Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Quick thought about Marvel and Wildstorm

For a while I’ve noticed something I can only call a Wildstorm-ization of Marvel, and with Civil War on the horizon, I wonder if either the event is a result of this or if it’s been going on in order to set the stage for the event.

I’m not as familiar with the Wildstorm universe as some. I’ve hardly read any WildC.A.T.S. or Stormwatch, but I am familiar with Sleeper, its prequel Point Blank, the first couple of Planetary trades as well as the first Authority collection. I think I read a Majestic tpb a while back too, but I don’t guess that doesn’t count since it was all about the character being brought into the DCU proper.

I first noticed the signs as the opposing organizations of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hydra, and The Hand started making more prominent and consecutive appearances in a lot of Marvel’s books. They’ve been around for a while, sure, but there have been long periods when they were either in Limbo or confined to one or two titles. And in a lot of cases what was going on with Nick Fury’s covert ops wasn’t as much in concert with the activities of Hydra and The Hand as they have been lately. They’ve played prominent roles recently in Wolverine, Fantastic Four, New Avengers, New Thunderbolts, Marvel Team-Up and The Incredible Hulk (and probably others that I don’t know about).

Likewise, I’ve noticed that John Lynch and I.O. are prominently featured in just about all the Wildstorm books I’ve read, and the organization is shown to be much more hands-on with Wildstorm’s super-guys than S.H.I.E.L.D. has been (up until now) with Marvel’s. Also, particularly in the case of Daniel Way’s recent Hulk run, Fury seems to be taking on a much more Machiavellian aspect than usual, which brings his portrayal closer to Lynch’s. Sure, he’s always been the head of this covert ops organization, but more than often he’s been written as a hard-nosed vet who’s misplaced in a world of spies and intrigue, and always a little sad that he can’t deal with problems in the more direct manner he used to with the Howling Commandos.

And, overall, Marvel’s respective characters have been moving closer to each other for a while, certainly in comparison to Jemas’s stay at the company, and there seems to be a greater effort to keep the continuity straight. For example, during Way’s recent Hulk run, he had the green guy hiding out north of the border. And all the Hulk guest appearances that came out during his run, at least that I know about (Sentry, Marvel Team-Up, and Captain Universe/Hulk) had him starting out in roughly the same geographic area even if the rest of the story took place somewhere else, whereas during Jemas’s reign he’d be in Africa in one comic, New Mexico in another, Nepal in a third, all in the same month without any care of explaining how the guy got around. As another example, from what I understand (haven’t read the stories and won’t until their in trades), there were a lot of direct references to both Daniel Way’s Hulk run and “Planet Hulk” in the character’s recent FF appearance. Likewise, the Wildstorm books (at least, what I’ve read of them) seem to be able to maintain a consistent continuity, probably because they have a relatively small number of titles.

Not the most thrilling insight, I know, but whatever. Had it on my mind. Got a blog.

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