I was going to make another post about the announcement of Polaris returning in X-Men Blue #9, particularly as I hadn’t emphasized the good of it yet. But there’s something else I suddenly feel an urgent need to post about that I think is actually more important than my personal fandom for Polaris.

Since I started paying more attention to Marvel comics (in 2009, because of Polaris), I’ve noticed how they approach the comic book industry. Some of this is going to sound obvious to regulars, but I’m building toward something.

Marvel puts out a crazy number of events. In these events, they throw out ~major revelations~ about characters and relationships and the status quo of the Marvel universe. A lot of times, these developments piss people off – and for good reason.

The forced Axis retcon on Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver being Magneto’s kids has pissed off fans that want to see the Magnus family get more use. Subsequent storylines added to this fire by going down avenues that didn’t make up for the forced retcon.

When Captain America was revealed to “have always been a Hydra agent,” that also pissed off a lot of people – because it essentially destroyed a symbol of good in the world. Further development into Secret Empire has only made this worse by doing stupid and awful shit like making Magneto into a Hydra agent too.

Here’s the part that matters in this post. Everything above was establishing the scene.

Every single time Marvel does something awful and gets called on it, that was intentional on Marvel’s part (not a random bit of awful by an artist/writer that Marvel didn’t catch), their answer is this: trust us and give the story a chance to play out before judging.

They’re asking readers to withhold judgment until after the whole event is finished. In some cases, this means asking readers to wait until a full year or two has passed. This is asking readers to read issue after issue, sometimes multiple comic books, to “get the full picture.”

There are various ways to interpret Marvel’s behavior here. The less forgiving and more critical way is to assume they’re morally bankrupt money chasers.

But if we decide to be very kind and offer up a substantial benefit of doubt for their sake, then we could also interpret their behavior as myopic nostalgia. People set in their ways, no clue how to do anything different and perhaps too stubborn to even try.

Here’s what I mean by that.

In this day and age, drawing out something like “Captain America is a Nazi” is a BAD idea. That is NOT the sort of thing readers will look at and say “Alright, this is bad but sure, I’ll wait to see where they’re going with this.” Readers today know every single millisecond counts. This is especially informed with the way the internet works. Getting information out there doesn’t take days or weeks anymore (or hours, if big enough for TV). It takes seconds.

A smart company needs to account for this.

One way to deal with it: put out the potentially scandalous bits of storyline and their “satisfying conclusion” all at once. If this means you have to put out the equivalent of a TPB or graphic novel, so be it. The key is that you don’t drag your feet on something as terrible as “Captain America is a Nazi and always was” or “Magneto is now a Nazi.”

Letting a claim like that fester for months or years doesn’t boost sales. No grand revelation at the end of the event is going to make it all fine. “lol Captain America wasn’t a Nazi after all” doesn’t make all that time where Marvel said he was one suddenly go away.

Letting it fester also risks Marvel “fixing” it getting interpreted as Marvel only doing it cause of massive public backlash, not out of any genuine plan they had from the start.

Another way of dealing with it: make the idea run in the background of stories and only reveal it when ready to IMMEDIATELY undo it in the very same issue it’s revealed.

Hypothetical example, let’s say there’s a character whose death would piss people off. But you want them to have been dead for story reasons. Instead of killing them off and leaving them dead for years, simply don’t use them directly in that time, then revive them in the same issue it’s revealed they were dead that whole time. You sidestep the potential outrage of a character death while getting to use it for story.

I’m not saying these two suggestions make up all possible angles, or saying they can fit every situation. Only saying they’re much better approaches to story ideas like “Captain America was a Nazi all along” or “Magneto is now a Nazi.” I personally don’t see how ANY end point could make either of those ideas okay, but if there is one that nobody can imagine, the current approach of dragging it out for months or years doesn’t work. It only makes Marvel look horrible as a company.

Marvel needs to learn how the world has changed in the past couple decades. Their understanding of this seems to have stopped at available hardware/software and the ability to spread ad copy and trailers to people easier, without acknowledging its social and cultural dimensions. Until Marvel figures this out, their sales are going to suffer due to easily avoided mistakes like “Captain America is a Nazi.”

Axis And Allies: Using The Enemies Strategy In Marvel’s Secret Empire – Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movie, TV News

In our previous article, we told how it is revealed that Captain America, Steve Rogers, was always Hydra…because originally Hydra (and thus, the Nazis) won World War II. The Allies, in a last ditch attempt, use a Cosmic Cube to alter reality so that Hydra and the Nazis lose, and that is the Marvel Universe we know. A world that was artificially fabricated by the Allies, including a truly Allies-loyal Cap (possibly because the Allies never learned of his deception?). And thus, when Kobik turned Cap to Hydra, she was actually awakening his true self from the original timeline before the Allies changed everything, and thus allowing Rogers to restore Hydra to its ‘rightful’ position.

Yeeeeah, I’m not surprised by this.

There was a time long, long ago when things like this would have surprised me. Back before Metroid: Federation Force, before the sabotage of everything Polaris starred in, before Polaris’ exclusion from things like Children’s Crusade, before 3rd Birthday, before FFX-2, I used to be very naive. I used to think companies and the people running them knew where to draw the line on certain things, and that there was consensus within companies to try to put the best effort forward.

I’ve learned a lot over a decade and a half.

Marvel has always been slow to trends. This one is part of the “ruin heroic figures for shitty reasons or no reason at all” trend. Some person with control over a character perceived as a bastion of good decides “Hey, let’s make them the opposite of what they are, that’ll be exciting.”

That’s the generous interpretation. The not so generous one? That they aren’t just doing it for “buzz,” but because they genuinely loathe heroic icons and want to see them destroyed.

Marvel pulling this “Hydra Cap” thing was already bad. This is akin to Marvel storylines in the 80s and 90s where the company thought it was a good idea, it got backlash one way or another, and the company had to make up an excuse to set things right. Only this time, Marvel’s going even further instead of fixing their mistakes.

Before, the shittiness of “Hydra Cap” could’ve been presented as “Okay, this is unnatural, the cosmic cube made him that way, but he’ll be fixed soon.” Or it could’ve been a fake.

Now? Now Marvel’s basically saying that Captain America was never a bastion of good, that he was always part of Hydra and the cosmic cube is what made him good.

This storyline might, might have been fascinating as a What If? storyline. The kind of storyline that has no real validity, that acts as a fun tangent for how things could’ve been. But when Marvel messes with the 616 versions of these characters, they’re messing with what is considered to be the “real,” “defining” versions of them.

All in all, Marvel sucks. I’ve known that for years as I’ve seen them screw Polaris over while pretending to be open to her, but now it’s becoming even more obvious.

I also wonder how much of this is directly the work of Nick Spencer and Tom Brevoort, and how much of it is a demand from Ike Perlmutter. Given Perlmutter is supportive of Trump and was recently cited as THE major player in veteran affairs with Trump. Perlmutter’s a man who is willing to screw over the X-Men and Fantastic Four just cause Fox owns their film rights. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch that he’d go out of his way to ruin the most iconic representation of America in comics to get in good with Trump and his people.

Axis And Allies: Using The Enemies Strategy In Marvel’s Secret Empire – Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movie, TV News

I’ve seen bits and pieces of what’s coming out of SDCC. Yesterday, I learned the “Inhumans/X-Men” panel, which only added X-Men to its name later (likely due to complaints over how obvious Marvel’s attempts to undermine the X-Men  have become), had nearly all its questions focused on the X-Men.

However, I’m reading this article right now with a Secret Wars panel. Not thoroughly, just enough to get cliffnotes. But I wanted to highlight something that stood out for me as a fan.

Brevoort also spoke about “House of M,” noting
that this panel is turning into “all me, all the time.” “In this series,
humans are downtrodden and underfoot and we get to see the court and
family shenanigans between Magneto and his children Quicksilver, Scarlet
Witch and Polaris.”

This is meaningful to me for two reasons.

One, it’s the second place where I’ve seen actual confirmation in some form that Lorna will be present in Secret Wars House of M. The first place I saw it was comments from Cullen Bunn. Before Bunn, comments and information were vague enough that we didn’t know for sure whether Lorna would actually be in it, or merely mentioned in passing.

Two, it’s nice to see Brevoort acknowledging Polaris as part of the family and one of Magneto’s children. That’s a positive change from a few years back, when his actions and comments toward Lorna, her value as a character and her place in the family were all negative and dismissive. That doesn’t necessarily mean he likes Lorna now, but it does mean he maybe has more respect for her now, and at the very least means he’s willing to accept that she’s part of the family.

I feel safe saying that because if Brevoort really wanted, he could’ve talked about House of M without mentioning Lorna, whether by talking about only the twins or by not naming Magneto’s kids at all.

I appreciate Brevoort mentioning Lorna and acknowledging her as part of the family at this panel, in other words. 🙂