Yesterday, we got the biggest comic book news of the year so far. Marvel's next major comic book event, Secret Wars, will end their current primary and Ultimate timelines.
In other words, the Marvel continuity that has remained basically unaltered since the 1960s is about to reach its final chapter. Dying with it is the Ultimate Universe, which was created by Brian Michael Bendis and his contemporaries in 2000.
Although I hate the idea of using events such as these to pretend that beloved stories never happened, I'm kind of glad this is happening. If Marvel ever needed to undo some things, it's now, as most of their major characters have been completely screwed up. Here are six characters that are especially bad off:
1. Spider-man has only recently gone back to being Peter Parker after a rather long stint of possessing the mind of Dr. Octavius. This is definitely a good thing, but as Spider-man well knows, the damage is already done and it would be ideal if that just never happened.
2. In the same way, it would be good if Steve Rogers could avoid another awkward return to being Captain America. He already had to take over from Bucky Barnes, who pinch-hit as Cap following the "Death of Captain America" storyline. Thus, the recent story of Sam Wilson replacing Steve Rogers may as well be retconned, as everyone knows the original character always returns eventually.
3. If rejecting Sam Wilson seems like a white supremacist idea, allow me to counteract that with the next thing that Secret Wars will hopefully undo: The entire Superior Iron Man story. Now dressed in the KKK version of his classic suit of armour, Iron Man has intentionally ensured that he be as arrogant, careless, and generally evil as he can. Although this brings back some of his initial cocky charm, he looks like a flying maggot and acts like a supervillain. As if to draw attention to the fact that this insane version of Iron Man cannot and will not last, the series sports the same "Superior" imprint as the Spider-man stories in which Doc Ock was in charge of his body. Only a reboot can change this Tony Stark back into a hero without requiring depressing aftermath stories about what his evil self did.
4. Also possessing irreconcilable backstory baggage is the Hulk. The Hulk needs desperately to go back to being the Hulk rather than Doctor Green, never to make the mistake of trying to be super-smart and super-strong at the same time again. The last fifteen years of his publication history have been a mishmash of switching back and forth between being a PhD and a mindless brute. Whatever Marvel decides to do after Secret Wars, they had best return the Hulk to having a more consistent IQ.
5. More importantly, Thor needs to get back in touch with his masculine side. Thor, having recently lost his ability to lift his hammer Mjolnir, has been replaced by a woman. Now, it's all well and good that Marvel wants to involve people of different races and genders in their stories, but the fact that they can never get around is that they will inevitably have to bring back the original versions of their characters. Thus, they ought to know by now that female Thor cannot last. Secret War's destruction of the multiverse is probably the most honourable dismissal she can expect.
6. Finally, Marvel could take the opportunity to change back the mistake they swore they wouldn't. Wolverine could be brought back to life. This way, even if they do decide to make Miles Morales the only Spider-man, keep Captain America and Thor's more diverse identities, continue on with Iron Man and Hulk's altered personalities, they would at least have one classic character to remain forever unaltered. Wolverine, often being portrayed as more conservative than his contemporaries, would be a perfect candidate.
Whatever happens following Marvel's first major continuity-destroying crisis (am I allowed to use that word here?) it can hardly make things worse. Their six most popular heroes are currently victims of the worst stories that possibly could have been written about them, and if Marvel ever (again) wants to have as much success in the comic department as they do in the cinema they are going to have to make some changes.