Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Finally Reached The Thanos Imperative


You see that picture of the amazingly badass, The Right Stuff-esque lineup of cosmic Marvel heroes?

That picture, or rather, splash page; was all it took for me to tell myself:

“I don’t know what it’s about, or even if it’s gonna’ be any good, but I need to read The Thanos Imperative.”

That was roughly one year ago.

Since then, I’ve spent a great deal of time (and money) playing catch-up, reading the vast majority of the story arcs and trades that preceded The Thanos Imperative.

I started with the 2006 incarnation of Marvel’s Annihilation event, wherein the bug-minded Annihilus of the Negative Zone waged war on the cosmic Marvel universe due to his belief that the Positive Universe was encroaching on his territory.

Yeah, Gabrielle Del Otto's kind of a good artist...

Having entered into Annihilation pretty much a virgin of the cosmic sector of the Marvel Universe, I was thoroughly impressed by the accessibility and cohesiveness of the arc.

Any apprehension I may have felt in pursuing the expensive cause of catching up to The Thanos Imperative were instantly dispelled by the sheer quality and entertainment value of Annihilation.

In short, I was hooked.

That being said, just days after working my way through the massive 3 book epic of Annihilation, I started reading the equally entertaining, though not quite as self-contained follow-up series, Annihilation: Conquest.

Conquest instilled in me a great love for Star-Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as put a smile on my face with it’s use of Ultron, one of my favorite Marvel villains, as the main antagonist.

Easily the best visualization of Ultron I've ever seen.

After reading Conquest, I don’t see myself going very long without picking up and reading the Guardians of the Galaxy trades at some point.

Oddly enough, while Conquest brought an end to the Annihilation Saga proper, it’s spiritual successor, the Inhuman and Shi’ar conflict dubbed the War of Kings; was a trade I actually read several years ago on a whim.

Despite having read it before, I decided it read through it again, as well as a few of it’s supplementary trades just to refresh my memory.

Honestly, it may have just been because of my increased familiarity with the characters and landscape, but I think War of Kings was actually better the second time around.

Pictured: The splash page that single-handedly made a Black Bolt fan out of me.

Finally, in my last step before reading The Thanos Imperative, I decided to pick up a copy of Realm of Kings, the massive bridge that wrapped up the events of War of Kings, and bridged the gap between it and The Thanos Imperative.

Truth be told, of all the various books I read this past year, Realm of Kings was the only one that I recall getting some bad press.

Reviewers accused it of being padded and extraneous, but I for one found it to be very much worthwhile.

The art was above average to great throughout, and both the Inhuman and Shi’ar story arcs concerned characters and events that I was honestly happy to learn more about.

The one ratty part of the trade, and likely the reason it reviewed poorly, was the Son of the Hulk story arc.

I don't know what his deal is, but he looks like Kratos mixed with that kid from The Last Airbender.

I consider myself extremely well-versed in the lore of the Marvel Universe, but for the life of me I had no fucking clue what was going on over the course of these 5 issues.

I’ve read Planet Hulk and World War Hulk, and I know a great deal about Hulk’s son Skaar, but I’ve never fucking heard of Hiro-Kala or the fucking Micronauts.

Despite this, I was thoroughly intrigued by the concept (and look) of the Cancerverse explored throughout Realm of Kings.

I’m giddy as a schoolgirl to see how the Cancerverse figures into The Thanos Imperative.

That's the Cancerverse rendition of the Hulk. Yeah, I'm serious.

In all, the stuff about Hiro-Kala and his bullshit was a terrible way to end an otherwise wondrous reading experience, but oh well.

That being said, as of yesterday, I now have my copy of The Thanos Imperative, and am positively shivering with excitement over cracking it open and finally reading what I worked all year to catch up to.

Here’s hoping it’s half as good as I’ve built it up to be!

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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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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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