their mind and spend their time bouncing between both factions while ‘trying’ to do the right thing when they’re not being stretched by opposing loyalties.  It’s total chaos.

The X-Men were a great story because they stood on the principles of right; not only facing evil mutants but a world that would largely be ruled by people in power who had a hatred of them for simply being born different.  Despite saving the world a thousand times in a thousand different ways, there would be people who remained committed to their destruction, just as there would remain villains bent on conquering the planet.  They knew that, and no matter how hard it was going to be to deal with this double hatred, they weren’t going to abandon their post.  That was what made the X-Men strong.

And that, fellow writers, is what has been lost through the latest events in the X-Men comics and Avengers vs. X-Men.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)

Fletching and Nocking

Hawkeye's New Suit

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, fellow writers! This letter has to do with the World’s Greatest Marksman: Hawkeye. First, the newest costume for the archer is great and a definite keeper, in my mind. The original wasn’t bad, but these days it looks really ridiculous. I would keep the hip quiver as well; as proved in the movie, Hawkeye can run out of arrows quickly.

Back to his persona. Wow, talk about getting tossed from pillar to post. This character has been hammered, and then some. First a reluctant villain under the spell of the Black Widow’s many charms, then the loudmouth upstart trying to prove himself to the fledging Avengers, next a stalwart Avenger, now…

Now he’s not exactly anything.

Hawkeye’s first slide into rampant flings began when he ‘dated’ the super-villainess Moonstone during the time when he believed that Mockingbird was dead (lousy choice of post dead wife date). Later he had a dallying ‘romance’ with the Wasp (she’s taken, people!) and after Disassembled he had a fling with the Scarlet Witch (who ‘killed’ him, twice). In the recent comics since Mockingbird finalized the divorce they started after Hawkeye discovered she had killed a man who abused her, he has ‘dated’ deaf vigilante-turned-heroine Echo (formerly Ronin) and, recently, Spider-Woman.

Despite all this, when told by Cap that Mockingbird was on a list of international spies wanted dead, he rejoined the Avengers so fast it left his teammates practically speechless. Later, he was distraught when she received grievous injuries in battle, injuries that prompted Fury to give her an experimental serum to save her life. Hawkeye was virtually mum on the obvious dangers of the whole idea (a first for a character who regularly has more quips than arrows). I don’t know of any other time the character was so quiet about a dangerous situation regarding Mockingbird.

In light of these instances regarding his ex-wife, why the yo-yo effect with Hawkeye’s romantic life? The character was never this fickle with his flirting in previous stories.

It is also worth noting that this isn’t the only part of the character that is being batted around more harshly than a ping pong ball: once a staunch advocate of the old ‘do not kill’ superhero code, Hawkeye has become somewhat picky when he follows it these days. I think that it’s understandable that he would not willingly spare any Skrulls he was fighting, since one of the aliens successfully impersonated his ‘dead’ wife. Anybody would be killing mad after something like that.

And his decision to permanently take down the Scarlet Witch not too long ago isn’t hard to understand, either, when one considers that she ‘killed’ him (twice). But this would hardly be a decision he wouldn’t wrestle with or have qualms about, something that doesn’t appear to have occurred when he made that choice.

Yet when faced with a criminal such as Max Fury or the ‘new’ Ronin (Black Widow’s ex-husband), Barton suddenly balks at finishing the villain off. Isn’t that a little silly? If he’s willing to finish aliens and former teammates, why not villains who have earned their walking papers many times over, and for whom he had absolutely no feeling?

A brief overview of Hawkeye’s history is enough to make plenty of new readers shake their heads and say, “Ouch. What a hard story!” Over the last twenty years, Barton’s been all but shattered and rebuilt to the point where it’s amazing he’s still recognizable as the character he was in the sixties. It’s nice to see him getting along better with his teammates and stretching his wings as a commander of the team (or one of its auxiliaries) true; however, the rest of his character is practically a disgusting mosaic of the shards of his previous integrity. There’s little farther that ‘mainstream’ Hawkeye has to go before he becomes interchangeable with Ultimate Hawkeye (who is a near-total perversion of the character).

The fact that Hawkeye’s been sent spinning off into one ‘romance’ after another seems, to one who looks hard at the list of circumstances under which he met these ladies, to be more like a search for his wife Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird) than the indecision of a berserk flirt. The pattern is something that she appears to be unaware of, but the threads of different stories point to Hawkeye desperately missing her all the same.

With all due respect, why not make Mockingbird miss him back for a change? Moreover, why not make her act on that? I don’t see anything demeaning or wrong with the idea for either character. They were married in a whirlwind before; why not go about it a little more slowly this time around? Reed and Susan Richards have lasted this long. Why not give another superhero a shot at that life?

Considering what he’s been through, Hawkeye’s definitely earned some happiness and needed respite. Heck, this type of story could open up all sorts of great avenues for both these characters and their teammates.

After twenty years on the rack, fellow writers, I’d say that Hawkeye’s been beaten enough.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)

The Art of Probability Manipulation

The Scarlet Witch

Hello, Marvel Writers!

This time I am writing with questions about the Scarlet Witch.  As I once wrote before, so I question again: why did Wanda Maximoff lose her mind and attack the Avengers?

I am fully aware that the strain between her and her husband, the Vision, was a factor.  I am also aware of the loss of her ‘children’ (adoption would have been a much better channel for the story) being a factor.  Still, this does not account for a mental breakdown that her teammates would not have seen coming.  Nor does it explain how she acquired the power to ‘remake’ the world to her own crazy preferences, since she originally had no way to manipulate real magic.

The Scarlet Witch’s mutant powers allowed her to manipulate probabilities: e.g. she could change the probability of a strong wall collapsing on an opponent’s head from nil to a hundred percent with a flick of her fingers and some concentration.  Likewise, she could jam switches, or destroy rifles, or make a barn catch fire, all out of the blue.  That such a power would be difficult to control or affect her sanity on certain occasions would be unsurprising since it is such an intangible ability.

And it did, on a few occasions, make it hard for Wanda to get the results in battle that she desired.  So where other mutants could constantly (or almost constantly) keep up with their powers, the Scarlet Witch would have more trouble and need more time off from fighting than other mutants would.

This is where Agatha Harkness, a bona fide witch of the Marvel universe, was brought in.  By studying actual magic, Wanda hoped to find a shortcut through these rest periods and stay on the team for the same length of time as her friends.  At the very least, this part of Wanda’s tortured story proves the old idea that the path of least resistance is a slippery slope.  Shortcuts past principles and safety limits never end well for all concerned.

Is this where the Scarlet Witch gained reality warping abilities?  No, but similar escapades on her part somehow led to it, along with stranger and stranger back story alterations.  And so, when she had learned more of real magic, but at the same time far too little, she went on with other experiments, which led to the loss of her ‘sons.’  Topped off with the Vision’s temporarily being dismantled and then being rebuilt, losing his emotions in the process and shunning her almost permanently from that point on, the strain put Wanda in her own corner, away from the society of the Avengers.  Then, in a desperate attempt to regain what she had lost, she turned the world and her teammates nearly inside out (using magic she should not have been able to channel except for back story alterations) to that end.

Why?  Wouldn’t the Avengers have been more concerned about her than they appear to have been?  She was a member of the team; Avengers do not abandon fellow Avengers unless something prevents them from rescuing the fallen member of the team.  And come hell or high water, if that teammate is still breathing they won’t rest until they’re all back at Avengers HQ.

And, more to the point, how would meddling with magic grow mutant powers?  And how would someone who has no talent for magic somehow be able to channel it?  I am not forgetting the Scarlet Witch’s rewritten back story; I simply do not think the rewrites were all that necessary. Since they are there, however, I must say that I think they need not have taken the path they that they did.

If she had kept her original strength level, then the probability of Wanda’s mutant powers rewriting the Marvel universe into a “nightmare sequence” is – nada.  She would have to have a massive power behind her efforts and be left undisturbed at its source for a good amount of time to achieve the degree of detailed alteration she caused in the Avengers: Disassembled and House of M plotlines.  And even with her expanded back story, in such an unhealthy mental state as the one she was suffering from, it is doubtful that Wanda could have pulled off the global ‘revamp’ that she did.

Again, we come back to why.  Why?  The Avengers are not a neglectful team.  They would have noticed that Wanda was not well and they would have at least watched her if she would not let them help her.  They would have noticed and been ready for something (likely bad) to happen.  They’d have been ready for her to snap and would have known what was going on far more quickly than they did in Avengers: Disassembled.

Why?  The entire plotline came from left field and is totally unreasonable, as are the new ‘twists’ to her character history.  Can the Scarlet Witch ever again be a member of a team, her devotion to its principles as unquestionable as her fellows’?  Can she ever bring herself to even be in the same room as her teammates again without feeling guilt or being ostracized?

What happened in Disassembled and House of M and since has led to no one in the Avengers (and even in the X-Men) trusting her anymore, as a friend, woman, or a teammate.  In fact, the Avengers were prepared to kill her not too long ago.

It is a real and true shame that she’s been so broken.  The Scarlet Witch was not the strongest Avenger, but she was a decent character and there are still Marvelites who are fans of her.  Now, fellow writers, it seems that she has been damaged beyond repair in the eyes of her former teammates.

Many a reader may not be far behind the team in that respect, either.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)

Avengers Assemble – Sidekicks?!?

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Here we go again.  This time, I am asking about the Young Avengers.  I have no problem with a team of teenagers styled (more or less) after the Avengers.  Kate Bishop and Patriot are very intriguing characters – though by now Patriot is a full-fledged Avenger and Kate is still too young for that.  Having Cassie Lang become a super heroine was a nice touch, and I hope that she comes back at some point.  (I am well aware that hardly anyone in Marvel comics is permanently killed.)

No, my problem this time is the temptation some may have to turn the Young Avengers into sidekicks for the Avengers.  This seems to be the direction things are headed, with Hawkeye pushing the rest of the team to mentor the youths. 

Don’t misunderstand; giving the Young Avengers lessons in the dos and don’ts of super hero life is fine.  But having them tag along behind a particular Avenger on a mission (as Kate Bishop recently did with Hawkeye) is walking into the territory of DC comics. 

 With all due respect, why not make it official that the Young Avengers, while still under the umbrella of the actual Avengers, are not sidekicks?  After all, that’s what others did with Professor Xavier’s New Mutants.  They were taught at the X-Mansion, by X-Men, but one New Mutant was never attached to one X-Man as a combat partner unless the two teams were in the same fight and battle required it.  The same set up could work out this way for the Avengers.

The reason I bring this up is sidekicks are to superheroes what adverbs are to verbs: crutches.  Adverbs are used to prop up a weak verb.  So sidekicks, from time to time, are used to prop up superheroes.

This, to me, seems to be another reason why Stan Lee ‘killed’ off Bucky Barnes in the early comics.  Captain America was already a strong character by the time Lee made Bucky’s demise official.  So if he was always checking on Bucky’s condition or was looking to him for advice every second panel, it would have diminished Cap’s ability to stand on his own.  And so, just as Batman frequently has to take care of Robin, Cap would have been in similar situations fairly often with Bucky.

 Understandably, this would not have worked for Cap.  Steve Rogers had to be, and still must remain, a leader in his own right.  He couldn’t and can’t keep second guessing himself every few panels, especially not to a fifteen year old boy.  It would have been ridiculous and demeaning to the character if Lee had left Bucky in the story.  So Stan Lee tossed Bucky out; and Bucky has subsequently returned to the comics as the Winter Soldier, a rather strong character in his own right.  Cap and Bucky remain on good enough terms with each other, but one no longer acts as a crutch to the other.

The Young Avengers, to my mind, should be given a similar durability test.  The Avengers are strong enough that saddling them with a sidekick would be both silly and humiliating.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)