Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Moon Knight’s Shot At The Big Time

Awhile back, I wrote a loving tribute to the delightfully insane D-list Marvel comics hero, Moon Knight.

As a minor member of Marvel’s “street level” crimefighting fraternity, Moon Knight spent most of his career viewed as a Batman rip-off with tonal discrepancies in his various incarnations, as well as some palpable identity issues.

It probably doesn’t help that the character of Moon Knight has often been written as possessing multiple personality disorder.

The point is, Moon Knight has never really been a major player in the Marvel universe.

 

Not like Puck. Puck's a fuckin' baller...

As a New York based crimefighter, he shares turf with Spider-Man, Daredevil, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and a host of other, more powerful and better known characters.

Sadly, team-ups involving Moon Knight having his book “invaded” by the aforementioned A-listers, have been kind of the norm in the world of Moon Knight, a plot device that, in my opinion; basically means that Marvel has never had enough confidence in the character to allow him to succeed on his own.

That being said, Moon Knight has not been without his moments, particularly within the past decade.

I know I used it before, but this was just so fuckin' awesome...

About 5-6 years ago, author Charlie Huston and artist David Finch managed to breath new life into the Moon Knight character by boosting the R-rated content of his story arcs, and playing on the character’s innumerable inner conflicts by having him struggle with his subconscious in a fashion aping the brilliance of John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London.

It represented a major high-point for the character, (or low, if you’re going by the actual content of the storyline) and one that would serve as my formal jumping on point to the Moon Knight bandwagon.

Following Huston’s departure though, Moon Knight would once again fade into relative obscurity, sitting out of most of the major event comics for several years to come; and playing host to storylines that were good, but nowhere near the level of quality that Huston established with his first few stories.

Once the Moon Knight series of the early 2000’s came to a close though, with the “death” of one of Moon Knight’s multiple personalities; things picked up again for another high.

 

Towards the close of the Dark Reign era of Marvel comics, Moon Knight was thrown back onto the shelves with a brand new, more PG-13 image, and a new series entitled Vengeance of the Moon Knight.

 

Motorcycles make anyone look cool...

Said “Vengeance” referred to Moon Knight supposedly seeking to avenge his previous “death” as ordered by Norman Osborn.

Being as Norman Osborn was and always will be a top-tier supervillain, with God knows how many nemeses; the chances of Moon Knight successfully taking him out were approximately 3,720 to 1, however that didn’t stop me from reading the story and loving it.

Featuring a host of some of the better villains in Moon Knight’s rogues gallery, including a newly resurrected Bushman AKA Moonies’ arch nemesis; the story was exceptionally well written by Gregg Hurwitz, as well as brilliantly illustrated by the uber talented Jerome Opena.

 

Not the most relevant of pics, but hey; I don't need a reason to showcase an instance of scarecrow punching.

As seems to be the norm for the ‘ole white knight though, the second arc in the series could barely hold a candle to the first.

Hurwitz remained on board as writer, but Opena jumped ship; and with good reason.

The initial outburst of energy brought on by the new direction of the series faded away, replaced by tedium and, you guessed it; guest appearances from characters like Deadpool.

 

That's right, get your own comic! No wait, he's already got like 6...

While I like Deadpool as much as the next 20-something year old comic fan, (provided he’s got a good writer backing him) his appearance in other character’s books is often a good indication of them having lost their way.

While that series petered out and was cancelled, most likely for the best; Marvel would end up giving Moonie another chance in the form of a spot on the newly formed Secret Avengers team as headed by Steve Rogers AKA Captain America.

From what I’ve heard, that series has been going strong since it’s inception last year, however both Moon Knight and Nova (another hero that doesn’t get enough spotlight) have reportedly served as little more than window dressing.

While Moon Knight has served time on Avengers teams before, this marks the first official team-up I can recall the character engaging in within my lifetime.

It’s bold moves like this that remind me Marvel has yet to lose faith in their crazy white knight.

Given that Mike Deodato is illustrating Secret Avengers, you can bet I’ll be picking it up as soon as it comes out in trade form.

I suppose it’s worth mentioning that Moon Knight also played minor role in the street level superhero crossover, Shadowland; however I’ve heard nothing but bad about that series, so I’m just going to plead ignorance and gloss over that particularly nasty bit of history…

 

Aw... Sleepy kitty!

Now that the history lesson’s over, we can finally get to the new business of Moon Knight.

Just a few days ago, it was announced that famed comic writer Brian Michael Bendis, as well as the terrific penciller Alex Maleev; would be taking the reigns on a new Moon Knight series beginning this May.

While his writing style can often be immature, and his stories don’t always come together all that cleanly, few can argue that Bendis is one of the best dialogue writers in the business, with an ability to capture character’s voices that is nigh unmatched.

Maleev is not slouch either, with a sharp, moody, and wholly dynamic art style, as well as a host of credits on various Avengers comics and an extended run on Bendis’ critically acclaimed Daredevil series.

 

Yeah, I'd say Mr. Maleev knows what he's doing...

From what I’ve read, the premise that the team is working from, is one that once again plays off of Moon Knight’s multiple personality disorder.

Taking into account Moon Knight’s current status as a Secret Avengers member, Bendis plans on having the character’s personality issues manifest in the form of taking on the behavior and personalities of his teammates.

In essence, the idea is that Moon Knight’s inherent insanity and unpredictably will be turned up to 11 in this series, with him assuming the characteristics of heroes like Wolverine, Spider-Man, and presumably Captain America based on the promotional image at the beginning of this article.

While this sounds a little tongue-in-cheek for my tastes, I can’t deny that the idea of a man running around thinking he’s indestructible, or thinking that he comes from the mythical kingdom of Asgard; will probably make for a fun read.

Assigning Bendis to write a Moon Knight series will grant the character unparalleled exposure and presence among casual comic book fans, a luxury that few D-list heroes ever get to experience, regardless of the breadth of publishing history they may possess.

Given the character’s questionable track record thus far, I don’t doubt that the series could indeed flop; however with such big names attached, I’m nothing if not hopeful for it’s success.

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Thoughts On The Captain America Teaser


Though it hardly qualifies as “big news” in most circles, this past Sunday marked the television debut of the 30 second Captain America: The First Avenger teaser:


Oh yeah, and something called “The Superbowl” happened too.

The Packers won, the Steelers lost, and balance has been brought to The Force; at least until the next season.

Anyway, given that the Captain America preview was a trim 30 seconds in length, and was intentionally edited so as to keep most of the major details of the film foggy at best; here are my thoughts on what I saw:

The CGI used to reduce Chris Evan’s heroic physique to that of the undersized pre-Project Rebirth Steve Rogers appears fairly convincing at this point.

Well okay fine, it doesn't look perfect, but it looks better than young Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy.

While most likely a minor element of the film, technical gimmicks like this have always fascinated me; particularly when they work, I.E. Lt. Dan’s amputated legs in Forrest Gump.

We’ll see how it turns out on the big screen.

Moving on, I’m pleased to note that nothing looks cheap about the movie as of yet.

Some of the costuming for Thor had an unfortunate, plastic-y look, but the period elements, and overall production design of Captain America seems pretty slick thus far.

Of particular note was the set for the Project Rebirth sequence, not only because it’s the only set we really get a good look at in the teaser; but also because it genuinely looks pretty good.

One thing I was afraid of seeing in a Captain America film, was gaudy or needlessly extravagant production design.

Thankfully, and remember this is just me going by what we’ve seen thus far; this seems to be a non-issue in The First Avenger.

Most everything in the teaser points to an almost Rocketeer-esque (also directed by Joe Johnston) marriage of the pulpy comic book aesthetic and appropriately utilitarian, or at least practical, design elements.

Truth be told, I loved The Rocketeer back in the day, so if Captain America can capture that same gleeful energy, I think we’re in for a good show.

Another thing worth noting in the teaser, is the brief glimpse we get of the Red Skull, as played by Hugo Weaving.

Red Skull is a character who has undergone a great deal of variations in his design.

In his early appearances, as well as the current Steve Epting version of the character; Red Skull had what I like to call a “toad face”.

 

TOOOOOOAAAADDDD FAAAAAAACCCEEE!!!!!

His eyebrows were exagerrated and protruding, like a neanderthal; but the “toad face” part of his design came from his broad, perpetually frowning mouth.

My personal favorite design of the character, was the one featured prominently in the early 90’s (go figure) that featured a very straightforward skull-shaped, well, skull.

In the case of the movie, it would appear that the design was designed primarily to capitalize on Hugo Weaving’s unique facial structure, while retaining some of the classic “toad face” features:

...And he tears off his normal face mask to reveal... A hideous skull mask!

In other words, expect a bug-eyed, big forehead-ed Red Skull that looks more like Agent Smith than, well, a skull.

I already voiced my opinion on the design decisions for the Captain America suit, as posted here; however there’s one last little detail I’d like to add to that, in the form of a comment from a friend of mine.

Chris Evans in the Captain America suit looks like Shaq from Steel.”

No Caption Necessary.

While I was (sadly) inclined to agree in some respects, I still remain hopeful that Captain America will turn out to be a better film than the almost ludicrously ass-tastic Steel.

Even so, if ever there was a comic character that was easy to fuck up, it’d have to be the Cap’n…

At this point, Captain America (along with Green Lantern) is poised to be my big summer movie this year, so keep your fingers crossed people, The Azn Badger commands it!

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Thoughts On Chris Evans As Captain America

Let’s get one thing straight:

I like Captain America.

I like his “patriotic weakling to walking symbol of hope and freedom” origin story.

I like his old timey way, and how it juxtaposes so well with the often times annoying immature antics of today’s comic superheroes.

I like his powers and abilities, as the range of his physical capabilities allows him to be “super,” while at the same time quite vulnerable.

Hell, as goofy as it can look at times, I even like his costume design.

Well, except for this, the "flag conspicuously pointing at crotch" variant.

When I first heard that Chris Evans was going to be playing Cap in Captain America: The First Avenger movie, my initial reaction was to say:

“Really?  Chris Evans is in another comic book movie?”

Off the top of my head, Chris Evans has been in 4 comic book movies, playing 3 different characters, with no less than 2 more roles down the road if you count the Captain America film in question, and his appearance in the upcoming Avengers film.

Chris Evans has an acting portfolio. At least I think so anyway.

Make no mistake, comic book movies as still very much “in” at the moment, and if anyone is making bank off of the trend, my guess is it would be Mr. Evans.

Now, while that may have been my initial reaction to the Captain America casting news; my honest to God feelings on the matter were lodged somewhere in the valley between confusion and disbelief.

To date, I still can’t understand why he was chosen for the Captain America role.

With the exception of Street Kings, wherein he played a very vanilla and by the book cop; every role I’ve seen Evans in has had him cast as the “funny guy” or failing that, the “funny guy that can set himself on fire.”

Although he was without a doubt the best part of the Fantastic 4 movies, that doesn't mean they weren't pure ass.

Truth be told, I’ve never been disappointed by any of his performances, not that that’s saying much; but the point is:

Unless he’s hiding some well-concealed stoicism or acting range beneath his “funny guy” exterior, he just doesn’t seem like Cap to me.

Captain America is one of those characters that, to me; is more easily represented as a somewhat older man.

While the First Avenger is most likely going to take place exclusively in the WWII era, when Steve Rogers was cutting his teeth on Nazis, for some reason I’ve always pictured Captain America as being one of those guys that’s been a manly man since the cradle.

Kind of like Charles Bronson, James Coburn, or Anthony Hopkins.

Pictured: Charles Bronson at 9 months.

I know It’s unfair of me to judge an actor, or a film for that matter; before it’s even had a trailer, but in my mind the actors that would have best played Captain America have already aged themselves out of the running.

Despite a distinct lack of physicality, I always felt that Robert Redford could’ve made for a very effective Captain America.

His voice, face, hair color, acting ability and God given aura of gravitas would’ve gone a long way towards legitimizing the character and the film.

Not only that, with movies like A River Runs Through It, and The Natural under his belt, he always had that all-American feel to him.

Some people said the same of Kevin Costner.

Said people are of course, utterly retarded and full of shit, as Costner’s just about the most boring and vanilla pile of feces to ever walk the face of the Earth.

Pictured: Feces with a soul patch.

Sadly, “boring as shit” seems to describe far too many young actors these days.

Maybe it’s just because they’re young, and seem to be cast more for their looks than their acting ability, but to me it seems like most of the big-budget blockbuster movie actors these days just seem to lack “character,” at least in a physical sense.

When you look at the actors from back in the day, they had a look to them that lent a lot to their performances.

Not only that, in the post-studio picture era, subtlety was an acting trait that was considered praise worthy among performers, a fact that has not changed since; but seemingly has eluded many of the young actors of today.

..... Y'know, I'm not even gonna' say anything.

 

I’m rambling.

Anyway, at this point in time, The First Avenger seems like a pretty decent movie on paper.

It has a pretty strong cast, with Hugo Weaving sure to steal the show as The Red Skull, and a competent, if somewhat bipolar director at the helm in the form of Joe Johnston.

If Johnston gives us another Rocketeer or Jumanji, then Captain America’s gonna’ kick some serious ass.

If he gives us another Jurassic Park III though, then I just might have to sit this one out.

In either case, the man has shown considerable zeal for crafting old timey period films, not to mention he has a tremendous visual effects background, so if nothing else; the film will be pretty to look at…

That being said, on a final note, I’d just like to say that I sincerely disapprove of Marvel’s decision to rely on the Ultimate Universe for some of the visual stylings and character interpretations for their current and future films.

I understand that the Ultimate Universe has not been confirmed to be used as direct source material for said films, but from what I’ve seen, that seems to the case.

Maybe it’s because the Ultimate Universe was never targeted at my age group, as it’s intended audience is that of younger, less seasoned comic fans, but honestly I’ve never seen the appeal of it.

I can understand Marvel’s desire to use the black Nick Fury, as Samuel L. Jackson is the bees knees in the eyes of dorky haole kids, but to be perfectly honest; it makes me sad that both the Captain America and Thor movie’s character designs have drawn influence from the Ultimate Universe.

Long story short, Ultimate Thor is okay, but Ultimate Captain America is absolutely hideous in my eyes.

Concept art from the movie. Where's the fuckin' wings!!!??

 

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Marvel’s Siege Review

I’m really fuckin’ tired tonight, so I’ll make this quick.

Oh wait, this is an event comic we’re talking about, so there’s no possible way I can say anything about it without first explaining a half dozen or so events leading up to it.

Man, I hate event comics

Anyway, Marvel’s most recent mega event comic, Siege, made it’s collected edition debut a weeks ago, and, fashionably late as I tend to be these days; I just got my hands on it a few days ago.

The basic premise of Siege, was to serve as that of a bookend to the era in the Marvel Universe known as Dark Reign, thereby kicking off the current era, The Heroic Age.

A tonal shift if I've ever seen one...

For those that are unaware, Dark Reign began after the attempted alien Skrull invasion of Earth during Secret Invasion, which ultimately resulted in the Norman Osborn AKA The Green Goblin, coming to prominence in the Marvel Universe as a legitimate public and governmental figure.

Hah, and I just happened to find a pic where George Bush was doing the Spider-Man hands!

Don’t ask.

Anyway, Dark Reign was an era that blanketed the entire Marvel Universe with, well, darkness.

Evil reigned supreme in Marvel from late 2008 to the beginning of 2010, when Siege was finally released.

The basic premise of Siege involves Norman Osborn and his Cabal (a secret collective of unified villains including the likes of Doctor Doom, The Hood, and Loki) attempting to “siege” Asgard, Thor and the other Norse God’s homeworld, which just happens to be floating 10 feet above Oklahoma.

Let it be known: Thor makes everything better.

Again, don’t ask.

While most of his Cabal scoff at Osborn’s ambition, and end up abandoning him, he nonetheless enacts his siege with the entirety of his resources, including the Dark Avengers, (evil replacements wearing the costumes and bearing the titles of established superheroes) several of The Hood’s otherworldly henchmen, all of The Initiative, and of course, the great golden retard himself, The Sentry.

Behold, the Meta Knight/Magneto/Chun-Li of the Marvel Universe... Broken-ass piece of fuck...

While Thor and the other Asgardians put up a decent fight, The Sentry proves to be too powerful to be harmed by anything they can throw at him.

Osborn’s victory seems to be in the bag until a few issues in, when Steve Rogers AKA Captain America, Bucky Barnes AKA Captain America with a Gun, Nick Fury, The Secret Warriors, The Young Avengers, and members of most of the other Avengers variants, decide to finally come out of hiding and assemble some bitches till they die from it.

Said panel of Assemblage.

Oh yeah, and then Iron Man shows up after finally waking up from his period of braindead-ery.

By "braindead-ery" of course I mean, "shrooming."

Go ahead and ask, don’t expect any answers from me.

Essentially, Siege is meant to serve as a massive culmination for all the conflicts brewing over the past year or so, as most of the battles that take place during the siege of Asgard have been long overdue.

By stories’ end, Osborn and his forces are defeated and/or repelled, however one final obstacle stands before our heroes…

A certain golden, retarded obstacles that’s just been given orders to kill…

At that point, The Sentry makes his long hinted at, and all too obvious transformation into his alternative EVIL persona, The Void, thereby resulting in a climax scenario that mirrors that of just about every major anime film since Nausicaa.

Pictured: The climax of Siege.

The world world crumbles, major characters die violent deaths… Oh whatever, I’ll just let Bill Murray handle this for me, he’s so much better at it:

CLICK HERE ‘CAUSE YOUTUBE FAILS AT EMBEDDING
*Sigh* Now that we’ve got all that goddamn explanation out of the way, let’s get down to how I felt about Siege.

I liked Siege.

It was straightforward, tautly paced, and reasonably approachable for the most part.

The whole thing is only 4 issues long, with an additional 2 included for the purpose of providing expositional padding for the collected edition.

Unlike say, DC’s Blackest Night (we’ll cover that some other time), which was 8 issues long, Siege had the advantage of being a streamlined, and simple event meant to appeal on the basest of levels.

Pictured: A similar ploy to appeal to said levels.

Probably my favorite part about Siege, was the fact that it really is just an “event.”

The whole story takes place over the course of a handful of hours, resulting in a scenario that feels focused and immediate to the point in which there isn’t really any room for plot holes to emerge.

On the downside, the relatively low page count also means that most of the individual battles you’ve been waiting all this time to see, the Venom vs. Spider-Man, the Wolverine vs. Daken, Iron Man vs. The Iron Patriot, end up being shown in the background of panels, but rarely ever explored in any sort of detail.

Sadly, this is actually kind of accurate...

That being said, Siege is an event that, like most event comics, seems to require the reader to take a look at some of the spin-offs and crossovers to get the whole picture, at least for the characters they care about.

Personally, I see myself checking out Siege: Battlefield and definitely Siege: Thunderbolts at some point, however I’ve heard Siege: Embedded is bad news.

Pictured: A woman receiving several copies of Siege: Embedded from an elephant.

While I haven’t personally read Brian Michael Bendis before, (remember, I’m not an Avengers guy) I can honestly say that after reading Siege, I’m thinking about taking a look at some of his other stuff.

While the plot progression was manic at times, due to the low page count, Bendis’ strength, in my opinion; is his ability to give a real sense of personality and voice to each individual character.

At the end of every issue of Siege, there are a few pages of text-only dialogues between some of the major players in the story regarding the events of, uh, the event.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I found these pages to be interesting throughout.

In particular, I was impressed by the first of them, wherein Osborn and his Dark Avengers sit down with Ares to plan out the actual siege of Asgard.

What? You didn't KNOW that Ares, the Greek God of war was a Marvel Comics character?

“Listening” to Venom and Bullseye bitch and moan about the inherent lunacy in taking on literal Gods on their home turf, was both funny and true to form.

Though each character’s speech is preceded by a note regarding who exactly is speaking, I bet most of us could read these scenes without such aides, as each character is written that sharply.

On the visual side of things, again, Olivier Coipel is not an artist I am familiar with, but, as with Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, I think I might have to check out his other stuff.

Coipel, who is apparently the current artist for Thor, has a style that is intrinsically geared towards the Asgardian aesthetic.

His men are burly and square-jawed, and his women are, well, burly and square-jawed.

Seriously, there’s a panel of Victoria Hand early on that is downright Xena in how butch it is.

Yikes! You could lose a hand to those cheekbones!

Anyway, outside of that one panel, Coipel’s work in Siege is gorgeous.

Aside from his very clean lines and wonderfully fluid character designs, the sense of motion and speed generated by his action panels is truly breathtaking.

Seriously, there were times in this comic that I caught myself being able to actually see the panels spring to animated life.

THIS my friends, is why I bought Siege.

Kudos definitely need to be given to the colorist of Siege as well, as the color palette is refreshingly vibrant and diverse throughout, with many of the earlier scenes being all blue skies and daisies and such, while during the later scenes, particularly the ones involving The Void, things take on an menacing and otherworldly tone.

Anyway, Siege was a good event comic for me, someone that doesn’t really care much for event comics.

It’s a shame most of the “slug-fest” aspect of the event was omitted from the core storyline, as unlike novels, comics are usually best crafted on the page rather than in one’s imagination, but oh well, I liked it anyway.

I’ll let yah’ know how the spin-offs turn out.

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Let’s Look at Comics: Avengers West Coast #99 – Time To Kill

It's never a good sign when one of the characters on the cover is colored incorrectly... The guy on the left is supposed to be green.

Hello all, and welcome to another exciting installment of Let’s Look at Comics!

Today we’ll be looking at Marvel’s, “Avengers West Coast #99 – Time to Kill.”

For those who are unaware, The Avengers are essentially Marvel’s answer to DC’s Justice League; a team of heroes comprised of their respective universes most powerful and highest profile characters.

If you don’t know what the Justice League is, then you can consider yourself a waste of flesh, and a waste of my motherfucking time.

Seriously, get the fuck out.

Anyway, The Avengers have always been a fucking deal over at Marvel due to the fact that it’s roster has often included “The Big Three,” AKA Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man.

The basic concept behind the formation of The Avengers was, and always will be: to give the writers an excuse to play Ocean’s 11 with the Marvel universe.

Don't be surprised if you see this in the theaters 2 years from now.

Nah, just kidding, The Avengers exist to combat threats that no single hero could combat on their own.

Truth be told, I’ve never really been an Avengers fan, largely due to the fact that  the opposition they are required to face in order for the battle to seem at all competitive, are the kind of villains that are outrageously overpowered to the point in which deus ex machina is often required to defeat them.

In all, I’m not really a “team” fan.

The Justice League is dull for the same reasons The Avengers are.

The X-Men are cool, but have the most impenetrable continuity in all of continuities.

The Fantastic 4, well… unless Sue Storm’s wearing her 90’s uniform, I really don’t care.

Oh, 90's character designs, how I miss thee.

Seriously though, I get more satisfaction out of taking a shit than I do reading their stuff.

Getting back on track, at some point during the 80’s Marvel had the bright idea to try their hand at expanding their readership by creating a spin-off series based on The Avengers called The Avengers West Coast.

As is always the case, breaking up the band proved to be a bad idea.

Despite this, DC was kind enough to follow-suit and rip them off a few years later with the launch of their own Justice League spin-off, Justice League International.

Besides Batman, Blue Beetle, and Fate, everybody pictured here can suck a dick. Yeah that's right, fuck you Captain Marvel.

Oh yeah, did I mention that it sucked too?

The problem with Avengers West Coast, and most spin-offs in general, was the fact that the entire premise was based around constructing stories and conflicts using the spare parts of a stronger, pre-established property.

In example, let’s take a look at some members of the West Coast roster:

Hawkeye is alright, seeing as he was a former Avenger and he founded the West Coast team.

Basically, he has no super powers, but he’s a good archer, and oh yeah, he’s a dick, so he gets Ice Man points.

Mockingbird is Hawkeyes’ equally powerless woman.

They fucked, she died, end of story.

War Machine = Iron Man if he shopped at Ross.  Nuff’ said.

U.S. Agent = Captain America if he was in the UFC.

And Spider-Woman, well she’s definitely no Spider-Man, and more importantly, she’s not the sexy Spider-Woman.

Azn Badger likes him some Sexy Spider-Woman…

No caption needed.

With all of that out of the way, I think you can understand when I say that Avengers West Coast was a mediocre team that was involved in mediocre storylines, fighting mediocre villains I.E. The Grim Reaper.

And guess what?

Today we’re gonna’ be taking a look at an issue from one of those crappy stories, so fasten your seat belts boys and girls, it’s gonna’ be a hot time in the old town tonight!

The issue opens with a full page spread of U.S. Agent walking in on a Renaissance fair as he looks for the nearest Honey Bucket.

"Excuse me folks, I was just lookin' fer' the crapper HOLY SHIT!"

Turns out, these Ren fair patrons are in fact the real deal, and as it so happens one of them is choking on some poisoned wine, like you do; served to him by the deadly and beautiful…

… Okay, thanks comic, now I feel kind of dumb for not knowing who that is.

According to my 30 seconds of Google research,

was the daughter of a Valencian noble, who would often marry her off to men, only to have those men meet grisly ends.

That’s the historical version, in this comic she’s just a bitch with a funny hat.

Anyway, after witnessing the wine poisoning, U.S. Agent storms in, bein’ all like, “The white woman done it!  I seen it!”

This of course, leads to Agent having to put the hurt on some Carnies.

Punching people and getting stabbed, that's U.S. Agent in a nutshell.

Or at least trying to.

After a few more panels of Agent beat-down,

saunters up and force feeds him some of her patented poison wine.

NOOOOOOO!!!! DON'T FALL OFF THE WAGON!!!

Cue full-page acid trip:

America: On the dope since.... well, forever.

After that artistically confusing unpleasantness, U.S. Agent awakens in a hospital, delusional and in a state of shock.

I’m sure waking up to this had nothing to do with that:

GOOD GOD RHODEY! Way to give somebody a heart attack!

As is typical of her, un-sexy Spider-Woman has some incredibly deep and thoughtful insights to provide

Yeah, yah' think? Jesus Christ you are un-sexy...

As U.S. Agent gets his bearings, the rest of the Avengers West Coast proceed to spew exposition back and forth amongst one another.

From these exchanges we learn that U.S. Agent got his ass pwned in the previous issue by a nefarious team of villains called the “Lethal Legion.”

Of course, U.S. Agent, being the meathead that he is, decides to throw a hissy fit and begins to argue with Hawkeye.

It's terrible when they fight. Really, they should think of the children.

The Hangman that Agent mentioned above is the ringleader of the Lethal Legion, a third-rate villain that serves as a virtually unbeatable antagonist to our team of super goobers.

After a solid 2 pages of bitching and moaning, and a Cap’n Crunch ad, our story finally picks up again.

But not before serving us with another ad:

I always thought this looked like shit. Anybody seen it?

Following this, our heroes decide to split-up in their search for the Hangman.

Un-sexy Spider-Woman and War Machine set out to investigate a Stella Houston’s beach house, presumably so un-sexy Spider-Woman can find a way to sexify herself.

Upon entering the residence of the Hangman’s former flame, our heroes are greeted by this crazy bitch:

Lose the axe and we'll talk.

Axe of Violence.

Seriously, that’s her name.

Anyway, uh, Ms. Violence tears into our heroes like they were, well, like they were a bunch of mediocre superheroes.

"It'll be okay kids! Just let me stick my finger in there and ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!"

As it turns out, Axe of Violence’s axe is laced with magic which, based on War Machine’s cry of “ARRRRRRRRRR”, seems to be bad news for the Avengers West Coast.

With War Machine proving to be less than helpful, and Axe of Violence proving to be an expert in pun crafting and axe fighting, un-sexy Spider-Woman decides join in the fight by literally hurling herself into the fray.

Un-sexy Spider-Woman used Un-sexy pounce!...

...It's not very effective...

During the confusion that follows, Ms. Violence makes mention of someone named Satannish, a demon who is apparently the true force behind the Hangman and the Lethal Legion.

As War Machine and un-sexy Spider-Woman back Axe of Violence into a corner, she suddenly turns tail and runs off, leaving them a parting gift in the process:

...and shooting NEXT TO HER is supposed to stop her how?

Thankfully, our exceedingly powerful and skillful Avengers West Coast manage to…

Oh, come on!

Jesus fuck, The Avengers West Coast suck-ass…

You see, that’s the fuckin’ problem with these guys!

Someone throws A FUCKING AXE and you don’t even so much as TRY to get out of the way!?

ARRRRRRGH!!! They should call these pansies the fuckin’ Avengers Triple-A…

Why thank you Patrick Stewart, for so perfectly articulating my feelings.

ANYWAY, mental giant that she is, un-sexy Spider-Woman proceeds to diagnose her MAGICAL AXE WOUND as being “not deep” and therefore, not a cause for concern.

With Axe of Violence gone, War Machine and un-sexy Spider-Woman proceed to discuss the Lizzie Borden nursery rhyme and it’s connection to their recently departed opponent.

You know, superhero stuff.

With that, we head on over to the Hangman’s former residence, where Hawkeye and the Scarlet Witch are poking around for clues.

Unfortunately, that crazy bitch,

decides to show up and make things difficult for our heroes.

Although I must say, she must’ve spent the past couple of days gettin’ Smurf STDs, ’cause she’s lookin’ a little, well, blue.

Goddamn Smurfette, why you gotta' be all violent n'shit?

Fortunately, she made the mistake of trying to ambush the Scarlet Witch AKA THE MOST BROKEN-ASS CHARACTER IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE.

You see, the Scarlet Witch’s powers involve probability manipulation, which in comic book terms, translates to BEING ABLE TO DO ANY FUCKING THING SHE WANTS.

In this case however, the writer was kind enough to tone down her powers so as to make her opponent seem to be a credible threat.

Smurfs fear but two things in this world: Doors, and Capitalism.

Trust me, you don’t wanna’ see what kind of stupid shit happens when the writers go nuts with the Scarlet Witch’s powers *cough!* House of M *cough!*

With Hawkeye’s help, (Haha! Yeah, sure…) the Scarlet Witch manages to subdue the Smurfette, however, before they can question her, the Hangman decides to crash the party by snagging Hawkeye with his noose.

Thank God somebody shut him up.

Not only that, but he takes the time to show the Scarlet Witch who wears the motherfuckin’ daddy pants.

Replace that "witch" with something a little more colorful, and we'll be in business.

With that, Hangman makes his way out the nearby window, an action that Hawkeye’s neck definitely would not appreciate.

*Ahem!* Cue Scarlet Witch and her broken-ass powers, as well as an insane amount of thought bubble text:

Come on lady, you can restructure reality itself, I think you can snap a fucking rope.

Scarlet Witch does indeed manage to literally save Hawkeye’s neck just before it’s snapped in half, whereupon our heroes proceed to ponder over

and her connection to the crazy Smurfette.

I wonder, do these guys ever get tired of being boring and inept?

We then find ourselves back at the hospital, where Hawkeye’s wife, Mockingbird, is checking in on U.S. Agent.

She tries to tell Agent that she’s going to quit the Avengers West Coast in favor of starting a family.

Unfortunately he’s busy downing a protein shake, getting an outlandish tattoo, and hating his father, so her words fail to reach his ‘roided out ears.

Oh yeah, that and some robot fucker named Coldsteel decides to show up.

List Prime Directives: 1. Kick Ass. 2. Chew Bubblegum. 3. Run Out Of Bubblegum.

Well, U.S. Agent and Coldsteel proceed to throw down while Mockingbird hangs back and pretends to be useful.

Yeah, she’s just as worthless as her husband.

During the battle, U.S. Agent comes to the conclusion that Coldsteel and the Lethal Legion are hunting the Avengers West Coast as some sort of competition.

As if to put an exclamation point on his theory, another member of the the Lethal Legion, Zyklon, shows up and proceeds to interfere with Coldsteel’s assault.

Alright, who would you rather fight? The giant-fucking robot, or the flatulent wonder?

During the ensuing chaos, Mockingbird has hallucinations similar to the ones U.S. Agent had earlier, more specifically the ones dealing with Nazi gas victims.

Likewise, Agent appears to have drunk the bong water, again, ’cause he’s seeing things again as well:

Okay........ Josef Stalin everyone!

So, if we are to believe U.S. Agent’s cracked out visions, Coldsteel is Josef Stalin.

Right, then naturally, that would mean that Zyklon is:

Gasp! Heinrich Himmler!

That’s right folks, Mockingbird has a vision of Zyklon actually being Heinrich Himmler.

Before things can get awkward though, Zyklon/Himmler takes Mockingbird hostage, apparently just to piss off Coldsteel/Stalin.

Fortunately, Coldsteel still has U.S. Agent to beat on, so he does just that.

Before things can get out of hand though, War Machine decides to show up and… well, you’ll see.

Damn, and here I thought War Machine was starting to seem kind of worthless...

...Oh wait, he is.

After the dust has settled, the rest of the Avengers West Coast meet up at the hospital.

A shit ton of bitching and arguing follows soon after, with Hawkeye being all pissy on account of his wife getting snatched, and U.S. Agent being all down on himself ’cause he’s finally coming down from his caffeine high.

Eventually, the team get their shit together, and the Scarlet Witch offers to use a tome of deus ex machina to open up a portal to Satannish’s realm.

The fact that the double-size, issue #100 was just on the horizon as this comic was being written, seems to serve as the only explanation as to why the deus ex machina book didn’t come into play earlier in the story.

Anyway, the Scarlet With reads from the book, and un-sexy Spider-Woman once again has some brilliant commentary to offer:

She deserves an award for how dumb and un-sexy she is.

Despite un-sexy Spider-Woman’s doubts as to the deus ex machina book’s capabilities, Satannish is kind enough to promptly show himself, thusly rendering her objections pointless, and yes, un-sexy.

Satannish: As ugly as he is uninspired.

Satannish proceeds to gloat from his twin mouths, calling the Avengers West Coast mean things like “weak”, “dumb”, and “un-sexy.”

When confronted on his motives for kidnapping Mockingbird, Satannish responds with something the lines of :

“‘Cause I’m all ’bout dah’ bitches!”

Anyway, the issue draws to an end as our heroes stand around with their thumbs up their butts, only to have the great lord of the underworld himself, Mephisto, show up and offer his aid in battling Satannish.

Mephisto: Lord of Darkness, and stealer of marriages.

Well, that was Avengers West Coast #99.

Now you finally understand why I don’t read team books. (well, outside of Secret Six and The Thunderbolts, they’re fuckin’ awesome)

They’re muddled, confusing, and more often than not their plots center around watching the heroes get their asses kicked until God himself descends from the heavens and grants them a sudden, and often, unwarranted, victory.

Goodnight ladies and gentleman, I am officially off writing until…. sometime tomorrow morning.

Let’s have one more picture of Sexy Spider-Woman before we say goodnight, shall we?

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