Thursday, April 6, 2006

Looking to the Stars - Illumination

Do you remember when Marvel Comics actually LET you read a storyline before they told you what amazing things would be happening, much less what the NEXT big storyline would involve?

Me either.

Seriously, it's getting to the point where a simple creator interview needs to be labeled "SPOILERS AHEAD" lest we inadvertently have the story that will rip the internet in half spelled out to us in graphic detail before the book comes out. And forget about reading through Diamond Previews if you want to be surprised.

Then again, this does save me the trouble of actually having to read the damn things. Illuminati #1 managed to tell me the whole story of Civil War in one page with foreshadowing so unsubtle that it would be spotted as foreshadowing if it were painted black, moved in the dead of night and provided with forged documents and photographs confirming that it was not in fact foreshadowing, but a traveling toy salesman from Fresno going on vacation in the Swiss Alps.

I've honestly lost all urge to even glance at Amazing Spider-Man just to see what happens there, I'm so disenchanted with the story so far. And for me to not care about Spider-Man takes a lot.

See, this is what DC is, for the most part, doing right with One Year Later. Most of the writers have given us mysteries that don't seem like arbitrary plot gimmicks. And even the mysteries that do seem like contrived plots to keep us reading (and yes, I KNOW that is the goal of most serial writers but there's an art in making it seem like they aren't doing that) are at least mysteries. We may grouse about how bad it is, but at least we're going into the book unknowing and coming out surprised.

That is where Marvel, as a whole, fails. With Joey Q's constant ranting there is no sense of mystery at the House of Ideas anymore.

In fairness, there are some writers who DO manage to surprise in their writing when they aren't forced to toe the line and provide cross-over fodder. Brubaker? He killed Foggy Nelson and brought back Bucky! JMS? Say what you will, but NOBODY saw Sins Past coming. Slott? About the only thing you can predict is that you CAN'T predict the lunacy inherit to his writing.

But for the most part, Marvel is a sea of mapped-out mediocrity. I was content to ignore them apart from the occasional glance in the store. It wasn't until this week that I got full blown annoyed.

I don't know for sure if the rumor is true – I can't find any official statement from Marvel one way or the other – but apparently word was leaked that in the aftermath of Civil War a group of heroes will flee to Canada to form a new Alpha Flight, in order to dodge the United States new laws regarding super-power registration...

... and Captain America will lead them.

Why? Well, apparently it's meant to mirror the many people who said they would leave their country if Bush were elected or reelected. And they wanted to be all hot and topical.

Thing is... you know anybody who actually DID that? I heard that statement attributed to Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin and Johnny Depp and last I checked the first two were still in America fighting for their beliefs and Johnny Depp was still living in the South of France with his supermodel wife.

I work with a bunch of women who LOVE Johnny Depp and lamented his marriage – THAT'S how I know, okay?

I'm all for more realism and relevance in comics but there are some basic truths that always hold true. And one of these is that Captain America, like all true patriots, does not abandon his country even when it abandons him.

Or am I the only one who remembers all the stories where he became Nomad or The Captain? Still a hero. Still fighting for the American Dream. And not running off when things get tough.

I don't think I am. But apparently nobody working at Marvel on Civil War remembers. Or maybe they just don't care. Either way, if this rumor is true it's a crying shame. And one more reason why I say Make Mine Marvel No More!

Tune in next week. Same Matt time. Same Matt website.

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  1. Marvel remembers what Bendis cares to remember, and that's about it these days.
    I remember FONDLY the days of Nomad and The Captain. I haven't read them in years, but I can still remember a cover of Captain America featuring The Captain in his black uniform with the Falcon and the D-Man alongside him.
    Captain America represents the IDEAL of America, not neccesarily what America has become, so it's a bit far-fetched to accept that he'd lead a team of heroes in Canada just to make a point.
    Not that he'd ever give up being a hero and all, but it just doesn't jive, you know?
    Sigh . . .

  2. Enjoy the story Matt.....
    It's just a comic book! Captain America as the leader of Alpha Flight...woo hoo! Bring in Wolverine, Puck and Sasquatch oh ya! I bet you read Civil War...and make yours Marvel once again! I say good for DC to keep a lid on the OYL but as far as Infinite Crisis goes it's missed the mark for me.
    Canadian Bill

  3. Re: Enjoy the story Matt.....
    How much you wanna bet on that, Bill?
    Funny how all the other Canadians I know are loathing this concept. And not just the Alpha Flight fans. Apparently there's some concern about the idea that Canada is going to willingly take the superheroic equivalent of Draft Dodgers in because Canada has, in fact, been doing a lot to try and stop the RL thing.

  4. I actually enjoyed the first few arcs of Winnick's Green Arrow run, but I wound up dropping it not because of the actual story but because of the art. After Phil Hester left the book Tom Fowler took over the book and... e-gads is his stuff hard to look at. His pencils look like something Humberto Ramos would draw if mittens were duck-taped to his hands.