Arguably even more than the cliches and unexpected choices in the comic itself, I can’t quite get over the fact that none of this was caught and/or changed before publication. After all, we know from Greg Smallwood’s experience just a few months ago
that Marvel has a Standards & Practices division that is intended to flag material likely to offend, and ask for corrections – so how, exactly, did What If Miles Morales… Became Thor?
get to print in the state that it did? Did no-one at any point in the process not take a look at the material and ask questions or raise concerns?
Not for the first time, I find myself wishing that there was a little more transparency into who and what makes up Marvel’s S&P department and guidelines; is it that no-one was really giving this series much attention in the first place, or that what’s been causing such a reaction upon release was missed during review because those responsible for oversight are lacking the cultural context to recognize the problems? What made Smallwood’s inoffensive art require revisions, but this pass through in the state that it did?
(I wonder at what stage of the process Standards & Practices gets involved; do they only review once art has been completed and the book lettered? If so, given that the problems with What If Miles Morales… Became Thor? are all rooted in the writing, it’s possible that things were deemed to be past the point of making significant changes.)
Marvel has yet to publicly respond to the upset surrounding the issue, and as of writing, also failed to respond to a request for comment. That said, I wonder if some action has been taken on some level, as the digital version of the issue I bought on Monday is missing a panel much shared on social media
; it’s possible that small changes are being made quietly behind the scenes, without notice, in the hopes of mitigating any more bad publicity surrounding the issue.
It’s an approach likely to draw even more criticism if that’s what’s happening – a tacit acknowledgment of the problem without actually admitting anything – and a suggestion, perhaps, that the company is slowly realizing just how big of a problem this could become. Expect another shoe to drop before too long.
* In this case, the movie is Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, the follow-up to 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Whether or not the movie(s) will feature versions of Miles as other Marvel characters is unknown, but not entirely impossible if it’s the kind of blink-and-you-miss-it cameo situation that Marvel could sign off on.
** As far as I can tell, the only element of Miles Morales that actually makes it into the comic beyond his skin color is the fact that he confides in his uncle about his relationship with his father – except, now his uncle is Loki and his father is Odin. (Miles’ relationship with his uncle across realities is the spine of the series overall, from what I can tell.) There’s nothing else about Miles’ personality that really makes it in, and the character isn’t even called Miles Morales beyond a nod in early narration – he’s called Thor throughout the entire issue. It’s a bad look, reducing Miles down to basically his skin color and having an untrustworthy relative.
*** The actual meaning of shoes hanging from power lines is something that is disputed by a number of people far more knowledgeable about the matter than myself. There’s an urban myth that they denote the presence of drug dealers or a particular gang, but more reliable sources suggest that they could be memorials for the dead, or the result of bullying and/or pranks gone wrong. Whatever they are, though, why is this meant to be happening in Asgard of all places?
**** The comic makes a point a couple of times to establish that, in this reality, there are five realms belonging to the World Tree, instead of the more traditional nine in Marvel mythology; it’s a nod to the five boroughs in New York, I assume, but it’s an odd choice. Similarly inexplicable is making these versions of Asgardians flat earthers
, in a bit that gets a few panels of play. Is there something I’m missing here?
***** He does, at least, come into this century when he tells another Frost Giant to “Flip it and reverse it
!” in the climactic fight of the issue, but still, come on now
. There are probably more such references throughout the issue – should I count “Ain’t no party! Like an Asgard party! Because an Asgard party don’t quit!” as a Faith Evans and Notorious BIG reference
? – but I’m not catching all of them. Nevertheless, if you include the exclamation “Hammer time!” when he summons Mjolnir, that’s five
lifts in a story that only lasts 20 pages. This version of Thor loves his classic hip-hop just as much as Marvel did when it kept doing album cover variants
a few years ago, it seems.