Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SECRET AVENGERS 1


YOU TOO COULD BE PROSPEROUS, HEALTHY, FULL OF RESORTS.

Didja hear? Artists can't write unbiased criticism. They only see their subjects through the filter of self interest as a creator. As opposed to critics. Real critics. Real critics are as pure as new snow, with eyes of a child yet minds learned like the eldest philosopher. They castrate their creativity to write from the place of total mental stillness. Able to see through all walls of personal agenda. They use their pen of young lamb to judge what's best not for themselves, but for all humanity. Such is the powerful power, the terrible responsibility of the true critic.

I have fasted for three centuries, nailed myself upside down to the Tree of Woe, drained my body of every ounce of blood and replaced it with the freshest plastic-bottled spring water. I have removed my corrupted eyes and put in their place the brand new eyes of a just aborted 1 year old baby. My brain, so fouled by the joys of beastial like and dislike, I have placed in a tank of hydrogen peroxide to allow the infection of need and want to be leached from it. From this new vantage point, from this new me, I am ready to speak of comics with the furiously unpoliticized gaze of the Real Critic.



AVENGERS 1, WINNER OF THE SHITTIEST COVER EVER AWARD SHITTIEST BLOG EVER AWARD.

"Oh Jesus that is the worst cover ever. My God. It's so ugly. It's offensively bad." -from "The Critical Book Of Brynocki C" by Brynocki C.

I will begin my career as a Powerful Critic with the most mainstream of mainstream books. Avengers 1. That's a pretty horrid cover yeah? I have heard a remark about certain comic book art being so big and bold it comes right off the page. John Romita Jr often draws so steroided-out his characters are painfully scrunched within the page. Trapped. He should get some bigger paper. Really.

John Romita Jr first came to my attention with his solid run on Uncanny X-men in the mid '80s (roughly issues 175-211) followed by a beautiful run on Daredevil(issues 250-282 give or take a few) with Ann Nocenti, where he began to transform into an artist with a recognizable style. These days his style can get the best of him, with characters occasionally drawn so simple they borderline Lego. But he still holds power, the following page is a good new page by Romita Jr...


Now let's see an even better page from over 20 years ago. Daredevil, the Man Without Fear, issue 260. The man called Bullet takes a dive. Ann Nocenti provided her usual unusually introspective script. Al Williamson provided some tight inkwork.


Romita, aka JRJR did, and still does, draw smashed stuff well. His faces are a different story though, another look at Avengers 1.


Klaus Janson on inks here. Janson's an old Daredevil alum, predating Romita's run by a few years, first inking then finishing the pencils of legend turned lunatic Frank Miller.

What the hell, let's throw up a few more Romita Jr's!


1985's classic "Mutant Massacre" storyline. A great comic, one of Marvel's earliest, and best, events.


From the now famous Kick-Ass. This is inked by Tom Palmer. Another classic dude. I mean no disrespect to Klaus Janson, but I prefer Palmer on JRJR.

Returning to Avengers, team books have a lot to do with the "line up" of heroes in the roster. Avengers 1 has got, though it may change as the team gets settled, Spiderman, Wolverine, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Spiderwoman, and Captain America. Quite the man heavy line up. Let me look into my criticrystal ball for a final word on Avengers 1.

"I really cannot recommend this book to someone. Unless, like me, you are knee deep in this crap already."-from "Critical Statements on Critical Cartoons" by Brynocki D.

Was that a review?

Next up is New Avengers #1. Right, this is the new "New Avengers" book. The previous New Avengers #1 came out in 2005.


NEW AVENGERS 1 HAS WOLVERINE ON THE COVER OF AVENGERS 1 ALSO!

The new New Avengers #1 is part of the just arrived "Heroic Age" of Marvel Comics. Heroes are back in control again after a long dark period where Norman Osborn, the once and future Green Goblin, was in charge of national security. Osborn's insanity was re-revealed and he fell from grace after he orchestrated a full scale super powered invasion of the recently earthbound city of Asgard(as chronicled in the four issue Marvel limited series entitled simply, "Siege". A strange title as technically there was no siege, only a storming of the castle). The job of National Security is now in the hands of Steve Rogers, the original Captain America recently back from the dead. Or near dead.

New Avengers 1 (and Avengers 1) is written by Brian Michael Bendis, scribe for the 64 issues of the original series, along with a few annuals and a really great Finale issue. The 64 issue series started out pretty exciting and nosedived halfway through becoming a prolonged and repetitive face off with the magically empowered street hoodlum, "The Hood". New Avengers was also a platform where the grade school banter never ceased, Wolverine, Luke Cage and Spiderwoman reduced to spouting juvenile quips at each other. Some people call the Bendis approach "real life talk", and I agreed with that assessment for a while back during his Daredevil run, but now I find his dialogue obnoxious. Not true to the characters portrayed. But when he writes a good book it can be really good, his taste in characters is cool and his plotting is often creative.(Though his endings for books such as Siege and Secret Invasion were less than inspired)

The great thing about writing comic book review blogs so slow is that the next issue comes out before you even finish writing about the last one. SO...


AVENGERS 2. WHEREIN THE EARTH'S MIGHTIEST HEROES STAND AROUND AND CONVERSE LIKE MORONS AND ASSHOLES. FUCK THIS BOOK.

If you can, read this sample page below.


Captain America is a monthly book written by Ed Brubaker and it's a fairly successful comic. Cap, formerly Bucky, is an interesting and somewhat flawed protagonist, enjoyable in the central role. In Captain America issue 606 in an out of costume hang out session with Steve Rogers and The Falcon in a bar, Brubaker has Bucky delivering comfortable lines such as...

"Look, guys. I appreciate the concern...I do. And I know where you're both coming from. I put you at risk yesterday, Sam...and I'm sorry. I've got a lot of stuff rattling around in my head sometimes...I've lived a lot of lives. But I really am fine."

Here is his first speaking page in Avengers 2 as written by Brian Michael Bendis.


The following are the rest of Bucky's lines for the entire issue.

"is this a trick?"
"are you sure?"
"what exactly is happening now?"
"it's wrong?"
"what's going on?"
"why would we have to imagine that?"
"can you get us there?"
"it's broken everywhere"
"listen to the man"
"how did he do that?"
"he was an avenger?"

I put the 2 lines that aren't questions in Bold.

Again I will tap my growing critical powers and present a weighty opinion, from which you should form your own view without ever having read the above slimly discussed work.

"Why did I buy this comic? Why do people read this comic? Why do most of the people I know have the ability to know in advance that this kind of comic is utter crap? Why do Bucky and I both talk like 3 year olds? OK. Avengers is dropped. I am done with it. Time for me to send a message to Marvel, you'll only be selling 99999 of these next month instead of 100000." -"Questions for Time Spent Waiting to do Something" by Brynocki E.

Where was I? Oh, New Avengers. New Avengers 1 is pencilled by Stuart Immonen in his very reliable smooth style. He's got a good grip on designing a page. Though I think inker Wade Von Grawbadger thickens his grace. Check it out.


There's some more Bendis-Speak on the above page. Characters bickering, generally over nothing. Pettiness abounds even on one's own lips. Did I say Prettiness? Immonen draws a pretty Luke Cage! And a seriously weird looking Danny Rand!


That full page above Luke Cage was a scene with "Doctor" Voodoo, the newest Sorcerer Supreme. I prefer his original moniker, Brother Voodoo. Here's the cover of his first appearance, Strange Tales 169, from the almighty 1973.


Brother Voodoo's given name is Jericho Drumm, a name as rad as his newly adopted one. This character is deeply cool. Here's a Gene Colan interior page.


Next is a page from Strange Tales 170 describing the powers Brother Voodoo learned from Papa Jambo, his infinitely wise elderly teacher.


Our Haitian hero's final power comes when he absorbs the spirit of his recently deceased brother, Daniel Drumm. Daniel's spirit has the ability to leave Brother Voodoo's body and possess other people, giving Jericho a second hand when combating jerks like Baron Samedi here in Strange Tales 171.


Doctor Voodoo recently had a five issue series come out from Marvel. Here's the cover of #1.


DOCTOR VOODOO 1. NO ONE SEEMS HAPPY WITH THE NEW SORCERER SUPREME, INCLUDING ME.

I learned an interesting tidbit from an article in the back of the first Doctor Voodoo issue. John Romita Jr, who helped out around Marvel before doing any serious work for them, assisted his father, John Romita, in designing Brother Voodoo's costume! Here in the present day this new series was written by Rick Remender with line art by Jefte Palo. An action page.


So much for Voodoo's traditional rogues gallery. Mainstream Marvel bad guys here. The first issue of this series felt confused. Doctor Voodoo talks like a warped Dr. Strange, the previous Sorcerer Supreme. The comic was heavy on this talk, as Doctor Voodoo meets various people who doubt his ability to fill these large shoes. And I'll confess to be one of them. The attempt to merge these two mystical characters diminishes Brother Voodoo. He is no longer a potential springboard for investigation into this African via Haiti based religion. The initial limits on the character's focus made him interesting. He was and should remain the antithesis of the all encompassing magic of a Sorcerer Supreme. Don't tell me they ran out of cool Voodoo inspired ideas.

Voodoo Dolls used for evil? Or as representations of the Loa(Spirits) of the Haitian Vodou? This following wikipedia-lifted image alone is worthy of a 4 issue mini.


Despite the low sales numbers of this last Voodoo series, now seems like a good time to have a another book starring the Haitian born hero(Doctor Voodoo #1 sold 23000 copies but issue two dropped to 16000, seems like plenty of comics to me. But for context, Avengers 1 was the top selling comic in May 2010, the number's aren't in yet for that month, but the top selling monthly for April 2010 was DC's Brightest Day #0, selling an estimated 129446 copies, according to comichron.com ). Numbers Shnumbers, a special one shot to benefit Haiti starring Brother Voodoo wouldn't break the bank. Marvel should jump on this, spread some social awareness and/or fucked up raw magic. Throw Spiderman in there and all the kids will buy it. But make it weird. He could fight this guy...



Jumping back to New Avengers 1, the bearable Bendis script sets up the book's new direction, Steve Rogers tells Luke Cage he can form his own team and run it under his own set of rules. Even selling him the mysteriously renovated Avengers mansion to house the outfit. The New Avengers until recently were a team in hiding, living in Dr. Strange's Santum Sanctorium or Captain America's secret hideout, but the Age of Heroes has ended that putting them back out legally in the public sphere. The initial team consists of Iron Fist(please please Bendis I make fun of you but keep Iron Fist in the book), Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye again, Mockingbird, Wolverine again, Spiderman again and last but not least the ever lovable but somewhat boring Thing. Thing's power set brings nothing new but surely his presence will allow for lots of stupid Bendis banter. Whoopee. Anyway what I really want to talk about is the book's cover.

The book was marketed in the comic book stores with two normal priced covers(normal is now $3.99). The standard is shown above, but the second was almost all white. And it looks, uhm, pretty weak. But I bought it. Why? I don't know. It has the same cheesy 1990's-looking "Heroic Age" banner that all current Marvels have across the top and it has this little wooden podium thing at the bottom that says "New Avengers 1". Upon leaving the store with my bright white copy I swung by my garden plot(rented from a nice couple with a an extra lot) to get some fresh greens. It's been raining non-stop and the garden is beginning to flourish.


Gardening is great. It's it's own "Destroyed Economy Survival-System, Totally Radically Organic" or DESTRO.


It's cheap fresh food, costing time instead of money. If you have less work and more time it's the perfect situation. (though you can start to sink some dough into it if you get into the gourmet compost, the fish emulsion and the seagull shit). Gardening reduces stress if you zen out on the small growing things and if you're a pale white comic nerd you get some sun. THE SUN! I need some chickens. I snipped some Spinach. And some New Zealand Spinach(which is not Spinach), Hakurai Turnips, Basil, Collard Greens and some other shit. Stuffed it in my backpack next to the plastic bag with the comics in it and continued home. And guess what. When I pulled that New Avengers 1 out of the bag, the once glowing white cover was smeared with dirt.

The dirt looked ok but as a drawing it need a little more something so I added a dude,


This "hero", Ronin, is not in the comic. But my maneuver is completely in keeping with New Avengers tradition. Ronin first appeared in issue 11 of the 2005 New Avengers, but he was on a variant cover of issue 4 and on the standard cover of issue 7. This is a character that had not even been introduced yet. Previously Wolverine was on the cover of the first issue, but he didn't show up inside the comic till issue 4. Marvel is quite adept at selling metaphoric Cap'n Crunch cereal with Tony the Tiger on it to little kids with no show of restraint. I'm keeping the dream alive.


Ronin is actually an interesting character. You were lead to believe for most of issue 11 that Daredevil was the mysterious black clad martial artist beating ninjas in Japan, but you soon find out it's a woman, the deaf hero Echo, in a man muscle suit. The suit soon passes to Clint Barton, ex-Hawkeye after his reincarnation, and now, it's in Limbo. I hope that it continues to be a suit for heroes, or villains, or anyone that needs to do a job in someone else's skin. A good character concept. My Ronin on the cover of New Avengers #1 could be your mom for all you know.

"As for New Avengers 1, I really cannot recommend it to anyone but the most foolish comic reader like myself though I really want to like it because of the presence of Luke Cage(Power Man) and Iron Fist. If you are a serious, intelligent, handsome newcomer looking to get into some serious, intelligent, handsome new comics, look elsewhere." -from "5000 Indisputable Facts about Comicbooks" by Brynocki G.



SECRET AVENGERS 1, THE AVENGERS BOOK YOU CAN SECRETLY LIKE.

Finally, we get to a 3rd Avengers book that has just debuted. Secret Avengers by Ed Brubaker with Mike Deodato on art and Rainier Beredo on color. I'm a Deodato fan, by page 5 the action is already on, and it's got a little Paul Gulacy in it's genes.


Secret Avengers is Steve Roger's "shadow ops" team of Avengers. The membership looks to be War Machine, Black Widow, the new obnoxious Antman, Beast, Moon Knight, Valkyrie and ex SHIELD agent Sharon Carter. Basically a spy/superteam that along with a few pedestrian members includes a huge blue furry guy, a dude in white tights with a hood and a cape, a flying man with a golden helmet, a guy in a hulking grey suit of armor covered in weapons and a really tall blonde lady wearing a viking suit and carrying a giant sword. I'll quote Steve Rogers at the end of their first 6 page intro adventure, "We won and we're getting away with no one knowing who we are". He's got a skin tight red white and blue suit on with big stars on the chest and shoulders and he's sneaking around Dubai. All in all, a strange ensemble cast for the undercover stealth team.

But it's in the capable hands of Ed Brubaker so you can bet it will be a good read. The first issue is slightly more schizo than Bru's Captain America work as he has more players to juggle. But what's nice about a Brubaker as opposed to a Bendis book is that the characters have enough respect for one another(and the reader) as to not interrupt each other at every turn. Secret Avengers reads smoothly. And there is an extra layer of meaning to this story. Another Steve Rogers quote concerning the evil corporation Roxxon mining in space,

"Amazing...The hubris to sell mineral rights to another planet..."

War Machine responds, "That's the 21st century for you...The future is here, and it's for sale to the highest bidder."

And meanwhile on Mars...


"Secret Avengers is a bold new Avengers book. Its dynamic and dark artwork sparks light and life onto the pages with a tight script capturing subtle traits of our protagonists with seemingly little effort but great understanding. This is one Avengers book that should not be missed. Not merely another nerd-off written by and for comic fans alone. Secret Avengers combines imaginative plotting, a healthy dose of Marvel Universe continuity, and keeps the door open wide enough to let in a general audience. Important for a First issue. Recommended!" -from "Clever versus Smart, comics for people who read comics versus comics for people who might read comics." by Brynocki Z.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON KILLING TREES TO MAKE GENERALLY LOW VALUE SEQUENTIAL FLOP(pie)S.

I'll be honest. I love books. Sitting in the hot sun with a solar charged I-Read I-Roasting your I-Lap so you can sink into the latest JM Coetzee novel sounds like a bad I-dea to me. Bring on the tech sure, but keep planting those trees. I'll read my favorite bleak-horizon novel like "Disgrace" without the fear of some 13 year smartass watching me through my own monitor. A candle, a book, a tent, a forest. Lost in a bad poem. Lost in a dim light headache. One magnet to destroy us all. I read my Blogs on toilet paper and type this shit on a phonetic xylophone.

PS. Here's my other DESTRO. It lives up on the roof. Brother Voodoo stops by sometimes, we summon ladybugs together.


This important piece of literariness brought to you by Marvelous Coma, hyping books that don't need it since 2112.


WAIT, THERE'S AN EPILOGUE.

I have developed a new procedure to extract the essence of a comic book.
















30 comments:

Anonymous said...

best criticism i've read so far this year!

Shannon Smith said...

Wow. That was great.

Chris Mautner said...

This was awesomer than awesome.

Brynocki C said...

Hey if you three didn't get your checks they should arrive any day now. Anonymous, I sent yours to an anonymous address but that should work right?

Mr. Freibert said...

i see you've decided to spend your time selling and marketing DIY-recycled-handmade bleach wipes.

"it burns the skin so you know it's clean"

"it works"

"my skin is white, but now my table can be too! Thanks Brynocki C!"

jean c. said...

komicbucha!!! with the 'mother'!!

Brynocki C said...

KomicBucha!!! hahaha! That would be a strange tasting tea. Maybe a little mint in there.

Hey Mr. Friebert, possibly you could print the labels for my new Super-Drink.

Oliver East said...

you should sell those 'essences'.

you'd make a mint

Steven H said...

Now make fun of the coloring!

Brynocki C said...

I am a friend to all colorings.

Brett Von Schlosser said...

your right that Immonen Iron fist is weird. with them deep creased cheeks he looks kind of like Willem Dafoe as Danny Rand.

Mart said...

Ah, wonderful stuff. Did you try Avengers Academy? It's the nearest we're getting to my rather-missed Mighty Avengers.

Your epilogue was more fun than the comics. Is that allowed?

strfkr said...

Fucking Marvel. I was reading so many titles recently but a bunch of them are/will be dropped. I'm sure I will be back someday. What am I going to do? Stop reading comics? Ha!

Somehow they got me to break my vow of never buying a JR JR book with the Avengers. I hate his art so much.
The worst thing he did recently was the cover of Doomwar #1. Take a look at it sometime. A jumbled mess. You can't even tell what is going on.

A friend of mine made a good point about Bendis. He said that all his characters talk the same. No personality. The lines are interchangeable.
Spider-man was in New Avengers the whole time and he was nothing but comic relief. Bad comic relief at that. He was never used to his potential. He's strong, smart, and very experienced.
Fucking Bendis.

Really it all comes down to us. We need to stop buying this shit. I know we never will but we should.

Strfkr said...

ps
If I buy one of those "sketch" covers can you draw a Dr. Strange for me next time I see you?

Brynocki C said...

I'll draw you a Doctor Strange! Not that I am very good at him. I'll even do it on a blank piece of paper so you don't have to give more money to the Avengers franchise. Unless you want to. Comic Buyers Anonymous is really where I should spend my time. Worse than a Doritos addiction.

Hi Mart, I got Avengers Academy #1. It was solid. I will follow it a while. I can't say I was a Mighty A fan though. That series was kind of a mess from day one.

Mart said...

Thanks for the kind offer (which seems to have vanished from the comments), Brynocki!

Strfkr said...

Your powers as a world famous comics reviewer are strong. I picked up Secret Avengers today. Slow week so I gave it chance. It was pretty good. I guess I will get #2 next week when I go in.
I also bought Avengers: Children's Crusade. It was OK. I'll try another issue. If you liked Young Avengers you should check it out. They are going to deal with the whole Scarlet Witch thing in this series.
I think they are saving Wanda for something special. it is their ultimate get out of jail free card. Marvel can use her to wipe out the last 5 years of Marvel mess. It was all a dream!

mateo said...

the title of Dr. Voodoo looks lie Dr. Doodoo. Very very nice.

Frank Santoro said...

okay, tour's over! distill another comic for us, B! I need a fix!

Brynocki C said...

I can't make heads or tails out of any of the comics i have piled up to read right now. I lost the vocabulary somewhere on tour. It will re-appear i guess...

Austin English said...

Brian: I think I may be misreading yer review of Avengers #1 (vl. 5 million?). I love Jr Jr and kinda think he's way better now then when he was on DD (although he was good then too, for sure). Anyway...to me his stuff is so good on that book that it doesn't deserve gettin turned into dust.

I think somethin happens when we like a guy when we're younger and then don't wanna give him credit for getting better as we get older. its like me saying "brian c was good on maggots but with his recent stuff his art style gets the better of him." i think you gotta look at the dude and give him credit for refinining his work, even if it's not to your taste anymore.

anyway blahbity blah blah. i write more about jr jr ovah here http://cometscomets.blogspot.com/2010/08/checklist.html but not even that much more, rendering the link useless and now i feel creepy about even cutting and pasting it.

Mart said...

Just read your thoughts on Jr Jr at your blog, Brian. Interesting, but it seems a tad condescending to ascribe a preference for his earlier work to nostalgia. On my part, I simply find his work today less pleasing - ugly Spider-Woman, blocky males ... it's at its best when Brian Bendis gives him a fight scene, but other than that I'll take his earlier work, any day.

And just so you feel better about linking to your blog where you praise John (who, as a veteran and a nice guy, has my respect), here's a link to mine, where I praise him too. Well, a bit:

http://dangermart.blogspot.com/2010/05/avengers-1-review.html

Mart said...

Sorry Austin and Brian, mixed your names up. It's late in Scotland ...

Brynocki C said...

Thanks Mart, i had the same reaction to the word "Nostalgia". I wasn't comparing dates to dates, or feelings to feelings, i was holding up drawings to drawings. I am psyched on lots of new comics and evolving styles. I like Sonic Youths' "Rather Ripped". Yes you have to let an artist change. Though if you want to bring an artist to compare into the conversation I wouldn't use me. If anything I am going the opposite way as JRJR, from "too far gone" to "more conservative". (I of course have seen my new book so I have an unfair perspective).

You say JRJR is putting specific info into each character that gives them a unique personality and I am saying the opposite is the case. His faces are practically identical(such as those ski jump noses he puts on everyone). You have to look to the outfits to tell them apart. This is specifically the Avengers I'm talking about. But hey if you love that stuff, more power to you. Such is art. The secret ingredient to my post is that a comic book store here was giving Avengers 1 away. I grabbed an extra for free. I still have a copy, bagged and boarded and respected along with the rest. At one point I was going to destroy an issue of Loeb's Hulk but this just fell in my lap.

That said i enjoyed JRJR's work on Kick Ass and do think he has arrived at a place that is stylistically his own, which earns him points in a category of cartooning, but also allows him to fly on autopilot. But Austin cause you brought it up I will take a deep breath before I read JRJR's issue 3 and see if I can re-perspectivize.

And my original post was on Shade the Changing Man, where I was going to dust an old Ditko issue. You think I am destroying Bendis and JRJR, which I am, but perhaps I was digging for a deeper monster to kill.

I'm glad you guys are putting the links for me to check out. Let's muddle the puddle.

STINKY said...

FUCKING SAW LB IN TAMPA IN 2XX5; BEST SHOW OF THE LAST DECADE! I DO NOT READ COMIC BOOKS BUT THIS IS A COOL BLOG! -STINKY

Brynocki C said...

Ah, Stinky. So that was that smell in 2005! You need to start reading comic books and become poor and illiterate like the rest of us superhero addicts. Thanks for reading!

Lebeau2501 said...

Don't destroy shitty comics! It brings the value up and justifies the actions of the assholes that enjoy them.

HAG said...

where's the shade post. every once and awhile i see it in the blog following thing, but then i click on it and it's not there.

Brynocki C said...

Wow. I had honestly never seen Tucker Stone's 2008 burning of the X-Men omnibus before i did my post. My apology in ripping the destructive angle off, be it conscious or un.

Henry said...

aw, i like JRJR's lego people... i thought you'd dig it too brian. he should just keep blocking and blocking until its just big cubes with logos.

i'm dead serious.