Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Continuity Spisis, Spiderisis, However You Want To Smush Spider & Crisis

Three weeks into "Brand New Day" and the one thing most of the people I've talked to about the new SpiderQuo are still stuck on is how "One More Day" completely screwed up Marvel continuity. It is the number one thing I still think about, no matter how good a job Dan Slott and Steve McNiven have done so far. But this guy isn't just going to complain. He's going to do something about it.

By this guy, I mean me.

Here for Slott, Steve Wacker, Joe Quesada, and the rest of the people who still care about Your Friendly Neighborhood Web-slinger are ten continuity fixes thought of by yours truly that might help to explain how Mephisto's deal changed Spider-Man(& Marvel in general) history.

1. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson were set to marry until Peter got cold feet when his best friend Harry Osborn divorced his wife Liz Allan. Peter and Mary Jane tried for awhile to make it work but Mary Jane was never able to forgive Peter's decision to stop the marriage.

2. Without Normie to bring up the issues he had with his father, Harry Osborn was never pushed over the edge into taking over as Green Goblin. Free of marriage commitments, Harry devoted himself to taking over his father's company and womanizing.

3. Spider-Man joins the New Avengers a year after serving a brief stint with the Avengers where he gained the trust and respect of Captain America. Not having a family to follow him to Avengers Mansion, he never reveals his secret identity to the New Avengers. Jigsaw does not break his arm during the Raft prison break because that would be impossible. And why the hell was Jigsaw in a supervillain prison, anyway?

4. During the press conference where Spider-Man was set to reveal his identity to the public, the building was attacked by the Sinister Six. Electro shorted out the electricity in the room, cutting the lights and newsfeed before Spidey's identity was revealed.

5. Before another press conference could be arranged, Spidey learned of the Prison 42 and the other crazy ideas Stark, Richards, and Pym came up with and decided to join the Anti-Registration side.

6. The Spider-Clone is still in that smokestack.

7. Staying with the Anti-Reg side, Spidey redons his black costume to for it's stealth, rather than other emo reasons. Since he's no longer with MJ, his donning of the suit that haunted MJ's dreams is no longer seen as insensitive.

8. Black Cat, joins the Pro-Registration side to get closer to Spidey, but stays because she feels it gains her a measure of respectability after her past criminal activities. Spidey, while disapproving of her choice, still sees Black Cat for a round of Keep-The-Masks-On, when the mood strikes.

9. Gwen Stacy never has pity sex with Norman Osborn. I don't know what that story was supposed to do or what, but it made me throw up in my mouth a little. She does have pity sex with Peter Parker.

10. Flash Thompson never goes to Vietnam, dates Felicia Hardy or falls into a coma after being set up for drunk driving by Green Goblin. In this new reality, Flash was a grade A douche until he had to take a cross country road trip with a nerdy, but beautiful art major who teaches him compassion and acceptance. And the Shocker.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Comics Not So Cool So Far

I wanted to post earlier but Saturday I was able to play something like eight hours of HeroClix in the Cave of Gyuss Baaltar, so I was pretty wiped for awhile. And then some of the books I read this week have really hurt my head.

Like this one. It was written by Bob Haney, for gods' sakes. Nevermind the Space Beatles vs. Primal Hippies, the Wonder Girl presented in this is one of the worst examples of sexism I have ever seen. It's kind of jarring, what with Donna falling for some warrior and wanting to marry him and fighting against the Titans for him.

In Punisher War Journal, I was kind of able to accept the new, inexplicably crazy Aloysius Kraven, even though he has a brother who was already following in the original Kraven's footsteps. But in the interlude with G.W. Bridge assembling a new Six Pack, Matt Fraction gives us a Silver Sable who's now a second rate Black Cat. Inexplicably! The series up to this point has been awesome, but it's these weird touches to jam characters into the storyarc that leave me bleh.

Hulk #1. Now, I'll pretty much enjoy anything drawn by Ed McGuinness. Bulky physiques and all, the man knows how to draw an action sequence. Now anything written by Jeph Loeb, that's a toss up, thrown a little too far to the left. Leonard Samson starting a fight with Russian superheroes because of jurisdiction issues and this splash page make me think Loeb has lost whatever it was that made his name memorable.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cool Stuff So Far

Peter Tomasi and Rags Morales are poised to bring Nightwing back in a big way. As a long time fan of Nightwing who was wondering why Tim Drake got his own series first, Nightwing was a welcome addition to my long boxes. Only problem was that after Chuck Dixon left, writer after writer failed to present Nightwing as he should be presented. They made him Batman-Lite, giving him so many problems and fits of depression that he wasn't recognizable as Dick Grayson, the circus acrobat who was the personality opposite of Batman. Batman was grim and serious, Grayson was happy and playful. Right from the start, we get that Dick Grayson back and after two years in New York, Tomasi has Grayson setting down real roots, not working as a male model. I think anyone who thought Didio was right should take a look at this book and eat their words.

This is the most honest idea ever presented in a DC comic. If someone you loved was dying, you would yell for the same person.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

If 2007 Had A Face, I'd Kick It In The Balls

Kind of late, I know, but I wanted to talk about what I enjoyed the most about 2007 before the year glazed over in my mind.

10. Green Arrow and Black Canary - From the start Judd Winick pretty much redeemed his less than stellar end runs of Outsiders and Green Arrow with just a few issues of this series. It's well-paced, hilarious, and made me really interested in this GA/BC Family. Throw in Cliff Chiang fresh from Doctor 13 & Bonesaw Batman and you have a winning series.

09. Best Miniseries of 2007: Wisdom (Yes, it started in 2006, but it was mainly 2007)
Let me make this clear, I didn't like Pete Wisdom at all before this miniseries was released. A mutant, cynical version of James Bond, he struck me as a really inane character and completely wrong as the guy Kitty Pryde would choose over Colossus. He sucked. But in this miniseries by Paul Cornell and Trevor Hairsine, Wisdom is now the head of MI-13, the supernatural division of British Intelligence. Now handling every extraordinary threat to the British Isles, Wisdom has his own crew of misfits, which include a fairy, Captain Midlands, and a Skrull who looks (and acts) like John Lennon. Their foes are weird, their methods trippy and their relationships are dysfunctional. It's a great story and it gives Pete Wisdom more real personality than he's ever had. Enough to make me want to read another series, if Cornell is handling it.

08. Best Character 180: Prince Ambrose, formerly known as Flycatcher in Fables
Ambrose was the janitor of the Mayor's office since Fables began, a sweet natured man who needed constant busy work in order to keep from turning back into a frog. But destiny would lead this simple man into becoming the greatest threat to the Emperor of the Fablelands ever. Guided by the spirit of Sir Lancelot, clad in golden armor, and wielding the great Excalibur, Ambrose would travel through the Witching Well gathering an army of spirits to claim a piece of the Homelands as his own.

07. Biggest Letdown: DC Comics
For all the good titles DC has brought out this year(Booster Gold, Jonah Hex, Black Adam), they also churned out some of the lamest crap of the year. Countdown, no matter how much fixing they're trying to do now, sucked 26 issues straight and its spin-offs pretty much sucked en masse. Amazons Attack!, every issue of Wonder Woman to come out not written by Gail Simone, and disappointing runs from Dwayne McDuffie on Justice League of America and Sean McKeever on Teen Titans pretty much round out what was just a poorly managed year for DC.

That being said, 2008 may just be Marvel's year to really screw up now that One More Day is over and completely freaked up the continuity of the last twenty years of Spider-Man history and the last four years of Marvel stories.

06. Most Surprising Good: Avengers:The Initiative
After Civil War, I had low expectations for the series that would directly handle the fallout of the Superhuman Registration. I regard Dan Slott as a talented writer, but then again, I regarded Mark Millar as one as well. But whereas Millar seemed to lack a real understanding of the characters he was tossing around, Slott displays a true grasp of the characters he's writing and can really play the characters off of each other. He also handles the pros and cons of Registration deftly, at once giving readers a look at how beneficial training is to young and new heroes, but also the drawbacks of involving politics in superheroics.

05. Best Metaphor goes to Jon Carey for Marvel is like a high school lunch room, with Avengers at the jock table and the X-Men in the drama club, getting mono from each other.

04. Best Character of 2007: MVP of Avengers:The Initiative
Despite being killed during a training session in the first issue of the series, the most interesting character to come out of Avengers:The Initiative is Michael van Patrick, the peak of human perfection(via diet and exercise) whose clones are known as the Scarlet Spiders. Despite mental commands, the Scarlet Spiders begin to act independently, as the corpse of MVP is seen smiling. Now, a new clone is shown menacing a battle ravaged Yellowjacket with an extraterrestrial gun arm. Slott is building his first storyarc around this character and its one interesting ride.

03. Best Batman Story of 2007: Batman #667-669 featuring The Club of Heroes
"Be assured. The Black Glove is a seal of absolute quality and ruthlessness."

Anything you could possibly love about Batman is thrown into this storyline of reunion and murder where the Club of Heroes, a group of crimefighters inspired by the Batman are systematically executed one by one on the night Batman returns after the Club was founded. Emotions are running high as these heroes come to terms with not achieving the level of notoriety as Batman, deal with old rivalries and try to avoid being killed by a killer who gives old school villainy a 21st century makeover. Brilliantly illustrated by J.H. Williams III, this three part storyline is Grant Morrison at his best, taking what was dismissed as Silver Age absurdity and making it one of the coolest stories of the year. Just a observation, trying to beat Batman at a mystery, not smart.

02. Best Crossover of the past ten years: The Sinestro Corps War
From the start Geoff Johns threw his whole cinematic storytelling expertise into this series, putting together an all-star team of black hats that made you slightly uncertain whether the white hats had enough chops to win this war. Sinestro, an army of yellow ring sadists, Cyborg Superman, an army of yellow energy Manhunters, Parallax inhabiting Torchbearer Kyle Rayner's body, the Anti-Monitor, and everyone's favorite psychotic teenager Superboy-Prime. It was daunting to say the least, and the story would not let up. Green Lanterns fell, littering space with rings searching for new bearers, and even the new lethal force law seemed to be of little consequence with the Sinestro Corps assault on the center of the multiverse taking the Guardians by surprise. And in the midst of this, you get just a bit of what fuels Superboy-Prime and realize he may be the most dangerous of them all.

The series was so well done, it needs it's own list. Top Ten of the Sinestro Corps War:
10. What killed Kyle Rayner's mother
09. What saved Guy Gardner
08. The new Ion and his homeworld
07. The City Without Fear
06. The Bizarro Lantern
05. Cyborg Superman gets what he wants, for awhile
04. Superboy-Prime vs. Every Superhero There Is
03. Handicap Match: Sinestro vs. Hal Jordan & Kyle Rayner
02. Sinestro wins
01. This was only the beginning

01. Best single issue of a series: Astonishing X-Men #23
No one throws a curve like Joss Whedon. After the previous issue's sacrifice, Cyclops is resurrected by Kruun of Breakworld and Kruun wants information. Withstanding immense torture, a powerless Cyclops shows that he is the rock of the X-Men because he will not break. Concerned about "Leviathan," the X-Men's backup plan, Kruun interrogates Cyclops harshly and only gets the truth after threatening to dice up Armor, currently imprisoned with Wolverine. There is no "Leviathan," and last issue's end conversation was just to throw off the listening enemy, while the X-Men put their real plan into place, which included Wolverine and Armor being captured. Sick of lies, Kruun strangles Cyclops and asks, "What other lies have you told!?!" The answer was the first, honest to God time I ever cheered for a comic book character.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

More Theories

I think it's time once again to post my theories on the direction of Countdown to Final Crisis, with the emphasis more on Death of the New Gods.

As of Death of the New Gods #4, it has been shown that the killer of the New Gods was a primitive being who has been empowered by some unknown agent. This person didn't previously have power even approaching that of the New God Killer and seems to have been Anthro(maybe). The only idea I can come up with as to the identity of the benefactor of the Killer is that it's some kind of "anti-"Source or maybe a death god of Earth tradition like Neron or Satannus. I based this solely on the soul butterflies that the Killer pulls from the New Gods he kills. Souls manifesting as butterflies is found in many religions, including Egyptian and Gaelic.

However, Metron's dream and Mister Miracle's Anti-Life form, make me think it could be an aspect of an "Anti-Death Equation" or some other opposite of the Anti-Life Equation and in turn, an opposite of the Source. Since you have to pierce the Source Wall to learn the Anti-Life Equation, a Source opposite would have it's own Equation to be learned inside of it.

As far Jimmy's powers is concerned, Forager's recognition of the Source in Jimmy's eyes leads me to believe that Jimmy is being used as a conduit of the Source, as whoever created the New God Killer is blocking the Source from it's usual pathways. Jimmy's previous run-ins with the New Gods, as well as his unassuming presence, makes him the best non-New God agent to work through. The Source is maybe using him as an opposite of the New God Killer and may have Jimmy fight the Killer in the end.
More than likely these were the conclusions Stalin wanted the readers to come to, but it makes me less preoccupied with the mystery if I tell other people what I think so far.