Friday, May 27, 2016

Thoughts on Hydra Cap and the Death of Spider-Man or "Why Comics are Dumb"

I don't feel like I can do any sort of justice to the Hydra Cap story. Most of what needs to be said has been said. I'll mention that I whole-heartedly support the fans that feel betrayed by this and they are right to be upset. Here's a great article that I think says what needs to be said from a perspective I hadn't even begun to consider when I was initially outraged: On Steve Rogers 1: Antisemitism and Publicity Stunts

So what will I be talking about? I want to address comic books in general and the characters in them.

I don't think it's a stretch to say that the characters are bigger than the stories they are appearing in. It's why the image above can have weight to you even entirely out of context and even though these are Earth-1610 versions of the characters you know and love, not the original Earth-616. Don't get me wrong, each character can have amazing stories, but they become something that exists independently of their stories. If you identify someone as Captain America or Superman, the entire world now has an opinion on what that means. That's not a bad thing.

It means that even out of context, characters and stories can have true emotional impact (although negatively, this is what lets companies do the click-bait crap that prompted this article).

It's the same for Harry Potter, for Gandalf, for Luke Skywalker. These are characters that exist in the zeitgeist, in the group subconscious. These are characters that are bigger than the stories they appear in, even when the stories they appear in are some of the most epic that have ever been written. And they are also all characters that have hundreds upon hundreds of adaptations.

In every single one of these adaptations, whether it be canon, alternate universes, some form of official "what-if", or straight-up fan-fiction, the characters are nearly always recognizable. They exist as themselves even when the entire world they appear in is different. Through TV shows, books, comics, movies, and more, these characters are themselves and exist independently.

And this is absolutely the case for nearly every long-running comic book character, be it Captain America, Spider-Man, Superman or Batman. I think almost more so for these characters, because comics books are soap opera bullshit levels of bad.

Every possible insane thing you've heard be said about a stereotypical soap opera, has happened (and continues to happen) in comic books. It's nothing but bullshit click-bait sales grabs insanity.

Now, I don't read Captain America much. I sought out scans of this particular issue so I could talk about it, and then decided not to talk about it when I was hit over the head with the Jewish viewpoint and realized I had nothing further to add. But I do read a lot of Spider-Man.

Let's discuss how stupid Spider-Man comics are.

From the classics vault: we have the storyline where it was revealed that Gwen Stacy had sex with Norman Osborn (but wait, there's more), was secretly pregnant, had twins mutated by the Green Goblin formula, abandoned them, and then came back to Peter to be killed by the father of her children (this was several years after her original death, and was all revealed when her rapidly aging children (because of their mutation) showed up to confront Peter who they believed is their father, but realized he wasn't because he never had sex with Gwen (even though in another later storyline that goes back to when they were together it's shown that he does have sex with Gwen even though that directly contradicts the events of the issue it is was supposed to happen in).

But wait, what about the storyline where Aunt May is killed? You know, the one where she was dead for like 2-3 years (of real time) and then it was revealed that the Green Goblin actually had kidnapped her and had a genetically altered actress impersonate Aunt May for years and that the actress was the one that had actually been killed and Aunt May was alive.

And then there's the one where Aunt May is shot and Peter, you know, the one that had previously dealt with her being dead for like 2-3 years, goes to the fucking devil to make a deal for her to be saved and the price isn't his soul (which he wouldn't have paid), but rather his marriage to MJ and all memories of the timeline where he was married to her in (which at the time had been going on for a few decades).

So the problem with Peter wasn't that writers are bad at Marvel, it's that he was married and settled down. We needed a single Peter to write about. But apparently the writers ran out of material for single Peter because they killed him off, but actually Doc Ock mind swapped with him and Peter died in Ock's body, but actually Peter was still sorta' present, so Ock was basically a good guy during this time, but you know, in Peter's body and trying to rape people that thought he was Peter, and then Peter finally gets his body back.

So this is just some of the fucking absurd bullshit in Spider-Man over the course of the last 20 years or so. It's nonsensical bullshit.

And you're a sucker if you have a subscription to comics or if you regularly read ongoing stories. The authors don't want to tell a good story, they want to sell a comic, and you know what sells comics? Betrayal. Not betrayal within the pages, but betrayal of the character itself. How much outrage was generated over HydraCap? You know what else it's generating? Eyes on the property. It's going to be a huge boost in sales and it shouldn't be, because you're just going to encourage them to continue betraying the characters, to not tell good stories, but to make bullshit nonsense click-bait stories.

It reminds me of a while back it was revealed that Han Solo has a wife in the comics(!!), but LOL, she's actually not his wife in the next issue.


Now, I don't think the author should be getting death threats. But I also don't think he should be getting work. And to be honest, I think all of these characters exist BETTER in adaptations.

There are individual arcs and stories that are great, and you can easily find these and if you are going to read comics, then I think that's what you should read. If you're reading ongoing comics, you're just a sucker.

Or you know, you like pulp bullcrap. That's OK I guess. There are plenty of people that like soap operas too.

So how do I deal with it? After all, I've read a ton of comics.

I ignore it. I view every story as not much more than fan-fiction, and then I establish a personal canon/story for the character, picking and choosing what I like about the character. It's really nothing more than what comic book authors do when they start writing for a new character.

So to me, Gwen Stacy did not have sex and twins with Norman Osborn and I'm OK with Peter not being with her physically (but I don't have that firmly pinned down because the original comics are ambiguous, so I'm open to the possibility that the characters did consummate their relationship). Peter would not give up his marriage to MJ to save the life of his elderly grandmother character Aunt May because he wouldn't have gone to the devil in the first place, obviously knowing that's a bad idea and that Aunt May wouldn't want him to do that. Doc Ock did not become the "Superior" Spider-Man. And Captain America would never be a nazi.

I don't care that the comics say these things happened, because they're stupid and they devalue/betray the characters.

And you know, I'm OK with Peter having flaws and I'm OK with Cap having problems too, but Cap's not a fucking nazi, because that's stupid. It's a betrayal of the character.

That's how you get through comics. That's how I get through comics.

And it's why you shouldn't read comics unless you have a lot of free time or don't care about the quality of the material you consume. It's why I go back and read story arcs that are identified as being iconic or some of the best writing for those characters and I try very hard to not stay up to date with ongoing comics (because it raises my blood pressure).

But if you are fine with picking and choosing which stories to read, let me give you an example that I think encapsulates a lot of the things I've been talking about, both the good and the bad.

First, it's Ultimate Spider-Man, which all you need to know is that it's a high school aged Peter Parker. You don't need to know that Electro is a naked electric guy, you don't need to know that Green Goblin in this universe actually turns into a monster and doesn't just wear a suit. All of the characters that appear you know from other media, other adaptations, and yet here they are with mostly superficial differences. The characters are larger than the stories they appear in.

It may help to know that right before the events of what you're about to see, Green Goblin broke out of prison and told a bunch of bad guys that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. Additionally, Gwen Stacy, Bobby Drake, and Johnny Storm are all living at Peter's house with Aunt May, and everyone knows each other's secret identities.

Finally, because I think this is the one bad thing that this animation adapts (it spends too much time focusing on its opening credits instead of the action in my opinion): Spidey is slinging home when he sees Cap on a bridge (again, it doesn't matter that this is Ultimate Comics version of Captain America, we all know who Captain America is). Quickly noting a sniper about to take Cap out (the Punisher), Spidey does what Spidey does and dives in the way, saving Captain America and taking a bullet while he's at it. That's where the story starts.

Watch this video. I'll warn you that if heroic sacrifice gets to you, this will get to you. And if you know Peter's story from any number of adaptations (except maybe the Ultimate animation since that's not recognizable as Spider-Man), it will get to you even more.

Watch it full screen!

Wasn't that amazing?

Wasn't it?

. . .

LOL, he's not actually dead. He has the side effect of being immortal because of the way this Spider-Man was created (Gobulin Green through a spider bite, err...Oz through a spider bite). He stayed dead for like an entire year though. I mean, that has to be some sort of record right?

So you tell me, is it better that this hero had this story you just watched above? Or is it better to bring him back for nothing more than a quick cameo in someone else's comic? Which one has more artistic merit? Which one is better? Did I mention that they just brought him back for like a single issue as a gimmick. As the comic book equivalent of click-bait? Not to mention that this character is actually dead dead now (or at least it's assumed he's dead now since nearly the entire universe he existed in is dead now). I will say that they at least gave him a happy-ish ending where he ran away with Mary Jane when they brought him back for nothing more than a gimmick to boost sales of his replacement, but in my opinion, that death of this Spider-Man was a better story. A better end. Better art. More true.

It's a beautiful story. And one that would be impossible to even approach for the current Earth-616 Spidey because they've butchered him so much; excising his life and love to MJ just as a start. So for Spidey from Earth-1610, this story of his death: saving Cap, having everyone that's important to him try to help him in one way or another and being present for his final battle—this is my canon for him.

After being shot taking a bullet for one of the greatest heroes to ever live, he died saving his family.

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