Weekly Comic Book Discussion 6/28/2006

Dear Marvel,

I’ve stuck with you through the whole “Everyone has a son or daughter from a parallel possible future who’s all grown up and myspylls hys or hir nayme” thing. I’ve stuck with you through the “Let’s deforest Brazil with the number of X-Books we publish in the '90s” thing. Hell I stuck through the Clone saga (at least some of it. I’m no masochist :wink: :p)

But enough.

I hate the ham-handed politics of the Civil War. When it first came out and I thought there’d be a nuanced, balanced point of view, I was excited. To me, this would be Marvel’s first Big Event to really rival the Big Events that DC seems to be able to do so well. And you really held my interest with the first story or two.

But now? :rolleyes: There’s no balance, there’s just a very, VERY thinly badly disguised parallel to real-world events. “Unregistered combatant” my ass. :rolleyes: I quit. As an aside, I personally don’t care who’s “real-world” side is right or wrong for these purposes–I’m buying (or was buying) this stuff to read a comic-book story. Based on this week, I can just log onto the Daily KOS* and read some threads substituting Sue Richards or Captain America for “Al Gore” and Iron Man for John Ashcroft. I don’t want to read current events in my funny books. I didn’t enjoy it in the '70s with the “relevance” craze and I enjoy it less now. One thing I gotta say that these guys are doing though: They’re making Denny O’Neill actually seem balanced. So, I buy Spider-Man for another few issues, Astonishing X-Men as long as A) it’s not connected to the rest of the Marvel Universe and B) as long as Joss is writing it, I’ll buy some of the Ultimate Marvel line and I’ll use the saved money to buy more Masterworks and or Archives (the upcoming Shazam Family archives looks good!)

(Plus, guys? I really hate that you’re only putting illustrations on half the cover. It looks stupid and cheap)

Amazing Spidey— Other than the scheduling stupidity of not having it come out last week, it was ok. I’d have loved to see the issue more tightly focus on Peter, May, MJ and Jonah and had a lot less of the Civil War crap. That said, it was OK.

Front Line—Sucked donkey dick. Poorly written, poorly drawn, poor storytelling. Dudes, if you’re going to set hero against hero, you HAVE to make both sides sympathetic. Also the whole Speedball sequence showed a complete ignorance of basic law AND was annoying and poorly written. I do like that it did resolve the “Can you just quit” option (the answer’s “yes”. Your choices are 1) Register and unmask, 2) Don’t register and be a criminal, 3) Stop wearing the cape.) And, here is where Cap should have quit and gone underground. Not 2-4 weeks back when nothing wrong had actually…y’know…happened.

X-Factor—Haven’t read it but I’m willing to bet a sawbuck it’ll suck. Marvel is giving Peter “Jeepers! Wolverine, Dumb Hulk and Doctor Strange are all hard-line Democrats–cause I am!”** David a chance to talk politics. The mind boggles. I hope I’m wrong…but I doubt it.

New Avengers–Haven’t read it, but I’m bored. I’m sick of the Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids version of the Avengers. I love Bendis’s revisioning of Luke Cage and want him to stay but these guys aren’t the Avengers. Hell, they’re not even Justice League Antarctica. I don’t want to read about Spider-Woman, Wolverine and Sentinel.

Fantastic Four—Jeepers. A MASTERPIECE of subtletly. “Sometimes the most patriotic thing you can do in a democracy is disagree.” :rolleyes: Very, very subtle guys.***

More later…

Fenris

*You can believe me or not, but I’d be saying exactly the same thing (albiet in a more surprised tone) if the writers were leaning the other way and it was a bunch of clear-thinking pro-registration guys vs a bunch of mindless hippie anti-establishement types and the books were ripped from the pages of Free Republic. I really, REALLY hate “relevance” (RIPPED FROM THE HEADLINES OF THREE MONTH OLD NEWSPAPERS!!). I don’t mind adult storytelling, but look at Sandman for an idea about how to do adult stories without spewing propaganda everywhere.

**There was some story, perhaps in Hulk, where Hulk (who I swear was the dumb version, but I can’t reconcile the timeline), Doctor Strange and Wolverine were all talking about how dumb/bad Dan Quayle was. If that was Spider-Man and Hawkeye say, I’d have no problem. But Hulk, Dr Strange and Wolverine?! If I was listing three characters that should be apolitical, those would be on the top of the list. It was just bad writing.

***I don’t disagree with the sentiment, I disagree with the Green Lantern #76-esque feel with the Thing unable to rebut it. (“Tell me Mr. Lantern. I hear tell youse work for de Blue Men to save the Orange Men from de Purple Men. So can you tell me watchoo done for th’ black man?” / "I… < sob > can’t! :frowning: "–total crap writing)

Don’t be coy. Tell us how you really feel.

Hmm…was I too understated in my opinions? :wink: :stuck_out_tongue:

I say this as a hardcore liberal Democrat (if you vote Republican in this day and age, I pretty much consider you dangerous and crazy)- Civil War should have been what they promised the fans. Marvel said there’d be no clear right or wrong. You’d see both sides as valid and you’d understand the conflict.

Civil War has become lopsided and therefore completely uninteresting.

I’ve been ignoring most of the Civil War stuff myself. I don’t mind political content but straight allegory becomes tiresome, especially when it’s not handled well. I enjoy the old Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories you mention though, because they are so much a product of their times and reflect the beginning of the movement toward deeper and less juvenile themes in comics. However, it’s been nearly forty years since then. You can’t keep telling those stories at this rudimentary level and pretend like that’s okay.

Continuing:

Brave New World–I love these “Sneak Preview” books. They remind me of my misspent yoot’. That said, Creeper was interesting, Atom was very interesting as was Shazam and Martian Manhunter. OMAC was dull and…remember what I said about not liking politics all over my comics? I’ll be giving Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters a big miss, thanks. What’s interesting is that (IMO) only the Atom and Creeper stories really tried to focus on the characters rather than the plot.

Ion–Good story (if predictible*) good art, but damn he has a dumb costume.
*Wouldn’t it 've been nice if, when he said to Major Force “I understand. I’m not scared any more.” for MF to knock him across the horizon and say “Well, you shoulda been scared, bucko.”

New Avengers–Did Chakin write this or something? 'Cause Bendis is a good writer normally. “They want us to be puppest to a corporate shill structure”? “They care more about themselves than the world they live in.”?! Who is this person and what’s he done with Captain America? As far as I’m concerned, this guy’s a Space Phantom. Cap (who certainly might disagree with this act) doesn’t talk that way. Al Franken doesn’t talk this way. Rush Limbaugh doing one of his lame-ass imitations of Al Franken doesn’t talk this way.

Also “I’m down, brotha’”? “Yo dig?”?! Jiminy Christmas you honky-mofos! Dat Falcon, he be one jive cat talkin to Cap! He da MAN! He DOWN wit’ it! He one BAAAAAAAaaad mammajamma!Fo sho’! Um…Falcon never, ever, EVER talked like Shaft. Not once. (Excluding the “Snap” Wilson bit that everyone (thankfully) ignored). I know Bendis can write…so why is he writing Falcon as sounding like a refugee from “Blackula vs Shaft”, with just a dash of Buckwheat thrown in for good measure? Given how well Bendis reformed Luke Cage, I’m appalled by this.

“For what, pray tell”? We’ve taken Hank Pym’s personality and replaced it with Little Lord Fauntleroy’s. Let’s see what happens.

And y’know? When it comes down to it it’s not that easy of an issue. I wonder how many of these writers who are so unable to empathize with the “Pro-registration” side (and note; if I was in the Marvel Universe, I’d be anti-registration) support people having the right to own, say, full auto rifles and hand-grenades and LAW rockets? Because, see, I’d certainly rather have a city full of people armed with LAW rockets than have a pissed off Storm running around. When it comes down to it, Storm, on a bad day, without any effort whatsoever can make Katrina look like a mild drizzle and that big Tsunami look like a ripple. It’s not completely unreasonable for the feds to say “You wanna run around doing law-enforcement? Then sign up or go away.”

Batman–Damn, Robinson’s good. First time I’ve seen the “real” Batman outside of the Adventures books in a decade or more. Driven, intense, smart, kick-ass tough…and not psychotic. The only prob in this storyline was killing off the Ventriloquist.

Superman–Ditto. To me, Busiek’s never managed to capture the same magic with DC characters that he did with Marvel…until now. Damn: I can’t WAIT for his regular take on Superman.

X-Factor: Oops. I was wrong. Decent story and apolitical. I got a chuckle out of the “I shrugged” joke actually. Um…why is Pietro able to give people super-powers?

Justice League Classified–WOO-HOO! Steve Englehart has relearned how to write (remember his Hellcat mini for Marvel that was so dreadful that everyone ignored it?) Englehart probably wrote the single best run of the original JL of A series and he’s back in tiptop form. Hell, he’s able to make Justice League Detroit interesting. What’s nice? We got inside Steel’s head last issue and when I saw it was gonna be Vibe’s head in the current issue, I was concerned. I was afraid that we’d get a “O the shame of it all. Here I am, a classically educated young hispanic man forced by lo, this bitter circumstance to speak as though I was a refugee of where-ever Charo is from.” Nope. AND Englehart brought back Amos Fortune. I love those old JLofA gimmick villians. Given all the backstory, I wonder if Englehart’ll remember that A) Jonn isn’t affected by the luck-machine (Martians don’t have luck glands. No really. “Luck glands”. JLofA #6, circa 1960.) and 2) That Amos Fortune was ALSO Mr. Memory and has an amnesia gas.

More later.

You didn’t read Son of M did you?
Pietro’s future self visited him and revealed (AGAIN, since this first come out in his own short lived series a few years ago) that his powers aren’t SPEED but TIME. Future Pietro gets present powerless Pietro to steal the terrigen mists from the Inhumans- Some shit happens. The Inhumans and the US govt. are at a Cold War situation. Pietro overdoses on the mists and goes as far into the future as possible- He returns and apaprently can give mutants back their powers to some extent. Having not read this new X-factor I don’t know what happens there, but on the last page of the limited series, Pietro gives someone who appears to be Liefeld X-force era MLF member Reaper back a mutated form of his powers.

I didn’t like them, because they didn’t respect the characters. Turning boring “Lookit me! I’m a Batman-clone” Green Arrow into a liberal? I liked that: he didn’t have a personality and it made him interesting. Turning Hal Jordan into a wuss because Denny O’Neill can’t write any character that doesn’t share his views except as a villian? Not as much.

But either way, we’re on the same page here. I’d love to see a more complicated storyline where both sides were split because both sides have a valid point. Hell, historically one of the (many) reasons Jameson’s had for disliking super-heroes is that the “Gee…we’re only trying to help and protect people and we’re wearing masks to protect ourselves and our loved ones” is exactly the same reason the Klan gave. Would you like to live in a world where cops were all masked and you could be jailed on their word without having to face your accuser?

Arbitrary and Unrelated:

  1. I really love the Civil War covers - I think that they look really classy and artsy. I wish Marvel did more covers like this on a regular basis instead of boring covers.

  2. That new Eternals hardcover looks amazing, and I got a kick out of the “Still only $75!” on the cover.

  3. Sergio Aragones’ Solo is killer.

I’m not sure if that’s who appeared in X-Factor, never having read X-Force (remember footnotes? Back in the days when they didn’t assume you read and memorized every book of the last forty years?) but I think the storyline picks up here.

Thanks for the backstory though: none of that’s explained here and I was completely loast.

Um…also…what about “Decimation”? Syren apparently has a sex-appeal power and uses it on Spider-Man and asks him about it. I thought that it was that all but ~200 mutants came back from the Scarlet Witch-verse without their powers. Is there something more to it than that?

Continuing:

52–Damn, I’m enjoying this. Which is weird. Normally I don’t like decompressed stories, but this one? I’m really liking it. A couple of spoilers:

[spoiler]

  1. They better not kill whatshername–Steel’s kid/neice/whatever.
  2. I’d thought that Supernova was Connor since the Seigel/Shuster family had won some judgement about Superboy’s name, but apparently he’s Captain Atom?
  3. I really, REALLY like the setup for the One year Later Superman stories with Luthor becoming a bad-guy again. I don’t like having an untouchable “I am a humble dealer in spices” kingpin rip Luthor.
  4. I also hope that they “cure” Steel–I like him with armor, not as Colossus.
  5. Anyone else think that Booster was trying to get all that money for some ulterior reason?[/spoiler]

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane–Best. Spider-man book on the market, IMO. The fact that the continuity makes no sense is irrelevant. Still good stuff.

Ultimate Spider-Man–Bleh. Normally enjoy the book, this arc is leaving me cold. Also, Bendis is writing too damned much stuff and I think his work is suffering as a result.

Legion–Eh. Normally enjoy this one too, but the story should have been six page backup.

Blue Beetle–El Paso is a lot uglier than they’re making it look. IMO, it’s one of America’s 5 least visually attractive cities. That said, I like the kid a lot I really wanna see a Blue Beetle/Firestorm team up.

Truth, Justin And The American Way–Still a cute book, the pop-culture references are getting annoying. It was cute when it was just that his kitchen was actually the Keaton’s kitchen from “Family Ties”. But in this one, we had[ul]
[li]An unsubtle Six Million Dollar Man bit[/li][li]An unsubtle Dukes Of Hazard reference[/li][li]An appearance by Archie Bunker[/li][li]That one show with the two black kids adopted by the white guy and his daughter? (“Watchoo talkin’ 'bout, Willis?”) A series of references to him.[/li][/ul]
And several others that I didn’t get but were obviously references (“Sinbad’s Citadel”?) Enough. It’s cute, but getting less so–it’s getting to be a distraction. Just tell the story.

They’re gonna cancel JSA.

DC site stops listing it after a few months forward.

I love Golden Age.

:frowning: :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: :frowning:

*JSA * is being relaunched as Justice Society of America a few months from now. There are changes to the team roster, but I don’t think all the details of that have been announced yet.

Nope, I’m wrong – there are some details and I remember reading this now. Sorry, blame my summer cold with bonus fever! Some interesting choices, including Starman (no definite word yet on which incarnation).

One fine Comics Day, Fenris collides with the physical embodiment of Marvel Comics.

Fenris: Hey, you! You’ve got (ick) politics on my superheroes!

Marvel: You’ve got superheroes in our politics.

:: Fenris and Marvel warily sample the result ::

Together: Pthooey! Gak! Urk --!

Mark Millar: Don’t forget, I still get paid.

I don’t mind Marvel mixing politics and superheroes…it’s simply their obnoxious assumption that not only is the subject black and white, but THEY are on the white side that grates. But then, it’s not a new thing by any stretch of the imagination. I am getting used to it, as a matter of fact.

I haven’t seen issue 03 yet, but Truth, Justin and The American Way has had pop culture TV references (and some other visuals from the 70s and early 80s) since the beginning. As it says in the letters page, they deliberately threw in as many references as they could. I think the story is just there to provide a framework (or excuse, if you prefer) for all these references.

Issue one had:

“Drummond Industries”
A Dirty Harry style-car chase
Playboy artist Buck Brown’s Granny
Ponch & Jon from CHiPs
WKRP’s Bailey
Incredible Hulk references
The interior kitchen and exterior of the Keaton home from Family Ties
Fred Sanford & Lamont cameo
The Biltmore Hotel from “Bachelor Party”

… those are just the obvious ones I caught

… not to mention the fact the whole supersuit plot is a metahomage to the Greatest American Hero.

:smiley:

What kills me is how good this could have been. If they’d told the story that they were talking about, this would be one for the ages. I mean, it coulda been Crisis-worthy.

What this should have been, essentially, a Second and Sixth Amendment fight: does the right to keep and bear arms include the ability to blow up neighborhoods just by looking at them or by summoning up class 10 hurricanes by twiddling your fingers–almost everyone agrees that if there’s an individual right to keep and bear arms, it’s not unlimited and background checks are not an unreasonable imposition (hell, even the NRA backed insta-background checks). Given that, is it all THAT unreasonable to ask someone to register if they’ve got the power to kill everything in a two mile radius and intend to use their power on other people as quasi-law enforcement?

Does the right to “to be confronted with the witnesses against him” include the right to see them unmasked? To what degree should individual citizens be free to engage in vigilante justice…and what about the right to privacy?

How do all of those work with “good samaritan” laws? Let’s say that Razorback has quit as a result of the Registration Act but then, six months later, sees a woman trapped under a truck. If he rescues her, he’s guilty of violating the Registration Act, if he doesn’t, he’s violated good samaritan laws. How do you reconcile the two?

There’s some incredibly complex and interesting issues that have no real clear answers but instead, it’s been turned into “Daaar…da Patriot Act sux an’ Gitmo is baaaaaad an’…” :rolleyes:

Tsk. Talk about squandered opportunities.

Sorry, left off a couple of sentences

My best friend collects World War Two era rifles. If he happened to have one in his car and if he happened to see a robbery and if he happened to stop it using one of those rifles (which, by the way, he had to pass a background check to purchase), the police might thank him…or they might not–I remember one case in Colorado about 10 years back where an off-duty security guard was in the parking lot of a K-Mart(?) and shot a couple of armed robbers–IIRC he was fired and had a grueling several-month rectal exam by the cops). But if he got away with it and then said “Kewl! Now I’m gonna drive around every DAY and find people I can shoot–they’ll be lawbreakers, mind you. But I’m a good shot, I won’t use deadly force, I’ll just, y’know shoot 'em in the leg. Oh…and I’m gonna wear a ski-mask while I do it. You guys don’t mind, do you?”, how long do you think he’d last. Now replace the rifle with a LAW rocket and you’re somewhere below the level of firepower that Cyclops is packing…and Cyclops is a pretty wimpy character overall–he’s not even bulletproof. (Excluding that several month period where Claremont(?) inexplicably decided that unstable molecules were indestructible. Note that they’ve never been before or since)

The bastardized Cap they’re using in this arc wants to make this a “Holocaust/Japanese-American internment camp issue” a la the X Men first movie, but it just ISN’T. No one is trying to make super-powered individuals register, they merely want people who intend to use those super powers to fight crime to get some sort of training and official sanction. The position that the “good guys” (and ostensibly the idiotic writers) are taking is that it’s somehow facist to insist that people who perform police duties should have police training. One wonders how they would feel about average citizens with no training or official capacity taking to the streets with guns and “policing the city”—not just being armed for self defense but actively looking for criminals to apprehend by force. Basically, they’re arguing in favor of the “vigilance comittees” in San Francisco that gave rise to the term “vigilante.”
And it’s even WORSE than that…many of these supers have powers that could kill dozens or even THOUSANDS of people in minutes…and they could do it by accident, for God’s sake.
If the government in Civil War were asking that all supers either work for the government or go to jail (as they are in the Ultimates books), then the issue would be clear. But giving them the option of simply living a normal life—hell, they could even use their powers just NOT TO FIGHT CRIME WITHOUT TRAINING—means that Captain America (as poorly written in this arc) and the writers of the series are simply morons.
Which frankly doesn’t surprise me.

I agree that the problem so far is with the execution and lack of nuance. Nuance is thing that Mark Millar doesn’t do particularly well. He’s an excellent “big event” plotter who does pretty terrific fight scnes and writes snappy dialogue and nice plot twists, but a story like this could use some decompression and exploring the political and socioeconomic grey areas.

Some of the side projects and tie-ins I’ve seen – AVENGERS: ILLUMANATI, Straczynski’s take via SPIDER-MAN #529-531, and Fantastic Four #536 & 537 – explore some those concerns a bit more, but the central CIVIL WAR plot is all about hurrying to the smash-punch-sock 'em conflict. It might still get good. It’s not unredeemable.