MARVEL: Apocalyptic Fiction as the Unpaid Shrink

So for the last two years I’ve been working on my senior thesis. We were told that we had freedom to choose whatever we wanted, but to assure that whatever we did we loved. Research of any persuasion can be tedious, especially when looking to secondary sources. It is difficult to be original. It is also difficult to write about franchises with entire universes.

The Marvel universe has often claimed bits of my soul during my research, and I can only describe research on Marvel like looking into a black hole. You can find things if you want to, and with the sheer size of it all, your brain starts to melt.


However, I digress. Somehow I managed to finish my essay. It’s a lengthy darling, but I figured I might as well share the abstract. After I recover from my bouts of insanity, maybe I’ll figure out more on what I could use the essay for.

SO far my heart is set on a panel at NY ComicCon in October. Hard? Yes, impossible? We’ll see.

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 20: Actor Tom Hiddleston speaks onstage at Marvel Studios
SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 20: Actor Tom Hiddleston speaks onstage at Marvel Studios “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” during Comic-Con International 2013 at San Diego Convention Center on July 20, 2013 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)


From the DC Universe to Archie Comics, apocalyptic storylines are becoming the norm. Each of these comics has three similar characteristics: Firstly, the world is in a chaotic state, a state that will inevitably destroy it. Secondly, there has been a significant shift in comic world politics and morals, and thirdly, the most beloved characters are picked off in gruesome ways. The apocalypse itself is a Christian construct, bringing to question why Christian ideals have shifted into the comic world. America is a predominantly Christian country so the idea that the religion might unconsciously saturate aspects of our lives is not far-fetched, but why do comics bear the brunt of apocalyptic peril?

The media is full of apocalyptic themes, but most visual media is based off a comic book equivalent. Popular television shows like “The Walking Dead” or movies like “I am Legend” were preceded by comics, and in both cases were adapted into a more palatable version for the screen. This essay will discuss the emerging patterns within post-2000 comics in order to support that apocalyptic fiction fulfills the human need to battle uncertainty. Apocalyptic fiction provides a form of wish fulfillment, a way for humans to control their fear, and to live it through easily identifiable characters. Graphic novels or “sequential art” is perfect for examining humanity because it accesses our emotions in ways that are cannot be copied by other mediums. In order to prove this, the essay is divided into three segments. Firstly addressed will be the construction of graphic novels and its effect on the reader. Secondly addressed will be the reader’s effect on the plot and story of graphic novels in history, then lastly addressed will be specific examples in the Marvel world that reflect the three apocalyptic storylines, and analysis of their content.

Sydney Adams

Apocalyptic Fiction as the Unpaid Shrink, 2015

The Red Door

The Red Door:

There is a red door in our neighborhood. No one opens it because no one is there.

It stands stark and odd against the white house it’s affixed to, like a cardinal sitting in a snow storm. I knew a girl whose life died there once, whose dreams and schemes stayed behind that door when her mother passed and she moved to Brooklyn.

By some anti-divinity’s wishes, the house remains unsold. It seems cursed, haunted even. Maybe it’s not there at all.

The red door has never needed a second coat of paint. It never prunes, never withers, doesn’t sag; just lays flush, fluid, and smooth against the house frame like the immaculate skin of a young fresh fruit.

The girl who lived there had eyes like rubies and a diction riddled with holes that education couldn’t fill. But she stood in that vermilion doorway, and we used to talk.

Her phrases fed me like food, and before I met her, I didn’t know I was starving.

I could feel my teeth sinking into the crunchy, crisp skin of her colorful words.

I tasted it, that fresh, filling, feeling, of fulfillment, and friendship.

The snap of that sever, like biting into a bitter apple, when the first piece came flying free into my mouth, and it was best to swallow  and never bite again reminded me of that shiny, red door.

It held a terrible kind of knowledge.

If I opened it, would I find sweet meat?

Or a barren core?