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CSBG Archive

Comics That Probably Shouldn’t Be Good But Are

Everyone knows that DC and Marvel superhero comics are pretty terrible these days.  Even more people than everyone knows that big-time crossover events are even worse, the lowest common denominator among the lowest common denominators of comics.  And who isn’t tired of the “darkening” of these comics where often evil triumphs, moral ambiguity is about as much as you can hope for, and ethical relativity rules the day.  These are KNOWN THINGS in the main ways.

But, you know, this Dark Reign thing?  It’s kind of awesome.

If you told me a couple years ago I’d be really into a big superhero crossover engineered by Brian Talkypants Bendis I’d have laughed at you behind your back and probably written mean things about you as well.  I’m not a good man.  But you know what?  It kind of works!

Let’s not get crazy . . .I’m not reading everything.  But I’m enjoying the hell out of the central premise . . .OK, hold on.  Every time I bring this up or see this story being discussed, the same point comes up.  The “How the hell does Normon Osborne get that much power and nobody’s freaking out?” thing.  I get it, I do.  But:  a) if it is a flimsy start, oh well, the story it’s produced is compelling, interesting, and fun; b) George W. Bush and Cheney got elected and then re-elected.  Michael Jackson went from hated joke to martyred hero.  Do not discount the power of media spin.  I buy him getting this position enough to enjoy what comes afterwards without worry, especially with the canny little photo-ops and interviews we’ve seen so far . . .Norman, a tear in his eye, talking about his days when he lost control, and how science and the American justice system have brought him to a place where he can make up for it.  It’s not that far-fetched, especially in a world where dudes shoot lasers out their eyes.

Another complaint I remember from early on was “OH COME ON!  DR. DOOM AND NAMOR WOULD NEVER AGREE TO THIS!” or sometimes “DR. DOOM AND NAMOR AND EMMA WOULD NEVER AGREE TO THIS!”  This was normally said by the guys that sit around thinking about how awesome Dr. Doom is, which is a dumb thing to do I have to say.  Well recent story developments show that HEY GUYS WHAT THERE WAS A PLAN FOR THIS ALL ALONG.  The writers, and I know we’re really not used to this, had an idea and new what was going to happen later.  Those annoyed by Eurotrash Namor (heart heart heart) will hopefully be won back by recent HOLY SHIT JESUS CHRIST Namor (heart heart hear as well).

Anyway, it’s a simple but good premise.  “OK, the bad guys are in charge, the public is mostly behind them.  Now what?”  It’s open enough to be adaptable to any comic or situation or even tone, but specific enough that it’s not just, I dunno, “zombies are being mean.”  The books I’m reading are the ones written or co-written by Bendis, who seems to be the main architect behind it.  The Dark X-Men stuff with Fraction is clearly a part of the long-term X-Men plan . . .more evidence of actual editorial planning.  And now New Avengers, Dark Avengers, and Secret Warriors almost serve as a thrice-a-month inter-relating saga, all of it pretty damn good (ugh except for that dang Deodato art).  Things continue to build to a head.  Norman’s clearly getting closer and closer to the brink of totally losing it.  The Sentry’s arc is actually going somewhere.  Marvel Boy, well you know something’s going on there when he disappears after finding out what Norman’s Avengers really are.

(Here’s a digression.  I like that Bendis is very good about playing in the playground.  He’s using a lot of stuff thrown out there by recent guys . . .Night Nurse, Sentry, the Hood, and he’s using it interestingly.  I think I prefer this to the Geoff Johns style of using stuff from thirty years ago.  Seems more alive, if a shared universe really is this magical quilt then keep adding to the new pieces, don’t just layer on the old.)

Is it dark?  (HAR) Well, yeah, sometimes.  But only in the “close of the second act” kind of way, where you know something awesome and redemptive is eventually going to put things right.

I dunno what good my words are anymore, but take it from someone who by all rights should probably hate this . . .it’s pretty damn good.  I eagerly look forward to my Marvel books these days.  (This new FF is starting strong, too . . .not really related, just thought I’d say.)  New and Dark Avengers, Secret Warriors, Brubaker’s Cap stuff, even unrelated stuff like this Immortal Weapons thing . . .there’s a lot of good stuff out there, and I, for one, am happy about it.

58 Comments

I dunno, Joe. To me, it just feels like a muddled attempt at commentary on the Bush administration, in much the same way that Civil War was a muddled commentary on the Patriot Act. The Dark X-Men/Dark Avengers crossover felt like an X-Men story arc that was artificially inflated into a crossover, since the Dark Avengers hardly did anything except provide someone for the X-Men to punch. Not that Dark Avengers seems like much of a sustainable concept anyway. I mean, we all know this is going to end at some point, and Osborn will fall from grace, and what do you do with the rest of them after then? Even if you have them sticking together (which, with these personalities, doesn’t seem likely; Venom and Bullseye have long since passed the point of believability in sticking with this scam as long as they have), what do you do with them? Have them try to do the hero thing for real? Marvel already had a book like that prior to Dark Reign; it was called Thunderbolts, and it even starred many of the same characters, so I don’t know why they didn’t just keep calling it Thunderbolts. (Actually, I do; they wanted a #1 issue and a new arm of the tenuous Avengers “franchise.”)

And you must admit that the number, and monotony, of the tie-ins is ridiculous. Pretty much all the mini-series spotlighting the individual Dark Avengers, as well as Daken and Moonstone’s arcs in Wolverine and Ms. Marvel, have been interchangeable. The in-series tie-ins have mostly been “This month, they punch around the Dark Avengers.” “The List” feels like they’re treading water while waiting for the stars to align, or whatever they’re waiting for to start the denouement already. And I don’t even know what the point of stuff like Lethal Legion and Zodiac is.

And I’m just not cynical enough to believe that media spin and putting a bullet in the Skrull Queen’s head would be enough for nobody to be publicly questioning the wisdom of Osborn’s position. It’s not the sort of real-world thing you can believably map onto a character as bombastic and outlandish as the Green Goblin. I mean, Bush and Cheney were never caught on camera trying to kill an entire city. Wilson Fisk, I could buy this from, but not Norman Osborn. Even Nixon couldn’t come back from Watergate, and Norman’s had, what, five separate Watergates now?

Also, I question how much of it is really planned out. I believe they have a pre-planned ending, but the middle feels like they’re trying to pad it out with whatever they can think of. I think nine months, tops, is about as long as this could have gone without wearing out its welcome.

You make good points about playing up new characters (although it’d be nice if he didn’t feel he had to clear the old ones away by killing them), and I admit I’m loving the Young Avengers mini, but overall, I’m getting far more enjoyment out of the books that have nothing to do with this year-long-marketing-banner-as-event storyline.

Here’s the thing. The execution is good across the line. Marvel’s assembled some excellent, excellent writers. For a throw away project, something like Dark Reign: Mister Negative, they’ll use Fred Van Lente. For something like Dark Reign: Zodiac, they’ll use Joe Casey. For something like Dark Reign: Young Avengers, they’ll use Paul Cornell. So premise or no, the comics are GOOD. Even what should be cash cow throwaway tie-ins are good. That’s pretty amazing in my mind. And the stuff that isn’t supergreat really isn’t that offensive. Lethal Legion has Tieri writing about bad guys. He’s pretty good at that. Sinister Spider-Man has Brian Reed having fun with the concept of Mac Gargan, superstar. It’s okay.

The execution is just really good at Marvel right now. When they’re pulling someone like Jonathan Hickman to write FF or Christos Gage to write the initiative. Seriously, take a look at the December solicits at Marvel and find me more than say… 3 crummy writers over 35 or 45 comics in the main MU. It’s harder than you’d think. That’s really impressive.

Dark Reign, like the Initiative before it, suffers from the problem that it only works in its core titles. When you read New Avengers and Dark Avengers ( Mighty Avengers during the Initiative ), they conceptually work because they’re at the center of the worldwide crisis. Even the solo books of characters on those teams can work, such as Bucky taking on the mantle of Captain America, or Tony Stark gradually killing himself to prevent Norman from gaining even more power. But every other title ends up being shackled by the premise; the world is changed to something they were not thematically meant for, and the result is a more homogenous line that makes the characters who aren’t part of the master narrative arbitrary.

To whit; the Initiative expanded the ranks of the non-mutant superhumans to well beyond 198, making mutantkind irrelevant and all but removing the civil rights struggle from the X-Men. Dark Reign has the X-Men exiled ( no pun intended ) from America because Norman Osborn wills it so; not because homo sapiens kicked them out and put them on a floating concentration camp, but because a moustache-twirling republic serial villain who doesn’t see the X-Men as anything more than another opportunity to exploit is their Big Bad.

See also: Spider-Man ( a grim and gritty vigilante with a public face in Back in Black, and now deprived of any ability to fight his arch-nemesis in Dark Reign ).

But: a) if it is a flimsy start, oh well, the story it’s produced is compelling, interesting, and fun; b) George W. Bush and Cheney got elected and then re-elected. Michael Jackson went from hated joke to martyred hero.

These are weak examples. Bush and Cheney weren’t necessarily evil and ran better campaigns than their opponents. Michael Jackson was never a hated joke amongst his real fans, and the people who did consider him a hated joke before he died still considered him one after he died. The best parallel to Norman Osborn and the power of media spin I think would be the election of unqualified, inexperienced community activist and junior senator with socialist, domestic terrorist (Bill Ayers) and black racialist (Jeremiah Wright) ties Barack Obama. I’m very shocked you missed that example.

Anyway, I agree that Dark Reign is much better than one would have expected it to be. My only complaint would be that there weren’t so many tie-in minis and one-shots. Or at least some kind of roadmap telling you what to buy and in what order. Or at least a list of which tie-ins are extraneous to the main story and which are pivotal.

Like I said, read the core titles. They’re damn good. The interrelationships between them deepen and get more complex. And I think it’s clear the Dark Avengers won’t stick together when this falls apart. They barely do now, under threat of death. What’s interesting are the ticking timebombs of Sentry, Marvel Boy, and maybe even Ares eventually realizing just what is going on.

Barack Obama never tried to kill someone dressed as a fairytale character… AT LEAST, THAT WE KNOW OF!!!!

Seriously, comparing the media spin that elevated Obama to the media spin that could turn a costumed maniac into a beloved patriot doesn’t work for me. Maybe using Ollie North as a point of comparison is somewhat less ridiculous, but the analogy (if there is one) seems dated. I just chalk it up to it being a Marvel comic, and move on.

I was shocked by the way Michael Jackson was celebrated after his death. I didn’t watch every hour of coverage or anything, but there wasn’t too much anti-MJ sentiment expressed in the media. Up to then, the media reported on nothing but his eccentricities, fauts, and alleged abuse. It seemed like a complete turnaround, going from revulsion to reverence.

I completely agree with Mr. Rice. I think Marvel’s product overall is pretty awesome even if not every issue is completely amazing, but the whole of it together makes it whole-heartedly worthwhile. I’ve only heard one compelling argument for why Osborne doesn’t work as the leader of this “dark reign” but it wasn’t nearly enough to persuade me.

Even so, Marvel has said they’ll continue the series past Dark Reign. Which, if I had that many dollar signs in my eyes, I can’t say I wouldn’t, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense.

And if the core books are good, good for them, but I’d prefer that they’d just run the core books instead of glutted the market with interchangeable tie-ins. The shit-sundae aspects of the tired “event” philosophy (a “dark reign” of its own in comics publishing these days) has a deleterious effect on the delicious strawberry ice cream aspects of Bendis’s writing.

Oh, and just know that if something awesome and redemptive doesn’t come along to set things right, but the ending instead maintains the tone of relativism and moral ambiguity, I will come back to this post and laugh at you.

Fair enough, Mike!

Honestly, I can see some different ways Dark Avengers could work . . .either Norman gets a new group of villains and stops trying to be legit or maybe Ares leads a group of legitimately Dark Avengers as heroes . . .I dunno . . .we’ll see.

But there is a good point above about more of these tie ins and one-shots being by legit talents than you’d think . . .I don’t buy all of them but if I’m working in the shop I’ll read a lot . . .I remember Dark Hawkeye being nasty fun, for instance.

My completely non-earth-shattering predicted ending to Dark Reign: Iron Man will come back and work with a revived Captain America to depose Osborn, heal the rifts in the super-hero community, and restore the people’s faith in their heroes. (or, since it’s Marvel, make them even more hated and feared)

” I was shocked by the way Michael Jackson was celebrated after his death. I didn’t watch every hour of coverage or anything, but there wasn’t too much anti-MJ sentiment expressed in the media. Up to then, the media reported on nothing but his eccentricities, fauts, and alleged abuse. It seemed like a complete turnaround, going from revulsion to reverence. ”

I suppose they like to cover their asses in those situations, lest someone point out that the entertainment media’s constant scrutiny, simultaneous worship and scorn, and contempt for privacy is part of the climate that feeds into certain mega- celebrities becoming as warped as MJ was later on. Nobody turns into Orochimaru in a vacuum…

Brian “Talkypants” Bendis may be succeeding here, but he’s been a driving force behind every event Marvel’s done since Avengers Disassembled, right? Just by playing the averages he’s gotta get one right once in a while.

And the biggest hurdle I have to overcome in my enjoyment of Dark Reign, besides the fact that it sounds too much like Chocolate Rain, is the fact that it’s supposedly a “new status quo.” Blackest Night, whether you love it or hate it, has a definite end. It has a villain with a master plan and an eventual endgame. With Dark Reign, yeah, it’s nice to have the good guys forced underground, but there’s no real goal for the heroes except to survive. And if there is some sort of endgame, it’s going to involve more political maneuvering than punching stuff.

I’m sure there will be some punching stuff when Osborne gets taken out; but I don’t see why that would be necessary. Just give me a good story, I don’t care if anyone punches anyone. (But you know they will.)

Call me old-fashioned (“You’re old-fashioned!”), but what’s the point of a super-hero story if somebody doesn’t get punched or blown up or mutated into a giant turtle?

Omar Karindu, with the power of SUPER-hypocrisy!

September 24, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Dark Reign actually got me to drop Marvel entirely, on the grounds that I don’t enjoy it, it’s in every book, and it’s $4 a shot on top of that.

But I don’t really care that damn much about comics I don’t buy, so I’ll spare you the point-for-point argument and go do something enjoyable instead.

Osborn being the villain in every book is kind of boring too…

Wouldn’t this be more like if Claus Von Bulow shot and killed Osama Bin Laden on live TV and then got appointed the directorship of the FBI as a reward?

My bet is that whoever replaces Osborn will get Dark Avengers as his or her book (okay, let’s be honest, his), along with his own Avengers, similar to how Osborn had “his” Avengers, only this time around, it’ll be a good guy in charge. Sort of like how Mighty Avengers was when Tony Stark was in charge – the SHIELD Avengers, if you would.

I haven’t been buying very many Dark Reign books for the same reason I didn’t buy many Civil War or Secret Invasion books– I’m not rich. I don’t know how much money the average Marvel reader has these days, but it’s clearly more than I have.This is one of the reason I hate these massive crossover events.
I have been buying the same series I would normally buy, which includes New Avengers, so I am getting one title that’s right in the middle of the Dark Reign story, but the other series I’ve been buying only tie into loosely. And I did buy the Mister Negative series, but that’s only because I’m really into Mister Negative. He’s by far the best villain Spider-Man has had the past couple of years. (And it turned out to be a really good story, too. It had the Spot!!!)
I just really hope that when this is all over, they’ll stop doing these massive crossovers for awhile, but I fear they’ll just keep doing more.
One of the worst things about these big events is they keep away new readers. Back in the old days, a person might pick up an issue just to see if it was any good, and if he liked it he might buy another one a few months later, and if it was still good he would buy a couple more for another year or so and finally start buying it regularly. That’s how it was with me when I was young, and I bet that’s how a lot of you started reading your favourite series. But these days, if you buy random issues several months apart it will be a completely different sort of story, because these huge events keep coming and changing everything around. It’s just too unpredictable for the casual reader, and all readers start out as casual.
These huge events, along with the loss of distribution to regular stores, are probably the main reasons for the continual decline in comic book sales. But the publishers don’t seem to notice because they only look at the big short-term spike in sales that these epics produce.

Re: Matt Bird — Only if he was running some minor government agency for a time before killing Bin Laden.

In fact, now that I think of it, how the heck did Osborn get the Thunderbolts gig? I’m totally drawing a blank on that. He was in prison, then brainwashed, and… huh. Weird.

Have a good day.
John Cage

Osborn got the Thunderbolts gig afforded to him by Tony Stark, back during the whole Civil War debacle (Y’know, for a so-called “futurist”, i don’t understand how Tony couldn’t see that handing over anything to Osborn would blow up on his face).
Tony needed someone to lead the Thunderbolts, who were getting even more colorful, since the Registration Act forced Supervillains to register as well, so in comes Venom and Bullseye.
Now, being seen by the world leading the likes of Venom catching Superheroes might be a bit too much for Tony, so he gave Norman the Thunderbolts gig (To be fair, Tony was much in control of things back then..Much in control of Norman too..Still, i don’t understand why he couldn’t see this coming).

I definitely agree with Joe about the main books, at least. I really like New and Dark Avengers, Secret Warriors, and Thunderbolts.

The easiest way not to be annoyed by these far-reaching “tie into everything under the sun” crossovers is developing the ability to eyeball what’s going to be pointless ahead of time (like the Dark X-Men tie-ins, that Cabal one shot, etc). Marvel and DC are giving us PLENTY of practice, so there’s no excuse for not honing those skills.

I wouldn’t feel to bad about all the tie-ins if I could fine a reliable source to fill me in on the issues I couldn’t buy. Right now I just avoid anything that says Dark Reign because I can’t follow the whole story.

As much as I’ve disliked that all Marvel books have been tied into Civil War/Secret Invasion/Dark Reign for the past several years, I have to admit they do a pretty good job of still making the secondary books entertaining on their own. Such as Herc’s tie-in stuff with Secret Invasion. I didn’t read SI, but the tie-in in Herc was good, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out. Same way now with Thunderbolts and Agents of Atlas. I’m not reading anything with the word “Bendis” in the credits, but despite those two books having “Dark Reign” on every cover, they’ve still stood on their own. Granted, I’m getting tired of Osborne being the bad guy in every single comic. But I have to give them credit for coming up with tie-ins that are still enjoyable for those of us not reading the main story.

Nice article. Its good to read a positive take from someone not taking their comics too seriously.

I also find amazing how many people cant accept Norman Osborn in this position, yeah it s abit daft, but its world where people fly, cities are constantly destroyed by monsters and super hero battles etc. why is the idea that a dude who used to be a criminal is now a high ranking official so hard to grasp. He was already running the Thunderbolts which were publicy loved in the MU and readers accepted that.

Im not reading all the books, and Im mainly reading when books are released as trades/hardbacks, some books may not be very good and are not using the premise very well, so I wont buy them any more (im not going to drop all my marvel books like some people are saying, that seems a bit over the top). But books like New + Dark Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America, and some of the mini’s are using the backdrop of Dark reign very well. And thats all it is, a backdrop, its just a different environment for stories to happen in, which makes things a bit different for a while, seeing as Marvel has been publishing comics for so many years, that doesnt seem like such a bad idea to me.

At the end of the day if you dont like the effect Dark reign has on a book you normally read, just dont read it until its over. Im enjoying it for what it is though.

I’m picking up Dunlavey’s MODOK story. That’s it.

The point of a super-hero story, as with any other story, is to be a good story. That’s it.

Dark Reign = blllllaaaaaaaaahhhhh. Enough with Brian Michael Bendis, already. Enough with ridiculously overextended “events,” enough with the endless array of one shots, miniseries and ill-defined event-based “ongoings,” and especially enough with titles involving multiple :::::s.

One colon should be enough for anyone.

Nice article. Especially nice to actually see somebody being positive about something on the internet!

As other people have already said, Marvel’s selection of writers at the moment is superb (even if not every issue is) and they’re using them well. DC have got some great writers too, but I honestly think Marvel are running circles around them at the moment with regards to this.

And yes this storyline isn’t without it’s flaws, but who cares? It’s not the permanent way things are. It’s just a story that they’re telling using a great bunch of characters. And 10 years from now we’ll just remember it as that interesting time where Osborn took over for a bit that had that great ending where Steve came back and Doom unveiled his plan and Iron Man redeemed himself (or whatever will end up happening). Everyone knows an Osborn run world can’t last, and that’s part of the fun. Personally I’m really enjoying watching Osborn’s house of cards start to fall down. And fall down it will – so even if it’s dark now it won’t last. There’s hope and light in this story in the fact that the villain’s position can’t possibly survive.

And also, fully agree that it’s interesting to see newer characters (Hood, Sentry, Marvel Boy, Maria Hill etc.) be pushed forward rather than just forgotten and be allowed to play a role in these things and establish a voice for themselves.

>>I’ve only heard one compelling argument for why Osborne doesn’t work as the leader of this “dark reign” but it wasn’t nearly enough to persuade me.

More power to those who like Dark Reign, but the only argument I need — that Osborne as the Lex Luthor of Marvel is an unimaginably stupid concept — is the one that occurred to me when I first heard about this crap. The fact that it partially polluted two of the few Marvel series I was picking up (Agents of Atlas, since cancelled, of course, & Incredible Hercules) is a source of great irritation.

Can’t blame Marvel, though. As long as the fanboys keep enabling them by putting money in their pockets for such cockamamie crap, why in the name of god would they stop?

Except he’s not Lex Luthor. He’s a rather-smart industrialist opportunist with horrible mental disorders. He works for the story being told. Like the man said, there’s likely going to be a beautiful Cap/Tony/Thor/maybe Doom come-uppance that will be a joy to behold. Namor’s moment last week (or the week before, I forget) was pretty beautiful in and of itself.

As for the complaints at the market glut . . .who frickin cares? If it doesn’t appeal to you, don’t read it. It’s not taking shelf space away from anything good . . .the shelves these occupy would otherwise be taken up by shitty superhero comics not related to this.

I should also note that darker, more ambiguous tales work much better in the Marvel milieu than in DC. DC’s more mythical characters collapse under the weight of relativism and realism in any shape. Superman dealing with zombie friends and angst just doesn’t quite work the way Spider-man being hunted down does.

More power to those who like Dark Reign, but the only argument I need — that Osborne as the Lex Luthor of Marvel is an unimaginably stupid concept — is the one that occurred to me when I first heard about this crap.

The real Lex Luthor to me will always be the mad scientist. Current Lex Luthor is basically the Frank Miller Kingpin in the DC Universe, except maybe a little richer. I understand why DC wanted to overhaul Luthor post-Crisis but I wish they reinvented Luthor with more of a middle ground between Frank Miller Kingpin and his old mad scientist self rather than giving him over to the Kingpin route so completely.

Except he’s not Lex Luthor. He’s a rather-smart industrialist opportunist with horrible mental disorders.

Arguably one can say this description applies to Luthor as well (sociopathy, rage issues, clinical narcissism, bouts of insanity like the first arc of Superman/Batman). I actually agree that the premise of Norman with this much power is dumb, much like the President Luthor concept was dumb, but I forgive it in Marvel’s case because at least the execution is much better and they seem to have specific story goals in mind with it, namely the Dark Avengers and X-Men stories, the ending presumably of the Initiative, and the return of the big 3 Avengers). At DC, they seemed so enamored with the novelty of the concept of President Lex that no one bothered to figure out where to actually take the concept once it was in place. It had a feeling of “Okay, we got some good buzz. This is different. Uh….now what?”

>>Except he’s not Lex Luthor.

Well, see, that’s part of the problem for me. I have NO IDEA who or what Lex Luthor is these days. MY Lex Luthor is pretty much the Silver Age version, who bears little or no resemblance to the Luthor of the ’80s, ’90s or today.

>>He’s a rather-smart industrialist opportunist with horrible mental disorders. He works for the story being told.

Probably so. For me, though “a rather-smart industrialist opportunist with horrible mental disorders” would inevitably be in an asylum or prison, or dead. Period. Insisting on a modicum of logic & realism as regards any facet of publications about super-powered people in tights is patently absurd on my part, I know, but — as the young people say these days — that’s how I roll.

>>As for the complaints at the market glut . . .who frickin cares? If it doesn’t appeal to you, don’t read it.

My whining aside, believe you me, at some level I’m genuinely RELIEVED that Marvel & DC (& for that matter all the smaller companies) put out large rafts of product I find distinctly unappealing. I posted my damned pull list as a response to one of Brad Curran’s posts, & it totaled FIFTY-FIVE titles … & I know very well I left out a few. (Strange Tales, for instance.) Needless to say, in no way do I really have the money or time for such rampant consumption.

[...] Comics Should Be Good sparked a lively discussion with this review of Dark Reign. [...]

Hmmm. T. & I keep agreeing on all sorts of basic premises, even though if memory serves we’re pretty much on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. I don’t know whether to feel warm & fuzzy about that or shocked & appalled.

Well we did disagree on whether the usage of “retard” was acceptable. :)

I’m reading ‘em all and they ARE good! The only thing I do disagree with is the premise – that some comics SHOULDN’T be good. They SHOULD be good! Otherwise, why make ‘em?

I don’t understand all the Dark Reign hate either, Joe. I happen to be reading all the “core” books, but even if I wasn’t, I don’t think I’d have a problem understanding each book on its own or feel like I’m missing out on a larger story. I kind of like that aspect of Dark Reign – its really not a proper event in that it doesn’t have its own book, and there really isn’t any kind of sequential story that has chapters you have to read in order (in other words, the end of a random issue of “Secret Warriors” doesn’t say “CONTINUED IN NEW AVENGERS” or anything like that). It’s just a temporary status quo for the entire MU, and you can read as few or as many titles as you like without missing out on anything. But if you do read a bit of it, it all fits together in a pretty decent way.

I’ve been picking up a few of the mini-series, basically ones that feature creators I like or characters I have an interest in for some reason, but I don’t feel I am missing out on anything. In fact, most of the series would work fine without the “Dark Reign” banner splashed up top. As for the question of “why do we need a Zodiac mini” asked above, the answer is simple: it’s a fun story by a good writer (Joe Casey) and talented artist (Nathan Fox). That’s it. Good work is good work, whether it says “Dark Reign” up top or not. I like Paul Cornell so I buy the Dark Reign: Young Avengers. I don’t follow the work of Zeb Wells, so I didn’t pike up Dark Reign: Elektra. Its really not that complicated, and a lot of the over-saturation complaints really just add up to a big, pointless hissy-fit about trade dress.

Who is this pmpknface person? Apparently (since he *choke* disagrees with me), he is NOT the same lovely & talented pmpknface who posts on the Classic forum.

Begone, Skrull pmpknface!

Begone!

Heh, superhero comics? Pretty terrible all around. Everybody in the world agrees.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to post on a predominantly superhero comic website.

I stopped after the first sentence: “Everyone knows that DC and Marvel superhero comics are pretty terrible these days.” What a blanket, unsupportable crap statement, and terrible writing. Think before you submit such indefensible garbage.

To me, the biggest irony is that while it’s Marvel that’s calling itself “dark” these days, it’s DC I don’t feel safe reading. At least Marvel keeps its zombie heroes where I can avoid them. :(

Wow, Aaron! You’re awesome!

Something tells me that Mr. Poehler is either unfamiliar with or dismissive toward Sturgeon’s Law — 90 percent of Everything is Crap. (Which would seem to apply even to *gasp* DC & Marvel superhero comics.) Then again, Ted Sturgeon was also generally guilty of “terrible writing,” I suppose.

I agree that Dark Reign has been far better than expected. I’m not so surprised about Marvel’s obvious longterm planning because I’ve been noticing it since Civil War – which, beyond all the online whining over Cap and Iron Man not being BFFs anymore, fully accomplished its goal of returning the MU to a status-quo where their main heroes could believably fight each other about actual disagreements (as opposed to the “everybody is everybody else’s buddy” status-quo that four decades of team-ups between heroes had created).

Like it or not, this is a very competent “event” (if we can even call it that; so far the “Dark Reign” banner has only signified that the comic that wears it references the temporary status-quo). It’s interesting to observe that after fracturing their superhero community with Civil War, now Marvel is slowly bringing them together again by giving all the heroes a clear common foe.

I honestly don’t care about which real-world events or people this story is supposedly referencing, and I was sold on the idea that Osborn would be accepted after reading Osborn’s TV interview where he argues that Quicksilver and Hawkeye were once terrorists/villains too, and THEY redeemed themselves and were accepted as heroes. And that rang true to me; of COURSE the examples of Hawkeye and the former mutant-terrorists who became beloved heroes could be twisted to serve as precedents for Osborn’s “redemption”. It DOES make sense, if we stop to think that Quicksilver once was allied to Magneto against mankind and eventually redeemed himself. In the Marvel Universe, these kinds of villain-to-hero redemptions have happened so many times that it stands to reason that an unrepentant villain might also be able to convince people that he redeemed himself. If people believed in Quicksilver’s redemption, why wouldn’t they believe in Osborn’s?

And how many times have good guys been mind controlled and later forgiven? It’s a whole different world of moral judgements when you like at the MU.

Hell, we’ve ALL “been mind-controlled & later forgiven.”

Haven’t we?

Dude, dating would be so much easier and so much harder in the MU.

“I’m picking up Dunlavey’s MODOK story. That’s it.”

Good pick. If you buy only one DR related story, that’s a pretty good one to settle on.

I’m buying a fair bit of Dark Reign stuff on the fringes (Herc and Atlas, which, according to Parker, isn’t canceled; may have missed something since that interview). I’m enjoying how well it’s worked. I also find it interesting that Joe sees the Avengers books and SW as a serial. Douglas Wolk was reading the Avengers books like that last year, through Secret Invasion. That appeals to me, but Bendis has never really convinced me he’s a good team book writer.

I feel Bendis has really found his footing within the last year. And New Avengers has Stuart Immonen, who is frickin amazing on his own, and seems to raise Bendis’ game like crazy. I couldn’t read Ultimate Spider-man until Immonen came along, and it quickly became one of my favorites.

In regards to the believability of the storyline, everyone seems to be forgetting that the people of the Marvel U have shown themselves to be pretty stupid/gullible in the past. “You want to send a team of known criminals and murderers to arrest people that we thought of as heroes just a couple days ago? Great! Those heroes are evil because they didn’t register!” It doesn’t suprise me at all that they would be oblivious to Osborne’s shenanigans.

If people believed in Quicksilver’s redemption, why wouldn’t they believe in Osborn’s?

First, Captain America vouched for them. Second, if I recall correctly the public didn’t accept them right away. Weren’t there protests and stuff? I thought they had to repeatedly prove themselves to gain acceptance. (I could be misremembering)

Quicksilver never personally killed the queen of an invading alien army in front of TV cameras – which was how Osborn skipped the whole “proving himself” period.

And Osborn didn’t need Captain America to vouch for him, the American government itself vouched for him. Osborn is a War Hero for the public, a PR advantage that Quicksilver never had (plus, Osborn isn’t a filthy mutie).

Honestly, if Dark Reign doesn’t end with Osborn becoming Green Goblin again and being defeated by Spider-man alone then Dark Reign isn’t really worth it in my eyes. Everyone else may have their reasons to hate him, but in the end beating Osborn should be Spidey’s job. Always.

Joe, I wish you’d post more.

Anyway, I don’t agree that Marvel superhero comics are pretty terrible right now. They’re actually as good as or better than I can remember them ever being (is that faint praise? anyway, they’re pretty good right now). The Spider-Man trust is turning out some awfully fine comics (especially when they bring in Waid), and we’ve got lots of comics coming out from Brubaker, Van Lente, Jason Aaron, Fraction, Bendis, Hickman, and occasionally Ellis. I’m usually first in line to complain that I wish comics were better, but right now, they’re pretty darn good.

No, I agree, Sgt. My first line was not meant to be taken seriously.

As concepts Civil War the mini and even Secret Invasion the mini, though both flawed, worked for me. I bought the idea of Cap and Iron Man on opposite sides of the registration issue and I enjoyed the whole turn around in Secret Invasion that had the public cool to Stark and side with Osborn.
What I don’t like is how drawn out these stories become to the point where they saturate pretty much every title out there.
I remember back when Grant Morrison was on JLA and wrote his epic World War III storyline and there were complaints from fanboys – Oh, why isn’t this a crossover. Oh, why don’t we see the impact of this in the other books.
I don’t WANT that. If I’m not a huge fan of something, I don’t want it permeating my entire hobby.
The Slott/Gage Mighty Avengers book is a HUGE breath of fresh air for me because, despite some links to Dark Reign, they’ve been doing what the Avengers should be doing – fighting world threatening, sci-fi threats.
I’ve tried New Avengers on and off through the years. I like some of Bendis’ work (the aforementioned Secret Invasion, again despite its flaws, and the Illuminati mini, along with his initial storyline of New Avengers).
But my God, THEY DO NOTHING. Once Civil War hit, the book was about the New Avengers hanging out at Dr. Strange’s house, fighting and getting beat-up by a second-rate group of Masters of Evil, dodging Iron Man, complaining about the Skrulls but doing nothing about it.
Now its all about hanging out at Captain America’s apartment, fighting and getting beat-up by a second-rate group of Masters of Evil, dodging Osborn, complaining about Dark Reign but doing nothing about it.
Someone above asked “how do you know what issues to read and what unnecessary junk to avoid.”
As a 35 year old comics fan, I’ll tell you the secret. Buy the mini-series, skip the next several months worth of books, and then by the next mini series if you’re really interested.
Seriously.
This is the problem with these events. The writers of the various books are not allowed to tell any meaningful storylines until THE NEXT BIG MINISERIES. It’s all treading water.
Agents of Atlas’ first few issues were a perfect example. The premise was the Agents were going to infiltrate Osborn’s government, learn his secrets, take him down.
Did they? Of course not. Because it wasn’t time for Dark Reign to end.They fought the New Avengers, bumped into Namor, and that’s it. Jeff Parker’s a fine writer, but he does not havfe the keys to Dark Reign and the best he can do is play along.
Trust me, everything that happens between Dark Reign and whatever series wraps it up – this The Seige story, perhaps? – will get recapped in one way or another in that next series. EVERYTHING. You’ll get why Cap is back. You’ll get why Iron Man has been in hiding. You’ll find out what made Osborn snap and reveal himself. You’ll learn why the X-Men are on an isolated Island.
I so miss the days when a comic book meant something because a title was self-contained and you had actually storylines and ongoing subplots that eventually ended after a couple of months And either new ones began or the writer left and a new creative team took over. You got entertaining stories, some progression of character, and it wasn’t dictated by what some other writer was doing or by the company’s plans two years from now. Occasionally they’d weave in and out of a larger company wide event, but then the title would go back to their own little corner of the universe.
That’s not the case anymore wiht Marvel. It hasn’t been for about three or four years now.
And, unfortunately, sales are up and DC is following suit. First we were told Blackest Night would be contained to the mini and some special connected mini series. Now books line-wide are being forced to tie in.
The days of Grant Morrison blowing up the world in the JLA for a good, self-contained story are over. Now everyone’s got to be in the pool, and it sucks.

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