Marvel Reads & Reviews: 4/11/07 Edition

Opinions on the Work of People Far More Talented Than I

This proved so popular last week, I just had to do it again. Hopefully, I can keep it up ongoing.

Loners #1

Not a bad start, but I can already identify what is going to be a long term problem with this book. The inherent nature of it means we are cheering for the “heroes in recovery” to fail. We need them to to have a book. In and of itself, perhaps that seems only problematic from a cognitive dissonance standpoint. However, consider that every issue the heroes need to fall off the bandwagon to make the story work. That could present a redundancy problem.

On the other hand, if Cebulski grows the cast (which I believe he is set to), perhaps not. The cast gets big enough and you can have former teen heroes cycle in, spill their guts, appear to be making it work, and then pick back up again and disappear from the group. Some could return shamed, others perhaps never do.

Or, the group could evolve into more of a support group and less of a recovery one and therefore doing the occasional (or frequent even) superhero deed wouldn’t be an issue. It would be more about coping with life after their teen years (their peak as it was) and now being reduced to C or D list status.

This is just a mini though, so I’m probably getting a bit ahead of myself.

I appreciated that, for the most, Cebulski nails the support/recovery group feel and language. There’s the sniping (despite the best of intentions, recovery groups are volatile places, safe or not), the almost coded way of speaking (Phil Urich’s mantra, “This is not a debate. Be firm.”), and the tearful, but barely believable confessions/apologies of the recently fallen off. This (or Zatanna’s support group in Seven Soldiers) is probably as close to “real” as you could create for a group made up of former costumed do-gooders trying to stay clean from the biz.

Beyond the support group, Cebulski also excels in depicting the addictive behaviors of our “heroes”. Mattie Franklin (Spider-Woman III) nicely rationalizing her behavior as a sort of “just this once” occasion although we all know better. Chris Powell (Darkhawk) is arrogant, unthinking, and out of control the moment he is in costume again. Even Johnny Gallo (Ricochet), the “functioning alcoholic” of the group if you will, shows signs of addictive reasoning behind his supposed altruistic bailing out of Mattie and Chris.

Moline does a competent job on art, but has a weird tendency to reduce the more dramatic or explosive moments to smaller panels. He seems far more comfortable and in his element during the non-heroing moments.

B

New Avengers #29

I know it is only a few issues in, but I feel comfortable proclaiming that New Avengers has shaken off the malaise that gripped the book from around issue 17 or so. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that this, right here, right now, is the book that New Avengers was trying to be from the start. In other words, this is the best this book has been.

Bold? Perhaps. But I’ll stand by it. Bendis well employs the plot device of time shifting to simultaneously tell the tale of New against Mighty for the first time, how and why New find themselves in Japan, and what’s happening in happen “now”. Of the three, now gets the short shift, but a little speechifying by Cage brings an appropriate level of plot progression in just under the wire so I felt fine with it. Bendis is also making nice use of the Marvel U. in general by incorporating characters like Silver Samurai (last time) and Brother Voodoo (this time) in a way that compliments the plot and highlights the diversity (not in the typical sense, although it does that too) of Marvel.

But really, if I’m honest, this issue is all about Iron Fist’s attorney. Guy’s scarier than Batman.

Before I forget, I know that Yu is not everyone’s cup of tea and I understand why. However, for my money, he’s a great choice. His rough/dirty style fits nicely with the places this team finds itself (literally and metaphorically). Also, I think he does a great black costume Spidey and messed up Wolverine.

A

Thunderbolts #113

Norman Osborn couldn’t be crazier and that suits me just fine. Yes, I firmly believe the guy shouldn’t be alive and yes, if I ran Marvel creatively the only ridiculously fanboy/continuity nut thing I could not hold myself back from doing would be to reveal that the resurrected “Norman” was actually Harry all along. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Harry’s death in Spectacular, but Norman’s was iconic and should’ve never been retconned.

Anyway, where was I?

Ahh yes, its ten years later and Norman’s clearly not going anywhere so I’ll have to accept him. And if he’s this loony and obsessive, well, it just becomes that much easier.

If this was a movie, Mr. Osborn would be described as “eating the scenery” as he barks orders, belittles opinions, laughs to himself, and constantly fixates on Spider-Man. He’s over the top, no doubt about it, but it works so well in the context of the book, I wouldn’t change it for a second.

Well, maybe I’d change the fact that he looks like Tommy Lee Jones. Although, honestly, at this point, I’m not really even noticing that anymore.

Beyond Norman, I’m looking for the inevitable ten car pileup of a plot that is coming when American Eagle, Shadowman, Steel Spider, and the Thunderbolts all coverge on Phoenix and begin to bounce off one another. It is sure to be spectacularly devastating for the region.

B+