Sunday, January 3, 2016

Not-The-Best Reads of 2015: Comic Book Cautionary Tales

Cautionary Tales in Excess
Avengers: Age of Ultron TPB
Ultron feels bloated, crammed with apocalyptic but often careless art. Like Ultron, a vasy array of writers share the tale, including Brian Michael Bendis. The spin-off stories occupying a third of the trade belabor the point. It feels like a contrived story designed to disturb or delight fans with scenes of defeated heroes such as Spider-Man bound to a chair and drugged out of his mind, or the death of any number of favourites, She-Hulk among them. I understand this was all a set up for Marvel’s latest paradigm-and-universe reordering. But as for actual storytelling quality, the book is tedious in the end and rather infinitely derivative of disaster films.

Avengers Vs. X-Men TPB
Apparently, Marvel has decided to yet again attempt to resuscitate the zeitgeist of the success of The Secret Wars series from the 1980’s and also to have the heroes fight each other, as DC Comics was fond of during the comic-book sales slump of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. So the mutants clash with the Avengers and about half of this story arc is a delightful confrontation between heroes such, say, the Sub-Mariner and The Thing. But the bouts don’t end there. The heroes on either side seemingly recover from the most egregious injuries to fight again with no lasting consequences. Underneath this main event card, the struggle is about the return of the Phoenix Force. The X-Men want to wield this all-powerful force. The Avengers want to contain it. The other underlying theme is renewal, with Hope Summers, Scott Summers’ teenage daughter, slated to be the new generation’s heavy hitter. I loved about a third of this year, with the art and heroes locking horns. But in the end, the story took too long, felt like pandering to fans, and repetitive.  This could have been a finer story if pared down. 

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