To Mr. Quesada and the editing staff at Marvel,
Hi, I’m Carla and I sell your comics. To tell you the truth, I love my job because I’m a long time fan and get the wonderful opportunity of sharing my enthusiasm for your product with my customers. I think it’s a perk of working in ‘the arts’, so to speak; you get it in music stores and movie rental places and book stores. I can’t say I’ve ever been sold a dress because someone enjoyed the way it looked on them, but I can say I sell a lot of books that I’ve really liked and had a moment of connection with the customer. Being able to turn a kid on to how cool Spider-Man is a pretty awesome perk of what I do for a living.
And it’s because of the kids I’m making this open letter today. Now, the industry is wide weird place with a comic style and story for everyone on the planet (by the by, the Marvel Adventures line is fantastic!) and I do direct younger readers to the more ‘family friendly’ comics than what are on the general stands but… well, I’m just going to ask as respectfully and as honestly as I can.
Please stop killing children with senseless violence in your comics.
It may seem absurd and unfounded, but for the past year or so, some major events and storylines have been punctuated by killing main and background characters of a younger age to the point where it’s noticeable as a trend.
I know that Marvel’s a new and dark place right now where literally anything can happen. All bets are off and that makes it more interesting and exciting for both the reader and the writer, letting all these ideas loose with little restriction. Marvel has its own rating system now in effect and can regulate the strength of their stories on its own. I also know that death is an integral part of comics, so much so it’s a major notation in the Overstreet guide as a sign of value. Both Goliath and a little someone by the name of Captain America have both perished through the course of Civil War and their demise has shaken the world of heroes and villains to it’s core more than DJ of the New X-Men or Gert of Runaways. I know that sometimes, the world isn’t a safe place for anyone and a good way to illustrate that is to have innocents suffer the consequences of the wrong (or sometimes right) actions. It makes a strong point and often punches a good story in the gut and gets reader’s attention like a bullet to the brain. One can’t argue against Superhero Registration when the senseless deaths of innocent children come from carelessness; it forces people to make a stand.
But sometimes that stand is taken out of the story and is made at the register. Now that there is this united theme of Superhero Registration running through all the books, some readers are picking up titles to help keep track of the overarching storyline. Yay, right? More books sold! But it also makes the reader more perceptive about the stories being told as a whole. When a bus load of children are killed by Reverend Stryker, we’re horrified. When they showed the mass gave site they made for the children lost in the explosion, it’s shocking. When there’s a clear shot of elementary school children playing when Nitro explodes in Civil War #1, the point is made clearly of how reckless and wrong the actions were. When the Thing holds a dead (or maybe unconscious, I’ll give you that) kid in his arms and screams to Iron Man to show him what his war had done in Fantastic Four #539, we’re reminded of the Stamford Incident and how serious everything has gotten. But by the time a SHIELD agent hesitated when assassinating a teenager who had Iron Man on the ropes in Iron Man #11 and was told to take the shot, the kid clearly shot in the head on the next page, desensitization can set in.
When I saw MVP get his head blown through on accident in Avengers: the Initiative #1, I really wanted to say something. All of the examples I used came from issues within the past year and when used a single examples, are stories with a lot of impact. But taken one right after the other, the impact is lessened and the reader can become calloused to the point being made. Look at Gwen Stacy, her death still affects Peter Parker to this day and is this incredible turning point in the sage of Spider-Man. But if all of Spider-Man’s girlfriends died as the result of supervillainy, her name would just be another to a list and readers would get jaded.
So, I very humbly ask for a moratorium on the death of children in Marvel Comics. Not only for the integrity of your product, but for the reader’s piece of mind. It’s a lot to ask, but in the long run, I think we’ll all be better for it.