Monday, October 16, 2006

Boltcutters

You wonder if Marvel has any idea why people read Thunderbolts.

I know there is only me and about fifteen others and it was probably heading for cancellation, but it was a last lonely little outpost of creativity in Joe Quesada's increasingly alarming flood of commerciality. Here's Mark Millar:

My idea for Thunderbolts, very simply, was that it should employ the same strategy as New Avengers and JLA in that if we have a team, why not make it the A-Team in the sense that they're all recognizable names?

Well, it's a fair question. Why would want a title of stiffs, nobodies and half-forgotten incompetents when we can have Norman Osborn, Venom and Thanos on the team? (I made one of them up, but I'm past caring which one.) We can have big personalities. Big fights, Big muscles. If this was 1995 we'd get big breasts as well, but I suppose, given it's Warren Ellis, it'll be raincoat-shrouded anti-heroes, malevolent aliens and gratuitous torture.

I had an idea for The Champions, I had an idea for a new Defenders book.

Oh, Mark, why couldn't you have done just that? The Champions were a joke even back when. The Defenders non-team concept ran out of steam long ago. Couldn't you have put Ellis to work on them? I wouldn't have minded. Admittedly, I wouldn't have bought them either, but you can't have everything.

We Thunderbolts readers, though few in number, are possessive and possibly a smidgen touchy about our book. We dislike, no hate, the way Marvel (led even then by Joe Quesada) ditched the entire cast and replaced it with a plodding Fight Club with sub-pornographic covers which was an exact copy of a simultaneously running Spider-Man plot. We dropped it, Marvel cancelled it and then (to my astonishment, frankly) revived it. Fabian Nicieza takes a few months to get all the multi-threads up and running, but with that achieved, we're back to having one of the top three Marvel books of the past decade.

But we don't love it because it has big well-known characters. We love it because it doesn't. Thunderbolts is Nicieza exploring redemption: those who desire it, achieve it, fall from it. Thunderbolts uses minor characters because they're sufficiently ill-defined not only that Nicieza can breathe life into them, but that we readers can't guess whether they will come or go or die or reform. Does anyone actually see that in Norman Osborn, written by Warren Ellis?

NEWSARAMA: Back to production Ellis on villains. One of the simpler decisions made at Marvel recently?

JOE QUESADA: Seemed like a no brainer to me. Let's face it Warren is a very evil, evil man, I’ve always suspected that he's behind all the evil acts in the world so who better to write this book?


Thunderbolts was never about the portrayal of evil. No wonder you keep shitting on our book, Joe. You don't have the slighest idea what it's about.

3 Comments:

Blogger Marionette said...

Yes, but to be fair he doesn't have a clue about Spider-Man either.

Or apparently, Fantastic Four.

But Civil War sells boatloads, so who cares if they can't deliver it on time or that it's shite?

12:28 pm  
Anonymous Paul said...

I'm sort of fascinated to find that someone else in the world also enjoys Thunderbolts... I figured I was the only one reading it. It's so "old-school Marvel"... but then, that's its charm.

I agree entirely that this new version, although it will almost certainly sell better, will be a complete departure from everything about the series that made it appealing and different. This new version looks more like Warren Ellis' "Suicide Squad" but with Marvel characters.

I do disagree with you about loathing everything else that Quesada has done... I actually am enjoying Civil War quite a lot (ducks as people throw heavy items at my skull) and I think the Ultimate universe has turned into something truly excellent.... I don't know anyone else who could have pulled that off. BUT... there's a place for old-school Marvel stuff too... That place was Thunderbolts and Spider-Girl...

And then there was one.

- Paul

3:04 pm  
Blogger plok said...

Good for you for being an angry Thunderbolts fan. This idea of Millar's strikes me as absolutely stupid, due to the fact that everyone knows the way to make good comics is to turn writers and artists loose on the "B" and "C" characters no one else cares about. And suddenly you've got Swamp Thing, X-Men, etc. etc., and twenty years down the road you can mint a bunch of money on them. But what you don't do is take something that's managed to acquire some charm and reader loyalty and then decide what it really needs is to be bogged down with Wolverine, because he rawks. This is the ethic of bad real-estate development turned to comics: look, this little part of town that was run down and seedy for ages and ages is starting to get a little bit funky and cool. College students are spending their free time there, and hip little shops are opening up. QUICK, BUY UP EVERYTHING IN SIGHT, RAISE ALL THE RENTS, AND PUT SOME MCDONALD'S AND GAP FRANCHISES IN THERE!!!

...What?

What do you mean, "they all left"?

FIND THEM!!!

So it's really just asphyxiation, right? Which Millar is proposing. Or, it would be if New Avengers really was the "A" team. I mean, come on, Spider-Woman? The Sentry? Fighting Silver Samurai? What?

I think as a writer, Millar makes a bad businessman; as a businessman, he makes a bad writer. And isn't the reason why the superhero comic market is shrinking at least partly because the comics are no damn good, and haven't been any damn good for years and years?

Sorry for hijacking your blog, there! It's just...really, you know? The new Thunderbolts will sell better, and then it'll sell worse, and then it'll be cancelled, and then no one will want it back. Anyway that's my prediction, and I hope it comes true.

Stupid Marvel.

12:38 pm  

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