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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Dear Marvel Comics...

What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you oblivious to your own industry's history? Are you so blinded by your sales figures that you've lost sight of what kind of shit put you in bankruptcy protection? Or what it was that clawed you out? Do you remember the '90's, Marvel Comics? The era where it seemed that every character had to become mean, gritty and horrifically violent in order to prove that comics weren't just for kids? That comics could be "adult"? And do you remember how the subsequent drop in quality as all the fun got sucked out, combined with a shitty speculator market fuelled by variants, damn near put a bullet in you once people woke up? If so, then can you tell me why you have taken this character:

And turned him into this?

In case you're unaware, gentle readers, the character formerly known as Speedball has (through the mechanations of the increasingly rubbish Civil War crossover currently going on in the Marvel universe) been transformed into the very adult sounding Penance. He must be adult, because he's all spiky, and presumably will pop your eyeball or something when he stops you mugging people in alleyways. Oh, except he has energy powers, so they don't really serve any purpose.

Speaking as someone who has spent nearly 12 years in comics retail, including the 90's implosion, I can confidently say that stuff like this is Bad News. Speaking as someone who has been reading comics for damn near his whole life, or indeed as someone with even the slightest intimation of taste about him, I can confidently say this is Crap.

Now, let me just say that I'm not opposed to the idea of superhero comics being a bit adult. I like to have superhero stuff as fun escapism, but if done well, there's a lot of potential for mature storytelling there. Brubaker's Daredevil is a perfect example: essentially a crime-noir which happens to be about a a guy in red tights. Err....which is much better than it sounds.

But this is something different. This is like a teenage boy awkwardly telling you about sexual conquests in order to earn your respect. Just a bit embarrassing.

But I'll leave the last word to Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada over at Newsarama, which really says it all:

NRAMA: So just so we understand correctly, not only will Penance be putting himself through agony every time he suits up and uses his powers, but he’ll also be slowing killing himself in the process?

JQ: Well, I’m not going to reveal everything for right now, but yes, that suit he wears is basically an Iron Maiden, so it’s going to hurt a lot and fans will know when it’s hurting, trust me.



  1. But check out the camel toe on speedball in that top pic.


  2. Wow, no wonder he felt the need to cover himself in spikes. Inadequacy much?