Friday, August 29, 2014

Original Sin: The Best Marvel Event In A While

Original Sin might be Marvel's best event crossover since Civil War.  But instead of trading on controversial character actions, Original Sin seems to be more interested in high adventure and boundless imagination (and maybe one controversial character action).

I know this picture looks like it's all the same ol' characters, but I promise it's not!

The setup was simple enough:  Someone murdered The Watcher and now someone has weaponized the secrets he accumulated over the years.  Now I'll admit, I was a little worried about this whole setup coming in.  Most of the time when someone uses the "Everything you knew was wrong" trope, everything's a little worse for wear.  Fortunately, the only big big reveal that came out of this whole thing was about Nick Fury, which I'll get to in a minute.

Anyway, with the mystery of the Watcher's murder hanging thick in the air, a ragtag group of heroes - including Moon Knight, Dr Strange, The Winter Soldier, among others - are assembled to follow the clues to find who really did it.  And I'll tell you, it was nice to see some lower tier guys get the spotlight in a big crossover like this.  Not that I don't like seeing Iron Man and Captain America mixing it up, but you know, the universe is bigger than just the Avengers.

And lemme tell you, it's fucking great!  The Punisher and Dr. Strange hanging out in a nether realm talking about the merits of murder, The Orb beating the Avengers with an eye of the Watcher, and Nick Fury being the biggest badass in the galaxy; What's not to like?

If he can't net an action figure after all this, I don't know what would

And listen, I understand if you're shaking your head at the Nick Fury stuff.

A bit of SPOILERS here, please just skip on down if you don't want this big reveal spoiled for you (more than it already has).  So, as it turns out, Nick Fury has become an old man since he got replaced (stupidly) by his long lost son Marcus 'Nick Fury Jr' Johnson - Seriously though, if you're mom got murdered while trying to protect you, wouldn't you keep her name?  What kind of asshole takes the name of his deadbeat dad instead?  I would rather they have brought over the Ultimate Nick Fury during some shitty crossover than this ridiculousness.  But, that's a deal for another day - Ahem.  Where was I?

Right.  The real Nick Fury.  So apparently the effects of giving up the last of the Infinity Formula to keep Bucky alive post-Fear Itself have finally taken their toll on the old warhorse and have made him age appropriate.  That is, he's turned into Bruce Wayne from Batman Beyond; old, crotchety, and supported by a cane.  But while that was the biggest physical reveal, it wasn't the BIG reveal.  That honor goes to Nick's reveal of his job all these years:  The Frontline Defense for Earth aka The Man on The Wall.

It's actually not a terrible setup, but one that falters a little when you think of the stuff Nick let come through.  Sure he was out there murdering rogue planets and developing inter-dimensional bullets, but he was also letting things like Maximum Security (The Earth is chosen to become an intergalactic prison), Secret Invasion (where the Skrulls nearly took over the planet while Nick was busy starring at photographs), and infinity (where Thanos made a run at Earth, landed, and fucked stuff up) happen when he probably could have stopped those from starting.

Regardless, the idea is neat, even if the last thing the Marvel Universe needs at this point is another secret society (Nick hangs with a bunch of LMDs, that's a society in my book) that's secretly running/protecting the world from stuff.  Do you think they ever got in each other's way?  Like, one group is trying to, I dunno, stop an intergalactic war by doing something that totally undermines whatever the opposite group is attempting.  Maybe that's the real reason Operation: Galactic Storm happened.

Back to the book, the only thing I'm not to hot on is the art.  Mike Deodato does some fantastic stuff with some of the craziest layouts ever, but it's totally not my thing.  I respect what he does, but it's too… muddy for me.  It's like Neal Adams' stuff fell into an inkwell but with more boobs.  

In a way, the series reminds me of The Infinity Gauntlet as something that can is very much of the era and can stand on it's own fairly well.  I mean sure, The Infinity Gauntlet had much more story lead up and had the craziest, highest stakes ever, but in the end you could just read those six issues and get nearly the full story of what was going on.  Meanwhile Original Sin, in a welcome change from other modern event crossovers, tells a full story over the course of 8 issues while giving enough motivation to any spin-off series that wants to exist.

You would think that this is where Spidey would remember selling his marriage to the devil.  But then I guess that isn't an ORIGINAL sin.

I really hope this is the model of events for Marvel moving forward.  You know, assuming that they insist on doing these with increased frequency (I see that Axis starts next month… sigh) it'd be nice if the actual event was worth reading and not something utterly disappointing like the past dozen or so.  In the meantime, at least I got this one and it was pretty awesome. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Behold the Mighty GALACTYPUS!


Sometimes I'm convinced that they write comics just for me.

Seriously though, now that this is a thing, can I get a mini-series or something?  I promise I'll be good...

Via issue 5 of Ultimate FF by my new heroes Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andre Araujo.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

When Did I Become an Old Man?

The other day I was griping to the wife about how the Avengers appear in other books.  

"It's always Cap, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man all hanging out in the tower when a problem pops up," I complained, "Even though they don't really share a book together and they got better things to do than hang out with each other.  I mean, what about the Unity Squad?  Hickman's freaking opus?"  (At this point I can tell The Wife checks out of "our conversation")

UGH! They're even stealing lines from the movie....
Loki: Agent of Asgard # 1 - Exhibit A
(the Black Widow is there too, she's just around the corner)
It reeks of the comics falling over themselves to be more like the movies and adapt their adaptation like some kind of weird literary turducken.  And I understand that economically it behooves a comic with a readership somewhere in the 50k range try to lure in the millions upon millions that saw the movie.  Regardless, it bothers me.

But then it hit me:  I sound like the Old Time Fans I was annoyed with back when I was a new fan.

Ugh.  When did that happen?

I remember hitting up newsgroups, and later Alvaro's Comicboards, and being shocked at the reaction to the books I loved on the stands.  The general feeling on every board was that the Marvel Universe ended in 2000 when Joe Quesada took over as E-I-C.  His loose approach to continuity, decompressed story lines, and fear of basic costumed adventures really raised the ire of those fans of the big fans prior to the year 2000.  (For the record, I was one of those fans, but I was really into the new way they were telling stories at the turn of the century).

So, here we are, thirteen-ish years later and I'm suddenly the guy complaining about a bygone era when The Avengers were a consistent team from book to book.  I'm the guy telling these new whippersnappers about what the Avengers are supposed to be.

Ugh.  Past me is so disappointed in Present me.

Me circa 2014

Whatever.  Make the Avengers more consistent!  And get off my lawn!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Deathlok In Name Only

If you keep up on your comic news and/or are a viewer of Marvel's Agents of Shield, then you might be aware that they just recently added a bonafide superhero to their ranks, namely Deathlok.  Or at least, that's what all the hype (both sanctioned and fan-generated) would have you believe going into their last new episode.  Sadly, who they introduced has about as much to do with Deathlok as they do with Captain America.

This was the least badass picture I could find.  I wanted to give poor Mike a fighting chance.

For those of you not in the know, AoS's Deathlok is Mike Peterson, the super-ish human from the pilot episode.  He ran around the pilot episode as a man corrupted by the power he was given, trying desperately to show his son he was a hero while coming off more like a monster; Standard tragic hero stuff.  For a one off, it wasn't terrible even though I personally hoped that he was someone from the Marvel catalogue and not someone made up whole cloth for the show.  

Ten episodes later, Mike showed back up as a Shield agent in training until he was assigned to a mission with the team that brought him in originally.  And of course, in the name of dramatic twists, he betrayed the team and met his apparent demise running between two exploding trucks (like you do).  Alas, he wasn't dead, just missing a leg and kinda singed with a spy camera implanted in his brain ready to blackmail him into doing more misdeeds.

Is it healthy to leave those scars exposed like that?

In the latest episode, T.R.A.C.K.S, he received a fancy bionic leg and got all stone cold killer on us.  After his rampage, at the end of the episode as he's asking the people on the other side of his blackmailing camera eye if he can see his son again, the camera zooms WAY into his leg to show us that it is indeed the fabled 'PROJECT: Deathlok'.


It's just…  ugh.  Like most of Marvel's Agents of Shield, it misses the point.

You know, if this was a licensed show (like how X-Men and the Fantastic Four are licensed properties to Fox), I would be less disappointed, but it's because of Marvel Studios fantastic track record of adaptations that makes this sting.  I expect this kind of hodgepodge mentality when it comes to other executives who think they know better, but not something under the fantastic stewardship of Kevin Fiege.

Deathlok, at his core, his a character about humanity: It's a man fighting against technology to reclaim his identity.  Honestly, he's Robocop, just instead of a Detroit police officer he's a solider.  Meanwhile, Mike Peterson is a man fighting for redemption, like The Hulk.  He's made some mistakes, but always for noble reasons, and now has to prove that he's better than the monster he's made out to be.  It's a fantastic arc, but it's not a Deathlok arc.  You can't just slap a robot leg on him and call it Deathlok; that's disingenuous to the character.  Both of them.

I had really high hopes for Marvel's Agents of Shield coming into the season, but all it has done since is let me down.  The characters are bland, the stories are shoddy, and now they're not respecting the source material.  Worse, the show runners come off as smug assholes when responding to valid criticisms about the show.  

For the record, I don't really want Agents of Shield to feature a new superhero every week or am holding out hope that Tony Stark is going to show up.  I just want the show to be compelling, with interesting characters and engaging plots, but if they opt to debut a hero from the books in the show, I want them to be faithful to their core.  

So far, they're off to a terrible start.