Monday, July 24, 2006

ScatterThoughts: The Books Of July 19th

[Note: This post contains spoilers for the Civil War storyline.]

Maybe I'm an easy mark, but with Justice league Of America #0, Brad Meltzer has instantly won me over. I wasn't expecting much from this zero-issue lead-in featuring "An All-Star Cast Of Artists", but it delivered in a way these fillers often don't. Meltzer obviously has a good grasp not only of the events of DC continuity, but a feel for the character transitions that goes beyond aping the conventions of the time. Ably assisted by some wonderfully appropriate artists (I particularly enjoyed Dick Giordano's work, and enjoyed finally seeing the Kubert Brothers even if they seem strangely out-of-place in the DCU), he captures the various eras of the League and the Trinity in just a few strokes. This sets the table damn well, and I'm looking forward to #1.

One continuity point that stands out: are we operating in a multiverse, and just not being told? Wonder Woman obviously features a Donna Troy Wonder Woman, Justice League Of America is clearly about Diana in the role. There's a sequence where in this issue where the JLA discovers a parallel earth, and though it smacks of "The Flash Of Two Worlds" it is clearly set "tomorrow". Combine this with the Donna-centric "strange deviation in realities" seen in this week's 52 ...



You know that horrible sinking feeling you get when you realize maybe everyone else is right? I've enjoyed Mark Millar's work a damn long time, back to Aztek and Superman Adventures. I've ignored those who say he runs roughshod over characterization when the plot demands it. I've ignored those who say his politics are hamfisted and strident. I've ignored those who say his work is increasingly a series of F*@% Yeah Moments with little stringing them together.

Then comes Civil War #3, and it's like the scales fell from my eyes. Since Tony Stark is obviously becoming more and more a villain, I can almost accept the idea of a devious trap being set. But Spider-Man trash-talking Cap? Coordinating strike force snipers? "Just a little tranquilizer to make sure nobody gets teleported away, kiddo"? Now that the world knows who's underneath that mask, I'm not sure who's wearing the costume anymore. Certainly Spidey's had his share of "misunderstanding-fight-teamup" days, but there's no misunderstanding here. It feels incredibly out of character for him to not be playing peacemaker at this point. I suppose it all drives the plot, and we certainly get a nice F*@% Yeah Moment on the closing page (yet another Millar habit), but this doesn't feel very much like the Marvel Universe to me.
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7 comments:

CalvinPitt said...

I think the reason this doesn't feel like the Marvel Universe is Millar is writing a tamer version of the Ultimates. To his credit, he's trying not to make everyone an ass, but it's not working too well with the pro-registration people.

Case in point: Spider-Man is my favorite comic character of all time. Has been since I started reading comics. Civil War #3 had me actively rooting against Spidey for the first time ever. Gee, thanks Civil War!

At least I've been enjoying Annihilation.

Guy LeCharles Gonzalez said...

First 52, now Civil War might become the second Big Two event that I duck out of the main storyline before it's finished. Not even Infinite Crisis, as bad as it was, managed to break my addiction, but these two plot-hammered, fanboy wankfests have soured me for good.

JLA #0 wouldn't have pissed me off quite as much if it had been a $0.99 preview, but at a full $2.99, it was an off-putting non-story that didn't do anything to make me excited about the new series. Quite the opposite, in fact, it's been scratched from my pull list.

Bones said...

I'm with you all the way on both counts. I think out of all the heroes in the Marvel U that Spidey probably has the most respect for Cap, and he basically treated him like one of his arch-villains. Which is confusing since most sings have been pointing to Spidey eventually changing sides in the war. And Thor being on Tony's side?! Preposterous! Ludicrous! I'm calling bs there.

implikian said...

I can only repeat (a quite popular sentiment, thank the gods): Marvel stopped being what it was once Jemas left and Joe Q. was left alone to mind the store... irreverent, "free-for-all" storytelling became the norm for the flagship characters... at least Brubaker's got ahold of some of them and they are temorarily safe... Millar should stick with the Ultimates or start writing for himself or DC again... cheers...

Mark Fossen said...

irreverent, "free-for-all" storytelling became the norm for the flagship characters

Which I don't mind. Morrison's New X-Men was "irreverent", Brubaker's Winter Soldier arc is "irreverent", MilliganAllred's X-Force was "irreverent". That's all good stuff, and showed how strong these characters are. It didn't violate the core of the characters, and that's what I saw in Civil War - a fundamental misunderstanding of the characters.

implikian said...

Being a vociferous proponent in favor of Morisson's run, I would never mention those issues and any negative words in the same sentence... same goes for that brilliant X-Force run... and I have already mentioned Brubaker as a shining example/exception... forward thinking (Morisson) when put to such use has nothing to do with irreverence, etc... I am referring to a general slap-dash, what-if (to the max...!), why-the-hell-not?, screw-that mentality that pervades most of Marvel's A-listers for a few years now... just sayin'... cheers

Mark Fossen said...

Sorry, implikian, I wasn't trying to take you to task. I agree something's changed, and it may be in degrees of irreverence. The projects I mentioned kept the core concepts clean and clear, and improvised from there. Millar's screwing with the fundamentals, and that's where the problem comes in.