Sometimes I just don’t understand Marvel. I can follow the story lines, the twists and turns and double crosses and all of that. What I don’t understand sometimes is their reasons for doing something. No matter how bad of a comic it gets, I can usually see what DC is trying to do, even if it’s fucking stupid or the fail miserably at it. The motives and thought processes behind Marvel’s creative minds on the other hand, I don’t get.
There are times when I think that Marvel secretly hates its own characters, or the very concept of super heroes itself. Sometimes I imagine Marvel and DC as two neighbors, both staring over a white picket fence, jealous of each other’s lawn. Sometimes I wonder if Marvel even understands what a hero is, and what makes a person one. Sometimes I don’t think Marvel understands their own characters at all, who they are and what they represent or how to write them properly.
The Incredible Hulk has always been a tough character for Marvel’s creative. Other than Spider-Man I think Hulk has gotten some of the silliest stories that Marvel has ever dreamed up. Right now there is a Red Hulk, a Green Hulk, a She-Hulk, a red She-Hulk and Bruce Banner isn’t any of them. General Ross is the Red Hulk, the Green Hulk is the Green Hulk, the She-Hulk is the character she’s supposed to be and Betty Ross is the Red She-Hulk…I think. Banner’s best friend Rick also seems to be a gamma monster as well.
This is a problem because there only needs to be one Hulk, and it should be Bruce Banner. The only other one that belongs is She-Hulk, but she’s developed into a very different character than Hulk. As a matter of fact, She-Hulk is my favorite female Marvel character, Black Canary being my favorite for the DCU.
Hulk is my favorite Marvel character, there is something pure about him. After reading a few issues of the recent Hulk books after a long absence, I’ve come to the conclusion that Hulk should not have his own book, let alone several, and Hulk is one of the very few Marvel characters I still like anymore. They’ve played him as a misunderstood monster for years now, but it’s only led to silly story lines and some flat out bullshit in regards to his character. It’s time that Marvel writers confront Hulk for what he actually is, pure righteous wrath.
Hulk should only show up in major events, during the most serious crises and against only the most dangerous of threats. When Hulk shows up, it should be the “shit just got real” moment for the villain of the crisis. Most of Marvel’s villains should be scared shitless of the Hulk, as should most of the heroes. When he shows up, you just crossed a line too far and you are going to pay dearly for it.
That’s why Bruce Banner needs to be the Hulk. The character of Banner can be support in other books, Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men and be a part of the Marvel Universe in his capacity as a brilliant and heroic scientist. The character of Bruce Banner has a lot to offer the Marvel Universe, but he’s the one that is often most brushed aside by the Marvel writers.
In the current story going through Incredible Hulk, Banner is separated from the Hulk. Most people who are not writers for Marvel, assume that the goodness and decency of Banner is what keeps Hulk from being a horrific, rampaging monster and directs it to be an agent of good. This seems to be the direction that the Edward Norton Hulk film took, and the Joss Whedon Avenger’s film takes. The current story line in the Incredible Hulk book seems to state otherwise. Bruce Banner comes off as a first class asshole in the books.
Banner should be a conflicted hero, as should most of Marvel’s characters. But Marvel’s writers seem to interpret “conflicted” as “massive, irredeemable douchebag.” This was after all, was the company that in their Civil War arc decided that heroism meant that Tony Stark should become a fascist dictator of the Marvel Universe, imprisoning people in an unstable dimension without due process or access to lawyers. Read Civil War again, Marvel advocates fascism as heroism, while Captain America who fights for fundamental American values is made to look like the asshole, especially in the Frontline tie-ins.
The writers at Marvel were so obsessed with Civil War being balanced for both sides of the conflict, that they white washed Tony Stark committing fucking war crimes. Sure in the real world, George W. Bush and Barak Obama may get away with gross Constitutional violations, but we don’t read comics for them to be like the real world. We expect judgment and closure from the stories. It’s why we watch movies, read books, tell stories and read comics. Even during World War Hulk which followed Civil War, Tony Stark never got the true comeuppance that he deserved. World War Hulk’s shit ending is what made me quit reading Marvel comics for years. At then end of both of those arcs, absolutely nothing was resolved. Not one single fucking issue that propelled the events of the arcs was resolved at the end. It was sloppy and piss poor storytelling through and through.
I was hoping that Marvel would have improved a bit, and it seems in some areas they have. The current run of the Hulk comics doesn’t bode well for me sticking around for very long, although Captain America is enjoyable. I would like to get caught up on X-Men, but that is going to be a whole other post, but the fundamental basis of the problem is the same. Marvel cares more about marketing and profit than good storytelling.
Marvel is a company that needs to make money though, profit is of course a good thing. But often the actual stories being told in the comics feels like it’s the last priority. In fact, for the Clone Sage, the writing wasn’t even a priority at all, the marketing was. Which is how a six issue Spider-Man story spiraled out of control into one of the stupidest, longest lasting arcs that mainstream comics ever put out.
The comic industry is on weak legs and it’s easy to see why. Comic book writers can’t get over their own obsession with continuity, or their love melodramatic, pretentious bullshit to tell good, simple stories about super heroes stopping super villains from destroying the world or what not. This is just as much of a problem with DC as it is with Marvel. While I do prefer DC, it would be unfair of me to trash Marvel without calling out DC for doing the same stupid shit. Although, DC’s stupidity is often in different areas, such as randomly killing off characters for shock value, whether or not it adds any meaning to the story or not.
So I sit here, trying to read the current Hulk books, trying to give it a fair chance. But I read about General Ross and Betty Ross being the Red Hulk and the Red She-Hulk respectively and I think, what idiot thought this shit was a good idea? Hulk is simplicity in itself. Bruce Banner gets pissed off, becomes Hulk, Hulk smashes whatever pissed Banner off. Next story.
I do want three dimensional characters and personal relationships in my comics. But not to the point where they get in the way of something as simple as Hulk beating the ever-living shit out of a villain. Characters and relationships are supposed to enhance comic book stories, not devour them whole. Why they felt the need to turn ever member of Hulk’s supporting cast into either a hulk, she-hulk or monster I don’t know. It doesn’t do the support characters any favors, nor does it do anything to enhance the main character which is the whole fucking point of a supporting cast.
The way that Bruce Banner is currently being written is a fucking travesty. Banner being conflicted is a good thing, him being a complete douchebag is not. I love the character of the Hulk, I want to read Hulk comics, but Marvel is making it very difficult for me to do that.