It’s been thirteen years since the original Civil War event rocked the Marvel Universe. That event shifted the direction of the Marvel Universe as a whole for better or worse. It specifically placed a spotlight on the fact Marvel’s superhero community lacks unity. That continued to be a big story even a decade after as Civil War II hit the Marvel Universe. Now we are at yet another point of instability with Marvel’s latest big banner event called Outlawed.
Now before I continue I want to warn that the rest of this article will have big spoilers for Outlawed #1 and Ghost-Spider #8, which both were released this past week on March 18, 2020.
Outlawed #1 started and ended with a new law instituted by the government called Kamala’s Law. This new law states that no one under the age of 21 years old can engage in superhero activity. In addition Congress created a new organization known as Child Hero Reconnaissance and Disruption Law Enforcement, also known as C.R.A.D.L.E., to make sure Kamala’s Law is enforced.
The reason Kamala’s Law was put into place was due to a battle the teenage superhero team known as the Champions worked to stop a villain from destroying the world. The battle caused a wide range of destruction across New York City and several heroes injured or missing like Viv Vision. One person caught in the crossfire was Kamala Khan, who did not participate in the battle as Ms. Marvel due to other obligations at the time but she was severely injured to the scale of the battle. There were other things that took place in Outlawed #1 but this was the big thing that will be the driving force for the comic book series which star Marvel’s next generation of heroes moving forward.
Now as one would expect this does not sit well with Marvel’s next generation of heroes. We already saw that be the case as Sam Alexander as Nova be the first one to stand up to oppose the bill with Congress in Outlawed #1. In addition, Earth-65 Gwen Stacy, also known as Spider-Gwen or Ghost-Spider, got into a heated argument with Peter Parker when he revealed what Kamala’s Law was part of the main Marvel Universe’s status quo in Ghost-Spider #8. Furthermore, in both Outlawed #1 and Ghost-Spider #8 we learned that there are heroes on both sides of the argument if they should allow Kamala’s Law to be a thing.
With all that on the table we are now in a situation where Marvel has placed their current and next generation of superheroes against each other. This is nothing new for Marvel fans. Kamala’s Law is basically the Superhero Registration Act that started the Civil War, just narrowly focused on Marvel’s next generation of heroes.
That is really where the problem with this new Outlawed direction for characters like Miles Morales’ Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel and the other Champions are going through. This isn’t something fresh or new like what these characters are supposed to represent. It is now just these young heroes turn to take part in a Civil War storyline. The only difference is that it is just now the current and next generation of heroes on opposing sides rather than the split being Team Iron Man and Team Captain America like in Civil War.
And as we see in both Outlawed #1 and Ghost-Spider #8 this does not make either side likeable. Marvel is forcing fans to choose between sides that have fan favorite characters. That is just not the way to build good will for Marvel’s superhero communities when the company itself is forcing you to take a side and then believe the heroes on the other side are wrong. There are just no winners when all is said and done. That goes against the spirit of what these new superheroes represent a generation who are following in the footsteps of the superheroes who inspired them.
Not helping the Outlawed direction be a bigger deal is the fact it is not the only one that is using superhero vs superhero as a key sub-plot right now. Right now we have X-Men/Fantastic Four going on that has placed the two of Marvel’s superheroes against each other with who is best suited to help Franklin Richards. Then there is the upcoming Empyre event that has Hulkling, who was once part of the Young Avengers teen superhero team, going to be one of the major antagonists. So instead of building interest through unique storytelling all Marvel has accomplished is cannibalizing their own type of storytelling with several comics not connect to each other telling a similar “game changing” event story.
All of that just shows how Marvel just cannot seem to resist the urge to put their superheroes against one another. Even when Marvel has a sizable group of villains that the company can tap into that can easily be chosen to be the key antagonist for these storylines. Unfortunately Marvel just does not seem to see much value in building villains, like Baron Zemo, Green Goblin, Doctor Doom, Bullseye, Ultron, Mandarin, Grand Master, or Morgan Le Flay, just to name a few, through these storylines. Instead the perception they give is they are happy position their own superheroes in the roles of antagonists to build up other characters so they could be seen as valuable protagonists.
As someone who has come to love Miles Morales’ Spider-Man and Kamala Khan’s Ms. Marvel it is incredibly disappointing that these characters are forced into recycled storytelling for events they star in. Rather than be built up alongside the iconic characters like Captain America and Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, these heroes are put in spots where they must combat Marvel’s iconic superheroes to gain attention. That is not a recipe to build these characters to be viewed positively in Marvel fans eyes.
I hope that I am wrong and Outlawed can position Marvel’s next generation of heroes in the best position to gain positive momentum. Having young superheroes like Sam Alexander, Viv Vision and Ironheart be valuable characters in the Marvel Universe would add to the depth of quality characters the company can rely on. It is just tough to see that being the case given how similar Outlawed is to how Marvel goes back to the Civil War concept every two years.
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