The Avengers #169

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A little side mission brings us to the next issue of The Avengers. Captain America, Iron Man, and Black Panther are killing time at Avenger’s Mansion when a crazy guy in a green metal suit arrives looking to get The Avengers to kill him. Because he explicitly says this, The Avengers incapacitate him and knock him unconscious. Turns out that the man is Jason Beere. We learn that like Tony Stark, he is an industrialist. He’s learned two things. One, his family is leaving him. Two, that he only has a few months to live. So he does what any sane person would do and sets up four neutron bombs around the world that are connected to his heartbeat. When his heart stops, the world stops with it. So the three Avengers decide to travel the world in hopes of finding the bombs.

Captain America heads to South America. He quickly discovers the location of the bomb but is attacked by locals. During the battle one of them attempts to shoot a poison dart at Captain America but he forces the dart to hit the local instead. Captain America decides to say the dumbest thing I’ve ever read in comics when he says to himself that he is aware of these bird worshiping locals and he knows that they have a cure for whatever poison they tried to shoot him with. Now I wouldn’t have had a problem with this if there were a little foreshadowing in the story. If they had shown the three going over the files of the locations they were going and Captain America reading about the tribe. But that scene doesn’t happen for one and two, Captain America seems completely surprised that these people arrived out of nowhere. Yes, I can understand that Captain America is a soldier and understands tactics so I could see him studying up before going somewhere. The way it’s presented is horrible. One moment he has no idea who these people are, the next he is an expert and knows the types of weapons they use.

Next up, Black Panther finds himself in the Arctic Circle. A man dressed in leather…finds himself in the coldest place on Earth. Maybe Iron Man was hitting the sauce too hard when he sent people out on their missions. Anyway, Black Panther finds the bomb easy but is attacked by a polar bear. Not only a polar bear, but a big ass polar bear looking to kill him some Black Panther. Black Panther as presented in the comics is a reasonable fighter against wild animals. That I can believe. What I can’t believe is a man dressed in leather in the middle of the Arctic falling through the ice into freezing cold waters with a gigantic wild animal would not die instantly. Not only does he live, he escapes without even getting the sniffles.

Iron Man is last up. He finds himself in Russia where the Soviets think he is there to attack him. They spring a trap on him which he escapes but from there uses diplomacy to tell them what is going on and get their support. Nothing wrong with that mind you but tell me, do you think another country would take the word of a famous super soldier of their enemy that he’s simply there to pick up a bomb that could destroy their civilization? And for the sake of argument, if the Russians were as agreeable as they are presented this issue in regards to allowing Iron Man to do his thing and take away the neutron bomb, why couldn’t he just radio ahead and tell them what was going on? You can’t paint people as your enemy one minute and as totally agreeable nice guys the next. What would have been more appropriate would be an appearance from Black Widow. At this time she was a defector from the Soviet Union but she would still have connections with the right people there and could have given the Soviets a heads up as to what was going on. Granted, there would be no reason to include that because there is no conflict with that scenario but the conflict presented in this story ends up being for no reason anyway so you end up not caring.

They bring anything back only to discover that what they found was a tape recorder telling them that the bomb was in Jason Beere all along. So they freeze him with cryogenics…and do nothing else. Maybe I’m a heartless dick but my next step would have been putting him in a manless rocket and shooting him into the sun. The Avengers essentially freeze the guy, leave him in the freezer, and just wash their hands of the whole affair.

Now having a little break in the Korvac affair was not a bad idea but man, when you get to the end of this issue you just feel stupid. It’s not a bad premise mind you, they just execute it so poorly that any story elements that are actually entertaining lose their value the further you read. Not that they had to have forty pages of back story to send us on the mission but something as simple as a throw away line about each character doing some research on the locations they are going would have been nice. Yes, they mention Jason Beere left some notes but that doesn’t give them info on the locals they are going. It’s especially bad when Captain America, who is supposed to be a noted soldier, just haphazardly goes into battle without appearing to know where he’s at until giving a throwaway line at the end.

Bottom Line:

I don’t mind having a little breather from the Korvac saga but this was the equivalent of sprinting one hundred yards while holding your breath than immediately jumping into a lake. Again, the premise is fine. It is a basic premise that works well in action adventure stories. Take the movie Speed. The story is so simplistic that it almost doesn’t even qualify as a story but a mere premise. A madman plants a bomb on a bus and it’s up to the good guys to defuse the bomb and catch the guy. But the way they execute it in the movie is ingenious. Each challenge the protagonists faces is presented in as logical a way as that world presents it. This story just goes to sabotage itself from the start with silly mistakes that could have easily been fixed. I shake my head at this issue because the premise was good but it was just bad.

The artwork is common for work of this era and that’s not a bad thing. While it’s not classic work by any means, it does well to show the action on the page and showcase the emotions of the characters involved. But it doesn’t matter if you had the Picasso of comic book artists drawing this piece, when you have a story that is as bad as this one, any good the art gives to the story is flushed away. What a waste. This is not a part of the Korvac saga and should just be avoided.

Jennifer Blood #23

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Thanks to a deal on Comixology I was able to pick up the first 36 issues of the Jennifer Blood series from Dynamite Comics. The series was created by the legendary Garth Ennis who is most famous for the Welcome Back, Frank story involving The Punisher.

For the most part the series has been a pretty fun read. It’s similar in vein to the movie Machete. The reality of the story is there to give you interest in the characters while they go off and do bizarre crazy things. But this issue has shown some of the weakness of the story so far.

Jennifer Blood had been established from the start as someone who was meticulous in her planning in her crusade against her evil uncles. Every possible scenario she had planned outcomes for so she could do her job and get out alive with no one suspecting her. Yet almost from the start she starts making mistakes that are so fucking stupid that even I know they are wrong. For example, if she were keeping her weapon stash in her home with her unsuspecting husband and children why the hell would she let it slip that the damn door to the weapon stash was open? Why would she not only be dumb enough to write in excruciating detail every crime she committed but also keep it out in the open where her family could come across it and read her crimes? In the comic she’d tried passing it off as a therapy method but come on, the details she wrote were in such detail that only a complete imbecile would believe her excuse.

She’d also been discovered by her son to be a murderer. At one point she even thought about killing her kids as well despite the fact that one of her goals in doing everything she did was for her family. It is hard to feel sympathy for someone who really doesn’t show any real concern or love for her family. She certainly likes the THOUGHT of a family but not the fact that she has real members of her family.

This issue would have to be considered a flashback issue. It tells the duel story of how she was caught and imprisoned for her crimes while also detailing everything she’d done to get to this point. It is hard to feel sympathy for someone who takes such glee in committing the crimes she did. Now you may argue that The Punisher is the same. That Frank Castle is just the same as Jennifer Blood, someone who had the right intentions but is doing something horrible to achieve his goal. But Frank Castle has been established as being someone who is more of a planner. He wants the bad guys to pay the ultimate price but he also wants to make sure that innocents are never involved. And I have yet to come across a Punisher story that involved Frank doing something like taking the intestines of one of his victims and using it to spell out his initials. That’s the action of someone who is deranged and is a sociopath. Hell, she even suggests that she may have stabbed her dog when she was a kid. Frank Castle snapped and wanted bad guys to pay. No matter how wrong he is, there is something noble about his mission. Jennifer Blood is just a deranged lunatic. (I hope she didn’t hear me.) While the story is still quite entertaining to read, I find it more and more annoying that we’re being somehow forced to try and care about the actions of someone that clearly doesn’t deserve to be cared about.

The art work from issue one is a big plus. It walks the fine line between realistic action showcasing the absurdity of the story we are witnessing. She’s deranged and crazy. The artist does a great job of illustrating the insanity that floods her mind. We see the brutality she dishes out as well as her insane version of what a perfect life would be. He also does a great job in showing the reality that shows its face in her life on occasion, such as her son finally calling her on her shit. The emotion on the kids face is real and well done.

Bottom Line:

This story is not a realistic story in any sense. If you’re expecting anything resembling reality, avoid this comic. This is the type of comic for people who enjoy Jason Statham movies (such as myself). If you sit back and think too hard about what is going on, you will realize how silly and stupid everything that is happening to these characters. But if you want a simple premise with lots and lots of gratuitous action, this is the story for you. It has real glaring weak points which is why I have to give the story a 4.

The art is well done. Not classic by any means like Frank Miller’s work on The Dark Knight Returns or anything like that but it does a great job in giving us a glimpse into the mind of a nutso. The little bits of reality that do shine through ground the story and give it more depth. I give the art an 8.