Stan’s Soapbox – Marvel Age #133 (February 1994)

Hi, Heroes!

I’m not gonna claim that things are confused in the maniacal Marvel bullpen, but – as I sit here, merrily tapping away at my computer’s capricious little keys, I haven’t the slightest idea when this issue or Marvel Age will go on sale! It’ll probably be sometime during the holiday season – either around Thanksgiving or Christmas or perhaps after New Year’s. So, in an effort to play safe and not miss a single opportunity, I wish you the most thankful of Thanksgiving, the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years! (Of course, if Sly Steve Saffel, our efficacious editor, decides to run this piece in July, then all bets are off!)

Okay, with that monumental bit of minutia out of the way, we can now turn our attention to the burning question, “Should comic book characters grow older, marry and even eventually raise families?”

In case you’re expecting some long-winded answer loaded with psychological jargon, forget it. My only response is, “Why not?”

In each and every story we try to make our lively little luminaries as realistic as possible. We do our utmost to breathe life into them, to present them as interesting, relevant, three-dimensional characters. We’ve always felt that one of the main reason for Marvel’s laudable long-term success is the fact that our heroes and villains have great credibility – you believe in them, you care about them; just like characters in a soap opera – once you get to know them, you become involved in their lives and can’t wait to see what’ll happen next.

That’s why I think it’s a great idea for Cyclops and Jean to marry. With all we know about them, it’s a safe bet that they’d take the plunge in real life, so why not on the pages of their mag? It can only serve to liven things up and give us countless opportunities for new and different plot twists as comicdom’s most popular series continues along its record-breaking ascent into the record books.

Hey, I can still remember announcing, years ago, that it was time for Reed Richards and Sue Storm to become man and wife. You wouldn’t believe how many so-called experts told me that such a comic book wedding would be the kiss of death, that it would destroy the magazine because no dyed-in-the-wool comic book fans would read adventure stories involving married couples!

Of course, major changes in the lives of comic book characters must be made judiciously, carefully and of course infrequently. Readers are mighty sharp. The minute fandom suspects that someone’s getting married, having a baby, or being killed off in an effort to simply goose up the sales of the comic, forget it! Any watershed change in a hero’s life must be a natural, logical, understandable event. And, if done properly, it can only make a series even more compelling than before.

Since this is one of the most widely read columns in comics, I can just see editors everywhere suddenly tossing down their copy of MARVEL AGE and racing to their phone or fax machine in order to contact their writing staff and frantically ordering them to have their characters start marrying, divorcing, growing bald, changing jobs, aging, giving birth, getting killed or whatever – just so long as they undergo major changes!

But remember, I said “If done properly it can make a series more compelling than before.” But don’t hold your breath waiting for our next Soapbox to explain how to do it properly. That’s the tough part, and as long as the competition keeps reading our mags, we ain’t talkin’!

But we don’t mind sharing this soupson of sagacity with the world at large – “Natura non facit salute!”