Happy New Years from the Odinson,
Well, 2012 came and went (in the blink of an eye it seems) and it looks like the ancient Mayans got it wrong. Yay! I guess the Red Hulk saved us. Now the countdown on some other doomsday clock can begin to tick. But before that happens, let’s talk about the New Year, or rather, New Beginnings!
Starting a brand new year is all about resolutions and new beginnings. As 2012 draws to a close, the Odinson is reminded of the words a wise man once said (or sang rather) – …it’s a long December when there’s reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last. Whether it’s that new exercise program you’re going to start or maybe that new relationship you’ve been meaning to strike up, the New Year is all about getting a fresh start.
New beginnings are nothing new in the world of comic books. Company events like DC Comics: The New 52 and Marvel Now represent the concept of the New Beginning taken to the Nth degree. They give the Big Two a chance to move their characters in bold new directions and explore new and exciting avenues of adventure (i.e., the Superman/Wonder Woman romance and unification of the Avengers and X-Men). Over the years there have been many new beginnings of note like the return of Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: Rebirth or the introduction of a brand new Spawn. New Beginnings can be controversial like with Spider-Man’s Brand New Day and the Superior Spider-Man storylines. New Beginnings can even be done on a grand scale like with the creation of Marvel’s highly underappreciated New Universe and the re-launch of the Valiant Universe.
The Odinson’s own personal least favorite New Beginning has to be, hands down, the shocking revelations of The Clone Saga. When I hear the jeers and anguished cries of modern day fanboys over the shocking events of Dying Wish, I get it. I understand exactly what it is they are going through because I went through the same exact thing after reading Spectacular Spider-Man #226. It is revealed that Ben Reilly was in fact the real Spider-Man and Peter Parker, the Spider-Man whose adventures I had been reading my whole life up to that moment, was in fact just a clone.
My fanboy head exploded, and so enraged was the Odinson that I literally threw my hands in the air and turned my back on comics for a good year and a half. I felt betrayed. I couldn’t believe what Marvel was doing. I felt like I had wasted my time for the first two decades of my life investing myself in the stories of a hero that I would only come to find wasn’t even the real person. Already unimpressed with the directions the industry was heading in the nineties, the Clone revelation was the nail in the coffin and the Odinson actually walked away from the medium.
A bit of an overreaction, yes? I tell this story because I now see the very same reactions out of some fanboys over the startling events of the current Spidey tale Dying Wish. However, I’ve heard even more extreme reactions than my own. When the writer of Spider-Man is receiving death threats over the events of a tale he is writing, that is taking it way too far (see ICV2 article Spider-Man Scribe Gets Death Threats). All the little web trolls need to chill out and grow up. There is a way to show your displeasure without resorting to threats. In my case, I stopped giving the comic companies my money. I understand the ire, believe me, I get it. I felt jilted over the events of The Clone Saga, but if for one second someone threatens another man’s life over a piece of fiction and that someone means it, then, my friend, you have way more serious issues than the plights of fictional characters.
Where was I, oh yeah, it was 1995, and Ben Reilly was now Spider-Man. I was hurt and in my overzealousness, actually tuned my back on comics for nearly two years. It took the triumphant Heroes Return storyline and the amazing creative team of Kurt Busiek and George Perez on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to draw me back to the fold. The point I’m trying to make is sure the shocking events of Dying Wish are upsetting and controversial. It’s OK is be shocked, even a little mad, it just shows that you care. But these stories wouldn’t be worth reading if the writers and editors couldn’t shock and/or surprise the readers from time to time.
Just remember, no matter how controversial, no matter how shocking, no matter how big the event is, whether it’s the Death of Superman, the breaking of Batman’s back in Knightfall, or the Death of Captain America, sooner or later, the cream will rise to the top and your favorite comic book ship will be righted. Even these last three shocking events led to news worthy New Beginnings with the Reign of the Supermen, the emergence of Azrael as an Agent of the Bat, and Bucky becoming the New Captain America.
New Beginnings beget New Beginnings. Just think of all the new and different plotlines the creators were able to explore with Conner Kent, John Henry Irons, Jean-Paul Valley and Bucky Barnes. And just remember the triumphant feeling you felt when our heroes returned in The Return of Superman, Knightsend, and Captain America: Reborn. Barry Allen gave his life saving the world during the Crisis on Infinites Earths saga. It took almost twenty-five years before he made his triumphant return to the DCU in the pages of Flash: Rebirth. And in that time, Wally West did a magnificent job as the Flash.
So whether it’s Hal Jordan’s fall from grace in Emerald Twilight, Aquaman losing his hand, or Steve Rogers resigning as Captain America and becoming The Captain, these plot twists allow comic creators to tell new and original stories plus introduce new and exciting characters like Kyle Rayner and John Walker. Dying Wish, as controversial as it is, is an original take, and actually sets up the character of Spider-Man for a very interesting and thrilling 2013.
They are all just New Beginnings and remember there’s always another New Beginning right around the corner.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell