Saturday, November 22, 2008

Could Marvel's Future Be X-Rated?

I received a lovely e-mail this morning from a guy/girl (the name given isn't a clear indicator) who had recently read Marvel Boy and came across my essay on the series (although, that essay makes me cringe and I keep meaning to update/rewrite it--same with my Codeflesh one), and wanted to know what I think of the recent use of Noh-Varr in the Marvel universe. I've discussed this a few times here in the past, but since it got me thinking, I figured I'd address it again in some detail.

My view on the Noh-Varr in Marvel Boy is that he's partially an invocation of Golden Age "heroes" like Namor and the original Marvel Boy, but also a reimaging of Spider-Man for the 21st century. The numerous similarities are too numerous to ignore from the colours/design of his costume and hair (the colours being the opposite colours of Spider-Man's costume), the death of a father figure, the survivor of a mother figure, the death of a girlfriend and getting a new girlfriend (note that their hair colours are red and blonde...), the general lesson of issue three is one of responsibility, the spider/cockroach powers... except Noh-Varr acts like an angry teenager with superpowers would: he carves swear words into cities, fights against authority figures, dates the wrong girl, learns everything he knows from TV, and wants to tear everything down so he can make the world "better." I still say that Noh-Varr captures the teenage experience far better than Spider-Man could ever hope to--better than any teenage superhero story ever has, I'd even say.

We'll never know exactly what Grant Morrison had in mind for the next two Marvel Boy series, but I get the feeling that, over the course of them, Noh-Varr would mature and grow, and no longer be an angry young man... because that's what happens. And that seems to be the direction that Brian Michael Bendis (with the help of Zeb Wells and Brian Reed) is taking the character. But...

But, it's too quick. There's no real reason for growth in the character. Since Marvel Boy, he been imprisoned, confronted by the Illuminati (in a godawful issue) as they tried to suggest that he should somehow help and protect the barbaric monkeys, brainwashed by the warden of said prison, taken over the prison and... yeah, not much. Where is the impetus for growth, to somehow want to take over the mantle of Captain Marvel as things seem to point to? He still comes from a civilisation thousands of years ahead of humanity--and the Kree of the 616 Marvel universe. As I said, the Kree may be more advanced, but it's by a few centuries, and Noh-Varr is beyond them all by a few millenia... he may feel affinity for the Kree of this universe, but not much. To put it another way, would you feel a whole of affinity for the homo sapiens of 150,000 years ago? How about even 10,000 years ago? They would barely qualify as human if your eyes because they're so less evolved. Now, is Noh-Varr that advanced? Debatable, but he is advanced enough that I don't see anything that Bendis/Reed/Wells has done that would suggest he would waver from his goal of tarraforming Earth and its cultures in an effort to recreate his homeworld of Hala.

Thinking that through, an idea occurred to me: maybe that's how Secret Invasion ends. Maybe after the Skrulls are defeated, Noh-Varr takes over and begins going about reshaping the world. Highly unlikely, but since the push to have him take over as Captain Marvel is so obvious, it would make sense that a curve ball be thrown. Maybe the "secret invasion" of the title is Noh-Varr's, not the Skrulls'. That would at least be interesting.

(I also want to say that despite his inclusion in the regular Marvel universe, I still read Marvel Boy as the first Ultimate book--the true updating of Spider-Man and other Marvel concepts for the 21st century... Morrison's reimagining of Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, the Punisher, and S.H.I.E.L.D. are all much more in line with the concept of the Ultimate universe in that they really do take the concepts and push them beyond their old limitations, making them more palatable for modern audiences. Just saying.)

So, that's that.