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Steve Replogle On A Recent, Lengthy Summary That Appeared On-Line Regarding Various Marvel Comics
posted July 10, 2014

I just read the "long, rambling description of the last few years' of X-Men/mutant plotlines" that you mentioned in your column. Wow!

imageI haven't read any X-Men since John Byrne was on the title -- well, now that I think of it, I read the Paul Smith issues slightly after that -- and I haven't read any Avengers comics since the Perez run, and by that I mean the first Perez run, long before the one he did with Busiek. I gather that series with Busiek was pretty darn good, and I'm sort of sorry I missed it.

I simply have a hard time reading Marvel or DC comics any more. They feel kind of icky, because at my age (56) I feel that I know too much about how both companies have been so immensely bad to so many of their creators. Every once in a while I'll still follow a series. I'm going to try Multiversity by Grant Morrison. I still go to Marvel movies, too... so I'm not pretending that I'm taking a huge stand here. But that icky factor gets to me mostly. I stick with Astro City and anything by Paul Grist, a few others.

Anyway, I read the post about the Avengers & X-Men you linked to. Again: wow! That was a topsy-turvy, kind-of-fun, kind-of-staggering read. I caught glimpses of what I thought might be the parts that may have gripped the current readership, maybe, and from what I saw of the small reproductions, the artwork was uniformly excellent, although mostly "modern." That is, I couldn't detect much artistic style (again, the reproductions were small) but I think I caught some Romita Jr. there toward the end.

Well, now I'm rambling, but here's my point - when I was a young comic reader, there weren't these narratives that went on for years. A couple issues, usually, perhaps six months or a year tops. Kubert would take four to six issues to adapt a Tarzan novel, Roy Thomas would do something similar in Conan. Earlier, Kirby had some long-ish storylines in Thor -- but that Man-Gog story that so gripped me when I was kid was only four issues long. Later, Master of Kung Fu or Miller's Daredevil had some longer stories, but not much longer... the same with memorable runs like the Englehart/Rogers Batman.

Well, I'm surely dating myself. But! I wonder if the current Avengers/X-Men history is so long and intricate that it turns away readers, especially the younger readers who might become faithful consumers. The teenagers I know -- a varied group from tweens to college kids -- have too much going on to put much energy into "catching up" with something this complicated.

Still, long-form serial publications seem to work out okay in some regards -- Saga from Image is an example. I think that skewed slightly older. Still, I cannot imagine many new readers -- especially new young readers -- having the patience, interest, and stamina to catch-up on a narrative that's been spinning around for years. I'd be interested in reading more about how comic companies are wrestling with this dilemma, as publishers and editors, and as writers.

The other thing that strikes me about this (and I'm sorry for writing at such length) is how much Marvel is still stuck in rewriting earlier tropes, whether it's the Dark Phoenix Saga or that first meeting between the X-Men and the Fantastic Four by Stan and Jack.