Saturday, April 23, 2011

Last Week's Comics

Avengers #12:  So...Thanos wasn't Thanos, just Dr. Strange performing some well-timed illusion spells. Parker Robbins lost the infinity gems. Tony Stark got them and didn't go crazy and start reordering reality. Hulk (the Red one) joined the Avengers, and, after lying to everyone else, the Illuminati welcomed Steve Rogers to the fold, where they proceeded to divvy up the gems with the intention of hiding them, so this exact story could happen again in a few years. Plus there was a lot of dialogue (well, it's Bendis.)

I found this conclusion anticlimactic. After all the hype and fear and previous attempts to stop Parker Robbins, he really gets taken down rather easily, and sent back to jail, the lil' rascal. I've loved and enjoyed Bendis' Avengers work over the year, and I appreciate how this rebooted Avengers title has a different tone than the prior stuff, an attempt at a more classic team with "Avengers-level" threats (as the fun Oral History describes them). Hence the Infinity Gauntlet homage, a past storyline I'm fond of with Thanos and Death and their weird creepy space house and a third of the universe's population not existing and certain heroes rallying to fight back. But if you want to do epic and sprawling and cosmic, you'll never beat Jim Starlin on his own turf. Bendis needs to do his own thing and not rehash, fan as I am of Avengers history and minutiae. Just look at the wonders DnA made in terms of cosmic comics. Used Starlin's stuff and what came before, but made their own thing. Unfortunately a petty criminal with delusions of grandeur isn't a huge contribution to Avengers mythos.

Best line:
Namor: Imperius Rex!
Ms. Marvel: I need a battle cry!

Avengers Academy #12: Not a Bendis Avengers comic, but writer Christos Gage is also well versed in Avengers history. The latest story arc brings back Korvac, the cosmic omnipotent villain of the classic Korvac saga. It also wisely brings back Carina, the woman Korvac loved and who was distressingly slave-like in the original story. This time she is his main opponent, and after he disposes the entire line-up of main Avengers, she takes the young, training class of the Academy and transports their consciousnesses into their adult, experienced-filled bodies, plucked from different futures where they are at their peak.

Naturally, teenage emotion ensues. Pride and excitement over their increased knowledge and power for some, depression and anger for those who find their future hopes of escaping the pain brought on by Norman Osborn's torture and manipulation to be unfounded, the curse remaining. The battle with Korvac is interesting and unique while fulfilling classic Final Battle norms. Striker is killed in action abruptly, though returned quickly to his original pubescent form. All the team members express their new abilities and general rage at a life they have no control over. Korvac is defeated by the combined efforts of the two most damaged and emotional characters, Hazmat and Veil, in a blatantly scary display of their full power. In the end we are shown that even the most innocent-seeming members of the team, Veil, is subject to the allure of power and it is shown she is not necessarily immune to the misuse of it. Gage has written the title so far with skill, and where once we had high hopes of this generation emerging as the future of the Avengers, we now begin to believe that their feared paths towards villainy is possibly inevitable.

Best line:
When Hazmat takes off her helmet and reveals her grief to Mettle, who's situation is comfortingly similar.
Mettle: I know. Me too.

X-Factor #218: The shooting-through-the-chest of Guido is eerily familiar (think of that old X-Factor cover of Guido on the ground with a heart attack, and little Lila Cheney pounding on his chest.) This issue felt a bit lighter than I was hoping for, with no satisfying resolution. The best part by far was Monet. In a case of diverse and interesting characters, I understand how hard it is for Peter David to focus equally on all of them, but Monet has always been fascinating. With power levels that could make her one of the greatest heroes in the Marvel Universe, she often is relegated to background snarkiness. Here, fueled by her rage and grief, she shines.

Peter David continues to write perhaps the best mutant book on the shelves. His run in the '90s is classic and personally beloved, but his return in the past few years has been even better, full of intelligence, humor, a deep understanding of the characters, and well-written, elaborately weaved plots. As usual he provides a conclusion that generates yet more questions, regarding Guido's miraculous recovery (they're never dead if the cover implies they are) and the uncertain meaning of Layla's facial expression in the final panels.

Best line:
Noelle: Belive me, I'm sorry for this.
Monet: Belive me...I'm not.

Uncanny X-Force #8: Finally, an issue that focuses almost exclusively on the most compelling character of the bunch, Psylocke. Yet again an issue built upon the work of writers, and the experience of characters, from years ago. (I love this kind of this.) At last we see a rematch with the all-time-great X-Men villain Shadow King, aka Amahl Farouk. I distinctly recall the issue when Betsy, tricked by the Shadow King in a fight against the X-Men (one of the worst periods in X-history, when the team included Marrow, Maggot and Cecilia Reyes) turned the tables on the villain and imprisoned him in her own mind for a long time.

Here the solution is neither on account of her direct involvement, though she puts up a stirring and courageous fight, nor so humane. The similarly imprisoned mental personality of Archangel is released by Farouk, only to be cut in half and then decapitated by the death-obsessed ex-Horseman. Archangel goes on to murder the man who was about to send nukes at Utopia, leaving us, and the team, with suspicions that Warren Worthington III has completely left the building. Rick Remender deftly juggles interesting plots with relevant character developments, though issues of X-Force are often bogged down by a density of dialogue and exposition (think Deathlok and Fantomex.) Speaking of which, how does Fantomex constantly recover from knife stabs and severed forearms? And where is E.V.A?

Best line:
Her unique place on this team of murderers and assassins has not yet completely wiped out Betsy's dry X-Men sense of humor.
Psylocke: You gentlemen stand around and look tough while I do an astral reconnaissance.

A solid week so far, if slightly underwhelming. More to come, as I have not yet finished Wednesday's stack. (God of the Hive by Laurie R. King takes presence--nearly impossible to put down it's so indescribably fantastic and exciting.) Besides, it's nice to spread out the ephemeral enjoyment of unread comics. Looking forward to Sigil #2 most of all.



  1. lol, hard to take the shadow king seriously anymore after him getting eaten by a kitty and now cut in half by emo-angel.

    and he was such a great villain once :(

  2. Oh right, Storm's World's Apart mini, I forgot about that. He does seem to be used as a throwaway bad guy for one-off's and mini series now.

    Strange, considering the quality long story arcs he used to be behind, like Muir Island Saga.

    Ha "emo-angel." I am honestly fairly sick of the Archangel problem, esp when main X-titles show him all blond and well-adjusted and helping out the San Fran mayor. Not only is his darkness getting tired, but I'm pretty done with Apocalypse. They could have made Shadow King the main Big Bad.

    But at least they showed him as the fat Egyptian slaver with a fez that he used to be, instead of a large purple monster.