Even though Marvel’s version of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars – designed to realign their universe and make it more palatable to fans of the Cinematic Universe, hasn’t finished due to delays, the supposed “All-New, All-Different” Marvel Comics have hit shelves. There are plenty of cosmetic changes that provide the illusion of change, but being truly all new and all different would be risky. Marvel is pulling the wool over our eyes, making alterations that are actually just repackaging elements from the past. They’ve been mining the past and passing it off as new stuff ever since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby re-used the Golden Age Human Torch concept for the Fantastic Four in the sixties.
They’ve also pulled the same trick more recently with the female Thor, who happens to be Jane Foster. Who could’ve seen that coming? People who read What If? #10, of course!
So let’s look at some of the things Marvel is trying to tell us is “All-New and All-Different.”
Spider-Man Is Rich and Famous
Wow, Dan Slott truly is a genius! Who would have ever thought to make Peter Parker rich and famous? John Layman, that’s who. In 2011, in the Identity Wars storyline, he introduced the Spider-Man of Earth 11638, a world where Uncle Ben was not murdered and Spider-Man is a famous and beloved hero. It doesn’t stop there: Peter is the head of Parker Technologies – just like Slott’s Peter is the head of Parker Industries. Oh, and the Spider-Mobile first appeared in the ‘70s. All new, all different indeed.
The Avengers Roster is Full of B-Listers
First of all, the membership of the Avengers has changed so many times, it can hardly be considered “new” to shake up the roll call. But certainly this new team focuses on characters that are not well-known to mainstream audiences. It’s almost exactly like what happened in the ‘80s, when most of the notable Marvel superheroes were kidnapped to participate in Secret Wars (there’s that name again) and The Vision gathered together the West Coast Avengers, consisting of…characters that were not well-known to mainstream audiences.
Dr. Strange is John Constantine
In order to get a jump on the Cumberbatch fans who are expected to line up for the Dr. Strange movie in droves, Marvel has taken a character that has always been depicted with flecks of gray hair and as a one-woman-man with regality and turned him into a “dog” who is considerably younger and ready to stick it to extra-dimensional harpies. This new Dr. Strange is a man on the street, who rubs elbows with the common man and meets other magicians in secret pubs. This sounds a lot more like someone from the “distinguished competition.”
Heroes for Re-Hire
Marvel recently announced a new Power Man and Iron Fist series, a rehashing of the classic series from the ‘70s. Surely, this move is meant to capitalize on people who want to impress their less geeky friends with foreknowledge of the characters before their upcoming Netflix debut. This is literally taking an idea that is several decades old off the shelf, dusting it off, and claiming it’s new. What’s more disappointing is there was a fresh take on the concept just a few years ago with the second holder of the “Power Man” mantle, Victor Alvarez.
Now that Marvel, a publisher that once seemed to cherish its history, has tossed everything out of the window, alienating old fans for the elusive “new readers,” they’ve provided those of us who have been tiring of their methods with an excellent jumping-off point. If you aren’t fond of the new direction, vote with your dollars and take your business elsewhere. If you’re a longtime fan, Marvel has made it clear they think of you as a fanboy who will lap up anything they plop down in front of you as long as it has their logo on it, but at $5.99 an issue, it’s just not worth it.