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Apocrypha Entertainment Presents:



I was a Marvel kid. At one point in the 80s, I think I actually bought 27 of the 30 monthly titles they were putting out.

(Yes, I was that kid. Shut it.)

While I started getting comics when I was five years old, it was around 1981 when I became a consistent buyer. And always, it was Marvel. Really, what I think of as the company’s heyday- Claremont’s X-MEN in their prime, Byrne doing FANTASTIC FOUR, Walt Simonson’s THOR, Roger Stern tearing it up on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, AVENGERS, and DOCTOR STRANGE. All the imagination and wonder that newsprint could hold.

Even when I took a break from buying comics for a few months during my senior year of high school, I still read some of my friends’ books. And when I decided to dive back in, I went and bought back issues to fill in the holes.

I think about this now, because I recently filled out my DCBS order and for the second month in a row, I didn’t order a single Marvel comics pamphlet comic. And trust me- I’m not going out and reading anyone else’s right now, either.

At first I thought it would be weird, but the exact opposite has been true. I’ve clicked on a couple of trades (Marvel Essentials are still, well, essential), and skipped right on by the rest. Ultimately, the company and its direction have left me (and readers like me) behind.

This isn’t sour grapes. Marvel is under zero obligation to make comics that I will enjoy, and I’m not that guy- I vote with my wallet, not with my ability to whine. The comics that the company made that excited me and captured my imagination? They’re still out there for me to enjoy, and I can do so as long as I like. It saddens me a bit- I grew up with those characters and they have been a huge part of my life, and I miss checking in on their adventures. But lately, when I have tried, I don’t recognize them. They’ve been turned into false icons with an amoral center.

It’s easy to use Iron Man as an example, but oh, well. When I think Iron Man, I remember great stories about him dealing with his alcoholism and rising above it to become a better, stronger man. I think about him discovering that his technology had been stolen and taking responsibility for all the deaths it caused in the hands of villains and working to put it right. What does today’s reader take away from his love of Iron Man?

“Remember when he turned against the rest of the heroes and got Captain American killed? Or how he cloned Thor and the clone killed another hero? Or how he turned the world into a fascist police state?”

Twenty years from now, I don’t think that’ll be a Marvel Essential. Do you?

Marvel doesn’t owe me or anyone else a damned thing. It owes its shareholders a profit, and that’s the bottom line. Well, let me back up for a second- Marvel does owe someone something- it owes itself to do right by its characters and to use them to produce quality stories that enhance their legends for generations of readers to come. But right now, I’m just not seeing that happening.

It should never be easy to stop caring about something that played such a formative role in your life, yet skipping past ordering the Marvel comics I enjoyed for so long was easier than a cheerleader on prom night. I wish the company well. But I wish its characters a better fate than the one they’re being written. 

Marc Mason 

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