I have been an avid reader of Marvel Comics since I was a young boy. I think the first comic book I ever owned was Spider-Man, and my teenage years were absolutely dominated by a love for all things X (of course, back then that meant X-Men, New Mutants, X-Factor and Excalibur only). Even though I don’t pick up issues regularly any more, I still keep abreast of the goings on in the 616 universe. But there are a few things about Marvel Comics I just don’t understand, and I’ve made a list. Some of these are in-universe things, but a lot are just company policy/direction questions.
1. Who the hell at Marvel thinks folks like Namor or Black Panther are popular characters? Seriously, guys…there are some C or D list characters that just. aren’t. popular. They never will be. Namor is a great example – every time he shows up, Marvel does this big fanfare of “oh look, it’s Namor!” like people are going to be genuinely pleased to see him in whatever role he’s playing this time (usually he plays the “asshole who you unfortunately have to work with”). Black Panther is another of these characters. Marvel wants to play him up…why? He’s boring. Is it because he’s black? There are other black superheroes who are, you know, actually cool. Blade, as an example, or Storm, or War Machine. Black Panther has always seemed like a bad racial stereotype character that Marvel keeps trying to polish in a way that makes it look like it’s not a bad racial stereotype. It doesn’t work, never has, so why do they keep doing it?
2. How the hell hasn’t the Punisher been killed? O.k., I know he has been, more than once, but I want to take a moment to examine Frank Castle, the Punisher. On the surface, he’s a decently meaty character. Good, dramatic background, nice dramatic “shades of gray” mission, and his costume doesn’t entirely suck. He works rather well as a concept…until you drop him into the Marvel Universe. In a “normal” world, Frank Castle would be an engaging and interesting character. In the Marvel Universe he should be killed by Electro…you know, the guy Spider-man regularly thrashes…in about five seconds. Why? Because the Punisher is a somewhat realistic character – he uses real equipment and real guns…against supervillains. He has no powers, his gadgets are rarely up to Batman-level, and he doesn’t have any particular advantage over the average cop in terms of tactics. How the hell has he survived this long. One would think that once he pissed off someone powerful enough, say King Pin, whom he’s pissed off a number of times, would eventually send someone other than Bullseye or similarly piss-poor villains to take him out. Or maybe just, you know, a decent hit squad outfitted with a little AIM tech?
3. Why hasn’t Reed Richards cured cancer? Seriously, is this guy just a dick or what?
4. How does Wolverine deal with metal detectors? I think it’s fair to assume the guy never flies commercial, but there are metal detectors all over the place these days. How does he handle going through them? Does he have one of those cards they give veterans who have metal plates in their skulls that he can present? He is a veteran, after all, of multiple wars including the American Civil War, World War I and World War II, and I think he was in Vietnam too…if I recall.
5. Is Peter Parker just a complete moron? Granted most of his actions are forced by editorial fiat (may you burn in hell forever, Joe Quesada), but seriously, is the character just a complete moron? In his own book he is often scraping by and can never have anything approaching a social life. But at the same time, he knows lots of ridiculously rich people. The aforementioned Reed Richards…dude could set Peter up with a yearly grant and use him as a lab assistant. They get along well and Pete’s actually a member of the Future Foundation, so…seriously, why scraping by? And as for a social life – at least Ultimate Spider-Man got this one right – date superheroes. They already know the score and live by it themselves. Plus, instant team-up when things get out of control. The Peter-Kitty Pryde pairing in the Ultimate Universe was brilliant, but why not have Pete hook up with someone like, oh, Rachel Summers, or Rogue, or Jessica Drew (Spider-Man/Spider-Woman marriage…tell me that wouldn’t sell like a billion action figure sets!).
6. Last and probably least…how does Galactus go to the bathroom? Does he just, you know, go behind a planet somewhere?