Marvel

Podicus Wrecks #35 – Marveling at Marvels

In this week’s episode of Podicus Wrecks, we’re discussing Marvels, by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross.  Why would we discuss a 23 year-old mini-series, you ask?  Well, because Anthony has never read it, and we felt strongly that this was a must-read series.  It is just a fantastic look at the beginnings of the Marvel Universe through the eyes of a photographer.  Also included in this episode, Jacob attempts to convince us to play Persona 5 and Changeling is featured in this week’s “Better Know an X-Man.”

Spider-Man, the MCU and movie-paced storytelling

Wow, it’s been quiet around here hasn’t it?  For me, I blame the United States Postal Service.  Not to say I’m “mailing it in” (har har).  Anyway, just because J.R. and I haven’t been keeping up with the blog (sorry!) doesn’t mean we’re not keeping up with comicdom and pop culture chunks.  Well, I’m a little behind because of work, but I’m doing my best to catch up for work here as well as on a vocal-based project coming soon from me and a comic shop owner.  Stay tuned.

But because I’m known by many of my friends as a comic book nerd (and rightfully so) whenever something happens that makes buzz, someone will likely come to me and ask my opinion on it.  Lately, it’s been the announcement that Sony and Marvel are bringing Spider-Man to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Um, woo hoo?

But don’t get my lack of excitement bug you.  I’m not a movie watcher, per se, as in I don’t really watch movies.  While I am up on my X-Men movies which isn’t a big surprise, as for the MCU I’m really behind.  I’ve seen the first two Iron Man movies, the second Captain America movie and the Avengers.  Now before you jump down my throat screaming HOW COULD YOU CALL YOURSELF A FAN AND NOT SEE THEM ALL?!!! let me roll my eyes and say that if a movie’s theme doesn’t interest me, I’m not going to go out of my way to give time and money to it.  So when you toss out a solo movie for Thor or Hulk (or Superman for that matter, if you’re a DC fan) I’m not going to get excited because the characters don’t appeal that much to me.  If it’s important enough to someone I like and value the opinion of, I can be swayed.  For instance, my friend Andrew finally sat me down and made me watch Winter Soldier, and I give him props for doing so.

But enough about me, let’s talk Spider-Man in the MCU.

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eXaminations, 6/4/14 releases

I will tell you one thing, fair reader – moving sucks.  There are few things I’d rather do less than move.  Used car shopping comes to mind.  Anyway, the dear lady love and I have just moved into our very first house.  Isn’t that exciting?  Be excited for us.

Anyway, now that I’m mostly settled in (not at all) I suppose it’s time to take a look at what came out this week.  Here’s what we’ll be looking out.

  • All-New X-Factor #9 in which we get some Gambit focus.
  • Amazing X-Men #8 in which we get new writers Kyle & Yost taking  over for Jason Aaron.
  • Amazing X-Men Annual #1 in which I make fun of Marvel for putting out a regular issue and an Annual on the same week.
  • Cyclops #2 in which I get to stop complaining about Corsair.

As always, there will be SPOILERS so if that bothers you, stop here.

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Battle of the Atom

Since AvX ended, the main point of the X-Men world has been the arrival of the teenage versions of the original team in the present in what has to be one of the worst decisions in the X-Men mythos.  Worse than “let’s let the world believe us to be dead”.  In an attempt to make Cyclops realize how far he’s strayed, Beast pulls out not the family albums or videos, but rather himself and his teammates from the past.  The effort does not impress Cyclops at all, but for whatever reason when the kids decide to stick around in the present, no one really flags this as a bad idea.

Battle of the Atom is the story that gets around to addressing how awful an idea this whole thing is…well, actually it starts to, then quickly shoots off into time travel shenanigans, gratuitous fighting, trickery and shenanigans, then a HUGE BIG DEAL at the end that pretty much comes out of left field to make sure at least SOMETHING happens to justify the ten issue crossover.

In the sake of big, stupid fun, it’s perfectly acceptable.  There’s running around, happy moments, sad moments, and OMG reveals galore.  But in the sake of a bigger narrative, a storyline direction and characters making rational decisions and coming with ends/means life-altering decisions?  Not so much.

I’ll get into the deal after the jump.  Here’s hoping you’ve read it, because there will be SPOILERS WITHIN.

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Is the new Marvel a Miss?

Marvel has a trademark to keep and so we’re getting a BRAND NEW Ms. Marvel to fill the name vacated a bit ago when Ms. Marvel chopped her hair and took on the Captain role following AvX.

And Marvel’s hitting all the THIS IS A BIG DEAL buttons here.  Female title character, teenager to pull in the kiddies, ethnic origin to add a little cultural flavor, and GET THIS – she’s a Muslim.  ARE YOU EXCITED YET?

I’m sure all the big news outlets will give a paragraph or two to whether this is appropriate for American kids, toss out the usual jargon, Marvel will be pleased that it grabbed a headline, and then everyone will move on.

Me?  I like it.  I’m always up for a new character showing up, and I won’t pass judgment on the story until I give her a shot.  Not thrilled with the character’s name – Kamala Khan sounds like a mix between a Mongolian invader and a Ugandan giant.  I’m not familiar with either writer G. Willow Wilson or artist Adrian Alphona, but that doesn’t mean anything.

I really hope that Marvel treats this new character with something different and unique, and we’re all impressed.

And now I must go find my usual snark.  I seem to have lost it.

Meeting a Legend

It’s just about time for one of my semi-annual posts here on Comicdom Wrecks!, but even if it weren’t, I’ve got something pretty awesome to report.

I got to meet Stan Lee.

The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, Thor, Doctor Strange, Iron Man, the Avengers. It almost seems ridiculous to think that all of those ideas could come out of one man’s head, but Stan Lee created all those characters and many more. And he didn’t just come up with a name & a gimmick for them either. Lee’s creations were fully realized characters who had to deal with real life problems & personalities at a time when most other comic book characters were paragons of virtue, existing in a world where the good guys always won and everything was swell.

It’s a fact that the comic book industry wouldn’t be what it is today without Stan “The Man” Lee. It’s debatable whether or not there would even be a comic books as we know them without his contributions. My visit with him was very brief,  but I did get a change to thank him for the countless hours he’s provided me and the rest of the world. He thanked me for that and said he liked my shirt. Well worth the $65 and four hours standing in line.

Picture after the jump.

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Catching up: All New X-Men

As I catch up to the current issues of the various X-books that I haven’t been doing my eXaminations on, I decided I’d do a post about my thoughts on how each book is going in the whole Marvel NOW! hooplah.

First up is All-New X-Men, since it’s all new and all.

Brian Michael Bendis has had his fill of Avengers and moved his seat over to the X-table, now writing both of what one might consider the “flagship” books (though to be fair, there are two other books that are just X-Men team books as well and one about the school itself).  The first one out of the gate to wave the NOW! flag was All-New, and if you can’t tell from the image above, the whole premise is getting back to the X-Men roots through wacky time travel antics.

But that’s putting it mildly.  The reality of the book’s premise is a bit more convoluted in that Beast, believing himself to be dying from his latest round of genetic mutation (farewell, cat Beast), decides to nab the original five X-Men from the past and bring them to the present to make Cyclops realize how just awful he’s been of late.

Does that seem dumb to you?  That seems kind of dumb to me.

Anyway, the kids do the confrontation, predictably it doesn’t do anything of consequence and then the kids decide that since their Professor X is going to wipe the memories from their heads upon their return home anyway, they might as well stay in the present and fix things so they can go with the knowledge that they’ll eventually have a world worth living in, which admittedly the Marvel U has never been for mutants.

Now that’s an okay setup on a basic level, I guess, but it really doesn’t seem to be working in execution.  For one, the pickup point for the kids happens in the middle of the original X-Men #8 in which Beast and Iceman return home up in arms about being mobbed simply for being mutants.  That’s all well and good in the sense that it gives the X-Men a place where Xavier won’t notice them gone (of course, being that it’s time travel that is a moot point), but it puts the kids way to early in the heroing career to be in the all-in idealists for Xavier’s dream that the story seems to be requiring.

You might think it’s perfectly acceptable for the kids to want to make a difference here being that they are already teenage super-heroes and thus not much for exactly grand self-preserving life choices, but the underlying problem is what happens if something happens to the kids in the present?  If teenage Beast dies in the present, what happens to all the crap Beast’s done in his fifty years of existence?  All of the responsible super-heroes are standing around going “this doesn’t seem like a good idea” and then just shrugging and walking away.  It’s a story where everyone is putting aside any kind of common sense to the matter just because the premise doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

But comics can do that, so what am I complaining about?

The other thing I’ve noticed is that the kids don’t seem to really be acting much like their character bases, but that comes as much from the 60’s X-Men having been remarkably dull characters for a lot of their Silver Age antics.  Iceman and Beast handle easily enough – one needs to be goofy and the other needs to be pretentious – but the rebelling teenage Cyclops doesn’t really fly as well with me.  Silver Age Cyclops was much more straight laced then that, especially right at the beginning, where the storyline nabbed the kids from.  Angel doesn’t get any kind of real characterization at all, though he leaps over to Uncanny not long in, so I may be talking to soon.

My main problem with this book is that it just seems to be stalling for time.  We’re 14 issues in and not that much has actually really happened.  The kids are in the present and hanging out with Kitty Pryde, and that’s about it.  It’s like they’re just standing around until something comes around to need them.  And being that something dealing with their time traveling stuff is going to be in the Next Big Event, that may be exactly what this book’s going to do.

Fine if you’re really aching for a Jean Grey in your life, but underwhelming for me.

Next time: Astonishing X-Men