The Nexus Roundtable: The Death of Wolverine and Marvel’s Diversity Initiative

You know what’s better than one or two guys talking about comics? Getting as much of the Nexus staff together in one place to do it! So, in what will hopefully be the first of many to follow…welcome one and all to the Nexus Roundtable!

 

Starring….Mike “Skitch” Maillaro! Joe “Don’t call me Joey” Smith! James “The Teacher” Fulton! And, of course, me, Grey “The Awesome One” Scherl.

 

How to replace a dead Wolverine.
 

Maillaro: Well, it’s simple really.  They replaced Captain America with a black man.  They replaced Ultimate Spider-Man with someone who was mixed race.  They replaced Thor with a woman. They (sort of) replaced Ms Marvel with a Muslim girl.  Clearly, the only option left to replace Wolverine would be an Asian man.  Wolvie was always a wanna-be Samurai anyway, so suit up Silver Samurai and we’re good to go.

The sad part…I am not sure how much of that paragraph was sarcastic…

 

Grey: The sad part is that it’s a better answer than I have to offer. With Wolverine dead there are three possible ways to go.

  1. Let Wolverine be dead and have no one replace him: Not a chance in hell Marvel does that.
  2. Make Sabretooth into Wolverine: Which I’m pretty sure is going to happen during Axis.
  3. Make X-23 into Wolverine: Which just needs to happen and would be the first non-forced attempt at rebranding an iconic character with something that screams ‘diversity’.

But hey! Depending on the artist, X-23 can be asian! Just like Jubilee!

 

Joe:  Don’t give them ideas Mike! Seriously though, the thought of replacing him is really strange the more I consider it.  I remember a time when he was a unique character with traits that differed from other heroes.  However, now he may be a hero brand like Captain America, Thor, Firestorm, Robin, or even Batman and can be replaced by someone else that calls themselves Wolverine.  I would almost prefer if they pulled a total 180 and put someone who didn’t like conflict and did not kill.  This would be more interesting.

I honestly wish that they wouldn’t replace him and actually get people missing him and what he brings to the table (and maybe undo some of the damage done by over exposing him for so long).  If I had to pick someone though it would be Thunderbird genetically altered by Apocalypse, which is pretty random yet still beats using someone like Daken.

 

Grey: Thunderbird altered by Apocalypse? DAMNIT JOE! NOW I MISS EXILES! THANKS A LOT!

EXILES_large 
Joe:  Hahaha did something like that actually happen Grey? Also, I’ve always been meaning to go back and read Exiles.  My reading list was huge at that time and it often got shuffled to the “I’ll get it next time” pile.

 

James:  I like Joe’s idea of just letting the character rest, so that when he does come back in a year or two, it will really feel like a big deal.  Too often, I decide I like the replacement better than the original (Bucky as Cap, Dick as Batman, Otto as Spidey) and am disappointed by the big return.  I think Marvel handled Nightcrawler’s death well, in that he was just gone, although I think he came back too soon as well.

It would be nice to see a new, mysterious character with a similar skill set join the X-Men, who would ignite readers’ imaginations the way Wolverine did through the 80s.  What made the character work was that he was ruthless, principled, and had a backstory that was only hinted at for a very long time.  I’ve found Wolverine a lot less interesting since we learned just about everything about him, and he was put on every team.

 

Joe:  Yeah James’ argument brings back the good old days with Wolverine when his undiscovered background left much more for the imagination.  Even though he was on every version of the X-Men back in the day from the All-New X-Men to the group that survived the Morlock Massacre to the group that went to Australia, etc., he never seemed over-exposed and I always looked forward to him going into action.  It’s too bad that him being involved in any story these days makes me groan rather than making me think “oh cool.”

 

 

Is Marvel being genuine or sincere with their recent attempts at diversity (Capt America, Thor)?
 

Grey: If they’re being sincere, then my name is Sally. I expect none of these changes to last, and it all comes across as pandering to the PR department while they have time between movies.

 

Maillaro: I tend to agree with you…I find it always very suspect when any company tries to preach diversity….without really hiring diverse creative teams to do these books.   Perfect example…who did Marvel tap to write Mighty Avengers, which is basically the “minority Avengers”….Al Ewing.  I love Al Ewing…he is fast becoming one of my favorite comic writers.  BUT, he’s a white Brit.  I want a comic company to do full Milestone.  Comics primarily starring minority characters with a variety of minority creators.  It’s the only way you can really have diversity.

 Captain_America_and_the_Mighty_Avengers
That said, I do at least admire Marvel for making a bigger effort at creating minority and diverse characters.  Marvel has launches a lot of books with female leads lately, something they have lacked for years.

AND, it is definitely easier to get a character started by connecting them to a major franchise.  Ms Marvel has a better chance of selling than if she was given an Islamic name.   And I love Miles Morales, but no way that character lasts as long as he has without being tied to Ultimate Spider-Man.

 

Joe:  I think if they were sincere about it there wouldn’t have been so much stroking going on about it.  It would be like me giving coffee to homeless people (which is a nice thing to do), but then going on Facebook and posting pictures of me doing so and bragging about it.  Marvel is a hype machine.  They are great at it.  Look at the polished turd that was AvX or Age of Ultron.  They could heavily market a new minority character and make it a hit (at least to start).  If the creative team was great then more people would stay on past the first issue.  Also, why not just create a brand new heroine instead of putting the character into a pressure cooker situation of representing one of the powerful and well-known existing characters.  People may not simply like the work and just slough it off while blaming the gender of the character.  Some people may be excited for the change, but I definitely know there are others that will either resent it or take some sort of issue with it.  That’s on the reader, but I think if you want a new female character to succeed then put them in a better position to do so.

Maillaro: That coffee to homeless people analogy is perfect!  I definitely can’t help but see it as a marketing ploy…and not even a particularly good one.  When Crossgen was looking to expand their comics to female readers, they made a conscious effort to get Meridian ads in magazines and websites for teen girls.  Seems like a pretty simple solution that Marvel hasn’t been using.  Hell, they don’t even advertise their comics during their cartoon blocks or movies.  You’d think that at least one or two of the people who contributed to Avengers $1.5 billion box office numbers might want to check out the comics.  NAH…. 

Kind of funny, I was going to make a comment that even though we have a bunch of new female books, all of them are fairly well known characters who have appeared in movies or tied into big franchises…and then they announced Squirrel Girl this morning.

I actually am real surprised they got away from the cute Squirrel Girl they had been using and made her a lot less attractive and generic.

 

 

Grey: It’s Adventure Time Squirrel Girl, and it will sell to…maybe Cartoon Network? Wait, no, they’re owned by Disney, watch this be to get a cartoon going. A half hour rodent block of Squirrel Girl and Rocket Raccoon. Which, on paper, is totally watchable, but in execution I feel like they’re going to go “lil’uns” young with the age bracket. 

If Marvel wants to get some goodwill from older fans, as well as finally successfully bridge the Spider-Line into something that has a character that girls will flock to, then they just need to bring over May after Spider-Verse, and give us a REAL Spider-Girl running around 616. Also, leave Spider-Gwen there, and give her a book called “Spider-Gwen”.

 

Joe:  So I just saw the teaser for the new Secret Wars event and there’s a Caucasian Cap in it.  At this point it could just be an alternate universe one or who knows, but still, I would avoid using any images of the old Cap if I’m trying to get people to fully buy into the new one.  Also, so “if” the original versions of Captain America and Thor come back, does that mean Marvel doesn’t think the new ones can cut it? By changing their minds and reverting the characters can we turn around and slam them for not having enough faith in having key characters represented by minorities and women? I’m not necessarily saying that I think that, but just that things can be spun both ways.

 

Maillaro: Pretty sure Secret Wars involves alternate realities…pretty sure I saw Wolvie, Thor with a hammer, and white Cap.  So either Marvel is real short term on these stories…which is VERY possible…or it involves alternate realities.  Which makes sense since it comes out about the time the “Time Runs Out” countdown ends in seven months.

 

Joe:  Even if they were alternate reality Caps, I’d still avoid using them in a teaser.  Give readers a chance to let Sam sink in or give him an opportunity to resonate with them.  When Dick was Batman I enjoyed the ride mainly because there wasn’t a definite end in sight right off the bat.  I always knew Bruce was coming back, but it was nice to just sit back and enjoy it for a bit.  When I first saw that teaser I thought a). what if that makes people just yearn for the original Cap and not give this one a chance and b). people could be too guarded to let themselves enjoy the story because getting deeply invested could result in disappointment from the reversion to the status quo.  Even if it’s an alternate version, not everyone seeing that image is going to figure that out.

 

Maillaro: From what I heard, that image was only for retailers to make them feel better about Cap, Wolvie, and Thor…It wasn’t shown on the floor of the show (at least not when I was there).   The later images I saw had both Steve Rogers and Falcon as Cap…Superior and old school Iron Man.  Peter Parker and Miles Morales.  Lady Thor and Thor.  Etc. 

All-New Avengers Now Secret Wars Summer 2015 Marvel Then
 

 

The Death of Wolverine
 

Grey: That’s it? That’s how Marvel off’d their most profitable character? By turning him into a damn adamantium statue? Really?! Who in the blue hell came up with this idea?!

 dead wolvie
Maillaro: Well, we answered the first question.  Wolvie has been replaced by a giant adamantium statue of Wolverine…which should work real well with a fastball special…

 

Joe:  Ugh I dread to see what kind of pseudo-scientific reason they use when he’s resurrected from being a metal statue.  I admit that I’m so damn jaded about the whole thing.  Years ago, the death of Wolverine would’ve kept me from sleeping and I genuinely would’ve been upset by it.  When he was in danger from being infected by the Brood, hurt before the Morlock Massacre, or after he was wounded by the Reavers, I was pretty worried about him.  The way he has been handled for some time now just has me not caring very much about his death and as a lifelong X-Men and comics fan, that’s not a good place to be in.  Maybe if I honestly believed for a second that he might not be back I could be upset about it, but even then I would be more relieved that he’s not being both over and misused.

 

Grey: Oh. duderino, I can tell you what pseudo science it will be. He’ll have never been dead! It will have encased him like some cross between Magneto’s helmet and the amber from Jurassic Park, and he’ll have just been in a deep coma until someone digs him out of it!

 

Joe:  And to answer your first question Grey.  Manatees.  It’s those damn Manatees.

 

Maillaro: Time travel…isn’t that what Cap did to survive being shot in the head?

 

Grey: If you want to say he was shot in the head, Marvel would have you believe he was shot in the chest with a Vonnegut Bullet and turned into Billy Pilgrim.

 

Maillaro: I am so in love for you right now for that reference!

 

Joe:  Ok then (gets up and slowly backs away from the roundtable).

 

Grey: Did you read Captain America: Reborn, Joe? It was Slaughterhouse Five. That’s all it was. Slaughterhouse Five with Captain America.

 

reborn002_int_0002-3 

 

Joe:  I bought the last issue of that mini (I think it was #6) just to see Steve coming back to life or whatever.  I saw that he was already alive and breathing so I put the book down and said I’d read it later.  Still haven’t gotten to that yet.

 

Grey: Jesus, man, that was nearly six years ago.


Joe:  
Maybe I’ll just skip ahead to the mini that reverses Steve from being old as balls.

 

Grey: It’ll be sooner than you think! But hey, I think that’s enough for today, so until next time!

 

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