Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Committed To Reading The Annihilation Saga

I’m starting to realize that I am somewhat of a completist when it comes to comic books.

I routinely show up late to the party when it comes to the newest and most popular story arcs, largely because I get hung up trying to play catch up.

In most cases, it’s simply not enough for me to hit up Wikipedia to find out what I missed.

When I “get into” a character or storyline, I prefer to start from the “beginning,” which is typically represented by the work of a signature author or storyline; and work my way through the trades until I get up to date.

Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in me purchasing and reading some pretty bad books every now and again.

It’s just the nature of the superhero comics industry, with writers and illustrators jumping from project to project all the time; it’s only natural that various books have dips in quality every now and again.

Some examples of purchases I kind of regret, are Secret Invasion, and every single Punisher MAX trade following the departure of Garth Ennis.

Pictured: One of many reasons Garth Ennis owns The Punisher.

It’s funny, I actually remember saying, on this very blog; stating that I would probably never pick up a copy of Secret Invasion.

I heard it wasn’t very good, and was hoping to avoid it, but eventually I got so immersed in the Marvel Universe as a whole, (I don’t know about you, but Dark Reign really “did it” for me) that I reached a point in which most of the characters I was reading had a big fat hole in their continuity left by me not having read Secret Invasion or any of it’s copious tie-ins.

Secret Invasion was indeed kind of a crappy, (not Messiah Complex crappy, mind you) but for whatever reason, it’s comforting to me to have those plot holes filled.

The Punisher stuff kind of speaks for itself.

Garth Ennis was the best thing that ever happened to the character, so his departure from the series pretty much resulted in the bar being set far too high for anyone to possibly measure up to.

UN. TOUCHABLE.

‘Nuff said.

Anyway, as you might have guess from the title of this post, I’ve recently committed myself to reading all of the Annihilation Saga trades, up through the recent Thanos Imperative.

For your information, that’s about 5 years worth of storylines, told across 5 major arcs, as well as possibly a tie-in book or 2; most of which were written by the dynamic duo of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.

That’s a lot of fuckin’ comics.

Curiously enough, my association with this sprawling story came in the form of jumping right smack in the middle of it a few years ago.

The first book in the series I read was War of Kings, which turned out to be a surprisingly enjoyable read despite my general unfamiliarity with most of the characters.

Over the course of the story, I developed a newfound respect for Black Bolt, as well as an unexpected degree of interest in the cosmic Marvel Universe.

Admittedly, Black Bolt was also kind of badass in World War Hulk...

Though I went on to pick up the War of Kings: Warriors trade that collected a number of tie-in issues associated with the core story, for whatever reason I never went any further than that until just last week.

Last week I finished reading the first book of Annihilation, the initial story arc of the Annihilation saga; and boy was I impressed.

As with War of Kings, I found myself becoming attached to characters that were largely on the periphery of the core Marvel canon, but not only that, I found myself being sucked into the story itself; regardless of it’s place in Marvel lore.

In short, the first book; while little more than build up to the meat of the story, was a damn good read.

That being said, while I know I’ve got my work cut out for me, I’m actually looking forward to cutting a swathe through Annihilation and seeing how everything pans out.

Typically, when I’m faced with diving into a story this big, I tend to feel pensive about the emotional and monetary investment it represents, but in this case; I’m actually kind of jazzed.

Now, all I have to do is find a comic shop that actually carries a copy of Annihilation: Book Two, and then I can actually get started…

Do I really need a reason to post this image? Didn't think so...

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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.

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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