"U.S.Avengers": A Guide to Marvel's New Patriotic Superhero Team
Recently I’ve been revisiting the surrealist comic book authors who have successfully conveyed the kind of disruption of reality which I experience in dreams. I want to pinpoint the ways in which they have been able to successfully communicate and provoke a kind of emotional dissonance with their work.
Neil Gaiman (and by extension, artist Dave McKean) immediately comes to mind, specifically on his long-running and groundbreaking series; The Sandman, but also in works like Black Orchid and The Books of Magic. In many ways this is the most linear representation of truly surreal environments that I can think of. He provides us with entire universes of insane, nonsensical, mythical imagery and logic, but he presents each story in a very direct, linear manner. His way of telling a story in this context is very much like a fairytale, with one event leading inevitably to the next, it is deceptively comfortable, almost hiding the craziness inside. When he does move the storyline towards something more evocative of chaos (i.e. towards the end of the books) he still lays all of the elements out carefully so that by the end the reader can happily piece together a logical continuity (that is to say it is logical within the context of the universe he has created). Continue Reading »
Not really though, I’d rather just not have a column and have good books to read and publishers I trust. But that’s not the world we live in, so we get my sad little column.
About two and a half years ago I wrote about Batwoman’s fate as Greg Rucka abandoned the DC Ship, and here we are again, talking about Batwoman’s fate, as her creators are forced to jump ship, and DC scrambles to pretend it was their idea in the first place. Two years is actually a pretty long run, and so if this decision had come a bit more professionally – rather than creators being forced to jump ship in order to save their sanity and honor the stories they intended to tell for the character, it wouldn’t be too bad. But frankly, we could have talked about any number of characters (and books) fates over the last two years at DC (I’m sure somewhere there’s a list of all the creators that have left or been removed from “New 52” books – update: here’s a really great timeline breakdown). There was even a freaking summit about how they (DC) were going to lessen their editorial interference and a further commitment to stabilizing creative teams. That seemed to last about a week.
Inside this episode! Reviews of the spoilerific Batman Inc. #8 by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnam as well as Marvel’s FF #4 by Matt Fraction and Mike Allred. We then answer YOUR questions, as submitted via Twitter…and a bonus question from Audioshocker “Podcast by Ross & Nick” fans!
Here are the breaks:
Review of Batman Inc. #8 – 00:49
Review of FF #4 – 26:33
We answer YOUR questions! – 36:03
Sandwiches! – 1:31:50
3 Chicks Review Comics is a podcast featuring female comics lovers and bloggers Sue from DC Women Kicking Ass and Kelly Thompson from She Has No Head! Tune in to CSBG every other Monday at noon as we review comics and discuss hot topics of the week. In addition to the blogs above, you can also follow us all on twitter as well: Kelly and Sue. Special thanks to Nik Furious for our awesome 3 Chicks theme song.
*As always beware of spoilers if you haven’t read the books in question! Advance reviews are always spoiler-free!
There is not much importance in giving an award of importance to someone of no importance. (Joseph Heller, from Picture This)
And now let us believe in the long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been. (Rainier Maria Rilke)
“And the good thing about feeling really happy, you know, Valentin? … It’s that you think it’s forever, that one’s never ever going to feel unhappy again.” (Manuel Puig, from Kiss of the Spider Woman)
Ah! but it was something to have at least a choice of nightmares. (Joseph Conrad, from Heart of Darkness)
Aliye’s death, and its echoes, had been stilled by the greater horror of this mother’s death, which burned inside him like a smothered coal in the silence there. But Aliye had started dying from the moment his mother told him that they were not to marry, in spite of the bey’s gracious visit, in spite of the fine carpet, in spite of the words he has whispered to Aliye and which he had thought were true words. He knew then how it must end for her, though his mother said it would be otherwise. He wished that there were one fixed thing in the world that would never change, or disappoint him, or leave him, but he did not know what that might be, unless it was the idea of God, which was a certitude without delight or consolation. (Starling Lawrence, from Montenegro)
“What of the success of the Expulsion?” Carranque asked. The driver was momentarily silenced.
“Success for the Catholics?” I ventured.
“Certainly not, Señora.” Now it was Carranque who laughed. “The Expulsion of the Jews was an unmitigated disaster for the Catholics. For a brief time, Their Catholic Majesties feasted on the properties and treasures left behind by the running Jews. But after a very short while they awoke to the truth that their best and their brightest had fled. Gone were their merchants, their statesmen, their doctors, their artisans and their artists, their poets, their musicians, their singers, and their leatherworkers. Without its Jews, Spain dried up into the shriveled olive it is today.”
“So the success?”
“Was the success of the Jews — the Jews who fled to Morocco, to Italy, to Greece, to Turkey, to the Netherlands. They spread their art and learning across the Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibraltar and northward into Europe. They made a virtue of exile, found their greatest reward in exile, found their humanity, their lost identity, in exile.” (Jonathan Levi, from A Guide For The Perplexed)
“Stories have no point if they don’t absorb our terror.” (Don DeLillo, from Mao II)
So a couple weeks ago I posted a round up of my favorite news from SDCC 2012. It’s now only fair that I talk about what I found to be the most disappointing news to come out of SDCC 2012. And I’m only going to talk about one thing, because the continued weirdness when it comes to characters like Stephanie Brown and Cass Cain though depressing as all get out, is both expected, and perhaps in a way, tied to what I’m going to talk about anyway.
“How do you feel, Yossarian?”
“Fine. No, I’m very frightened.”
“That’s good,” said Major Danby. “It proves you’re still alive.” (Joseph Heller, from Catch-22)
For them it might stave off what he could not help but see with clarity: that the world was silent and cold and bare and that in this lay its terrible beauty. (David Guterson, from Snow Falling on Cedars)
It is demonstrably plain that, were the whole matter of victualling the world on a non-national footing taken right out of the hands of the strutting male and handed over to a dozen sensible women who do not want to have their children killed, politics, which are nothing but a glorified form of housekeeping, would long since have been deflated to the problem of running a canteen. (William Gerhardie, from God’s Fifth Column)
Like many this weekend, I saw The Avengers, and was blown away. I had a lot of faith going in, since I have huge confidence in Joss Whedon, but the ensemble superhero movie (hell, even the single superhero movie) is a herculean task to get right…and so I admit to being worried. But those worries were soon put to rest. Whedon delivered on every single level, and while one could complain that there could have been more plot, or more character development, I think in the end he struck the right (and smart) balance. Had he tried to do more (he was already doing so much) I think he would have ended up actually doing less…or at least doing less right.
Most wonderful of all to me (and there was a lot of wonderful) and least surprising was Whedon’s exceptional use of Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. In a movie with this many “big” superheroes (Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Thor in particular) it would have been easy for a character like Black Widow, with her more subtle power profile to get lost. Not only are her powers not as spectacle driven as those above, but every one of those gents has an introductory superhero movie under their belt already (ahem, some of them have two).
But instead of getting lost, Whedon utilized Black Widow to her best. He knew exactly where to put her for maximum impact, and he let her just be her badass spy self. It worked like gangbusters and Johansson got both amazing scenes, and also a critical role in the story, rather than just some cool one-off scenes. A director less familiar with female characters and with superheroes in general, might not have been able to pull this off but for Whedon it feels effortless – because it is.
And so that leaves us with only one question…when do we get our solo Black Widow film, starring Johansson and directed by Whedon?
Marvel would be fools not to jump on the opportunity to create the first superhero franchise featuring a female character, and I don’t suppose they’d hate the idea of making Whedon and superheroines work, when DC couldn’t make it happen with their star female superhero – Wonder Woman.
So, who else is ripe to lead a film and potentially begin a franchise? And perhaps more importantly as we’ve learned with Whedon and Widow, who would be the director to do it right?
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