“In the Core Marvel Universe, a “gritty crime story” is one
where a blind lawyer ninja dressed as the Devil fights
a massive Sumo wrestler with a cane that shoots lasers…”

Chris Sims on what is and isn’t acceptable to the “Core” universe of Marvel.

“Why is the living embodiment of love something called the Predator?”

Shaenon K. Garrity on Blackest Night.


  1. It’s pretty easy to make practically any Marvel Universe character look silly if you describe him and his history sarcastically. Taking and writing the characters seriously is just a matter of writing structured fantasy versus unstructured fantasy. Treat the costumes as visual effects that don’t describe the characters as such, treat the powers systematically, give the characters rational motivations for what they do, and the results can be as entertaining as any SF or fantasy novel.

    Galactus seems silly when described briefly, but thinking of him as a cosmic being who relies on biological energy for sustenance makes him an SF character, and machines which destroy worlds for use as fuel and raw materials are mechanical counterparts. He can also be considered metaphysically, as a force standing between Life and Death, either of which would make the universe uninhabitable if unopposed.

    Two few writers work at providing rationales for powers and events. For instance, if you’re conversant with current genetics research, you can think of brain-specific genes as the basis for mutant powers, and RNA editing as the basis for the emergence of powers and other genetic changes. Making plot developments dependent on genetics info that wouldn’t be understandable without a Master’s degree would be wrong, but the concepts provide solid underpinnings for story material.


  2. Are they nit-picking or having fun? Well, Michael, it sounds like they’re doing both.

    Although at a glance it seems like Chris Sims is in favor of *more* ridiculousness and is laughing at people who think the core Marvel universe is only for Serious Business, whereas Shaenon is enjoying poking fun at Blackest Night for being nonsensical.

  3. I vote for all the above.

    Nothing wrong with having fun surreal comics AND serious comics, and readers who buy comics for fun and those who buy them with serous fandom in mind. That’s the beauty of diversity. Not just on the creative end, but on the consumer side, as well.

  4. He left out the part where the industrialist with the flying piece of sheet metal also fathered twins with the girflriend he threw off the bridge.

    And then there are the truly crazy characters, such as White Rabbit.

    The Blackest Night… sheer brilliance! Will someone PLEASE do a cover of Rainbow Brite battling Nekron? Extra points if Duck Dodgers Green Lantern is battling Black Lantern Care Bears.

    Ooohhh… Sesame Street lanterns… Elmo is violet, Oscar is red, Grover is green, Big Bird is blue…

  5. I’ve been asking the second one ever since I first heard about it. Then again, the Star Sapphires aren’t so much the “Love Corps” as the “Crazy Stalker Corps.” And sadly, that’s in keeping with his treatment of the rest of the “emotional spectrum.”

  6. Synsidar – From the article’s intro: “When ComicsAlliance contributor Chris Sims wrote a glowing review of “The Punisher” #11 — in which the title character’s dismembered body is stolen by a swamp monster and stitched up by Morbius the Living Vampire so that he can defend Monster Island from a renegade team of Japanese monster-hunting super-samurai — a reader responded by saying that he didn’t see the appeal of this concept being used ‘in the core Marvel Universe.'”

    So the point of the article wasn’t to ridicule the underlying concepts of Marvel superheroes. It was to poke fun at some fanbaby crying that he didn’t like the current Punisher storyline, and trying to justify his dislike by saying it didn’t fit into the logic of the Marvel universe. Honestly, after reading the summary of this Franken-Castle storyline, I want to pick up the TPB as soon as it comes out. It sounds hilarious.

  7. FrankenCastle would work fine in a stand alone situation or an Ultimate Universe situation.

    It just doesn’t and CAN’T work in the 616 Universe.

  8. I thought that column was Chris Sim’s love letter to how fucking crazy the Marvel Universe is. I hope they keep the Punisher a Frankenstein monster forever that hangs out with a swamp monster, a werewolf, a vampire, and, I dunno, let’s say Dr. Droom.

  9. “And sadly, that’s in keeping with his treatment of the rest of the “emotional spectrum.” ”

    That seems about right for a book written by an arrested development case with a dismemberment fetish.

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