The Biggest Mysteries Of Jonathan Hickman's X-Men Era Burn Away In Inferno

The Biggest Mysteries Of Jonathan Hickman's X-Men Era Burn Away In Inferno


Jay Cochran - May 26, 2021
Stay tuned for more information on writer Jonathan Hickman’s new X-Men series coming in September!
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Benn - 2021-09-07 @ 4:51 am

I totally agree on pre-70s/80s Marvel. Comics from the 60s and earlier are mostly awful. Stan Lee was a visionary creator of characters and motivations, but not much of a writer or storyteller.

McHogan - 2021-09-07 @ 2:52 am
On 9/6/2021 at 11:04 AM, Benn said:

Youre right about event fatigue and a general change in editorial direction, but otherwise a lot of your points feel very much like the starry-eyed nostalgia I mentioned before (and dont misunderstand me, theres nothing wrong with nostalgia, but it is what it is). Marvel does overdo events, and its a big part of why theyre in the trouble they are. My previous post wasnt meant to absolve them of culpability. Verymuch the opposite,in fact;they got complacent, believing they could just grow up with their fans and those fans would never leave them. They realized that events drew in more readers, so they kept doing them, which had the effect of wearing out many readers, so then Marvel did even more events to try to get those numbers back up. Its exhausting.

And, yes, current editorial direction is much more focused on giving different writers arcs and then moving them on, which can mean quality and characterization can be a little swingy, and sometimes a writer will decide that their hot-take on something is more interesting than retaining consistency with what came before. Part of that, though, is just the increased professionalization of the industry. Were not likely to have another Chris Claremont,willing to just write the same continuous story for 17 years, at least outside of indie publication, because everyones more focused on building their resume. Thats a logical consequence of Marvels (and, really, Disneys) doubling down on their ownership of the characters. Sure, they always owned them, but Claremont was allowed to treat the X-Men like they were his, with few exceptions. Now its all just a sandbox for professional development.

My point,though, is thatdespite the abovethere are still incredible stories being told at Marvel, and there are still some really bad ones. That has been a constant. A lot of the bad stuff probably seemed really awesome to us when we were kids, but thequality has always been inconsistent. We just grew up, sonow we recognize the garbage. For a lot of people, taking a chance on every comic purchase just isnt worth it, and I get that. I cant blame anyone for that. What does bother me is when they fool themselves into believing that the general quality of output has diminished or that all new books are garbage, and especially when they feel the need to loudly diminish other peoples enjoyment of current books just because they dont feel the same spark anymore.

To return to your example of the John Walker story, two or even three-year continuous arcs actually happen all the time now. In fact, theyre the norm at this point, and most stories are plotted out that far in advance, which likely wasnt true for the majority ofbooks during the good ol days. Its just that now, writers tend to leave titles at the conclusion of thosearcs, giving new writers a turn at playing with those characters. Its not an inherently better or worse approach, but it is different and will play to tastes differently.

You have great points but I think you misinterpreted my appreciation for great stories as seeing the good ol days through rose colored glasses. I DO hold the era when I collected comics as a high water mark but even in my early teens I knew a bad story when I read it. It wasnt a case of happily lapping up every crap story Marvel rolled out. Even the Avengers stories that made me a life long Avengers fan I was able to be critical.

My point was more about how a great story transcends eras. My John Walker example, for me, holds up today. Im willing to give todays writers a shot. I have in fact continued to collect the Avengers TPBs and admittedly this is a small portion of the total stories published each month. but there hasnt been a story for me since Kurt Busiaks Kang War arc that I could even recollect. Again, just my opinion and again reminding that I dont read 95% of Marvels releases these days but I am catching up through trades. Its just that what I have read has been largely forgettable.

i get that different eras come off as something different. As Ive said, my heyday was the early 80s - 2010s But I saw the changes coming well before I finally gave up. But, the stuff before my era was something I wasnt a huge fan of either. Love Stan Lee, but his heroes constantly pining over the women in their lives.. sheesh it was 90% soap opera, and it made it hard to get through those early stories.

and I do admit nostalgia has been a huge factor in why im stil hoping someone makes my Avengers great again.what happens all to frequently though is Marvel will hit me right in my feels and drop a nostalgic favorite, like the recent Werewolf by Night trade. And maaaaannn was it bad. So its tough to invoke the nostalgia argument. Instead it has become you cant go home again..

so Im hoping as I get through my giant stack of unread trades that Ill be surprised and find a great story that that Ill be talking about a decade from now. Just havent found it yet

Benn - 2021-09-06 @ 3:04 pm
On 9/6/2021 at 2:29 AM, McHogan said:

This is true to a point. When I got heavy into comics, in the mid 80s, editors had a grasp on character history. Sure some stories had similarities or built on what came before but there were no full on rehashes of previous events.

Youre right about event fatigue and a general change in editorial direction, but otherwise a lot of your points feel very much like the starry-eyed nostalgia I mentioned before (and dont misunderstand me, theres nothing wrong with nostalgia, but it is what it is). Marvel does overdo events, and its a big part of why theyre in the trouble they are. My previous post wasnt meant to absolve them of culpability. Verymuch the opposite,in fact;they got complacent, believing they could just grow up with their fans and those fans would never leave them. They realized that events drew in more readers, so they kept doing them, which had the effect of wearing out many readers, so then Marvel did even more events to try to get those numbers back up. Its exhausting.

And, yes, current editorial direction is much more focused on giving different writers arcs and then moving them on, which can mean quality and characterization can be a little swingy, and sometimes a writer will decide that their hot-take on something is more interesting than retaining consistency with what came before. Part of that, though, is just the increased professionalization of the industry. Were not likely to have another Chris Claremont,willing to just write the same continuous story for 17 years, at least outside of indie publication, because everyones more focused on building their resume. Thats a logical consequence of Marvels (and, really, Disneys) doubling down on their ownership of the characters. Sure, they always owned them, but Claremont was allowed to treat the X-Men like they were his, with few exceptions. Now its all just a sandbox for professional development.

My point,though, is thatdespite the abovethere are still incredible stories being told at Marvel, and there are still some really bad ones. That has been a constant. A lot of the bad stuff probably seemed really awesome to us when we were kids, but thequality has always been inconsistent. We just grew up, sonow we recognize the garbage. For a lot of people, taking a chance on every comic purchase just isnt worth it, and I get that. I cant blame anyone for that. What does bother me is when they fool themselves into believing that the general quality of output has diminished or that all new books are garbage, and especially when they feel the need to loudly diminish other peoples enjoyment of current books just because they dont feel the same spark anymore.

To return to your example of the John Walker story, two or even three-year continuous arcs actually happen all the time now. In fact, theyre the norm at this point, and most stories are plotted out that far in advance, which likely wasnt true for the majority ofbooks during the good ol days. Its just that now, writers tend to leave titles at the conclusion of thosearcs, giving new writers a turn at playing with those characters. Its not an inherently better or worse approach, but it is different and will play to tastes differently.

leokearon - 2021-09-06 @ 7:55 am

After since Disassembled, Marvel haven't given a toss about continuity and now events exist just to set up the next event. It's a vicious cycle but sadly Marvel needs the cash boost.

McHogan - 2021-09-06 @ 6:29 am
On 5/27/2021 at 10:58 AM, Benn said:

Look, Marvel Comics has a problem. They spent decades coasting off an existing customer-base that grew up with their comics in the 70s, 80s, or 90s, and not bothering to acquire new customers. As the customer-base got older, they kept trying to appeal to those customers, rather than keeping up with the interests of new generations. The big problem with this is that that customer-base is getting old and increasingly starry-eyed about the good ol' days, and they're consequently losing them. So, they're scrambling. They're finally trying to appeal to younger generations with titles like Children of the Atom and their New Warriors reboot, etc., which is making things worse with their older customers, and they're simultaneously trying to play up nostalgia in their older customers by revisiting popular event titles of yesteryear. Does it seem to be working? No, but they've boxed themselves into a corner. They're reliant on an old, grumpy customer-base that doesn't want the status quo changed but wants stories to feel new and bombastic like the ones they remember from when they were kids, doesn't want forced nostalgia but generally doesn't trust the writing and storytelling direction of newer authors for one reason or another, etc. Their base just doesn't like them, and wants to recapture feelings that had almost everything to do with being young and malleable and almost nothing to do with the general quality of output Marvel has had. What are they supposed to do?

This is true to a point. When I got heavy into comics, in the mid 80s, editors had a grasp on character history. Sure some stories had similarities or built on what came before but there were no full on rehashes of previous events.

What you say about alienating old time fans to appeal to new fans has some merit. But Marvel in the 80sespeciallyhad one linear arc for every character. They had clear historical records published in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe as well as the Marvel Saga.

So what is the difference from writers from the 60s attracting new readers compared to the 80s? Any one character had events that defined them. For example, Cyclops, reeling from the death of Jean Grey, fell into the arms of Madelyn Pryor. From there Marvel mined years of stories. They may haveretconned some details but this story became the essence of Scott Summers. At no point did this defining arc as a whole get removed or retconned. At least that didnt happen before I quit collecting somewhere in the 2010s.. these events were official history for decades.

also for example. Mega events like Secret Wars became a major event in every characters history that was involved. Similar events that followed continued to build on these characters history for years.When Marvel decided that one mega event erased any event that preceded that story, this is when I believe they started to lose fans. We cant be told that X event will change Marvel history only for the next event to rewrite that story merely months, sometimes weeks later iit loses all importance. It actually becomes a joke. So Cap challenged the Illuminati and had his mind erased by friends only for Marvel to jump into the next mega event with no payoff to the previous. For example.

in a desperate attempt to attract new readers, events became so common they have zero importance to any particular characters history. Cap mutters Hail Hydra SHOULD have been important. Instead, before we even begin to care the true Cap is restored. Then Sam is Cap, then Cap is Cap... then his title is rebooted.

Long term storytelling is a thing of the past, instead its what shocks us now? I may get some heat for hanging onto the glory days but honestly, good storytelling is timeless. A great story whether written in the 60s. 80s or today is still a great story. I challenge any one to read the Captain America Arc that saw John Walker be introduced as a potential foe, only to take over the role of Captain America, fall from grace, lose the title then redeem himself play out over a nearly 2 year run and not say that that story doesnt hold up today. Not because the fundamental components of replacing Cap werent shocking for their day but because they took their time to tell a classic story.

Hotshotting events just to sell or create buzz cheapens any characters complexity. If Marvel editors stood by their standards, instead of constant retcons or event storytelling wed have continued to see characters evolve with at the very least a comprehensible history to follow.

GrtWhiteCustoms - 2021-09-03 @ 4:56 pm

I prefer Mystique and Emma as villans. I know Emma has done "Heroic stuff" but we need more female villans. And keep em bad!!

mako - 2021-09-03 @ 4:52 pm

Transformative? Isn't that one of those words used to describe low-rent comic writers when they turn existing characters into something they're not/never were in the name of achieving posterity?

Good riddance.

JayC - 2021-09-03 @ 4:43 pm

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Atlantis - 2021-07-11 @ 9:11 pm
On 7/1/2021 at 12:03 PM, McHogan said:

That art of Mystique is stunning.

I love it. This is how I see the Black Widow...seductive, inviting...but with that underlying vibe of deadliness...

Atlantis - 2021-07-05 @ 8:25 am

Really hope they come up with a buck that does her justice. The walgreens version had a great head/face, but the body just wasn't as up to par

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