Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

The Return Of The Dark Avengers

(Image courtesy IGN.com)

Awhile back I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to compose a guest review for a comic over at the excellent review blog, Collected Editions.

As a frequent reader there, I was aware that the chief writer there covered DC comics almost exclusively, however I myself was told that I would have free reign in choosing which comic I’d like to review, regardless of the publisher.

That being said, of all the comics I had read recently; I chose to review the first trade of the flagship title under Marvel’s Dark Reign banner, The Dark Avengers.

The Dark Avengers doing their best "SUCK MY DICK" poses.

Brian Michael Bendis has never been my favorite writer, but his trademark colorful dialogue, combined with a strong cast and Mike Deodato’s always stellar pencil work, made for an irresistible combination in my book.

For whatever reason, the idea of a superhero team composed of known supervillains has always “done it” for me.

Perhaps it also has something to do with the brilliance of writers like Gail Simone and Warren Ellis, but for what it’s worth; Secret Six and Thunderbolts have consistently been 2 of my favorite books over the past half decade.

Pictured: One of many reasons Secret Six deserves your money.

Anyway, as tends to happen with books that emerge from high-profile events, Dark Avengers came to an unfortunate end when the status quo was once again shifted following the events of Siege.

Norman Osborn, the team’s leader; was shipped off to prison.

The Sentry was (supposedly) destroyed.

Daken escaped to his own self-titled book.

And the rest of the team was either imprisoned, killed, or booted onto the Thunderbolts.

While I knew Dark Avengers wouldn’t last long, given the impermanent nature of Dark Reign; it nevertheless saddened me to see it go.

Thankfully, nothing ever stays dead for long in comics; and this coming November we’ll all be treated to a revival of Dark Avengers.

As happy as this makes me, perhaps the most important part about this is the fact that both Bendis and Deodato are supposedly returning to the book which, ideally; will result in a similar standard of quality.

Anyway, nothing else has really been announced about Dark Avengers at this point, other than the fact that Norman Osborn will once again be leading it.

Though somehow I doubt Deodato will be using Tommy Lee Jones as a reference again.

While my comic plate is, as always; very much full at the moment, I look forward to getting a chance to read a new Dark Avengers trade, which given the nature of Marvel’s release dates, won’t be until well into 2012.

If you think it’s silly to be anticipating a comic release about 6-8 months ahead of time, think about all the people that have been losing their shit over The Dark Knight Rises ever since 5 minutes after The Dark Knight hit theaters.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

After all, I’m one of them.

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I Just Bought My First Rare Comic

Pictured: Hopefully this won't be me in the near future...

I don’t consider myself a “collector” of comic books.

None of the comics I own are of any value, nor do I operate from the belief that any of them will accrue any value at any future date.

Comic’s worth are typically derived from their rarity, their condition, and ultimately how limited their production run was, all factors that the current age of mass produced collected editions has done well to eliminate.

Regarding my own comic buying habits, I’m a trade-only buyer of comics; meaning I don’t purchase loose comics off the newstands.

That right there is often viewed as borderline blasphemous behavior on the part of anyone that could consider themselves a comic collector.

Thank you Collected Editions for standing up for us trade-only guys…  Oh yeah, and for publishing my guest review awhile back.

When you factor in my trade-only habits with the fact that I buy comics solely for the purpose of reading and enjoying them, you have the makings of a man that is more of a casual comic enthusiast/reader than anything else.

That being said, today I received a package in the mail that represents my first purchase of what some would consider a fairly rare or valuable comic.

The comic in question, is the trade paperback collection of the 1996 Batman crossover, Batman: Legacy.

Mmmm, rare....

The story itself is not regarded as being within the top 25 of Batman’s best, however in my case; it was the premise moreso than the quality of the writing or art that drew me to Legacy.

Supposedly acting as a follow-up to the 1993 Knightfall storyarc, an epic and sprawling story that served as one of the most important of my youth.

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, the early 90’s were a tumultuous and ugly period in comic history; one punctuated by the creation of outlandish and violent characters, as well as the implementation of more than a few shocking publicity stunts on the part of Marvel and DC in an attempt to sustain their dwindling sales numbers.

Needless to say, “shock” was the order of the day for 90’s comic books.

I grew up watching Doomsday kill Superman.

EPIC.

I grew up watching Bane break Batman’s back.

EVEN MORE EPIC.

I grew up watching Carnage cut a swath through the Marvel universe with reckless abandon.

Fun, but nowhere near epic...

These sort of “MTV Generation” characters, and their respective homicidal antics; served as my introduction into the world of comics, and as such; I bear a great deal of nostalgia for them.

As much as comic fans tend to deride some of these characters, I for one will never get tired of them.

Except maybe Carnage, he’s kinda’ overstayed his welcome…

*Sigh* Sadly, no one stays dead in comic books...

That being said, the major factor that drew me to Batman: Legacy, despite it’s fairly substantial (for me anyway) price tag; was the fact that it features the only legitimate rematch between Batman and Bane.

The 2 have encountered one another several times since Bane’s first appearance in Knightfall, though Legacy represents the only time they actually battle one another.

Ever since I heard of Batman: Legacy several years ago, I told myself:

“That’s something I have to see.”

Like I said, the story of Legacy isn’t supposed to be anything to write home about, but the prospect of a rematch between one of my favorite DC villains and my favorite DC hero was something I just couldn’t shy away from seeing.

Not from Legacy, but a fun image nonetheless.

In the comics, it was always speculated that Batman was physically on par with Bane, with the notable exception being a disparity in their physical strength levels when Bane was on Venom.

At the time Legacy takes place, Bane has long since renounced the use of Venom, which; combined with the fact that Batman is likely in much better physical condition than he was during Knightfall, (he was severely fatigued when he first fought Bane) adds up to a contest of equals that, in my mind; has all the makings of a terrific read.

Haha, listen to me ramble on about a comic book match up like it’s some sort of real-life boxing match or some shit…

Anyway, I’ve been waiting to buy a copy of Legacy for years now, with the price being the sole prohibitive factor in me doing so up until now.

I’ve seen Legacy listed for anywhere from $80-180.

I’m sorry, but as much as I love comics, I simply can’t justify that sort of expenditure for a book.

Then again, I am known to be Azn, and therefore CHEAP:

Too expensive. I'll wait till it's on sale... And a pretty lady is selling it...

Luckily, I happened upon a listing last week for $45, which while much more expensive than any of the other comics on my shelf, even the heft hardcover ones; was a price I was more than willing to pay for something I’d waited so long to get my hands on.

Hah, I hope this isn’t becoming a trend, otherwise I might just find myself happy and surrounded by comic books.

Oh yeah, and POOR.

Anyway, as of writing this, I have yet to so much as crack this bad boy open.

Hopefully Batman: Legacy proves to be worth all of it’s $45 price tag!

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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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