With Marvel comics operating at such a high level in the past few months, the question must be asked - are performance enhancing drugs involved?
The Superbowl took place last night between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Despite the best efforts of music superstar Beyonce to sabotage the game by using all of the power in New Orleans for her extravagant halftime peep show, viewers ended up enjoying an exciting, if heartbreaking for 49ers fans, end to a great season. While it was a great season for NFL fans, it was also marred by controversy. Both the year's MVP, Adrian Peterson of the Vikings, and Baltimore's own Ray Lewis have been accused of using performance enhancing drugs to recover quickly from career-threatening injuries and play better than they arguably ever have before. This comes at a time when PED controversies are raging in other sports as well, as shown in the ongoing media drama surrounding Lance Armstrong, which has discredited the once proud sport of… um, bicycle riding. In the face of all this, the question must be asked: are performance enhancing drugs a problem in the comic book industry as well? We think it might be.
Take "The Great One" Brian Bendis, arguably Marvel's biggest star. Bendis wrote 232 issues of various Avengers comics over the course of eight years, but when he hung up his Avengers ID card at the end of last year, Bendis immediately returned with All-New X-Men, which has quickly become one of the most talked about X-Books in years. Even many older fans who disliked Bendis's Avengers run are praising All New X-Men as a return to form, not only for Bendis, but for Marvel mutants as well. All New X-Men seems to have found a perfect balance of old school appeal, with its focus on the five original X-Men, and modern sensibilities, offering what is, in this reporter's opinion, the least offensive characterization of present-day Scott Summers since before Avengers vs. X-Men. I may not agree with Cyclops' portrayal in that event, but Bendis has is making the most of that and making readers care about a character who, while AvX was going on, inspired death chants from fans at conventions.
It's a superhuman feat. Should that concern us? With all of the recent controversies in the sporting world, this reporter doesn't see how it couldn't.
"He's definitely taking PEDs," said a doctor we made up for this article. "Probably deer antler spray. That's all the rage these days."
Is there any evidence to support these accusations? It's a sad commentary on our society when any notable achievement must be called into question over the suspicion of performance enhancing drug use. But the question can hardly be ignored when one considers evidence like this graphic, comparing Bendis' jawline and musculature from 2010, deep into the Great One's Avengers run, and a picture taken recently.
Clearly something has changed. Can Bendis' sexy, manly physique and incredible writing performance be solely the result of hard work, editorial consistency, and renewed creative vigor? Or is it something more sinister? Is Bendis using deer antlers? How does one use them? Does he tie them to his dog's head and force the dog to pull a sleigh full of stolen Christmas presents and decorations up a large mountain?
We're not sure anyone has the answers to those questions, but it should be noted that Bendis is not the only Marvel writer under suspicion. Just look at James Asmus, who has taken a character in Gambit that most readers have been tired of since 1996 and created one of the most underrated and entertaining books on the stands today, or Cullen Bunn, who seems to never be writing less than two current Marvel books, all of them excellent, and who has already been accused by this website of being a genetically engineered super-writer, created in a laboratory by combining the DNA of Marvel's greatest writers of the past decade. There's Matt Fraction, plagued since the start of his Marvel career by the hipster rallying cry of "his older stuff was better," who has been showered with praise recently for his work on Hawkeye, Dennis Hopeless, a virtual unknown before exploding onto the scene with Avengers Arena, a book which has managed to be compelling and fun despite the perfectly reasonable and metered response of Tumblr bloggers, before the book was even released, in declaring it the worst atrocity the comic book industry has ever inflicted on its fans, or Kieron Gillen, whose Young Avengers is reminiscent of work on Phonogram. An indy comic feel in a mainstream book? That simply can't be natural.
The Outhouse never reports anything unless facts are indisputable and evidence is undeniable, or unless we think it's funny, so it is with confidence that we suggest that there is an epidemic of performance enhancing drug use at Marvel. While this abuse may result in quality comics for readers and increased sales for shareholders, The Outhouse is concerned that no one is considering the future consequences.
You know what we're talking about.
That's right, the last time Marvel comics were this good, celebrated drug taker Grant Morrison left the X-Men franchise and was replaced by Chuck Austen, who promptly wrote "The Draco." Draco character Azazel has recently turned up again in Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaron, another suspiciously talented and prolific writer. This should serve as a warning to Marvel and to fans. Great comics like this are simply unsustainable, and when the PED abuse begins to take its toll on the minds and bodies of the current crop of creators, it's gonna be Draco 2 time, bitches.
You have been warned.