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.