Avengers #0 Review

Avengers #0 Review

Oh, look. The All New All Different Marvel Universe starts today. Yeah, the same day that Secret Wars #6 is released. Indeed, the new direction is kicked off with TWO issues still remaining in Secret Wars which is the big event that serves as the genesis for the All New All Different Marvel Universe. Yeah, clearly Marvel looked back at the mess that was the New 52 reboot spinning out of Flashpoint and thought “Hell, we can screw things up worse than that!”

DC’s editorial staff completely fumbled the New 52 reboot. Continuity was cherry picked. Characters were randomly retconned. The continuity in the various New 52 titles did not even line up with each other. Discrepancies and contradictions were all over the place. There was clearly no well thought out and organized plan for the New 52. It felt that DC simply hit the panic button and randomly threw shit on the wall to see what would stick.

Now, I would have thought that Marvel would have looked at DC’s handling of the New 52 reboot and used it as a valuable lesson on what not to do. Unfortunately, it appears that Marvel took DC’s handling of the New 52 as a challenge. A challenge that Marvel could not possible create a bigger clusterfuck than DC did with the New 52 reboot. Well, Marvel, never one to let DC get one up on them, has definitely managed to deliver a much large clusterfuck with the All New All Different Marvel Universe than DC ever did with the New 52 reboot. Congrats?

Anyway, This review is going to vary from our normal review format. The reason is that Avengers #0 is just a collection of six different “teaser” stories designed to give us a flavor for the All New All Different versions of The Avengers, New Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, A-Force, Ultimates and Squadron Supreme.  So, we will tackle each separate story one-by-one rather than grading the entire issue as a whole. All right, let’s hit this review.

Squadron Supreme in “Supremacy”

Words: James Robinson
Pencils: Leonard Kirk
Inks: Paul Neary
Colors: Frank Martin

Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This story serves as the spine for this entire issue as transition scenes between all the different Avengers team teaser stories. I am just going to review all the scenes with this plot line as a whole.

We learn that Squadron Supreme is now on Earth-616 (Is it even Earth-616, anymore? Nu-Earth? What should we call it now?) Hyperion, Zarda, Blue and Dr. Spectrum are all battling a Skrull base. (I have no idea where this Skrull base is. I will have to guess that it is on Earth somewhere. We are never told of the location.)

Nighthawk is back at the Squadron Supreme headquarters which his a large skyscraper owned by Oracle, Inc. Nighthawk talks to the team attacking the Skrulls via some sort of unexplained communication system. Nighthawk mentions how about how Squadron Supreme has purchased Oracle, Inc. That this entire world runs off commerce. That they will need Oracle to carry out their goals.

Zara replies that they have enough raw power on their team and she fails to see why they need a corporation to accomplish their objectives. Nighthawk replies that there are tons of super powered individuals on this planet. That raw power will only go but so far.

Nighthawk says that he is choosing to shape the Squadron Supreme so that they can face the Avengers in whatever ways they have to. Nighthawk says that they lost their worlds. (So, a bunch of characters from the Multiverse have been slammed into Earth-616 like a bunch of square pegs in round holes? That sounds as appealing as a shit sandwich.)

Nighthawk says that they are not going to lose this Earth. That no matter how ruthless they have to be they are going to protect this world. That they will use methods that others may view as extreme. But, they will protect this Earth no matter the cost.

Hyperion says that the Avengers are formidable even if they are in disarray like they are at the moment. The Squadron Supreme then finish taking out all of the Skrulls. Nighthawk tells them to confiscate any alien biotech and then obliterate the base so no trace is left behind that they were there at all. Blur says that a new form of Super-Skrull hybrid with a beachhead on Earth will leave SHIELD confused when they arrive on the scene and wonder how the Skrulls were defeated. (Okay, so we are on Nu Earth-616.)

Hyperion, Zarda, Blue and Dr. Spectrum then fly back toward Oracle’s building. Nighthawk tells them that their one advantage is that they do not abide by the rules of this world. (They don’t play by the rules! Squadron Supreme! Coming to a comic shop near you!)

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Nighthawk says that Sunspot is now leading his own Avengers team and that Sunspot also owns A.I.M. (Sure. Why the hell not.) Nighthawk says that Sunspot with his money and power could be a genuine threat. Zarda suggest that they kill him. Hyperion says that they are not killing good people “just in case.” (Aww, Hyperion is so outdated. Probably cause he is a white male. Why is he even in the All New All Different Marvel Universe, anyway?! So lame.)

Nighthawk says that Sunspot constructed his Avengers team with a mix of Humans, Mutants and Inhumans in order to show the world that such a team can work. Hyperion asks if they should come to Nighthawk or meet him on the ocean floor. (Huh?) Nighthawk replies that he wants them to meet him at their headquarters if only to infuriate Zarda by her having to set foot in the Oracle building. (What a knee slapper!! See, Nighthawk and the Squadron Supreme aren’t unlikeable bad guys all of the time! They like to cut loose and tell dirty jokes and drink adult beverages!)

Nighthawk says that there is another Avengers team. (Jesus H. Christ. Is there no end to how many Avengers teams Marvel can crank out?) The Ultimates. With a roster full of powerful members who are all leaders. True heavy hitters designed to take on the greatest threats from the universe. Nighthawk says that this team could be their ultimate allies. (Get it?! The Ultimates. “Ultimate allies.” See what Robinson did there?)

We cut to the Squadron Supreme all at Oracle Tower together. Zarda says that she is sick of talking about the Avengers. (Preach on, Zarda! I am sick of reading about the zillion different Avengers teams at this point, too.) Blur asks “Just so it’s clear in my head…Nightawk, you really think they’ll be a problem? You’re that concerned.” (You know what is a great writing technique? Hammering the point home so bluntly that you make the characters sound like absolute morons.)

Nighthawk responds “No.” (*Flips table and walks out of room* I have no idea why Nighthawk spent this entire issue yammering on about the Avengers and their threat then.)

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Nighthawk says that they simply need to be aware and prepared for any eventuality that they have to go up against the Avengers. Blur says that he hopes their resolutions may stand unopposed. Nighthawk replies that he agrees. However, if they have to overcome one team or every team of Avengers then he is convinced that they have the power, the commitment and the residence “so that our SQUADRON will reign SUPREME! (*Groan*) End of story.

The Good: Leanard Kirk and Paul Neary provide for some solid artwork. It is not anything spectacular, but it gets the job done in a satisfactorily manner.

The Bad: Whenever I see James Robinson listed as the writer of a title I adjust my expectations to a much lower level. Unfortunately, Robinson did not even meet my lowered expectations with this story. Now, I am a long-time fan of the Squadron Supreme. Mark Gruenwald’s Squadron Supreme is one of my all-time favorite Marvel stories. It is pure brilliance and shows of the strengths and potential of the Squadron Supreme.

Of course, this current incarnation of Squadron Supreme looks nothing like Gruenwald’s team. Nighthawk got racially retconned. Dr. Spectrum is now female. And the Whizzer got replaced by the Blur. Still, despite these changes the basic concept of the Squadron Supreme is a cool one. Unfortunately, Robinson’s take on the Squadron Supreme is a mere shadow of what Gruenwald gave us back on the day.

Robinson constructs this story in an amateurish fashion. The story is clumsy and Robinson takes his themes and beats the reader over the head with them. There is zero subtly or artistry to this story. Robinson treats the reader like they are five years old and needs the story broken down into the most simple and basic terms and then repeated over and over again so that the reader understands Robinson’s message.

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There is nothing in this story that would ever be confused with actual character work. All the members of the Squadron Supreme are flat and generic. Zarda is your one-dimensional “warrior” that gets tiring by the end of just this story. Hyperion is about as boring as Superman; the character that he is based upon. Hyperion is vanilla and inoffensive. Nighthawk? He reads like a cheap version of Batman; the character that he is based upon. Robinson tries to play him like Batman, but the result is not the same. Blur? He has zero personality. He is nothing more than a cardboard cut-out. Dr. Spectrum? I forgot that she was even in this story! Talk about mere window dressing.

The characters go through the motions in a mechanical fashion. It is like watching a puppet show. It does not help that the dialogue is bland at best and cheesy at worst. The result of the dialogue and the lack of character work is that there is absolutely no chemistry at all between the character. I mean none. That makes for one seriously dull team dynamic.

There are also some moments where Robinson stretches logic. The concept that Robinson attempts to sell to the reader is that this band of five heroes are capable of defeating any single Avengers team or even a combination of multiple Avengers teams. That simply is not believable.

I have no problem with Robinson having Nighthawk being confident in his team. And I have no problem with the Squadron Supreme thinking that they need to be prepared to take on an Avengers team at some point. However, Robinson should have had Nighthawk selling to his team that it would be a real uphill battle for them to defeat the Avengers since they are clearly outmanned and outgunned by the Avengers teams. This would position the Squadron Supreme as the clear underdog and might help engender some sympathy and support from the reader.

Robinson does nothing to sell the reader on why they should come back for Squadron Supreme #1. All Robinson does is tell us that Squadron Supreme is going to be a team title where the “heroes” do not play by the rules. Uh, okay. That is simply not enough to differentiate Squadron Supreme from the zillion other super hero comic books on the market. Robinson fails to deliver a unique or interesting hook designed to make the reader view Squadron Supreme as a title worth purchasing.

Overall: My prediction for the new Squadron Supreme? Dead title walking. It will get its obligatory 12 issues and then get cancelled. I would imagine it will quickly sink down to the 30K units per month range or below in a rather quick fashion.

The Vision & Scarlet Witch in “Eidetic”

Words: Mark Waid
Art: Mahmud Asaaa
Colors:Sonia Oback

Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This is the preview for the All New All Different Avengers title coming out soon. We begin with the Vision visiting Scarlet Witch at her house. Vision gives Wanda a kiss on the cheek. Vision looks at Wanda and sees multiple version of Scarlet Witch from the past standing around her. Wanda says that Vision looks like he has seen a ghost.

Vision says that he is being haunted. Vision then talks about how he is a Synthezoid. (We are in full “new reader” mode.) Wanda says that Vision has perfect memory. She asks when Vision first started seeing ghosts.

Vision replies that 12 days ago he was making a final pass through Avengers Tower before it was sold to Qeng Enterprises. Vision then say Hank Pym, Steve Rogers, Hawkeye and Black Panther all young and welcoming him to the Avengers.

Wanda asks if it was a memory malfunction. Vision replies that it was the opposite. That he has perfect memory. That he then saw Phineas Horton who created the original Human Torch that later became Vision. Then he saw Ultron who later re-assembled Vision.

Fearing that he was going mad, Vision went to a less provocative surrounding than New York in the form of rural Ecuador. (Uhhhhh, okay. Going to rural Ecuador is clearly the most logical solution to a situation when someone fears for their sanity. I mean why would Vision go visit Tony Stark, Hank Pym, Hank McCoy or Reed Richards for help, instead? I guess that would just be crazy. Got it.)

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Vision then saw a small tour bus on fire on the side of the road. Vision heard one voice inside crying for help. However, when Vision gets inside the bus he sees images of all the people he has saved before. Vision hears the pleas of help from all the people he has saved before. Vision then tries to focus his mind and discern which was the real person from all the imagined people.

Vision grabs the person he thinks is the real victim and flies out of the bus. He looks in his arms and sees that they are empty. (He chose…poorly!) The bus then explodes.

Vision tells Wanda that he has perfect memory and that it is too much. Wanda says that humans have the luxury of forgetting things. Wanda says that the pain and confusion that Vision is experiencing must be unbearable. Wanda asks how she can help.

Vision replies that Wanda cannot help. Vision says he came here because he has historically cared for Wanda more than anyone else. That his memories of Wanda were most strongly coded to his emotions. Wanda replies “were?” Vision says that Wanda’s presence is the ultimate test.

Vision says that for him to stay viable as a functioning organism posing no risk to others than he had to upload a purge program designs to correct this internal failure. We see the various versions of Scarlet Witch around Wanda being to disappear. (You see where this is going, right? C’mon. This cannot be a surprise to anyone at all.)

Wanda tells Vision to stop. Wanda tells Vision to not erase his memories. Vision says that he is not erasing his memories. The danger is not with the data he has stored. The danger was in the feelings that draw the data involuntarily forth. Wanda bemoans “Where is the man I knew..? What have you done…?”

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Vision replies “It was the emotions that had to be purged, Wanda Maximoff.” Vision’s face looks totally unemotional. Wanda screams “What have you DONE?!” End of story.

The Good: This Avengers teaser story was definitely new reader friendly. Mark Waid is an absolute pro. And the cagey veteran writer fully understands that when a franchise is rebooted it must be done so in a fashion that so that new readers unfamiliar with the Avengers can hop aboard and not feel lost. Waid deftly weaves Vision’s background into the story when he has Vision explain his problem to Wanda. It is done in a fashion that never bored older readers who are familiar with Vision’s character.

I have always liked Vision’s character. He has not always been handled in the best way. But, when a writer understands his character then the Vision has been able to be quite an engaging character. Waid demonstrates a solid feel for Vision’s personality.

I have also always enjoyed Wanda’s character. Well, I did up until the point that Bendis clumsily broke Wanda’s character and rendered her nearly unusable. Waid gives us a refreshing classic take on Wanda. I have zero problem if Marvel conveniently forgets everything Bendis did with Wanda’s character in order to make her a viable and useable character for the Nu Marvel Universe.

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Waid does a nice job with Vision and Wanda’s characters. Both characters have well-developed personalities. The dialogue is also well constructed. Waid is able to give both characters unique external voices. The dialogue has a peasant flow and helps to inject plenty of emotion into the story.

The chemistry that Waid is able to create between Vision and Wanda is excellent. The reader is immediately drawn to both characters and becomes emotionally invested in the story. I have always loved Vision and Wanda as a couple so it is no surprise that I enjoyed their chemistry in this story.

Mahmud Asaaa delivers some solid artwork. Again, there is nothing amazing here at all. But, the art gets the job done. The best part of the art would be Wanda’s facial expressions.

The Bad: It is lame that Vision has to be brought in line with the movie version of the Vision. I would rather Marvel let the Marvel Movie Universe exist on its own as a separate and distinct entity from the Marvel Comics Universe. Unfortunately, it is obvious that Marvel is determined to keep retconning characters to conform to the Marvel Movie Universe standard.

I am not at all excited about Waid regressing Vision’s character back to the unemotional and cold android version of his character. I guess Waid will be giving us the old Spock styled Vision who is unemotional and logical and that this will create “fascinating” debates with teammates who are more like Kirk and value emotions. Yay?

I prefer to see characters grow and blossom rather than regress. Unfortunately, by forcing the comic version of Vision to become aligned with the movie version of Vision means that all the excellent character growth of the comic version of Vision must be junked. This move will do nothing to further Vision’s character or make him more interesting or appealing.

Waid’s story also lacks some internal logic in terms of how the Vision deals with his problem. It makes absolutely no sense for the Vision to not turn to some of Marvel’s big brains like Tony, Hank or Reed for a solution other than wiping out his emotions. It only makes sense that Vision would seek wise counsel before resorting to such an extreme measure on his own. To have Vision fail to do this makes robs the story of its internal logic and only serves to pull the reader out of the story.

Overall: Mark Waid’s Avengers will not get cancelled. Obviously. Marvel is not going to cancel their flagship title. However, will Waid’s Avengers post sales numbers like Johns’ Justice League did with the New 52 reboot. Not a snowball’s chance in Hell. Waid’s Avengers will struggle trying to sell as well as Bendis and Hickman’s Avengers. I am unsure how long Marvel will stick with Waid’s C-list cast of Avengers before making a switch.

Captain Marvel & Alpha Flight in “In The Beginning”

Words: G. Willow Wilson
Art: Victor Ibanez
Colors: Laura Martin

Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with some being constructed out of red light energy appearing in space outside of Earth. The being says “I am.” (Along with this we get some really poorly constructed mumbo jumbo that is supposed to be cosmic in nature about the existence of life. But, really, Wilson cannot write Sci Fi so it just comes across terribly.)

We cut to Alpha Flight’s low-orbit space station. (And, evidently, Alpha Fight is now an all-female organization? And that must mean they are no longer be a government agency because that would violate discrimination laws if they only hired women.)

We see Monica Bell, a new doctor, joining the space station. The space station is busy trying to deal with the appearance of the energy being. Monica is the new astrologist.

We then see Carol Danvers appear on the scene. Carol engages the energy figure. Alpha Flights station si detecting the same reading from the energy figure that they also read from the anomaly that they have been tracking for the past two days. (No. I have no idea what is going on, either.)

Monica hops on the communicator with Carol. Monica says that it looked like a blue shift occurred right before the energy being appeared. This could indicate a tear in space that is letting light through. And that this light is conscious.

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The light being says “I..am…here.” The energy being says that it was nothing and that Carol is something. (Poignant dialogue.) The being then phases its arm through Carol. Carol cries out in pain. Carol blasts the energy being. (Yes. Light based energy blasts should work wonders against a being composed entirely of light.)

Predictably, the energy being is unhurt by Carol’s blast. The energy being conveniently explains that a photon blast cannot hurt it because light cannot destroy light. (Thanks so much for hammering home that point for the readers who only posses half a brain.)

The energy being attacks Carol once again. Everybody freaks out on the Alpha Flight station. Monica states that they might be able to create an energy imbalance if they create a vacuum close to the energy being. The Alpha Flight commanding officer commands Monica to hop in a space suit and detonate a “flash-bang” at whatever distance to the energy being that Monica deems is most viable. Monica states this is crazy because “I’m a doctor, dammit.” (Yup. We are now reduced to cribbing lines from old 1960’s Star Trek episodes. Yippie. See how much Sci Fi cred Willow has? She can drop Bones McCoy lines! Yeah!)

Monica is scared and doesn’t want to do the job but is forced to anyway. (This has to be the basis for a hostile work environment lawsuit.) Monica puts on the suit. (Because it does what it is told!!)

Monica zips over to the energy being. The energy being says “Another thing. The thingness of this place..How terrible it is…” (More dialogue. The dialogueness of this story..how terrible it is.) Monica activates her flash-bang device which creates a vacuum and causes the energy being to disappear in a flash of blue light.

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Carol then grabs Monica (No, not in that manner. Get your damn mind out of the gutter, will you?) and flies her back into the Alpha Flight space station. End of story.

The Good: Victor Ibanez delivers some solid artwork. Ibanez’s artwork shines the most with the facial expressions of the various characters. It helps to inject some emotion into an otherwise dull story.

The Bad: Willow delivers a story that neither offends nor entices. This is the literary equivalent of a rice cake. Yeah, you can eat it and it will fill your stomach. But, at no point are you going to get anything that piques the interest of your taste buds.

There is zero character work performed on either the leader of the Alpha Flight space station, Carol Danvers or Monica. The leader of Alpha Flight never rises above the standard issue military commander type character.  Carol has all the personality of a plank of balsa wood. She comes across more like a generic military officer than anything else. And Monica? She is nothing more than an unoriginal caricature of the bumbling newbie scientist that we have seen so many times before and in a more interesting fashion.

Willow gives us a generic Sci Fi story that serves up a hero, a sidekick and a space villain. But, that is all it does. The story itself reads like a basic outline. There is no depth or substance at all to this story. Willow tries to pepper the story with enough Sci Fi “speak” to attempt to give it some substance. But, the Sci Fi “speak” she delivers feels more like cut and paste from Wikipedia rather than fully fleshed out themes and concepts.

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The villain in this story is undeveloped and uninteresting. This energy being is nothing more than a generic styled cosmic threat.The lack of any depth and texture to the villain or to the conflict presented by the villain leads the reader to being completely un-invested in the story. Willow fails to sell the conflict to the reader. We do not know why this villain appeared, what their motivation was and nor do we really care. It is all forgettable.

And Alpha Flight has been recast as an all-female organization in space? Why? Because segregation? This is a move that makes absolutely no sense.

The point of this story was to sell readers on the new upcoming A-Force title. Evidently, Willow did not get the editor’s memo that this was the point of this story. What is the hook for this new title? What did Willow give us in this story that was designed to grab the reader’s attention and spark an interest and desire to come back for more with the new title? What is the hook for this title? That this is an all-female organization? Sorry, you have to give the reader more than this being an all-female title in order to create a reason for readers to come back for more. Willow simply fails to give a mission statement for this title.

I only have two minor quibbles with the artwork. I am still not crazy about Carol’s Captain Marvel look. And I certainly can’t get into her short hair look. I get it. Women with long hair are sexual and are whores and cannot be taken seriously in positions of power. Or at least that is the backwards message that Marvel is delivering with Carol’s character.

Also, what was up with the 1960’s muscle car in the beginning of the story? It had the front end of a Camaro and the rear end of a Mustang. Those two should simply never be crossed. It is unnatural.

Overall: I am not sure who A-Force is supposed to appeal to. People who dig segregation? I am more inclusive than exclusive so this title just is not meant for me. The A-Force Secret Wars mini-series dropped like a rock in terms of sales. A-Force #3 was down to 49K units in August. I would expect this new A-Force title to rapidly settle in the 30K range.

The New Avengers in “Everything is New”

Words: Al Ewing
Art: Gerarod Sandoval
Colors: Dono Sanchez Almara

Story Rating:  4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating:  4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating:  4 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a new organization called W.H.I.S.P.E.R. (Yes. What the Marvel Universe needed was yet another organization with an acronym!) has captured a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. They hook the agent up to some device that drills into his head to extract information about Roberto Da Costa (Sunspot) and his New Avengers team and his new A.I.M. organization. (You get an acronym! Everyone gets an acronym!) This new A.I.M. stands for Avengers Idea Mechanics. (*groan*) The New Avengers operate from Avengers Island. (Does anyone at Marvel read this shit before it gets published? Anyone? Have all the editors been replaced with Rhesus Monkeys?)

We cut to Thunderbolt Ross (I guess it is okay for their to be a white male in the Nu Marvel U as long as he is old….and evil.) Ross says that Sunspot is hiding mad scientists in international waters. That it is time for the U.S. to go after Sunspot. That it is time to unleash the American Kaiju. We see a giant Godzilla like creature with an America flag on its head. (I no longer know what to say.)

We cut to Hulkling and Wiccan in space. Wiccan says that Hulkling might now be the King of Space.

We cut to a “trans-temporal” team that consists of a Nova, a elf-like girl with pointy ears, an Iron Man of some variant and a black female Captain America.

We see Sunspot holding a big media event and unveiling the New Avengers includes Sunspot, Hawkeye, Hulkling, Wiccan, Squirrel Girl, Songbird, White Tiger, Power Man and Pod. Sunspot asks if anyone wants to see their time machine. (Oooh, me! Me! Can I? I would like for Sunspot to take me back in time before they shitty All New All Different Marvel Universe existed! Thanks!)

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We cut back to W.H.I.S.P.E.R. disconnecting the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent from their mind machine. The agent is a husk of a corpse. We see the leader of W.H.I.S.P.E.R. It is none other than Ultimate Reed Richards. (Jesus. Just end it now. Why couldn’t Marvel just let the Ultimate Universe die after Secret Wars?) Reed refers to himself as The Maker. End of story.

The Good: Uh, I like Hawkeye. I also like Sunspot. That’s about all I got.

Sandoval’s artwork is average. It is a bit to rushed and sketchy for me at parts and a bit too cartoonish for me at other points.

The Bad: This story was not really a story at all. It was 8 pages and the main part of it were the four pages full of teaser scenes from upcoming story arcs. There are two ways to try to sell a new title. One way is to lay out the mission statement of the title and give the readers a sample of the type of story they can expect on the new title. The other method is to just deliver a bunch of random panels showing 1 panel snippets of future story arcs that are designed to pique the reader’s interest.

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Ewing goes for the latter approach. And the result is not that great. Now, I do not mind this approach. Geoff Johns has been highly effective employing this method in the past. So, it is not the approach that is the problem with this story. It is the content.

Unfortunately, Ewing piles on the stupid. Look, I know that super hero comics can get silly. And I love it when super hero comics like to have fun. But, there is a difference between fun and stupid. Ewing skews toward the stupid in this story.

There is a great rule that writers should always keep in mind when constructing a story. Just because you can does not mean that you should. I would not mind if Ewing employed one or two of the sillier ideas that he delivered in this story. However, Ewing overloads the story with ideas that, taken all together, just crank the stupid factor up way too high.

A.I.M. now standing for Avengers Idea Mechanics? The New Avengers operating from Avengers Island? Why don’t we just tack the name “Avengers” onto absolutely everything in the Marvel Universe? It is too much. Marvel just cannot help themselves from slapping the Avengers label onto nearly anything and everything that moves. This is like a chef knowing that chocolate is popular with his customers so the chef starts making chocolate hamburgers and chocolate covered fried chicken.

Once something that is popular becomes so ridiculously overexposed then it begins to lose its cool factor. And reader also tend to get burned out. That is where we are now getting with the Avengers franchise.

Ewing’s entire concept for this version of the New Avengers just seems stupid. This seems like a desperate and shameless milking of the Avengers franchise. This take on the New Avengers is getting so far removed from the core principles of the Avengers franchise that there really is no point in labeling it with the Avengers tag. Instead, this comic would be better served being given its own label and identity separate from the Avengers franchise.

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Most of the future plot line teasers failed with me. They were either dumb or way too over the top. Maybe this title will provide for some mindless enjoyment. Some great cotton candy for the brain. Or maybe it will just be crap. Honestly, it is a bit hard to tell at the moment.

What I do know is that I have less than zero interest in Ultimate Reed Richards. I stopped caring about the Ultimate Universe a long time ago. The Ultimate Universe stopped serving a purpose quite a while ago and has been limping along on life support ever since. There is really no need to keep anything from the Ultimate Universe around anymore. I would rather Marvel just put a stake in the monster’s heart and move on from the Ultimate Universe.

W.H.I.S.P.E.R. also failed to capture my interest. The last thing Marvel needed was another stupid evil organization with an acronym. This came across as uncreative and uninteresting as possible. W.H.I.S.P.E.R. came across like a parody. I did not take them seriously and viewed them as a joke. I am not sure that is what Ewing was aiming for with this organization.

And then you have the roster for the New Avengers. There is not much here to attract me to this team. Hawkeye is a great character, but he is so out-of-place with the vibe and tone of this title. I also like Sunspot, but I have never viewed his character as one that could pull off the role as the central leader. The rest of the team? A bunch of C-list and D-list characters that I could care less about.

Overall: New Avengers will not get cancelled. Obviously. Marvel will make a change at the writer position and change the roster before cancelling this title. Having said that, I do not think that New Avengers will post good sales numbers. Roll out a niche roster and you can pretty much expect niche sales numbers.

Deadpool in “The Night That Hell Froze Over”

Words: Gerry Duggan
Art: Ryan Stegman
Colors: Richard Isanove

Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Deadpool reading a white note card. We learn that Deadpool’s “boss” is an old man who hates e-mail. (And we must be talking about Steve Rogers. He’s still old. Probably because he is a white male and those are old and outdated characters in the Nu Marvel Universe.)

Deadpool says that he is his boss’ muscle. Deadpool says that he was his own boss and he swore he would never take orders from anyone again. But, these missions give Deadpool a purpose other than death. Deadpool’s boss won’t allow him to kill on these missions. And Deadpool isn’t getting paid for these missions. But, Deadpool thinks that these missions are the best he has ever had.

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During all of this monologue we see Deadpool breaking into a place, taking out some thugs and stealing some piece of tech. Deadpool makes his escape and flies over to Avengers Mansion. Deadpool enters the mansion and meets Steve Rogers. Steve is Deadpool’s boss.

Steve thanks Deadpool for getting the sample of Terrigen Mist inside of the contained that Deadpool has in his hands. Steve takes the container. Steve says that pure sample will help them try to cure Rogue. The two men check in on Rogue who is in a coma and in a hospital bed.

Steve says that Rogue is especially sensitive to the Terrigen Mist. That she flew headlong into a cloud of it in order to save some mutants. Steve hopes that the sample that Deadpool got will help them to create a cure.

Deadpool and Steve walk to the back door of the Avengers Mansion. Deadpool asks why Steve did not send an Avenger on this mission. Steve replies that it may not be tomorrow, or the net week or even in a month, but Deadpool’s day is coming.

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Deadpool exits the mansion. Steve hands Deadpool a card and then closes the door. Deadpool stands in the alley and then stares at the card. It is an Avengers membership card. Deadpool looks at it and says that this card changes his life forever. End of story.

The Good: Deadpool’s monologue is the real strength of this story. Duggan crafted some great narration and it served as a nice spine to this story. Duggan certainly has a nice feel for Deadpool’s personality. We got plenty of funny lines, but what was enjoyable was the more heart-felt moments that Duggan gave Deadpool in this story. It was cool to see Deadpool actually enjoying working for Steve even if it ran contrary to how he normally operates.

Ryan Stegman provides plenty of nice artwork. I have always liked Stegman’s art. His style is a good match for the more comical tone of a Deadpool story.

The Bad: This story did not really sell Uncanny Avengers as a whole. It did fill the reader in on one of the big mission statements that the Uncanny Avengers will be dealing with the Terrigen Mist and the crippling impact that it has on mutants. The story also fills us in on Rogue’s current state of being.

For the most part, this story does not promote many characters or plot lines for the Uncanny Avengers. No, this story was all about promoting Deadpool as a member of the Uncanny Avengers. This story was simply “Hey! It’s Deadpool! He is not an Avenger! Crazy, huh? Check out Uncanny Avengers to see more!”

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Again, just because you can do something does not mean you should. And just because something might seem “entertaining” on its face does not mean that it is the best idea for business. Deadpool is a character that works best on his own and in his own little wacky universe. I do not mind a random crossover issue between Deadpool and another character. But, in general, I prefer Deadpool on his own. There really is no need to have Deadpool as a part of the Avengers.

This is one of those ideas that makes people laugh and say “That would be crazy!” and then they stop and sober up for a minute and realize that putting Deadpool in the Avengers does nothing good in the long-term for his character or the Avengers franchise. Having literally ever character in the Marvel Universe be an Avengers dilutes the uniqueness and special quality of the Avengers and the prestigious status of being a member of the Avengers. Also, overexposing Deadpool by forcing him on the Avengers does nothing to help his character.

Overall: Uncanny Avengers will sell well. It is the X-Men and the Avengers. Combined. With Deadpool as the cherry on top. This title may not be for me, but there is no doubt in my mind that Uncanny Avengers will post strong sale numbers.

The Ultimates in “The Opposite of Kicking”

Words: Al Ewing
Art: Kenneth Rocafort
Colors: Dan Brown

Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Black Panther and Carol talking about the energy being that Carol encountered in the A-Force preview story. Black Panther says that the energy being created a significant breach in the fabric of space-time and that it has not healed.

Black Panther sends Ms. America into the space-time breach. She is mad because she broke her date with her girlfriend tonight for this mission. Ms. America enters the Exo-Space which is the neutral zone of the edge of the Outside that is between realities. There are creatures that live in between realities. They are Exo-Parasites. Scavengers of the outer Omnivores.

Ms. America starts beating up the creatures. After she beats the creatures she turns her attention to closing the breach. She can close holes in space every time she kicks one open. But, to close a hole this big will require a lot of work.

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So, Ms. America calls her girlfriend with her cell phone which is powered my magic cell reception. (Basically, we are at the point where literally anything the writer wants to happen can happen just because. It is lazy.) Ms. America asks her girlfriend if she feels like dancing.

Her girlfriend cranks up some music and the two start dancing. They are in two separate places and they are in the same place. Universe apart and together. Dancing. (I’m gonna throw up. This is worse dialogue than what you get on an episode of Best Friends Whenever on the Disney Channel. What? Why are you looking at me like that? What do you mean how do I know about this show? I have kids!)

Ms. America asks what is a happy thought as big as a world? What is the opposite of kicking? (Trick questions! They are never answered!) Ms. America says that when they are done it is too soon. Ms. America’s girlfriend cannot believe that they just fixed a hole in the universe just by dancing together. (I seriously cannot believe I am still reading this pile of crap.) Ms. America replies “Selfies don’t lie. Take a look.” (Oh, god. Just end it. End it now.)

Ms. America’s girlfriend says that Ms. America is a fun date. The two ladies then hang up. Ms. America thinks how she cannot remember the last time someone thought she was fun. Ms. America says that she is fun when on a date. But, if you want to spend time on her beat? In her world? Do the serious work? Then you might not have what it takes for that. (I know I do not have what it takes to read this story anymore.)

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Ms. America returns to the Ultimates headquarters via a magic star-shaped gateway. (Probably stole that shit from Mario.) Spectrum and Blue Marvel congratulate Ms. America on a job well done. Ms. America replies “Sure.” Ms. America then thinks “If I’m only joining this team in case I have to shut you down someday? That’s when fun time is over.” (There is absolutely no way I can take her statement seriously after reading this story. Sorry.) End of story.

The Good:Kenneth Rocafort delivers some nice looking artwork. This stormy be mind meltingly stupid, but at least it looks good! Rocafort has a nice eye for detail and all of his panels are attractive. I also love the facial expressions that Rocafort gives Ms. America. They are fantastic and inject so much emotion into the story. The reader gets such and excellent sense of Ms. America’s mood not from the story but from the excellent art.

The Bad: The writing is just awful. The dialogue and the running monologue in this issue are both terrible. The reader’s mind rapidly loses IQ points with each sentence read. The narration and dialogue are so cheesy. There are points in this story where the reader groans at how dumb the narration and dialogue are.

The story itself is unintelligent and shallow. Only the barest most cursory details and explanations are given to the reader. Ewing has Ms. America enter this area between realities and beat up some poorly explained and weakly developed creatures. Then Ewing has Ms. America say “I can close holes in space. I do it every time I kick one open.” What? That makes zero sense. And that is all the explanation that Ewing gives the reader. Then Ewing has Ms. America dance on a small rock in the Exo-Space and somehow the breach is closed? What? And then Ms. America transports out of the Exo-Space after the breach is sealed how exactly? Who knows!

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This is lazy writing of epic proportions. I have no problem with a writer avoiding unnecessary pseudoscience techno speak that can drone on and on and bog down the story. However, simply glossing over the details and explanations in such a cursory fashion is lazy. It makes the story seem more like a rough draft outline than a polished finished story. It also makes creates a story that has no inherent rules to the setting of the story.

Whenever writing a story, no matter if it is Fiction, Sci Fi or Fantasy, the writer must establish the rules of the world that the characters operate within. This is a bargain made between the writer and the reader so that the reader understands what to expect and what not to expect. It also gives legitimacy to the story that the author simply is not going to make things happen as if by magic or convenience. The reader is fine with fantastical things being able to occur as long as they occur within the rules of the world the writer has established.

In this story, Ewing presents a standard super hero world with heavy Sci Fi technology and themes. Within that type of world, the seemingly fantastical is allowed to exist and is expected by the reader. However, Ms. America simply sealing space-time breaches by dancing on a rock and with no additional explanation. This breaks the trust between the writer and the reader. This also makes it appear that there are no rules for this world that the story is set in and that the writer can simply use “magic” to write himself out of any situation he creates. It also gives the reader the impression that the writer is being lazy and the result is the reader no longer is invested in the story.

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I like Ms. America, but Ewing does her absolutely no credit with this story. Ms. America comes across like an extra from a Disney Channel TV show. Ms. America is presented in a fashion that makes me view her as a bubble headed teen-ager. Ewing then hits a sudden and stark shift in Ms. America’s personality and tries to present her as this serious bad-ass in the final page of the story. This is so discordant from how Ewing portrayed Ms. America through the entire story. It is almost impossible for me to take Ms. America seriously at the end given how her character was presented as fluff for the entire story up until this final page.

Another critical failing of this story is that Ewing utterly missed on what the purpose of a teaser for a new title is supposed to achieve. Ewing fails to present the reader with the mission statement for the Ultimates. Ewing fails to give us the reason why the Ultimates exist. Ewing fails to present to the reader what differentiates the Ultimates from the myriad other super hero team titles flooding the market. What is the hook to this title? No white men? I am being facetious, but the point is that Ewing failed to do anything at all to explain to the reader what they can expect on the new Ultimates title and sell to the reader why they need to buy this new title.

The roster for the Ultimates is weak. It is full of C-list and D-list characters. Ewing is going to have a tough time getting these characters your average comic books reader.

Overall: The Ultimates is essentially the Mighty Avengers rebranded. The Mighty Avengers sold like crap. The last issue of Mighty Avengers in June, 2015 sold 26K units. I expect the Ultimates to continue that trend.

 

Overall Impressions: I have felt that the All New All Different Marvel Universe felt more like pandering and publicity stunts rather than quality ideas for entertaining stories. Avengers #0 introduced the reader to 26 different major characters constituting the various super teams that are previewed in this issue. Of those 26 characters, five of them are white males. And of those five only four are active heroes since Steve is now just a useless old man relegated to the sidelines.

I get increasing diversity. Do I want my sons to have Hispanic characters that they can read about in the pages of Marvel’s comics? Sure! But, it is not a zero sum gain. Everything does not need to be burned to the ground in order for diversity to be achieved. Marvel has gone so far overboard in this push that it no longer feels honest or genuine. Instead, it comes across as pandering and publicity stunts. And that never makes for enjoyable and organic stories.

All in all, Marvel has taken the Avengers franchise and vastly overexposed it. The result is that we have been presented with six Avengers titles that have been reduced to niche comic books. The problem with trying to appeal to everyone is that you run the risk of appealing to no one. Anything can happen. And perhaps one of these six Avengers titles will turn out to be a breakout smash sales monster. However, history shows that these titles will more than likely only yield niche sales numbers.

Less is more. It would be great to see Marvel scale back the Avengers franchise so that it is not stretched so far that it loses its core qualities and no longer becomes something that is special or interesting.

 

1 Comments

  1. I have a higher opinion of this book than you, mostly because I’m fairly new to Marvel’s mainstream books and didn’t have a clue what to expect (it seems to me, and I could be wrong that Marvel’s reboot is basically an earth-616 with all continuity still in tact with a few people chucked in from other parallel earths, with their memories of their time on that earth, which I’m fine with)

    We’ve actually got 3 issues left of secret wars, an issue 9 was solicited for December. As someone who’s enjoying Secret Wars, I was fine with that until I saw an article saying that what was gonna happen is Secret Wars #7 and #8 would be reduced by 10 pages (probably so the artist can actually get them ready on time, like that’s worked so far) and from $4.99 to $3.99 and the remaining pages would go into a #9, also costing $3.99. They are effectively charging us $2 because the artist is slow!

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