I’m a hardcore Marvel Comics fan and have been for over 25 years. I started reading their books just before the big 90s explosion and have also gone back to read the classic stories from the decades prior. I could go at length about my favorite Marvel stories and characters. This universe is as much a part of me as the very blood that runs through my veins.
With that said however, there was a point where my interests faded. When I tried to get back into Marvel, I was completely lost as to what was happening. I did manage to briefly jump aboard during the height of the Ultimate Universe since those comics offered a fresh take on the classic stories and characters. After the Ultimate Universe’s Ultimatum event and Secret Invasion event in the main Universe, I had stopped reading Marvel again.
My interest in The House of Ideas was rekindled shortly after New York Comic-Con 2014. Every day I’d get a press release that teased the return of old stories which were tied to their upcoming event, Secret Wars. Civil War #1, Age of Apocalypse #1, Years of Future Past #1, Future Imperfect #1… what the hell was going on? I didn’t know, but I was genuinely excited to find out what it could be. I was also excited by talk amongst fans and comic book journalists about a possible line-wide reboot of the universe.
Why was I excited? Retcons are something comic book fans hate on principle so why would I want this done to my beloved Comic Book publisher? Simple: it was a way to get me back into reading their books. Look at how confused I was when I picked up a random issue of X-Men and had no idea what was happening. Look at how I was able to jump into the Ultimate books because they offered a new and fresh universe.
Having a clean universe of comics which weren’t bogged down by years of continuity is something I wanted. I thought about DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths event which is the gold standard for how to reboot a universe. The same characters we all know and love but with updated origins. Granted that DC initially botched New 52 by not fully committing to a complete do-over but that event eventually corrected itself in the subsequent years. Marvel had a grand opportunity to really shake things up with this Secret Wars event.
And that’s exactly what will happen.
This past week, Marvel officially announced that the Marvel Universe and Ultimate Universe, along with a few others, would be merged to create something completely new, the All-New Marvel as it is now being called. I thought this was fantastic. Though it doesn’t seem like a full on reboot like I would have hoped, it is a new beginning and Marvel desperately needs that.
Marvel’s stories have continued uninterrupted since 1961. That is A LOT of baggage to carry. Doing this sort of reboot helps Marvel keep the strongest parts of their universes while getting rid of all the superfluous material. Marvel’s characters are more popular than ever but the comics which spawned them aren’t doing so well. Having comics which have an easier jumping on point will give them more mass appeal.
I should add that although the term “reboot” has a negative connotation, this is something people readily accept with comic book characters. Think about it: every movie, TV show, or video game is essentially a rebooted version of the Marvel Universe. They take what they need and ditch the rest. Why can’t the comics do the same thing, especially if that unwieldy continuity is detrimental? If other media can change things up with these heroes then there’s no reason the very comics can’t do the same.
I also have to bring up the obvious here: this move is intended to make the books more like the films. Let’s face it, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now more popular than the regular 616 Universe. After Iron Man was released, Tony Stark began to act like Robert Downey Jr. Peter Quill from Guardians of the Galaxy is now looking a lot like Chris Pratt, so much so that he’s even wearing the fancy red leather jacket from the movie. The films are how the population see and know about this universe nowadays so it makes sense for the comics to follow suit and emulate them.
I’m excited to read Marvel Comics again and that’s something I didn’t think I’d be saying (though I’ve WANTED to). If Marvel pulls this off and doesn’t make the same mistakes DC did with New 52 then this could be the start of a new renaissance for the publishing side of the company. This is exactly what is needed and now is the perfect time for Marvel to reboot their comics line.