Comic Polity – The Rebirth Phenomenon
With the new Captain America Trailer out, I thought it would be timely to discuss a trend in the Marvel U that I like to call the “Rebirth Phenomenon.” Now this could be considered the repetitive bringing back of countless heroes and villains, or it could be the massaging of a character to new heights and depths, or it could just be a story about Jean Grey and the Phoenix-stravaganza. But really the infatuation that Marvel has with the Rebirth Phenomenon goes a might deeper (though it does encompass all of the above ideas and stories).
Just this past week or so, we’ve seen Venom, Daredevil, and Silver Surfer go through something of a Rebirth. This again, has been a reinvention or new take on the character, but we also see it in Wolverine & Jubilee as well as the new Future Foundation (FF #1).
- Jubilee is coming into new powers
- The Fantastic Four is starting over with new members and a new direction
- Venom has a new host and new purpose
- Silver Surfer is rediscovering life as a new person again
- Daredevil is remaking himself to become the man he once was
But, like I said, this stems even from the very beginning with Captain America and Erskine’s Project Rebirth. The idea is so prevalent throughout Marvel lore that we have to stop and take notice of it and ask why this is even a phenomenon.
The short answer is money. Sales. These types of stories sell. Therefore people are interested in them—therefore there is a fascination the must be looked into. The idea of Rebirth can be something as subtle as a new costume or as extreme as a character overcoming an obstacle that keeps him or her from being self-actualized. Rebirth is the turning over of a new leaf, the end of an old and subsequent beginning of a new era or age, and the resurrection from defeat. All of these have a profound impact on the human reader.
Mankind often struggles to be better than what we are. I look in the mirror every single day and say to myself, “I will be better than I was yesterday.” Yet, ultimately I fall flat on my face. I lose my temper, lie, or fall short in any number of other ways. Then I go to bed, get reborn the next morning, and go through the same process all over again. And I’m not alone.
I submit to you that all of mankind struggles with this idea and the desire for Rebirth; whether it be spiritual in nature or as superficial as a change to the physical. No matter what, our collective dissatisfaction with our individual shortcomings presses us onward to new personal innovations and greater heights of character.
This is why we read so much about the different forms and functions of our favorite heroes participating in the Rebirth Phenomenon. Those fictional characters represent very real trials that we must persevere through. As we watch them struggle toward independent and collective perfection, so too we lean forward and take those wary steps to our seemingly impossible goals. And as we take the next hardest step…and then the next hardest step, we begin to realize that we not only can change for the better, but we already are changing for the better as we participate in the Rebirth Phenomenon.
What can get us there?