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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The Old Spice Guy Wants To Play Luke Cage? Fine By Me…

Celebrities (or in this case, pseudo-celebrities) going way out of their way to petition themselves for movie roles isn’t a new thing.

If you remember, Sean Young ran into the offices of Warner Bros. dressed in a homemade Catwoman outfit when she caught word the character was going to be featured in Batman Returns.

Another, similar example of this, was of course Thomas Jane’s ploy in auditioning for the role of Jonah Hex by hiring makeup FX technicians to take headshots of him as Jonah Hex.

Haha, he looks like Christopher Lambert... 20 years ago.

Personally, I’m kind of glad he didn’t get the role, as I’ve always kind of liked Thomas Jane ever since I saw him in Deep Blue Sea.

Shut up.  Deep Blue Sea was awesome.  Renny Harlin can suck a dick though…

Moving on, I remember being somewhat shocked by the debut of Kevin McKidd’s “action reel,” a short video meant to distance the actor from his Grey’s Anatomy and Rome pedigree, and toss his hat into the fold as an action star in training:

The reel may not be the best demo of all time, but just the fact that the man, a Hollywood actor; would go out of his way to put it together on his own time, always impressed me.

Not that Kevin McKidd’s really at all on my radar as a major Hollywood actor…

Anyway, as you may have guessed by the title and subject matter of this article, Isaiah Mustafa AKA The Old Spice Guy From Those Random-Ass Commercials; has gone ahead and made a fake trailer, casting himself as Marvel’s perennial “super strong, super black dude,” Luke Cage:

The trailer is short and sweet, and does well to hide it’s very likely sparse production values with clever lighting and minimalist sets.

As with the case of Kevin McKidd’s fight reel, I can’t help but be impressed by the initiative and drive exhibited by Mustafa by going ahead and making this video.

I can’t speak to the man’s acting ability, as outside of his on-screen charisma in the Old Spice commericials; I’ve yet to see him act, but he has the size and the look to pull it off, and given that he went out of his way to make this video, it’s hard to argue that he probably wants the role more than anyone else at this point.

Truth be told, outside of Thunderbolts and Iron Fist team-ups, I’ve never really paid much mind to Cage.

The character has an intriguing story, and close ties to virtually every major player in the Marvel universe, so it’s inevitable that a movie adaptation is going to be made at some point.

Knowing Hollywood, they’ll probably end up giving the role to Tyrese or some shit…

In any case, they’d be crazy not to at least offer the role to Michael Jai White, given that he has the physicality, acting talent, and is rapidly becoming a known element in Hollywood… Again.

Anybody remember Spawn?... Bueller?

Regardless of what happens in the casting of this film, my only hope is that it’ll turn out better than Elektra

Or Catwoman

Or Fantastic Four

Or Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Aw, who am I kidding, we all know who the reigning champ of suck is...

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Venom’s New Look

I’ve always liked Venom.

While many comic fans dismiss Venom as a gimmicky, over-exposed, and somewhat one-dimensional element of Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery; I for one have always enjoyed reading him.

Maybe it’s the 90’s comic fan in me, but the savage, hulk-ed out, part-time anti-hero aspects of Venom’s character have always appealed to me.

I found the original Eddie Brock version of the character to be a menacing and effective counterpoint to the typically colorful antics of most Spider-Man stories.

When Mac Gargan (The Scorpion) took over as the new Venom, I found myself impressed by the pathetic and almost pitiable aspects of the character that was seemingly at the mercy of the symbiote.

Despite the ridiculous amount of hosts that the Venom symbiote has occupied over the years, one thing that I’ve found myself looking forward to with each new iteration, was the artistic design of the character.

The original Todd McFarlane take on the character, is ironically one of my least favorite.

Pictured: Venom showing us his pedo-face.

The bulk of the character’s build was a good design choice, given the more direct and less finesse oriented nature of Eddie Brock compared to Spider-Man at the time; but the teeth and lack of tongue action were something that the character would benefit from immensely in the coming years.

Also, I know it’s nit-picky of me to say; but the small patches of white on top of Venom’s palms were an addition to later iterations of the character that made a huge difference.

Jus’ sayin’ is all…

Anyway, as time moved on, Venom’s appearance became even bulkier, more toned, while his face became considerably more vicious and animalistic in nature.

Also, his coloration became akin to the Batman comics of old, wherein the blue highlights started to take center stage.

Pictured: The Venom I grew up with.

While I preferred the black Venom, I have to admit that the blue did a lot to improve the detail of the character from panel to panel, making his appearance far more dynamic than before.

When the host for Venom changed over to Mac Gargan, we found ourselves faced with a brand new design for the character for a new age of comics.

Pictured: Venom, as brought to you by the UFC.

Bearing a much larger “spider” symbol on his chest, as well as a color scheme that would switch from purple, to black, to even green at times; the Mac Gargan Venom proved to be one of my favorite takes on the character.

With a persona that could be described as “brutish” in nature I.E. dumb and violent, Gargan’s Venom (as well as the Ultimate version) allowed for the artist’s to go wild, often times drawing the character as more alien than anything else.

Not only that, but many writers also found ways to take Gargan’s menacing appearance, and child-like intelligence; and create some truly funny moments for the character.

While not exactly "funny," watching Venom put on a guard's helmet after eating him was just plain silly. I loved it.

It’s this versatility, at least from a design standpoint; that makes Venom so much fun for me.

The Venom symbiote itself has such a wide array of capabilities, that it really just becomes a matter of the writer and artist picking which traits and abilities they find most interesting and running with it.

Depending on the team involved, Venom can be anywhere from 6 to 15 feet tall, can change shape and bulk at will, can shapeshift to some degree, can be colored anywhere from purple to green, and can even exhibit cannibalistic tendencies.

Pictured: One of my favorite moments in Warren Ellis' Thunderbolts.

It all depends on who’s at the helm in the design department.

Which brings me to the point of this post:

While Venom has been rather quiet in the comics these days, I happened upon this article at IGN the other day that made mention of the character’s future.

The story details are still hush hush at the moment, but Marvel was kind enough to release this image of the new look for Venom:

Apparently the story has the Venom symbiote being worn by a new host, for the purpose of black ops missions.

While the government agent angle honestly doesn’t really peak my interest all that much, I must admit; the Venom symbiote is a pretty good tool for military/black ops missions.

Remember the shapeshifting I mentioned?

Well, I’d imagine that, along with the inherent superhuman capabilities of the symbiote; would be quite useful for infiltration or assassinations.

The story arc (beginning in a brand new Venom comic) is going to be written by Rick Remender, and pencilled by Tony Moore; so I expect nothing but good.

That being said, here is impression of Tony Moore’s design for the new Venom:

In keeping with the black ops angle of the story, Moore’s design is subtle and devoid of flash.

Looking very much like the ultra-modern tactical armor that seems to be so popular with the kids these days, the overall package is that of a more streamlined and “practical” Venom.

All the key elements of Venom’s previous designs are retained, with the only significant difference being a lack of a mouth, (suggesting a more internalized, if not level-headed character for the new host) and highlighted outlines for the eye area instead of filled in blotches of white.

Overall, the design is simple and unassuming, making it solid; and very difficult to hate.

I do find it interesting however, that despite the superpowers the Venom symbiote imbues it’s host with; whoever the character is that is going to be wearing it in this story arc seems to have little confidence in it’s capabilities, as he is very clearly still wearing plate armor on portions of his body.

Based on the slim figure of the character, as well as the Venom symbiote’s recently more aggressive demeanor; I’m guessing that the inhibitor that was used to force Mac Gargan’s Venom to appear more Spider-Man-like during Dark Reign is still being used on this version of the character.

Pictured: Dark Reign Venom. Yes, I do have a thing for Mike Deodato...

It’s just a guess, but if I’m right; that could probably serve as a plot device that weakens the symbiote, or specializes it’s capabilities somehow.

In any case, those are my thoughts.

The design is solid, if unexciting; a combination of traits that I hope won’t be used to describe the upcoming comic it’s being used in.

 

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Favorite Cover Artists: Francesco Mattina

Mattina does Batman.

While I can’t say I know a whole lot about Francesco Mattina other than the fact that he’s Italian, I do know this:

He makes some damn spiffy comic book covers.

While it must be said that he isn’t the most flexible of artists, as he’s been utilizing essentially the same style/aesthetic for as long as I’ve known of him, when it comes to what he does, there aren’t many that can challenge him.

Yes, not even the hairy Canadian.

So, I guess you’re probably wondering, what is it that Mr. Mattina does?

Put simply, he does artwork of the “darker” variety.

He does gritty:

DAMN.

He does awesome:

DOUBLE-DAMN!

And more often than not, he does it all while sticking to the dynamic and macho figure renderings and poses that have embodied superhero comics since their inception.

Thank you Google Images for lising Razor Ramon under the search terms "dynamic machismo."

Despite this though, one of the key strengths to his artwork, is his eye for composition.

Much like Marko Djurdjevic, (who will most certainly be making an appearance in this series of posts) Francesco Mattina quite obviously has a background in graphic design, resulting in the vast majority of his covers being eye-catching not just for the gorgeous artwork, but also for the creative and enticing layouts.

Take a look at this for example:

I know, it's Deadpool. Stop sucking his cock, fanboy. He's not THAT cool...

Aside from his compositions, his color work is flat-out amazing.

Most of his work has a sort of metallic looking sheen on it that gives everything a unique and lively look that emphasizes motion and atmosphere.

A little bit TOO Michael Bay Transformers-ish, but still cool nonetheless.

I also appreciate how, much like Ivan Reis and Ethan Van Sciver, Francesco Mattina also favors a slightly more realistic approach to the anatomy of his characters.

Not only that, I also find myself consistently impressed by some of his interpretations of certain character’s costume designs, as his photo-realistic style forces a level of detail that results in many of the costumes being rendered in a more believable, and therefore, practical; fashion.

Azrael, looking absolutely the best he ever has.

On a completely unrelated note, I couldn’t help but notice that his interpretation of Nova’s armor is alarming close to Richard Gyuo’s from Guyver:

Nova...

Gyuo...

Anyway, I first ran across Francesco Mattina when I was first considering getting into the Thunderbolts comic.

Truth be told, Mattina and Marko Djurdjevic’s work on that series was probably the biggest deciding factor in me picking up that book.

I’m oh so happy I did.

Anyway, I’m running out of steam, so I’ll just finish with this awesome, and brand spankin’ new Moon Knight cover:

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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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Crossovers and Event Comics, Goddamnit…

I am not an event book reader when it comes to comic books.

In most cases, I find them to be sloppily organized, and sometimes harmful to the storylines of the characters involved.

More often than not, I find that crossovers and event comics typically have valuable ideas and story beats to bring to the table, however in most cases the events that take place between these major moments amount to little more than fluff or padding.

All of this, combined with the fact that I don’t consider myself a fan of “team” books, is what keeps me from reading event books.

I find them to be nothing more than bloated, ponderous, fanboy conceived drivel that are more enjoyable to read in bullet-point summary.

Or in the case of Onslaught, better when avoided entirely.

That being said, what experience do I have personally with event comics?

Well, the first crossover I ever read was X-Men: Fatal Attractions.

Okay, Magneto looks fucking retarded on this cover, but I swear it's a good book.

This was a typical 90’s X-family story, wherein the Acolytes are running around being dicks, Magneto has somehow come back from the dead following Fabian Cortez’s betrayal, and now the whole planet is in danger.

Pictured: The Kevin Costner of the X-Men universe.

The story is told from the viewpoint of nearly all of the major X-family factions including the X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force,  and even the England based Excalibur.

Sorry though, no New Mutants, although I don’t know who in their right mind would miss them.

Good God what a juvenile pile of suck...

The whole thing comes to a climax when a small strike force of X-Men attempt to destroy Magneto, resulting in him using his magnetic powers to tear the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones and clear through his skin.

One of my first "Holy fucking shit" moments in comics.

It was perhaps the most dramatic moment in the entire storyline, however it was by no means the only important event to occur throughout.

Colossus’ defection to the Acolytes while mourning the loss of his younger sister Illyana was quite memorable, as was Cable’s hopeless one-on-one struggle against Magneto.

This just seems to be the trend whenever Magneto is forced to take the gloves off...

As a kid, I really liked Fatal Attractions.

The X-Men cartoon and Capcom’s various Marvel arcade games of the time had thrust the X-Men into the forefront of my childhood consciousness, and even if I didn’t “get” all the subtleties of the story, I was just happy to be reading about the X-Men.

Nowadays, as an older, wiser Azn Badger, I bow my head in shame at any thought of the X-Men comics, however I still find myself nostalgically flipping through my collected edition of Fatal Attractions from time to time.

The only other crossovers I own, are the excellent Death and Return of Superman, and the mediocre Batman: War Games.

Oh yeah, and that piece of monkey-crap, X-Men: Messiah Complex.

WORST. COMIC. EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

In general, crossovers always have the potential to be pretty good, but when it comes to combining the writing and art of so many different writers and pencillers, it takes a special kind of chemistry to make it all sync together just right.

Of the 4 crossovers I own, only Fatal Attraction manages to remain fairly consistent in voice and presentation.

Well, except for maybe the guys that drew the Excalibur portion, they sucked something fierce.

Seriously, what the fuck is up with Colossus in this cover?

When everyone comes together just right, and are able to trick you into thinking you’re reading a single cohesive story, written by one person; then you have a crossover that just might be something special.

It doesn’t happen often, but we comic fans are always hopeful.

...Unlike this kid.

Event comics are something that I stayed away from until fairly recently.

My one big gripe with event comics has always been the over-abundance of spin-offs and tie-ins that invariably coincide with their release.

An example of a GOOD spin-off, which was in turn "spun off" from a spin-off.

You know those little captions that pop up in the corner of some panels saying cryptic little nothings like:
“For more info, read Avengers West Coast #47!”

That’s the kind of bullshit that kept me away from event books for most of my life.

My first event book, was a classic of the industry, namely Marvel’s Infinity Gauntlet.

A truly great fucking cover.

It was tightly paced, only had 2 illustrators, who thankfully had similar styles; and perhap most important of all:

It was self-contained.

True, there were a handful of supplemental storylines that tied-into the main storyline, but despite this, the entire collected edition, from start to finish, could be read and understood by just about anyone.

I really liked the Infinity Gauntlet, but from most reviews I’ve read, there aren’t that many company event comics that can measure up to it, outside of maybe the grandaddy of all event comics, Secret Wars.

The original Ocean's 11 of comic books.

I own maybe 3 event comics including the Infinity Gauntlet.

The other 2 are Civil War and World War Hulk.

I bought Civil War because of Steve McNiven’s art more than anything else, and World War Hulk was a necessary purchase after I read the story directly preceding it, the truly magnificent Planet Hulk.

Now imagine a whole book of THIS.

While World War Hulk was kind of a let down given that I am not really a “modern” John Romita Jr. fan, (I liked his 90’s style better than his Moai Statue looking people nowadays) and the conclusion of the story reeked of deus ex machina, Civil War was a pleasant surprise.

If anything swayed me a little bit on the possibility of good “modern” event comics, Civil War was it.

While the story is a little bit claustrophobic at times, and the conclusion seems to come rather suddenly, the collected edition of Civil War was largely coherent, and more importantly, enjoyable to read.

Did I mention Steve McNiven was a good artist?

While Mark Millar is hardly on my “good list,” his writing for Civil War was remarkably restrained, and fit the voices of the characters quite well for the most part.

Like I mentioned earlier though, it helps when you have Steven McNiven, one of the best artists in the medium; doing the interiors.

ONCE AGAIN, I'd just like to say that Steven McNiven is a pretty decent artist.

Civil War had a shit-ton of tie-ins, some of which I’ve been told were essential to the experience, particularly the Amazing Spider-Man issues, however I read none of them and still enjoyed myself.

The reason I chose today to gripe about event comics and crossovers, was because of a dilemma I encountered at Olympic Cards and Comics yesterday.

And this would be Azn Badger doing his civic duty by plugging a local business.

I was in the market for a trade paperback, (I don’t buy weekly’s and monthlies anymore) and I had found myself stupefied by a simple, 3-way decision.

I was holding Thunderbolts vol. 3, Moon Knight vol. 3, and Wolverine: Weapon X vol. 1, and even though I wanted the Thunderbolts, I ended up walking away with Moon Knight.

Why did I do this?

Because Thunderbolts vol. 3 just happened to be a tie-in to the 2008 event comic, Secret Invasion.

WORST COMIC EVERRRRRRRRRRRRRR MK. 2

In terms of event comics, Secret Invasion is widely regarded as the definition of “let-down.”

It was hyped for no less than 5 years, and while the changes to the Marvel universe that it brought to the table were indeed significant, the actual panel-to-panel experience amounted to nothing more than “meh.”

On top of that, if you go to your local comic shop, and you look for Secret Invasion of the trade shelf, do you know what you see?

A WHOLE FUCKING ROW OF PAPER THIN PURPLE BOOK SPINES.

Marvel really shat on it’s readers with it’s release of Secret Invasion and it’s ungodly number of tie-in books.

Seriously, by my count there are 26 books under the Secret Invasion label, with 4 of them being of the core storyline, and about 5-6 of them being essential to the experience according to most recommendations.

At $30 for the core book, and like $15 a pop for any of the tie-ins, that’s not asking a lot, that’s just straight punk-garbage-faggotry, man.

...Sure, why not?

Secret Invasion pisses me off because I don’t want to read it on account of it’s shittiness, and yet I feel a strong desire to give in and read it on account of it having stake in just about every storyline since it’s publication.

Either way, I still hate reading really good trades from characters I like and seeing those little fucking yellow captions pop up with their “See Secret Invasion #5!” bullshit.

Fortunately, I always have this as an excuse for not buying over-priced bullshit.

2 years have past, I know what happens during Secret Invasion, and yet I don’t.

Though I loved Thunderbolts 1-2, the interference of Secret Invasion, a bloated book I honestly don’t want to read, is what kept me from pursuing the rest of the series for the time being.

Well, that and the fact that Warren Ellis bowed out of the series as writer after volume 2.

Warren Ellis: Creator of such wonders as the "Bowel Disruptor Gun."

The whole point of this rant is that, I love comic books, but I’m pretty sure I’m always going to be one of those guys that just reads his comics.

I took a gamble with Civil War, and it worked out, but I also took a gamble with Messiah Complex, and now I feel like hitting someone every time I think about it.

Unfortunately, no one was around at the time of writing this...

Event comics are hard for me, because I tend to read comics from the DC/Marvel universes, but I generally stick to the characters that typically aren’t involved in the big events.

Moon Knight was featured in about 1 page of The Infinity Gauntlet.

I guess you could say The Punisher lent a hand in Civil War, and by that I mean he killed a pair of D-list supervillains that nobody cared about.

Just for fun, here's the two of them hangin' out together.

Batman is the FUCKING MAN, but if you thought Marvel’s event comic continuity was impenetrable, then apparently you haven’t looked at DC’s “Crisis” storylines and their multiverse bullshit.

That's nice an' all, but could someone tell me what the heck is going on?

I like my comics, but every now and again, I feel compelled to take a gamble and try and read one of their comics.

When I think about it though, near as I can tell I’m about 1:1 with my “good” and “bad” event book purchases, so I guess the odds of me being pleasantly surprised are actually pretty good.

Here’s hoping to future gambles and pleasant surprises then, I guess.

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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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