Saturday, December 13, 2014

Spoiler Saturday--Those Who Don't Know Marvel History Are Condemned To Whine About It Anyway

So, something happened in Axis #Whatever this week, and people who have read it are all atwitter.

And even though I haven't read it, well, I've got things to say about (even though it may not be what you expect me to say about it).

So if you haven't read Dumb Marvel Event #Blahblah yet and plan too, you might want to come back another time.

If you are ready to discuss Marvel history (and the lack thereof), well, SPOILERS commence after the five in-no-way-relevant pictures of a couple of super-heroes. See ya there...

Still there?

OK, let's begin.

If you haven't heard, in Axis #7, it's revealed that, shock, Magneto isn't actually the father of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. No "blood in common" at all.

I didn't buy the comic, so I don't have anything to scan, but you can see details here at this page if you're dying to know.

Of course, this has caused wailing and rent garments. More than one "professional" site bemoaned that this retcon had "wiped out 50 years of Marvel history."

Seriously...that level of ignorance, and people pay them to display it publicly. I'm in the wrong part of the business, I guess.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear. This did NOT retcon away "50 years" of Marvel history. And if someone can't bother to even look something like that up, well, it kind of devalues their complaint.

In brief, Wanda and Pietro's origins and parentage have never, EVER been anything but retcon. Pure and simple. So join me in a brief history tour.

When we first met them, orphaned Wanda and Pietro were rescued from one of those European mobs by Magneto:

That was told to us in X-Men #4 (1964)...this panel, re-telling it, was from Avengers #47 (1967).

And there was no clue, no hint, that Magneto was their father...just their rescuer and benefactor (and manipulator). And if Stan and Roy didn't think he was their dad, well, you've got no basis to say the most recent change wiped out 50 years of history...because that history didn't exist for quite awhile yet.

Then, in Giant-Size Avengers #1 (1974), Roy, as he usually did, tied everything into the Golden Age:

In brief: Bob Frank (The Whizzer!) and Madeleine Joyce (Miss America!) married after the war, but due to radiation exposure, their first-born child was a radioactive monster who was buried for decades. When she became pregnant again, they went to the High Evolutionary for help, and healthy twins were born. But Madeleine died soon after, and Bob Frank went mad with grief and abandoned them, and they were raised in Wundagore, until they left to make they own way in the world (which obviously worked well, as they were almost killed by a mob and "saved" by a genocidal maniac).

Again, if you're not keeping up--40 years ago...and Magneto is still not their father. But we've already done one major retcon. So why not a few more?

In Avengers #181 (1979), an old man named Django Maximoff showed up, claiming to be their real father!!

Yeah, he also trapped their souls in puppets. Shit happens.

So, as Django tells the tale...


Barely 5 years later, and it's retcon time again.

But this lasted just a couple of minutes, because it was part of a larger retcon arc, as we learn in Avengers #186 (1979):

Wow, we're getting complicated here. Magda was fleeing from a dangerously powerful husband, who didn't know that she was pregnant with twins (George Lucas, you owe Marvel a fairly large royalty check, methinks). She gave birth at Wundagore, but split (& presumably died in the harsh conditions).

Meanwhile, we get the part we already knew, where the Franks came. But their child was actually stillborn, and Bova decided to give them the twins as theirs. But the Whizzer was a jerk and left, so the High Evolutionary gave the twins to some locals--Django Maximoff and his wife--to raise.

So, everything is all wrapped up. Except--who was their actual father, who was Magda's husband? They didn't tell us here, except for some coy non-denials in the letters page and lots of winking and nudging.

But it wasn't until this 1983 issue that it was finally officially confirmed:

So, it wasn't until after 2 or 3 prior retcons that the twins "became" Magneto's children, some 32 years ago--not "50 years of Marvel history."

The "history" that people are complaining about losing didn't even exist until 1983 (although Marvel had obviously been planning it in the 1979 stories). And it's not even their original origin story--it's Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch Mark III, as it were!!

So yes, Marvel has retconned away the retcon. And no, I don't believe we've gotten the "new" origin yet, and I don't think we get it until the 1st issue of the relaunched Uncanny Avengers. So we don't know if Magda was still their mother, and if so who was making time with Magneto's lady.

We can guess, though, from the "Mutants No More" promos Marvel has been pumping out, we're going to learn that they're Inhumans, because trendy.

[Interestingly, Marvel is apparently SO serious about this new retcon, they've tried to hide the above issue--Vision And The Scarlet Witch #4--on Marvel Unlimited, labeling it "Digital issue not currently available," even though you can still find it if you know where to click. Trying to cover up any actual evidence that the twins are actually related to Magneto, I guess...]

So, first of all, everyone calm down. This is merely the latest of a no-doubt infinite series of retcons for the duo. We should be used to it by now, especially if we know our history.

Secondly, though--geez, Marvel, why go to all that trouble?!? Who cares if they're mutant or Inhuman? Frankly, who gives a flying fig who gets to use them in which movie??

One of the reason writers are obsessed with retconning Wanda and Pietro is that they are fundamentally uninteresting characters, and the only interest to be wrung out of them is their increasingly convoluted origins relating them to other Marvel characters.

Quicksilver is a speedster, but he's not fast enough to be as inherently as interesting as the Flash, and aside from being an arrogant jerk, there is really not one noteworthy thing about the character. They tried to make people care by marrying him to the most boring Inhuman, Crystal, but that just resulted in a boring daughter.

The Scarlet Witch, meanwhile, has always been trapped by a ridiculously vague power set, which never works the same way in anyone's run, which lead writers to continually ramp her up until she is near Beyonder level in power. Combined with their obsession to continually subject her to emotional torture just because (your kids aren't real!! We killed your husband!! You're a pawn of Cthon! You're a pawn of Immortus!! Etc.), and we've arrived at a genocidal maniac who is a just an all too convenient way to frak up Marvel's reality/timeline whenever it is "needed." Seriously, if you get rid of Wanda, Avengers Dissembled, House Of M and No More Mutants never happened; and of course it was Wanda's spell that caused the whole Axis "inversion" in the first place. Wanda is nowadays merely an all-powerful plot device, merely a crutch upon which to continually base the next absurdly-premised crossover storyline. With the amount of damage and torment she causes, it's incomprehensible that no one in the Marvel Universe has put a bullet in her damned head yet.

So this latest "revelation?" It probably doesn't even make list of top ten atrocities visited upon Wanda (and nobody cares about Pietro, so no one is even keeping track of that). Magneto wasn't their father when I started reading comics, and no he isn't again. The Scarlet Witch had a mind-numbingly undefinable power, and she still does. Quicksilver was a third-rate speedster not as interesting as any of DC's 30 speedsters, and he still isn't.

Now, if you want to talk about Marvel's constant killing and resurrecting of Scott and Cassie Lang, well, there's an atrocity...


SallyP said...

Another retcon? Ho-Hum.

Of course I can't stand Wanda, and Pietro is hardly a favorite character either, so I really don't care. Tough if you are a fan I guess.

I imagine that Magneto is feeling a little down though. Is he still Polaris's father?

larry said...

What is most aggravating now is that Marvel decisions are based on money-making schemes tied to the film franchises. They're no longer telling a story. The lawyers are running it now.

Unknown said...

Well said.

I've never understood why Marvel didn't just have fun with the idea of a robot who is a clone of the first Human Torch who was an android but also human and a witch who is actually a mutant but also knows real magic. I've always been fond of the Vision but he and his wife are composed of a bunch of crazy concepts that're way more interesting than they actually are.

With all their various crazy family trees, Magneto, Ultron, Wonder Man, Crystal and the like Marvel has the perfect staple of dysfunctional losers to do Arrested Development if they all had super powers.

Unknown said...

Also Cassie Lang's back?

snell said...

Sally--I don't think they've addressed the Polaris issue yet.

Simon--yeah, that was the other big Marvel thing this week--In Avengers World, an "inverted" Dr. Doom, using power stolen from the Scarlet Witch, decided to atone for one of his misdeeds by resurrecting Cassie.