Friday, August 21, 2009

Evocative Marvel Moments Part One

In this possible series of posts, honoring 70 years of Marvel Comics (sort of) I hope to elaborate on Marvel comics' finest, and/or most cringeworthy moments. This was inspired by reading Marvel's 70th Anniversary Collection, a trade paperback which, while pretty good, failed to include so many things (and The Thing) which I loved, even in their honorable mentions. I saw nothing about Mark Waid, Dan Slott, Jeph Loeb, Judd Winnick, Tom DeFalco, Brian Reed, Mike Weiringo, Matt Fraction, Spider-Girl, Franklin Richards Son of A Genius, Young Avengers, Runaways, the Great Lakes Avengers... oh, how the list goes on. No 1980's Byrne FF or 1990's She-Hulk? How do McFarlane, Liefeld and Jim Lee get honorable mentions? Yes, they were comic rockstars and they have enough money between them to buy and sell me a jillion times, but THE BEST OF THE DECADE? I'd buy representative, but not BEST. At least they reprinted Busiek's Marvels instead of X-Force #1. An honorable mention for the CLONE SAGA? And TWO Mark Millar shout outs and none for J. Michael Strazynski?

Well, maybe I have to start my own thing. In theory, it would list the most evocative moments of Marvel Superhero comics. That's anything that transcended the malaise and the middling. Moments of horror. The deepest miseries. The greatest triumphs. The tragedies. Joy, anger, creepiness, pathos, action sequences, absurdity, humanity, shock, sorrow, rage, greed, fear, willpower, hope, compassion, love. Whether it made me bust a gut or bust a nut. If it evoked an emotion, well, I wanna praise it. And sometimes condemn it. Cringing and wailing about something is an emotion, too.
I also hope to find THE PERFECT PAGE or THE PERFECT PANEL. Something that encapsulates a character or concept in a manner that approaches the sublime. I'll try it with DC and others also. Marvel's just happen to be the comics I feel most qualified to explore first.
And as my friend Ron pointed out, if I wait until I've assembled enough of them to be comprehensive I'll never do any of them.
And perhaps it goes without saying that such a post would, by it's very nature, be chock full of spoilers. So, you're warned.
That said, here's a warning from Doreen Green aka Squirrel Girl. This was the moment I realized I loved the Squirrel Girl and, through her, writer Dan Slott. (Illustrated by Paul Pelletier and Wholly Owned Batman! by Marvel Comics, it's Great Lakes Avengers Misassembled #2 from July 2005)

Doreen's warning consisted of a reminder from her pet squirrel Monkey Joe that uploading or downloading Marvel stories without their consent would allow them to sue me blind.
I'm banking on the fact that I have nothing, thus Marvel can hardly take it away.
Also perhaps on the notion that THE PERFECT PAGE or PERFECT PANEL is designed to PROMOTE their product and encourage others to want to buy them like little ol' me.
Of course, I could be wrong. And often am.

Squirrel Girl is completely in line with my opinions on this matter. Dark and moody dominate Marvel Comics in the 1970's, the 1990's and, well, now. So if I focus on the positive it's not because they don't have miseries (Sue Richard's miscarriage) or gore (zombie Bruce Banner's stomach distended with human bones the Hulk ate whole) or tragedies (the school explosion in Stamford). I hope that if such a moment affected me in any way that I will give it a moment in the sun.
Were you shocked when Byrne blew up MJ's plane?
Did you, like me, shiver to the very bones with the creepiness and the agonizing cliffhanger in Kevin Smith's 'Spider-Man/Black Cat:The Evil That Men Do' with Felicia helplessly facing an impending rape and... you know, I'm STILL worried about that! I NEVER finished reading that one! She's alive in Heroes for Hire, so I guess she got away, but- GEEZ! That wasn't a hold-your breath for a month cliffhanger. That was just AWFUL!
I think I'll still be shaking my impotent fist for years at the SHEER WRONGNESS of Genis-Vell, snapping his son's neck in his crib to stop him becoming a space tyrant. This was CAPTAIN BLOODY MARVEL! KILLING HIS OWN BABY! AFTER PLANNING IT FOR YEARS! He could have had a vasectomy! I... ARRRGH! And then surprise, surprise, it's tough to sympathize with a HERO LIKE THAT!
I thrilled to the kick-ass action sequences and dizzyingly good art in Avengers Disassembled.
I was horrified when Genosha was nuked.
I'm still chuckling to myself at the name Awesome Andy. It's been, like, six years now!
Civil War made Reed Richards a fascist and his wife Sue a moron. Livid with the red bile of hate pretty much covers my feelings about that.
And the clear, cool relief of somebody like Dwayne McDuffie who pens the words that set Reed and Sue to rights.
How many ambiguous ways can I feel about a guy like Hank Pym when everybody wrote him with a different agenda? Stan Lee's industrious, work-fixated but loveable shrinking lunkhead! Roy Thomas's hallucinating, gassed self-loathing nutjob? John Byrne's 'Let's Pretend I DIDN'T Hit My Wife BUT LOOK I'm still cool, I'm like Macguyver Ant-Man'? Kurt Busiek's repentant seeker on a spiritual journey of inner redemption. He actually GOT HANK AND JAN BACK TOGETHER! Chuck Austen's 'Fuck Redemption, Jan should bonk Hawkeye!'. Bendis's 'It might have all been Wanda's fault... nah, Hank and Jan are flawed people even when reality ISN'T being distorted'. Slott's current Hank- he's a nutjob all his own. Grieving madman, wildly creative, sensitive and appealing, but using his dead wife's name and robot double to keep him going. I wish I didn't care about Hank Pym. I wish he'd just gone supervillain or gotten killed or both. But every second writer tried to make him appealing. It's exhausting even trying to decide how to feel.
Waid's FF power swap, Whedon's Mutant Cure- concepts clever enough to steal for movies that should have been written by Whedon or Waid.
Can you even stand human garbage like Kirkman's Eric O'Grady?
Peter Parker and Jonah Jameson, yes, they're wearing chicken suits.
Look out, Ohio, here's Asgardian waste disposal at it's most neolithic.
I'll just shout Spider-Mobile until I turn red, then blue, then have dark webby veins like the cursed vehicle itself.
Marvel has a million moments and more to intrigue you (like a Ms. Marvel pin-up), tempt you (like Mephisto tempts Norrin Radd), and inspire you (like a Ms. Marvel pin-up).
Make Mine Marvel.

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