Recent unpopular events in the Spider-Man comics (yes, even more of them) have got me thinking about the whole concept of ongoing comics as a storytelling medium. And then I have to stop and take out a word, because I don’t think what comics have at the moment is storytelling? Not in Marvel world, anyway, not sure about DC comics. If Spider-Man or Iron Man or Dr Strange aren’t allowed to grow in many significant ways, or to stay dead if they die, how can that ever work?
At the moment it feels like current comics “canon” is more just us the readers seeing people play with toys over and over again. There’s a lot of value in playing with toys, of course, but why should one person’s made up playtime story matter more than another’s? Can’t my fanfiction be canon too, especially in a world like Marvel’s where canon barely exists as is? Didn’t several of their characters fight in the Vietnam War until Marvel literally, and yes this is as bizarre as it sounds, replace the Vietnam War with a fictional war involving a sentient country? How on earth are you supposed to have a “canon” when stuff like that is going on?
At the moment it feels like Marvel comics are at best a testing ground for ideas that might make it into the MCU, and at worst a long and convoluted advertisement for Funko Pops and Fortnite skins. You can’t grow attached to any character because a retcon or shocking twist will inevitably happen and ruin them. You can’t appreciate your favorite toy because some other kid on the playground is going to rip it out of your hand and stomp on it, and good luck affording a new one. I’ve heard comics called modern mythology but they’re only mythology via capitalism, and thus not mythology at all, in the same way that a story which is forbidden to end cannot be a story.