Monday, October 15, 2012

The Week of October 10 in Review Part 1 of 5 – Avengers

A bit of housekeeping, I have decided to do the week in review as a series of posts over Monday and Tuesday. I want to do a few more in depth reviews of some books and then do a post that will wrap up the whole thing. Be aware many of these reviews may have SPOILERS, so turn away now.  

This idea eliminates the What I’m Getting Post, but I will still provide this link or this link for you to see the entire list of what is coming out. For my own list next week Before Watchmen Minutemen by Darwyn Cooke, Wonder Woman, Hawkeye, Walking Dead, Peter Cannon Thunderbolt and Godzilla Half Century Wars have to be the most anticipated books.

The big book and what has to be considered Marvel’s new flagship title is Uncanny Avengers. Issue #1 by Rick Remender and John Cassaday was an uneven start at best. Cassaday’s artwork is very strong but I believe that he leaves most of the art direction and layouts to the writer as he shines more with certain writers. Regardless for all the flaws in this book, the art is not one of them. The story involves Captain America trying to put together a team of Avengers that combines both mutants and other heroes. Captain America at least agrees with Cyclops on one thing that the Avengers never did enough to help mutants. The idea is to make sure that we keep up the analogy that mutants are an oppressed minority and hated and feared by the rest of the world. I know in the sixties when Stan Lee came upon that formula he hammered it into the ground. That was of course of the same time as the Civil Rights Act and it resonated with the times. That time has passed and the fact that most super powered people can be lauded as heroes, but a mutant is hated befuddles me. How does a regular person discern the super powered Thing as human but Colossus as a mutant? Both should be accepted inside the MU or hated. The book itself skips around giving us a taste of the various players but we never actually make it to a team forming.

The first of two major elements is that Cyclops is now the most hated person in the MU. When other heroes go nuts due to something overtaking them, all is forgiven, not so with Scott. Heck Wolverine now is the soft hearted heroic type waxing philosophically about how much me misses Professor X and all that he was trying to do. It all rings hollow and false because no one has even mention Professor X for years and second they have changed Wolverine from what he was into an almost totally different character. He is now the headmaster of the mutant school and of course he hates Cyclops. Cyclops now plays the role of Magneto as the powerful mutant who was doing what he thinks is right. It is assumed from how it is being handled that Cyclops is responsible for all his actions while under the influence of the Phoenix, yet everyone acknowledges that it is a power that should not be possessed by anyone and would corrupt anyone. There was no true organic path to make over the personalities of these characters but since Marvel will never replace characters one of the way to effect change is to make a character into something they are not. What this does is change the status quo, but it also undermines the character. I think well done characters write themselves, poor writers cast characters into roles irrespective of who they have been established to be. If done right you just throw situations at them and watch them react. Marvel lives and breathes the illusion of change and this is an effective method to shake things up.

The second point is the buildup of a menace. A good group needs to have a good villain. The major reveal and shock ending, is the big bad is the Red Skull and he has a band of super powered bad guys. First we see someone (later revealed to be the Red Skull) perform major surgery on Avalanche. He promptly goes out and is a mutant menace and appears to off himself as Captain America, Thor and Havok (Havok?) try to stop him Later the super powered henchmen beat out Scarlet Witch and Rogue and take Professor X’s body so the Red Skull can take out his brain for nefarious purposes.

A lot of set up and the team chemistry can’t be formed until we get a team. I will give it time as Remender has been doing great work with Uncanny X-Force and Secret Avengers. Rick has done some great long term stories that still manage to work as shorter arcs. Plus Cassady’s art makes this an eye pleasing read. It is not a home run, it did not deserve 18 covers and it did not re-set the Marvel Universe. It did start a premise and it was well done.  

The other Avenger type books were AvX Consequences #1, Secret Avengers #23, and Avengers #31. I’m getting the Avengers book to read Bendis final arc on both Avengers and New Avengers called end times. We start with a Star Wars cycle chase and then switch back to Avengers towers where Captain America is talking to Wonder Man who attacked both group of Avengers and trashed a lot of stuff with some other super powered people a few months back. Of course while Cyclops is hated, Cap is trying to help Wonder Man because, you know he was just having a bad day of something. Again this is the first issue and we are just setting up some storylines that Bendis wants to close out before moving on. AvX Consequences just finds us talking about why we hate Scott Summers so much and we get to see Wolverine go talk to Summers, but told Cap he may kill him. Two points the depiction of Captain America in three books has no consistency in the uniform he wears and the constant portrayal of Scott as the most hated man just never rings true. In the MU we have seen time and time again (heck see Wonder Man) where a hero goes bad due to some reason and afterwards all is forgiven. AvX Consequences is at least telling us what is happening with the major players from the cross-over and it is weekly so we will wrap it up quick. Secret Avengers wrapped up the Null story line in short order and moved back to the other major story line very fast. I get the feeling that Remender needed to end this series quickly as it does not fit inside the new status quo Marvel is setting. Still I loved this book as it is fast paced and tightly plotted. It felt a little rushed and the ending a little anti-climatic, but it works.

Check back later today for the next segment.

1 comment:

  1. I think you're looking at the persecuted mutants analogy too narrowly. Sure, it was originally oppresion of blacks in the US, but it's equally applicable to the second class citizen (or forbidding from having the opportunity to be a citizen) status of gays and immigrants. Gays even fit the mold of not being obviously mutant or non-mutant in your Thing/Colossus example. Immigrants, too, come to think of it. No telling which ones are legal and which aren't on surface appearance. Both groups are hated and persecuted by large segments of the the US population.

    Not that I'm reading any of this drivel from Marvel. I'll leave that flushing of perfectly good money to you.