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Ghost of Van Lente Past: Supervillain Team-Up/MODOK’s 11

Greg Burgas had a problem with the ending to this series, and I’ll admit that I had a problem with it, as well, but I think for a different reason than Greg. Otherwise, though, this was yet another fun series by Van Lente that is steeped in character-oriented storytelling, as usual.

SVTU001.jpg

The whole basis of this series, about a group of supervillains thrown together on a plot by MODOK, while pretty much EVERYone is double-crossing everyone else SOMEhow, is that you are supposed to get to know, and to get to ENJOY the characters involved, and I think Fred Van Lente does a nice job achieving this.

While some of the personalities may not be what you are used to (Rocket Racer, in particular, is way weirder than usual), everyone, in their own way, is pretty easy to root for. Heck, the Mental Organism Designed Only For Killing is even fairly charismatic!!

The plot of the comic is basically unimportant, as this is a basically a modern day It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, as the supervillains are on a mission to retrieve a MacGuffin, but who really cares? The reason you’re reading is to see how they interact with each other, and especially how they try to screw each other over.

Van Lente chose a pretty goofy cast – Armadillo, The Spot, Rocket Racer, The Living Laser (who Van Lente, oddly enough, in issue #5 has the Laser do something quite similar to what he does in a story Van Lente wrote for an almost simultaneously released issue of Marvel Adventures: Iron Man), Puma, Mentallo, Super-Adaptoid and Mandarin, Jr., but the choices allow him to do a lot more with the characters, and that freedom was quite helpful.

Issue #4 has a REALLY good twist regarding who Rocket Racer had been talking to through most of the series.

Francis Portella does a decent job with the artwork on the series.

Okay, as to the ending –

SPOILER WARNING!

MODOK kills off his ex-girlfriend, the mother of Van Lente’s creation, The Scorpion (the ex-girlfriend was ALSO created by Van Lente). Burgas said:

Okay, so M.O.D.O.K.’s entire plan in this mini-series is to kill a woman he thought dumped him, even though they were never dating. Fuck the heck? I know he’s evil and all that, and this series just shows how evil while also showing how brilliant he is, and it’s nice, actually, to see him for a change, but that just left a bad taste in my mouth. Monica is surely evil, but does she deserve this? It just didn’t sit well with me, especially because the twists and turns of the plot have made this a fairly entertaining series. But all that to kill a woman simply because he once thought they were dating, but weren’t? Why does this bother me? I guess because it seems like a nerd thing to do, and I can’t help feeling that people reading this will cheer and think, “The bitch deserved it because she should have seen how much of a genius M.O.D.O.K. was (whatever his name was before the experiment) and thrown herself at him! Go, M.O.D.O.K.!” All those minions on the last page, hailing M.O.D.O.K. as he says, “Today I destroyed my ex-girlfriend! Tomorrow … the world!” They’re us. Comic book nerds. Or am I completely off-base?

I don’t think Greg is COMPLETELY off-base, but that’s not how I read the scene.

I don’t think we’re supposed to sympathize with MODOK at all. He’s just a crazy, evil bastard.

That being said, I also thought it was a poor decision to kill off Monica in this spot, mostly because I think she is a good character, but also because, yes, it DOES add a certain bitter flavor to an otherwise tasty series.

I think it was a bit of a bring-down (note, that’s the reason why I don’t think Greg’s COMPLETELY off-base, as I think part of his position is that the ending throws the series off a bit – I don’t agree with the whole “we are supposed to be the henchmen” thing).

But, all in all, I probably would still recommend the series. It had a lot of fun interactions, and interesting twists and turns.

So Recommended.

Welcome to my Van Lente Day song
I’d like to thank you for the year
So I’m sending you this Van Lente card
To say it’s nice to have you here
I’d like to sing about all the things
Your eyes and mind can see
So hop aboard the turntable
Oh step into Van Lente Day with me

Step into Van Lente Day
Let’s join together
We can watch the snow fall forever and ever
Eat, drink and be merry
Come along with me
Step into Van Lente Day
The admission’s free

15 Comments

While I agree with you about killing off Monica being a waste of a good character, I think Van Lente left it vague enough to bring her back without too much trouble. We see the explosion, but no body.

Wow, Greg thought that?

I think Greg was COMPLETELY off-base.

Great series though, how do we go about making an official Van Lente Day holiday?

M.O.D.O.D.’s 11 was easily one of, if not the, best reads this year. I can forgive a wonky ending due to the great characterization throughout the rest of the series.

FWIW: I was OK with the ending. I thought the entire ploy was really convuluted if all he wanted to do was kill her, but that’s what makes him the evil genius. Yes, it could have been LOT better of an ending, but I’m not gonna hate on it.

I didn’t think heis main goal was to kill her at all but rather to get control of AIM again.
I liked the series even though I wasn’t familiar with most of the villains.

I thought Greg was off base, too. And as MODOK points out, he gets his ex, and therefore AIM, to pay him a billion dollars for nothing, and then kills her. So I’d say the convoluted plan was needed. And the goal was not just “kill my ex-girlfriend.” It was “Get a ton of money, cripple/take-over AIM, and as a bonus, kill my ex-girlfriend.”

I was unfamiliar with almost all of the villains other than MODOK and SUper Adaptoid, and I loved this series. Maybe my favorite mini of the year.

I had no issues with the ending, because in a round about way it brought the story full circle. The first page of the first issue is pre-M.O.D.O.K. getting rejected by Monica and turned into a Killing Mental Organism because of her.

If I was a spurned dork turned into M.O.D.O.Killing, then naturally at some point I would get around to killing the woman who not only spurned me but got me turned into an oversized head in a chair.

Yeah, Greg is totally reading his own issues into the end of the story. The “killing” was just one of the side effects of MODOK’s Xanatos Gambit, a plan calculated just to get himself back in a good position at his ex’s expense. If all he did was take her money and blow up her base, he’s still screwed Monica.

I’m also in the camp that doesn’t think she died. That was a Looney Toons explosion – if the comic had three more pages, we would have seen her wandering out of the debris with scorch marks and smoke damage, but no other injuries…

The ending to this had me laugh out loud! I can’t fault that. I didn’t see it coming, and that’s why I enjoyed it.

I just hope the Spot comes back from whatever freakish dimension he was left in (if I’m remembering correctly).

This was my favorite Mini of the year! I echo pmpknface’s comments; that ending bowled me over. Like J. Paul said, I loved how the ending brought us full circle and re-emphasized the opening “thesis statement” if you will, that MODOK is brilliant but a petulant child out for revenge for a perceived wrong. What seemed like a throw away character moment became the reason for the whole thing. It’s great writing when you can look back and say “I should’ve seen that coming, but I didn’t.” Just great stuff.

I too thought that Monica must have survived, but definitely got screwed (which is what got her in trouble in the first place, heh heh heh).

I took the “Hail MODOK!” ending to not be him retaking AIM, but living in his own fantasy world and reveling in it. Brilliant, petty, and quite insane, thankyouverymuch.

A billion dollars buys you a lot of henchmen. That ending’s for real whether or not it’s the Real AIM (™ Livewires).

Best mini of the year. I loved every page of it. Kudos to Mr Van Lente! And Portela’s art was much more than just ‘decent’. He did an excellent job; some of his facial expressions were absolutely priceless.

If there are going to be spoilers, can we have warnings please? Anyway, I still plan to pick this up in trade. Looks and sounds like fun.
(Nextwave, where art thou Nextwave?)

My bad, BDaly – I was doing so many of these puppies last night, I must have forgotten the spoiler warnings for this one.

It wasn’t just to kill her, but also get money from her. He was MODOK because of her and can never have a normal life. He volunteered for the project to prove he wasn’t a loser.

He also screwed his minions over some money at the end at well by not splitting it evenly.

This book established MODOK as a threat again.

And in comics, no body = not dead

He was MODOK because of her and can never have a normal life. He volunteered for the project to prove he wasn’t a loser.

I think that’s exactly what Greg was talking about. Like you say, he volunteered for the project. He became MODOK because of his insecurity and desperation, not because of her. She was the motivation, yes, but not the cause.

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