I’ve been bitter lately, a million reasons why, none of them super overly important, but it’s been a thing. As such, it’s been a lot harder for me to go out of my way to locate the good and awesome in the industry that I love. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are books I love to absolute death and can not live without, but for the most part….I spend my days nitpicking the crappiest of the crap and lamenting the days when the books that NEED to be good, were, in fact, good. When logic bombs weren’t the primary thing I was taking away from my time with my favorite hobby. The questions that shouldn’t even be asked, let alone have answers, and the fact that they’ve begun to pollute my mind with the negativity and complete and utter lack of buenoness.
I mean, for fucks sake people, I reviewed a book as “Shoot me/10″ a few weeks ago. That’s not right! Secret Invasion didn’t do that to me! Fear Itself didn’t do that to me! I mean, is this where things are going for me? To hating my hobby?
I’m not known for my love of the popular crowd of comedians, TV shows, and music. I hated Seinfeld, didn’t like The Office, and I’ve turned down every single Pirates of the Caribbean movie on multiple occasions. You know what I do like, though? Saturday Night Live. I don’t watch it as often as I used to, but it’s always been a not-so-guilty pleasure of mine, and over the years it’s dumped a lot of jokes into my head that, for the life of me, I can not shake.
You like’a the juice?
No, seriously, when the show is good, it’s good, and there are some people that are just completely priceless with their deliveries. This isn’t about SNL though, just me admitting that my new idea is a direct homage to one of my favorite segments of the past few years. Especially since, upon seeing it on the air, I realized quickly “Well, fuck, I do that on a daily basis anyway”. So what may appear as a total riff to some people…this is something I actually do when I’m ranting aloud, so you’ve been warned.
Now, the real question is, where do I begin? Pick a book, pick a creator, pick an event, pick a publisher? There are so many to go after!
Like, Brian Bendis and the Marvel higher ups have been pushing Age of Ultron, obviously, it’s their big event of the first half of the year. It’s full of twists, turns, and random acts of death and chaos, with a story that changes directions every few issues. So, in essence, it’s like Vince Russo is writing a comic. Don’t know who he is? Honestly, you’re better off, because every couple of pages reading Age of Ultron and I can hear a Vince Russo voice yelling “SWERVE!” Because, you know, that’s what fans want.
Really, that’s what Marvel thinks we, as readers, want. A story that goes nowhere, but is promoted as the biggest thing of the year, so it sells. A story that made more sense two years ago, but there’s no chance Marvel doesn’t act like it was always supposed to happen now. Despite all the inconsistencies.
Like the Superior Spider-Man. We had a one shot to show us that it is, in fact, Spider-Ock in the series, except that in Age of Ultron he’s only wearing the classic costume and acting heroic. So he’s supposed to be a bad guy? Really? Was Bendis told of this beforehand? Did nobody tell the artists to draw the right costume? Really? Just going to sit back, cross your fingers, and hope that nobody raises a WTF flag? Not happening.
Age of Ultron is Flashpoint lite, a cobbled together alternate timeline brought together by time travel fuckery with the promise of changing everything. A ten issue series that Bryan Hitch finished his pages for in December of 2011, despite the book not launching until 2013, where he has openly expressed his annoyance at not being asked to draw the entire book. Really? Were the people at Marvel that afraid of this book being late? That they sat on Hitch’s art for over a year? That they showed him the door, let him go, and didn’t even tell him he was only drawing half of a series? Really? The guy that took a lifetime to draw Ultimates is actually on time with high quality work, and you cut him off and let him leave? And for what? Brandon Peterson? Really?
Marvel NOW! spun out of AVX, this isn’t news. Hell, the fact that AVX was thrown together overnight and thrown out instead of Age of Ultron isn’t news either. Marvel hit a panic button upon realizing that they were about to launch a new banner status quo with number one issues, spinning directly out of an event….in the EXACT same way DC had done a year earlier.
“But it’s not a reboot!”
Really? What do you call massaging the timeline to let you fit in whatever you want? Yeah, they managed to keep the previous narratives going, and AVX gave a few books fancy new status quos, but what do you want to bet that these are not the books they had planned on? That they were so worried about looking like copycats to DC, that they blew up all of their own plans, kept with the renumberings, and then rather than waste the effort put into the now-meaningless Age of Ultron….well, they just push it as meaningless. Because, really, what long term effects are we going to get out of this?
A not-dead Hank Pym? A neutered Ultron that is going to require careful work to make sense out of how you stop him from doing Age of Ultron, but you don’t cut out Ultron Unlimited or Annihilation: Conquest (here’s a hint, don’t expect Marvel to consider that)? A killable Wolverine? A Spawn supporting cast member that nobody has given two halves of the same shit about (outside of court) in over a decade?
This is what you’re pushing? This is as bad as when Fear Itself pulled another Russo favorite and hit us with the big ol’ SWERVES with Bucky and Thor. Because that’s what fans want, status quo shakeups that nobody believes have any legs. Really, that’s what we want. To see a new status quo and put an expiration date on it to start with. To have two big name deaths both return to life before you even move on to the next event banner.
There’s no gravity at Marvel anymore, hell, there isn’t even Gravity there near as I can tell.
The events can be cool, they can be awful, it doesn’t matter, status quos rarely change for longer than two years, or the release of a movie. Whichever comes first. Won’t be the first time, and it won’t be the last time, hell, we had Steve return as Captain America a month after Bucky was killed, just in time to get an ongoing series to launch two weeks before his movie came out. Really? Did that sneak up on them? Did they not realize that they were about to put out a movie starring one of their icons who was not currently in that book? Bucky Cap met his doom so that Marvel could have a Captain America #1 on shelves in time for the movie. Then he came back a few issues later because, you know, impaling someone isn’t fatal.
I could also throw in how we got Avengers Assemble #1 in time for the Avengers movie, a book that took the movie roster and assembled them together to fight Thanos. Despite that, in his own book, Hulk was a much different character feuding with a separated Banner (who was his alter-ego in Assemble) before reabsorbing him and going through absolute hell…and space…and underwater…and it was a fun arc. Despite that Thanos was killed in the Thanos Imperative, along with Starlord and Drax (who also both show up). Hell, there was even a random Hawkeye/Black Widow hookup despite that the book was being written by the guy who had just paired up Hawkeye and Spider-Woman a few months prior. Really? This is what classifies as quality control? For a company that likes to boast that they don’t do reboots, they sure as hell love to forget and dismiss anything that doesn’t work with the story they have in mind.
But hey, you know what? Despite all my rantings and ravings, Marvel’s fuckery has done one thing that I constantly give thanks for. I hated AVX, I can’t stress this enough, but the outcome left me with All-New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men, and a whole new respect for Brian Bendis. Marvel’s top draw writer, who I felt was vastly overrated on Avengers, has reinvented himself and his style by telling two stories that work alongside of each other and aren’t built for trades. Two X-Men books that feel just like 90’s X-Men, the best X-Men as far as I’m concerned. My X-Men. And despite my feelings towards time travel in the Age of Ultron, he’s telling a fun story using it as a plot device in X-Men without any of the head scratchers that his Avengers centric time travel stories have given me.
So at least, despite the bumpy as hell road to get there, Marvel can pride themselves on having one hell of a destination.
Tags: Age of Ultron, Captain America, Fear Itself, Flashpoint (DC Comics), Gravity, Marvel Comics, Marvel NOW! (All-New Marvel Now!), Spider-Man, Thanos, Thor