In a recent interview, Stan Lee reacted to the death of the Marvel Universe with a fairly blasé demeanor. While he admitted to an emotional connection to the universe that he helped create, he also expressed the perspective that Marvel had to change.
That was it – nothing more.
If the man who was a part of such fundamental comic creations like the Hulk, Captain America, the X-Men and Spider-Man can so willingly accept such a drastic and dramatic transformation of something so beloved – why can’t I?
In order to change, it seems like the big two publishers are constantly trying to up the ante. Jim Shooter had a sense of this back in 1985 when he tried to bring about the birth of the New Universe. A line of comics completely separated from anything that Marvel had done up to that point. At the time, the idea of removing the existing universe and starting from scratch would have been laughable, simply from a business sense, but he clearly felt the need to bring something fundamentally different to the comic world. Within a couple of years, the numbers showed it to be a failed creation but after a few decades, I can understand what he was trying to do. It was the right idea but for the wrong time.
After thirty years, comic readers are being forced to accept that nothing lasts forever. Change is inevitable, but there has to be a replacement for the void that change brings. Not simply form a mere placeholder perspective, but a substitute though in different form that has the same function. Heroes are supposed to last forever; to be reminders of what’s right or to serve as virtuous examples to emulate. If they aren’t around, then what inspires us?
I don’t want to let go of my heroes. Maybe when I reach Stan’s age I can easily say good-bye to what I helped build, but for now, I still have a few more years left in me to be inspired. I want others to be likewise inspired. It’s not enough to simply accept change: there has to be a purpose for the change with an idea of what legacy it leaves behind.
Astro City #23
Though it’s another Convergence heavy week, you can’t forget about the real gems that lie hidden beneath the event-encrusted exterior of DC/Vertigo’s publishing initiatives. Astro City is an amazing series that deserves as much attention as it can garner. What astounds me with this series is how Kurt Busiek can manage to make the events so meaningful and relevant. These heroes (and sometimes villains) question their own purposes and you detect a real sense of humanity peeping out from the four-colour spandex.
This issue is about a reluctant hero – though he may be a combat-trained, intelligent ape who simply wants to be a drummer, it’s apparent that he is destined for much, much more. This is a character-driven story that you simply must read. I can’t wait for the conclusion in the next issue.
Busiek’s motif in this series is the style to emulate if a writer wants his characters to truly resonate with his readers. If you aren’t reading this, you really are missing out.
Interesting twist, but I can’t say that I thoroughly enjoyed this issue. first of all, at the end of the story, I did notice a continuity error in the assembling of Deimos’s forces. I won’t say too much more for fear of giving away spoilers, but suffice it to say that there was a slight degree of sloppiness in this issue. Plus, the cover does give that much away.
First, I did like the fact that the enemy has now shifted into Deimos. A second-rate villain, to be sure, but I confess that I loved Mike Grell’s Warlord; it was probably one of the most enjoyable modern pulp stories to come out of the eighties. So a return for this character does demonstrate the awesome array of characters that DC has at its disposal but it’s a shame that it’s an event like this that brings them out.
Second, it seemed messy. Now that the cities no longer have to defend themselves – thus negating all of the two-issue ancillary publications – there really isn’t much to this story than a big brawl. So, I’m starting to worry about the future for this event. Is it going to turn into something truly epic or will it just fizzle out in the end?
Convergence: Shadow of the Bat #2
Wasn’t too keen on the first one, so I’m just giving this one due diligence. Also, I wasn’t a fan of Azrael – another misbegotten spawn of the 90’s comics experience – there were few winners from that decade. However, while the fight sequence between WETWORKS and Batman/Azrael were fairly inventive, the ending was forced and abrupt. Clearly the ending was predetermined but it was also fairly awkward.
Convergence: Parallax #2
This was a bit of a surprise. I honestly thought I had this one pegged but it did manage to surprise me in the end and even added a continuity check as well! I always thought Kyle Rayner lacked a degree of conviction that was necessary for a Green Lantern. However, for the purposes of this story, it made him a perfect foil for Parallax and the story worked out fairly well in the end. It had a good flow to it and the ending was acceptable. For a two-issue story, what more can you want?
Convergence: Justice League International #2
The art is a little rough in this one. For example, Wonder Woman’s head seems a little off-centre in the third page and overall, the pencilling is a bit undefined.
But it was the lack of story resolution that bothered me. Both Justice Leagues are in the fight for their cities and yet all Blue Beetle seems to care about is the significance of the date. It just didn’t seem to gel. Even the battle between the two super teams happened off-book while the two Blue Beetles were busy swapping jokes with each other, abandoning both their teams to battle security robots who were programmed to keep the combatants from leaving the fight. Wonder Woman’s character was poorly represented and even the end of the battle seemed to have no consequences.
Convergence: Suicide Squad #2
I was a little disappointed with this one. The action was fairly swift but the artwork left a bit to be desired. Also, this was supposed to be a fairly immediate encounter yet the ending makes it seem wistful and lost in history. Putting the Suicide Squad up against the crew from Kingdom Come was a mismatch to begin with and hardly a believable premise. After all, the KC Green Lantern is a character of conviction – it’s not likely he would willingly go along with a battle premise. Plus, the main flaw in this is that if all the characters had lost their powers for a year, why is Green Lantern’s space fortress (a construct of his ring) still in orbit?
Star Trek: New Visions #6
It’s an amazing concept that I simply cannot get tired of. More Star Trek: The Original Series stories brought to life by John Byrne.
It’s expensive but any true Star Trek or comic fan should not bat an eye at the amazing work and storytelling present in these books. I want to ask John Byrne so many questions about this series. Unfortunately, I’ll more than likely never get the chance. The man’s reclusivity is remarkable. He also doesn’t like talking about past work, which is a shame, given that there is so much of it to appreciate. That would probably be one of the questions I’d love to ask him. So many creators … so little time.
Remember: this series is a re-visitation of the original Trek. It’s an easy sell for me, but from a critical perspective, it makes me wonder how many new Trek fans it attracts. It’s a good thing the price point on this book is so high, because I can’t imagine the sales numbers being great. However, if you’re a fan like me, you’ll gratefully part with the money because of your love for the series.
Titled “Resistance”, this is obviously a story that conceives the premise of the Borg in the 23rd century facing off against the Enterprise crew. Of course, Byrne doesn’t come right out and identify the Borg, but hints at them and their primitive technological status.
Byrne does the series full justice. It’s a pure joy to see these characters take new life with his creative envisioning of old still footage for new story purposes. It’s almost like seeing a new series come to life. In fact, if this is what modern photographic technology can do today, imagine what artists will be able to accomplish with filmed footage perhaps twenty years from now.
East of West #19
There’s a real difference in this issue from all the previous ones. The story now switches from the world level to the personal perspective of the child of prophecy who is supposed to bring about either the ruin of the world … or its salvation. We also see the careful manipulation of the Beast’s perspectives as Balloon – his tutor and manipulator – discovers more about the outside world.
I love this book. Hickman has the ability to move effortlessly from a grand perspective to a personal one with such ease that he lulls you into a false sense of what this story is actually about. Though the world is different, the creatures are changed, the need for humanity’s basic goodness is still present in this story. When it boils down to it, all the prophecy in the world cannot distract one away from the simple need to do the right thing.
Politics, technology and a transformed world all serve as smokescreens in observing the basic nature of mankind. Are we inherently good or bad creatures? That’s what this book says to me. It is a grand, epistemological story that makes us examine human values. It’s simply beautiful in its construction and intricately detailed in form.
Whoa – a real curve ball gets served to you at the end of this issue! I have to confess, while I felt the story had reached a fairly predictable pathway, I was still enjoying it. I don’t mind if a story is predictable as long as it seems logical in its premise and it has a few nifty quirks thrown in for good measure.
The end of this book really did surprise me. It’s a great story and one that I can definitely enjoy and is entertaining. I love the fact that Reyn can only see Aurora and while this is a fairly minor feature of the story, it is the combination of many of these little things that make this story entertaining. I love a good story, and its characters are engaging with these little mysterious aspects to their composition. This is a successful story that I enjoy reading.
Again – another fun romp through time that it’s hard to resist. What is really different in this book is the flagrant disregard for causality or paradox! This entire book seems to revolve around the concept of how much damage can be done to the time continuum as possible! Forget the butterfly effect or any other time mumbo-jumbo; just keep truckin’ through time!
Darth Vader #5
Adi Granov knows how to draw a cover, that’s for sure.
This is an outstanding comic. There is nothing more attention-grabbing than the plight of a former master villain reduced to scrambling to regain lost status and power. I absolutely adore this book and think that out of the four Star Wars titles Marvel has released, this has to be my favourite. To see Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, the Emperor’s own apprentice utter the word “blasphemous” with full meaning just made my night’s comic reading. This is by far one of the best titles I have read this year and it keeps getting better with every issue.
Secret Wars #2
Okay … I’m impressed. I was hesitant and nervous with Issue #1, but this completely divergent story reset my expectations with the realization that it is conceptually greater than I originally gave it credit for. Sorry Mr. Hickman.
The many variations of characters that Hickman fabricates is astounding and to see Doom in control of an entire world without telling the readers how all that came about is simply mind-boggling. Hickman has not only manufactured a world but also the demand to know more about it.
Four words: In Doom we trust. Leave it at that.
… but I can’t – I’m declaring Secret Wars #2 to be my pick of the week. Why? Simply because it surprised me on a level that I was not prepared for. Moreover, if this is the type of change that we will see, then at least it’s happening with a degree of style. Secret Wars #2 is certainly a grand story that makes a lot of unwritten promises. Let’s hope it makes good on them.
Hmmm … I can’t help but wonder what Jim Shooter thinks about it.