By my count there were sixty titles that qualified, leaving off stuff like the licensed titles, Marvel Adventures and so forth. I left out the Ultimate titles but kept in Marvel Knights titles, since I’m not even sure what Marvel Knights means anymore as an “imprint.” It used to be the place they sent titles that needed serious retooling, but now it’s for “darker” characters. That don’t swear, I guess. Because that would mean Marvel Max. I don’t know. Anyway.
Covers where blood was in evidence? A lot less. Only three. And two probably shouldn’t count, because they involve zombies. Those would be Black Panther #29 and Marvel Zombies/Army of Darkness #4. But fair is fair. The other one is Battling Jack Murdock #1, but that’s about a fighter. So. We should count our blessings they didn’t call it Jack Murdock: Born, I guess.
Oddly, there were no covers that featured heroes suffering or having been smacked down. At least not like over at DC. Instead the pattern I did see was ten covers that featured the new sales gimmick du jour at the Shack of Shite (formerly the House of Ideas): heroes smacking other heroes.
I remember a time when Marvel heroes used to fight Marvel villains. But apparently the main reason a hero and a villain will go toe to toe is if the villains have been recruited by the “good” heroes to go smack the “renegade” heroes. It’s nice to know that Marvel heroes have their shit so wired they can have all the time in the world to fight amongst themselves. I’m speaking specifically of Avengers: The Initiative #3 (some villains brought on to take out Spidey), World War Hulk: X-Men #1 (Hulk strangling Xavier), Incredible Hulk #107 (Hulk fighting Hercules), Ghost Rider #12 (Ghost Rider strangling Hulk), Iron Man #19 (Hulk punching off an Iron Man suit’s head), Ms. Marvel #16 (Ms. Marvel vs. Wonder Man), Mighty Avengers #4 (Avengers vs. Iron Man armor suits), New Avengers #31 (Echo vs. Elektra–which has blood, yes, but is more hero vs. hero than blood and I’m too lazy to count it twice), New Warriors #1 (yes, it’s just graffiti, but it’s the implication of hot hero vs. hero action we’re talking about here–after all, some of these scenes may not even appear inside the books), and Nova #3 (Nova vs. Dark Speedball–fuck no, I can’t call him Penance–at least not with a straight face).
(Oh, and I had one other category of cover: the Fucking Stupid category, into which I threw the Patriotic Punisher’s appearance on Punisher War Journal #8. It ranks right up there with the Iron Spider, for God’s sake)
(Also, standard this is non-scientific blah blah and probably means nothing disclaimer here.)
Let’s give credit where credit is due. If you can call it credit. There’s not a lot of out and out bloodshed going on, besides Elektra getting stabbed. In fact, it’s kind of hard to take death in the Marvel Universe seriously at all, since death has become a revolving door over there and any writer thinking he’s Making a Deep Statement and/or Moving Story by killing someone is positively delusional. So even if we are watching a Marvel character get killed, it’s kind of like watching Wile E. Coyote fall from a great height–it’s sort of pointless to be worried about their safety. Case in point: is anyone, apart from the media, swallowing the death of Captain America? Answer: nope.
So since we’ve got superpowered Looney Tunes in spandex populating the MU, what better use for them than to flesh out the adolescent fanboy fantasies of millions? Instead of great fan discussions about “Who would win, Iron Man or Captain America?” now we can have a big Event built around that idea and watch them beat the snot out of each other when before it used to be just the first few pages of a crossover. So it’s, like so many things at Marvel, fanboy wish fulfillment. And indeed, just like fanboy wishes when they fade, when the Event is over, all of these heroes can go back to working together–mostly. With the exception of shit like the New Double Secret Probation Avengers (or whatever they’re called this week) but that’s just so they can have heroes to whup up on when they want some sales.
So what have we learned? Probably nothing new. If we take this as evidence and must draw a conclusion from it, then DC’s fans are disturbed sadomasochists loving every minute of their heroes getting carved up and destroyed and Marvel’s fans are overgrown twelve-year-old boys.
Let me make one last comment and then I’ll close this for now. Someone wrote to me that the cover of Crisis #7, where Superman is holding the corpse of the Pre-Crisis Supergirl, was made into a poster–he asked at the time what sort of person would hang that in their bedroom. That’s a valid question. But at least the death of Supergirl was for something. She died, in the story, as a hero, saving all of creation from the Anti-Monitor. What did Sue Dibny die for? Or the Spoiler? Or Blue Beetle?
Funny…all those are DC characters. And, well, of course. We all know what Marvel characters die for.