Tag: Guardians of the Galaxy

The Avengers #177

Avengers 177 actual

The Korvac Saga comes to an end with an epic showdown between The Avengers and Michael Korvac…in a house in the suburbs. You read that right. An epic showdown…in someone’s house.

Why? With all the power at his disposal in the world why the hell would they keep the story in the house and make someone’s living room the site of a doomsday battle. Why not take to the skies? Why not take the battle into space? I would never see Doctor Doom battling The Fantastic Four at a Wal-Mart, why would the writers think a battle of this size was all right to have in someone’s living room?

That is the big problem I have had with this series. Don’t get me wrong, the basic premise for the story is great and something I would love to see tried again. (Maybe they have. If they did post a comment at the bottom of the page and let me know.) The idea of an evil being that for whatever reason has a transformation, a transformation which gives him unlimited power, having a plan to rid the universe of evil, is confronted by a group of heroes, battles them, and in the course of a battle has even more enlightenment. With that enlightenment, he ends the battle and kills himself. I like that idea.

The execution in this story though was bad. You can just imagine someone gave this idea to the writing team and told them they had to come out with the series within a month. Jim Shooter, David Michelinie, and Bill Mantlo all have reputations that speak for themselves. Jim Shooter was the Editor in Chief for Marvel during some of the best runs for character like Daredevil. David Michelinie introduced the Marvel Universe to Venom. Bill Mantlo created Rocket Raccoon. (In doing research for this I learned a little more about Mr. Mantlo and will speak about it at the bottom of the page.) While I have been critical of the story, and rightfully so, the work of these writers speak for themselves as to their talent. They know how to write good stories. It didn’t happen for The Korvac Saga.

I don’t know, maybe I should just chalk it up to when the story was written. That would be nice to do but I feel that is wrong. Bad writing is bad writing no matter who is doing it. And no matter the talent of the writer involved, with the sheer amount of content comic book writers have to put out on a yearly basis, there will be clunkers.

What can a writer of any sort learn from this series? To me it would be planning. This story suffered when it would take characters like The Guardians of the Galaxy, have them show up in the first issue and present it as if something big is going to happen between the two teams when all that happened is the Guardians just sit back in a house in the suburbs that Tony Stark bought for them doing not much of anything. The story line reason they were there was that Korvac was attempting to kill a young Vance Astro which did not happen. Korvac never mentioned wanting to kill the younger version of the Guardians team at all when he was in the story. The only interaction he had with the Guardians apart from the grand finale was flashbacks to the story that started all this in Thor Annual #6. If you’re going to introduce characters in your story and promise they will be involved in a particular story line, make sure that happens.

Bottom Line:

I do not recommend this. It’s been done better in The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon show. If you have to know this story, watch that show. It’s not a bad idea for a story by any means. There are some great moments in the story but overall, the execution is just horrible. You will have better uses of your time.

Now for Bill Mantlo, the creator of Rocket Raccoon. In 1992 he was involved in a hit and run which left him permanently brain damaged. In order to get the rights to use Rocket in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, Marvel paid Bill’s family a nice sum of cash to help for his on going care. But on going care is not cheap and any little bit helps. Groups like Humble Bundle have been great in having proceeds for sales they make go towards The Hero Initiative which sends money to folks who have worked in the comics industry who need help with medical expenses and other problems they cannot take care of themselves. Too often, creators will come up with a great character only to have to sign all rights to it over to a major corporation and they end up destitute. Now most folks go into the industry knowing how the game is played but for creators like Bill, someone who has created a character that we are still enjoying forty years after his creation, that’s money he would never see that could be used to help his medical expenses.

We have the ability to help. If you click this link, you will head to Greg Pak’s website where he has a link showing you where you can go to help pay for his medical bills. When my mother was alive, the last decade of her life she dealt with non-cancerous brain tumors that had her rely upon constant medical care to help her with everyday things. Bills pile up. Comic book artists and writers, creators of characters we enjoy for years after their creation, deserve our thanks especially in their time of need. Head to that link and help him out. You can also find a site on Facebook created by his brother that will give you updates about him.

The Avengers #168

Avengers_Vol_1_168

Comic book covers can be a lot like movie posters for sci-fi or fantasy epics from the 1980’s. The posters themselves kick all sorts of ass, giving you the impression that you are about to see some sort of wild epic that only your imagination could hold you back from. Then you get this.

You can't unsee this!
You can’t unsee this!

So when the comic for part three of the Korvac saga showed The Avengers rushing into a room and you see a mystery man sitting in a chair with his hands folded, you assume that you’re getting a big baddie. Could Norman Osbourne be in this story? Could Doctor Doom be trying on different clothes for this issue?

No, it’s the head of the NSA there to scold The Avengers for not fixing up the mansion from a previous mission they were involved in which allowed him the chance to enter without being noticed. This lights the fuse that Captain America needs to yell at Iron Man for being a bad leader. He tells him that his focus is not on The Avengers but on being Tony Stark’s bodyguard which as I have previously stated, if Tony had been honest with the other Avenger’s issues like this would not be happening. They would know everything that is going on in his life.

From there you get a single page of Hawkeye and a cowboy making their way to New York to rejoin The Avengers but after performing some tricks for people on a train, the cowboy disappears. This came and went out of nowhere. If there had just been some small communication between Jarvis and Tony that Hawkeye had been in contact and had planned on coming back to New York, I would not have issue with this page in the story because it does set up something interesting. Where did Mr. Cowboy go? What caused him to disappear? Again, for one page of story it is not bad it would have just been nice to have some warning that Hawkeye would be in the story.

Then Starhawk from the Guardians of the Galaxy arrives at a suburban home dressed up as a woman. He meets the man of the house who turns out to be a creature who fights him on multiple dimensional planes of existence. Just as the bad guy in the story kills Starhawk and turns him to dust, he decides that he doesn’t want him dead after all, raises him back to life, and erases his memory. You could argue that this goes to show the immense power of the bad guy in the story. I would argue that this shows a story that burned through multiple pages for no damn reason. The biggest sin here was the fact that the bad guy spent page after page giving a monologue about how powerful he was. He was telling the reader basically what was happening instead of allowing the reader to be shown what the hell was happening. Every writer is guilty of telling the reader what they should know instead of showing them. I am sure that if you read my book you would find scene after scene where I broke the cardinal rule myself. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t identify it and call it for what it is. Wrong. When you tell the reader what they should think, you’re taking away the reader’s ability to make a decision for themselves. Comics are not movies or television. They have the ability to only show you a quick snippet of a scene before they have to move on. It is up to the reader to come up with the rest of what the writer wants them to see, think, and feel.

Despite the contrived story, I really enjoyed the artwork. It had a real sense of scope this issue that was missing in previous issues. Apart from the selection of pants the head of the NSA wore, everything in the story seemed time neutral which was nice. The story could have taken place in any time which allows readers, no matter when they pick up the issue, to enjoy the story for what it is, warts and all.

The action between Starhawk and the human version of Korvac was drawn well. You could see the emotion in the faces of each character and when the action reached its final crescendo, you could almost feel Starhawk disintegrate into dust in Korvac’s hand. On another riff on the story though, why Korvac thought it would be a great idea to raise the man he just killed from the dead and wipe his mind is beyond me. That’s a rookie mistake that you know will backfire on him when Starhawk gets his memory back and gets revenge for being murdered.

Bottom Line:

Yet another disappointing chapter in the Korvac Saga. This story just went in so many places I don’t see where the writers were trying to go with it. It’s almost like the writer decided to take a lot of acid and see how long he could write a story before he got really fucked up. My guess, it was by page three.

There are some definite intriguing aspects of this story that interest me to read on. Take the disappearance of the Two Gun Kid and the appearance of the human Korvac. I want to know what happens next in those two instances. I just wish we didn’t have page after page of pointlessness to get to that place. It was a story for kids you might say. There are still stories for kids that are able to properly show the action on the page and make every effort to be logical when it comes to the story like making sure that a character who had not been in the story at all up to this point doesn’t just magically appear out of nowhere. Maybe there was advance warning of Hawkeye appearing in another comic altogether but there still should have been some warning in this particular issue. Logic just doesn’t seem to be on the writer’s mind this issue which is a shame because the art, from George Perez and Pablo Marcos, was pretty damn good for this era.

Thor Annual #6

Thor_Annual_Vol_1_6

Of all the major Marvel characters out there Thor would have to be my least favorite. Now I’ve loved what they’ve done with him in a supporting role in The Avengers movies, not his stand alone films. They’ve found a way to temper the thees and thous the comics seem to sprinkle on like a fat person slathers on salad dressing onto a salad when they’re trying to diet. But don’t get me wrong. Saying Thor is my least favorite Marvel character would be like saying McDonald’s makes my least favorite hamburger. It’s still a damn good burger when push comes to shove.

This issue is the start of the Korvac Saga. Korvac is a former human who, thanks to evil alien masters, is grafted into a computer making him a cyborg intent on universal domination. (When you type that out it does sound a little silly but trust me, it’s presented better.) Thor starts the issue off preventing some terrorists on Earth from igniting a nuclear reactor. He succeeds only to be sucked into a vortex that brings him to the 31st Century where he faces off against Korvac who shuttles him off into space presumably to die. There he is discovered by the ORIGINAL Guardians of the Galaxy. From there they discover Korvac’s location and proceed to stop his evil plan of sending our sun into a super nova in order to siphon off the energy.

Thor’s dialogue in this really comes off like someone attempting to sound like a bad Shakespearean actor. It was sometimes difficult to read without having to go over what was said more than once. I get why they chose to have him speak the way he did but it was quite distracting to say the least. However, I do like the fact that Thor has a bit of an innocent naive streak to him. He’s a hero who sees the world in black and white. You’re either good or bad. Sure he’ll give you a chance but once you screw that chance up, guess who gets swatted in the ass with mjonlir?

Korvac was all right as a villain but he suffers from something comic book creators are a little too guilty of. He’s from the 31st Century. He’s part computer and has the brain capacity of infinity. He has tools at his disposal that make our most extreme weapons look like pea shooters. Yet the heroes from modern times always find a way of foiling their evil plans. Not just partly stopping it mind you, completely putting an end to whatever evil machinations the bad guy had planned. I get that this was the late 70’s when this came out (damn I feel old) but even then comics were breaking away from stories that started and resolved in one single issue. You would think that every now and then you would have a time where a bad guy was able to even partially succeed. That would be more realistic and add a little bit more drama to the story and give them further reasons to fight. Sure, this particular story is part one of a twelve part story. But they have Korvac’s plan snuffed out at the last minute and have him escape before anything happens to him. Where is the tension? Where is the consequence of fighting someone you’ve built up as much as you have?

The artwork was good for its time but I did have one issue. Korvac looks like he’s melded with a Xerox machine. Predicting the future of technology is impossible of course. We recently had the anniversary of the day that Marty McFly traveled into the future for to see what happened to his kids. Back to the Future 2 was a brilliant film for so many reasons but tops on that list was that they made no effort to try and make a realistic future. They went all spacey with everything. While yeah, they got a few things right, and gave that little bitch Elijah Wood his first screen role, everything else about the future was a big eff you to what people may have guessed. Because you never know what the future would hold. Hell, ten years ago, who would have thought that tablet computers or smart phones would be around in the ways they are? That was technology strictly for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Dr. Crusher wrote her reports on an iPad. I was never meant to read comic books from one! The fact that the artist tried to draw the future in a way that used images we as the reader could relate to was a failure simply due to the fact that even five years after this issue debuted the art looked dated.

Take the Superman film. Richard Donner and crew made no effort to make Kryptonian technology look like anything we could relate to. Everything was based on crystals. While hippies may think that crystals contain the keys to the universe, they also took a lot more acid than humans should be allowed to take so their opinions don’t count. The Superman film had it right by going wild with what alien technology could be. The 31st Century technology as drawn in this issue was a big failure because while it was trying to emulate what the future could look like, it looked like cheap 70’s office furniture. Besides that, the art was fine. Yes, I spent two paragraphs bitching about one thing but that is one complaint. The rest was fine.

Bottom Line:

The Korvac Saga is the start of a twelve issue story. This is going to be much more reasonable to attempt to tackle than the 98 issue story that was the Secret Invasion. For that, I will be reviewing this story in the suggested reading order that the Marvel Unlimited app recommends. And this was a pretty good way to kick off the story. Think of it like the little action sequence that always starts off a Bond film. While it may not have much to do with the main story, it’s still an exciting piece that cannot be missed. While I wish the artist was a little more inventive when it came to drawing objects from the future as well as wishing the writer made Thor’s dialogue a little easier to read, it’s not bad and tackles the subject of freedom quite well. Freedom is great to have but if you have to sacrifice your freedom or the freedom of others to achieve your goal, are you or anyone else involved in your plan truly free?

 

Howard The Duck Volume 5 #1

Howard The Duck

Howard the Duck. What a guy. Here is a character that while most folks know of him, their knowledge tends to come from that horrible movie from the 1980’s with Lea Thompson. I was glad to see James Gunn include Howard at the post credits scene for Guardians of the Galaxy because finally we could see a character get the respect it deserves.

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Howard_the_Duck_Vol_5_1

The Good:

What an enjoyable start. One thing I appreciated was that they didn’t make your enjoyment of the story dependent upon knowledge of anything related to Howard. It was nice they had the little nod at the introduction in the beginning to the movie but that was pretty much it. You’re diving into this world and the writer does a great job in getting you acclimated to the characters.

I also liked the use of cameos from more established characters. While the She-Hulk appearance was a little iffy, the appearance from Spider-Man felt natural in relation to the story. Just as Marvel did in the first issues of Spider-Man and Daredevil, they used a more established character to great effect by using the established character as a way to get readers to the issue.

Tara Tam, Howard’s assistant in this issue was a pretty interesting character. Her debuted appeared to be more than an after thought than anything but she ended up being quite interesting and intriguing. She was built up as a bit of a mystery which could be set up for future issues since it was established that she pretty much appeared out of nowhere similar to Howard. Her work with Howard contributed to the fun of the story. If they end up doing nothing with her I will be disappointed.

The artwork fit the tone of the comic. It felt like a Saturday Morning cartoon with edge. It contributed to the light hearted mood of the piece.

The Bad:

I really didn’t care for Black Cat’s inclusion in the story. The fact alone that her character didn’t come across as she should really brought me out of the story. I also didn’t appreciate that her character, a cat burglar, was so easily discovered. If she is a master criminal, someone who could evade the authorities and Spider-Man at will could live just down the block from Tara. It was way to convenient to wrap up things and it was annoying and lazy as hell.

I also didn’t care for the sudden switch from Earth and a detective story to suddenly being in space. Granted, it leads us to a visit with the Guardians of the Galaxy which I will not complain about but they could have done more to not make the shift so jarring.

The artwork was a little juvenile for the subject material. I would have preferred the artwork to be a little more sophisticated since the character is a little rough around the edges. Having the appearance of a Saturday Morning cartoon when your main character is a cursing duck just gives off the wrong mood.

Bottom Line:

This was a good start for this series. While it certainly has its flaws it didn’t make the cardinal sin of assuming the reader knows absolutely everything about the character before you pick up the first issue. While I wish they could have dealt with his life on Earth before they suddenly brought him into space, it did its job in making me interested in issue 2. For that I give the story a 6. The artwork I’m a little conflicted on. While I appreciated the fact that the artwork helped contribute to the light hearted aspect of the story, it also hindered the mood when you have the conflicting emotions of light hearted along with the mature material. I give the artwork a 5.

Overall you will not be disappointed. The story is a great start to hopefully a long run for the series.