In the interest of the reader, there are a lot of Wikipedia bios that are linked to this page to help understand all the characters mentioned. Hopefully, there will be lots of “OH! It’s that guy!” but I just wanted to make sure that no one is lost. Because trust me, it was a long road to this storyline.
Maybe it started in 2004, with the fall of Nick Fury and his resignation from SHIELD. Maybe it started in 2006 with the Superhuman Registration Act and “Civil War.” Perhaps it was in 2003, when Avengers #61 was released and became the last issue to feature Thor, Captain America and Iron Man (Marvel’s Big Three) on the team together. Or maybe it was in 2000 when writer Paul Jenkins convinced readers that they had forgotten about Marvel’s most powerful superhero, The Sentry and pulled off one of the biggest hoaxes in comic history. Anyone of these threads could arguably be the starting point for Brian Michael Bendis’ epic, “Seige,” which wrapped up last week after four issues. Bendis states that was when the original Avengers were disassembled in 2004, but before that, there were many seeds planted by many other writers. Whatever the start point, we now know the end.
With Marvel always championing the fact that it is set in “the real world,” featuring New York and San Francisco instead of Gotham and Metropolis, it could hardly be coincidence that the past ten years of Marvel Comics have been marked with the same fear, terror and cynicism that filled our own world. On the road to this story, the Marvel universe has basically been destroyed.
Captain America (Steve Rogers), Thor, Hawkeye, Nightcrawler and The Wasp (among many others) all died, with the last two being the only two to not be resurrected. Iron Man screwed up SHIELD and spent half a year completely brain dead. The X-Men saw the mutant population go from millions to just fewer than 200 in the Decimation event. The heroes found themselves on opposite sides of a “Civil War” that led to half the heroes having to live underground. The psychopathic Norman Osborn (aka The Green Goblin) took Nick Fury’s job after stopping an alien invasion (one that was committed by shape-shifters, which only deepened the characters’ distrust of one another). Osborn also made sure to employ the nastiest villains and have them pose as heroes like Spider-Man and Wolverine. Over the past ten years, not a single character has been left undamaged. By time “Siege” hit the stands, there was barely a Marvel universe to fight over.
But now the battle is through. While there was still death and destruction, with Thor’s homeworld of Asgard being destroyed in the battle, as well as The Sentry losing his mind and killing Ares, God of War and Loki, Thor’s brother and God of Mischief before finally being killed himself, the heroes were able to emerge victorious. Osborn and his Cabal were finally stopped and the newly resurrected Steve Rogers was appointed the Head of the newly re-formed SHIELD. This is the current state of the Marvel U.
Marvel is known for its wipe-sweeping changes. While DC is no better, it was really Marvel that started the trend of resurrecting characters that had died (as well as the trend of terrible explanations for these rebirths). The most recent example of Marvel’s giant changes was the reversal of Peter Parker’s marriage through a deal with a devil. But like DC, Marvel has spent the past decade creating the most unified and collected universe that has ever existed within the books. Both publishers have been cultivated a community of creative cross pollination, with creators more openly providing input on other books. While the type of storytelling isn’t the same, it seems quite similar to the in-house publishing practices that comics had through most of the 30s/40s/50s/60s, with the company providing a unified front. For Marvel, their unified front is going to be…
Starting this Wednesday, with the release of “Avengers” #1 and the first time in 7 1/2 years that Cap, Thor and Iron Man will be on a team together, Marvel is starting its new company wide banner event. The goal of this is to launch Marvel into a new era of heroism.
“Our heroes have experienced some of their greatest trials and tribulations recently, but now there’s going to be a renewed hope among their ranks,” said Joe Quesada, chief creative officer and editor-in-chief of Marvel Entertainment. “As our heroes emerge from the darkness, the Marvel Universe is going to be a more optimistic place than we’ve seen in a quite awhile.”
What this means for the stories and characters is yet to be seen, but if the aim is to be the as equally bright as the recent darkness, then the heroes of Marvel are going to be shining brightly in the coming months.
Quote taken from Wired.com
All artwork is copyright of Marvel