Well, that’s what the late, great Deforest Kelly might say in the role of Bones, from Star Trek. In two recent and stunning moves, the cognoscenti at Marvel Comics killed Wolverine (a good thing if he would just stay dead) and cancelled august superhero title The Fantastic Four. It will be hard for me to continue with this post and not seem like a curmudgeonly old man screaming for some snotty kids to get off the grass in his front yard. I will still try.
For a while in the early 2000s it seemed like every story-based decision Marvel made involved length of arc and fitness for inclusion into a trade. That’s what Library Journal would call a graphic novel. Stories, and the nature of storytelling in comics, changed because of this. The monthly comics became secondary to the collected work in the more popular and marketable graphic novel.
So be it. At least then Marvel (and DC) were still thinking in terms of the comic books themselves.
Then sometime after the very first Spider-Man movie killed it at the box office, Stan Lee’s long held dream of Marvel’s marriage to Hollywood and wider media came to pass. Sean Howe covers Stan’s Hollywood vision-quest in his amazing book, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. It’s now gotten to a point where even the mediocre Marvel movies make mad loot. That old adage that money ruins everything is not true. Money ruins most things.
While they will never admit it, the folks at Marvel “killed” Wolverine and cancelled Fantastic Four because both properties belong to rival movie studios. They might cite creative reasons, or the low sales of FF, but we should know better. Making these moves undercuts in some small way the creative impetus of rival studio Fox. For an awesome visual of exactly which studio owns each major Marvel superhero property, check here.
While I was born on a Tuesday, it was not last Tuesday. I know Wolverine will be back (dude, he’s the best there is at what he does, and what he does is sell comics). I also know FF will rise again. Comics are a business. They have been since the halcyon days of Timely. The business used to be about selling comics. Now it’s about pillaging them for the next movie script.
My position is not without hypocrisy. I saw Guardians Of The Galaxy five times. I will content myself with cherry-picking the Marvel and DC movies I like.
Meanwhile, I need to go see my grief counselor; Wolverine is dead after all.