Comic Book Blockbuster Blunders

After getting over a very nasty virus (who am I kidding – I’m still coughing from it), I had a really good laugh at my local comic store the other day.

Every Wednesday when the new comics arrive, I get there shortly after opening as I have a busy day ahead of me usually. In fact, Wednesday’s are my only day off from my real-life job.

That’s beside the point.

There are regulars that come in every Wednesday like myself. A lot of the folks who come in are your typical comic nerds, while a few of them are the ones who are the stereotypical “living in your mothers basement and only come out on Wednesdays” kind of fans. I guess you could dub them the “social rejects” solely because their entire lives are based around comics. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about – the people who talk and argue totally for the sake of hearing their own voice; the people who are socially inept to have any conversation outside of comics; the type of person who will walk up to you while you’re minding your own business and say something out loud in hopes that you respond to it.

Yeah, those people.

Usually when those folks come into my LCS on Wednesday’s, everyone goes running and just tries to avoid them at all costs.

Well this past Wednesday, one of them actually said something worth-while. The conversation goes as follows:

LSC Owner: “So who do you think is going to win Avengers versus X-Men?”

Customer in a loud, boisterous voice: “I don’t know. But I can tell you who is going to lose. The fans, that’s who!”

The entire store erupted in laughter. Every week this customer comes in and just babbles on nonsense about comics which we all hear day-in and day-out. However this one comment really struck a chord with everyone.

I’ve been left thinking about it since Wednesday. Why, out of everything this customer said in the past, have they finally said something worth-while laughing to?

I think the answer is simple: He’s right.

Marvel’s big push with this whole AvX event is great for business, I’m sure, but also leaving a sour taste in comic fan’s mouths. How many more “life altering” or “status quo changing” events can we get each year? Last year’s Fear Itself was a major flop, while DC’s Brightest Day dragged on for so long that they rebooted their franchise! (And yes, I know that’s not why they started the New 52.)

How many more of these events can fans take until they realize that they’re being toyed with year in and year out?

The irony to this little discussion is that I’m currently collecting the Avengers vs. X-Men event. Not to mention, I also have the terrible Fear Itself that happened last year – the Siege that happened before it, Secret Invasion, Civil War, House of M, Avengers Disassembled, World War Hulk, and so on.

The core fans will still collect – regardless of how they’re treated because. . . I don’t know why.

After Fear Itself’s terrible story and The Avengers/New Avengers re-hashing the Siege’s “Dark Avengers,” I literally almost dropped comics all together. If it weren’t for my faith in a few titles for me – Uncanny X-Force, X-Factor, Swamp Thing, plus a few more, I wouldn’t have kept reading.

I collect most X-books now because of continuity, the sense of family, plus the history I have had with the comics.

Since Fear Itself hit me, I’ve branched out to many smaller comic companies and started reading things I never would have before, just so I could finally see what else was out there.

For example, I turned to Swamp Thing with DC’s new 52. (I’m aware that’s not a smaller company). But I’ve also picked up newer stories like Saucer Country, and am getting back in to The Walking Dead. I’ve picked up old trades of The Tick, and recently found the entire omnibus of Too Much Coffee Man. I’m on the look-out for newer horror series, and also some fun science-fiction plots. I’ve bought my first Star Wars comic (despite being a huge fan in real life) with Dark Horse’s “Dawn of the Jedi” series. Had I still been collecting the amount of Marvel books in the past, I never would’ve budgeted for anything outside of superhero books.

So let’s go back to the answer the customer at my LCS said: “But I can’t tell you who is going to lose. The fans, that’s who!”

Well I suppose that’s a matter of perspective. Although I “lost” because of some terrible story-crossovers, I’ve “won” by finding new stories and gems to now call my own.

If anything, the major crossovers make the major comic companies lose because their faithful ones like me start to drop particular books.

Thoughts?

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Review: Secret Avengers #25

Secret Avengers

Secret Avengers #25
Rick Remender (writer), Gabriel Hardman (pencils, inks), Bettie Breitweiser (colours), Chris Eliopoulos (letters), Arthur Adams & Peter Steigerwald (cover). $3.99

Rick Remender’s current story line to Secret Avengers comes to a conclusion with some major surprises along the way, leaving us begging for the next issue.

Featuring a full-scale battle against robotic clones of Avengers – both old and new – Remender’s Secret Avengers team featuring new leader Hawkeye brings thrills and some life-changing moments.

Remender lets every Avenger get some time to shine throughout the story: from the sudden resurrection of Ant-Man getting some butt-kicking scenes, to the Human Torch leaving the story with a frightening conclusion; no one character outshines another. Everyone has a voice in the book and much like in Uncanny X-Force, Remender finds a way to give the story a perfect balance of characterization.

What can definitely be taken away from this book is how well Remender turns around our opinions of Ant-Man’s sudden return. Much like how people are beginning to feel about the recent amount of deaths in comics only-to-come-back issues later, the previous issues final page showing Eric O’Grady’s death followed by his reappearance one issue later flustered me beyond belief. How could Remender do something so ridiculous like bringing back a character one issue later? To leave spoilers out of it, the final pages of this issue make you realize that the author always has something up his sleeve.

To make the already great story even better, artist Gabriel Hardman really kicks it up with some fast-paced noir-style action in this issue. Punches are thrown, explosions are had, and beat up bodies scour each page with deep inks and colours. It took a few issues for me to realize it, but for a secret ops book, the art style matches the story perfectly. Panels are scary when necessary while lines are crisp and intense. Hardman really hits the nail on the head with this issue with very clean storytelling and even cleaner visuals.

Nothing could be done without Bettie Breitweiser’s colours, however. The balance of colours when people like The Human Torch fly across the panels, or a various city landscapes with varying blues and street lights give depth – all of it adds to the noir-style that Hardman creates. Breitweiser should stick to Hardman like how Dean White does with Opena, Brooks, and Ribic on Uncanny X-Force. (Jeez, I can’t get enough Remender, can I?)

With the arc coming to a close and Avengers versus X-Men now rearing its crossover head, I’m sure we’ll have a lot more excitement in-store for the stealthy Avengers.

Grade: 8/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!

The Blood Theatre Review: Legion of Monsters TPB

This is a review I’ve done up for The Blood Theatre. If you love horror, blood, guts, gore, violence, and all that other stuff that’s against the norm, I’d check it out. I write for them after all. . .

But on to the review!

Legion of Monsters

Legion of Monsters TPB
Dennis Hopeless (writer), Juan Doe (artist, cover), Wil Quintana (colours), Dave Lanphear (letters). $15.99

If you’re the person who enjoys having fun while reading your horror, look no further than Marvel’s Legion of Monsters mini-series. Collecting issues #1-4, LoM is a hilariously intriguing look at some of Marvel’s most prominent creatures of the night: The Legion’s leader, the vampire Morbius; with Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night; The Living Mummy, and Manphibian all leads in the story.

Acting as a monster policing force, the anti-heroes are work to round up stray monsters and pull them into the depths of New York City where they can live freely. Naturally, something stirs up problems with the underworld leaving the monsters in a state of chaos. Monsters start attacking each other and begin rampaging amongst the surface world.

Enter Elisa Bloodstone – monster slayer. She is set up early in the story as someone who tricks monsters into trying to kill her via stereotypical monster-movie lore: Elisa dancing in a bedroom in her underwear while the monster sniffs her “innocence” out. Unfortunately for the unnamed monster, this means total doom.

Elisa realizes there is a problem with the monsters and teams up with Morbius’ monster police to help solve the problem. Quickly established as funny with tons of wit, the story turns into a murder mystery the characters trying to solve the reason why monsters are trying to kill everything.
Writer Dennis Hopeless hits the nail in the coffin with this story. Each page is guaranteed to make you feel worried for the team, wonder what could happen next, or even just laugh out loud.

Monster-driven dialogue is not something that is seen too often with stories, let alone comic books. Hopeless manages to give each character a distinct voice, as well as their own sense of humour. While Morbius and Bloodstone are shown as the leads of the story, the supporting roles are necessary as well as natural feeling as any friendship would be – whether you’re a monster or not.

Playing off that, Hopeless shows the reader that monsters aren’t entirely monsters either. The characters have emotions, feelings, and love for one another. Despite being hideously grotesque, monsters like Manphibian reminds the reader of that ‘loser kid’ from grade school who grew up to embrace his loser-dom. Morbius is smart, witty, and is looking for love in all of the wrong places. Although they are monsters, they are just as human and colourful as everyone else in our lives we could think of.

And colourful does not even begin to explain the excitement and thrills that comes from Juan Doe’s art. Images are flashy, tastefully cartoony, and brilliantly executed. Everything moves with excellent fluidity. Lines are clean when needed and disrupted when required. Doe has such a strong feel about the mood Hopeless wants to create that it would be as if they were in each other’s heads.

Meanwhile colourist Wil Quintana excels at trying the mood of the story together between Hopeless and Doe. Bright colours are never overdone, while even the darkest of colours still compliment Doe’s pencils and inks. Given the mix of the monsters available, Quintana has a lot of room to play around with colours, and he doesn’t seem to fool around at all with it.

While the series only lasted four issues, the trade paperback is an excellent way to make this book quickly accessible to enjoy at your own leisure and pass around to your friends. Although we may not see anything from the Legion of Monsters any time soon due to poor sales figures, this story stands out as being one of the best monster-books in a long time. Easily re-readable, action-packed, and funny, you’ll be demanding more from the Legion as soon as you close the book.

Grade: 9/10

Keep on Space Truckin’!