Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Who is Thanos vs. Hulk #1 for? Besides me, obviously. Who is the target audience? Is there one beyond the three groups of Jim Starlin fans, Hulk fans, and Thanos fans? I ask, because, as a fairly devoted Starlin fan (I finished Lady El a week or two back and, if you’ve read that novel, then you know that only the devoted fans press through) I’ve had many chances to observe reactions to the latest Starlin project where it seems like I’m the only person in the room. He’s dismissed as old fashioned, out of touch, repetitive, and… well, not terribly good anymore. I disagree, but that seems to be the general consensus in the broadest terms. Are there legions of people at odds with the online hivemind? Perhaps. Or is there something else?
If you go by the title, Thanos vs. Hulk #1 can’t help but be a little disappointing. Perhaps, in one of the future issues, the two eponymous characters will brawl a bit. However, in this issue, they only share panel time in a single panel at the very end. Originally intended as a story in Savage Hulk following Alan Davis’s arc to begin the title, the shifting of the story to its own series on the part of Marvel to be more a marketing maneuver than anything: get the word ‘Thanos’ in the title! In fact, it’s the first word. What began as a Hulk story (or a story intended for a Hulk comic) becomes a Hulk-is-secondary story.
“You cannot fuck the future. The future fucks you, sir.” That’s from Deadwood, or, if you prefer in some slightly other words, Saturday Night Fever. Part of me keeps waiting for the reversal of that sentiment to be said by Terry McGinnis when BatJoker shows up: “The future won’t end me. I’m going to end the future.” That’s his mission: to fuck the future. It’s funny how many superhero stories involve that being central to the premise despite them being limited to changing the future, not stopping it. The future always happens, even if everyone is dead. And there are so many futures in Futures End to fuck us all.
Superhero comics sure are obsessed with geniuses… My instinct is to say that it’s a new fad, but it’s always been the case. Super-smart people who used their massive intellects to thwart slightly lesser smart people who are bent on destruction and domination. A conspiracy-minded writer could probably string together a nice little story about most supervillains being government agents meant to keep the super-geniuses of the world too occupied to realise that the world is a fucking mess and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. Anyway… it’s all about the geniuses and how they aren’t really that smart, except at finding new ways to hit people. But not too hard, of course. I’m going to talk my way through this and, hopefully, make some sense intermittently.
There are 17 issues left now and this is the beginning of the final breather, I assume, before we head into that final stretch where it comes to a head with Brainiac and Brother Eye. This week, we’re given a quieter issue that follows up on the two recently resolved plots: the Firestorm/Madison/Red Robin plot and the Green Arrow/Cadmus/Earth 2 heroes plot. Neither plot is fully resolved, because nothing is ever fully resolved and the resolutions created new plots to be resolved. It’s the never-ending battle for a reason. We’ve already looked at the solicitations for what’s coming next (barring the final five issues) and it didn’t seem like we get down to business again, really, until January. There’s still some work to fit the various disparate threads into something coherent before they can converge properly.
The title of this post should have read “Boys, Toys, Electric Irons, and TVs 28: Futures End #29, New Avengers #26, and Avengers #38,” but Diamond shorted my shop on New Avengers #26, so it and Avengers #38 (which I haven’t read yet since it comes after New Avengers #26) will be discussed next week with Futures End #30 and New Avengers #27 (bet on it being a Hickman-heavy post). I don’t actually mind, because that means Futures End #29 gets all of my attention this week and it’s an issue I don’t mind digging into a little, being the first one-story issue of the series since issue 21’s spotlight on the Earth 2 folks and the build-up of Cadmus as something Green Arrow wants to take down. Here, we get an origin story for the new Firestorm.
Looking at the preview for Futures End #29 at the end of this issue and noticing that it all relates to the Tim Drake/Firestorm story, I began thinking about what we have been told about the future of this series through solicitations. It’s a comic about the future, so why not look at the brief glimpses of the future that we have at our disposal?
I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it before, but I’ve always been fascinated with the superheroes who quit and why they would do so. I’ve railed against the endless cycle heroes who, after a time, become responsible for the deaths that their enemies commit despite numerous examples that the ‘don’t kill bad guys’ policy is completely ineffectual. “Sorry, Batman, but the Joker will kill again no matter what and you know that, so…” It’s a fairly common argument and one I won’t bore you with here. But, related to it are the superheroes that give it up. For whatever reason, they decide to stop doing what they do and, as a result, people almost certainly die. While these absences are almost always temporary, there is that middle period where they have given up and I love what it means. Futures End has, in a large part, been about this.
“Now I wonder what that hearse is doing sitting quietly there in my warehouse. Should I repair it for another ride so it is ready when it is needed? Does it need attention? Is that why I have it? Of course it is. If there is ever a situation where the hearse is required again, I want it to be ready. There is an old bumper sticker Taylor left on it, where these immortal words are written: SHIT HAPPENS.” (Neil Young, from Special Deluxe)
The votes are in and here is the top ten comics for me to try tomorrow as selected by you:
1. TOOTH & CLAW #1: 15 votes
2. GOTHAM ACADEMY #2: 11 votes
3. BIRTHRIGHT #2: 10 votes
4. GRAYSON #4: 9 votes
5. ROCKET RACCOON #5: 9 votes
6. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #9: 6 votes
7. ETERNAL WARRIOR DAYS OF STEEL #1: 6 votes
8. ALL NEW X-FACTOR #16: 6 votes
9. SCOOBY DOO TEAM UP #7: 5 votes
10. BATMAN ETERNAL #31: 4 votes
(In the case of the tie for fourth, I flipped a coin. In the case of the tie for sixth, I used an online list randomizer. And, in adding up the votes, choosing less than three comics didn’t make your vote count more. And, if you listed more than three, I only counted the first three you gave. The others are dead to me.)
So, tomorrow, I will be buying the top three books that my shop has — say there are no rack copies of Gothan Academy #2, I would move onto Grayson #4 and so on until I have three new books. I will then write about all three later this week. Maybe in separate posts. Maybe together. We’ll see how I’m feeling.
Thanks for your help!
There’s around 26 hours left in the comment-voting to determine which three comics I’ll buy on Wednesday. Head there, see the full details, and leave your comment.
This has been a year of considering the same things over and over again. I first did it with my in-depth examination of Age of Ultron #10. Now, I’ve fallen into that habit here every week, examining the same ideas again and again and again as they pop every week in Futures End and Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers titles. I’ve been doing it elsewhere in my life as well. It’s rewarding to continually find new things in the same. But, I want to try something different this week: a close reading of Futures End #26, where we’ll go scene-by-scene and see what’s there. Maybe I’ll just wind up repeating the same old ideas anyway. Who knows.
Next week, my pull list is looking pretty small: Futures End #27 and Miracleman #13. So, I figured I’d take the opportunity to try out two or three new titles and I want you, the readers of Comics Should be Good, to pick them. Starting now, until Tuesday November 4 at 8pm EST, you can leave a comment telling me up to three specific comics coming out on Wednesday November 5 that I should buy (sorry, no trades!). I’ll do my best to get the three comics that get the most votes. Obviously, since I will be going off the rack, the top three may not be available when I go to my shop (so maybe don’t vote for the more obscure stuff on the Diamond list). But, I’ll take a short list and go in order of preference. I will, then, write up some short reviews/thoughts on the new books and we’ll see if anything sticks. The list is below with a few caveats added by some of the titles…
Last week, I rambled on about the lack of superheroes in both Futures End and the two Avengers titles written by Jonathan Hickman (or about what constitutes a ‘superhero’ at this point) and, as much as I’d like to find some other topic to ramble on about this week, a couple of big ol’ softballs were lobbed up in the form of shirtless, bearded Superman and obsessive, cranky old-man Captain America. The two most ‘superheroic’ characters in DC and Marvel depicted as men that barely resemble their so-called superheroic selves. If these two aren’t superheroes anymore, what hope is there for anyone?
What is a superhero? Both Futures End and New Avengers have spent two dozen issues dancing around this question, neither providing answers yet. This was an easy question to answer in the past, but, as stories became more morally complex and easy solutions were eliminated by increasing demands of realism and logic, the exact definition seems more elusive than ever. When the enemy is cosmic entropy where you’re faced with the options of your planet dying, saving your planet by killing another, or both planets dying… what is the heroic action? How much are you expected to give? Is sacrificing your life more noble than sacrificing your soul? What are the ethics of a secret identity and when do you cross the line between protecting yourself and lying to your loved ones? For a lot of readers, these questions are a nuisance in a genre that’s supposed to be escapism and pure entertainment. For me, these are the only questions that matter anymore.
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