Saturday, April 27, 2013

Inaugural Post: True or False?

Doug:  Today we're going to test drive a new discussion-based format.  Our readers have been great in responding to our various other columns, and in the interest of keeping things fresh we'll throw this up against the wall and see if it sticks.  It's pretty straightforward -- we think you'll catch on real quick!

Wolverine has been the most over-marketed, over-exposed character since the
Bronze Age of comics.


david_b said...

ABSOLUTELY TRUE.., followed closely by Punisher and Spidey (early 70s).

I wish they'd keep Logan out of the Avenger lineups these days, but frankly I haven't really cared about any character since the mid '80s.

Humanbelly said...

I'd say probably true. . . except that I think the very, VERY close second place would go to Batman (and then possibly Spidey).


J.A. Morris said...


But the stories that featured him in the Bronze Age are still mostly great.

I recently re-read the Claremont/Miller/Rubenstein miniseries. It's still excellent.

One problem I have with Wolverine in the last 20-25 years is that he seems to kill a lot more than he did when I first started reading X-men comics in the late 70s.
That was part of his appeal, the conflict between his human and savage sides.

I think post-Bronze Age writers read this quote from John Byrne and decided to run with it:

"As I saw it, Wolverine was in the X-Men so he could be controlled. He was a homicidal maniac, and Professor X wanted to keep him in check. (I used to say the perfect Wolverine moment would be to find him eating breakfast in the kitchen at the Mansion. Kitty walks in and says, 'Good Morning' in just the wrong tone of voice. The other X-Men come in later, to find Wolverine still sitting at the table eating his Cheerios, and Kitty in 57 pieces on the floor.) I never cared for the 'berserker rage' or 'ninja' stuff that came in later. That suggested he was in control, or at least in more control that [sic] I thought he should be."

I think he was a better character when he was somewhat "in control". Most writers seem to depict Wolverine as a homicidal maniac...with a heart of gold.

J.A. Morris said...

Another thing that bugs me about Wolverine:

I thought he was a much more interesting when we knew almost nothing about his past. I like him a little less knowing that his name is Jimmy and he's 200 years old.

But MY Wolverine is a guy who's backstory is still shrouded in darkness.

One change that worked for me:

I always thought the brown costume was better than the yellow one.

david_b said...

Agreed on the Brown costume, it was a big improvement over the yellow, but the yellow does look alright depending on who's drawing it.

Not a Wolvie fan, but was thinkin' of grabbing the brown-colored Legends fig because I'll admit he does look cool; in fact his Secret Wars fig's the only one I still have of the few I did collect because it looked so Byrne-ish.

Matt Celis said...

I suppose this is true, based solely on what I saw before quitting (nearly all) new comics in the mid to late 1980s; plus the fact that there have been 5(!) movies starring Wolverine in the past 13 years, a feat no other character has achieved (plus a cameo in First Class); looking in back issue bargain bins and seeing Wolvie as a guest star on every comic book cover in the 1990s; and I understand he's an Avenger, an X-Person, has a solo comic, and may even be a New Teen Titan these days.

His name is Jimmy now? Are you kidding? How...ill-advised...why does he go by Logan, just because a leprechaun called him that? Geez... making him 200 is bad enough but Jimmy...

Batman is probably a very close 2nd with his Batman, Detective, Gotham PD, Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, Red Robin hamburgers, Legend of the Dark Knight, and 57 other varieties of comics he starred or guest-starred in on a monthly basis. Plus 3 incredibly overrated, godawful action-explosion films in the past decade and a jillion Bat-toys in every store now.

I imagine Spidey is in 3rd place but at least he is generally a likeable character, unlike the modern depictions of #s 1 & 2. He had too many solo
comics for a while there (Amazing, Peter Parker, Web of, and adjectiveless) but I don't know how long that lasted. Being an Avenger is a stupid idea and spoils his charm, but I suppose he & Wolvie on the same awful team sells
comic books...He also has had 4 movies in 13 years, but most of them were at least decent.

david_b said...

Ok, I see your point on Bats... I only thought of the comic appearances, not movies when I mentioned Punisher.

Still, Batman's Bronze overexposure (to me) didn't really start until Burton's film. Sure, he had Detective, B&B, Family, JLA, and Outsiders prior, but Supes had a lot as well; also, Supes had 4 flicks under his belt as well, ranging from awesome to bleccch.

Matt Celis said...

The question isn't "during the Bronze Age." It's "since the Bronze Age." Superman had his time in the late 1970s but quickly faded even with the horrible Byrne "improvements" of the mid-80s.

I could see Batman in 1st place. I just felt that Wolverine has just been continuously shoved in my face since the 1980s, whereas Batman has had a few lulls here and there.

Anonymous said...

Lurker here....

Dont forget Wolverine was in that "other" Fantastic Four with Hulk,Spider-Man and Ghost Rider. I assume this was done ONLY to get Wolverine in every group.
Rest assured that someone at Marvel proposed to ret-con him into the Champions.

mr. oyola said...


Wolverine worked best (I think) as 1) part of an ensemble, 2) when that ensemble was not the dominant authority in the superhero universe - i.e. not the Avengers, 3) not the leader of said group, and 4) his past remains shrouded in mystery.

I think Byrne's quote is off-base, because the character needed to develop a little bit - so I didn't mind the Japan stuff or his relationship with Kitty - but the raw edge he needs as a character doesn't work when he is buddy-buddy with Captain America. It ruins both characters.

Spider-Man is a close second. He shouldn't be a part of *ANY* group - except for occasional team ups with the FF.

mr. oyola said...

Oh and hey Lurker - I am not sure that "other FF" counts - in only b/c back then it was meant to depict the most unlikely group ever.

Nowadays he'd be going on missions with Sue Storm (oh wait, he is. . .)

And in terms of Spidey being "likeable" - they have made him more and more a dick - going so far as having him condone and participate in torture (Capt. America too)

Edo Bosnar said...

J.A. brought up the point I've made elsewhere on this blog, i.e., Wolverine should have remained largely mysterious, with only bits and pieces of his past known. And although I agree it's cool to have him older than people think, it's stupid that he's now apparently 200years old and basically immortal. Also, while I don't think he should be an outright homicidal psychopath, I liked it when he was a bit out of control, keeping everybody else in the group on edge.
As for that first mini - I thought it was just o.k. I also think it was the beginning of the end, in that it was pretty much the starting point of the ninja Wolverine who's too cool for words.

Karen said...

It's natural for writers to want to evolve and develop characters. But in many cases, like Wolverine, it destroys the thing that makes them so interesting to us, their mystique. Once you now everything about him he's just not as cool.It's like what Lucas did to Darth Vader with all the prequel crap. Vader was so much more impressive before we knew him a whiny jerk.

mr. oyola said...

I think Joss Whedon did a good job with Wolverine in his run on Astonish X-Men in 2005/2006 - but then again, despite having Emma Frost as part of the team, that was the closest in feel to the Claremont X-Men I loved in my youth without being a lifeless copy.

Matt Celis said...

So happy I haven't seen the new Star Wars movies.

Doug said...

The Wolverine mini-series was OK, but I'll agree with others that the introduction of ninja elements was sort of a de-evolution of the character. Headlining Marvel Comics Presents, and then the solo title, along with the X-plosion of X-Men titles certainly saturated the market with Mr. Wolverine. Of course, into the 00's, he was everywhere.

Interesting that a company would market a character with an amount of blood on his hands that would indeed be waist deep. Grim and gritty indeed.

Speaking of James Howlett, aka Logan, being older than dirt. One of the things I treasure about my marriage is that my wife and I are the same age (me three months her elder) -- that means we have the same pop culture, political, etc. memories for the most part. How in the world would someone born in the 19th century relate to anyone in the 20th or 21st centuries?? That whole add-on to Wolverine's history (which I'll admit to never having read Origin) seems to be a quagmire to deal with. Are modern fans really that shallow that they just buy that line without thinking of the social repercussions of interpersonal relationships?

I'll agree that the suggestions of Spider-Man and Batman as close runners-up are apt. Today, it's the Avengers (sadly).


Rip Jagger said...

There was a time when I got so sick of seeing Wolverine that it pretty much drove me off Marvel. It was at least a factor.

Ironically Wolverine was great in the X-Men and I have to confess his own series was very entertaining for a long time. But his use as the ubiquitous guest-star, the always on the spot Marvel all-purpose hero drove so deeply against the grain of his basic anti-hero disposition that it rendered him useless as a character.

Spidey at least was socialable if not social. The Thing was downright public, as were most of the FF. The Avengers had public faces, but the X-Men were mostly secret and still Wolvie showed up every blessed place.

To be fair, Batman and Punisher both have the same problem. What makes them succeed as characters is the very thing which makes them crummy partners, but the market demands they be seen everywhere.
Or in the Punisher's case did once upon a time.

So ultimately my definition of overused is if the character's use works against their character as established. By that definition lots of characters catch fire then get saturated. Wolverine is the poster boy for it though.

Rip Off

William said...

I'd have to say TRUE.

Wolvie's not only the most overexposed and exploited character, he's also the one they've most screwed up by tinkering with his history and origin too much.

He was a great character back in the Byrne/Claremont X-Men days, and even in the original Wolverine mini. But a lot of mishandling over the years by bad writers who didn't understand the the character has basically ruined him. It's really a shame, because at it's core concept, Wolverine is a great character.

Anonymous said...

True. But Punisher, Cable, Deadpool aren't far behind.

Mike W.

humanbelly said...

Y'know, if we wanted to open it up to ALL of comic history, though, I submit that the Big Blue Boyscout himself built up such an unimaginable lead in his earlier decades (lasting into the early 70's, in fact) that no one has a prayer of ever overtaking his cumulative, historical level of saturation, commercialization and exploitation. It's just that it's been awhile since he's been as prominent as these other folks we've been discussing.


Bruce said...

Totally true - at one point, he was an Avenger and an X-Man at the same time! Also, he's just been too powerful in recent years.

Having said that, he was one of the great characters of the Bronze Age. The Wolverine of the Claremont/Byrne X-Men and the Claremont/Miller mini-series is one of my favorites.

Bruce said...

And I agree with Mr. Oyola on the Joss Whedon X-Men. It felt like a very deliberate (and welcome) attempt to return to the X-Men we knew back in the Bronze Age.

Anonymous said...

True, sadly.

Yes Wolverine has been way too over-exposed since the Bronze Age. I mentioned this before in a previous post, but whoever decided that Wolvie needed to be part of every team from the Avengers to the Defenders needs to have an adamantium claw stuck in his/her brain.

Wolvie and Spider-Man (Batman and the Punisher too) are basically loners, so they work best in solo situations or at most guest starring in another title. I nearly gagged on my corn flakes when I bought some new comics and Wolvie was literally everywhere! Did someone clone him and place a copy in every team? Sure seems like it.

The only team that he ever truly belonged to was, of course, the X-men. Why? Only a team of mutants who have been rejected by mainstream society could ever accommodate Logan. Somehow I could never envision Wolvie getting along with the idealistic Captain America in the Avengers or the worldly Doctor Strange in the Defenders.

- Mike 'did I eat that last cookie? False!' from Trinidad & Tobago.

david_b said...

Agreed on too much examination of character pasts, I recall when post-Kirby Captain America storylines delved into Steve Rogers childhood.

Major borefest, really adding nothing to his legend.

(Sorry Matt, off-topic again.....)

Doug said...

There is a saturated guy who dominated at the Distinguished Competition in the '90's and early '00's -- Lobo. Same vein as Wolverine, the guy was everywhere.

But not on my dime. I honestly think I do not own a single comic with Lobo in it. But I recall him all over the comic shop, in Previews, etc.


Matt Celis said...

I agree...everything we need to know about pre-serum Steve Rogers was revealed in his origin story.

I also found it boring when they delved into the mystery of Peter Parker's parents. I always figured they must have died and he was raised by relatives. Unfortunately that happens sometimes. No need for secret spy backgrounds...

Matt Celis said...

If I remember correctly, Lobo was (originally) a spoof on those badass antiheroes. Never read
him in anything outside his initial Justice League appearances, so can't say if they changes him from spoof to serious.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

True on every level! I don't think the character has been the same since the 70's Claremont/Bryne/Austin run. Being almost or close to the show runners of this blog (I grew up in the late sixties and early 70's) the character has lost all meaning for me. He's just a maniac now in the comics.

I saw and liked Hugh Jackman in X-Men and Wolverine. Hopefully the movie is a good one. Unlike the writers of the 70's, it wasn't so bloody violent. We don't need to see blood shed in a Marvel comic to see how tough Wolverine is.

If I was a kid today, I would probably see the movies and the animated shows but stay away from the comics, sad to say. They glorify violence in a way they never did in the 70's. The "adult" black and white Marvel Magazines; collectors got for $1 were mild in comparison to what I see today. I don't remember the Conan, Hulk or Planet of the Apes Black and White magazines being terribly violent. Not at all the way they are today.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

In the start of my post I wanted to say, I am close to...... or almost the age of the show runners of this blog. I grew up in the 70's like a lot of readers on this blog.

Fantastic Four Fan 4ever said...

On the subject of Wolverine, it's upsetting to see our current generation of super hero fans embrace a character that is known for uncontrollable rage. You'd think the audience might change and embrace the values of a Spider Man or Iron Man.

david_b said...

Very good point, as at times I really don't think I'd recognize today's fan, nor at the least have anything in common. Much too dark, and the attention level way too fleeting. To be fair, why not...? Kids today have way too many other electronic and media alternatives than we ever dreamt of back in the 70s-80s.

In comparison, I trust my basic tastes in heroes and story-telling would seem too corny or old-fashion nowadays.

mr. oyola said...

Except of course, FF4, that even Iron Man and Spider-Man aren't who they used to be (or at least the former's actions can now be looked at through a modern lens).

Iron Man is a military industrialist imperialist with fascistic tendencies (Civil War, Marvel's Illuminati)

and as I mentioned before Spider-Man is a torturer and doesn't give it a minute's thought

Karen said...

Mr. Oyola - I just saw that Spider-Man panel you mentioned. That's appalling.

I couldn't stand what they did with Stark in Civil War, but at the time it seemed like it was mostly isolated to him. But then New Avengers came around, and we had Cap accepting Wolverine on the team under the premise that he would do "things" that Cap and the others wouldn't -i.e. -morally repugnant acts like killing. That was not Cap to me. That's about the time I realized Marvel had taken a direction I wasn't interested in following.

It's sadly reflective of a society where we have debates about whether to read people their Miranda rights or not, choosing to follow our laws only when they suit us.

jim kosmicki said...

True, in every way. I agree with the earlier commentor that Batman and Spider-man come close, but the Wolverine character is a loner and independent person who is now a vital part of every single major team in the current Marvel Universe. That's such a major shift for me that it pulls me right out of most of the books. I do really like the Jason Aaron book that shows him trying to be a mentor and teacher like Xavier was - THAT change I can see - trying to help young mutants NOT be isolated and abused like he was. But Mr. Teamup, no.

This is also why I always preferred Marvel Two-in-One to Team-up. I could see Ben Grimm connecting with everyone and having adventures with them, but the writers really seemed to have to do gymnastics to come up with reasons why other characters would be teaming up with Spidey.

mr. oyola said...

As I was saying recently to a friend of mine, all these characters don't really mean anything anymore - and maybe what they once meant was always kind loose and open.. It just used to be easier to interpret the characters the way we like them best because there was less we needed to ignore or justify to make that interpretation work.

Nowadays, there has been so many different stories that are supposed to be in the same continuity that are written so wildly different that it is really difficult to continue to do that (but maybe part of that has to do with our age and having read comics for 25 to 30 to 40 years! - for a kid that started 5 years ago there is less to remember, forget and reconcile).

So really, a writer can use a character in almost anyway he wants these days. While this is disappointing to many of us, it also means there is a chance to still get stories with a version of the character that resonates with us.

It is for this reason that I think the limited series idea I mentioned in that other thread is a good idea. We would not have to reconcile these different stories if there was no attempt to link them together.

TheRealLogan said...

sadly true. i echo many of the same comments stated here. overkill of such a great character. for me the beginning of the end was when magneto ripped the admantium out of his body, revealing bone claws. that was when i stopped reading the new stuff, and just basked in the former glory of days passed. i rather enjoyed his first mini series, the failed samurai aspect to his persona added some depth that had not been touched on before.

MattComix said...

Absolutely true. Honestly, I liked him better when he was just the short pissy guy in the one and only X-Men comic.

Batman comes in second more or less for the same reason. In the quest for grimdark and badass both characters got transformed into overblown (and near invunerable) psycho-ninjas.

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