Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Relevant comic content - Giant size Avengers

Since one of my resolutions for this year is to post more reviews about recent comics this is my first installment of what I like to call RELEVANT COMIC CONTENT.

Which means that I´m going to write about a comic that is not one year old and there are going to be some spoilers. I try not to post unnecessary spoilers but in some cases it just can´t be avoided. And there are also going to be some images from the actual comic not just the cover.

Now today´s issue is the new GIANT SIZED AVENGERS and what´s wrong with it. The short story anthology that comes with a hefty price tag of 4 bucks 99 reads quite well but if you look a little bit below the surface there are several things I don´t like about it.

Firstly a big part of the issue are reprinted stories which in itself is not so bad.

Yes, I would like to get some new content but reprinted stories can be fun if you don´t have the individual issues anymore. The problem with the stories here is that they get reprinted too often for my taste. I guess every comic reader owns at least five different reprints of EVEN AN ANDROID CAN CRY and it seems Marvel reprints THE IMPECCABLE JARVIS as often as they can. So if they have to use filler material ( and that´s all a reprint story really is ) I would have liked it better if they had chosen stories that are not reprinted ad absurdum or that had SOMETHING to do with the stories in the issue. What the origin story of the Vision has to do with anything that happens in this issue is beyond my grasp of story telling techniques.

Back to the new content the framing story is the best part of the book. Black Widow

Ms. Marvel

and the Wasp

relaxing by the pool in bikinis is something that doesn´t happen often enough in comics. Really. And the art by Jim Cheung does deliver on all aspects. For me this was the deciding factor that made me buy the issue.

So if Marvel wants to sell more books - that´s the way. Avenger bikini babes - not anthology books. One thing that I find strange in this context is that in the first panel on this page it really sticks out that the main color in all three costumes is black. Maybe they should change their name to BLACK AVENGERS.

But like I said that´s the good part.

The other stories like the one with Jarvis are nice but not really mindblowing. One story about a weird villain, one story with weird art about a first contact with aliens that come to worship Gyrich and a final story with the FIN FANG FOUR having a therapy session with beautiful art by Roger Langridge. That´s all good and well ( though I´m still miffed at Nelson that he totally ruined John Byrne´s pencils on Superman ) .

The point when they really blow it is the story MEMORIAL DAY by Matt Yocum and Paul Neary. In the story Spider - Man´s pranks on his teammates go overboard and Captain America and Iron Man intervene to set him straight. Doctor Strange kooks up a spell that let´s Spidey share Cap and Iron Man´s experiences as Avengers to bring him down to earth. After seeing their encounters with Korvac, Ultron and what happened in the Kree - Skrull War Spidey´s back on the path as an useful Avengers member ( this is the short version ).

This story is just wrong on so many levels that I just don´t know where to begin. I know that editorial supervision at Marvel has been slacking in the last years. In an attempt to bring on new readers Marvel just doesn´t care WHAT you write as far as they think it´s a good story - leading to characters dropping like flies and more superheroes or villains behaving out of character than in the ten years before. Make that twenty. But this story takes it to new heights.

First of all Spider - Man does NOT play practical jokes on his Avenger teammates. He´s the wisecracking smartmouth - sure. He is constantly telling jokes - right. He always tries to lighten up the mood - oh, absolutely. But he never did practical jokes as a member of the Avengers. Which by the way he HAS been a few times. He´s been a full member, a reserve member and an honorary member over the course of his career. And it´s true. Spider - Man does pranks - but ONLY with Johnny Storm.

And only for two reasons. One : because of his special relation / competition / friendship / hate / whatever thing with Johnny Storm. Two : Johnny started it. It´s as simple as that. So the whole starting point of the story is all wrong. Not even the first two pages make sense. Right out the door we´re in a WHAT IF story.

The second problem is that Spider - Man is not a rookie no matter what spin Marvel is currently putting on him. They vetoed that Peter was the father of Gwen´s kids because they thought that would make him to old for today´s reader to be cool......and we all know how the story was effed up as a result. Spidey is a veteran in the superhero community and someone who now inspires others. He´s been around the block as they say and he´s seen everything.

And he has done everything. So the idea of him being impressed by Captain America´s or Iron Man´s experiences is just ridiculous. Spidey has gone againt the Juggernaut, Thanos and the Stranger. Secret Wars, Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, Infinity Abyss, the secret invasion by the Dire Wraiths or Skrulls - he was in the thick of it. He has fought street thugs, cosmic villains and gods. Everyone seems to forget that Spider - Man was THE crucial player in Adam Warlock´s defeat of Thanos.

He has gone up against demigods and mystical conquerors a gazillion times with Doctor Strange. He has defended the earth from all comers at the side of the Avengers, the X - Men, the Defenders.....hell, even the New Warriors. He has teamed up with anyone in the Marvel universe and beyond and he´s on a first name basis with Galaktus, Infinity or the Watcher.

So it´s really totally bogus that EVERY time Spidey is on the Avengers he totally freaks out and quits in the end because he gets the feeling that he´s waaaay in over his head. Yes, I know that Spidey doesn´t go up against Galaktus or Thanos every day. But neither do the Avengers. And Spidey has done it before. Alone if need be. It´s like pizza ( yes, I know. Everything is like pizza with me ). I love pizza but who eats pizza every day ? No one. Despite of it if I had to eat pizza I wouldn´t freak out. Yes, I don´t eat pizza every day but I have eaten pizza before and I know that if the need to eat pizza would present itself I could do it again. So I´m not afraid or scared of pizza. Get my point ?

And there are also the weird things like Wolverine sleeping with open eyes and popped claws. Since when does he do that ?

It never was mentioned in my 20 years of reading X - Men. And the Avengers having to school Spidey that " With great power comes great responsibility " ? Dude, if I was guilty for the death of my favorite uncle who´s motto this was I don´t think I would ever forget it. Not in my whole life. As I wouldn´t forget what it means to be a member of the Avengers if that´s something that I always wanted as a superhero.

With hundreds of writers on strike right now why couldn´t this guy show a bit of solidarity ?

So the issue get´s bonus points for avenging bikini babes but this story just totals the score and blows all other positive points ( like the art by Roger Langride ) to kingdom come.

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