A gay man's issue with Bobby Drake and the rest of the Marvel changes... [Spoilers-sort of]
I wasn't sure if I should write this post, but at some point I felt it necessary. I have repeatedly called out Marvel for lazy writing, in particular with regards to it's changes to Thor, Captain America, and Bobby Drake. Many have said it's to add diversity, but I don't see how you add diversity by taking something away.
Bobby Drake is an excellent example, here's a kid who has had romantic attachments and crushes over and over towards nearly every young and old female hero on the X-Men (and probably the Avengers) yet he's gay? No, he wasn't gay, and making him gay doesn't change the years and years that he objectified women. It's lazy writing.
You know Marvel could create a new hero that's gay, maybe a young teen who's issues aren't just that he's a mutant, but that he's also gay. You could have the story revolve around him hiding his orientation from his friends and family, maybe his secret identity gets exposed and he becomes even more worried about whether or not anyone finds out. Maybe the person that helps him come to terms with himself isn't an intrusive psychic hero (which would probably be every gay boy's worst nightmare) but a friend at school? The story could involve the heroics of a young hero with the questioning of who he is as a person and the importance of friends and family. This came to me as I wrote this and it's still a better story than what they did with Bobby Drake (IMO).
And don't get me started on Thor and Captain America. Thor has been a staple of the Marvel Universe for Decades! The idea that someone can't create a compelling story with the material they have is really flabbergasting. You could focus on Thor's human persona, a doctor. The story could evolve from one focused on mythology and ragnarok to a story about how he handles common problems doctors face. What does he do when he's confronted with a boy that's being physically abused by his father, especially when the police do nothing about it? What happens when a patient he's treating, one that he sees over and over for several issues, suddenly dies? The problem is that Marvel doesn't even look inside the box here, they see what's been taken out and decide it's all garbage and do something else.
Now what really irks me is that they retire Captain America. This is the thing, people actually like Steve Rogers, not because he's Captain America, but because he's a decent guy who's not too far right and not too far left. This decency seems to be his death knell, because the writers at Marvel don't seem to be able to create a story line where he has any form of personality, at least not as well as they did in the movies. The last series of Captain America I liked was when he was Nomad, because it really made you appreciate Captain America for who he was. The issue here is that they made him unrelatable. Again, lazy writing, but understandable with the lengthy period of stagnation involved. The fact is they had such a great opportunity with the movies to create an amazing new Captain America, one who makes clever jokes and can be respectable, yet vulnerable, that doesn't require them to change who he actually was. This was just as much of an opportunity for them to create a new black hero as well or even better market the great heroes already there!
Falcon was one of my favorite heroes. I loved the issues where he teamed up with Captain America, in fact the duo was amazing. Black Panther is a character with a great deal of depth, but one people had a hard time relating to because of what they made him, a prince from a fictitious country in Africa. If they were going to rewrite any hero, that would be the one.
Marvel is about heroes with real problems, not so much mythology. What's happening is that Marvel is trying to become more like DC, yet they don't understand that people read Marvel because they want something more real. What could be more real than a revamp of Luke Cage, one that shows the problems with the prison system and the notion of black "crime"? Or perhaps a new Black Panther arises, trained by a T'challa in exile and hiding. A Black Panther who comes from poverty, one who is headed down the wrong path, but finds the guidance he needs to become a hero.
Lazy writing. Appeasing the masses with an easy solution. That's the problem.
I would say that as a gay man the last thing I wanted was for Bobby Drake to be gay. I would've rather seen a new comic and new hero, some kind of effort by Marvel to show that they care about the issues homosexual youth are facing today, not a quick fix it by taking one of the least popular heroes and suddenly revealing they're gay, yet not placing them in any kind of situation where they'll ever have to go through what an actual gay teen goes through.
Lazy writing. I mean really? These aren't revolutionary ideas, in fact in some cases they're just rehashing ideas that failed the last time they were tried. Beta Ray Bill anyone? But if that's the path they must take to realize the mistakes they're making fine. I just hope they don't take down the other Marvel comic books with them.