or, “Not meant for me.”
I’ve been on a comic book kick for a few entries, but here’s another one. I got my latest issue of Ultimate Spider-man and thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, I was absolutely right about the fate of Roxxon and their experimental superweapons. Anyway, I’ve talked before about reboots and soft retcons and my opinion of the Ultimate Universe. And as I lamented again that Layla Miller is not a bad guy, I suddenly had a revelation. Realization dawned like the first light of day after a long night of binging on video games –
The Ulti-verse was not meant for me.
Yes, I can’t believe it took me so long to understand that either. The Ulti-verse has only been in existence since 2000, which is thirteen years, which means I’m pretty slow on the uptake sometimes. My biggest complaint with the Ulti-verse (1610) has always been how it seemed like the creative team made it darker and edgier because, well, that’s it. It was darker and edgier for its own sake, which also included making Universe 616 heroes into villains for no particular reason. But when I realized this universe was aimed at new fans, I also realized a lot of my criticism was misguided.
Actually, upon further reflection, I think Marvel did a really good job with the idea of a reboot. Unlike DC, they realized that not alienating old fans was probably a good idea, so they didn’t reboot the mainstream universe. Instead they created a whole new universe. I think they included a lot of the flagship characters because they are iconic (i.e., even non-fans know who Spider-man is, and this was before the movies). I think they also figured that potential new fans might have a passing interest in learning who these characters are, but were simply daunted by so many decades of backstory. So of course for every flagship 616 comic there was an Ultimate version. This is why I think some iconic storylines were also incorporated, even if they had a new twist. I think a lot of the writers really jumped at the chance to try to “fix” what they thought was broken with some iconic storylines. This has its own dangers, as I’ve mentioned, but Ultimate Peter Parker’s Clone Saga was leagues better than the original. And darker and edgier was a distinct marketing choice to make the comics more appealing to potential fans who might be put off by the occasional cartoony storylines that lurked in 616’s history.
Thus, free of baggage, who is to say that Layla Miller must be a good guy? She’s not even a particularly iconic character either and people who haven’t read any X-Force since “House of M” probably have no idea who she is. And it gave the creative team the ability to actual stick with “dead is dead.” Wolverine, who is three of Marvel’s most popular five characters (the other two being Spider-man), was actually killed off for real in “Ultimatum.” And the Marvel Wiki even states that his body was so thoroughly destroyed there is no possibility of regeneration, cloning, or resurrection. That’s a pretty gutsy move and I can admire that. So why should I get upset when Captain America is a jerk or that Agatha Harkness is some kind of weird alien? Basically, I brought my own baggage to the Ulti-verse.
As an old fan, do I think the creative team behind the Ulti-verse was trying to alienate the old fanbase? I don’t think so, although sometimes I feel as if the Ulti-verse is some kind of distorted mirror version of 616, which is enraging and occasionally insulting. I did try the Ulti-verse, and I did stick with Ultimate Spider-man. I think the creative team figured if the old fanbase didn’t like the Ulti-verse, good old 616 was still chugging along. Again, I think this works a lot better than what DC does to its old fans (which is say that everything is new, except for the stuff that isn’t, and assumes a bunch of continuity that actually shouldn’t be there anymore). As an old fan, the comparisons to 616 are inevitable, but that doesn’t diminish the Ulti-verse for what it is. Complaining it’s just not 616 is, well, missing the point. Thus, my misguided ire. Does this mean no criticism of the Ulti-verse is warranted? Oh, my, no. This universe has issues, oh, so many issues that are entirely fair game for criticism. And in my future rants, I’ll try to limit my criticism to the problems that exist wholly within the Ulti-verse.
However, I will try to get off the comic book kick for a bit.
Also, my new book has been shipped to all major distributors except Amazon, so if you like your Nook or your Sony or whatnot, check out Paranormal is Relative!