Monday, April 24, 2006

Marvel, Us Reading

Yesterday I read a Marvel comic. Because Devon asked me to.

Now that, folks, is friendship.

Actually, it was intended as an experiment. Because it's written by a "DC writer" whose work I generally enjoy, we figured I'd be reading a Marvel story I stood the best chance of liking.

I read a trade called "World Trust", in which the Avengers are sort of asked to take over the world for a while (for some reason I didn't quite fathom, other than it was easier for Geoff Johns to write JLA than the Avengers, so he abruptly turned the Avengers into the JLA).

While I can't say I liked it (the plot/villainy was cheesier and more ludicrous than a silver age JLA story, Geoff!), it did raise many questions and thoughts.

1. What on earth does this lovely, cultured Jan lady see in someone as drool-drippingly stupid as this Hank fellow? It can't be the sex, because she probably has to explain that to him, too. If he's a Marvel Universe scientist, it's no wonder they have so many nuclear accidents.

2. DC needs to buy Falcon. He seems intelligent, caring, well-adjusted, with a nice design and a unique power set. He seems completely out of place in the Marvel universe and needs to move to St. Roch and kick Northwind's butt. He and Steve could still write, and see each other on weekends.

3. That whole Vision/Scarlet Witch thing just seems icky and really really wrong no matter how you cut it, doesn't it?

4. Captain America has a visiphone in his shield? So, basically, he's hitting you with his cellphone? Must not get a lot of calls while he's working.

5. Speaking of that shield, given Cap's build, does it hit his head all the time when he backpacks it, and if so, shouldn't it get its own sound effect, so that when Cap walks around the HQ, you hear "kdong, kdong, kdong"? Is he just so tough he doesn't care? Is Cap the Hal Jordan of the Marvel Universe?

6. Cap easily had the best line: "Now... our nation's capital is an empty void." I guess we know how Cap's voting in the mid-terms.

7. Those Avenger people really need Amanda Waller, don't they? Interesting that she is the DCU's personification of bureaucracy, as compared to this Gabrych eunuch.

8. The idea that a nation would plunge into anarchy if its capital disappeared is just plain amusing. Little countries maybe; larger countries, not even close.

9. Isn't Iron Man's head too small? Looks like he's on JLU.

10. Hissy-fitting Namor's ability to take himself so seriously makes it impossible for me to take him seriously. Dude; have you looked at your ankles lately?

11. Wait, wait; so the UN is sanctioning the Avengers to prevent, by force, any nation from taking advantage of the situation to change its government? Yow. Glad I live on Earth Prime.

12. If Iron Man is so rich and smart, how can he be so naive about Black Panther, whose enlightened self-interest seems perfectly reasonable to any worldly adult?

13. If they could fix the Jack of Hearts little explody problem, he's just silly enough to come to the DCU. Love to see the Joker, the Royal Flush Gang, and Two-Face team up against him. Oh, and couldn't they just make him a containment suit with the "Zero Fluid" in it, so he could, you know, go shopping at the mall while he's exploding? I mean, the Human Bomb does it all the time down at Pentagon City.

14. I like Ant-Man. He's kind of like the Red Bee, except with a greater self-awareness that he's silly. Can we borrow Ant-Man? He could hang out with the Atom and Blue Beetle, and, besides, Marvel seems to have a surfeit of tiny bug people.

15. What happened to make the Avengers to begin with? I mean, what are they Avenging? It's such an ... unpleasant name, particularly to my delicate DC ears, which have been taught that Justice is good and Vengeance is bad.


Captain Qwert Jr said...

What's amazing is that people seem to think the SW's insanity is some recent, out of nowhere recton, despite the fact she married her vibrator.

And if you follow the logic of it (Dangerous to do with Marvel, I know), after her husband 'died', the Avengers just rebuilt him and expected her to accept it.

Hank Pym: "First the bad news, Wanda. Your Husband is dead"

SW: "Oh God! NO!"

Hank Pym: "But now the good news! We reanimated the corpse, so he can still cut the grass, and open pickle jars for you!"

SW:"Woo hoo!"

Hank Pym:"But we know he's dead, so you only get one paycheck."


Anonymous said...

1. Apparently she and Hank like to play these little games where he shrinks down and pleasures her full-sized vagina, so there is that going for them. Jan's a hard woman to please -- just ask Hank Pym, Black Knight, Tony Stark, Hawkeye, Magneto, Paladin...

3. Didn't Red Tornado end up getting married to a human woman? At least the Vision has lips.

7. They have one: Henry Gyrich, and he was bitching at the Avengers back in the 70s. He's not as cool as The Wall, but who is?

8. Yeah, that was a damn silly idea.

15. Conversely, why is Justice League of America such a red hot name? Wonder Woman isn't American. Martian Manhunter isn't American. Aquaman isn't American. Hell, Superman is an illegal immigrant.

If you want some good Avengers, you should try Busiek's run. It's a fine example of how the basic concept functions, plus it's really, really well done.

Anonymous said...

I love World Trust.

I must have read it 10 or so times by now.

Thor, in my opinion, gets the best line.

"Aye Demon? Me thinks thou dost protest to much."

As far as Namor goes...

Well, thats the character. To us he looks silly his actions seem crazy and his temperment is childish. But he's the god damn prince of Atlantis! He doesn't care!

I my self love Namor, hell I've purposely sought out all of Byrnes run on him. I think he was captured nicely in the story.

You like Scott and Jack? So did I!

But I've got some baaaaaaad news...

Anonymous said...

I assume that they'll say what they're avenging in the first trade of Essential Avengers.

Still, it never SEEMED like they were avenging anything. The Avengers always seemed as pointless a team as the X-Men did after Claremont made them into a space opera.

Axel M. Gruner said...

Re: SW & Vision.
When the character of the new Vision was introduced it was pretty clear that he was slowly getting more human. He wasn't even a robot/droid, he was a "synthezoid", a synthetic lifeform/being. The plotline was to show that the artificial being was more human than most humans. He was actually for a time pretty normal for MU standards. Of course, retconning him into the Human Torch and all that robot/cyberwar bull trashed it all.
When I was a kid, Avengers ruled. But that was before they made Hank Pym into a drooling lunatic, f*** up the Scarlet Witch and turned Iron Man into an egocentric @$$hole. *sigh*
Actually I also always wondered what they were avenging. But than, most superheroe-names do not really make sense.

Doctor Polaris said...

You walk a dangerous line, Scipio. That way lies madness. Don't allow yourself to be caught in the tawdry web of seductive mindlessness that is the Marvel Universe.

Curse Magneto!

Anonymous said...

So,actually,what is the REAL difference between Quicksilver and Namor;both are self-righteous and eager for vengence....

Chris Fung said...


I just finished reading the entire Absorbascon archives and everything. (granted it took me 2 1/2 months)

Anywho I just want to say that this is one of the greatest blogs i've ever read. I don't know just how much i'll comment. I'm kind of an outsider. (i'm only just getting back into comics and well even as a kid I didn't take it TOO serious)

I just want to comment on #8: You're right that large countries wouldn't plunge into anarchy but there would be a period of high instability. Take the U.S. for example, a lot of the institutions that make the country function are located in DC. If DC were to disappear then the dominoes would fall. I mean, I don't think Wall Street would take such a situation lightly.

Again great blog and I will comment every once in a while.

Canton said...

2. Tsk. Hands off of Falcon. Like DC needs another bird guy.

3. Well, it certainly went wrong. Karma?

8. Of course, if you take into consideration the nature of the disappearances... Well, freakish empty voids in the middle of every nation, however large, would probably be enough to cause some unrest.

10. Namor's fun precisely because he's a hissy-fitting jerk. Kind of like Dr. House without the brains.

15. In Once an Invader (which I don't recommend), Cap talks, at Kelsey Leigh's funeral service (don't ask), about how their job as Avengers is often to get to the scene last, after the wrong has been done. Seems as good an explanation as any.

Anonymous said...

The silliest thing about this story is that it followed on a massive world war against Kang the Conqueror in which most of the population of DC was annihilated by a weapon of mass destruction and significant portions of the world were left devastated.

Consequences of said conflict that carry over into this story? Almost none.

I stopped reading Avengers not long after "World Trust" (except for briefly checking out the utterly odious Bendis Disassembled): was the Zodiac subplot that pops up at the end, e.g., the "we're just testing the Avengers" ever taken any further?

Busiek's run on the Avengers was good; so was the Heroes-Return Perez reboot of it before that, great run of issues.

Scipio said...

Welcome, Chris, and welcome back to comics!

CalvinPitt said...

anonymous: no, the Scorpio plot was never revisted.

1. Wasp keeps getting with hank because the writers seem to feel this plot must be constantly rehashed. They're wrong about that, of course.

2,13,14. Scipio I would never allow you to take Ant-Man, Falcon or Jack of Hearts. You can, however, have Hank Pym, the Wasp, and the Scarlet Witch, per our discussion back in December regarding character donations.

13. And if Jack of Hearts did wear this suit you suggest, and then got in a fight at the mall (which would totally happen), he have to remove the suit, and he'd blow up, killing everyone.

7. No. Amanda Waller is not required. Mostly because I don't think Thor or Cap are likely to tolerate her bull any more than they are Gyrich's.

12. Because at some point Black Panther was pulling a Batman and working with the Avengers strictly for the purpose of colecting info on them, so he could defend his country against any attacks from them. Except, I'm pretty sure he did it first.

5. Captain America has pefected his walk so that when the shield is on his back, he doesn't bump his head against it.

10. Mallet hit it on the head, regarding Namor. It's just how he is, and he's powerful enough, you can't outright laugh in his fae about it, lest he rip your arms off.

Anonymous said...

2. Careful DC fans, once you recognize that a '70's black superhero with a past as a small time criminal is just a great guy and an awesome character, you lose the aura of moral superiority built up from Michael Holt and John Stewart.

3. SW, in my truly warped mind has a very bizarre sexual history. She was raised by an overprotective brother who hates humans in an environment of Animal-men, then her abusive terrorist father who hates humans used her as a weapon. Her only physical relationships have been with a robot and an imaginary friend made of energy. The fact is that she's terrified of men.

12. I prefer to think that Iron Man is only trying to play the victim in order to build up credit in some future transaction with BP.

13. Jack of Hearts is one of those inherently cool designs that any character you stick onto it will work.

15. Sure, but what's the Justice Society? Is that like the Heritage Foundation? Do they organize Justice Bake Sales?

Jeremy Rizza said...

Captain Qwert Jr. needs to be hired by Marvel, A.S.A.P.

3. Using the fact that the Vision's mind was a copy of Wonder Man's, Steve Engelhart set up the character as essentially a human being with prosthetic everything. Which made his marriage to the Scarlet Witch a helluva lot easier to relate to. And then Marvel editors asked John Byrne to ruin things (like they had to request that!) and he was back to a cold, mindless drone for a while. Still, I think the Scarlet Witch and her brother were two perfectly serviceable characters whose storytelling potential got seriously damaged by ill-advised, far-out marriages that either made them come across as slightly mental (SW) or which shuffled them off to remote civilizations and took them off the playing field for long stretches (Quicksilver). It would be like if DC wed Green Arrow to Lori Lemaris.

4. Naomi Campbell *IS* Captain America!

Anonymous said...

1. The Jan/Hank relationship made more sense in the 60's, when Jan was a typical Stan Lee written woman - meaning she said stupid things, giggled a lot, and generally had you wondering "Why is she even here?" Once Jan became competent in the 80s, their relationship became more and more silly.

2. Ha! Don't forget that Falcon's backstory is that he was a pimp who was artificially turned into a hero by the Red Skull using the cosmic cube - the standard for well-adjusted he is not.

3. Meh - Vision used to be more human before John Byrne wrote him. Unlike everyone else that John Byrne has written, however, later writers haven't bothered to fix the damage so much.

5. Why do you think Cap wears a chainmail headmask?

13. Jack of Hearts exploding problem was solved the way they solve problems in the Marvel Universe - they killed him. No more splodey problem for Jack.

14. Good for you. I like Ant Man too (more the Scott Lang version that's in this book than the Hank Pym version anyway). Too bad about what happened to him (see 13)

15. The Hulk on a rampage. Rick Jones making an emergency call to the Fantastic Four that got rerouted to a bunch of unconnected heroes. Apparently they're Avenging the Hulk's rampage? Or something? I dunno, I just figured it was a suitably pseudo-fascist name like ALL superteams must have that was just slapped on them by Stan Lee to sell books.

Anonymous said...

In Avengers #1, way back in the '60s, Iron Man, Ant Man 1, Wasp, Thor, & the Hulk had just beaten Loki. Someone suggests they stay together as a team, and the Wasp says they should call themselves "something dramatic, like the Avengers or..." Another character cuts her off and says it's a good name.

Yes, Black Panther joined the Avengers to spy on them. I don't know if any of Christopher Priest's excellent run on the book is in continuity anymore.

Scipio, I commend you for reading a Marvel book. Too bad it wasn't all that good.

MarkAndrew said...

Huh. I was wondering what happened to the Vision. (I missed most of Marvel in the Eighties.)

He was a great character way-back-when. Served the same heart-of-the-Team function that the Martian Manhunter did in the post-Crisis JLA.

(2) I like the Falcon a lot, but, like the Vision, he hasn't been used particularly well since 1976 or there-a-bouts. (The neato Christopher Priest written mini-series being the exception.) Wouldn't mind seeing him go to DC, really.

And can we pleasepleasePLEASE get the God-arful "No! He was really a criminal! 'Cause he's, y'know, BLACK!" retcon out of continuity?

Canton said...

Not all of Marvel's redeemed heroes are black (Hawkeye and Ant-Man were both thieves), and not all black heroes have criminal pasts (Monica Rambeau aka Photon, and Black Panther.)

So... I like to think Marvel made Falcon a redeemed criminal not because he's black, but because Marvel seems to have a thing for redeemed characters.

Just saying. Because I'm on a "defend Marvel" kick today for some reason.

Bill D. said...

I think that the Avengers were avenging the fact that they all got pulled into yet some poorly thought out scheme by Loki to attack Thor. So the guy essentially ruined their weekend, and the decided to beat him up and lock him away in a lead vault, which is obviously how you defeat a guy who can use magic.

As for the Scott Lang Ant-Man, yeah he was a pretty cool B-lister. So, of course, he was Event Cannon Fodder (see also: Beetle, Blue).

Jeff R. said...

See, the thing about the Avengers is that they aren't Marvel's version of the JLA. They're Marvel's version of the Legion of Superheroes. (Super-hero team focused around the inspiration of a heroic figure from an earlier era, assembled due to the actions of a non-powered guy with initials R.J....)

Once you understand that, it all makes sense.
1) Hank=Querl Dox. [Mentally unstable genius who accidentally created an AI that turned into one of the team's most lethal foes.] And he's the same kind of idiot.

3) Vision/Scarlet Witch==Blok/White Witch. But with strange fake babies.

11) Technocratic world government with unlimited authority to delegate to the team? Check.

Des said...

Let's make this a regular column at Absorbascon. Not only should we covet the beauty that is DC but you should also read a Marvel book once a month and comment on it...please?

Anonymous said...

I agree with des! Not that I hope or even want you to accept Marvel into your heart, Scip — god knows I've recently given up on all my Marvel subscriptions after Decimation destroyed everything with needless angst — but I'd love to regularly read this kind of post.

Anonymous said...

Devon Sanders...

...made sure his new arrivals were delivered one day after 9/11...

...defended both Chuck Austen AND Rob Liefeld...

...and got Scipio to read a Marvel book.

There has to be some sort of award or honor out there for this man.

Marc Burkhardt said...

I've loved the Falcon since he shared top-billing with Cap in the Star-Spangled Avenger's book. I wish SOMEBODY would do something decent with the character, although DC hasn't always done right by Bird-Men.

Bully said...

As a long time Avengers fan I gotta say, hoo boy, you kinda picked the wrong storyline to dip your toe into, but that's all just personal taste. "World Trust" had me dropping the book that I'd picked up pretty regularly since v. 1 #197 (a issue that's towards the tail run of a pretty impressive run in of of itself--Marvel needs to TPB that era up and pronto!)

You'll be forgiven if you're not interested in The Avengers again, but as other have mentioned, there's s'more accesible and fun storylines to check into. I highly recommend the Roy Thomas/John and Sal Buscema era of about #45-100, all in the low-price packages Essential Avengers #3 and 4. The early Busiek/Perez trades are fun too, although the first collected story featuring transmorphed Avengers in the age of Camelot really only works if you're a longtime Avengers fan. I also highly recommend the latter part of the 100s from around #165 through 201, with art by first Byrne and then Perez, which is just good dandy no-frills all-out fun superheroing without a lot of real-world worrying. Plus, the Beast and Wonder Man! Were they gay or just really good friends? The world will never know.

Seriously, kudos on giving the Marvel Universe a try. I've long been a Marvel fanbull myself so it's worked in the other direction for me (The New Teen Titans and Batman and the Outsiders were my gateway drugs), but my li'l stuffed heart always belongs to the Avengers.

PS: Jarvis. Ten times cooler than Snapper Carr. I'm jus' sayin'.

Steven said...

"Jarvis. Ten times cooler than Snapper Carr. I'm jus' sayin'."

No contest, of course. But then, Jarvis isn't competing with Snapper Carr, now is he? And when it's Alfred vs. Jarvis, well now, I think we all know who wins that.

The Snapper Carr of Marvel is Rick Jones. Um, yeah, I don't see a winner there at all.

Des said...

But Rick Jones played SPACE!!!

My favourite Avengers run has to be Hank Pym on trial for crimes he did as Yellowjacket. Good stuff and I really like Egghead as a villain...if there's ever a Marvel character that belongs in the DC.

Egghead not only belongs in the Batman universe but he's already been a character on the Batman TV Show portrayed by none other than: Vincent Price!

Scipio said...

Marsha Mallow is ten times cooler than Snapper Carr.

As we all know.

lostinube said...

But would Alfred have a chance with Aunt May?

Anonymous said...

Hey, she accepted Dr. Octopus's proposal. Can't get much worse than that.

Anonymous said...

Not only is the Snapper Carr of Marvel Rick Jones, but according to PAD, they're pals. (Apparently super-hero headquarters come with trans-dimensional telephones.)

Melvin said...

Little doubt, the dude is completely fair.
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Scipio said...

"Falcon's backstory is that he was a pimp who was artificially turned into a hero by the Red Skull using the cosmic cube - the standard for well-adjusted he is not."


Please tell me that's a joke of some kind.

Anonymous said...

No joke, though it was recently retconned that it was merely an artificial persona (the "Snap" Wilson bit) grafted onto him with the hero being the genuine article.