Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Avengers: Illuminati #2

This was a great comic book I think the cover really says it all.
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There's something exciting about this team- bear with me, if you haven't heard it before. Reed Richard, Tony Stark, Dr. Strange, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt and Namor.

Is there basically anything that they cannot do? I say thee nay.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Big Freakin Surprise!

I just read this week's two most anticipated comic books, at least for True Believers. Civil War #7 and Amazing Spider-Man #538, and let me just say...

Civil War: At this time, the best ending I can think of to this whole shebang. An outstanding comic with /astounding/ art, and treats most characters with decent respect, with the possible exception of Taskmaster.

Amazing Spider-Man 538: J. Michael Straczynski rivals popular perception of Brian Michael Bendis for wasting time, spending the first 23 pages of the book on maintaining the exact same status quo as last book. literally nothing, and creating a plot hole- Spider-Man is clearly present at the end of Civil War #7, so why the news organizations list him as missing is a mystery- and if he is missing, then most of the Rebel forces are as well. I can't wait for this exhausted hack to slough off this title. Again he shows his penchant for literary masturbation, oozing his lousy , pseudo-philosophical text over serviceable art by Jim Garney, before finally giving us the final page- a possibly (but not likely) fatal shot to one of the Spider-Family. There are about a million interesting and timely things he could have shown us in this book- Why Spider-Man didn't surrender, if he was offered one of the amnesties referred to in CW #6, if he wasn't offered one because of Iron Man being hella pissed at him. I would have loved it if half the book had shown a couple extra frames from CW #7's battle, even if it was just Iron Man and Spidey trying to get at each other in that hectic battlefield. Straczynski's dialogue is passable- why couldn't he have given us a little more choice interaction with the clearly incensed Tony and our hero? What a waste of paper.

More on the rest of this week's books by friday.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The happiest day of my comic reading life

Looking over at newsarama, I recieved the news I've been hoping for for over two years- that J.Michael Straczynski, the most repulsive, corrosive and offensive writer of Spider-Man I've ever encountered, is stepping down after one last story this summer. No news yet on who is going to replace him, but I can only hope that he will confine his work to non-canon garbage like 'bullet points' and then when sales of that drop into nothing he will finally be forced to go back to writing substandard sci-fi, where he belongs. Jesus, one man soiled us Gwen Stacy and pissed on Spider-Man's origin. I hope to god they put someone awesome on the book- I would normally cheer for Millar, but instead I'll just modestly suggest it, because he really failed a lot of promise on Civil War. Please, God,though I don't believe in you, not Bendis- he hates Spider-Man, and he's already ruined Ultimate Spider-Man forever.

Solicitations strongly suggest that there's going to be a death in the Spider-family soon. Will it be Mary-Jane? or will it finally, again, be Aunt May?

Either way, it's got to be good. Now hold on, before you chime in with your two cents, let me get mine out.

Spider-Man needs to get some change going on, and not insubstantial change like a costume. The New Avengers is a step in the right direction- clearly, not only is he good for Marvel on a team, but we, the reader, like seeing him in action with his fellow heroes(that's why he was in 95% of Marvel Team Up issues).

He's dealt with death significantly before, but really, it's been twenty years since someone important to him died. Well, not really, because both MJ and Aunt May died in that period, but they were both brought back fairly quickly. He's a bright and shiny penny in a sea of increasingly gritty, nasty, 'contemporary' comics, but frankly, he needs a little of that grit on him, then to wash it off. It's called polishing. Like Kurt Busiek says, "All right, we've deconstructed it. Let's put the wheels back on and test this sucker out".

His comic has become very staid- to the point that JMS does a couple issues a year focusing solely on Mary Jane or Aunt May because until something happens, Spider-Man is all but played out like this. There's some room to maneuver with Civil War and the demasking, but really, even that points towards a change like this- it would be difficult to imagine that ultimately the demasking had no consequences.

I've said this to a few of my friends, but basically, it goes like this. Comics are cyclical- whatever you like will eventually be back. I hate this current spidey- loses to everything in a mask, avatar of anansi, organic webbing, dumb as a post Spidey. Some people like him more this way. Well, we're taking turns, whether we like to or not- and it looks like my turn's next. With a little luck, I'll get to see my hero placed about where he should be in the hero hierarchy- Certainly high enough to beat Cap in a fight, jeebus.

P.S.: Eventually Peter will get his secret identity back, and not just the 'Ben Reilly' front, either. You bet your No-Prize on it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Who the hell is Ronin Now?

Okay. I posted sometime last week in the Z-Cult forums about Ronin, the newest member of the new New Avengers. Basically, after disappointing everyone last time by having us wonder for the better part of a year who this mysterious Ronin character was, Bendis peed in all our cornflakes by revealing that 'he' was nothing more than a two bit Daredevil supporting character. Now that Millar's Civil War has broken up the New Avengers- well, really, it's just taken Iron Man and Sentry out of the lineup- it gives Bendis a chance to do what he does best- assemble a team of a-listers and B-listers and make us care about the B-listers while the A-listers act as filler. And of the B-listers on this new, New Avengers? Ronin. Again. But this time, with Echo (the previous Ronin) on the team under her own name, there's a new mystery figure in the suit. Guess who it is, Bendis asks less than a year after pulling the exact same gimmick with the same suit.

But I care.


Bendis gets a lot of flack, and as far as I'm concerned, he is a very, very overrated author. But whatever his flaws are, he has a couple amazing talents, and chief amongst those is the ability to take the key, essential kernels of an existing character that quite possibly no one but Bendis likes and attach some new elements that make this old character a new character for everyone. My primary example is Luke Cage- if you had told me two years ago that I would be ready to pick up a subscription to a monthly title about the man once known as Power Fist, I'd have laughed, but now Luke is simply one of my favorite Marvel characters. And though he drug her subplot on way too long, he did much the same thing for Jessica Drew, the original Spider-Woman. I never gave two craps in a bucket about either Spider-Woman, but the way he writes her, it's clear she belongs on the new New Avengers.

Did I give you the lineup? No? Ok, here it is.

Echo (sort of a female taskmaster, a forgotten ex girlfriend of Daredevil's)
Ronin (back to this in a sec, I promise)
Iron Fist (speaking of B-or-C listers)
Luke Cage
Dr. Strange
and last but not least,
The Amazing Spider-Man.

Bendis is going to make me give a rat's ass about Iron Fist, and I can't help but be impressed.

Okay, back to Ronin.
"There will be another person in the Marvel Universe without a theme… without a motivation … or who may have lost their desire to wear the costume they were wearing, and this person will don the costume as the masterless samurai of the Marvel Universe for the time to come.”

"“Some people will love it … and some people will hate it. "
this should be taken to read "Brian michael Bendis and three other people will like it, most won't care, and everyone else will hate it."

“It’s someone with a long history in the Marvel Universe. There are quite a few people it could be, and it’s not necessarily the person you immediately go to, but it’s someone I have an affection for who also has a history of donning a guise that best suits his or her mental tone. And this is his or her mental tone right now. And it just so happens there is a costume that needs filling and a person who can fill it, and so it’s taken."

there are some key hints in there, most notably "It's someone I have an affection for" and "History of donning a guise that best suits his or her mental tone..."

and then the next big hint comes in New avengers #27, an action packed screed that hits all the right notes and features super-artist leinil Yu, who, while not the literally best artist I have ever seen, is extremely good and EXTREMELY FAST, able to put out three books a month (unlike, say, Finch, who makes us wait 6 months between each supposedly monthly book of the Ultimates). Anyways, here's the panel.

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There are not a lot of people in the Marvel Universe that know Cage, but don't know Spidey well enough to know that he's gabby in a fight.

As a matter of fact, I can only think of three people who know Cage better than Spidey-

Misty Knight, Black Panther and Jessica Jones.

Now, since you're probably reading this as my friend and not as much as a fellow comics fan, it's worth reiterating that the Ronin suit is originally a drag suit.
Since Black Panther's been wearing the same duds since the beginning, it boils down to Misty and Jessica, and I gotta throw my suspicions that it's Jessica Jones.

Has a long history in the Marvel Universe? No. But according to Bendis? yes.
Chose the wrong side in the civil war? (took off with her and Cage's kid to Canada) Well, possibly check.

Skilled Fighter? Eh. But has Super Strength and durability.

Has a history of changing costumes? Check- as both Jewel and Knightress.

anyways, I'm gonna go be with my family now. I'm probably all wrong, and we're going to find out it's another bit daredevil character no one's ever heard of because of Bendis's neverending hardon for Daredevil (see the first half of the above comic book for proof).