To say that the Marvel Knights initiative of 1998 had its own distinct vibe would be underselling what was at the time a rather radical move. “Darker” and “more grounded” storytelling, a sense of more meaningful and impactful storytelling than what was going on in previous iterations of the characters, and an overall feeling of prestige—earned or not—permeated the books released under the banner. These stories would tell the stories that should be told about these characters, and nobody could stop the creators from doing so.
To say that Marvel Knights: Make the World Go Away nails that vibe would be both underselling and overselling the book in equal measure. Certainly the absolute bevy of incredible creators on board—four major modern writers, five talented artists, two definitive colorists, three distinctive inkers, and (of course) the ubiquitous Cory Petit—understood the assignment. They captured the tone of the era, they leaned into the major players of those books. It is very much the sort of story one might expect to in a Marvel Knights book. It even includes, at its climax, the Sentry, a character who could very well be seen as the avatar of early-2000s Marvel Comics.
The problem, however, is that the story told has a sort of over-inflated sense of importance. This comes by way of its very purpose: it is, after all, a book created to celebrate the line’s twentieth anniversary (and was very recently collected under that original title). It was meant to feel important.
With so many fingers in the pie and so many characters to play up, and with only six issues to wrap the story, it ends up feeling a bit hollow. Beautiful, caring, but hollow.
Some of this comes from what feels like a massive epic being told in condensed form; robbed of their memories by Reed Richard’s Sentry-obscuring device, the major players of the Marvel Knights imprint have to rediscover and come to terms with their bizarre realities. Despite having lived what seem like full, normal civilian lives, one might think the damnation of a violent and costumed life might come as a horrible revelation, fertile ground for introspection and growth. Instead, Elektra (a woman who now has the memory of having died twice) wordlessly puts on her murder-leotard.
It’s this lack of consideration—or, rather, lack of room for consideration—that makes this story feel trivial and without impact. Ultimately, the events fail to provide even the smallest bit of conflict for our characters, and they are left unchanged. A brief appearance by Doctor Doom occurs without ramification; he is thrown off a roof and revealed to be a Doombot. . . and no one notes the oddity of his passing. Even the ghost of Karen Page fails to land any emotional beats.
That doesn’t mean that Make the World Go Away isn’t fun or exciting; it doesn’t make the celebration of Marvel Knights any less meaningful. Instead it feels like a diversion, a half-hearted assignment foisted on creators unconvinced the story needed to be told in the first place.
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