Well, readers, as you know I wrote a post some time ago about Marvel Comics’ latest story arc, “Secret Wars.” That post was called “Stories Matter – Why Marvel Comics’ “Secret Wars” Is Not Marvel-Us.” I recently found out that Marvel plans to merge its “mainstream Marvel Universe – the universe Stan Lee and his friends established – with its Ultimate Marvel Universe. This will result in the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Comics the company promised some time earlier this year.
I am not pleased with this turn of events, as you know, and I just sent two letters to Marvel, listing their storytelling problems and suggesting how they may be repaired. You may read the letters in the rest of this post below. Be advised, in this format they are rather long. I had a fair bit to say.
If you are as upset about the proposed merger of the “mainstream” Marvel Universe with the Ultimate Universe as I am, then you may want to try emailing the company yourselves, readers. I have taken the addresses and instructions straight from the General feedback Page of the Marvel website, marvel.com:
If you have a question or comment about Marvel’s comic books that you would like to send to our Editorial staff, please direct them to the appropriate department:
- Spidey office: email@example.com
- X office: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Heroes office: email@example.com
- Hulk, Ultimate & All Ages office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please mark your e-mail “OKAY TO PRINT.”
If you would like to provide us with feedback, please contact email@example.com or go to http://marvel.com/help/contact and fill out the feedback form.
Thank you for your time, readers.
The Mithril Guardian
Secret Wars and the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Line-Up, Part 1 (OKAY TO PRINT)
Dear Marvel Managers/Editors/Writers,
I have recently discovered where you hope to end Secret Wars, fellow writers. You intend to combine the “mainstream” Marvel Universe with the Ultimate Marvel Universe to make “a new universe.” (Thank you for that turn of phrase, Erik Selvig.)
All I have to say to this is no, No, NO, and NO!!!!
Pardon the vehement expression of my feelings, fellow writers, but I think you can hardly blame me. I have enjoyed your “mainstream” Universe since I was first introduced to Marvel. Why would I want to see that universe changed? Why would I want the heroes I have loved in that universe to be destroyed, rewritten, or all around transmogrified?
I think I know why you are doing this. Interest in your Ultimate comics has been soaring, while less attention is being given to the stories you have set in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe, have they not? And instead of asking what you may have been doing wrong with regard to the stories in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe, you have decided to mix and match these two series, keeping Stan Lee’s Marvel Universe and adding your own Ultimate Marvel Universe to it in order to boost interest in the “mainstream” Marvel Comics.
Honestly, fellow writers, this is nothing more than you applying a band aid to a deep, sucking chest wound in order to stem the flow of blood. You have been destroying the “mainstream” Marvel Universe since this millennium began, and now that it is in an almost unrecognizable shambles, you are now trying to keep it afloat.
There is an old fable which might help me make my point, fellow writers. This fable is about a man and his son taking their donkey to market. They pass through a number of towns along the way, and as they go each set of townspeople has their own ideas on how the duo should get to their destination. One set of townspeople chastises the father for making his son walk, so he sets the boy on the donkey’s back. The people in the next town accuse the boy of being a sluggard for letting his father walk while he rides. So the father takes the boy down and rides the donkey himself.
The people in the next town say the man should be ashamed of making his son walk while he rides the donkey in ease. The man then puts his son before him on the donkey and they both ride on to the next town. Here the people have a novel idea: both father and son should truss up the donkey and carry it to market, sparing it the long walk.
So the father and son do just that. They tie up the donkey’s ankles, tie him to a stick, and begin carrying him on the last leg of their journey. But the donkey is unhappy with being carried like a dead game animal and begins to thrash and kick. The father and son lose hold of the animal on a bridge, which the donkey falls off of. On impact with the river bank, the animal dies, and now the two have no donkey to sell at the market.
The point of this fable, fellow writers, is that in trying to please everyone, the father and son satisfied no one, least of all themselves. You have done the exact same thing with the characters Stan Lee and his friends gave you, trying to please the talking heads and other “experts” who say they espouse the ideals of the New Millennium. The fans outside these circles have not been impressed with your stories and have subsequently demonstrated their distaste by ignoring your “mainstream” comics, which have suffered the most under this new regime.
But merging the “mainstream” Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Marvel Universe will not save you from the coming crisis of storytelling. If anything, it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Interest may pick up for a time after you make this merger, but eventually, as you pander to the whims of fads and trends, you will cross a line that will make many of your fans lose interest in your 616 comics completely. I cannot guess what that line would be for the multitude of fans, but merging the “mainstream” Marvel Universe with an alternate Universe of any kind would be a good place to start for me.
As I see things, you have a number of problems with your “mainstream” Marvel Universe which you are trying to rectify through Secret Wars and this “All-New, All-Different” fiasco-in-the-making. These problems are as follows:
- Constant wars and apocalypses occurring semi-monthly in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe.
I have mentioned this before, fellow writers. You are destroying too much over and over again. Your apocalyptic storylines and superhero wars are merely rehashed ideas with different heroes or villains thrown into the fight. You have, essentially, put Ragnarok, Doomsday, and the Apocalypse on repeat.
And your readers are sick of it.
- Adding new characters that get a great deal of “screen time” at the expense of the original heroes and villains, or adding new heroes who take on the mantles of original heroes.
Sure, fans like Kamala Khan. But giving her the codename Miss Marvel is foolish. For one thing, it makes her appear weak, as though she needs a PR boost from Carol Danvers. You do not seem to think anyone would like Khan if she did not have a famous super heroine name attached to her. Kate Bishop had the same problems; you did not seem to think she could float her own boat until you finally gave her the codename Hawkeye. (Or you were trying to replace the original Master Archer with her. Clint Barton, Kate Bishop – their names are too similar for this not to be your reason for giving her his codename.)
At least Patriot got to be himself, through and through, bad and good both.
Worse, for a girl who seems to be eager to join the Avengers, you instead have Kamala fumbling around and getting picked on by Falcon and the other Avengers. Where the Avengers used to support and encourage new members, you now have them tearing Kamala down for being overeager in a fight.
Also, Falcon is still wearing Steve’s suit and using his shield. Do you even have a Falcon in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe anymore, fellow writers? Or has Sam hung up his wings and title for good? If so, that is a real shame, and it means that the first African-American superhero has fallen on very hard times. He can no longer be respected for himself but only because he wears Steve Rogers’ uniform.
You have been giving the fans castor oil, in these instances, under the guise of giving them wine. We are not amused, fellow writers. Not in the slightest.
- Constant killing of the characters with little to no rest in between.
You killed Hawkeye once in two cascading storylines, fellow writers. You have dismantled the Vision so many times I have lost count; Wanda Maximoff has been killed at least twice; Jean Grey has been killed seemingly hundreds of times in different storylines; Wolverine has died many times, etcetera ad infinitum.
No wonder the heroes go crazy so often, and no wonder your readership for the “mainstream” Marvel Universe has dropped. You cannot, it appears, write a story for it without killing at least one hero in the process of telling the tale. These days, you have also begun killing off entire teams of heroes, not to mention hordes, multitudes, and bucket loads of civilians. Have Marvel’s 616 heroes become so irresponsible that they no longer think to evacuate innocent bystanders? I do not buy that idea at all!
Where is the sanity, reason, or entertainment in all this? You can actually tell a story without killing fifty people and a superhero, fellow writers. If you want, I could write a story for you which would do that. So could several thousand other fans – if you were willing to ask them for ideas, instead of pleading with your desensitized focus groups to tell you “what they want next.” Most of us do not enjoy stories which are “really noir, really dark, and at the end everybody dies – again.”
- Mixing and matching romantic couples.
Cyclops and Emma Frost, Wasp and… another guy, Hawkeye’s many different dates – the list is endless, fellow writers, and beyond confusing. Tell me, have you ever read any piece of fiction which had King Arthur married to a woman other than Guinevere? Have you ever heard of Robin Hood loving someone other than Maid Marion? How about Ulysses/Odysseus being married to someone other than Penelope?
No? Good. Then we are on the same page. We, the fans, do not want to see Iron Man dally with the Wasp, Carol Danvers, or She-Hulk. What we want is the continuity of the old romantic pairs we once enjoyed: Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne; Steve Rogers and Sharon Carter; Scott Summers and Jean Grey; Ororo Monroe and T’Challa, Clint Barton and Bobbi Morse, and so on.
We do not want angst, we do not want guilt trips, and we do not want love affairs that run along willy-nilly with no purpose or reason. We are sick, sick, sick, of it; we miss the old Romantic Reels you had running for so long in the comics and which could be relied on to provide markers for your stories. Without these firm tethers, the “mainstream” Marvel Universe has slipped off its axis and has gone spinning off into oblivion.
- Turning “left into right, day into night, wrong into right” until not only the heroes but the readers are thoroughly confused.
So killing a HYDRA agent who is holding a crowd of civilians hostage is bad, but Ultimate Clint Barton’s murder of Ultimate Natasha Romanoff is all right. “Mainstream” Marvel heroes naturally feel bad when they have to take a life while Ultimate Marvel heroes can kill anyone for any reason without losing sleep.
This is foolish and stupid, fellow writers. Cap killed Baron Heinrich Zemo in the original comics – not directly or with intent to get revenge, simply to protect himself and Rick Jones. Understandably, no Marvel hero wants to kill. No one who becomes a soldier truly wants to kill, either. If a soldier or an Avenger does desire that, then something is as wrong with them as it is with Sabertooth.
That does not mean that a hero or a soldier may not have to kill someone in the line of duty. But you have all been chasing your tails down the sewers for so long that you have trammeled your imaginations in these areas. Your stories all transform into nails that you must hammer into place, rather than artifacts which you can chisel and carve in unique, inspiring ways.
This is another major problem you have with the 616 Marvel Universe. Your “no-win” scenarios are recycled over and over again and – no one wins. Yay…???
- Constant rewriting of the heroes’ histories.
So now you have rewritten “mainstream” Pietro and Wanda Maximoff’s history so that they are not Magneto’s children, huh? Just like you revised Sam Wilson’s history so that he had been a gangster in his youth and added another brother to the Summers’ family.
You did not have to do that with any of these characters, fellow writers. You could have left the twins as Magneto’s children, but made a new character, who somehow came to think that he/she might be related to the Master of Magnetism, only to learn he/she is not. This would be a great tactic to use instead of twisting the Maximoffs’ history for a third time.
You could have had Sam mentor someone out of the gang life and into the superhero gig, or given Vulcan a strong, brotherly friendship with Cyclops that eventually ended up like Magneto and Charles Xavier’s friendship.
Instead, you rewrote the characters’ histories and threw everyone a curveball, which leaves fans like me scratching their heads and saying, “Why did the writers do this?” It is sooooo stupid!
- Giving the heroes psychotic “dark sides” they can barely control.
I have had my issues with this for a long time, fellow writers, probably since Professor X’s “dark side” took form in the 1990s. Of course Professor X has a dark side! Everyone has a “dark side,” fellow writers. You do, I do, and the dude up the street has a “dark side”!
That does not make Marvel’s heroes into villains who wear benevolent masks. That makes them better than the villains, because they have chosen to be better than the Dark. Marvel’s heroes know they have darkness in them. They know they have weaknesses in their characters. They accept that. And then they fight their weaknesses, usually at the same time they are fighting the villains who have become one with the Dark inside and outside of themselves.
We fans do not want “heroes” who lose control of themselves at the drop of a hat. We want heroes who keep control of themselves no matter how hard things get, or who redeem themselves when they actually do succumb to their character weaknesses and faults.
Look now at the harvest you have reaped: disinterest in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe – the storyline that gave you the multibillion dollar company you are now riding in. You have failed us, the fans, more spectacularly than most other companies would. Do you not realize that you are making your living not with paper and fantasies, fellow writers, but on the hopes and dreams of the fans of the characters you are charged with protecting and strengthening?
The sad fact is that you have not done that part of your job very well of late, fellow writers. Or a great number of you have not. You have pandered to the whims of “popular opinion,” put your imaginations out to pasture in the fields of obliteration, and helped to propagate an urge to destroy in a great many people. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
What do you think the reaction to your misconceived storylines will be?
From where I sit, it does not appear that it will be a pretty reaction. If the 616 Marvel Universe evaporates or is merged with an alternate storyline permanently, then many fans will be greatly displeased and upset. Interest in your comics will plummet, and after that – well, there may not be a Marvel Comics company after a few years.
I suppose this puts me in the position of being a herald sent ahead to give you warning in time for you to change course of your own accord, before the army arrives and you are laid under a mountain of angry letters in your ivory tower.
If that is indeed the case, then as a herald, I have a few suggestions which may help you avoid such a siege before it starts. The customer is not always right, I know. But I do have some ideas which might – might – help you to avoid letting this “donkey” you are leading to market fall off the bridge.
Those, however, will be in my next letter. Until that time – Excelsior!
The Mithril Guardian
Secret Wars and the “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Line-Up, Part 2 (OKAY TO PRINT)
Dear Marvel Managers/Editors/Writers,
In my previous letter, fellow writers, I detailed some of the problems you have made and are making with the stories set in the “mainstream,” or 616, Marvel Universe. In this letter I will list some suggestions which I think may open avenues that may help alleviate this writing crisis you are suffering.
Hopefully, these suggestions of mine will be of use in preventing the merging of the “mainstream” Marvel Universe with your Ultimate Marvel Universe. If I must “get used to disappointment,” then so be it. I am but a humble consumer, so what you do with your products is completely outside of my control. But I will not be consuming in any way, shape, or form, anything related to the “All-New, All-Different, Barf-Inducing” Universe you plan to create. However, my recommendations for future stories in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe are as follows:
Suggestion Number One is that you restore the Marvel Universes to their rightful places. I would say you will profit more from a restored and rejuvenated “mainstream” Marvel Universe rather than a merger of the “mainstream” and Ultimate Marvel Universes. By “restored and rejuvenated” I mean that the Avengers, X-Men, and other Marvel heroes of the 616 realm would be better off if they were returned to their original mission and character parameters.
This does not mean returning to the outlooks, costumes, or technology of the 1960s. What I mean by “restoration” is that the heroes should have restored confidence in themselves and in the values for which they fight. As Tony Stark says in “Avengers’ Worlds” in the Avengers Assemble television series, the Avengers are an ideal as much as they are a team. The same goes for the X-Men and the other Marvel heroes. They are not fighting for themselves, for personal glory, or simply to fight. They are fighting to protect innocent civilians from those who would do them great bodily harm.
As for the “rejuvenation,” it is helpful to remember that you deal with the fantastic, fellow writers. Time passes for us, writers and fans alike, it is true. But time need not have any noticeable effect on Marvel’s heroes and villains. They are, after all, the archetypes of human nature. Good and bad, human nature has not changed in some time, and it will not be changing in the near future.
So, for me, the history of the characters is fine as it is, or at least as it was before the latest rewrites. If people want to complain that Norman Osborn, Doc Ock, and Red Skull should all be pushing up daisies by now, then they have a right to do that. But for myself, I do not care how old any of the heroes or villains are. I only care that they remain the heroes I have always known and loved – or, in the case of the villains, disliked. I think future and current fans will agree with that assessment as well.
Marvel fans do not need our heroes to be made younger every ten or twenty years, as DC rejuvenates its characters. We are, actually, quite content to have our old friends keep us company from youth to age. King Arthur, Odysseus/Ulysses, and Robin Hood have walked with untold generations of people from youth to death without aging a day, as it were. I think Cap, Iron Man, Professor X, and the other Marvel heroes deserve that privilege as well. They have earned it many times over.
Suggestion Number Two would be that you consider turning away from these constant, universe-ending storylines. You can entertain people just as well with stories where the heroes must save a country, a world, or one family alone, fellow writers. Your predecessors did not have Ragnarok occurring every second Thursday for the simple reason that they did not need to. Neither do you need to do it.
It is not because “times were simpler” in the 1960s that Stan Lee and his friends chose to avoid destroying the world/galaxy/universe every weekend. The 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s were as tumultuous and fraught with peril as the world is today. Stakes need to be raised with each story in a series, yes. But there is a vast difference between raising the stakes and embracing anarchy, which is what you have given fans these last twenty years or so.
If you want some ideas for a good story where the world will not end, fellow writers, then I would suggest you read the newspaper or a history book for inspiration. Or you could talk to veterans of a war – any war. Try talking to the survivors of natural disasters, or other such things. Heavens, you can even ask the children in cancer centers and hospitals what stories they might like to read!
Better yet, ask Marvel fans what kind of stories they would like to see, or find and read their fan fiction. I and other fans all have ideas for stories for our favorite Marvel heroes. And there is no law (to the best of my knowledge) which says that these fans cannot help you write stories for their favorite characters. If other franchises are willing to buy “spec scripts” for their series, then I see no reason why you could not encourage Marvel fans to send in ideas or “spec scripts.”
Perhaps you could even set up writing competitions where fans can send in story ideas or “scripts” on a certain set of dates or for one weekend. These “windows of opportunity” for the fans need not last long; you could accept the ideas and stories from fans over the course of a day or two, and then close the event until the same date next month/next year. Doing this would give you the time you need to process the ideas sent in and to ask fans for clarification of their suggestions/stories – or even to ask them if they would like a job at Marvel.
Fellow writers, the truth of the matter is that if you want to know what we desire, then, you simply need to ask us. Not a handful of us, picked from a certain area to make a focus group of twenty to a hundred, but all of us in a controlled environment, such as the writing competition I mentioned above. In this way we would each get our say – or our letter, as the case may be – and you would have a better idea of what kind of stories we would like to see. It would also help you to avert storyline disasters like this imminent merger of the “mainstream” and Ultimate Marvel Universes.
This brings me to Suggestion Number Three which regards the addition of “modern” characters to the roster of our old favorites – not to mention giving them the codenames of original Marvel characters – in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe.
I would also like to say that, if you truly wish to have a black Captain America, then please do it in an alternate Universe, not in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe. Yes, I know what you have been “secretly” trying to do with Sam Wilson. It is the same thing Henry Peter Gyrich did when he reduced the Avengers’ roster to seven and made them add Falcon to the team. The Avengers would gladly have accepted Falcon on his own merits, but Gyrich wanted them to be politically correct or some other such biased nonsense. So he forced Falcon to join the team.
Sam was understandably angry about that, and he was right to be angry. Because then, as now, forcing someone to do, say, or choose something in order to win political points is wrong. Then as now forcing Sam to be where he does not want to be damages him, it does not help him.
Sam Wilson, in the “mainstream” Marvel Universe, has the honor of being the very first African-American superhero in comic-dom. He deserves to retain that distinction in the 616 Universe, not to be shoehorned into the 616 Captain America uniform and role. What you have done to him is you have stolen his position and pride from him, as much as Gyrich did in the 1970s. This is not only highly unfair and derogatory to the Falcon, fellow writers, but it is also demeaning to his fans (me among them) as well. He and his fans deserve better treatment from you and a great deal more respect than you have shown to him and to us.
Besides which, mixing and matching heroes and their costumes is proven folly. No one liked having Clint Barton or Bucky Barnes in the Captain America uniform. And neither character truly wanted it. They – and we – prefer to have our “mainstream” favorites retain their original identities, characteristics, and suits. We prefer that 616 Steve Rogers remain Captain America and 616 Sam Wilson remain the Falcon. Do what you like with them in alternate Universes (you have already proven that you like to “play” with the heroes there) but leave the 616 Captain America and the 616 Falcon as they are! In fact, please consider leaving all the original 616 characters as they are.
This also goes for new characters like Kamala Khan as well. And I would note that she would do better as a character if she did not have to live up to Carol Danvers’ old codename. She is, from what I have heard, a widely liked character, and she therefore merits the ability to stand on her own two feet – not on Carol Danvers’ shoulders.
Any other new characters you wish to add to the “mainstream” Marvel Universe should also be able to walk the walk and talk the talk as themselves, not as “replacements” for heroes who have “moved on” to other codenames. As you might have noticed, “replacing” original characters with new ones is more likely to anger fans than to entertain them. Also with regard to Kamala, new young heroes would do better if they had more experienced heroes standing with them, encouraging them, and watching their back.
I am not advocating that new Marvel heroes become sidekicks to current Marvel heroes. That is DC Comics’ shtick, and they can have it. But as you know, previous Marvel writers had Storm and Wolverine mentor Kitty Pryde during her early years with the X-Men. Both characters grew and learned as they taught, molded, and guided the twelve year old into her role as an X-Man. It is very sad to me that other new heroes, like Kamala Khan and Kate Bishop, have been denied that chance. This should not be the case, fellow writers, and it would be better if you could rectify this situation.
As to adding new teenage or twenty-odd year old heroes to the X-Men, the Avengers, and Heroes for Hire, et al, you might try adding one or two characters at a time to the team roster. This is how Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were introduced to the Avengers, and it is easier for readers to keep track of one or two new characters – three at the most – rather than chasing around after five or six “newbies” throughout a single story. If it worked for your predecessors, then I see nothing preventing you from following through on this idea. Choose established fact over deluded fiction – what a concept!
Suggestion Number Four covers two issues I have: romantic relationships in the Marvel Universe, and the friendship between superheroes and superhero teams.
First and foremost, can you puh-lease stop the romantic rampage around the May Pole some of our heroes have been going through these last twenty years? I can handle Tony having a different girlfriend every other year, or Natasha finding a new boyfriend a year or two after she and her last man decided they could not get along. I can even handle Bruce Banner and Natasha Romanoff dating, for crying out loud!
But as I said in my previous letter, King Arthur always has Guinevere, Robin Hood always has Maid Marion, and Ulysses/Odysseus always has Penelope. So why can Cyclops not keep Jean Gray; Steve Rogers keep Sharon Carter; Hank Pym keep Janet van Dyne; Clint Barton keep Bobbi Morse, etc., keep their romances together?
It does not make life interesting – for our heroes or for us, fellow writers – if we are always trying to keep straight which boys and girls go together. We fans like stability, and for writers who pride themselves on keeping Marvel’s continuity flowing smoothly from now until Doomsday, you have not held to this coda in the romantic aspect of the 616 Universe at all.
I am curious as to why you have written the 616 X-Men and 616 Avengers as enemies. The “mainstream” Avengers are on good terms with the Fantastic Four, Heroes for Hire, and SHIELD. For all I know, they may also be friends with superhero teams Alpha Flight, Big Hero 6, and the Winter Guard.
On the other hand, you have had the 616 X-Men retreating from contact with outside teams and people. I see no reason for either this xenophobic exclusion or for any enmity between the ”mainstream” X-Men and Avengers, especially since 616 X-Men Beast, Wolverine, Quicksilver, and Storm have done time wearing an A instead of an X.
I suggest that these two 616 teams should learn to coexist and even rely on each other in times of danger in the future. If the “mainstream” X-Men have a problem and need help, for example, then they could easily contact the 616 Avengers and ask that they lend a hand. What are the Avengers going to do, say no? They have sworn to help everybody who needs or asks for their assistance.
There is no reason I can see why the “mainstream” Avengers would deny aid to the 616 X-Men when they needed help. Members of both teams are good friends with each other in the “mainstream” Universe, despite working for different superhero units/armies. Therefore, it makes sense that the teams would follow the patterns of their members and learn to get along.
Instead of tearing them apart fellow writers, or forcing them to merge (I know about the Unity Squad) you can – and I think you should – allow the “mainstream” X-Men and Avengers to be friends and allies. They are the biggest superhero teams on the planet. It only makes sense that they should learn to coexist with each other. The battles/wars between the teams have led only to the pain and destruction the Avenger and the X-Men have promised to prevent, and it is out of character for them to choose to fight like this, I think.
For Suggestion Number Five, I recommend that you stop having the heroes feel guilty about justly killing an enemy who would not otherwise be stopped. While making this concession to necessity (and reality), the heroes could steadfastly maintain a policy of not committing murder. Should this policy be violated in a major way, they can quite rightly put any hero who breaks that code on parole at the least, behind bars at the most. (Deadpool would certainly qualify as a ‘poster boy’ for the latter category.) Other areas where right and wrong have been “confused” and “made gray” should also be straightened out, fellow writers, if it is at all possible. Your fans will definitely thank you for it!
Suggestion Number Six: As I have said in previous letters, fellow writers, if you feel that you must change the histories of the original characters Stan Lee and his friends introduced to us, then please be kind enough to do so in an alternate Marvel Universe! The “mainstream” Marvel Universe is your primary bread and butter for the simple reason that it is the one fans – old and new – rely on to understand your alternate universes.
If a particular alternate Marvel Universe tickles a fan’s fancy, then he can enjoy that one in addition to or in preference over the original Marvel Universe. Most of your fans, however, have some kind of respect for the “mainstream” Marvel Universe and use it as a touchstone to navigate your other comic book worlds. Take away the platform of the 616 Marvel Universe, and all your alternate universes crumble to dust. I think you are well aware of that, fellow writers, but your current plans mean that this fact bears repeating – again.
Suggestion Number Seven is this: I mentioned at the beginning of this letter. Should you choose to restore and rejuvenate the “mainstream” Marvel Universe rather than merge it with the Ultimate Marvel Universe, fellow writers, I think you would profit greatly if you choose to restore the heroes’ confidence not only in themselves but in the ideals they fight for.
An ideal is not a fiction, fantasy, or anything so intangible. Nor is it an ideology that people will die for. The uniting ideal of the Marvel Heroes is the protection of innocent civilians from aggressors who would otherwise do them mortal harm. For that reason Marvel’s heroes take a great deal of punishment without looking for a reward of any kind for their service. They deserve to fight for that ideal again, with clear consciences and a right understanding of who and what they are.
Fighting to protect others is certainly not going to be easy, and it will not always be fun. The heroes will make mistakes, they will have accidents, and they will get hurt. But they will know what they are fighting for. They will recognize that they have darkness in them, weaknesses and faults that they will occasionally have to face head on.
But they will know that they can control the darkness within them, that they can choose to reject it. That they can fight it as they battle their physical adversaries. Once again, they will know that they are heroes. That they can, if they fall and fail, redeem themselves with enough effort and determination. And we, the fans, as well as you, fellow writers, will know and benefit from their insight as well.
These are my suggestions with regard to the direction in which I think you would be better served taking the “mainstream” Marvel Comics. Since these letters will be published on my blog – thoughtsontheedgeofforever.wordpress.com – once I have sent them to you, along with the email addresses of your separate writing departments, others may have better suggestions which augment and/or improve on my own.
As a last note, fellow writers, please take the time to reconsider your current story trajectory. If you take that road, you will fail and fall. A better road might be the one I have taken pains to suggest. Your current plan will end in your comic book empire’s story-telling collapse if you do not turn away from it.
That is not something I want, fellow writers. If I did, or if I was indifferent to the “mainstream” Marvel Universe’s survival – not to mention the survival of Marvel as a company – then I would not have written this letter to you, nor used my precious time and breath to give you my opinion.
Do me at least this one favor, fellow writers: please make these letters worth my time and energy, for your own sakes as well as mine.
The Mithril Guardian