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Off My Mind: When Your Favorite Comic Character Gets "Ruined"

Comic book fans can be passionate over characters they love and will get vocal when big changes are made.

Comic books are filled with many great characters. It's these characters that we grow to love that keeps us coming back month after month. We grow an attachment to them and want to see the latest adventures and battles they will get into.

With many characters having existed for decades, every once in a while changes are made to the character. It can be a natural evolution as not everyone wants the same old stories over and over again. This prevents the characters from becoming stale and gives the stories a sense of being fresh.

Was this Batman or an excuse for more action figures?
Was this Batman or an excuse for more action figures?

Once in a while characters go through major transformations. A publisher or creator may decide to shake things up and big adjustments are made to the groundwork that makes the character who they are. This sometimes results in excitement but more often, comic fans become angry and threaten to never read comics again. What can comic fans do when their favorite characters are changed in drastic ways?

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Recently we've been hearing rumblings over the changes coming for Spider-Man. The fifty year series, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is coming to an end with issue #700. Naturally it will be replaced by a new series, SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, but writer, Dan Slott, has already started the groundwork in giving us a new Spider-Man unlike the one we're used to.

With the release of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698, we may have been given a glimpse of what we can expect in the new series. A confrontation between Spider-Man and Doc Ock promises huge changes. With the issue, comments such as "Marvel has ruined my childhood" have appeared. Is this the end of Spider-Man as we know him?

Comic book logic says, "No."

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Captain America quits and becomes
Captain America quits and becomes "The Captain"

Many times, there is an attempt to completely redefine a character. In the 90s, Superman's powers and looks were completely changed. Superman gained electrically powers no longer sported the familiar red, blue and yellow costume. He didn't even have a cape. I cannot imagine hardcore Superman fans casually accepting this change. We did see Superman split into a blue and red version before returning back to his normal appearance and power levels.

Killing off a character is another way 'big changes' can be made.' When characters such as Batman, Captain America or Superman have been killed off in epic stories, they always 'got better.' Writers can always come up with a way to resurrect the characters or have had a plan from the beginning to allow the characters to cheat death. When it comes to comic book deaths, most readers realize it's only a after of time until the character makes their comeback.

Sometimes characters quit or leave their costumed identity behind. Characters such as Captain America, Wonder Woman, Batman, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man and others have all given up their superhero identities for one reason or another. In most cases, they temporarily took on another identity but, as excepted, they returned to their familiar costumes after a period of time.

What it all comes down to is when characters go through humongous changes, things usually return to the status quo after some time.

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Comic fans have a right to be upset but they have to try to have some faith in the creators and publishers. When Dan Slott apparently killed off one of my favorite villains, the Hobgoblin, I was not happy but was enthralled in the story and wanted to see where it would go. A small part of me refused to believe the character could so easily be killed (even if he was decapitated) and after a brief period, my guy was proven correct as the original returned with a vengeance.

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The return 'normal' also reflects on the status of the character in the industry. Spider-Man has grown extra arms, changed costumes, been married and even publicly revealed his identity. All of these events were resolved and Spidey ended up pretty much the same as before. With SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN, there's no telling what the full changes are we'll be seeing or how long they will last but it just makes sense that Peter Parker will manage to overcome his battle and everything will return to what it was.

We can't have the same old stories all the time. Every once in a while, a well executed shake up can result in exciting stories. Comic fans just have to be patient (although Barry Allen fans had to wait twenty-three years for his return from the dead). If something happens to your favorite character, chances are, someday somehow, it will all get better.

The industry knows what works and what doesn't. They may wish to take a risk once in a while and that's a good thing. They are capable of learning from mistakes. We just have to have faith and patience if the decision is made to try to shake things up with our favorite characters. Chances are it will pay off with the result being an interesting story. If not...then we always have our back issues and trade paperbacks to curl up to as we cry ourselves to sleep.