Comics 101 Is in Session
Tom A. writes: what do you think of the upcoming Hulk movie? haven't seen much about it on your column (or maybe I just missed it).
Also, I just have to add my two cents to the current mess Marvel is making of, well, just about everything they have. I used to be a big Marvel fan, I thought they were just great, much better than DC (with the possible exception of Batman). But recently, what with the whole Civil War fiasco, Spiderman joining the Avengers, then taking off his mask, then they killed Cap, then this stupid Brand New Day (if you want to read about Spidey when he's not married, read Ultimate Spiderman!)...oh, and I forgot back when they killed off Hawkeye, one of my favorite characters...during a mess that also didn't work, what with M-Day and all that...then brought him back in an unexplained way (except maybe he's now a Skrull? and he didn't even carry a bow for awhile?). And they had the Punisher of all people want to honor Captain America?!? Where'd that come from? Just one thing after another that either was a stupid plot or inconsistent with the characters- or both at once.
I know I just rambled a bit, but I just had to get it all off my chest.
Marvel used to have good stories that were consistent and made sense, and crossovers that affected different titles. Remember Secret War? Now that was a crossover! Their characters used to show their humanity, not be lost in confusing storylines and changed their personalities from writer to writer and plot to plot. They lost that sometime in the last few years. Or maybe they just showed too much humanity for my taste- they're also supposed to be Heroes.
Over at the Distinguished Competition, the JSA and JLA, and almost everywhere else, they seem to remember that. While still making mistakes, they have learned from Marvel that their characters are Heroes but aren't above making human mistakes, that are consistent with each character.
My only hope for Marvel is they'll use this Secret Invasion to not only have a good crossover plot for a change, but also to clear up some of their mistakes over the past few years. While it's a somewhat silly plot device, and not the best solution, maybe we'll come out of it with some of our Heroes intact. And at least it's internally-coherent; that is, the Skrulls have been in the Marvel Universe for quite awhile.
Me, I think I've made the leap to DC for now. And I prefer the Ultimate line to regular Marvel. Have you written a column about that yet? One in the works? I have to say, I was a little hesitant, but there are some really good stories over there...
Tipton: I wasn't sure what to think about the new HULK movie beforehand, but man, did I enjoy it.
I haven't written much about the Ultimate stuff. I like Ultimate Spidey, but wasn't a huge fan of the other books, although I recently read THE ULTIMATES 2 hardcover and have to admit I enjoyed it.
David S. writes: I understand that one of the arguments to magically wishing Peter's marriage away was that it would open up a lot of stories that they couldn't tell given his marriage. (Of course, they used the same argument about unmasking him, but then quickly magically re-masked him having told all those great stories, which basically amounted to a bunch of people saying 'man, I can't believe it was you!'.) However, can't someone explain to the powers that be that one story that they now cannot tell for some time is the threat of him being unmasked? Seeing that immediately afterwards was just stupid - by that I mean even more stupid that the overall high level of 'one more day' stupidity.
Tipton: Yeah, it was way too soon to introduce any jeopardy to the notion of Spidey's identity being revealed.
Michael W. writes: Seeing all the tirades on One MOre Day, surprised so few have touched on another major problem with it which is the magic involved. Or rather, Marvel's attitude toward magic. As I understand it, one of the chief problems JMS had (which he mentioned in interviews afterward) was how Queseda insisted this act do stuff like bring Harry back and when JMS asked how that can be, Queseda just said "it's magic, don't worry, it can do anything."
The thing is, magic shouldn't do anything. I know, it can be tricky but for years Dr. Strange writers have made a point of him stating that magic, like science, has rules and you can't just shatter them left or right. Sure, Marvel and DC use it a lot for their own purposes and fixing stuff but even DC has some restraints and such. Read the great Shadowpact series where they talk on it or witness how Zatanna's attempt to use her magic more presicely screwed up Dr. Light. Brian K. Vaughn's excellent Dr. Strange "The Oath" mini showed that just because he was "Sorceror Supreme" doesn't make him omnipitent. And don't get me started on Scarlet Witch somehow able to change reality...
I guess that's yet another thing that annoys me about this, that Marvel (and to a slightly lesser degree, DC) treat magic as an easy thing that can be used simply to explain stuff when it's always meant to have effects and ramifications. But then, it's probably the only way to fix this mess eventually so we have to put up with it. Just another two cents from me.
Tipton: Agreed, the magic explanation was infuriatingly vague.
Nathan C. writes: You said: "Hellcat was last seen in the CIVIL WAR, being convinced to sign up as a registered superhero. Seems to me she's just aching for a revival. Anybody at Marvel listening out there?"
Joe Quesada from a blog on Myspace.com/comicbooks
"Hellcat is important to the Marvel U. The Fifty State Initiative is still alive and kicking, but Alaska hasn’t been assigned yet. Enter Patsy Walker: Hellcat! Iron Man picked her for the job for a very specific reason. She’ll have to fight her way through demon polar bears, evil Yetis and insane Eskimo witches to save Alaska and the entire United States! Written by Kathryn Immonen (MCP, Never as Bad as You Think) and drawn by buried treasure David Lafuente (X-Men: Divided We Stand), this will redefine Hellcat in the Marvel Universe."
Tipton: Yeah, I saw that. Timing!
John G. writes: I've been reading up on the last few mailbags, and I figured out an in-continuity way to undo all of OMD nonsense. Check this out: The deal with Mephisto was that EVERYONE EXCEPT MJ would forget everything, including the deal with Mephisto itself. (If I understand it right, I stopped reading Spider-Man and make due with the synopsis from websites)
However, in the final issue of Cable and Deadpool, Deadpool is making cracks at Spider-Man for making deals with the devil, and how even his pithy dialog had time-warped. Clearly, Deadpool, who has the ability to break the fourth wall, (isn't there an in continuity reason for that, too? Something to do with Loki if I heard right), knows what's going on.
That means it's a breech of contract on Mephisto's part, and must now give Spidey all of the good stuff, without Spidey having to hold up his end of the bargain of amnesia and wife ditching.
Ta-da. I just solved all the problems at once. Someone patch me through to Marvel....no? Maybe? It was worth a laugh at least.
Tipton: Bang! Loophole! Problem solved. Good job.
John G. writes: I'm a longtime reader from back in the moviepoopshoot.com days and I followed you and the other four horsemen to comics101 and have kept up faithfully.
I'm curious about your take on 1) The new Booster Gold series, and 2) Countdown/Final Crisis.
1) I wasn't really a big fan of Booster Gold till 52 came out, partially due to lack of exposure. I knew who he was and a bit of his backstory and MO, and it was interesting, but not worth buying or searching through back issue bins. Then 52 came along, and I grew to love Booster.
I'm especially pleased with the new series right now. I like this new take on Booster, because it's not a "re-imagination" of the character, it's just feels like the natural growth of the character. He clowned around for a long time, but eventually he grew up a little bit and has actually become more selfless than many of the "big guns", in that he's letting his name get dragged through the mud and still doing the right thing.
I"m positively drooling over the new series, and the arch with Blue Beetle. It feels kind of like some crazy reunion tour, and Geoff Johns, as good as he is with the big team dynamic in books like Green Lantern and JSA, is even better with the "buddy movie" feel. Heck, I wouldn't complain if the book became Booster Gold and Blue Beetle permanently.
The one thing I'm worried about here, is with the current arch and the OMACs taking over the world because Beetle didn't die (or more likely that Black Beetle pulled a fast one and didn't really send the info to Batman like he said he would), that this is all just Johns' weird attempt to validate the death of BB. "See, he didn't get killed for no reason, his death had significance!"
I even have mixed feelings about that. One of the reasons I like DC, is more of their characters tend to stay dead when they die. And instead legacy heroes take up the mantle. I think that's cool. At the same time, I agree that BB (not to mention other little guys like Ralph and Sue Dibny) was abused dramatically and killed off just to put some dramatic splatter on the page.
2) Final Crisis. Your thoughts? Countdown to it, isn't really doing much for me and it seems like a stale rip off of what 52 accomplished. But FC scares me even more because of the writer.
Grant Morrison scares the hell out of me because of his tendencies as a writer. If you give Grant some old hackneyed stuff that is boring and broken and tired, Grant will re-think it and give a new spin on things that will make the character interesting. (ie: Animal Man, Mr. Mind, Egg-Fu, The Seven Soldiers of Victory, and maybe even his JLA run).
But if you give him a big name, mainstream character, he just can't leave well enough alone and he ruins it for me.
(ie: Magneto takes over Manhattan, gets high on drugs and even though he ruled his own country, he can't control a small mob of mutants. He then gets beheaded by Wolverine.
Bruce Wayne has a biological son that's been kept a secret all these years, never mind that he's the World's greatest detective, and he typically sees Talia at least once a year or so. Ra's Al Ghul comes back in the body of an Albino. Not to mention that during that whole arch he was after Damian and Tim, and refused Batman's offer of possessing him instead....Ra's wanted something a little younger.)
So now Morrison is writing DC's big event this year with all the major players. Ho boy.
These are some of my thoughts, and I'd like to hear yours.
Tipton: I too am totally digging BOOSTER GOLD, but I'm also afraid it's just gonna lead to Ted Kord dying again, which sucks.
COUNTDOWN I bailed out on after the first 15 issues or so, and it sounds like I haven't missed much. FINAL CRISIS could be good, as maybe my favorite DC event of all time was Morrison's DC ONE MILLION, but it's off to a bit of a wobbly start.
Neil writes: Enjoying the Defenders series; the first issue I picked up was Devil-Slayer's first appearance in the title, issue 58. Those and the next two issues were basically David Kraft bringing in elements of Blue Oyster Cult into the series, the villains and Vera Gemini were all from the Agents of Fortune album, which, of course, contains More Cowbell...er Don't Fear the Reaper. I think I stuck around the series until about issue 82 or so, then picked it up occasionally and have bought the three Essentials. It's a shame about Steve Gerber, he was one of my favorite writers. My college roommate and I used to get a chuckle over the line in the Howard the Duck treasury how the "Black Hole Sucks!" With all his crazy ideas, Gerber was the Grant Morrison of the 1970s I believe.
Tipton: That's a very apt comparison between Gerber and Morrison.
Chris B. writes: What's the deal with Beast's dialogue?
While I'm not a big fan of those that go overboard with the $10 words in Beast's speech, he seems surprisingly dumbed down, in the Defenders pages you showed.
Tipton: His Defenders characterization plays off his AVENGERS run, in which he was much more of the team's comic relief.
Doug G. writes: So how did the Son of Satan feel about having a guy named "Devil-Slayer" on the team? That had to be a bit awkward.
Also, do you find Final Crisis promising? The interviews given so far make me happy, as I've been following most of DC but dropped Countdown for a number of reasons. I just hope Geoff Johns' influence means that the ending won't suck.
Tipton: Yeah, they couldn't have been real buddy-buddy.
No idea what to expect from FINAL CRISIS. Have to wait and see.
David P. writes: Believe it or not, I was actually looking forward to an explaination about Over-mind. I actually started reading The Defenders about a year or so before the Beast turned it into a "real" team...well, actually a pretty strange team. The whole Cloud/Moondragon relationship totally freaked me out at the time and actually gave me the icks. I have to admit, it was pretty heady stuff for a non-vertigo publication.
Anyhow, back to Overmind...he just sorta disappeared. I mean he was there one issue asking people to go to lunch with him and next issue...poof, he was gone...kinda like Keyser Soze. The Marvel handbook said that he "clouded his teammates minds and disappeared" which was the pretty half assed explanation to why no one ever asked, "Hey! Where'd Over-mind go?"
Anyhow, seriously, where did this doofus come from, why did he seemingly have a multiple personality and was a docile as a puppy dog and yet at one point, early in the career, he pontificated better than Doc Doom about his super-villiany?
Tipton: I'll let Wikipedia do the talking:
Picture of the Week
Remember that Millenium Falcon toy you had as a kid? Well, Hasbro is coming out with a new one, and it's so much bigger that 4 figures can fit in the cockpit. Wow.
See you next week.