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Bye, Marvel.

Books & Writing, Culture, Events, Fail, Opinion

August 14, 2017

I have an awesome geeky friend who happens to be a girl (like about eighty-ninety percent of the writers on this site). She knows more about Star Wars and Star Trek and Doctor Who than I do and she’s flirting with comics. She liked Captain America as a kid and we keep getting DC Superhero Girls stuff for her niece (who loves Batgirl). She likes Spider-Gwen and Monstress, mostly, but she also really digs the movies that’ve come out, especially Captain America. She bought a Cap shirt and wore it a lot for years, but these days it’s gathering dust in a closet.

“Can’t wear it anymore,” says she, when asked. “Movie Cap is still cool and that’s the one I like, but comics Cap? I get weird looks from people when I walk into a comic shop with it. One time, a guy got really excited and started talking to me about racial purity and, well, yeah. Comic Cap is a Nazi now.”

Another guy I know was raised in a casually racist household. His parents and his family believed that anyone with a skin tone darker than theirs was genetically inferior. The thing that got him thinking and changed his mind? Marvel Comics. Specifically, Black Panther. Marvel Comics opened his mind, changed his world. He was digging the comics but hated when it crossed over with Secret Empire.

“Sure, the racists are the bad guys, but didn’t Sam Wilson apologize to a bunch of racists for being black?” says he. “Like, the good guys are telling racists it’s okay to be racists. Also, Captain America is a Nazi? Fuck you.”

I grew up Jewish. There’s a lot of fear that comes with being a Jew in any era. We get blamed for a lot of troubles that we have no power over and nothing to do with because it was politically expedient to do so and political and historical inertia is a thing.

“Jews control the banks and Hollywood!” racists like to say. A lot of us work in the financial sector and entertainment because those were the only two industries we were legally allowed to work in at the dawn of the twentieth century. We get blamed for playing by the rules that other people forced on us, but that ties into a popular Jewish saying: This, too, shall pass.

Still, it’s always inspiring to see the impact we’ve had on the cultural landscape. We invented and refined comic books. The characters in them? The heroes? We largely created them. Captain America and Superman were both Jewish inventions built around concepts of decency, of sticking up for the underdog. Both of them were politically motivated and both of them helped defeat racists in the real world: Captain America helped shame America into getting involved with World War II and Superman did a lot to take down the KKK.

DC Comics has had a lot of problems over the past decade, but they seem to be picking themselves up. Their comics are full of self-contained stories and they’ve seen a gradual increase in sales to go along with it as they expand and create minority and legacy heroes. Marvel, on the other hand, has been focusing on interconnected crossovers where you need to buy more than one title to figure out what’s going on and famously blamed diversity for their flagging sales.

Their latest big dumb crossover event infected more than a dozen of their titles and also turned Captain America into a Nazi – he sided with his enemies at Hydra, killed a bunch of people, turned fascist and tried to conquer the world and install genetic purity and all the other hallmarks of Nazi idiocy.

And now, it’s over.

Marvel’s latest big stupid event crossover thing where they want you to buy all their comics to have some inkling of understanding what’s going on? The idiot thing that interrupts the stories you actually care about and replaces it with one that marginalizes those stories and characters? The one that turned the conscience of Marvel Comics into a Nazi to hit a sales bump and saw ever-decreasing returns to all their titles? The one proposed by the Trump supporter in charge of Marvel, who had a failed Republican politician that thought the school-to-prison pipeline made good business sense turn the creation of two Jews into a Nazi? It just ended. They’re already planning to retcon it out of existence, but it ended.

It’s over.

And so is my time with Marvel Comics. It’s been a while since we touched anything Marvel related with the whole God of Comics; the last one hinted at this stance but I just want to be clear about where we stand as actual Nazis in real life hold rallies and start murdering people again – we will not review, promote, or have anything to do with Marvel until Nick Spencer and Ike Perlmutter no longer work at that company.

We’ll talk about the movies, the Netflix series, all the things that have nothing to do with either of those people – and we want to stress that we do believe that they are people because they are people, a simple observation that neither would give us given that pretty much everyone here is a minority of some type.

I’d like to say that it’s a loss. I’ll miss Spider-Gwen and Hawkeye and Black Panther. I’d say about a third of my collection is Marvel Comics and I’ll be holding onto them because I can happily remember what was. And I’m sure that we’ll get comics worth reading from Marvel again, because this, too, shall pass.

But I cannot, in good conscience, support a company that thinks turning their moral center into a Nazi is good business sense. And I cannot support a writer or an executive that do not see me as a person and would rather inspire those that would see me and my family and the people I care about dead.

Good-bye for now, Marvel. It’s been fun.

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155

God of Comics – Spider-Gwen #21

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 30, 2017

Spider-Gwen #21 (Marvel Comics)

So, I was riding with a friend the other day and we got to talking about comics. It happens. We’re adults and geeks and it’s a thing we do.

Yeah, they just introduced their Wolverine-analogue in Spider-Gwen,” I said. This took him off guard – I don’t really preview or review Marvel Comics these days because they turned Captain America in a Nazi and then said the Nazis actually won the war and the Allies had to cheat to win. Also, Magneto, a Holocaust Survivor, is also being turned into a Nazi because the people running Marvel Comics desperately want their company to go out of business.

What do you mean, Wolverine-analogue?” he asked.

So I had to explain that Spider-Gwen takes place in its own reality and has its own continuity that doesn’t connect to anything, giving writer Jason Latour a chance to explore the Marvel Universe in a completely different way. The world Spider-Gwen inhabits is very different than the one we’re used to, with the inciting incident of that difference having taken place long before Gwen Stacy got the spider-powers instead of Peter Parker.

That’s why Captain America is a black woman, why Matt Murdock is the leader of the Hand and the Kingpin of Crime, why Norman Osborne is a good person and philanthropist and his son Harry is part of a super soldier program.

So, Wolverine…?” my friend asked.

Oh, in this world they call him something different.”

Yeah?”

Yeah.”

What do they call him?”

Mr. Murder-Hands.”

My friend had to pull over until the laughter stopped.

I explained that Logan, in this world, is living with a curse – he bears the life of every person he’s killed. He’s also an agent of SHIELD, their specialist when it comes to acquisitions and retrieval, and he works with the analogue of Kitty Pryde, who is a scary ninja person who walks through walls and also has claws because why not? Currently, they’re trying to get Harry Osborne away from Gwen, who is trying to rescue him from an overdose of the same formula that turned Peter Parker into the Lizard and eventually killed him.

That sounds awesome,” my friend said.

It is,” I answered.

Then we drove to Big Pete’s and he bought all the Spider-Gwen trades, because how do you not?

Why aren’t you talking about this?” he asked.

So then we got into a conversation about Captain America being a Nazi and all the stuff that goes with it. He didn’t believe me and had to look at those comics himself, finally throwing down the comic in disgust when he got to the thing about Naziism being an offshoot of Hydra rather than the other way around.

That’s some bullshit, right there.”

No kidding.”

“They actually expect me to buy that Hydra isn’t Nazis?” he asked. “I’m not five.”

“I’d like to say that’s the most insulting part of it, but…” I trailed off and he nodded in sympathy.

“Kids are going to grow up with this,” he said. “As we get real life Nazis running America, they guy Jews created to shame America into fighting Nazis gets turned into one.”

“That’s pretty much it, yes,” I answered.

“Does this Nick Spencer guy think we’re idiots?”

“Well, he was a failed Republican politician who advocated for the school-to-prison pipeline, so there’s that,” I said. My friend looked at me like I was insane, but it’s the truth. He checked, shook his head as he got back into his car.

“The CEO of Marvel Comics is a friend of Donald Trump and Steven Bannon?” he asked.

“You mean Ike?” I asked. “Yep. He gave a million dollars of Marvel’s money to the Trump campaign via Bannon, and that’s why I can’t give Marvel any of my money.”

Spider-Gwen is pretty great, though,” he said. “Why not talk about Spider-Gwen and mention the whole Nazi America First thing in the same article?”

What, like transcribe our conversation?” I asked. He nodded. “I could do that.”

And now I have.

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346

God of Comics: Guardians of the Galaxy #19

God Of Comics, Reviews

April 12, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy #19 (Marvel Comics)

You kinda have to feel bad for the Guardians of the Galaxy; they came to Earth to help a friend and got royally screwed. See, Marvel was busy making Captain Marvel a villain in Civil War II, but the guardians didn’t know that; they just knew her from when she was cool and came to help. Their ship got wrecked, they got stranded and separated on Earth, and things have kind of gone bad for them ever since.

Captain Marvel totally abandoned them because there’s a movie or something being made about her, and she doesn’t really care about her friends anymore unless they still might be able to help her (these ones can’t) or she got them killed (paging Mr. War Machine or Dr. Brice Banner…). Maybe if one or more of them die she could be bothered to care…?

It’s kind of a moot point. The different Guardians – Star-Lord, Drax the Destroyer, Gamorra, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot – have all managed to get off planet on their own, sometimes in spite of themselves. Also, destiny is pulling then back together to fight the being most of them were drawn to fight together in the first place: a certain Mad Titan who goes by the name Thanos.

Not sure if this is going to crossover with the most recent Thanos series, but we may as well cover those bases: Thanos is sick and dying. He recently escaped Earth and has been killing his way across the cosmos looking for answers as to what is killing him, and even let himself to captured by the Shi’ar in an effort to learn more about what is happening to him. The answers the Shi’ar failed to provide ended up with more of them dying and I’m pretty okay with that given how idiotic the Shi’ar have proven to be.

Seriously, their gods got tricked by a Loki that wasn’t trying very hard into picking a fight with Thor, which is going even less well than you might expect. Between that and their habit of poking the preferred host of the Phoenix Force, someone might want to put the Shi’ar on some sort of suicide watch.

Anyways, Thanos.

Gamorra was raised by Thanos and would like to kill him. Drax the Destroyer was literally created to kill Thanos. The other three don’t have personal reasons for killing the Mad Titan buy they do like their friends (something Captain Marvel could learn a thing or two about) and have nothing better to do, so they’re probably in, too.

Thing is, this is Brain Michael Bendis’ last issue. He’s been building up to this for the better part of five years, literally working this title through several event comics and the last big stupid reboot thing. This is his climax. He’s done some incredible things with this title and it’s impossible to think that he wouldn’t close this out with a bang.

Valerio Schiti has been working art on this title for a while and he’s also done some beautiful work here, and one would expect that he’d be looking to blow all our minds as this story wraps up. Given the skill he typically brings to the table, one can only drool at the thought of what he’s about to unveil.

This has quietly been an excellent book; it is impossible to fathom the idea that the end will be anything less than epic.

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281

God of Comics: X-Men Gold #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

April 5, 2017

X-Men: Gold #1 (Marvel Comics)

Kitty Pryde is back to lead the X-Men for reasons and we should all be excited~! It’s mandated by the Marvel editorial board, the same people that made Nazi Captain America and will soon be bringing you Nazi Holocaust Survivor and Jew, Magneto~!

Different writing team, thankfully. Marc Guggenheim has been quietly writing some rather good X-comics for the past year, making the most of what crossovers Marvel has thrown at him. He also did the rather neat Squadron Sinister and is doing the criminally under-appreciated Agents of SHIELD comic, so he’s got that going for him.

It’s just that the X-Men have not had a very good decade: they were ignored when they tried to warn everyone what a bad idea registration was, they tried to leave the world that feared and hated them to go live in peace only to be invaded, then were nearly wiped out because the Avengers couldn’t handle their shit… and it doesn’t end there.

Wolverine and cyclops had a very messy and public divorce and Cyclops was cast as the villain despite saving the world from its own mutant hating technology when it was turned against humanity. Then the Avengers didn’t listen to him when the Phoenix force came, resulting in him getting possessed by a cosmic entity because the Avengers kidnapped a traumatized sixteen-year-old girl – possessed Cyclops then killed Professor X and got blamed for it when the Avengers were all “dur, we goofed,” and released the sixteen-year-old girl, allowing the Phoenix to restore the balance.

More recently, Marvel has been trying to make the Inhumans happen and had the X-Men be the villains in a story where the Inhumans released a gas that covered the world and killed mutants. The X-Men were to be viewed as villains for not lying down and dying. Seriously. That was the story.

If it sounds like Marvel is trying to shit on the X-Men it’s because they are. Marvel bankrupted themselves with their glut of idiot crossover events back in the late nineties and saved themselves by selling the film rights to the X-Men to Fox. They figure if they devalue the comics that Fox might sell the film rights back – which isn’t going to happen – and every now and again the X-Men get a writer who loves them and we get good comics where the mutants aren’t cast as the villains.

Marc Guggenheim is one of those writers. I actually am excited about Kitty being back with the X-Men, though I had hoped she would keep her Star-Lord outfit and cosmic power-up. She’s decided that it’s time to stop running and just deal with things, which means moving the X-Men into the open and forcing people to acknowledge that the X-Men save the world as much or more than the Avengers, and lack Tony Stark locking up, cloning, and betraying his friends or Captain America being a Nazi.

The team line-up is intriguing – Storm, Old Man Logan, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Prestige (who is Rachael Summers wearing… something). There’s a lot of history to draw upon there and I’m curious to see where it goes, and I really, really, really do not want to see the mess people call Colossus get back together with Kitty. None of that, please.

Ardian Syaf is handling art and we got a taste of what this creative team is capable of last week and that was pretty great. Here’s hoping Marvel has just decided to do good comics with these characters again. Fingers are crossed.

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460

Marvel, We Need to Talk

Fail, God Of Comics, Opinion, Reviews

April 3, 2017

Oh, Marvel. Your comics were doing so well.

I mean, sure, you’d accidentally turned Iron Man into a villain with Civil War and spent the better part of a decade trying to fix the damage you did there only to finally give up and hit the cosmic reset button on your whole universe. Or the time you had Doc Ock turn into Spider-Man, which wouldn’t have been nearly so bad if the writing wasn’t terrible and your editorial board hadn’t doubled down on no, guys, for real, this is what we’re doing going forward. It wasn’t, we knew it wasn’t, and being lied to in the age of internet is kind of a turn-off. Mind you, that’s not the worst thing you’ve done with Spider-Man (hi, One More Day!), but you seemed to have things under control with your side comics: Spider-Gwen, Moongirl and Devil Dinosaur, Mighty Thor, Unworthy Thor, Ghost Rider… you’ve got a lot of good going on.

And then…

“What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales. We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.”

This wonderful little bit of what comes to us from David Gabriel, the VP of Sales over at Marvel Comics. He then followed up by adding that the aforementioned female minority characters are popular and some of their best sellers but that they’re not going to be doing more of them because people don’t like them.

Wait, what?

Have you been to a comics convention? We just got back from Emerald City Comic Con, where 90, 000+ people showed up to show their love of the medium. Here’s a link where you can check out photos of the event, and you should be able to see a good cross section of obvious minorities, David. That doesn’t even take into account the non-visible minorities; the people that look like the cis-white males you think you’re catering to but are actually somewhat else.

We look white, Christian, and male, but we’re a Jewish agender asexual and we’ve been reading your comics since we were a child. We’ve got boxes full of your comics, shelves full of trades we proudly display. Might there be some other reason, particularly when titles like Saga, Injection, the Woods, Divinity, Lazarus, Giant Days and others are doing so well while being full of the diverse characters you say people aren’t interested in…?

A while ago we posted our (rather discombobulated) thoughts about Captain America being turned into a Nazi by a writer named Nick Spencer, who has since gone on to defend Nazism on twitter and write a black man apologizing to a white supremacist for mentioning the centuries of systematic oppression that African-Americans have endured. Our response then was driven by gut-level anger and we reworked it and expanded our thoughts and think that might be a little more sensible.

Nazi Captain America sold 36,610 copies last month, though, and was the fifty-fifth top selling comic of February. Okay. Literally ten more copies than Iron Man with the new African-American female lead, a thousand less than Doctor Strange, and seventy thousand or so less than Star Wars: Darth Maul. That’s not good. If you’re going to tell a story on the ashes of six million dead Jews and eleven million dead in total, all from living memory, you might as well get some kind of sales bump, right?

We guess that’s what you’re hoping for with the upcoming Secret Empire event, and this… well, this is what we want to talk about. See, it’s not diversity that’s killing you, Marvel: it’s your stunt writing and your constant idiot-event comics. Especially your big dumb event comics. We’d like to elaborate on this point, Marvel, because it’s important and we want you to do well.

Your movies are excellent and other than a few stumbling blocks in Age of Ultron you guys are riding high. Someone in comics must have realized that and your editorial board has tried to capitalize by making the comics more like the movies. A big push to do that came and was finalized with Secret Wars, wherein you guys also fixed the editorial mistakes of the past decade. Remember when Civil War turned Iron Man into a villain and how you spent ten years trying to fix that and failed? Well done. A shame you’ve just done the same to Carol Danvers.

Since Secret Wars ended last year, you’ve had nine major crossovers: Avengers Standoff, Spider-Women, Apocalypse Wars, Civil War II, Dead No More, Death of X, Inhumans vs X-Men, Grounded, and Monsters Unleashed. You’ve got at least another four coming: Secret Empire, Til Death do Us, Weapons of Mutant Destruction, and Edge of Venomverse. That’s a lot of comics to buy and a lot of story to keep track of.

Here’s the trick, Marvel: when you do one of those crossovers it touches on every other comic involved with it, so even if you don’t want to read about how Captain America is a Nazi now, your crossover is going to make it impossible to for us to avoid those stories and they’re going to interrupt the ones we’re already invested in. You’ve given us a visceral level of disgust when it comes to Steve Rogers, Marvel, and any comic that he appears in is one we’re going to drop and not pick up again.

That same logic applies across the board to comics we might be invested in when characters we don’t care about show up and we can’t finish the story or understand the comics we like when the continuation of the story is in a comic we might not be interested in or able to afford. We like the X-Men. We don’t care about the Inhumans. When the X-Men are set up to be the villains in another shitty crossover that makes the heroes instead because shitty editorial mandates are shitty, well.

The fun part is that the X-Men are being cast as the villains as a result of the same shitty editorial mandates, ones that nearly drove you into bankruptcy twenty years ago, Marvel. You guys were putting out so many crossovers that no one could follow your comics anymore and readers left in droves for companies that weren’t so scattered. The only way you saved yourselves was by selling the film rights to your most popular characters in perpetuity to other people: Sony got Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Fox got all the mutants, and you were stuck with what was left.

Iron Man was a B+ player until the movie made him an A-lister. The only reason Iron Man got your first real movie was because there were no mutants, no Spider-Man, and no Fantastic Four. People who watched the movie, though, and might have been interested in trying the comics were subjected to Civil War-era Tony Stark, which turned people off in droves. Your comics have been mostly about heroes fighting heroes, which is depressing and something very few people are interested in.

For proof, let’s take a look at the top five selling comics of February 2017: Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 (105 177 copies) is about a Sith Lord fighting the forces of good, Batman #16 (102 096 copies) features good guy Batman fighting bad guy Bane, Batman #17 (99 637 copies) continues that story (and suffers from DC Comics putting out two issues of everything every month), Justice League of America #1 (93 494 copies) featuring the best heroes fighting the best villains, and Super Sons #1 (90 345 copies) has the next generation of heroes fighting the next generation of villains.

Do you see a theme here, Marvel?

We’re done with heroes fighting heroes. DC Comics learned this and so, after their latest reboot, they started focusing on stories about hope and heroes fighting evil and heroes being happy and now they have seven of the ten top selling comics for February 2017, while your only two entries on that list are both Star Wars spin-offs which are about – wait for it – heroes fighting villains (and, notably, villains that were inspired by Nazis).

Your first non-Star Wars comic on the top selling list for February 2017 is Amazing Spider-Man #24 (61 953 copies), and that comic features a massive supporting cast of minorities and deals with Peter Parker fighting the forces of evil as a hero, as a man, and as the CEO of a corporation. That’s interesting. I want to read that. I would totally read that except that Spider-Man is definitely going to be a part of at least seven crossovers this year and I’m done. His story is going to be interrupted so many times that we might not even remember what it was before the event, so what’s the point?

If a character has no impact on their story then we do not care about that character.

And that’s why your sales are flagging: stunt writing bullshit (ooooh Magneto is a Nazi now, a Holocaust survivor is a Nazi, how edgy… no, wait, fuck you) that we all know won’t stick and will be retconned while you guys talk about how, no, this is the new normal, and endless fucking crossovers that mean nothing and will be retconned out of existence because they are generally awful.

To your point, David, about female and diverse characters failing when published: Marvel doesn’t reach the top-selling charts again until spots sixteen and twenty with IvX #4&5 (56 969 and 53 348 copies, respectively), twenty-four with the Clone Conspiracy (48 780 copies), then Unworthy Thor (46 006 copies), and then it’s Elektra (44 310 copies), Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (43 475 copies) and Mighty Thor (40 175 copies). That’s three minority-driven books.

Nazi Captain America placed fifty-fifth.

Those titles that do work for you and have constant numbers? Miles Morales, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen, and Moon Girl? Those are ones David mentioned by name. Also, Mighty and Unworthy Thor? They avoid or do damage control on all your big dumb events, pull in consistent numbers, tell good and complex stories, and have readers who are invested in them. Maybe instead of doubling down on the practices that nearly killed you, Marvel, you could instead just tell good stories?

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183

God of Comics: X-Men Prime #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

March 28, 2017

X-Men: Prime #1 (Marvel Comics)

Oh, Marvel. Oh, the X-Men.

There’s something wrong at Marvel, a company where they do small things amazingly well and large things badly. This is a company that’s turned Captain Marvel into a Nazi for short-term sales that will do long-term damage to their brand. Iron Man wasn’t a Nazi in Civil War, but he became a default villain for a decade after that event. Civil War II has done the same to Captain Marvel. And as for the X-Men…

Here’s the trick: about twenty years ago Marvel went bankrupt. They went bankrupt because they were doing too many crossovers and their readership revolted and left because of their revulsion. They sold the film rights to their a-list characters, which is why the MCU started with Iron Man and not the X-Men.

Now Disney owns Marvel and the company is making money hand-over-fist with their movies and video games and cartoons, so the comics can afford to do idiot things like make a Holocaust survivor a Nazi. They’ve also been devaluing the X-Men in the comics in hopes that Fox Studios will give them their characters back, but Fox just recently learned that you can make good movies with superheroes in them and make money doing it, so that’s not likely to happen.

Because some of the editorial board has a questionable capacity for thought, they’ve decided throwing a tantrum is best for business and have made the X-Comics less and less readable for years while threatening to replace the X-Men with the Inhumans, using the same process that got them into this mess in the first place.

So, with all that said, why am I looking forward to this comic?

Marc Guggenheim has a lot to do with it. He wrote the Overwatch novel, co-developed the Arrow television series and wrote twenty-seven episodes back during the first couple of seasons. He also co-developed and wrote some episodes of Legends of Tomorrow, and you can see the exact moment in the series where he got involved. Comics-wise, he helped create the Young X-Men comics and wrote the X-Men Origins: Wolverine video game.

He’s done some cool shit, is what I’m saying.

He’s also responsible for the Green Lantern script and the disastrous second Percy Jackson film, but Hollywood writing credits are often deceptive and so we should take that with a grain of salt.

As mentioned earlier, Marvel turned Iron Man into their number one villain for a decade with an idiot event and recently managed to undo it by rebooting their whole universe to undo the damage caused by a handful of writers and, again, the questionable long-term planning of the comics editorial board. Part of this led to the off-panel divorce of Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde, and the latter is going back to the X-Men to see if there’s any pieces to pick up after their idiot war with the Inhumans and the death of Scott Summers.

Maybe she can ask Rachael Grey Summers what the hell she’s wearing? Just… no. That’s a bad costume, but at least it will look nice with Ken Lashley on art. The man does some incredible things with his pencils and inks and draws in a style that is distinctively modern – you can see his art and echoes of it through Marvel and DC Comics, and you can bet he’ll bring his a-game to this title.

Really, I just want these comics to be as good as they could be and I have faith that this time can do it. Fingers crossed.

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331

God of Comics: The Unworthy Thor #5

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

March 22, 2017

The Unworthy Thor #5 (Marvel Comics)

While Marvel continues to copy DC Comic’s plan of fail (controversy equals cash! Everything needs to be dark and gritty! Let’s reboot the universe! Captain America is a Nazi! Magento is a Nazi! Nick Spencer is a Nazi! Wait a minute…), some of their books have managed to avoid the terrible and quietly do incredible things. Few have managed to do the incredible as well or as long as Jason Aaron’s entire run on the mythic side of Marvel Comics.

Jason’s been working on a proper set of myths, building and expanding the visions set forth by luminaries like Walt Simonson and others. He’s turned a house into a mansion, and the one event Marvel let him plan (Original Sin) gave us Heven, a background for Angela, new Nick Fury, and the new Thor. It created new stories that made sense in the context of the world and added new facets to the heroes involved, as opposed to some other more recent events (Captain Marvel screwed over all her friends because she doesn’t like Phillip K. Dick!)

Part of the consequences of Original Sin led to Thor Odinson losing his hammer. Thor, now simply the Odinson, is no longer considered Worthy. We don’t know what caused this, but he went out and tried to fight without the hammer and lost his arm in the process. His arm has since been replaced, and after giving the new Thor his blessing, went off to look for a replacement Mjolnir.

So, funny story: remember the Ultimate Universe?  It was a mostly successful attempt to place the Marvel superheroes in a more realistic setting, modernizing and condensing some classic Marvel comics. The Ultimates, their Avengers analog, was basically the template for the Avengers movie. It was good times. The Ultimate line also has Jonathan Hickman at his very best, and as critical as I am of him, his Fantastic Four is amazing.

Anyway, their version of Thor was never considered unworthy, so that Mjolnir never had a curse put on it. Anyone with the strength to do so can pick that thing up and it looks super weird and awkward, but someone as strong as Odinson isn’t going to sweat those details. There is a hammer, he wants it, and he’s on the verge of getting it.

Jason Aaron simply gets the Odinson in a way no one else does. He’s been rocking at this for years, instilling all the mythic Marvel comics with pathos and humanity. They are some of the very best that Marvel has to offer on an epic scale, what with Doctor Strange and the Mighty Thor and the Unworthy Thor, and if you’re not reading this and want to see what sort of magic Marvel is capable of you should pick this up.

All those comics feature some of the best artists that Marvel can get their hands on, and the Unworthy Thor is no exception; Olivier Coipel is doing some amazing things with this book, so if you’re in this for the pretty you will not be disappointed. Check it out.

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290

God of Comics: Iron Fist #1

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

March 22, 2017

Iron Fist #1 (Marvel Comics)

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh.

So, the Netflix series happened. I’m about halfway through it not, and it’s… there, I guess? The better side of okay, maybe? There’s just a lot of stuff that they touch on that doesn’t seem to pay off with the main story: everything they’re doing with the Hand is great, but the main story is just kind of there. Nothing happens. There’s chances to talk about corporate greed in more than just a superficial way.

Daredevil was about legal and political corruption. Jessica Jones was about rape culture and PTSD. Luke Cage was about institutionalized racism and crime. Iron Fist is about… what, exactly? American Exceptionalism?

It’s frustrating. The show introduces the concept of heaven and time-displaced cities, hints at talking about corporate greed and the burgeoning class war, touches on colonialism and stereotypes, and even brushes in some talk about PTSD in a different way than Jessica Jones does. There’s mention of reality and expectation and then none on it is followed up upon.

Danny is joyless, laughless, exhibiting a sort of douche-bro cool that comes from a cishet white rich high schooler who went backpacking for the summer and just has to tell you about it. He doesn’t struggle. There’s no danger of him starving or dying of cold or being harrassed when he’s poor. And he comes across as a rude jackass Harry Stu, what with his moralizing without humor, lack of self-awareness, and walking into someone else’s dojo and trying to take over.

The whole thing is irritating.

And yet, I still have high hopes for this series.

Writer Ed Brisson has a proven track record and digging into the guts of a character’s themes, especially characters like this. Look at the work he did on Sheltered or the Violent, or his other big Marvel comic, Bullseye. He gets it, the view from the trenches, the utter destruction that an entire generation is enduring, and what are superheroes if not a means of fighting back against the corruption that is killing us all?

The set-up sounds like Ed has that very concept in mind: to start, K’un Lun is in ruins. Heaven is ruined. Because of this, the flow of chi – the life force of everything on the planet, the pure life energy that gives Danny his powers – is flickering away into nothing. Danny Rand is pushing himself to the breaking point trying to find some means of fighting the decay of his immortal power but the implications are terrifying.

If the life-force of the planet is fading, then so is the life of the planet. Danny might be the only person with the training to recognize the damage being done, but as his strength entropies he might not be in a position to do anything about it – not physically, anyway. Not through brute force. He might need to turn to a battlezone he’s unfamiliar with, the war that is politics, to save us all.

No idea if that’s where this is going, but it feels like a very Ed Brisson thing to do and I kinda wanna see that story. Social martial arts? If someone doesn’t write that I’m going to. Mike Perkins is handling art, and you might remember him from the awesome Ed Brubaker run on Captain America that Marvel and Nick Spencer betrayed when they turned Captain America in a Nazi.

Anyways, this sounds like a lot of fun. Check it out.

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1722

God of Comics 2015-12-30

Culture, God Of Comics

December 29, 2015

All-New Wolverine #3All-New Wolverine #3

I really like Laura. I dig her character and I’m glad she’s stepped in to fill Logan’s absence, even if the traditional Wolverine outfit looks kinda ridiculous on her. Still, I like what they’ve done with her pretty much from the get-go, and this comic continues that trend – we’re getting stories that explore concepts of personhood and agency, and adding a little spy thriller melodrama to the mix. Her relationship with time-displaced young Angel is presented as a healthy thing here, two characters that know and trust one another. It all makes for good reading, unlike…

 

All-New X-Men #3All-New X-Men #3

… this. This is not good reading. This is not good reading because everyone but Young Time Displaced Scott feels like they’re being written out of character. All that interesting stuff between Laura and time-displaced Warren I mentioned above? Short circuited here for some trite melodrama. Also, pretty much everyone else is relegated to comic release, or forced so far outside of what they were or what you’d expect them to be as to make them unreadable. The artwork is good and there’s some really not concepts here, but slogging through the mire of this dialogue is tedious at best.

 

Batman and Robin Eternal #13Batman and Robin Eternal #13

Okay, so Bruce maybe sorta ordered himself up an heir after a young Dick Grayson kinda screwed up enough for mother to realize who Batman was. We got to see the two of them chatting and talking about murder and other things, and I’m assuming that there is a trick coming – every writer on this is too skilled not to have something up their collective sleeves. This continues to be an excellent little mystery, an even keel that is ramping things up as we return to the DCYou version of Cassandra Cain. This is fun and if you like DC Comics you should be following it.

 

Black Magick #3Black Magick #3

If you like comics, however, or incredibly strong stories with a rich history and mythology implied on every page, then you really must be reading this. It’s Greg Rucka inventing another world in which to play in, this one involving a witch who is also a cop and the politics of a centuries out coven that is running from a group of witch hunters who are now using magic, or getting someone to use magic for them. There’s a real sense of menace here, some awful and thus far unseen power that is wrecking havoc on people’s lives. It’s great stuff, is what we’re saying. Check it out.

 

Drax #2Drax #2

We told you. We told you last month that CM Punk was going to write something awesome, and he went out and wrote something awesome. Drax is the muscle for the Guardians of the Galaxy, but all of them are going off and doing their own things in their own titles. Drax, of course, gets a turn, and heads off to find and kill Thanos because that is what Drax does. His ship cuts out, stranding him on a world with Terrax, so they go to get drunk and maybe go on a crime spree so they can raise some money to fix the ship and go kill Thanos, maybe even together~! Comics are amazing.

 

Harley Quinn & Power Girl #6Harley Quinn & Power Girl #6

Jimmy Palimioti and Amanda Conner have quietly been writing one of the best runs with this character that has ever been, and one of the best titles that DC Comics has ever published. This run is part of her epic team-up with Power Girl, when the two of them went galivanting through other dimensions and saved a Seventies Disco Sex God from an alien invasion led by aliens that are against fun in all it’s forms. Having done this they now have to find a way home, which might involve Power Girl marrying the aforementioned Sex God. There are no words for this. You must experience it. Yes.

 

Jughead #3Jughead #3

Wow, this comic is weird. Like, really, really weird. Jughead is the classic character we all know in love, now updated (again) for the modern world by… not really changing very much of anything. Jughead is one of those characters that is iconic because he fits into any situation. There’s something very Zen about Jughead. He is, of course, still subject to the vicissitudes of fate, and this comic is exposing him to the horrors of crumbling personal freedoms and enforced mediocre conformity within the modern American school system. He is, however, armed with his imagination, so my money is on Jughead, but then I hate people that abuse the authority they think they have.

 

Rat Queens #14Rat Queens #14

Has there ever been a tighter fantasy comic than this one? Rat Queens hit the world at the exact best moment for itself – a high-stakes fantasy adventure starring a foul-mouthed, life-loving, all-female mercenary band. It’s given us some of the deepest characters in the medium while exploring a number of absurd and harsh realities, all while never losing sight of itself. Take Hannah, the necromancer half-elf, half-tiefling who is sometimes the voice of reason but is now getting lost in some pretty terrible family stuff that was wide-reaching implications for her world. The timing of this – right after Christmas – is magic, the sort of thing we could all use.

 

Southern Bastards #13Southern Bastards #13

One of my favorite books growing up was a science fiction novel called Illegal Aliens: some aliens land in Central Park in the mid-eighties, and an entire chapter is dedicated to explaining how the world responds. When these reactions are summarized for the UN, it’s explained as “America during Superbowl Sunday.” There is nothing more important in the American consciousness than Football, especially when you leave the trappings of civilization behind for the ever-present heat of the broken south. This is a tale of that broken south and football. This will not end well.

 

Star Wars #14Star Wars #14

Do you ever think that, perhaps, a company decides to drag something on longer than they should? Sometimes, events happen on their own, necessitated by story: that’s what appeared to be happening with Vader Down, but aside from the last few pages in the last part of this event, well, there didn’t seem to be much happening. A holding pattern. I’m not sure why – the art is good and the writing is Gillen, and even bad Gillen is better than some people’s best. Let’s see if we can get this thing back in track with the one thing we all need: Wooke Wrestling Entertainment. BAH GAWD.

 

Sunstone Vol. 4Sunstone Vol. 4

Stjepan Sejic was goofing around on hid deviantart page and accidentally created one of the best romance comics, period. Sunstone is a mature and honest look at love and knots, the absurdity of kink mingled with the trust that any healthy relationship needs to be built on, and how insecurity and a lack of communication can kill even the strongest ties: let’s be clear, love never dies, love is murdered when people aren’t clear with one another. There’s a little something in hear for everyone, and if you’re not familiar with this book you really should look into it.

 

Welcome Back #4Welcome Back #4

Imagine reincarnation. Imagine lifetime after lifetime, bound to repeat some of the same events with the same people, but imagine, too, that this is no love story. Imagine you are in a war, a war without end – born again, die again, forever and ever. Is there any room for change there? Any room to be anything other than a victim, a killer, a corpse? And if the road ahead looks like death without end, is there a point? Where does it begin? That’s what this comic seeks to answer: what fate looks like, the importance of beginnings in understanding the present and changing the future.

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806

God of Comics 2015-12-23

Culture, God Of Comics

December 22, 2015

Angela - Queen of Hel #3Angela: Queen of Hel #3

You ever meet an over-achiever? Someone who just, by their very nature, tends to reach higher and farther than other people ever think to? That’s Angela. Born to Asgard and adopted by Heven, she doesn’t really feel comfortable with either, having learned about the flaws of both. Those flaws have sent her on a new quest, one to carve out her own place and her own realm, so she’s looking to take over Hel and become an equal to her adopted parents – Odin and Frigga – and her adopted mom – the Queen of Heven. This is who is starting a rebellion in Hel. Needs a metal OST.

 

Arcadia #7Arcadia #7

How great is the Expanse? The answer, of course, is “pretty great.” I was chatting with a friend and he was like “ity’s been so long since we had good sci-fi” and I was all “are you reading Arcadia?” And that is why, Casey, you’re going to be getting the Arcadia trade for Christmas, the moment that it comes out. Anyway, a terrible disease has ravaged the world and ninety-nine percent of humanity has been looked in cyro-storage, their minds shuffled into an MMO hellscape that is falling apart, because the tech they’re using was not meant for what they’re using it for. Awesome stuff.

 

Batman and Robin Eternal #12Batman and Robin Eternal #12

We now know exactly how horrific Mother is, and how terrifying her ability to sculpt minds is. They’re not kidding around with what they’ve built here, either, with some of the best writers in comics coming in and adding so much to the Bat-mythos. Jason and Tim are working with Bane and have just bumped into an Azrael, which should go poorly for Jason and Tim and maybe Bane, while Dick and Harper try to understand the horror that nearly swallowed Bruce back during the earliest days of the Bat. This is awesome and heady stuff, a rather awesome spy thriller.

 

Bloodshot Reborn #9Bloodshot: Reborn #9

I need to know how this ends. An unstoppable golem was created by the military industrial complex to kill god, but somewhere a long the way it gained a soul, questioned the violence of it’s being, and gave up the power of itself. That power went elsewhere, infecting others and turning them into almost unstoppable killing machines, and he’s had to go and reclaim his power from those that never wanted it… except for one guy, who did want it and came to the same conclusion the golem did: kill everyone, get all the power. These comics are insanely good existential action-terror.

 

Daredevil #2Daredevil #2

Matt Murdock is back in New York, has managed to hide his secret identity (again, dammit), and is still moonlighting as Daredevil. Good on him? He has changed a little bit, though, as he’s now working for the district attorney in New York as opposed to running a private practice. To show him how much they love him, they’ve stuck his office at the bottom of an elevator shaft, with the excuse of not wanting to waste windows on a blind man. Interestingly, studies show that blind people can tell – they need Vitamin D just like the rest of us. Could be okay. Was liking him in LA.

 

Dark Knight III - The Master Race #2Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2

No, no, don’t walk away, it’s readable, I promise. Yes, Frank Miller’s name is on the cover, and, yes, he’s got some creative input. Someone else is translating his ideas to paper, though, making this a much more interesting comic than it has any business being. The art is very much in line with the original Dark Knight comics, though things are a little more detailed here than they are in, say, Sin City. Anyway, Bruce is dead, the new commissioner forgot what she learned in the Dark Knight, and Carrie Kelly just got herself good and captured. Far better than it has any business being.

 

Darth Vader #14Darth Vader #14

Holy God but the Force Awakens was good. We can all agree with that, right? The D-Cast (link) thought it was incredible, and this? This comic here? Just as freakin’ good. Marvel has done an incredible job of getting from the end of Episode IV to the beginning of Episode V, particularly with Vader re-establishing himself following his loss of a whole Death Star. Along the way, Vader discovered Luke and has been actively hunting him, leading to him crashing on a planet where the rebel alliance was training an army specifically to deal with Vader. They failed just as Leia arrived. Also, Vader’s hench-people just had a battle with Han, and we get the fallout… now. Do not miss this.

 

Deadly Class #17Deadly Class #17

Things have not gone well for Marcus. He fell in love with two girls in a school for assassins, abandoned one as the other got killed, and has since fallen apart. He’s going through some terrible things and feels utterly alone, falling in with the wrong crowd as everything good in him erodes. It’s not just me thinking this; the faculty agrees, because final exams for the year include hunting Marcus down and executing him. This book is haunting, hunting, the sort of thing that is difficult to read but impossible to put down, the unblinking grit of slivered goodness in humanity’s worst.

 

Dr. Mirage Second Lives #1Dr. Mirage: Second Lives #1

It’s a Valiant comic, which I think should be enough of a recommendation on it’s own. Dr. Mirage is a medium who deals with the dead, like her husband, and the two of them work together to perform exorcisms, banishments, and other forms of benevolent necromancy while pondering the weight and circumstance of death itself. Here, she’s discovered a means of giving her husband flesh once more, but it’s an ancient rite that was never meant to be performed and you can already see where this is going… but, like life, this comic is about the journey, not the destination.

 

He-Man The Eternity War #13He-Man: The Eternity War #13

In order to win, in order to defeat the Horde that threatened to devour everything and everyone forever, He-Man had to give up the Power of Greyskull. This left him little more than a broken Adam while his uncle, Skeletor, stepped in and claimed that power. He now dominates everything and everyone, trapping Adora to keep himself on a throne that was never meant for him. Now, Adam must take back his power before King Hiss devours his soul in a series of comics that are far better and deeper than they have any business being. This is science-fantasy opera and it needs to be read to be believed.

 

Justice League 3001 #7Justice League 3001 #7

Speaking of science-fantasy opera, this comic features soul-devouring genetic overlays of various Justice League members teaming up with other immortal Justice League members a thousand years in the future, where things have gone weird. Also, villains have brought back other Justice League era villains to fight the new Justice League, which is going about as well as you’d expect given that a lot of details have become sort of muddled. Also, there’s some kind of robot invasion and they just killed Superman. That can’t be good. And this Superman? Not coming back. No one is safe.

 

Lazarus #21Lazarus #21

Oligarchy took over – this is the world of President Trump, a corporatist dream where the rich rule and the rest of humanity is referred to as ‘waste,’ used to the last drop. The corporations have gone to war, the CEO of the best of their lot poisoned and taken down while his company flounders and their chosen champion struggles to make a difference in the field. There’re powerplays and politics and ruthless plans all coming to fruition, written by one of the best writers in the game and illustrated in a haunting style that will follow you into your dreams and stay there. Poignant, intelligent, and very much a must-read.

 

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2

This is insane. Okay, a smart girl who is being vilified for being smart and believing in science and being ahead of the curve makes friends with a giant indestructible Tyrannosaurus Rex in modern day New York, which should make bullies a little easier to deal with. This is her school’s faculty’s fault for fiddling around with her science projects when they had no idea what the hell they were doing, which is something some of us might have experienced and gotten in trouble for. This comic celebrates intelligence and ingenuity while also showing how both qualities are mucked about with by a system and society that embraces conformity. Important in the same way Ms. Marvel is. Did I mention the genius girl is black?

 

Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat #1Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat #1

You saw Jessica Jones, right link? Of course you did. It was incredible, one of the best things to come out of Netflix for a long while and a nice apology for that third season of Hemlock Grove link. Jessica’s adopted sister in that series was Trish “Patsy” Walker, an old and established character who is now getting her own series and that should be awesome. Trish used to date a literal partially reformed anti-Christ and is a partial celebrity and street level hero who’s kinda good at the martial arts thing. She’s pretty great, and this sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Give it a chance.

 

Pretty Deadly #7Pretty Deadly #7

Deathface Ginny returns to stare down the barrell of the Great War – which is what World War One was called back before people knew they were supposed to name them. This comic is a weird meandering treatise on the weight and responsibility of death, both from the perspective of the living and dying. It’s odd and beautiful and terrifying all at once, edged in with the scripture of the old west and married to the narrative of the early twentieth century. There’s a lot going on here, in other words, and this book is dense, the sort of thing you could use to prove comics-as-art.

 

Rai #12Rai #12

This is the weirdest book… okay, you know how Aphrodite IX and IXth Generation and Justice League 3001 are all about the futures of their respective universes, using the mythos of today to build a landscape set in the far future? That’s what Rai has done, taking the disparate parts of their various titles and making them more important by showing what the eventual consequences of those people, places, and things are. It’s beautiful and detailed and stranger than a badly cut eighties anime, moving at a breakneck pace and expecting you to keep up with introduced concepts.

 

Rocketeer At War #1Rocketeer: At War #1

Somehow, this character is still a thing. The movie link holds up pretty well, and there’s enough here that a company like IDW Publishing should be able to put out something cool – a stunt pilot discovers a jetpack back in World War II, and goes from being a nobody to being a major player because of the technology he has mastered. The man in question, Cliff Secord, gets by on his wits and is very much a chip off the Han Solo block, a guy who just wants to be left alone to do his thing, but given the proper circumstances can be a hero. I’m curious to see how this plays out.

 

Star-Lord #2Star-Lord #2

I’m trying to decide of I care. This is now young Peter Quill by way of John Crichton, having stolen a space ship and gotten himself stranded in space. This goes against the movie – and wasn’t Secret Wars supposed to do two things? One was fix the mistakes of Jonathan Hickman, and the other was to being the comics closer in line with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This serves neither, but still could be interesting if we weren’t comparing it to the series that came before Secret Wars, which was, well, stellar. We’ll see if this gets any better this month. I’m hoping it does.

 

Switch #3Switch #3

Stjepan Sejic is one of the most gifted artists working in comics today. He’s got a knack for writing engaging characters, even if English is not his first language. The trick is that in looking past his weaknesses to view his many strengths, and few comics illustrate those as well as this one. The Witchblade falls into the hands of an ordinary school girl who has no idea what she has or what she’s gotten into. Like spider-Gwen, this comic then takes familiar faces and puts new spins on them, so if you’ve never read Witchblade, this might be something you’ll dig. We dig it quite a lot.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #53Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #53

Hamato Yoshi killed Oroko Saki. It happened – we all watched it happen, and Saki welcomes it at the end. It brought an end to a struggle that traversed lifetimes, and might finally allow Saki to overcome with karma and evolve. Everyone who was watching understood… except Michelangelo, who fled to an old enemy for succor. He doesn’t know how bad Old Hob can be, because his family protected him from the worst of Hob’s excesses and he’s buddies with Slash, but without that barrier he’s likely to learn some things he might not like. The only sure thing is that this will be excellent.

 

Venom Space Knight #2Venom: Space Knight #2

So, Flash Thompson went to the planet of the symbiotes and got the madness within his other half expunged, aligning himself with the monastic heroic order the symbiotes are supposed to be. Now, he gets to wander like a knight errant throughout the cosmos, writing wrongs and fighting evil whenever he’s not hanging with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The first issue was a surprising pleasure, setting the stage for a strange heroic space opera, which is exactly what this feels like. The art is also gorgeous, matching the quality of the writing into an incredibly strong whole. Recommended.

 

Velvet #13Velvet #13

Every week, it seems, there’s one comic where we stop and say simply read this. So, to wit: read this. Velvet is a female James Bond operating in the early seventies, cutting a world-wide swath to expose a double agent in British intelligence while clearing her own name. We don’t know the full scope of the conspiracy, but neither does she – what we do know is that she’s good at what she does, an expert in the field and dangerous in every way conceivable, and that the people that messed with her made the mistake of forgetting who she is. Don’t make that same mistake. Read this.

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