Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Comic of the Week: 5.6.12

Swamp Thing #10
DC Comics

You people are going to think I am a DC fanboy.  Historically, that could not be less true.  I'm always been a Marvel guy through and through, but the recent New 52 has given me a chance to explore a bit, as I have become increasing disgruntled with Mighty Marvel (see below).  One of the first comics I ever had as a kid was a Swamp Thing comic.  I bought it on a camping trip with my parents.  My dad let me get it because it was a comic book and he didn't really know that comics were more than Archie and Donald Duck, so the words "Sophisticated Suspense" on the cover didn't even register.  It was Swamp Thing #39, written by Alan Moore and there were all kinds of gruesome imagery, ladies in lingerie, and lots of bizarre violence.  As a 10 year old boy, I was captivated.  The story was dark and mysterious and I didn't really understand the nuances, but I knew I was peeking in on something special that wasn't entirely meant for me.  Like when you see your first naked lady at an early age and you have no idea what the parts are or do, but you know there's magic in it.

I saw the relaunch of Swamp Thing as my chance to get back on board that train and rediscover those thrills again.  And while you can't go home again, there are definitely things to appreciate in this new iteration of Swamp Thing.  The initial story started out really, really slowly, and I was worried that it was never going to get anywhere.  That sort of thing drives me mad, looking at you Brian Michael Bendis, but if there is enough to hold my interest I will stick around to see where it goes.  Swamp Thing took a long time to get started, but issue #10 has proven that time can pay off.

The new status quo is that Alec Holland, the scientist who was Swamp Thing previously, has been revived from the dead and has accepted his role (again) as Swamp Thing to be the champion of the Green (the force of plant life) against the Rot (the force of decay and death).  The first ten issues saw Swamp Thing battling the Rot as it tried to gain a foothold on the Earth.  During the battle, SW rescued his romantic interest, Abigail Arcane from the Rot.  She was destined to be the Queen of the Rot and apparently still is, despite the rescue.  Issue #10 starts with a battered Swamp Thing returning to the swamp to rest and heal from his ordeal.  However, Abigail's father, Anton Arcane has other plans.  I don't know too much about him, but apparently he is a beast of a dude and a part of the Rot as well.  He shows up to reclaim his little girl and take Swamp Thing out while he is incapacitated.  This may sound simple, but the way it is told and what it portends for SW is exactly the kind of thing I have been looking for out of this comic.  Here's hoping issue #11 delivers on the promise issue #10 has made...

Disappointment of the Week
Avengers vs. X-men #5
Marvel Comics

Wow.  Marvel has proven once again that they have no idea how to handle their characters anymore or how to handle their rich history.  AvX has been promoted as the greatest comic event in the Marvel Universe and the culmination of a decade's efforts in grand story telling.  It was billed as the big throwdown between the Avengers and the X-men that would shake the MU to its foundation.  Ho-hum.  In five issues the two teams have battled for roughly two issues, with no major confrontations and no major plot developments.  There have been no epic fights, no shocking defeats, and nothing of any real interest.  The main plot has nothing to do with the Avengers and the X-men, it has to do with the return (again) of the Phoenix and the two teams disagreeing on how to deal with that occurrence.  Ho-hum again.
Perhaps the most insulting thing is the way these characters interact with each other.  These are characters with nearly 70 years of history between them (some of them anyway) and they act like maybe this is the first time they have gone head-to-head, or at best the second.  The dialogue is so stilted and bland that the characters are made of wood and devoid of the flavor that made them icons.  
Without a doubt Marvel has the best body of characters in the industry, but they treat them like cash cows and they have about as much respect for them as they do anything they think they can turn a profit on.  The recent rash of movies do more justice to the rich history of characters than anything they are putting on the printed page.

This big event is the perfect example of how Mighty Marvel has lost its way.  At least DC openly acknowledges that they have no reverence for their history.  They reboot their universe every year or two.  Marvel wants to cling to its glory days and extend that glory to the crap they are churning out these days, but it just doesn't wash.  You cannot have your cake and eat it too.  You cannot claim to have great characters and then ignore everything that has made them great.
I'm going to see AvX to the end, but that might also be the end of my association with Might Marvel's main universe.  The Ultimate Universe still has a chance.... 

No comments:

Post a Comment