Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Avengers: Heroes Welcome #1

Is this a PSA comic? I feel like this is some sort of PSA comic. But, it's like a PSA for super-heroes, as if saying we need to care about them more or something like that.

Today's comic is short but compacts a lot stupid things in it. It also screws with continuity in the way that comics like to do. Because continuity is for chumps, apparently.

I really am not sure what to take from this comic. It starts off just so bad and works its way to mediocrity. I don't get why it was written and I think there could have been many other characters to convey the message they were trying to get across.

The whole point of the issue is to say that super heroes can't do everything but they keep on fighting the good fight because it's what they stand for. Basically, it was Marvel's way of saying, "LOVE US" because Marvel tends to do that.

A lot.

This comic also makes me hate the citizens in the Marvel Universe a whole lot more. Most of the time, they're all extremely ungrateful. During Civil War, they were begging for some heroes to die. What? For decades they've been saving the world, even the universe at times, and you want them to die?! In this comic, we open with some loser teacher preaching that the Avengers are nothing but a bunch of gorillas in costumes, and they never bring any good to the world.

Nope. None whatsoever.

This comic reminded me a lot of "Civil War" too in the way that our characters, and the plot itself, did a complete 180 about halfway through and couldn't decide what stance they were going to make. Man I have to review that comic, don't I?

It just frustrates me a lot when writers can't keep a character straight. Their motives get all messed up, then the continuity gets messed up, and it just becomes one big clump of unorganized nonsense. Case and point: "Avengers: Heroes Welcome #1."

The cover is pretty good, actually. It features many well-known members of the Avengers team at the time while putting the newest member, Nova (Sam Alexander) in the center. Though, I've heard that the Captain America shown in this image is not the Steve Rogers Captain America, but rather Bucky Barnes. I find that hard to believe, seeing as how Bucky was already established as the Winter Soldier during this time. He just wasn't the super awesome dude with a gun to blow up planets...yet.

At least "Original Sin" did something right.

I should also note that the art in this book, done by Mark Brooks, isn't bad at all. It's colorful and vibrant, so it's exactly what you'd expect out of a Marvel book at the time. He does make Nova look a little older than sixteen, but, I can't blame him. In his own book, Nova's appearance while in the suit was inconsistent, so, I guess it's not really Brooks's fault. The only failing of the art is the expressions on people's faces, which seem to consistently be either blank or slightly less blank, with the only exception coming at the end of the book.

Stop spending time saving the world and start saving the world!--Teacher 2k13

We open with a teacher using an iPad in class (being a bad influence for kids who are told they're not supposed to use those) in a town that is clearly not where Sam Alexander lives with a teacher who clearly is not certified to be talking about the Avengers as he compares them to his four-year old daughter.

I remember the time I compared four-year olds I know to the Avengers. It was on November 31st.


Anyway, the teacher tells the Avengers to "start working on stopping wars, curing diseases, help the homeless."

*slowly nods*

Let me just point out a few instances where the Avengers have done many of these things:

The Kree-Skrull war. World War II. Curing the Thing of his radioactive change. The Legacy Virus. Blade helping the homeless as a teenager.

Hmm. Now, are they still not heroes? And what about other heroes? Firefighters, police, doctors. They're all heroes. We know that they're helping all those people to the best of their abilities, and do so for a living.

Let's ask the obvious question of what separates the Avengers from firefighters, police, and doctors? Not much, really. While the latter three do get paid for this, many of these people do it because it's the right thing to do. They risk their lives to save others and to help others, never thinking about the next paycheck. They get up like the rest of us and live their lives like the rest of us. The Avengers are no different, heck, they are firefighters, police, and doctors. Reed Richards and Hank Pym may not be medical doctors, but their work has influenced the medical field in the past. Each super hero in some era of comics used to be a street-level hero like a policeman, and in most major fights in a city, they cooperate with the police. And everybody has done the "save someone from a burning building" at least once.

So, why does Marvel have to have their citizens question this? Why do they have people constantly criticizing their heroes? Simple: because they want their heroes to be put on a pedastel that we mortals cannot reach. How many Avengers nowadays work with normal people, or try to have normal lives? Few. Why? Because they have to be different.

DC may do many things wrong, but lately, they've been keeping things both down to Earth and relatable. Batman has never been one to stray too far from working with individuals, its how he came to be a great detective. Batgirl and the new Teen Titans use social media to their advantage. Green Arrow would be nowhere without the support of his city, and Superman has always maintained a level of closeness to the Daily Planet and various other people in Metropolis as it does one thing: keeps them human. That's what makes them heroes.

Am I saying that the Avengers aren't heroes? No, of course not. Every single one of them is. But it pains me whenever I see Marvel trying to glorify them in such a way that it paints them to be these idols that we have to bow down and worship, when its clear that the characters in the book don't want that all.

Guys, please, the last time we brought politics in, it divided the fan-base. Let's not. 

The very next scene, Captain America is going on about how the American flag and the White House are both ideals more than concrete images, that they are the idea of freedom and it's what he fights for. Yes, that is good, that is worth mentioning, as its something that the heroes fight for, it's something we too can fight for! It helps us relate to Cap because we recognize that his ideals and ours are the same, so it's like he's just another member of society.

They're interrupted before they can start Civil War II (thank God) by Nova, who gets ensnared in one of the traps of the building. There, Thor asks who this noble young man is. Oh. My. God.

Continuity: use it only if you care!

Thor asked Nova to be a part of the Avengers before this comic even came out! And it's not even like this is just something they glance over in the comic. Nope. Out of the fourteen pages, at least a page and a half are dedicated to the Avengers meandering around who Nova is when they've established previously who he is. This is just stupid! Even if they didn't know who Nova was, all they had to do was use the full page spread of Iron Man saying, "Oh, hey, it's Nova, cool beans" and that works perfectly. I just...


Anyway, Nova joins the Avengers in their meeting room where he goes on a rant asking if they're heroes and if they really know what it means to be a hero.

Sam Alexander Nova: super hero for a year.
Captain America: super hero for SEVENTY FREAKING YEARS.

No, please Nova, go on. Question the man who punched Hitler in the face, was frozen in time, has fought his best friend countless times, leads the strongest fighting force in the universe, and has constantly clashed with his teammates to keep on the path of morality. He doesn't know a thing about being a hero. Luke Cage, Wasp, She-Hulk, Iron Man, Thor? Pft. Amateurs at best!

I think Iron Man sums it up best: "What was the question?"

No, seriously, what the heck are you getting at, Nova? You ask if they know what is to be a hero, and then suggest that wearing masks are cowardly.

Does Brian Michael Bendis want Civil War II that badly?

Then things just get...stupid.

Nova: "I feel we should be doing more."
Iron Man: "I agree, we..."
Luke Cage: "No, we do plenty."
She-Hulk: "You're reading haters on the Internet."
Nova: "Is the world a better place?"
Thor: "Yes."
Nova: "How?"
Cap: "We should do more."
Thor: "I agree."
Luke Cage: "For sure."

What does that even mean? I can't hate on BMB as a writer, because, he's done great pieces in the past. Heck, I reviewed his run on Moon Knight and liked it. I also liked "Age of Ultron," but here, it just feels like he turned off his brain and completely screwed with whatever characterization he was trying to establish. I don't even know what point he's trying to get across, or if he's just trying to make all the Avengers seem like they're all in agreeance even though they all weren't?

I am so confused.

The next few pages I'll spare you, because it's just a befuddled mess of Nova asking dumb questions and our heroes, almost wisely, replying, "It'll never be enough, that's why we keep fighting." Yes, YES smart words!

Then Iron Man tells us he has access to everyone in the world's technology to spy on them if need be. TMI, Tony, TMI.

Surprisingly, though, Tony has a string of dialogue that makes sense and is out of character in a good way. He talks about how he does something good, then thinks that'll be the end. But it's not, and that's okay. Because, after that good thing, a part of the world is changed for the better. And he's okay with that, as he has done something good and someone is the better for it.

That is what it means to be a hero. I'm just surprised Tony was the one to say it. There goes BMB screwing with continuity and characterization again...

Thus, our story concludes with Nova blaming his questioning of the team on him being new (bull-crap but let's just finish this thing) and then they spot M.O.D.O.K. wreaking havoc and the team sets off to fight crime and save cats!

I don't like this comic for the simple reason that it's Marvel trying to paints its heroes as something more than just super-heroes and trying to idolize them in the public eye as things we need to worship. I mean, Disney/ Marvel tend to do that a lot anyway, but still.

This comic also brings in many elements of a story I did not particularly care for, so I won't particularly care for the elements in this story. I feel that if it had been a different, more established hero who were questioning the way thinks work, like if a newer member of the team such as Rogue or Sunspot had done it, then things would have been more valid and they would have learned the ways of the Avengers. But when you have such a new and young character as Nova asking the questions it just feels forced, like they had to pick the younger character to try and make him relate to the younger readers.

Well, younger readers, let me tell you not to pick up this comic. If you want a comic about the Avengers being helpful, or about super-heroes in general helping out, I would say that the film adaptation does a better job of that, or just read any of their individual books to follow their struggles. Nova is much better characterized in his book.

Alright, so after this debacle, I need something to wash me off. Something good, something that isn't stupid and paints the Avengers in the super cool way we know them. Ah, yes. "Vengeance of the Moon Knight #10" should do us just fine!

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @seanovan13 to stay up to date on when I post. Thanks for reading!

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