An episode of a great podcast that I am loving.
In the long ago past, comics were written month to month, operating as single stories that may link to others later, or the occasional multi-part saga, but you tended to get 22 pages per month that were complete in and of themselves. It’s not quite like that now, is it? With one and done stories the exception and not the rule and with the rise of (sigh) decompressed story-telling. More and more the model for pacing is designed not for the single issues on the newsstands, but for the collector based direct market. So instead of each comic being its own thing, they became chapters of a larger tale. As well as giving the quieter moments more room to breathe, the pacing allows the chapters to be collected into collected editions or trade paperbacks more easily.
Writing for the trade is not unknown to any comic fan and it’s the way most people who are not comic fans experience them, either in the trade paperback form or as a set of separate comics bunched together. The MIGHTY Rosie found comics like that, first reading the 8 part Up Up and Away story in Superman and Action Comics. What the upshot of this is that comics are read both in single issues as you buy them, but can be re-read as part of the overall whole. Read 1-6 over six months and then re-read 1-6 in one day and it’s a different story.
Last weekend, I went to Caewrys in Wales with Super Sam, Wilma the dog and the MIGHTY Rosie (more on that story later) had a lovely time and there was an amount of downtime and rather than listen to a podcast or watch TV when we were all taking five, so I packed some comics. Didn’t read them all, it was very much a being together weekend, but I made a start.
The series I started on was Boom Studios Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I have up until this point bought 0-24 as well as the 2 annuals.
Ok, quick aside. I was a fan of the 90’s X-Men animated series which was on Saturday morning when the first series ended the timeslot was taken up by a new series called Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I will be honest, I was less than enthused with this series, but periodically I would look in and see what was happening. It was heavy on action, mostly cut from Japanese program Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, light on anything resembling characterization and formulaic. But there were good ideas in there, as well as bonkers action with monsters and giant robots. I watched some of the first 3 or 4 series, but had no access to any of the original Sentai footage, or at least not till many years later. I did watch some related stuff called Tokusatsu, which included Sentai characters, I wrote about it here, but that’s by the by. The point is, with some more depth to the writing, this could be more enjoyable and that was borne out last year when Boom started their MMPR title.
Written by Kyle Higgins with other creators on the art, this series is set shortly after the Power Rangers TV episodes Green With Evil. We have the original 5 characters from the series Jason Scott, Trini Kwan, Billy Cranston, Kimberley Hart and Zach Taylor, their mentor Zordon of Eltar and their mascot/sidekick Alpha 5, all trying to cope with the inclusion of recently freed Tommy Oliver. There’s an evil doppelganger, hidden histories, stealth bad guys, parallel worlds and hints at future events that the TV shows have already revealed. It’s a tie-in comic to a below-par TV show that at this point is over 25 years old. This has no right being any good. But it is. I have in fact enjoyed it tremendously and it’s been consistently entertaining throughout its run. Is it high art? No. Is it top quality comics of the best kind? No. But it is fun and enjoyable and whenever I see it’s out that week, I’m happy for that.
It’s about to start a big crossover featuring other ranger teams and since my son Super Sam and I are watching Power Rangers from the start (we’re up to the 9th season/7th variation Time Force) and am looking forward to whichever characters that he and I know, or ones we have yet to watch.
Another pleasant surprise has been the recent Avengers event No Surrender.
Currently, Marvel is putting out 3 Avengers titles: Avengers, US Avengers, and Uncanny Avengers. I will be perfectly honest, I have no real interest in any of them. The art on Avengers leaves me cold, US and Uncanny haven’t really made too much of an impact and for me, the loss of prestige in the name of Avengers is as bad as it was under Bendis’ tenure on that line of books. This seems to be Marvel’s attempts to bring the some of the grandeur and epicness to what has in the past been a flagship book. This comic is coming out weekly, starting in Avengers 675 (yay, renumbering again) and moving forward, so there is no US Avengers or Uncanny Avenger and the creative teams are shifting to keep up with the schedule. I read the first issue on a whim but had to take a break shortly after since the comic became harder to get hold of, given the increased demand. So as it turned out, without that being my original intent, I read parts 1-9 fairly close together. As a result, I have been able to view it as close to a complete whole and I am happier for it.
The story Mark Waid, Jim Zub and Al Ewing is a mix of the old miniseries “Contest of Champions” and the Doctor Who story “Stolen Earth.” Earth has been stolen, most of the world’s superheroes and villains are in suspended animation and the alien groups Ebony Maw and Lunatic Legion are battling for some alien artifacts on Earth and the only hope for anyone to make it out of this alive is parts of the several Avengers teams that are forced to band together along with a time-lost Avenger who has returned to help. There are thrills, spills and surprise twists and a bit of a motley crew of heroes called together by happenstance to fight a battle too big for anyone else to fight. Now isn’t that what the Avengers really is? There aren’t many heroes in here that feel that iconic Avengers type of characters, but this most certainly feels like an Avengers title. I wasn’t expecting that much from this and was glad to see this story vault over that bar with enough of a gap to see daylight. I’m 11 parts out of 16 and it is only getting better. It looks like there’ll be a new Avengers title out of this and I’m kind of excited for an Avengers comic, which was also a pleasant surprise.
So that’s the comics I have been reading as collected. Hope to be doing that kind of reading again soon, when my day starts to allow it. If for no other reason that to inspire new thinsg to write about.
Ta ta for now internet people.
Another 5 and I’m been toying with doing this one for a while and decided, why not?
Scott Free and Big Barda
First shown in Mister Miracle part of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, this was part star-crossed romance and part loving everyday family stuff. Scott Free was born on the world of New Genesis, but raised in the orphanages of Apokolips and spent every hour of every day trying to escape. Barda was born and raised on Apokolips and worked her way up the ranks of the Female Furies, rebel and career soldier, born on opposing sides. But it works. Scott is more in the traditional female role, smaller, more emotionally expressive and Barda is the huge warrior. They both have their own skills, their own scars and they compliment one another perfectly. Equally at home working in the garden and battling death-traps and parademons, they are lovely and entertaining in equal measure. But they are both necessary for the stories that they are in. Mister Miracle, should really be called Mister Miracle and Big Barda, based on the importance of the relationship within the comic and they are at their best when seen together.
Hulking and Wiccan
Representation matters, being able to identify with characters in fiction adds something to that experience and so any increase in diversity benefits not only those who can are represented, but also everyone else. Seeing these two Young Avengers in a loving and caring relationship that just happens to be same-sex is a good thing. It’s also a good relationship in which they both support one another and grow both as people and as a couple. Whether to show a happy couple, or increase diversity in what goes on a list like this, Hulking and Wiccan were an obvious choice.
Vision & Scarlet Witch
I appreciate that these two are not currently a couple, but from their both being on a team up until Avengers Disassembled, their’s was the most enduring love story. She was a mutant with magic and madness in her blood, he was a prosthetic person cobbled together from synthetic parts, the corpse of a golden age android and the brain patterns of a failed businessman turned supervillain. To call it an unusual love story is putting it mildly. But that is what it is. The Vision is, for all his monotone voice and mechanical origins is a deeply caring and thoughtful soul. They faced the US government, her brother, all the villains the Avengers had acquired, demons, Celestial Madonnas, several versions of Kang and time travel shenannigans, but for all that, they were a regular family. They had kids (DO NOT ASK, PLEASE!!!) in-laws, a house in New Jersey and not once, did it feel in anyway forced or artificial. Maybe over the time it was written, it was the consistently the best couple that Marvel had to offer.
Alana and Marko
I am only 7 volumes into Saga, so again, this is not an up to date thing. With that said, I love the story of Alana and Marko. Born on opposing sides of a pointless and harrowing war, they met and feel in love. They are not, by any stretch of the imagination the romantic heroes that you would think that would expect with the star-crossed lovers trope. They are not particularly bright, most of their choices are rash and they clash as much as co-operate. But they do love each other and it’s honest and crude at times and it reads as real. It’s not Mills and Boon, airport paperback sort of fair, but it is the story of two people who love each other and don’t care that the universe itself does not want that love or the baby that came from it to get out and place doubt in the minds of those who may rethink how the feel about a war that seems to be as without reason as any war. I would highly recommend this comic for anyone to read, because it is well crafted and full of characters that while fantastic in their origins are just people.
Vance Astro and Aleta Ogord
The story of Vance Astro is one that could come with the tagline of “I just cannot catch a break!” Lost over a 1,000 years from his own time, Vance had to pick himself up from the lowest place imaginable to live again, not to mention try and liberate a solar system that had suffered a decade of brutal domination by a vicious reptilian race. He went through depression, self pity and for a while self destructive tendencies, but ultimately came through it and tried to live up to the example of his childhood hero Captain America, he even wielded Cap’s shield. He went through a lot is what I am saying.
Aleta Ogord found herself married/bonded to her foster brother Stakar, forming the entity known as Starhawk. There were only a couple of times that she was able to be herself in 1,000 years. Once to conceive her three children and a couple of times by accident. The children were lost to her father’s rage. She finally was freed from her bind to Stakar and with her family gone and seperated from Stakar, she had to start putting her life together as well.
The two of them getting together came a little bit out of nowhere during the excellent Jim Valentino run on Guardians of the Galaxy. But two people having lost everything finding one another is a lovely denouement to their trials. She was able to be in his room, where he didn’t need a containment suit, which he needed everywhere else, so nothing could keep them apart. They ended up living a long and happy life together… Well obviously they didn’t. Shortly after Vance proposed Starhawk reabsorbed Aleta and flew off, destroying Vance’s brief chance at happiness.
Vance was able to live without his containment suit. They found one another again, but Aleta was only able to exist in Starhawk’s body, so whenever she spoke, it was with the face and voice of the man who took her away from Vance. This too passed, Aleta became Starhawk, but in her own body and was able to be reunited with Vance. Happy ending? Of course not, now being Starhawk, Aleta became more and more detached from her humanity (you know what I mean) and sort of looked down on Vance.
We’re not done.
She was then restored to her full self mentally and able to be with Vance again, just in time for him to need a containment suit again, this time one that he could never take off, nor could she be around too much.
Cannot catch a break.
That’s my 5 at least, any I should have put? Comments questions and stuff below.
Ttfn internet people.
With it being Mother’s day today, this sort of felt right.
The Oddball Choice: Jubilation Lee
Mother to Shogo Lee
Primarily used as an audience idenitification/Wolverine sidekick character, Jubilee was one of the many who filled that role originally set up for Kitty ‘Shadowcat’ Pryde. It was then handed to Jubilee, Armor, X-23 and others. Made more famous because of the 90’s animated series, Jubilee was then a charter member of Generation-X, but it became harder and harder to give her character something to do and she became a known victim of events. She lost her powers on M-Day, became one of the lesser remembered New Warriors after Civil War and became a vampire during Curse of the Mutants. During on the many relaunches of adjectiveless X-Men, she found a baby in the aftermath of an alien (sort of) attack and also being an orphan, took it upon herself to care for this abandoned baby that she named Shogo. Still fun-loving an effervescent, she is also a responsible and devoted mother. This is a drastic, but believable and well presented bit of character development, that avoids the trite-ness of the usual ‘make her a mother because we have run out of ideas’ trope prevalent in fiction. She went from mall-rat, to mutant hero, to creature of the night to single mum and teacher, not a bad character arc.
Recent Choice: Lois Lane
Mother to Jon ‘Superboy’ Kent
This isn’t the New52 Lois, but the pre-Flashpoint one seen in Convergence and is now the one running around in the Rebirth era of DC Comics. Able to stand as Superman’s equal, Clark Kent’s rival and a successful writer and kicking all kinds of arse on her own before motherhood, she is the how does she do it mum. She struggles but, won’t show weakness. The kind of mother that tells a kid who can throw tanks to go to his room and that kid will go to his room. With Jubilee, the changes motherhood put on her with overt and drastic, not here, this was just another layer of bad-ass added on, with more nuanced changes.
The Obvious Choice: Susan ‘Invisible Woman’ Richards.
Mother to Franklin and Valeria
Marvel comics first title was the era defining Fantastic Four. They subsequently became known as Marvel’s first family and for good reason. They are iconic by the way they are defined by very basic traits, with nuanced layers added on, but remain intrinsically the extremes they have always been.
Mr Fantastic: The smartest
Human Torch: The most impulsive.
The Thing: The strongest.
The Invisible Woman: The most powerful, most caring, most fierce, most determined, most undervalued and so on.
She’s a character that through neglect has lacked definition, unless you look at her as primarily a mother, then her entire character makes sense, a fiercely protective caregiver. Cross her and she can be both ruthless and fearless. She’s still criminally underused, but seeing her as a mother first and superhero second, informs much of her potential as a character.
The Everyday Choice: Debbie Grayson
Mother to Mark ‘Invincible’ Grayson
Debbie Grayson, Invincible’s mum, is the quintessential rock of the family type of character, that could easily be ignored in this kind of comic. She has an alien husband, a super hero son and all manner of bizarre-ness, and there she is just a good woman that loves them both. In the first dozen issues, there’s a twist that tears her life asunder in a number of ways. We see her fall apart and we watch her rise again. One of many supporting characters in that series, but clearly one of the best.
The best till last Choice: May Parker.
Mother to her nephew Peter Benjamin ‘Spider-Man’ Parker
Spider-Man should really be a villain if you think about it. He’s more than a bit arrogant, often self serving and if you read enough comics with him in, he’s a bit of a d**k. There’s loss, reveling in his power and his first thought with gaining powers isn’t saving people, it’s ‘the world can go f**k itself, am looking after me and mine’. But underneath all that is a foundation of goodness, of responsibility and the drive to keep fighting. The drive is his own past pushing him to keep going, the responsibility is what happened to Uncle Ben, but that goodness, that noble heart, that’s May. May raised Peter after his parents’ death along with Ben, then upto his college years without him and continues to do so. Look at it this way, she has lost everyone, her only family in New York were the Parkers, Richard, Mary and her beloved Ben, she lost them all and was left with Peter. She give a boy with nothing, everything he would ever need and then continued on, even as he lied to her and at times put her life at risk. (Donating irradiated blood, letting her take in Doctor Octopus as a lodger and a dozen other things besides) Despite being an aunt, clearly the best mum in comics.
These are as I see them the 5 of the best fictional mothers in comics.
Mums who rise to the occasion.
Mums who kick ass.
Mums who are fierce and indomitable.
Mums who are there day by day, no matter what.
Mums who make the people in their lives better people.
These are opinions of fictional characters, to be considered inconsequential and frivolous things, but I know someone in the real world who embodies all other items on the above list.
There are so many reasons why I love the MIGHTY Rosie, but one of them is that she is and always has been a wonderful mum. When I started writing this list, I realised that she is my standard for good mothers, real and not, so despite this being about not real parents, I couldn’t leave the best one out, simply because she’s real.
Parenting is hard, a good parent is worth their weight in gold, Rosie: Platinum.
Another great episode of a great podcast. This time 79 years of the unrepentant @$$hole Namor of Atlantis.
Couple of weekends ago, saw all the unsorted comics in my bedroom and decided to get it all sorted out and get them into my longboxes. Anyone who is, or who knows a comic fan (call them addicts, it’s a bit more accurate) knows what happened next. I looked at some of the comics that I have and I went, not seen that in ages, not seen that in ages and rather than take another three hours to finish a 15 minute job, I set myself a list of a few of those things and went back to the comics later on when I was able to sit down with that.
That reminded me of one of the benefits of collecting comics as opposed to just reading them. With collecting, you get the chance to re-read them in one go, which given the decompressed storytelling and tpb friendly pacing, is kind of how any comic written after 2000 is supposed to be read. So I set up a few short re-reading lists and really enjoyed it.
Ultimates 1-12 (Picked 5-12 up at a comic mart, after dropping off after Secret Wars in 2014)
This was absolutely awesome, this proved that you can tell the type of stories that the Fantastic Four used to, but also had a good amount of representation, beyond the usual middle-class white guys. I guess now am looking for the sequel series Ultimates Squared.
All New X-Factor 1-20
Another title that I completed at a comic Mart this was the 4th incarnation of X-Factor and the third one written by Peter David. Not the original X-Men rebranded, or the government response team, or even the noirish PI firm, this is a corporate team ran by I don’t want to say Google, but it is really a thinly hidden google stand-in. This team of 2nd and 3rd stringers including Gambit, Polaris, Quicksilver, Danger, Cypher, and Warlock, this is as much a workplace sit-com as it is a superhero book, much like David’s first run on X-Factor. This was a lot of fun and by the time I finished it, I wished that it had gone on longer than 20 issues.
Brian Michael Bendis’ run on X-Men.
After doing wonders for Daredevil and revitalizing the Avengers, Brian Michael Bendis was handed the keys to the X-Mansion. He inherited a bit of a mess to be perfectly honest, Xavier was dead, the X-Men was split and after possession by the Dark Phoenix Cyclops was considered a villain by almost everybody. Something needed to be done, so the story took something of a WTF turn by having a dying Beast using Doctor Doom’s time machine to bring the original X-Men during their first few weeks of training to the dying Beast’s present, with Professor X dead, Jean Grey dead, Beast himself dying, Angel nearly mindless and Cyclops ready to start a revolution. Needless to say, the teenaged X-Men are freaked out and don’t want to go back until things are looking a bit better. So we have All New X-Men with the new/original team, Uncanny X-Men with Cyclops running a militant almost X-Force like team with a lower powered Magneto, Emma Frost and a haunted Magik. These two series matched each other really well and their first year culminates in Battle of the Atom, a slightly bloated crossover which addressed the problems caused by the time lost teenagers. We get three versions of the Beast, four versions of Iceman, X-Men, and Brotherhood of the future. This was all the ridiculous and convoluted X-Men comics at their most X-Men and I really enjoyed it.
I liked looking at these comics in this way and it’s made me want to read more runs like this. Comics change based on how you are as you re-read them and the pacing of how they are read. Six single issues reads very differently from one six-issue arc read in one go and both of them have their strengths. Every now and again you need to go back to the long boxes and have a re-read of something you have enjoyed before and see if it still stands up, or how time has changed it for you. Am going to re-read some of the recent Resurrexxion relaunch and see how that stands up a year later.
A nice bit of fluff for a Thursday afternoon, ttfn internet people.
As you know internet people, am a lazy man. So have avoided doing anything with my blogs to make them easier to read or find. This year has started as the year I get shit done. So have created the blog’s new domain.
So instead of marvelmunky76.wordpress.com it’s now at mymarvellifepresents.com and there will be links to all my blogs all in one place.
I love Council of Geeks | 90s Comics Retrial Episode 50: X-Cutioner’s Song Part 1, let’s play it!