I love me some Ms. Marvel. The work G. Willow Wilson and crew have done with this character is nothing short of groundbreaking, along the lines that Stan Lee and … Continue reading Ms. Marvel Volume 2 Issue 13
We come to the ending, but not the ending if you can believe that, of Spider Island. The big bad of the story meets her apparent doom but thanks to some sloppy writing, I had no clue what the hell was going on with this particular issue. There was no logical reason why everything ended up resolving the way it did apart from the editors at Marvel telling the writer to wrap things up quick.
One part that annoyed me with this issue was Mary Jane’s involvement. She shows up out of nowhere at a facility a person in her position should not even have known about. Then they have her ask why she’s been so slow in developing the symptoms that everyone else had and the results are almost comic. Reed Richards pretty much comes out and tells her that with Peter Parker porking her for as long as he did, she was able to develop an immunity that others did not have. But this statement from Mr. Fantastic kind of goes against the earlier bit of business at the start of the story where Peter does his absolute best to keep his identity private from anyone, including people who would actually benefit from knowing like fellow super heroes. At this point, I get that Peter was a part of the Fantastic Four and his identity would be something that Mr. Fantastic would probably want to know before he joined. Long time readers also know that Peter and Johnny Storm have a long standing friendship so at some point you could see Peter letting slip his identity. Frankly, it makes no sense for him to trust Reed and not many other people. Can you really argue that he mistrusted Iron Man? He couldn’t trust Captain America with his identity? Nick Fury would go blabbing to everyone about that punk kid from Queens who dresses like a spider?
The sheer amount of heroes in the story was too much of an overkill. Every character in the Marvel Universe shares the same world (for the most part) so I get that it would be unrealistic if an event of this magnitude occurred without a response from anyone other than Spider-Man. The problem I see lies in the fact that they have so many people in the story that they haven’t found a way to give each character a reason to be there. Take The Thing. He has some really funny moments in the story. I enjoyed his part in the comic but honestly, if he were removed from the story nothing would be lost. The same could be said for The Avengers. You know they would be fighting a threat like this but did we need to see pages devoted to them when they’re not really a part of the story at all? There are some supplemental stories that go along with Spider Island. If they wanted to include The Avengers, they really should have given them more than a silly cameo.
The Mary Jane arc actually ends with something interesting. Long time readers know that Peter and MJ had to divorce thanks to a deal Peter made with Mephisto in order to save Aunt May’s life. They’d been teasing that Mary Jane was a lot more comfortable with Peter than he was with her at this point. Peter had another girlfriend and everything, who is still missing at this point. What a great guy for trying to look for her. At the end of the issue, while Peter is concentrating on defeating The Queen, she tells him she loves him. Knowing how they were forced to split, it was great that they were still able to show the reading world that Peter and Mary Jane still had feelings for each other. Granted, they have their arms around each other like old friends so maybe this isn’t a love that will rekindle back into marriage. But it is a scenario that makes you feel like all is right with the world.
There are still two issues left in the suggested reading order for Spider Island but this really ends the threat. I have to imagine that at this point, the other two issues will involve more cleaning up of loose ends than anything else. I have real issues with this story but I don’t think it’s a bad story. It is something I would slightly recommend with the understanding that this will frustrate you to no end. There are so many places that this story could have went but it seems like the writer, Dan Slott, was forced to include story elements for the sake of including them. They didn’t have any real impact on the story at all. Even the Mary Jane subplot, if you take it out of the story, bears no impact whatsoever on what is going on. Also, while I have no problem with Peter getting back together with Mary Jane, showing him having no concern for his current girlfriend who mutated into a spider and followed The Queen’s bidding is just so damn callous. They should have had him more concerned than not at all.
The artwork I am still not a fan of. The last panel, where Peter and Mary Jane sit on top of the Empire State Building looking at New York was a great end to the story but again, the rest is just too sloppy and distracting for me to have any interest.
The spider plague is getting worse. People are going from infection to spider powers to turning into actual spiders. Things are getting to the point where there may be no turning back for our heroes. What happens from here?
The story so far has done a good job of showing the feeling of hopelessness you have to imagine goes through the heads of actual heroes in everyday life when they’re presented with a scenario that seems like is insurmountable. The story opens with Spider-Man witnessing his girlfriend Carlie, The Shocker, and the Mayor’s Spider Task Force all turning into actual spiders. Think about it for a moment. How would you react if you were in a situation where a loved one went through a physical change and you had no way of stopping it? The helplessness you would feel could be overwhelming. How in the hell do you help? But I think that is the key to this story and to super hero comics as a whole. When you’re presented with a bad scenario, no matter how bad it may seem or how bad things get, you just keep fighting.
I forgot to mention something that happened last issue. The last few pages were illustrations made by Marvel artists which honored the tenth anniversary of 9/11. (They’re hauntingly beautiful pictures. Well worth the read of that issue alone.) What I remember most vividly from that day were all the cops and firefighters who, despite being frightened out of their fucking minds, ran into hell to save people. Cops and firefighters that survived told you that they knew pretty quickly that they were looking at a situation that was pretty hopeless. Instead of turning tail and running, they saved who they could. I think that is the key when it comes to why people come back to comic books. What is it about these heroes that we like? I would have to say that it’s the escapist thrill. When you watch the news and see war and strife everywhere, you see political candidates saying more and more the most bat shit crazy things you never imagined hearing a candidate say (Fuck the Republican Presidential Candidates. End rant!), knowing that in some world, even if that is the world of imagination, there is a hero that will defeat the bad guy and make the world a better place makes going through your day much easier. I think this can also explain why we’ve seen superhero films capture our imaginations like never before. Machinations in the world are in place that are making our lives less safe everyday. What better way to get a break from that by spending two hours in a movie theater seeing Superman defeating Doomsday.
(I had to include that trailer. I didn’t care for the start of it but once Doomsday hits and Wonder Woman saves Batman and Superman, I geeked out. The gauntlet has been thrown.)
Back to the story. The issue starts off great but goes off the rails in the middle just like pretty much every other issues in this story. Too much is happening that can be addressed effectively with the real estate the comic book is offered. You’re switching from scene to scene without any real idea of what is happening. It’s like a story being told in Morse code and you’re only getting the gist of what is happening. You have a scene where Flash discovers that Eddie Brock is saving people. He’s undercover with The Queen as the Spider King and is dispatched to kill Eddie. Flash wants to save people but the Venom suit wants to kill it’s former host. This is a good story element but it’s not really addressed. You may argue that we have a few more issues left in the story including two specifically dealing with Venom and while that is true, I think it was poor form to have a story include something big like the conflict Flash Thompson is having with the Venom suit when he’s supposed to be capturing Anti-Venom in order to save New York. We also get Mayor Jameson getting the Spider Slayer out of Rykers to help with the problem. According to exposition, the Spider Slayer was responsible for the death of Jameson’s wife. Fine. Great story element to explore. But they waste that opportunity by having Jameson quickly enter stage three of the virus by turning into a spider. He even ends up killing the Spider Slayer by the end of the issue when he is completely transformed.
That’s another thing I hope is addressed. The human body, if it were to make a sudden physical change as described in the story would not suddenly just go back to normal once you found a cure. You grow extra eyes. Once you’re given a cure those eyes don’t pop out of your head and dissolve into dust. You would still have extra fucking eyes. I want to see how it’s addressed but I have the sneaking submission that they’re not going to have a decent explanation as to why and how people are brought back to their normal selves.
This issue has its weak points but when it’s working, it works well. As I mentioned, it did a great job detailing the determination you expect heroes to go through when encountered with a scenario that may seem hopeless. I really wish more time was given to let the story breath. The writer is going way too fast for my liking which is giving me a case of whiplash when you’re going from scene to scene to scene. This is definitely an example of the dangers of stories that have too many characters. Trust me. With my novel Time to Play the Game one critique I would offer myself was that when I faced a scenario where I had major characters tied up in another bit of action I would throw new characters at the scene I was writing. While I don’t think the results are bad by any means if I do say so myself (I don’t want to toot my own horn but…toot toot), I have to be honest that my work had major problems. But any writer is going to have them. Whether they be a no name author like me or a major writer like Anne Rice, you will find any writer that will find problems with their work each time they pick it up. With that in mind, it’s wise for any writer worth their weight in salt to remember that when working on their current pieces. When it comes to the number of characters in your story you should never feel inhibited to including a cast of millions if you want to but the more people you add the more business you have to give them in order to justify their place in the story. That is what the big weakness is here. We’re having scenes introduced with some characters that could be great but aren’t totally fleshed out.
The art work is just not to my liking. My apologies to the artists involved on this piece Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba, and Edgar Delgado. It’s too anime for my tastes and is frankly sloppy. The opening scene for example was rough to get an idea to start in regards to placement of the dialogue. If it wasn’t for guided view on the Marvel Unlimited App, I never would have guessed the path I was supposed to take to read the dialogue in order. The characters are drawn just slightly off which is just taking me out of the story when it shouldn’t be. Not a fan.
One more bit of business. As I mentioned I have a book. I want you to read it. If you want a free copy of it in e-book format, you can email me at email@example.com and I will send you a free copy. The offer lasts till the end of the month, 12/31/2015.
Another day, another look in the Spider Island story. We pick up where we left off in issue 667 where The Avengers believe that Peter is one of the bad folks wrecking havoc on New York. Shang Chi arrives and lets The Avengers know that the one who’s ass they are kicking is actually Spider-Man himself. From there, Reed Richards tells him to hit the bricks.
I really dug page 4.
That image kind of reminded me of the classic cover from issue 50 where Peter is walking down an alley in the distance and up close on the cover is a garbage can with the Spider-Man outfit hanging out of it. On that cover, Peter wanted to walk away from the responsibility that being Spider-Man had to offer. This image is just the opposite. Peter wants more than anything to be in on the action but realizes that Reed Richards is right when he told him he needed to sit out on this one.
From there he meets up with Norah with no sign of Phil Urich at all which kind of dismissed the previous issue I reviewed. Sure you could argue that this could have happened just before that issue but we need to have some sort of clue especially with the fact that Marvel wanted to put that story in chronological order before this.
There was also a nice little interaction I wish they could have spent a little more time on. When Peter is talking to Norah, Mary Jane arrives. Norah hints at the fact that Peter and Mary Jane used to be together but it’s never really addressed apart from an initial awkward interaction from the former power couple. She came across like she still cared for Peter and I didn’t get the hint of there being any sort of anger or sadness over the fact that they were not together anymore. Peter is a little awkward around her but there’s just no real explanation as to why they’re not together. Yeah, it’s detailed in another story but this is one instance where an editor’s note would have worked.
The rest of the issue details Peter going along with the situation and acting like he had the spider illness as well. He gets normal folks together to help defeat the bad guys which they ultimately do. New York is quarantined by the Mayor. And Peter gets sent by Horizon Labs to assist the police on reworking bad guy tech to help the Mayor’s spider task force. His liaison at the force? His girlfriend.
There was one bit I didn’t care for. Carlie reveals near the end that she knows The Jackal is behind everything. That’s great and all but it is never explained how she got the information. Peter is familiar with the guy so it’s understandable that he would know a thing or two about the guy but Carlie just magically knows who is causing all this. And her and Peter go alone to investigate. I am no expert on how government works but I can safely say that if there was a virus that was so severe that they had to quarantine a major city in this country, if anyone in law enforcement had any sort of clue as to who could have caused it, they would send every mother fucker they could to get the guy and give him the Guantanamo Bay treatment. They wouldn’t send a young lady in her mid-20’s along with her goofy scientist boyfriend. It’s like the end of The Silence of the Lambs where Clarice goes to Buffalo Bill’s house alone. She thought she was going on a wild goose chase but it turned out she caught the guy single handed. It just blows my mind though. At the very least you would think they would want to send a partner with her to make that scenario in the movie believable. The scenario in the comic is just not believable.
The art work was more of the sloppy anime nonsense that I didn’t care for. Some of the character designs were just off, making them look like melted action figures than actual people. Apart from the page I talked about earlier, the art is just bad. I almost expect Voltron to make an appearance in the comic.
Story wise, this was a pretty decent issue. They worked themselves into a corner with Peter wanting to help defeat the bad guys with spider powers but they found a good way to get out of that by having Peter lie and say he was affected by the virus as well. It does a decent job of wrapping up the first act of the Spider Island story and offering some clues for what the future of the story will bring us.
I do wish they could touch upon a couple of things. One, if they’re going to have stories in other issues detailing the actions of The Hobgoblin and show the reader that Phil Urich has deceived Norah into being his woman, the least they could do is acknowledge that that happened in another issue. Also, I want some sort of clue as to what happened between Peter and Mary Jane. An editor’s note would make me happy in this case even though in issue 667 I complained about the number of editor’s notes. There is a weird little dynamic going on between the two that is not really being addressed and I want more information. I think of it like this. Yeah, I know I can do a little research and dive into the Marvel Unlimited app and discover what happened. But I shouldn’t have to. Either give the reader some clue as to what happened between the two since they have established that they used to be a couple or simply don’t have her in the story. This ambiguous awkwardness between the two is frustrating because there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it. They both seem cool with each other apart from Peter being a little awkward because he doesn’t want to throw in her face the fact that he has another relationship. In the past, Peter and Mary Jane were married so to go from that to this, something happened. I want to know what since it appears the writer wants us to focus on this for this particular story.
Another day in the life of Peter Park starts out with him swinging through town contemplating how life has changed for him. I liked how it goes back over his history of how he would inadvertently stumble onto a crime scene or have a crime fall into his lap. You get a sense of the history of the character without having to have a PhD in Spider-Man history. He hears a call of a robbery in progress and proceeds to the scene where two robbers are fleeing a local shop. He takes care of them in due order with his usual quips. The police arrive and thank him for his work.
One of the cops mentioned ol’ Flat Top cutting the budget for the police since Spider-Man is taking care of crime in town. Turns out the Flat Top he was talking about was J. Jonah Jameson himself, the Mayor of New York. Seems the Mayor is seeing his poll numbers plummet because he is using city finances toward a Spider-Man task force which the general public doesn’t like. Then he has the nerve to complain about The Daily Bugle calling him out for doing this, once again blaming Spider-Man for all his troubles. I get that JJJ is a bit of a one note character. There are some shades to the character which can at times make him interesting but this was just too cliche. This was like how he was presented in Spider-Man 3, a joke. Whereas in the original Spider-Man movie, he’s a bombastic ass but he still does the right thing. We’ll probably get a little more JJJ in the story what with him being Mayor and all but this is not a good start for the character.
Next up we see Hydro-Man battling a trio of heroes, Gravity, Spider-Woman, and Firestar. Growing up a fan of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, I geeked out when I saw Firestar. Especially when she name dropped the show.
Anyway, Spider-Man makes quick work of Hydro-Man by using a special freezing device he made up at his job at Horizon Laboratories. Then it’s off to work where he showcases the freezing device to his co-workers who congratulate him. I found his female co-worker quite annoying. I am sure there are animal activists who would freak out over the well being of earthworms but man are they annoying as all hell. Reminds me of an episode of The Howard Stern Show where he got two female members of PETA to make out with each when he threatened to kill some bugs or something. Just stupid. Priorities people.
Next, we have Peter Parker’s girlfriend Carlie calling him to speak with him. I never knew this character existed before reading this issue but I liked how someone in my position doesn’t feel like her character is wedged into the story. I don’t know her history but she feels like she belongs which is a good job from the writer. When Peter inquires as to what she would want to talk about, we see one of the criminals that he had webbed up earlier break free from the webs, which one of the cops mentions that that is something even Rhino could not do. The bugs have bit a lot of people…including Carlie who takes down the criminal with a clothesline John Bradshaw Layfield from the WWE would be proud of.
After the phone call Peter is walking, oblivious to everything around him when a bus barrels down on him. Phil Urich and Norah Winters pull him to safety. Thanks to an editor’s note, we discover that Peter lost his spider sense. I have no problem with editor’s notes but one annoyance with this issue is that it seems every other panel had an editor’s note. I am all for filling in the reader on events they may not have read but when they become obnoxious like this issue, you have to ask yourself whether there was another way for the writer to talk about past events without annoying the reader. I did enjoy the panel where Phil gets pissed at a comment Peter made and you see the image of Phil’s alter ego, Hobgoblin. It was an amazing way to show the character having a dark side without making them rattle off a monologue.
We have a quick little scene of Jay and May Jameson in a hotel. It’s a quick way to show that the bed bugs making everyone like Spider-Man. It’s a nice tease towards the disease spreading across the country.
The scene turns towards a criminal about to be attacked for not being able to pay a mobster. Just when two bad guys are about to break his knees, he breaks out with some spider moves and escapes. That is one thing I never liked about Spider-Man. I get that he gets the strength of a spider but nothing was ever said about him, or anyone else like him with similar powers, becoming a martial arts expert. Show the character taking a beating or two but overcoming the bad guys. Show them learning to fight over time, not breaking out the Bruce Lee gymnastics. Once he escapes he runs across The Jackal, Miles Warren, who invites him to a get together of like minded criminals. Something big is planned.
We get a quick scene at The Baxter Building where Reed Richards is sending Sue and others to The Negative Zone for their protection. I wasn’t sure why they were being sent there. While I have to assume it has something to do with the bedbug outbreak, it could have had something to do with an event from a previous Fantastic Four issue that I am not aware. I have to dock points for this because I had no clue what the hell was going on. We did see Peter speak with Mary Jane on the phone. The Thing makes a funny comment to her on the phone. Nothing consequential but it’s a great little showcase of his character, how someone looking like a monster deep down is a lovable guy.
The next scene shows Flash Thompson as Venom fighting against agents of AIM. How or why he became Venom I don’t know. It’s not really explained, just presented as something we should already know. He’s talking to his girlfriend Betty Brant at the hospital where she is a patient. He’s telling her she needs to stay in bed but being a reporter, when she sees the emergency room filled with people who are freaked out they have spider powers, her eyes spread wide in happiness. This is a scene that will probably make more sense the further I get into the story but their inclusion made no sense. ‘Read the other comics,’ you might say. I shouldn’t have to. Not that I need to know the complete life history of every character. Some of the best stories are stories that throw you into the deep end and expect you to swim. Star Wars is a perfect example. For Episode 4, you’re suddenly involved in a fight between two sides that you don’t know anything about. Yet the movie does a great job of acclimating you to what is going on quickly. You care for the characters without quite knowing where they fit at first. Once you get used to the story you care for them even more. The only reason I knew about Flash Thompson and Betty Brant was their places in Spider-Man history. If I started reading Spider-Man with this issue I would not have known what was going on.
We go next to Avenger’s Mansion where Spider-Man is just finishing a hand in a poker game the team is playing. He leaves quickly to go to karate practice. Once there, Shang finally introduces him to Ms. Carpenter who is Madam Web. She tells Spider-Man that she can see into the future, knows what is going on, and knows he will help. But she wants him to prepare to kill if need be. Spider-Man says that will never happen. I didn’t really care for Madam Web. I get that she is a telepath and can see the future but the writer could have done a better job in having her give the exposition she is there to give. Anyway, Spider-Man takes off, being followed by strangers who are swinging through the air themselves. I get that Peter doesn’t have spider sense but he looks like a fool not seeing stuff like this. He arrives at his apartment with his girlfriend waiting for him, ready to tell him the fact that she has powers now.
The Jackal is arriving at a laboratory where some clones of himself are at work. He meets up with a strange woman who tells him about a new ‘plaything’ she made for him, a Peter Parker clone. The woman transforms the clone into a monster. It comes out of a tube, following her orders. She then alludes to an island of spiders. The last panel is great where we see average citizens flying in the sky like Spider-Man.
Another good read. While it is not as good as the previous issue, it does enough to advance the story for me to want to read more. It has its flaws, such as the over usage of editor’s notes and minor scenes with characters doing things we need a little more explanation for, but it is still a pretty good setup for future issues in the story. The artwork was pretty solid throughout, especially the little scenes like the image of the Hobgoblin when Phil was pissed at Peter for the quick retort. Peter was also a little too oblivious to events happening in the story that you would think anyone else would at least have raised an eye over. But overall, it’s a good start to a story, unlike the chaos that was The Korvac Saga. My how much a difference twenty years makes.
Starhawk arrives at the mansion and asks Iron Man why he was summoned. Iron Man gives him the Cliff’s Notes version of the story so far and enlists his help. When he’s done telling the story, Starhawk says something that’s on the mind of everyone reading the story by saying he feels the ultimate bad guy in all this is Korvac but hey, for shits and giggles he’d be happy to help The Avengers. You would think that when a group arrives in the 20th Century claiming that an all powerful being has arrived in their time and is out to get someone that maybe someone in The Avengers would put two and two together and think about maybe seeing whether the threat the Guardians face could be the threat they are facing. You would think that would be someone that someone would consider but naw, not when there are city buses to destroy!
We cut to Moondragon who is contemplating events when she feels a disturbance and sets about getting the team together to tell them what she sensed. She witnesses Quicksilver and Hawkeye having an argument about Jocasta and The Vision. Moondragon zaps Quicksilver after he says something quite bigoted which causes him to get some clarity. You would think that someone who in the story is the offspring of one of the most notorious mutants alive would know a thing or two about bigotry of people that are different but what do I know? Then she walks in on Wonder Man and Black Panther having an argument about not being able to do anything. Then Thor busts through a wall as he and Hercules are fighting. Black Widow chews out Hercules which is so damn out of character for her. I could see her putting him in a choke hold but not talking to him like they were on the set of a daytime talk show.
So Moondragon gets everyone together only to tell them that she has to get ALL The Avengers to show up so she sends a message with her mind to the others who quickly arrive. Comics from this era were horrible in regards to a sense of time. It’s like the television show 24. When they needed to get a character from one side of one of the largest cities in America to the other, it would take all of ten minutes, sooner if they were on a chopper. The comics from this era were worse. They’d have characters travel great distances and the caption at the top of the next panel would be ‘Seconds Later…’ It is frustrating to see things like this because it takes you out of the story. When you’re shaking your head telling yourself that something is dumb, you’re not enjoying the story. There have been stories set in the most bizarre of locations and with the most unique characters. But if written well, you don’t notice it because you’re lost in that world. The writer here is his own worst enemy.
So after two pages of time killing filler, Moondragon has the grand plan of everyone putting the clues they found into a computer and have the computer give out the common denominator of everything. Good idea especially for a situation like this if everyone seems to be lost. But Iron Man has to be a dick here and assert his manhood to the woman who dared come up with an idea that could potentially solve their problem. He might as well have told her to help Jarvis do the dishes and have Black Widow do the laundry. He admittedly had no clue where the big bad guy was but when someone actually steps up with a possible solution, he does his best to show that he doesn’t like the fact that they stepped up with an opinion. What a great leader.
We cut to Michael Korvac sensing that Iron Man and the team are getting closer to sensing his presence. Korvac recounts how he killed and raised Starhawk back to life as well as removing the ability to sense him from Starhawk’s mind. What I question is, if he has the power that the comic is presenting, why would he be pretending to be just an average middle class joe in a suburb of New York? Wouldn’t he want to be moving around to different locations so that a team like The Avengers would not be able to do what they’re doing? Would Doctor Doom pretend to be an insurance salesman in Boise, Idaho in order to fulfill his evil schemes? Staying in one spot just screams of lazy writing. Especially when, after 11 issues to get us here, the team that are presented as so horribly in equipped to deal with a being of this magnitude so easily finds his location.
From there, the single dumbest scene I have ever read in comics occurs when the team head outside and after realizing they all can’t hop into a quinjet to get to Forrest Hills, they commandeer a city bus. Once they board, they mention that Tony Stark would pay for cabs for all of them which begs to question why the hell they couldn’t just call a bunch of cabs? And why wouldn’t one of the richest men alive have a fleet of cars at the ready that could take them where they needed to go? If Jay Fucking Leno can have an airplane hanger full of cars, Tony Stark has to have much more! The lack of logic in this scene is mind blowing. George Lucas after he wrote the prequel trilogy of Star Wars would say this was written horribly.
So they arrive. The residents worry for a moment about their homes being wrecked but than someone says that the team is probably there to open a 7-11. That puts great confidence in the reader. They find the house they were looking for, knock on the door, and are invited in by Michael Korvac himself who invites them in. They inspect the house, finding nothing. Tony Stark asks the psychics of the group to do a sweep and they find nothing. The only clue they have as to something being wrong is when Starhawk acts like the rest of them are cuckoo bananas because he doesn’t see Korvac. While you as the reader would assume that Korvac, when he mentioned that Starhawk would not be able to sense him referred to him being sensed with mind powers, seems ol’ Korvac meant sensing him period.
Korvac gives them the usual bad guy spiel that he had great things in plan for the human race but now he would have to destroy them. They banter among each other wondering what they should do next when Korvac attacks.
It seems The Korvac Saga is anything but. Korvac has not been in the story much and when you have someone presented as being all powerful doing such stupid things you can’t take him seriously. The only reason Starhawk was kept alive by Korvac was apparently to set up this scene. There was no other reason for it. Korvac is not presented as a reasonable guy with compassion. Even if he was, we’ve hardly seen him in the story. His actions so far have been self serving and bad. It was a stupid mistake. Also staying in the suburbs when he should have been roaming about was another decision made by either the dumbest supreme being ever or by lazy writing. I vote for the later. Thankfully we have one more issue to go because this so far has been a painful read. It didn’t have to be because the ideas presented make for an intriguing idea of a story. It’s just written so horribly my nine year old son would think it’s written bad.
The Avengers stare at the ash that was The Collector wondering about the powerful being that would be able to do something of this nature to another powerful being. For a moment some of the team thinks they are in danger but Iron Man points out that with a being that powerful, if that being wanted them dead they’d be dead. Iron Man decides they need to check out the ship to find some clue to to who they may be facing. Any computer system that had information on it is promptly destroyed. At this point Iron Man decides they need to find a way to leave, ignoring the fact that Vance Astro is still on the Guardians of the Galaxy ship and could easily transport them home. Don’t you love it when a writer forgets what happened previously in a story?
They look around for something that could get them home. Iron Man discovers the time travel device that The Collector used in order to gather the specimens for his collection. From there, he discovers the little mystery that the writer was kind of, sort of hinting at when it came to Thor. It seems that Thor had been taken in and out of time with the help from The Collector to help battle the little brush fires to help keep The Avengers safe since he wanted the team intact. With that explanation everyone breaths a sigh of relief and moves on. I have a problem with this. To me, it seems like a big deal that a member of the team was taken so easily. The fact that there was doubts that he could be who he is should have been something that caused them to quarantine Thor from the rest of the group just to make sure he is no threat. As I mentioned before, the Marvel Universe has already established Life Model Decoys as a thing so to not act on suspicions that Thor is not who he says he is as well as take the explanation from the security tapes of a ship that was owned by a villain that kidnapped them was just plain frightening. I would do a lot more than absolutely nothing to make sure that Thor was on the up and up.
From there, a character who’d been in a total of maybe five panels decides he wants to use the time machine to go back to his own time. Bye bye Two Gun Kid. I get that in the Marvel Universe, he had a lot more adventures than what is presented in this issue. My problem with this development has to do with the fact that in regards to this particular story, the Two Gun Kid had no point being there. If they really wanted to retire the character or something by sending him back to his own time they should have done that in a comic where he had more involvement in the story. Doing it here was pointless because in this scene we’re supposed to be sad that a member of the team is saying his final goodbye when in reality I could have cared less because he was barely in the story.
Next up, The Vision finds a teleportation machine they can use to get back to Earth. Why have the Guardians of the Galaxy in the story, a team that has the ability to teleport them wherever they want to go, if you’re not going to use them? They’re presented as almost an after thought when at the beginning of the story their mission was of the highest importance. Logically I can see where a writer would hesitate having that many people actively involved in a story because when you’re dealing with the limited real estate that comics give you, you have to use each page wisely. At that point though, you should be asking yourself as a writer whether those characters are really going to be needed if you don’t plan on using them. Not every character is going to be needed for every page, every scene but you have to have a plan for them.
So from there The Vision transports the team back to Earth. Seems his aim is off because Wonder Man ends up in traffic, the Scarlet Witch appears in the sky and plunges to the ground, and Hawkeye ends up on a flagpole. Captain Marvel ends up saving the day, rescuing the members of the team that need his help. Another pointless scene if you ask me. What really bothers me is that there is no mention of any sort of communication disturbance to Vance Astro. If they simply had one line about the lines of contact to the Guardians ship were cut off, I could buy this scene. They would have to rely on a technology they had no clue how to use in order to get home. As it stands, this scene is presented as a bad attempt at comedy. We’re talking Jar Jar Binks level of bad here.
From there, we head to the home of Michael and Carina where we finally discover that Michael is Korvac, the being we met all the way in Thor Annual #6. Seems after Thor defeated him he escaped in time to our present day where he came across an empty ship that used to be owned by Galactus. From there, he used his computer circuitry to learn everything he could, in the process becoming a god! Seems the level of knowledge Galactus had on his ship was infinite so Korvac ended up with more power than he ever contemplated having. From there he turned himself human again and decided on a new mission, ending injustice throughout the world. Apparently on his terms which makes him the bad guy.
I’ve found that the best bad guys are ones that at least in their head think they’re the good guys. What they’re doing has to make sense to them. The flaw of course in bad guys for stories like this has to do with the means they use to achieve their goals. Regardless of their intentions, they’re going to run through anyone and everyone who gets in their way. The Daredevil television show illustrated this brilliantly with Wilson Fisk. Wilson was very much a bad guy in this story but his goals, if you sat back and thought about it were actually to make Hell’s Kitchen a good place to live. It’s literally not until the last twenty minutes of the last episode where he says fuck it and becomes a bad guy. Villains that are there to just cause destruction and chaos are not as interesting over the long term. There may be some enjoyment seeing them wreck havoc but once they’re stopped you promptly ignore them. The best villains have that little shade of gray which allows you on some level to relate to them. For Korvac, his effort to make the galaxy a better place is certainly a goal I would hope most of us shares. The fact that he’ll straight up murder the faces of anyone who gets in his way is the trait that makes him the villain.
Back to the story. The Avengers make it back to the mansion where they discuss tactics. We have an interesting bit where Quicksilver questions whether they should have Jocasta help and whether she can even be considered alive being that she’s an android. From there, The Vision gets in his face like they’re about to throw down. You almost expect Jerry Springer to pop out of somewhere while Quicksilver and The Vision fight while the Scarlet Witch takes off her top and pole dances for the reader. From there you see Wonder Man attempt to impress Ms. Marvel with a show of strength that back fires. Because we’re all ten year old boys and we all know that the way to impress the ladies is by lifting things in the air, not trying to treat them like human beings and getting to know them as people. Iron Man attempts to use some of The Avengers equipment to look for the force that is behind what happened to The Collector only to find out that Gyrich from the NSA took the machines. From there, Jarvis casually mentions the Guardians in a conversation where he’s bitching about having to help so many people and it’s at this point that Iron Man thinks to have them help with their cause. They may already be looking for an incredibly powerful creature that is looking to kill a member of the Guardians but there is no way at all that those two events could somehow be related. There’s no reason to even consider that question because you know, science.
Iron Man contacts the Guardians in the home he bought for them for their mission and gets Starhawk’s assistance to help look for the being behind their problem. All the while, Michael Korvac sees what is happening and smiles, knowing that after his earlier battle with Starhawk, Starhawk will not know where to look for him.
We’re nearing the finished line. This particular issue was not as bad as others but it still left a lot to be desired in terms of quality. It’s not that this is a bad story. I think it’s a great idea for a story, it’s just horribly written. There are way too many lapses in logic that make you question the editing standards at Marvel during this time. It’s like it is written by a fifth grader. They want to throw everything into the mix and then promptly get distracted at the slightest whim. They’ve also had elements introduced in one comic and promptly forgotten in the next. Writing a long form story is tough, believe me. Writing my novel Time to Play the Game was by far the toughest bit of writing I have ever done. It’s like a big puzzle that you have to put together while blindfolded. I think I did pretty good in my case but I am also sure that if I went back to that novel now I would find some pieces that are missing which detract from the story much like I’ve seen in every issue in this story. That does not excuse it from happening. I get the idea that while Marvel wanted a story that was told over many issues they did not properly plan it out. They winged it which would explain all of the lapses in logic you encounter in this story. If you’re going to tackle a story of this size, there has to be SOME planning. If you fail to do that, the story, and your reader, suffers.
First off, to fail to address a major terrorist incident in the world today and just plow on without comment would be silly and wrong. Helplessness floods through you like pouring ink into a glass of water when you see images of violence on this scale. Who knows at this point what caused some nut jobs in Paris, France to pull off a killing spree like they did today but the survivors sure do have my sympathy. The perfect response on my part is to give the review. I think back to 9/13/2001, two days after the worst images I have ever seen. Every channel had the news. You couldn’t escape the sadness. Then UPN, the precursor to the CW, decided they were going to continue with the latest episode of WWE’s Smackdown television show. That was the first night I smiled since 9/11. I was able to momentarily forget what I just witnessed and was able to have a little fun. I am under no illusions that anyone in France is thinking about checking out my blog tonight. I do this more for myself than anything really. But life goes on, even in the midst of unspeakable tragedy. While we’re here, it’s best to make the most of it.
So we start off with Hawkeye arriving at the Avenger’s Mansion like he was just coming home from a hard day’s work at the local factory. It’s a real ‘Honey, I’m home!’ moment that seems so out of place in a superhero comic. Right after he arrives, the NSA adviser who had previously warned The Avengers to focus more on security shows up and notices the front door to the mansion open because apparently while Hawkeye is a great shot with a bow and arrow, he can’t close a fucking door. The adviser gets rightfully pissed at seeing a building that has so much classified material and equipment in it just left open for anyone to stroll into and retrieve that he goes inside to have a word with the team.
Next up we head back to the final scene from the last issue where Beast tells everyone that Jocasta and Captain America have disappeared. From there, a nun appears and tells them to leave and they will clean up the mess. They do. They were fools to do so. Like any comic book villain, Ultron has found many creative ways over the years to come back to haunt The Avengers. Yet at the urging of a nun, they decide leaving the metallic remains of a machine that was hell bent on destroying the world was a ok. It’s scenes like this which make me agree more and more with the NSA adviser that The Avengers should not have any sort of official backing from the government. They’re making mistakes left and right that, if something similar happened in real life with a real military or spy organization, the country would be up in arms over. I’m all for characters doing something out of left field only if the author in question has a reason for them to do so. That is not happening in this story.
Once they leave they head back to the mansion where they meet up with Hawkeye. After greeting them, Hawkeye casually mentions that he had captured an intruder. After describing him, the team realizes who it is and rushes to free him. Once freed, Gyrich informs them that they no longer have government backing and lose access to all the fun toys and secret files they previously had access to. The writer at this point wants us to have sympathy for the team but frankly they deserved it. They deserved to be put in prison for being so haphazard with important material and just plain being bad at their jobs at this point. Maybe it’s the 39 year old in me coming out. The comics had a different audience at this time but that is still no excuse for bad writing.
Once Gyrich leaves, two things happen. One, Quicksilver’s girlfriend contacts The Avengers to let them know he disappeared and two, Jarvis appears suddenly to tell them that Tyrak is loose and wrecking havoc on New York. Despite the restrictions placed upon them by Gyrich, the writer promptly ignores that and sends the team out, apart from Iron Man, to fight Tyrak. Iron Man stays behind to continue a search for their missing comrades. Why put restrictions on the team if they’re immediately going to ignore them? It reminds me of a dog I used to own that would constantly get out of the yard. We would do everything we could to get him to stay in the damn yard because the last thing we wanted was him crapping in the house but the moment we opened the door, he bolted outside, slid under the fence, and ran off to get some tail. There is no point in placing restrictions on a character if those restrictions are promptly ignored. A good writer, not a great one but a good one, would be a little creative and find a way to get the heroes to solve the problem without relying on their usual powers that why do that when you think your readers have the attention span of a fish?
From there the team fights Tyrak for many, many, MANY pages. The Vision is able to stop him by applying heat to Tyrak’s body. Tyrak is a deep ocean creature so I can accept that he would not be able to handle extreme heat. Once defeated, The Avengers realize that those restrictions they ignored somehow magically came back which prevents them from getting Tyrak into custody before he dies. Their solution? Wonder Man throws him back into the water. Yes, a villain that just tried to kill them and others is treated like a fish that is too small to keep when you’re on a fishing trip. When three of the heroes on hand have the ability of flight yet they decide it’s best to just let the bad guy who tried to kill them go, you realize that the Mighty Marvel Bullpen didn’t take too long when it came to editing the story properly. At the end of the scene though, The Vision promptly disappears and Wanda, The Scarlet Witch, freaks out. Interesting development.
From there you get a short interlude with The Wasp calling Black Panther on the phone enlisting his support. Then you have Yellow Jacket and The Wasp commiserate with Iron Man about not being able to find their missing friends. They talk about The Beast and Thor being off on their own adventures which editor notes point out are detailed in other comics. From there we get a frame FINALLY bringing us back into The Korvac Saga officially. We see our missing heroes encased in glass tubes while a figure, who’s hand is the only part we can see, spies on Iron Man, Yellow Jacket, and The Wasp. He tells himself that Iron Man should already know who did all this and that they will eventually meet. Nice hook to end the story.
The writing is becoming intolerable. As a writer myself, I do find it helpful to read stuff like this because you get a firm reminder of why it’s important to keep track of all the little details in a story. Characters have to act in a logical fashion, whether they’re protagonist or antagonist. They also have to have obstacles they have to overcome. If they just do whatever the hell they want or if they simply ignore the obstacles placed in front of them, there is no tension in the story. The concept for this story is not bad at all. They’re just executing it horribly.
One bright mark once again has been the artwork which has been getting better each issue. It’s timelessness is quite refreshing to see especially since this was the start of an era in comics where they did everything they could to visually tag the stories in the era the story was written which can make an otherwise enjoyable story not so exciting to read thirty years later. They also did a great job this issue with addressing the elephant in the room when it comes to how women are treated in comics. Wonder Man tries to be the valiant knight in shining armor for Ms. Marvel but she proceeds to save his ass while kicking her fair share. It was great to see an actual woman in the story, not a caricature of one.
Overall, this is an easily forgettable issue. For every good thing this comic accomplishes, it has ten errors which make reading the story quite unbearable.
Jocasta has escaped thanks to Iron Man and Captain America allowing her to do so. The Avengers head onto a crowded New York street and get reports from passersby that Jocasta was just there. They also apparently have time to be ogled by the ladies in The Beast’s case and with The Scarlet Witch, she’s offered a modeling gig. With a robot that could destroy the human race on the loose, taking time to get laid sure shows some folks priorities.
The Avengers head into an alley to discover a wino who says that a robot and a penguin had just left the place. They think he’s a drunk but the next scene you see is Jocasta in a car with a nun. The nun is apparently working for Ultron. At this point you wonder whether the writer of the piece was actually paying attention to the story he was writing. He goes one minute giving the impression that the team has lost Jocasta and with the next, Iron Man is still tracking her. So scenes like this where they’re asking folks if they’ve seen a female robot are just pointless if Iron Man has the ability to track her. The story almost comes across like it was written in one draft and, after a cursory glance for spelling errors, just published as is.
From there we go back to the lady who offered The Scarlet Witch a modeling job. Seems she had left a lady in a changing room in a department store and she was rushing back to her. That lady was Carol Danvers, Ms. Marvel herself. At first I thought she had something to do with Korvac when she changed into her Ms. Marvel gear. Then she flies off and joins up with The Avengers, telling them she is tagging along because she senses some danger that will face them. Yellow Jacket and The Wasp arrive in a cobbled together ship that Tony Stark had previously made and Iron Man, suddenly remembering he had the ability to track Jocasta, the killer robot they were all worried about stopping except when they were offered modeling jobs and sex, tells everyone to follow him because he knows where the bad guys are.
They arrive at a convent. A nun lets them in and they head into the lair. Thor has a panel where he’s talking about how folks consider him and his people god’s but that they make no claim to supreme divinity. Which is true and all but it’s not like any other Asgardian apart from Thor views Earthlings as anything but subservient animals. He finds himself uncomfortable in a house of worship which is an interesting idea that could be expounded upon at some point.
Wanda is teleported somewhere. We don’t know where. The Avengers are concerned but focus on finding Ultron first which they do in quick order. A robot built on logic gives a monologue to the heroes when he should have just been firing everything he had at them. I get that with artificial intelligence, Ultron will end up having some form of emotions. With the memory banks he holds, and the fact that he talks about Yellow Jacket being his father and all the other stuff he talks about, Ultron is not like the Cybermen from Doctor Who. The Cybermen or the Borg from Star Trek are cold, methodical creatures that have a single focus. Sure they’ll talk to you but it’s more to tell you that you’re insignificant and that you will be murdered soon. They’re not going to have a Bond villain type of monologue.
We then break to The Scarlet Witch who’s in a room of mirrors. For someone who’s power is sending hexes, it would be an appropriate way to keep her prisoner. When she attempts to send out a hex, it could just as easily hit and hurt her. I just wish that, since this is part of the Korvac Saga story according to the Marvel Unlimited app, that there had been some reference up to this point about the fact that Korvac was taking people. Sure, at the end of the story we’re brought back into the main story we’re reading here but with Wanda being taken like she was, it was a bit of a red herring for the reader to think that maybe we’d be getting to the bottom of the story for once which we are clearly not at this point.
From there we see Ms. Marvel roaming the halls of the convent. Seems she had bowed out of the fight against Ultron since Hank Pym had mentioned that he had built a resistance for the existing team which she is not a part of from Ultron’s attack. I can accept this as a reasonable way to get her somewhere else. It’s little things like this that are missing in the story so far that have made this reading experience a bit of a chore. When you do see that the writer finally takes the time to explain why things are happening as they are, you find yourself getting lost in the action of the story which is what they want you to do.
Turns out that the nun that drove Jocasta to the convent was an android as well. Ms. Marvel quickly makes her her bitch and discovers that Wanda is still in the convent being kept prisoner. She also discovers that the real nuns are still in the building, tied up by Ultron. Again, something that doesn’t make sense. Ultron has no problem attempting to murder the man who made him and the rest of The Avengers as well but a robot would still tie up some nuns and just not brutally shoot them in the face? Why would he care? He wouldn’t. Even with his artificial intelligence, when an android has its mind set on something, little things like murder would not keep it from accomplishing its goal. It’s a machine. Even with the artificial intelligence, logic would state that straight up murdering the nuns would have been the way to go for Ultron. But apparently he has a soft streak for Catholics. Maybe Hank Pym put in some special programming from the Vatican to protect people of the clergy.
Ultron wakes up Jocasta to have her join his side only to have her, in a fit of human logic, decide that even though she is programmed to be at his side, she has to kill him because she knows what type of robot he is. It’s been established that Jocasta had an imprint of Janet Pym’s mind in her recently which made her a sort of pseudo-human. It is what it is I guess. Yeah, The Vision is an android in the story as well but is basically a human but I still don’t buy the fact that they somehow have life. They have programming telling them how to react. That’s nice and all in order to resolve the story but maybe it’s just because robotics at this point and time are not at the point where artificial intelligence could be any sort of a threat to mankind but I just don’t buy androids in a story that are presented as having some sort of emotion. Yes, it’s a fantasy set in a place that is real. But I just don’t buy it. Let the robot be crazy as fuck looking to kill everyone but I just can’t accept it having human emotions or reactions.
The story ends with Ultron defeated. They commiserate about a job well done only to end the story with Jocasta and Captain America disappearing. Seems the writers may have gone down from their high and remembered that they were supposed to write about Korvac. Oh to see the drugs that were passed in the Marvel Bullpen in the 70’s!
This issue has some serious flaws in execution. They’re the type of flaws that if they had been addressed in editing could have made this a pretty decent story. Having Iron Man especially go from not knowing where the heck Jocasta was to suddenly remembering that he was tracking her was annoying as hell. I also didn’t like the fact that they set up a big story element of Iron Man and Captain America allowing her to escape as if they had some sort of advanced knowledge that the rest of the team did not have only to completely ignore it. They seriously just dismissed the big ending from the previous issue by saying that with Iron Man as leader he can do whatever he wants. Now that would make me feel secure if The Avengers actually existed. Another chapter in the Korvac Saga is in the books and the main story would probably take all of one comic to tell at this point. Mostly filler up to this point which is not so bad since the stories are taking place in a universe where multiple things can and will occur at once but I wish there was a little more coherence.
Holy Fuck, I’m still doing this. 54 days in a row. And I have to say the response I’ve been getting, and frankly feeling, has been quite good. I made the right decision doing this. Politics has its place and all but at the end of the day, talking about comics and why I may or may not like them is just damn fun.
One thing I wanted to accomplish with this site was to vary my comic reading. By default I’ve been focusing more on Marvel Comics not because I think Marvel is the greatest comic book company in the world but because I have a subscription to Marvel Unlimited. I love Marvel Comics but at the end of the day too much of one thing can make you quite bored with what once entertained you. What has kept things varied has been great services like Comic Blitz. They’re in a lot of ways the Netflix of comics. They’ve brought together a couple well known companies along with a nice group of companies the average person may not heard of. Once such comic company is Action Lab Comics who also produces a mature label called Action Lab Danger Zone.
One comic I discovered was called Holy F*ck. Admittedly, if these types of a la carte services did not exist, if we were back in the 1990’s, this may not have been a comic I would have bought. And frankly that would have been my loss because each issue keeps getting better and better.
One analogy I used for the comics in my earlier reviews was comparing it to a fart joke. I kind of regret that in hindsight. While folks who know me get what I am saying, to the average person that analogy probably comes off as a bit condescending when it really wasn’t. I was referring to the fact that the first two issues were not subtle. At all. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Take Mel Brooks. He has made a lot of funny movies over the years. Even movies like The Producers (the original, not the abortion that was the musical), a movie I didn’t really care for, was funny as hell just for the audience reaction to Springtime for Hitler. Mel, when he made movies so in this case I will use the past tense when describing his work even though he is thankfully quite alive and well, has two ways to make you laugh. He can hit you over the head with his comedy…
…but he could also make you think.
To me, the greatest comedy ever made was Blazing Saddles. Never before, and probably never again, had we had a movie with a very real and serious message dealt with by glorifying the stupidity of the bad people you are supposed to look down on. Mel realized that when dealing with racists, people were going to respond more to laughing at them than they were going to with a movie that dealt with the issue seriously. Yeah, yeah, there have been many great dramas throughout the years that have dealt with racism and have done it beautifully. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of them. But to me, to really show the absurdity of something like racism, you have to show how utterly fucking dumb it is. Because come on, anyone stupid enough to treat someone like dirt just because of the way they look deserves to be laughed at.
For Holy F*ck, I thought this comic fell into the Spaceballs camp of funny. Jokes for the sake of jokes. Turns out I was gladly wrong with that assessment. After Jesus saves the nun, he escapes with her and Satan to the desert. There, Jesus and Satan give up. The nun verbally slaps them both into place by telling Jesus that she refuses to lie down and take the actions of Isis and Zeus because she will not worship a god out of fear. If she is going to worship a god, it will be out of love.
There was the deeper meaning I was looking for in the first couple issues! It’s a simple moment, going by quickly, but it takes a story that is silly but funny and makes it a story about why people of faith do the shit they do sometimes. Whether you believe in a deity or not is besides the point, people with faith have done amazing things because they felt that the love for their deity was worth everything they were going through. Take Ghandi. Take Martin Luther King Jr. Take the Dalai Lama. Those are three famous names but there are millions more over the centuries who have fought for the public good because of their faith and for the love of their deity. Faith and love can and are powerful mental broadswords that can get you through quite a lot in life.
One other aspect I really enjoyed this issue was Zeus and Isis on the Helen DeGenerate show. It reminded me of Idiocracy, the classic Mike Judge film about the dumbing down of society. The glazed look in the host’s eyes as Zeus and Isis calmly declare their intention to blow up the world and the audience happy they received designer gas masks says a lot about our society today without really having to say anything. We live in some strange times where people are more concerned with being on television than they are about making the world a better place for people to live in.
Each issue keeps getting better. What started off as a funny but silly story is quickly turning into something more. While it certainly won’t end with “This Comic has been brought to you by the Watchtower Society!” it is still a great story about the power of faith and love. Following someone, anyone, out of fear may work in the short term but long term you will be overthrown. Just ask Emperor Palpatine! Comics are a true American art form. This comic shows that what comes off as a bit silly can have quite a bit more substance. It doesn’t have to be slathered all over the story like a young kid emptying a syrup bottle on his one pancake he’s having for breakfast. It can be just that right amount of syrup that makes eating a pancake worth it. Cause pancakes alone, unless you cook them with a bag of fucking sugar can taste like crap. I hate pancakes. Bad example. But hopefully you get my point. I strongly encourage you to read this comic. Apart from Ms. Marvel, Holy F*ck is one of my favorite comics around today. Thanks to Nick Marino and Daniel Arruda Massa for making the series, Action Lab Danger Zone for publishing it, and Comic Blitz for adding it to their collection for me to find. Marvel and DC are great companies. They would just never touch a story like this with a ten foot pole. In the end, it would be their loss because this is fucking amazing.