What will become of Marvel now that Stan the Man Lee is gone?

February 7, 2019

By Avi Green

By now, I'm sure many reading this are aware Stan Lee, the most famous and legendary developer of the Marvel universe and its primary casts of characters, is gone, having passed away November 12, 2018 from illnesses involving pneumonia.

Naturally, it's very sad we've lost a guy who did contribute only so much, even after he'd left scriptwriting on a regular basis in 1972, having been promoted to publisher at the time, and most writing efforts he made afterwards were few and far between. And after stepping down to the role of chairman emeritus in 1990, he continued to do a few more writing efforts and do promotional work at conventions and other special events.

But as all that was going on, Marvel's quality was declining behind the scenes, along with DC's, if that matters. Stories becoming less well handled, too many company wide crossovers, Iron Man reduced to a teenager during The Crossing, and the Clone Saga, along with Age of Apocalypse, were some of the worst Marvel had to offer during the mid-90s. And just when you might've thought things were at least half-improving in the late 90s, Joe Quesada showed up and soon turned things to pot again. Personally, I don't think the Marvel Knights imprint he was in charge of worked out well, as I detested the killing of Daredevil co-star Karen Page at the hands of Bullseye, in a story written by the overrated Kevin Smith. The Captain America series under the imprint was a definite disaster.

And let's not forget what came soon after Quesada was appointed editor-in-chief. There was Grant Morrison on X-Men with his overwrought vision of the team as pacifists/isolationists, Brian Michael Bendis' 2004 Avengers: Disassembled, which used a forced storyline to turn the Scarlet Witch evil, and all so they could go to a direction where the Avengers would be comprised of street-level members, and obvious choices like Spider-Man and Wolverine. Also, there were the company wide crossovers like House of M and Civil War, which took up space in the ongoing series of quite a few heroes, and added nothing to storytelling.

Oh, and one of the worst moments was when Quesada decided to finally have Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson's marriage erased via Mephisto's machinations. One of the most truly disgusting moments, even if still nothing compared to DC's Identity Crisis during 2004. Though Mary Jane's finally been brought back into the picture, a few months before Lee's death, the damage caused earlier is something Marvel still may never recover from.

At the time Axel Alonso was EIC, they even took to pandering to far-left social justice mindsets, with women's sexuality being mostly censored, and still more rabid leftist politics stuffed in. They even caved to cybertrolls and stalkers on Twitter who started yammering against how women were drawn, and whether they were associating with companies and projects considered “right-wing”, like a special they were doing with Northrop-Grumman. It appears the special itself actually was released, since material did turn up (evidently, they weren't going to breach the contract that easily), but it's clear they did capitulate when they did. They also went out of their way to replace established white heroes with ones of black, Asian, Latino/mixed heroes, and those who weren't, like Iceman, were turned homosexual instead, and last time I looked, they still hadn't come off it. One of the worst steps besides that was replacing Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel with a Muslim girl, in one of the most blatantly political steps possible. And all carried out by some of the most radical leftists you could find.

Since late 2017, Alonso was replaced by C.B. Cebulski as EIC, and some things may have improved since then. But disaster still dwells at Marvel, as Joe Quesada is still their “chief creative officer”, and he's the main one responsible for where they've gotten to now. That's just one reason why, even a year after Alonso's departure...things haven't changed much, if at all.

And it begs the question: what'll happen to the whole empire Lee set up?

My best estimation is – it won't last much longer.

Naturally, it's a terrible shame it had to come to this after so many years of mismanagement and such, begun partly because of poor story merit, and also because company management lost any idea how to market to wider audiences, choosing instead to become more insular, withdrawing almost deliberately from newsstands and all but confining themselves to specialty stores.

Lee created several notable superheroes and oversaw the creation of several more as time went by, ever since he'd begun his career in the Golden Age, writing mostly stories with Captain America and Sub-Mariner. There was also his period of writing monster thrillers in the 1950s, followed in the 60s by Fantastic Four, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Avengers, X-Men, Daredevil, Black Panther and the Silver Surfer. Later on, more would be added by new talent recruited, including Mar-Vell of the Kree, Guardians of the Galaxy, Morbius the Living Vampire, Master of Kung Fu, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, Nova, Spider-Woman, She-Hulk, Cloak & Dagger, and Power Pack. There were even more latter day ideas like the New Warriors, if it matters.

And now much of that's been destroyed as a lesser value is placed upon the properties by the modern overlords at Marvel, like none other than Joe Quesada, all because they think the movies are far more important in their own way. I think that's one of, if not the only, reasons I've largely stopped watching the films, and in hindsight, I'm not sure if they even hold up so well.

Of recent, they at least had the decency to restore Mary Jane Watson to Spider-Man's world, nearly a dozen years after such a repellent story as One More Day had been conceived in the first place. And any mention of Mephisto is no more. But, if sales tell anything, the damage has been done, and even Spider-Man, alas, is clearly not going to save them from impending collapse. Though it may very well be one of the last comic series they ever publish.

And continuity's become massively damaged too, along with character cohesion. As a result, sad as it makes me to say this, I think the time has come for Marvel to close. At least, for the forseeable future. They've got nothing positive to offer at this point, with declining sales proving everything, they're not hiring contributors who inspire confidence, and that's precisely why it'd be best if they close down. Though I firmly believe the movies shouldn't take over from where the comics leave off, and that's why I pretty much stopped watching films based on superheroes, also because even their merit was on the decline.

Stan Lee did a lot of good when he was around as the chief of operations. And that's why it's a terrible shame he couldn't find reliable staffers and contributors to take over from where he left off. As a result, the only really good way to honor his creations is to avoid the modern takes on them that only dishonor the characters, and let the shop close, as it probably should have years before.

And it is possible for other companies and their offerings, if good, to take over from where Marvel and DC left off. Though I do believe they shouldn't rely entirely on superheroes for storytelling, and it would do a lot of good to include non-costumed adventurers as well. There are European comics that have excelled in this, and if you know where to look, there are US comics that mastered it too.

In addition, comic books will have to cease with the monthly/weekly pamphlet format, already reaching 4-plus dollars in price, and just stick with graphic novel formats only. Is that really so hard? Not if a recent move by Image to develop some series as Original Graphic Novels says something, and that's an idea that should be emulated much faster than thought, if any publishers want to survive. So it's a pity Marvel/DC aren't learning from that.

Again, Stan the Man Lee had a lot of great imagination to offer in his time. And it's terrible the people who succeeded him don't share his enthusiasm. The only best way to respect his creations is not to spend money on the new stories by so many rabid leftists who don't respect the audiences like he did. The older material up to the turn of the century is what people should look to for entertainment.

Copyright 2019 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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