Monday, August 19, 2013

Revisiting the death of Spider-Man

Some time ago Marvel announced that they had killed the Ultimate incarnation of Peter Parker and were replacing him with a latino/black Miles Morales. Although I have no qualms with introducing a new minority character I was upset with the way that Marvel was advertising this. The political agenda behind the move was quite clear, and embarrassingly so. I remember predicting this would not end well as they would likely alienate fans of Peter Parker. They have. Two years later the entire Ultimate imprint is about to get the axe. Poor sales all the way around have only proven my concern true, that a politically motivated forced change of that magnitude would only hurt sales. Of course back then I suggested that Miles Morales should have been a sort of “next generation” type of character, rather than a “replacement” for the iconic Peter Parker. Naturally all over IGN’s message board I was called racist. Go figure.

My biggest disappointment with modern conversation skills is that the minute you express disagreement with anyone about anything you get dubbed “racist.” Naturally it’s happening again in the IGN boards. The funny thing is that IGN recently underwent a massive policy change which was supposed to eliminate all the name calling. Oddly, you can be called a racist, but retaliate and find yourself at the wrong end of a moderator.

Nevertheless it’s happening again because with the end of the Ultimate Universe, Marvel has promised Miles Morales fans (the few there are) that he would wade his way into the Marvel mainstream and IGN is pushing for him to replace that Peter Parker also. In many ways I can see the logic behind that move, since Doc Ock replaced Peter Parker already by switching bodies and then seeing Peter die in Ock’s body… But even so, as a fan of Spider-Man I am also a fan of Peter Parker, and all I am asking Marvel to do is to give me back Peter Parker. If Miles Morales is around too, great. I never had an objection to the existence of the character. I only objected to the death and replacement of Peter Parker in both universes, by Doc Ock or by Miles Morales. It didn’t matter, it was not cool.

Since sales have not gone well for the Marvel Ultimate line, I cannot see how repeating this mistake in the mainline Marvel continuity would increase sales. However, critics, like myself, should not be dubbed racist just because we hate to see characters we love deposed. Ask yourself this question, how did you feel when Mulder and Skulley went AWOL in X-Files? The show kind of sucked after that, didn’t it? Was Deep Space Nine as good with Ezri Dax replacing Jadzia? Most fans fans would say no, as would I. Ezri sucked. Stories seldom survive a dramatic shift in lead characters as it is. When a lead actor leaves a show it’s usually the death knell of that show.

Whatever Marvel does in this regard, fixing the problems created by their own desire to be politically correct is only one thing they need to do. The other is that their prices need to come down and the overall quality of their stories need to go up. I used to be an avid fan of the Ultimate line until about three years ago when it got crushed under the weight of its own continuity and they responded by killing 99% of the good characters, including Wolverine. The killing and reviving of heroes has been a gimmick that comics have used for a long time to try and boost sales, that Spider-Man is now suffering from Super-Man syndrome is a sign that Marvel is in desperate need of new blood in their writing departments, though I suppose we should give them credit for limiting their “replacements” to only the Steel variant and leaving the number of knock-offs reasonably low.

Still, I suppose the market will have to decide the fate of Miles Morales, but if the sales of the Ultimate line are any indication, I think the world prefers Peter Parker and it isn’t racist to say so. In fact, it’s racist to assume that a latino/black character needs a white man’s mask in order to make it on his own, but I suppose that’s what separates me from Progressives. I believe in the power of minorities to follow their dreams and make it in their own terms, and Progressives clearly demean minorities by insisting they cannot make it without being in the shadow of a white Progressive.

To quote, well, myself, from the last time I talked about this issue, “The fact of the matter is when a next gen variant of Spider-Man was introduced (Spider-Man 2099) it turned our he was an Hispanic, nobody cared. We loved him. When the Ultimate variant of Nick Fury was introduced as a Black Man, we understood this was a different Universe than the Marvel mainline, we not only didn’t complain but we loved that version so much he became THE Nick Fury. Notice the movies use this version of the character? We love Ultimate Nick Fury. But when these changes occurred there were no press releases about it, no political agenda pushed, none of that. They just did it and the market responded with decent sales. The problem with Marvel’s marketing gimmick with the new Ultimate Spider-Man is the fact they felt the need to treat his race as something that isn’t normal in the first place. When race is handled as something normal in media people accept and embrace it. Marvel has a large line up of diverse characters already, none of them got introduced in this way, all of them are well loved.”-1 It only took two years for me to be proven right the first time.

-1 Ultimate Spider-Man: The real reason we’re upset-Daniel Moir, 8/2011

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