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Some Responses to the New Avengers Blog-a-thon.

by  in Comic News Comment
Some Responses to the New Avengers Blog-a-thon.

Over at GraphiContent.

(Which is raising money for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and it would be swell if you’d GO DONATE!, and tell Chad via a comment on his blog that you did.)

Man, I hated these comics.

1) Well, y’know, I actually library dropped New Avengers. “Library dropping? What’s that, MarkAndrew?” Due to the unfortunate combination of (A) really liking comics, (B) being REALLY cheap, and (C) being REALLY broke, I tend to read most of my NEW Marvel and DC comics through borrowing the trades off unsuspecting friends, plopping my fat arse down in Barnes and Noble or (mostly) from the Iowa City public library or interlibrary loan at my school. (This waste of academic resources might make me a bad person. On the other hand, I was paying out of state tuition.)

The upside: I read a lot of comics. The downside: My memory is like a 50 cent Goodwill discount sieve. So I ran by the Iowa City library, grabbed everything in their Avengers section in stock, and thought I’d settle down for a little pretend conversation with C. Nevett.

Hey, did I say donate? Go DONATE! I thought I’d catch myself up, and toss off some comments on Chad’s work at the same time.

HE’S covering everything even cross-wise tangentally related to Bendis’ New Avengers, including issues of Punisher War Journal, the Pulse, Captain America, and Ladies Golf Quarterly but I’m only responding to the strictly New Avengers-y stuff. So you’re spared my “Why Brubaker’s Captain America run doesn’t work as a Captain America story” piece until a later day. 😉

When I quote Chad at GraphiContent, his thoughts will be in beautiful italics.

Blogathon 2: Avengers Dissasembled

Chad: I’ve gone back and read in trades, so I don’t have a firsthand experience with Avengers Disassembled, a story that I’m told may have pissed off a lot of the hardcore Avengers fanbase. If that’s the case, then I love it even more. Pissing off the fanbase is good, it shakes it up a bit. You shouldn’t cater to them anyway, you should be doing new things and making people feel uneasy.

While Chad seemed to rate this book in the solid “B minus” range, I’d personally lean towards the latter part of the alphabet, grade-wise.

BUT that doesn’t mean I disagree with ALL his points. It was almost worth reading ’em to here the wailing and gnashing of teeth – Honestly, while I have a really-strong-and-potentially-unhealthy-emotional connection to ARTISTS who’s work I enjoy…

I am honestly somewhat terrified by people that freak-the-fuck out when a fictional character is presented in a way they don’t like? Well, them folks make me all sorts of nervous. And being (again) kind of a bad person, I enjoy the silly, silly pain they undergo when a character they like is presented in a way they don’t like.

So watching the classic Avengers fans flip out almost made reading these books worthwhile. But not quite:

1) There’s David Finch’s art, which is REALLY shaky in it’s depiction of emotion and panel-to-panel movement.

2) It wasn’t too cool for Bendis’ FIRST Avengers gig to involve taking the team apart. It feels to me that you should have to prove that you can write a decent Avengers story before dissasembling ’em. I wasn’t a huge fan of Busiek’s Avengers, neither, but I feel he (or Geoff Johns, or Chuck Austen) had earned the right to kill the team off in a way Bendis didn’t.

3) We get a few glimpses of Bendis’s attempts at team writing and he’s still new at it, so it’s not great.

Yeah, see, that’s what killed the book for me. Everybody… like… talks the same. (“Talks the Same? Yeah. The Same? Yep. Oh.”) The rhythms and structures of their dialog is recognizably Bendis, but it does very little to define the character. On the books that revolve around a single, man character this doesn’t bother me so much. Here, though, it drives me nuts.

Blogathon 04: Secret War

I lied when I said I was only responding to the New Avengers posts.

Secret War plays to Bendis’s strengths: a compelling story grounded in real characters told in a slow series of reveals. I think it’s him at his best

Again, I don’t actually REMEMBER much ’bout it, exept the photo-realistic art bothered me. But I did locate my critical notes ion the story.

Well, GOSH. If this comic was ice cream it would be chocolate chip sucky-butt flavored.

I am nothing if not succinct.

Now SECRET WAR features one of my favorite superhero story types, all random heroes thrust together and taken out of there element – I loved the crap outta Art Adams and Walt Simonson’s New Fantastic Four and Dwayne MacDuffie and Skott Kolins Beyond. And there’s always a chance I was Boy-PMSing when I read the book the first time. What d’you guys think? Worth a re-read?

Blogathon 06: New Avengers Breakout

Luke Cage and Spider-Woman are Bendis’s pet characters and every new team line-up has those — every one, so don’t pretend like Bendis invented it.

yes. Yes. YES! Good. Freaking. Point. Roger Stern had Captain Marvel, Hercules, and Doctor Druid. Roy Thomas turned a character he created into the heart-and-soul of the Avengers. Steve Engelhart brought in the Beast and Moondragon. Jim Shooter… OK, actually now that I think of it probably really hated Ms. Marvel. Bad example.

Anyway, Breakout. When I read this, I wasn’t bone-crushed by The Awesome!, but I thought it had some decent potential to evolve into somethin’. Chad says Especially as Bendis goes out of his way to have Captain America spell out for us that this is just like that first time! It’s fate! And, yeah, THAT all got on my nerves, but they run around fighting dinosaurs (Yay!) and a Black Widow that didn’t seem to have all that much to do with the Black Widow from that cool Bill Sienkiewicz Black Widow series from a while back (much less Yay!)

But Spider-man was FINALLY on the Avengers, and I’ll forgive a hell of a lot for that. (Why wasn’t Spider-man on the Avengers in the first place? I heard it was ’cause Kirby didn’t want to draw the Ditko characters, but the King’s drawn Spider-man hell of times. No logic! No sense!)

Anyway, you could feel Bendis getting his team-book sea legs, and I liked Finch slightly better here than in the past. These weren’t GOOD comics per-se, but…

I’d loved Jinx, and Fortune and Glory, and Powers and Ultimate Spider-man and Daredevil and I figured it would all work out fine.

Blogathon 08: New Avengers: The Sentry

Until we had an Avengers story where only the Sentry and Emma Frost ended up with anything interesting to do.

While I had high hopes for Bendis bringing back the Sentry, he falls down here. It is just brutal how much he screws this up through worthless, bullshit changes that don’t add anything.

Annnnd about that “fine” thing? I was wrong. On every level. Mr. Nevett is, if anything, overly charitable here. Head over to GraphiContent, ’cause C.N. does quite a commendable job of tearing this sick, drippy puppy a new bottom-hole, and I gots nuttin’ to add.

Blogathon 10: Blogathon 10: New Avengers: Secrets & Lies

The library had a copy in stock, so I JUST re-read this one. So no going off half-fomed and probably inaccurate memories here.

It was sometimes kinda good, sometimes kinda bad. This is what “C minuses” were invented for.

In the content/promise of content area, this trade/set of issues does a decent job. A kind of lacklustre “Ronin” story sets up two character-based issues that tell good stories. All that’s set up is Spider-Woman’s possible betrayal in the future and that there’s a new Avengers team.

Not only do I agree with this, but I think it’s indicative of how the series as a whole works. The action sequences as a whole, can be represented by the “climatic” final scene where Iron Man zaps a bunch of ninjas and they fall down and then the whole thing is stupid. The down-time character pieces are, conversely, generally quite good and often somewhat moving.

But I believe we speak for bloggers everywhere when we say “Reading Ms. Marvel’s attempt at a blog was painful. Make the hurting stop, please.”)

Blogathon 12: New Avengers: The Collective

And here’s where I library dropped the damn thing.

We’re fast approaching the end of the pre-Civil War New Avengers run and all of a week has passed. It was during my reading of this arc that I realised that. Decompressed storytelling in action, folks. A GODDAMN WEEK HAS PASSED!

That’s a GOOD point, and it’s one that really bugs me ’bout this book. Historically, the Avengers have been a series of fast-paced, Epic adventures. It’s a dangerous world with an ever-changing status quo. In New Avengers…

Everything happens veeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrryy slowwwwwwllllllly. (In this issue: Wolverine finally completes his epic quest to lace up his right boot! Next Issue: Will he start on the left?)

And there seems to be an inverse relationship in these books between tension and narrative speed. If the story takes to long to tell, all the tension leaks right out and the result is… kinda boring. Since I can’t work up any epic hate about how “OMG! My Avengers that I grew up on are being destroyded!” I didn’t have much of a reason to care.

Now, the brutal slaughter of Alpha Flight? That is cheap. This guy kills them in two seconds and yet doesn’t kill a single Avenger? That’s not good writing and the worthless sacrifice of characters for no reason other than an “Oh wow cool awesome!” moment.

But this… This got my dander up.

I have a theory about comic writing: If you’re going to kill characters off, you should show you understand them first. (J.M. Dematties and Mike Zeck’s spectacular Kraven’s Last Hunt storyline is my go-to example for how to do this right.) If we adopt the oft used metaphor of the “Toybox” of Marvel concepts, the creative team on New Avengers is grabbing toys and random and jumping up and down on them and flushing them down the toilet. PLAY with your toys first. Then you can decide if you want to break ’em.

Blogathon 18: New Avengers: Disassembled

Damn, Chad is REALLY fast. It would take me waaaay longer’n half an hour to write an equivalent sized post and spell everything right and be mostly correct grammar-wise.

I’m reading these issues for the first time today – I’d previously got ’em out of the library, but decided “no” when it came time to sit down and actually read ’em – And the statistical mean of the five very different stories is “not bad.” Although I’ve already forgotten what happened in the Sentry one.

By far the best issue in this arc and one of the best New Avengers issues period is #22, the Luke Cage/Jessica Jones issue (those issues are always damn good).

Bendis has really done some nice work with the former-blacksploitation stereotype Power Man. (Although I miss the yellow shirt and pretty, pretty, princess tiara.) When these books move towards “characters try to make sense of their lives” and less towards “big action-y set-pieces” everything goes down SO much smoother.

Also: I completely disagree with Scott Harris in the comments, and I think this comes down to (again) me being a fan or artists more than characters. Or me having sat down and plowed through nigh-on hundred issues of Captain America in the space of a week and liked most of ’em a hell of a lot, but realized that the various interpretations (Englehart, Bynre, Kirby, and Dematties among ’em) don’t even TRY to match up. I don’t really need to see linear character development in my superhero comics. I don’t see these as real “characters” per se, and I don’t expect them to develop as I would in self-contained or single author works. They’re more as a big cluster of themes and ideas. And what’s interesting to me is to see which of these themes are important to certain authors. Or, in another sense, it’s interesting to see which of the past writers they choose to “collaborate” (so ta speak ) with and who they choose to ignore.

Blogathon 21: New Avengers: Revolution

I’ve never read this one, and the library copy, while SUPPOSEDLY checked in, is not physically there. Since I’m not doing anything drastic like buying a New Avengers comic, I’m gonna pass.

Blogathon 23: Thunderbolts: Faith in Monsters.

Warren Ellis’s Thunderbolts stuff with Mike Deodato are the best comics I will discuss today. Out of around 230 comics, these 12 make up the best without question.

I know I was only going to cover the New Avengers stuff, but I just gotta nod in agreement here. What a great, brillom evil, black-hearted, NASTY, but somehow less-cynical-than-much-of-Marvel’s-output-these-days line ‘o books. *I* spent actual money on these comics. (Bought the trades used for 1/2 price. But still….)

Blogathon 26: New Avengers: The Trust

Sigh. Puns make me sad.

Yu continues to do some great art. I like his rough style here. His character don’t always look how they do elsewhere, but that doesn’t bother me.

I’m still sitting here going “Move faster, Story! GiddddeeeYUP!” but I’m certainly enjoying these issues more than the first few, and I’m chalking ‘at up as much to the change in the artist as I am to the altered tone of the stories. The Hood comes out lookin’ decently freaky. (I like him more here than the Kyle Holtz or Skott Kolins versions, both of which were nifty in their own ways.) And the big-beat splash pages seem to MEAN something. (Which is not true of every volume of this series.)

So, hey, I’m caught up! (And the library only had one more volume anyway.)

So, let’s summarize:

Chad liked the Bendis/Cho/Finch/Yu/Maleev/Gaydos/McNiven stories more than I did, but I liked them more than I expected or remembered.

EXCEPT for the Collective, which was truly horrible.

Even still, none of this is as good as the GOOD Bendis work, and it’s kind of depressing that everybody’s buying this when they didn’t shell out for Powers or Daredevil

And it still moves too slowly.

But how many years did it take Lee and Kirby to turn Fantastic Four into a great book? Y’all READ those first 20-or-so issues? Yeesh.

So all the Avengers books are at least back on my “library pull-list.”

There is, of course, a HELL of a lot more over on GraphiContent. Read commentary on Civil War! House of M! Matt Fractions Iron Man! And the worst mini-series of 2007 coming… right….now!

Also. You can donate. 🙂

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