Monday, May 31, 2010

What The?! -- Avenegrs Dissassembled

In my last article, I posted an introduction to the new Marvel Universe crossover event: The Heroic Age. We are in the middle of the month and I still have optimistic pessimism for this whole debacle. But as I promised, I’m going back to the start, to how this whole thing started.

In the Beginning, Stan Lee created Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. Okay maybe I went a bit too far back. A few decades later, in the year 2004, Ronald Reagan passed away, and Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby won numerous Academy Awards. I was just a wee lad back then, finishing high school and eager to enter first year of college in September. At this point in my life, comic books meant nothing to me. They were simply an aspect of the world that I acknowledged. But that does not mean important things were happening in the Marvel Universe. That year’s major crossover, Avengers Disassembled, was beginning to assemble.

Avengers Disassembled is quite unique; it was not necessarily a “crossover” like the events that come after it. Several series have had Disassembled in their title, such as Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man, but the main storyline (which consisted of four, count ‘em, 4!) issues of the Avengers. These four issues of the ongoing series are required to comprehend the entire event. If you are asking “So what?”, then you probably have not seen what happened with Civil War, or even worse, Secret Invasion.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to the brevity of the event. Since the storyline is only four issues, it’s not very well developed. Everything is introduced in the first few pages, and then explained in the last few. There’s little-to-no build-up, or character development. Despite this, the story does have characteristics to it that make up for its shortcomings. Unlike other story arcs, this event is key to the future of the Marvel Universe.

It begins as a normal day at the Avengers Mansion. The Avengers are just chatting mildly about previous encounters. Nothing exciting. But soon something shocking appears on the security system, and terrifies the Avengers. The recently deceased and now decaying hero Jack of Hearts strolls slowly to the mansion. Relax, he’s no one special. I would love nothing more than to tell you more about him, but I know jack-shit about him. After these four issues, he is practically forgotten. Just know that he used to be Avenger before he DIED-died (for reals!). A different Ant-Man, (not the wife-beater, goes to his friend and asks what’s happening. Jack of Hearts, after moaning something ominous, blows up, killing Ant-Man and destroying almost half of the mansion. Yes, I am not making this up, this is Marvel’s doing.

Meanwhile, at the UN… Iron Man, currently the Secretary of Defense, descends into a drunken rage, without ever drinking. He loses his mind and accusing the Latverian diplomat of being a terrorist, a madman and a monster. Back at the mansion, the Vision suddenly appears and crashes the Quinjet on the mansion grounds, destroying the other half of the mansion. He comes out of the debris and creates duplicates of Ultron, who immediately attacks the Avengers. She-Hulk hulks out to a point of illiteracy (something she has almost never done before) and rips Vision in half, essentially “killing” him. He got better. Already, have seen three deaths in the first issue of this event. There was neither grieving nor tears, only quick and apathetic deaths.

The Avengers take a break from dying, and decide to turn their anger on each other. If that wasn’t enough, all of the previous Avengers appear on the grounds (don’t ask me, I still don’t know). Suddenly, they are thrown into a large battle against the alien race known as the Kree. During the battle, Hawkeye is mortally wounded sacrifices himself to blow up the enemy ship.

“But UXM266, why are the Kree here?!” you might ask. The True Believer is Magic.
Eventually Dr. Strange gets his act together, walks into the mass hysteria, and accuses Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch as the perpetrator for all these deaths. He claims that her mutant abilities are too powerful At first, people believed she created hexes, which were minor inconveniences. In fact, she has the ability to warp reality, create false images in peoples minds, and generally act as a Deus Ex Machina for future Marvel events, stories and retcons. The story ends with Magneto coming to the ground and taking his daughter away to be cured. The Avengers then split up for numerous reasons, such as the loss of loved ones or morale.

I have mixed feelings about this event. Though I do like the tension it created between America’s Golden Boy Team, I was turned off by how quickly everything happened. The ratio for breakups and “deaths” in these four issues is far greater than most seven-parters. Despite its premature delivery and the lack of care for most of the characters, I felt it was a good beginning for even greater crossovers. The tensions start to develop between friends, while superheroes are beginning to be feared by the public. I feel that what they did to Wanda is a complete copout. I’ve never liked heroes or villains who are essentially gods, or have the power to alter the fabric of time and space. It seems like lazy writing and an excuse to do whatever one wants and pass it off as magic.

This event is not resolved in the following issues. Though it begins with the Avengers, the wrath of the Scarlet Witch begins to spill over to the homo superiors (mutants), and something must be done before it’s too late…. For we are going to enter the World of Magneto! The next post will not be House of M and Decimation. Instead, I’m going to write a letter of appreciation to the mutant Cyclops.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What The--? The Heroic Age

Okay class, time for a history lesson. Remember these important periods events:
  1. Golden Age (1930s-1940s)
  2. Silver Age (1956-late 1960s/early1970s)
  3. Bronze Age (1970s-1980s)
  4. Modern Age (mid 1980s-2010)
  5. Heroic Age (May 2010-Next Major Marvel Crossover)
Before you start to flame me, please hear me out. For those of you are familiar with Ages, don’t worry, I’m aware that the Heroic Age is nothing more than a kitschy title used to draw in consumers who are (as my good friend described them) Marvel Whores. Well, I prefer the less colourful term "fan” or “follower”, but I have to admit, I fall under this category to a certain degree. (Un)fortunately, at this moment, little is known about this new reboot -- I mean crossover, but every week Marvel fanboys and fangirls are treated to little tidbits of the upcoming storyline. This new crossover will be the start of a new era. Heroes will be heroes, villains are villains, the status quo has been returned and everyone is happy-go-lucky. Prancing woodlands creatures, and choirs of cherubs are not included. We have numerous ongoing series such as:
  • Avengers #1
  • Secret Avengers #1
  • New Avengers #1
  • Avengers Academy #1
  • X-Men #1
  • Wolverine #1
  • Young Allies #1
Most of you are probably thinking “But UXM266! Isn’t there already ongoing series using those names? Well, to answer your question, YES they are. But many of the current series are being cancelled and then restarted. As for Wolverine and the X-Men, new ongoing series are being introduced. Now one might then ask is “WHY?!”, well hold your horses. Before I get to this , there are still more changes that I have not yet mentioned.
  • Luke Cage running the group of super villains called the Thunderbolts, replacing Norman Osborn
  • Hope Summers (who is assumed to be a reincarnated Jean Grey.) is returning t the X-Men
  • Wolverine is going to Hell.
  • Captain America *Batman ripoff* was never dead, but actually sent back to the past. He's back
  • Iron Man has no recollection of Civil War. He and Steve are now back to being best of buds.
Well it’s official: Marvel has run out of ideas. Okay. Let me rephrase that. They ran out of ideas a long time ago. I am still on the fence about the changes being made. There are so many ways this could go wrong. The potential for unoriginal ideas be rehashed under a different name is not only dull, but simply disappointing. Now let me answer the question "WHY?!". Every event starting from Avengers: Disassembled to Siege lead up to this Heroic Age. All of the crossovers have been given blows to egos, relationships, friendships and to the status of a hero. The Heroic Age is how the status quo will be returned to normal. Crimes will most likely be petty, new members will introduced, and most everything will be back to as normal as it gets in a superpowered New York. The Heroic Age is the equivalent to the Marvel Universe giving a hug, a warm blanket and a nice cup of cocoa to soothe the bullying everyone had to endure in the past 6 years. The event starts officially this month, but I would rather not focus too much on it because of all the possible variables that could change at the last minute.

Shinier, braver, and with 100% more Gorilla!

Even though I complained about the decisions Marvel has made, I am not opposing this decision. I’m just sceptical like I’ve been with every other Marvel event. Here’s hoping for the best!
As a special treat, I would like to spend some time going over the major crossovers that occurred since the beginning of the end, those which lead to the beginning of this new age. In the next issue: the Avengers Disassembled!