"The Novel" or What’s wrong with Marvel?

I’m not sure of the background of this writer, but he hits plenty of nails on his head with his claim that the innovation of the Marvel Age of Comics ended in 1991. I read the phone-book compendium "Essential Fantastic Four" a while back, collecting #1-#20 of the magazine, and was impressed at how, even in the early days, the Lee/Kirby issues showed the characters actually growing and developing, especially with the Thing and Johnny Storm only squabbling for a few issues before they realized how much they respect each other.
(Although by contrast, "Essential Avengers""" could show just how turgid Stan’s writing could be. Five or six throwaway plots in every book–the group recovered Captain America from that iceberg while searching for the Sub-Mariner AND helping an alien fix his spaceship on the ocean floor; rather shallow characterization of minor characters–if I was Ant-Man, seeing the Wasp flirt with every Norse God in the vicinity, I’d slap her around, too.)
But once Stan stopped writing and Kirby left, characters experienced arrested development. Johnny and Ben were the equivalent of Monk and Ham, arguing in the last "Doc Savage" story the same way they did in their first. But, partly because the Fantastic Four never had as many spinoff books as Spider-Man and the X-Men, their story could follow a progression, as when Reed and Sue moved out for the sake of their child, and Ben Grimm proved to have developed enough to take over its leadership. But starting around 1991, every significant change in a character’s life gets retconned away by the next writer. Why have Johnny’s wife Alicia turn out to be a Skrull impostor so the real Alicia can pine over Ben Grimm again? Why not let the story of their marriage progress to it likely dissolution? because that would be another CHANGE. Anyway, that’s partly why I dropped Marvel a few years before I quit comics cold turkey. That and the excess of spin off titles.

The author is basically designing a line of computer games based on classic novels, and I’d never heard of him before. But he makes a lot of good points.

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