I was looking through the Previews and the Marvel Previews yesterday, and I saw that the Inhumans are going to fight the X-Men in a miniseries. Time was, this used to attract my attention.
Not any longer.
TEAM-UPS VERSUS FIGHTS
I understand why comics companies do this kind of thing. When we see characters interact with ones they don’t normally encounter, that’s fun. It’s an event. It’s something we can truly treasure, and thus spend our hard-earned quatloos on it.
Batman and Superman. Spider-Man and Deadpool. Justice League and Suicide Squad. Justice League and Justice Society. JLA and Avengers. Inhumans and X-Men. They happen because they’re unusual – or at least, they were unusual when they first happened.
There have been books built around that very premise. Justice League of America and Avengers brought heroes together on a very regular basis, for example.
At some point, though, fans began to wonder which hero could beat another hero, who was stronger, that kind of thing. And some of us fans got bored with team-ups since it was the two or more heroes beating up the baddies, as usual.
The first time I seriously remember two heroes really fighting was the fourth issue of The Dark Knight Returns from Frank Miller. Superman versus Batman – how could the Dark Knight possibly win? THAT was an event!
Now, decades later, not so much so. In fact, the Batman/Superman comics often have had the two at odds with each other on some level. Been there, seen that, bought the book.
THE SAD STATE OF VILLAINS
I think there’s another factor at work here, though. It could be that I’m way off base here, but I think the bad guys have fallen on hard times.
In this era of political correctness, there’s no such thing as a “villain.” Yes, some people do things others don’t approve of, but they’re simply misunderstood, not evil. If we could just understand what terrible thing someone did to them to make them want to do this, why, we would want to put our arms around them and tell them it’s all right. (At least, that’s how I perceive the state of this attitude.)
You can likely tell I disagree with this notion. Yes, there are people who need to be better understood and worked with to help them integrate into society more, but personally I do believe there is still evil in the world. People who relish damaging or hurting others motivated simply because they enjoy it, for example, that’s evil to me.
This perception has worked its way into comic book villains, and many fans pity the baddies these days. Granted, we should feel badly for some, but not all. Harley Quinn falls into this area for me.
I like to think of Lex Luthor as an example of a great villain. He goes against type in that he’s well-off financially (many crimes are committed to obtain money, something he doesn’t need), has tremendous influence with people and is able to plan ahead before he does something.
But he still does horrible things to other people simply because he can. That’s evil to me.
I’m happy to see a wide variety of villains, from Calendar Man to Thanos. We just need more bad guys and gals in comics these days instead of those who should be receiving psychiatric care.
IS THIS CYCLE COMING TO AN END?
It’s true in life, and it’s often true in comics – things happen in cycles. Some last longer than others, for sure, but nothing stays the same.
For the last couple of decades, we’ve been in a “dark” period. Many of the heroes, such as Batman, have been moody and foreboding. And that was cool for a long time. Now, however, Batman isn’t quite so dark and has begun moving to more of a “central” place, what I perceive to be having darker elements in him but also lighter tones as well.
Could it be that I’m not the only one who has reached the end of the road when it comes to heroes fighting other heroes?
Granted, there are shades of grey in the Inhumans as well as the X-Men, so the argument can be made that they’re not really “heroes.” But I think most people would put most of them at least close to that category.
What will really tell the tale will be sales. Will this miniseries sell very well? It does have high-power creators involved, such as Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire. That alone made me check into what the books are about. A lot of Marvel events start big, then fizzle out near the end. We’ll see.
DC is having the Justice League meet the Suicide Squad. I get that more because the latter consists of villains, but even some of them have been watered down over time. Still, if Marvel did the same thing, they’d have the Avengers meet the Thunderbolts again. What really got my attention was that Joshua Williamson is writing it, and he’s a favorite scribe of mine!
I like to talk about the JLA/Avengers team up because, even though they did fight each other at points, we got to contrast and compare the various team members. For instance, I never realized how much Batman and Captain America have in common. That’s the kind of crossover I like to read.
Will fans continue to buy “hero versus hero” crossovers, or has “versus” fatigue set in? What do you think? Please comment in the space below!