Uncanny Avengers Annual (2014) Review

IMG_0053a

STORY BY Rick Remender

ART BY Paul Renaud

Rick Remender takes a break from his reality splitting, time hopping madness of his Apocalypse Twins story arc. Instead, Remender gives us a satire about the entertainment industry while using Mojo as his surrogate. The story begins with Mojo trying to pitch his new high concept story arc to a room full of statistic vomiting board members until they finally green light a story about the Uncanny Avengers being attacked by their supernatural counterparts. Sound familiar because it should. This is a nod to the DC crossover event, Forever Evil, which was kicked off by Justice League and Justice League Dark fighting each other before they united to confront a larger antagonist, the Crime Syndicate. This metafictional nod sets the tone for the whole rest of the issue while Remender consistently makes fun of the poor choices the artists, editors, writers, and critics have been guilty of making in the Comic Book if not Entertainment Industry as a whole.

It’s interesting when the board members tell Mojo the story needs more highschool type drama in order for its target demographic to better relate to the characters. This is a self-referential sucker punch to Young Avengers, Jean Grey’s School, Hellfire Club, Avengers Academy. It has become increasingly frustrating watching the story arc play second fiddle to the love quadrangles. Brian Michael Bendis has admitted that the relationship between Emma Frost and Scott Summers made little sense. Storm is now with Wolverine instead of Black Panther. Does it matter? Nope, but the writers will still use this gossip to world build like it was one of Grandma’s daytime soap operas. Seriously, Logan is old, hairy, short, broke, angry, alcoholic, who had killed his “one true love” who he was having an affair with. Yet, Wolverine has slept with more people that would make even Emma Frost blush. If Wolverine didn’t have the healing factor, 80% of Marvel’s female population would have STD’s because of him.

However, the big jab is towards audiences in general. Remender comments how today critics are too afraid to say they don’t understand a plot. Instead, they will take the opposite approach and compliment the story no matter how indecipherable the story may be. No one wants to appear stupid so everyone goes along with the flow. In addition, if the story is too straight forward, people will whine about how boring it is. Basically, Rick Remender has boiled critics down to an adolescent child who suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder.

Quite honestly, how can we argue? Plot twists, action, and relationships being shoveled in just to keep peoples attention doesn’t equal good writing. Soon, it turns into a tangled mess and like Rogue in this story warns, “don’t pull too hard at the loose plot strings”; otherwise, it will cause the whole story to unravel. Perhaps the audience should dare to question the integrity of these stories. Hang on Mark Waid. How’s Daredevil able to jump around a city without killing the little girl with a bomb inside her gut or Hulk jumping around the city with his brain hanging out? Let’s not even get into the babbling nonsense of Faction’s Inhumanity or Spenser and Kot’s Secret Avengers.

In addition, it’s always a pleasure when writers stab at marketing research which force writers to curve their writing towards what is hot and trending in order to connect with their target demographic. For example, using a Marvel version of twitter in place of dialogue boxes even though it slows the pacing to a grueling stop is just as tacky as when the 80’s Teen Titans would reference Michael Jackson or product slogans. Yep, here’s looking at you Brian Bendis and Kieron Gillen.

Rick Remender has given us a fun commentary about the state of the Comic Book Industry. Although it came out of nowhere, it is nice that an A list writer validates the back slide of comic book standards. Although a critic can now be anyone with an internet connection, a 7th grade level of education, and a working knowledge of pop culture, doesn’t mean the industry should lower their own standards. Somebody should take accountability for the quality and content.

sloppy

Advertisements

Link

PPF 4/30

PPFlogo2

This week, we talk about Star Wars casting, Krampus, Batman vs Superman, Forever Evil: Blight, new summer comics, C2E2, Wolverine, Agents of Shield, Penny Dreadful, Community, Game of Thrones, the Other Woman, Silicon Valley, and Peacewalker

Marvel Knight’s X Men (2014) Review

marvel-knights-x-men-crop

Writer: Brahm Revel
Cover Artist: Brahm Revel

In a bayou town, children are going missing or dying, and the next victims may be two mutant children. This is the psychic dream of Rachel Summers which kicks off a mysterious road trip down to the south with Wolverine, Rogue, and Kitty who’re strangely motivated to discover the mystery behind Summers precognition.

The characterization of the three X Men felt forced. They lacked depth and through this five issue run remained flat and lacked any evolving depth or logical reaction. This may be do to the fact Revel prefers to come up with stories and work characters into the plot. However, this approach can trivialize the cast and in this case make them borderline incompetent. One of the new mutants, Nora, can cause the people around her to manifest memories of the people from their past. This becomes awkward when the X Men have to fight these manifestations. Furthermore, although pain forces Nora to stop these manifestations, nobody seems to remember this fact for the whole rest of the story. It’s a plot device that makes the story become weighted down and convoluted.

There was one fight between Wolverine and a memory of Sabertooth which was embarrassing . As Sabertooth is threatening to kill a child mutant, Wolverine states that’s out of character for even Sabertooth. Yet, Sabertooth is dressed exactly the same as he was during his Mutant Massacre time. That’s an odd oversight considering a lot of this story is supposed to focus on the character’s memories of other people. Did Wolverine forget that Sabertooth killed many mutants of all ages and kinds? If so, then why is Sabertooth even here? When Professor X shows up and starts preaching a holy ghost message, the story’s lack of focus almost becomes unbearable. In addition, there were quite a few grammatical mistakes in the dialogue. Although some of it could be seen as some type of uneducated dialect, there are other parts which were almost indecipherable and clearly lacked words.

Not only did Revel write the story, but also he managed to draw it as well. That is pretty impressive considering the art style was pretty consistent and he obviously has practice at drawing a wide range of X Men characters. Although it took sort of minimalist comic strip approach to the overall look, it still had quite a bit of detail that grabs your attention from panel to panel.

Although Marvel Knights are supposed to be read as an indie form of Marvel, this run’s lack of editing, polish, or oversight reflects poorly upon the larger editorial staff of Marvel. Yes, it’s commendable to give indie artist and writers the freedom to realize their Marvel story. However, some of this story could have been reigned in and edited down or at least proof read. Not every Marvel Knight story is going to be a Cinderella story, but Marvel could at least try to prevent some casualties. Overall, the story lacked a significant amount of focus and somehow became a borderline PSA about drug addiction and finding healthy ways of dealing with loss. Hey, Marvel has produced much worse PSA’s during the 80’s and 90’s which covered the same material, but at least the readers knew what they were getting into back then. Regardless, it’s remarkable Revel was able to juggle the writing and artwork for this five issue run, and hopefully we can at least see some of his art-style come back for some more.

Wolverine: Smoke ‘Em If Ya Got ‘Em (2014) April Fool’s Review

Image

Writer

Garth Ennis

Artist

Gabriele Dell’Otto

The issue begins with a splash page depiction of Armageddon showing Logan in a final showdown with Legion. This is apparently the result of an X Force operation gone horribly wrong. As Legion is incinerating Logan’s flesh and mind wiping his brain, Legion says, “Freud says once you experience a trauma you’re doomed to repeat it. Why do you keep coming back to life, Logan?” Jerome Otto cleverly fades the close up of Wolverine’s corpse and Legion out to a dark monochrome. Logan wakes up in a cell with who is quickly revealed to be the red-headed Typhoid Mary. After watching a feral Logan spring back to life, Wolverine’s claws pop out and leap for Mary before we can only assume Typhoid sets Wolverine on fire, for the panel shows only a close up of her eyes sparkling with fire and a scream coming from Wolverine. Otto and Ennis do an interesting job of using parallelism by showing the same awakening scene happen again. Except this time we see the close up of Mary’s eyes before Wolverine pops his claws. Instead of leaping towards her, he asks her where they are who she is and more importantly who he is. We discover this same scenario has been happening for weeks while his body has been healing.

As the story progresses, we learn that Logan’s memory only lasts as long as he is awake, and any recollections from the past are at best fading dreams or a sense of Deja vu. After Mary makes a remark about how people can’t remember their dreams in color, it begins to make sense why Ennis and Otto chose to let most of the story remain colorless except for fire and blood. Although Logan can’t remember his past, he can remember how to do the one thing he does best and they decide to use their skills together in order to escape their prison. There’s a beautiful and violent scene which perfectly illustrates this approach. As Wolverine quickly snkts and kills many guards with trained precision, Typhoid Mary begins dancing, singing, and wrapping the screaming guards in blankets of fire. Blood drips and splashes from one panel to the next sequential panel, while Mary’s burning chaos are wide blazing panels. Even the pacing of the panels shows the dichotomy between their killing rhythm. Logan’s being three slices of panels followed by Typhoid’s stretched blazing panel interconnected with Mary’s burning lyrics singing across the tops. It isn’t until Logan smells the singed hair and sizzling fat of the guards does he pause his rage to witness Typhoid Mary’s blood lust. The following splash page is practically glowing and dripping from their fire and carnage. What is also interesting about this fight is the finesse of Wolverine’s attacks and defense. Wolverine doesn’t have the option to lay unconscious from a sentinel blast and a few seconds later jump right back into the fight. Because being knocked unconscious would erase Logan’s memory, Logan no longer has the option of running at bullets and using himself as a meat shield. Instead, we’re seeing the primal as well as the trained instincts of an immortal warrior.

Although the story doesn’t have any extra layers of plot or drama, it’s stripped down make your escape has always been the most suitable for Wolverine. Unlike many other incarnations of Wolverine, this story does not apologize for Logan’s killer instinct. With the narrative and dialogues, we learn this is a story about different aspects of killers. There’s Legion who is the Righteous Killer and always believes it’s a justified or merciful kill. Or there’s Mary. Because of her abusive and tragic past, Typhoid Mary became a sociopath for catharsis and defense. Then, there’s Logan who is a Darwinian soldier who survives by drawing first blood. It isn’t nice, but Logan’s the best at it.

Furthermore, Ennis’ Max series with Punisher and Fury, Ennis has proven that he knows what grit and grime can be found underneath the killers trigger, and that’s why this issue is the antithesis of what Wolverine had become over the last decade or two. Because of Wolverine’s popularity, he has been shoved into every corner of Marvel Universe. Now, not only does Logan have a past, but also it’s a messy one. Although it was nice House of M allowed writers to dive into unexplored aspects of Wolverine, it’s about time for the genie to be put back in the bottle. Instead of turning him into some Pseudo Xavier or Nick Fury, it would be nice for writers to remember the original Wolverine archetype, the immortal unknown soldier who is the best at what he does. Hopefully, much like what Born did for Punisher, this new Wolverine one-shot could hopefully re-calibrate Wolverine for future writers.