In Which I Stop Reading Marvel…


December 9, 2012 by Ish

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Banality.

So, just a few hours ago, I finished the Avengers vs. X-Men trade, as it was pitched to me as a strong starting point for Marvel’s recent company-wide effort to refocus their books with the Marvel Now! push. I shelled out the full $75 MSRP for this thing, and hated every page of it. I want to like Marvel, I really do… But they seem bound and determined to make me want to give up comics, in general, and not just their books.

I considered writing a full fledged review of this book for the blog. But about twenty pages into it, I realized I would just end up quoting Roger Ebert’s infamous review of North, to paraphrase:

I hated this comic. Hated hated hated hated hated this comic. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting panel of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the readers by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.

Look, it’s not like DC has been perfect. The New 52 reboot was, in my opinion, using a bazooka for a fly swatter… Some of the rebooted titles have been hits, many misses. But, lord, at least DC gets the idea that I want to read superhero comic books about superheroes. Marvel seems more interesting in fighting video game logic and manhood measuring contests between “heroes.” This might explain why the Forward to Avengers vs. X-Men was written by a professional wrestler.

The idea of long-time allies coming into conflict because each has an equally strongly held, but conflicting, goal is a powerful one. Tales of “brother turning against brother” abound in all forms of story-telling, but Avengers vs. X-Men only gave this about four panels worth of attention in 200+ pages. Hafta get back to the wrasslin match as soon as possible, forget all that borin’ talking, feeling stuff. I mean, sure, it’s a giant cross-over comic book, the main draw is going to be watching these two teams fight. It’s not going to be The Blue and the Gray, but I wasn’t expecting it to have less emotional impact than Contest of Champions… And to follow this up, apparently, the next big thing for Marvel is ripping off Battle Royale with its “heroes” murdering one another.

The name of the author really is “Hopeless.” So are the chances of me reading this thing.


7 thoughts on “In Which I Stop Reading Marvel…

  1. Julia says:

    I don’t get why they went to this plotline so soon after Civil War. I get the feeling their villains are kind of played out. Oh, well, I’ll get to it eventually. The only X-books I’m reading are Gambit and Age of Apocalypse, so I’m able to avoid the unnecessary crossovers.

    (I’m vaguely curious about Avengers Arena, I may buy it–at least they waited a couple decades before recycling Secret Wars)

    • Ish says:

      Not really. There was Secret Wars II less than one year after the original Secret Wars… which is kinda forgivable. But then in 2010, they had Spider-Man and the Secret Wars which was the exact same story as the first miniseries.

      I like my superheroes to be, well… heroic. When was the last time any of the X-Men fought a criminal, rescued some innocents from disaster, or just generally wasn’t a navel-gazing prick? When did the Avengers become more interested in backstabbing each other and not punching Space Nazis?

      I just think that the staff at Marvel really dislikes super-heroes as a concept…

      • Julia says:

        I have zero interest in Spider-Man, so I don’t follow any of his titles. Spider-Man and the Secret Wars was about the original story, though, not a new set of fighting.

        But yes, over at Marvel they have become utterly obsessed with making every title a riveting tale of internal struggle and morality decisions that can’t easily be divided into black and white. I appreciate their interest in developing characters and relationships (because I love me some interesting characters and conflicted relationships), but I do think they should save that for when it is absolutely necessary. Maybe they ran out of ideas for credible villain attacks? I have a strong personal dislike of crossovers, though.

        I think they will eventually return to the days when good guys fight bad guys . . . they just need to get through this angst phase first. I still like it more than DC, though (I know, we will never agree on this).

      • Ish says:

        I generally prefer to avoid the “mega-crossover” events, at least, avoid paying for them. They’re usually a worthwhile read from the library as borrowed trade. But since Avengers vs. X-Men was suppossed to be the intro to the new focus/rebranding efforts that they’re applying companywide, I thought it could be worth starting there.

        But this book was just bad. I was willing to overlook the fact that tons of characters were pushed into tertiary roles — with teams as large as both of these and only a few pages per issue, that’s comics, right? I knew that Cyclops was going to get all Phoenix’d in order to play the heavy… fine.

        I didn’t expect everyone NOT being possed by a quasi-demonic cosmic entity of evil to act so woefully out-of-character. At first, I attributed this to my following of Marvel being spotty in recent years, maybe personalities had changed? But, no, it was just bad writting. In one scene, Character X, Y, or Z, would act as I always remembered them acting… then in the next, Character X, Y, or Z would behave totally different. No rhyme or reason.

        Also, I’m sure I’d know if I had been reading X-Men at all for the past for years… but, um… Who the FRELLING FRAK is Hope? She’s both the main POV character for a solid third of the book and the ultimate MacGuffin for all of it. She’s repeated refered to by others and even herself as the Messiah… and we don’t get so much as a panel of background on her?

        I came up in comics in the `80s and `90s, when every bloodly issue of every Marvel comic had a page-width box on page one telling you about the team or hero’s background. In the `00s they would give over the whole first page to a “Previously in…” text segment… and comics have always used flashbacks. No one at Marvel editorial thought a page of exposition dump could have been useful here?

        It’s not even that hard to have justified it in story: Spidey turns to Wolverine and says “Gee, Logan, why is this Hope girl so special anyway?” To which Logan replies with a flashback. Boom. One page.

      • Julia says:

        Are you familiar with the House of M and Decimation storylines? The entire Marvel universe rests on those events these days. Hope was the first mutant born after the Decimation, and the subject of several major storylines afterward. Each issue of the two titles I am reading, and X-Factor (which I get for my husband), has a page in the beginning with background information, but they pull those pages out for compilations (I guess to avoid repetition?). With the internet, I’m not sure it’s as necessary these days, since anyone can just Google a character they don’t know. When I started reading Age of Apocalypse, for instance, I went back and read the Wikipedia summary of the X-Force story that re-introduced the AoA timeline.

        Who was acting out of character? You have to remember that a lot of people lost their powers and went through serious changes in the meantime. There were a lot of random changes (Rictor is suddenly gay, for one) Other people, like Iceman, have finally been growing up.

        (I was going to be all like, WTF are you doing spending $75 on a compilation anyway? but then last night we found the super mega awesome compilation of the original AoA storyline ON SALE for $77, and we may still end up buying it, so I can’t criticize anymore)

      • Ish says:

        Yeah, I knew House of M and Decimation, but I mostly followed it a step removed via the Avengers and Young Avengers. Hope never showed up in any of those.

        Everyone was acting out of character, or rather, everyone was acting incredibly inconsistent. Captain America would go from sensible peace-maker to no negotiations hardass and back within a few pages; Wolverine went from determined to stay out of it, to vowing to kill Hope, to isolationist neutral guy in nearly every pannel. So on and so forth…

        Also, they worked in several references to Tony Stark not beleiving in magic or mysticism. Um, whut? He’s best freinds with the GOD OF THUNDER, has a half-dozen sorceresses in his little black book, has be fighitng a Chinese arch-wizard and ancient space dragon since the 1960s… It’s almost as dumb as when they have Reed Richards deny that magic exists, when, y’know, the dude hired a WITCH to be his nanny.

  2. […] have mentioned, previously, that I have given up on Marvel Comics entire product line. Twice. It is with great sorrow that I must announce that I am also dropping DC […]

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