Op-Ed: The Degradation of Marvel Cosmic Under Alonso, Brevoort, Bendis & Loeb
The Degradation of Marvel Cosmic Under Alonso, Brevoort, Bendis, and Loeb
The following is an independently submitted opinion-editorial that reflects only the opinions of the author. It is not necessarily reflective of the official opinions of CosmicBookNews.
In reviewing the state of Marvel Cosmic under the Alonso, Brevoort, Bendis, and Loeb regime (hereafter referred to as “Bonso & Boeb”), I invoke the words and spirit of the great science-fiction author, editor, and publisher – Lester Del Rey: “to develop, science fiction had to remove itself from the usual critics who viewed it from the perspective of [the] mainstream, and who judged its worth largely on its mainstream values. As part of that mainstream, it would never have had the freedom to make the choices it did – many of them quite possibly wrong, but necessary for its development."
Del Rey famously told the mainstream snobs who looked down their noses at Science-Fiction, “Get out of my Ghetto!” He realized that for Science-Fiction to develop, it had to diverge from the mainstream, proudly become its own niche, bravely take chances with the material, and be prepared to take its fair share of criticism and rejection from the un-imaginative, parochial mainstreamers who seem to only want endless repetition of the same tired mainstream tropes. Bonso & Boeb would have been well advised to heed Del Rey’s perspective in their rebooting of Marvel Cosmic after the modern heyday of Marvel Cosmic spearheaded by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (hereafter referred to as DnA) culminated in the smash-hit movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. Unfortunately, they chose to go hard mainstream in a grab for quick cash – and Marvel Cosmic has suffered grievously as a result.
DNA Guardians of the Galaxy
In fact, instead of embracing the uniqueness and quality of DnA’s work, Bonso & Boeb went so hard mainstream as to say there is no such thing as Marvel Cosmic once Bendis and Loeb took over Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova, respectively. Then, they went about proving that there was no such thing as Marvel Cosmic by running both titles into the ground creatively and qualitatively by mainstreaming them. Quesada admitted he “didn’t understand” Cosmic – but he also didn’t try to mainstream it. He said that as long as it sold, it could follow its own course. Who would’ve guessed that the Quesada regime would ever be thought of as “the good old days?”
I understand that James Gunn had to mainstream Guardians of the Galaxy to appeal to the mainstream audience of movie ticket buyers. That doesn’t mean the comic book should follow suit. The fantasy that people who loved the movie would rush out and buy the comic hasn’t materialized for any of the characters portrayed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the Marvel Television Universe. Why would the GotG characters be the exception?
Nevertheless, Bendis’ first act was to make the comic book version of the Guardians of the Galaxy characters even more juvenile and ridiculous than the movie versions. Starlord is reduced from an intrepid warrior who could best a Herald of Galactus to a bumbling buffoon ultimately replaced by Kitty Pride. Rocket Raccoon is reduced from a tough tactician and weapons expert to a catchphrase shouting fool. Gamora from the most dangerous woman in the universe to a damsel in distress. Drax from an obsessive, calculating warrior to a dimwit. The entire team from a group of misfits who can overcome their own problems and single-handedly save the universe to a bumbling group of morons who call for The Avengers the minute something goes the least bit wrong. In one particularly offensive storyline, they even commit murder of innocent civilians simply to steal a toilet from a warehouse. And to one-up the degradation, Bendis deliberately destroyed the uniqueness of the Guardians of the Galaxy concept by reducing the storylines to the level of traditional comic book tropes and by filling the GotG universe with mainstream characters from the other Marvel franchises including the Spiderverse, the X-verse, and the Fantastic Four. Never mind that these changes demolished the unique qualitative and creative appeal of DnA’s vision. Nope – for Bonso and Boeb it was all about the quick cash. Notice that Gunn hasn’t used Bendis’ storylines in the movies. He’s still using DnA concepts and the characters DnA used. Also notice the rapid decline in sales of the main Guardians of the Galaxy titles and the resounding lack of success of the solo GotG titles as they, too, have missed the mark in terms of creative quality. The cash was quick, and now it’s gone along with the quality and uniqueness of the original concepts as buyers have quickly tired of the hackneyed storylines and the silly one-dimensional nature to which the characters have been reduced by Bonso and Boeb. I urge all fans of the pre-Bonso & Boeb iterations of Guardians of the Galaxy to continue boycotting the sub-par efforts being produced under Bonso & Boeb at present.
Even more grievous has been Loeb’s degradation of the Nova concepts and legacy. Rich Rider had finally graduated to bad-ass, Class-A level super-soldier under Giffen’s and DnA’s reboot of the character. But – Bonso and Boeb deemed the Giffen/DnA gritty military science-fiction take on the character to be “too unrelatable” to the mainstream comic book buyer and instead inflicted upon us Nova In Name Only (hereafter referred to as “NINO”), Sam Alexander, an annoying, PC (half-alien/half-Hispanic), bumbling teen character obviously meant to be a teen Peter Parker re-tread. For some reason undisclosed to the public, Bonso and Boeb are desperate to sell the NINO concept despite widespread rejection of NINO by both the established community of Rider Nova fans and by the mainstream comic buyer community – as every re-boot of a NINO solo book (NINO Volumes I & II) or group book (New Warriors) where NINO is the featured character quickly falls well below the cancellation threshold. NINO Volume II is currently selling about 16K at Issue #10, a far worse performance than any Rider Nova book at the same point in its run. You’d think Bonso and Boeb would learn that NINO is a failed concept, get rid of NINO, and give us a military science-fiction book featuring Rider Nova. Instead, they’re still stuck on the tried and failed mainstream option and will be launching a new Champions group book featuring NINO and a NINO Volume III where it’s being telegraphed that Rider will return as the Avatar of the Worldmind – essentially as a supporting character in a subordinate position to NINO. I find that an unacceptable storyline, will continue boycotting any book or product featuring NINO, and will exhort all true Rider Nova fans to continue their boycott of any book or product featuring NINO – especially any book subordinating Rider to NINO if, in fact, that is gist of Volume III. Better to have no “Nova” at all than to accept NINO.
DnA, as established SF writers, like Del Rey before them understood the SF niche and produced unique, quality storylines that appealed to a niche audience. DnA had solid (much better than NINO) but not stellar sales numbers for their Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy books. Mainstreaming both books under Bonso and Boeb initially resulted in greater sales, but the hackneyed storylines and dilution of the concepts necessary for mainstream appeal has led to immediate dis-interest and boycotting from the established niche audience as well as progressive dis-interest from the mainstreamers resulting in steadily falling sales. So, wake up Bonso and Boeb! Get out of the way and let established SF writers return to a Rich Rider Nova book and a book featuring the original GotG cast in the form written by DnA. That will produce the quality storylines that may be used to generate material for future MCU efforts.