The Evolution and Devolution of Comic Book Characters

Where is the line for what can and can’t be changed in regard to certain characters?  Or rather, where is the line for what changes can be permanent as opposed to those inevitably reverted by future writers?  This question has been on my mind a lot last month (well, in addition to being terribly sick and having to do my end of term grading – but all my extra mental energy has been focused on this).  As a genre, comics demand new stories for their most popular characters every month (sometimes multiple times a month) unceasingly for decades without allowing characters to age more than five or ten years.  It’s easy to see why reboots, alternate realities, Legacy Characters assuming a mantle, time travel, alien doppelgangers, mind-wipes, and so on always pop-up.  How do you keep an unending story fresh?  One trope employed to this end is the redemption of a villain and this, specifically, has been on my mind. Continue reading

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A Question of Redemption: Doctor Doom the Infamous Iron Man

I’ve been thinking a lot about evil and redemption lately.  The first principle of Catholic Social Teaching affirms every human being is deserving of life and dignity because they are made in the image and likeness of God.  Nothing can take that right away, not even their own destructive actions.  So there is always a line, theologically, between sinner and sin.  While the idea of redemption is theologically vital, we often struggle with it in the face of real world evil.  At least I know I do.  This cognitive dissonance begs the question is there a line, an evil act or actions we can’t return from?  Doctor Doom is a character uniquely suited to explore this question.  For decades he was the most evil villain in the Marvel Universe.  But over the last few years, in both Invincible Iron Man and Infamous Iron Man, Brian Michael Bendis put a newly reformed Victor Von Doom inside Tony Stark’s armor in an attempt to atone for all he’s done.  Now Fantastic Four has returned to the comic shelves and Doom’s future is a question mark once again.  Can someone like Doctor Doom ever truly be redeemed? Continue reading

First Impressions: The Fantastic Four

This is a post I’ve been thinking about writing for ages.  I originally envisioned it shortly following the “First Impressions: The X-Men” post I wrote last year.  But, for one reason or another, I always stopped short of finishing it.  Now, on the eve of the Fantastic Four’s return, shepherded by Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli, the time is right.  So let’s take another trip down memory lane and revisit the very first Fantastic Four comic I ever read!  It was 1993 and the cover leapt out at me from the spinning rack in a local grocery store (the now long-gone Loblaws on W 12th St, if I remember correctly).  It was Fantastic Four #374 and, while I didn’t know it at the time, I was about to meet the characters who’d become my all-time favorite comic book team.  To this day, they still hold this place in my heart! Continue reading

Marvel 2 In One: A Fantastic Family Reunion!

Admittedly, I’ve been behind on my comic reading.  There was Christmas (not to mention the shopping, wrapping, and delivering of Christmas goodies).  There was getting work done so I could enjoy my Christmas vacation without school stuff to do.  And then there was this little movie that came out a few weeks ago that I was a wee bit focused on.  But now Christmas day’s over and I’m snowed in by the CRAZY HUGE SNOWSTORM hitting us here in Erie, PA.  So I’ve plenty of time to delve into the comics waiting for me!  One of the comics in my pile was Chip Zdarsky and Jim Cheung’s new Marvel 2 In One starring the Thing and the Human Torch.  Annnnd I’m in love! Continue reading

Team-Ups, Guest Stars, and Guest Writers

One of the greatest parts of comic books is the superhero team-up.  Right??  As a kid, I loved picking up a copy of The Amazing Spider-Man to find DAREDEVIL on the cover too!  The fact that all these characters live in the same world, often cross paths and work together is one of the medium’s most enduring and exciting experiences.  I think one of the reasons The Fantastic Four was always my favorite team book growing up was because the FF were a family…but the family kept growing!  You had Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben but you also had Spidey, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Ant Man, Storm, Black Panther…and on and on and on!  I loved that idea – one big, ever inclusive vision of family working toward a common goal.  Continue reading