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And I know no-one can do me no harm: Graeme loses his Initiative.

Graeme McMillan

There was a moment where AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #3 seemed to hint at an interesting direction for the Marvel Universe. Spider-Man was being attacked by War Machine and the new, teenage, Lizard, and for the second time in a month, Dan Slott attempts to address the fans who’ve been left disturbed by what’s going on in Marvel’s post-Civil War world:

Spider-Man: “I mean, what’s your problem? It’s like you care more about taking me in that – – “

War Machine: “Oh, we’re not here to take you in, Peter. You see… You’ve been using your powers irresponsibly. And we’re here to take them away from you. That’s what our weapons do, Parker. That’s their sole purpose. But don’t worry. We have no intention of leaving the world without a Spider-Man…”

I read that, and thought: “Wait, that last line is really kind of scary in all the right ways. Are they going to try to clone him, like they did Thor? Or is there some kind of evil master plan that’s going to try and recreate the superpowers of all the unregistered heroes in people who toe the party line? That’s a really rather bold direction to go in…” Not that it’s a direction that I necessarily think that they should go in, nor one that I particularly like, but it’s a really interesting idea for the entire line (And compare and contrast that to DC’s superhero universe, which right now seems to be especially directionless as a line even as they synch their whole line up with Countdown, and everything feels like the build-up to Infinite Crisis, but less so, again); it’s one that clearly and definitively makes those in authority in the Marvel Universe the bad guys, and that seems very classic Marvel, in a way, all about the underdog and the little guy, and on that level it does appeal to me in a “getting Marvel back to its roots” way.

And so, obviously, that’s not what was going on there at all. Instead, it was a lead-in to the fact that SHIELD agents are now using the Iron Spidey suits as “Scarlet Spiders” – which again, is an interesting idea, but seems disappointing because it’s much less of an interesting idea than what I’d been hoping for. In a way, it crystalizes what’s wrong with this series in general for me (and, in many ways, Marvel’s current books overall) – Willing to hint at moral questions about its characters in passing, but unable or unwilling to actually try and address them in any meaningful way. Partially, this may be because we’re in the “second act” of whatever story Marvel thinks it’s telling, and partially because this lack of resolution allows Marvel to please/frustrate/tease both sides of the issue as long as they want. Keeping everyone happy without keeping anyone happy may make much business sense, but in terms of storytelling, it makes for pretty Eh reading.

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