Have a drink. It might help that mortis attitude of yours.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Good Writing vs. Well...Bad Writing

I want to point out that I don’t hate Marvel. I’m not sure why I feel the need to preface all my Marvel oriented posts this way, but I do. Perhaps, it’s some deep-seated guilt about all the 616 bashing I do outside of the Internet. So, despite what you may think, I don’t hate Marvel. I’m just a little more critical of them.

This brings us to the recent split of a singular title into two: New Avengers and Mighty Avengers. The former is written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils by Leinil Yu; the latter is written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils by Frank Cho. The former works; the latter does not.

It’s been two months since the first team of Marvel fractured. It’s enough time for two issues of each title to his the stands; to see Luke Cage lead his team of outlaws on the beginnings of a great journey; to see Iron Man’s team fall apart as a group and as a comic. So how can two titles with the same core, written by the same guy, wind up as polar opposites? The answer is in the writing.

Now we know that when Bendis is on, he can craft a story: Jinx, Alias, Powers, the first two or three years of Ultimate Spider-man. With New Avengers, he is bringing his A-game. The dialogue is snappy, the action pops, the plots moves with thought and reason. The characters, the team has a purpose for being, a solid goal.

This is where Mighty Avengers fails. There is no center to the team, no reason they have to be Avengers. Hell, half the first issue is Iron Man picking his line up. With no motivation, a character is going to be found lacking. As a result the story will be found lacking. This is why the tone of the comic is so incongruous with the rest of the 616 Universe. This is why the book doesn’t feel cohesive, with far too much time spent on unfunny thought balloons and the monologues of a naked villainess.

At its very heart, New Avengers is a story about a group of heroes doing the best they can under terrible conditions. Bendis writes it this way. At its very heart Mighty Avengers is a comic because Bendis wanted an Avengers team that could face cosmic level threats and because Iron Man wanted a “Thor”, a “Wolverine”, and a “ninja.”

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Repost for a Reason

So exactly one month from today I am getting married. Yes, yes it's quite the plunge I know. But my girl is totally worth it. Anyway, back in December I made a request to everyone out there in Internetland in regards to a gift for my wife to be. I thought given that I've hit the thirty day mark I would go ahead and give it a shot.

"I’m taking a break from writing about comics for this post to talk about something a little more important. I know what you’re thinking? What could be more important than comics? Read on.

So next May I’m getting married; yeah I’ve found the one. When we were putting our budget together and under the list of things was “Gifts to each other.” The bride and groom are supposed to give each other presents? Yes. Traditionally the man gets a fancy “dress” watch and the woman a pair of diamond earrings. Both of us work in schools so you can guess how little money we make as a pair, thus gifts to each other were cut out.

This hasn’t sat well with me though. I’m not exactly the most together person, just not. One time I broke a cash register at a supermarket…I was twenty-one and a customer. But since she came along I’m a lot better. She pushed me to go for my Masters, calms me down, and listens to hours of my comic/cult film/video game talk even though she has no idea what I’m saying. Why does she listen? She’s just one of those people with no malice in her heart, who loves everyone for who they are, and goes out of her way for her students, family and friends. She’s the best, she’s my center. And just saying this everyday doesn’t feel like enough. That does not mean, however, that I can afford a pair of diamond earrings.

And this is where you come in people out there in Internetland. See her last name is Chick (I shit you not) so guess what she collects? We have adorable yellow birds doing adorable things (like singing) and not so adorable things (like flipping the finger). So I had this idea: get as many drawings of a chick wearing a hat (just go with it) as possible. Print it out of nice paper, have it bound nicely and bam thoughtful present.

Here’s the problem: I can’t draw. Not worth a penny. So if you can draw— hell even if you can’t— and you feel like helping a guy out with a present send it to Thosewednesdays@gmail.com. I can’t pay you, but someday you can call on me for a favor…I don’t know.

I don’t care what else is going on in the picture if you feel inclined to make it elaborate. I mean it could be a monster chick in a hat destroying Tokyo. Just remember that I will be giving it to her on our wedding day so have some level of respect. Thanks to everyone who helps out in advance."

So there it is. In the four months since that time I've got one picture.

Thanks Carl.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ready To Take Flight

So last week came the announcement the Gail Simone was leaving Birds of Prey. Of course there was the question of who could replace a writer who has defined the comic for fifty issues. The answer given by DC: Sean McKeever. Although I am disappointed that Simone is no longer writing the characters she has made so interesting, I am pretty stoked that McKeever is taking over. I thought Sentinel was actually pretty good, I mean John McLain showed up, and I know someone who swears by Spider-man Loves Mary Jane. However, I hope McKeever remembers that BOP has a very important role in the DCU; to give unappreciated females characters their due. With the new team format introduced in issue #100, this is easier than ever. The following is a list of the characters, in no particular order, that I would love to see grace the pages and get some of that limelight.

Bulleteer – Alix Harrower gained nigh-impenetrable “smartskin” due to a lab accident caused by her adulterous husband. Her mini-series was all about the acceptance of her new powers, about finding her place in the world. After Infinite Crisis, the Bulleteer briefly appeared as a member of the short-lived Justice League led by Firestorm and Firehawk. Now we’ve seen her picture in Oracle’s files and it is high time she stepped off the sideline. A stint on the Birds seems not only appropriate but could make for very interesting reading. The new super, learning her trade, learning what it means to be a hero would be great. Not to mention seeing how she Barbara, Helena, and Zinda would help her through those issues about her past that are probably just under the surface. It would be good reading.

Crimson Avenger - The woman who may or may not be Jill Carlyle gained her powers through an unfortunate turn of events. Purchasing a pair of Colt pistols she set out to get revenge on a guilty criminal who had been found not guilty. Unfortunately, these guns, originally belonging to Lee Travis, carried a curse. If used for vengeance the shooter would become bound to the pistols, and have to travel around using them to dole out justice, sort of a Spectre-light. Maybe it’s because I like the idea of the reluctant hero, maybe it’s because I grew up on John Woo movies, but I love the new Crimson Avenger. I can see their paths crossing as they go after the same person. Then maybe she agrees to stay on while Oracle searches for a cure to her curse. Crimson Avenger would doubtlessly be called to enact justice while on a mission, making her unreliable as a teammate. Like in the JSA arc where she tried to kill Wildcat, the idea of free will would be inherent in this character.

Onyx – It’s been a while since this former assassin has graced the pages of a comic, War Games if I remember correctly. She was left with leading the gangs that Orpheus united before his death. This is not much of a role for a character whose history is tied in with both Batman and Green Arrow. If Huntress ever chooses to split with the team, I think Onyx would be an excellent replacement. Seeking a peaceful balance to her murderous past, that is interesting. Her story would be one finding life outside of being a vigilante.

Secret – Now many people tend to forget how great Young Justice was, how interesting the characters were. While discussing this post with Devon of Seven Hells fame, he made the comment that it would be cool to see Arrowette on the team. He is absolutely correct; the former teen archer whose parentage is in question would be an awesome addition to Birds of Prey. I would also love to see Secret. The girl known only as Greta, gained her powers when she was murdered by her brother in his search for dark powers. Unable to move on, Secret gained a variety of superpowers before being returned to life as a regular teenager. I would love to see her as learn the ropes of costumed crimefighting as a normal person. You know have Oracle train her in detective work and such. Also, let’s not forget who not only stripped her of her powers but also turned her evil for a time. It was none other than Darkseid. With the Fourth World coming back, Secret’s connection could make her an interesting teammate.

Manitou Dawn - The time-displaced former member of both the JLA and JLE gained her mystical powers when her husband sacrificed himself. Last seen dealing with the guilt of her affair with the Green Arrow; Manitou Dawn was left still trying to learn her new powers. While there are some bigger name female magicians out there, few others have such an untapped but rich background waiting to be explored. She is from the Obsidian Age, this alone makes her a cool character to work with.

Halo – Come on, you had to expect her to be on this list. I was surprised by how many people said that she was a stupid character in response to my previous post. I think it is only because she hasn’t been brought into the modern age of comics, rounded out and made complex. This is a dead woman who has been reanimated by an energy being, the character/emotional repercussions of this alone could make for interesting storytelling. You could have two consciousnesses inhabiting the same body story, a stranger in a strange land story as the entity tries fitting in. Then say she dies but the energy being takes on another host. This new host, with some of the previous hosts memories, returns to the team and they have a hard time adjusting to her. Hell, it worked for the Dax character in Deep Space Nine and…well now I’ve outgeeked myself. Halo is a character, if given her shot could be very rich addition to the comic.

Fingers crossed that McKeever throws at least one of these characters in.