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The Mighty and The Unworthy Take on The Apocalypse in Marvel Generations

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With Marvel Generations nearing its halfway point of the ten issue limited series, there’s been a lot of buzz about how they’re going to tie in to the upcoming Legacy event, which many are still confused about. Yet, that’s a conversation for another time. For me personally only having read the Jean Grey/ Phoenix book other than the current Odinson/ Jane Foster one, it’s hard to truly judge the series as a whole. But for these two issues, my reception is mostly on the positive side.

The story itself was solid with some very well tied-in concepts to the current Mighty Thor run, taking in the challenges currently facing Jane Foster between her rapidly declining health and her relationship with Odinson. The ending held some truly questionable implications for Odin and a former “love” interest in the form of the Phoenix force; when I mean the Phoenix force, I don’t mean Jean Grey, I mean the force itself. Yeah it gets really weird.

For those who don’t follow what’s currently going on in the Asgardian Universe, there are a few pivotal things from these books that make some cameo appearances in this comic. For one, most people know that Jane Foster has breast cancer and that it is getting much worse the longer she becomes Thor. The fact that not only can she not give up holding Mjolnir to help those in need is bad enough; what is even worse is that she refuses Asgardian medicine. Being pro-human is one thing, but to refuse a cure so that your own race can propel themselves at the cost of your own life? Perhaps that’s what makes her worthy, but then again we know from the anti-climactic ending of the Unworthy Thor series that no Asgardian is truly worthy. Maybe it’s the fact that she’s human that makes her worthy?

A Young Odinson

The issue opens in the very distant past when Thor Odinson was young and not yet worthy of Mjolnir, though not for lack of trying. Odin is ever the All-Father of the year as he works to get his young and brash son to act more as his heir and a prince rather than spending time trying to be worthy of Mjolnir, plus his spending so much time in Midgard with his Vikings. Granted, Odin does have a point in the fact that Thor does need to take interest in what will one day be his own throne, but there are much better ways of going about it without crushing his sons dreams. Nor is it really helpful that he does nothing but hurl threats and insults.

Odin gives his son a chance at showing off his honor when told he must attend a delegation from Vanaheim, but of course upon his arrival he is miserable, with nothing on his mind but battle and glory. Odin is so distrusting of his son’s actions that he doesn’t even allow him mead during the ceremony. Yet with the coming company late, Thor takes this chance to answer a desperate prayer back on Midgard and without a thought he’s off on his giant goat to answer it for glory’s sake.

When he arrives a group of Vikings managed to take their plundering ways so far south of the Nile that they reached Egypt, the desperation of coursing being real in the form of heavy resistance from the Egyptian natives. At first it seems as if they’re not dealing with much more than some soldier resistance and a possible sea creature. This all changes when Odinson is shot off his ram by the ancient all-powerful mutant himself, Apocalypse. Granted that this comic does place early in Odinson’s history, I would have liked to see a more classic Thor villain like Lauffey or Mangog but I guess this fit the timeline. Interestingly enough though it is teased that Mangog will be the villain of the upcoming Death of Thor…of which I’m really upset about, only because I really love Jane Foster’s run as Mighty Thor.

Double The Lighting

Speaking of Jane Foster, Odinson realizes that he just might not be a match against this insanely powerful mutant, that is until his future love and replacement shows up to help him save the day. At first Odinson is appalled that not only is it someone else who is wielding Mjolnir, but also that it’s a woman. Horrors. Not long after, thanks to some common sense of their situation and some serious and deserved shade on Jane’s end, the two decide that two Thors will be more than a force to be reckoned with.

Badass level its over 9000

Throughout the fight we get to see an exciting sequence of events as Jane and Odinson take on the mighty mutant and equally we also get a lot of text boxes reciting ones used in earlier Mighty Thor issues that pertain to what it really means to be Thor for Jane Foster and how it will be the end of her. The state of her cancer brings up a philosophical ponder: she’s alive as long as she wields the hammer, but if the more she’s Thor the quicker Jane will die, then what’s her motive? Could it be she cares more about saving those in needs than her own life? Will it come to the point that if one day she puts down the hammer, her body will instantly succumb to the cancer?

I really hope this will be more brought up in her own comic, though that won’t make it sting any less when we finally get to The Death of Thor in October.

The true culprit of this transgression on Odinson’s part is revealed to be none other than Loki as we move forward in the book. Jane, of course, has a lot more of a reason to want to pummel him upon his sight, especially considering his near mass-genocide of the light elves while in the employ of Malekith in the first arc of her second run. It seems that Loki baited these Vikings to go somewhere they would be overwhelmed, knowing the almighty Odinson will ruin himself at a chance to help their glory. Other than thi,s he really doesn’t play much of a part in this story.

its always fun seeing Loki smacked around

The Aftermath

By the end of the fight we see what it truly means to inspire and to be inspired as the two take down the ancient mutant. After the ordeal there is celebrating and drinking as is the Viking fashion, and it seems that Jane learns not only about a man she once loved, but about herself and the true meaning of being Thor. What effect this will have on her as a person remains to be seen, and no doubt will be shown moving on towards the end of her run.

Now this was my real only issue with this book: we get it, the Phoenix force is destruction given form. It attracts, it seduces, and it corrupts; of all of the future power hungry characters of the Marvel Universe, Odin is one who we would not want to see harness its power. This would have been an interesting idea as I’m saying it, but to literally come out and say that Odin had a physical and sexual one night stand with the Phoenix force and to give it a female, sexualized form? Like what are you trying to pull off here Marvel?

Apparently this will be explained more once Marvel Legacy begins but I swear…if this comes around that somehow Odinson is actually the son of the Phoenix force, I can’t even to begin to explain how stupid of a move that will be.

I honestly have no words, Marvel

The Art

While I’m more partial to Dauterman on art, this comic felt slightly lacking compared to what we see in Mighty Thor. Not to say it was bad, I enjoyed it but I feel like for this sort of one-time event they should have gone all out. The colors were great and the mix of magic, powers, and action scenes played out well with how it was done but the penciling was a not detailed enough to keep up.

Final Thoughts

This was a really good effort on Marvel’s end to try and revamp their popularity, considering more recent disasters in production. The story was really solid even considering that very questionable ending and kept those who truly care about Jane Fosters character invested while hopefully bringing in some new fans. Even if it is too late to really understand the impact the next few weeks will hold for her, I hope more new fans will go back and read her short but great time as Thor.

I would have liked to see a more Thor-oriented villain head this comic off, but I was satisfied with Apocalypse and Loki always lurking in the shadows. I’m just going to leave that ending alone for now: please Marvel don’t do anything stupid with it… Please!

Final Score: 8/10


Marvel Generations: The Thunder/Mighty Thor and Unworthy Thor

Story: Jason Aaron

Pencils & Inks: Mahmud Asrar

Colors: Jordie Bellaire

Letters: Joe Sabino

All Images Courtesy of Marvel

Hey, everyone! Just your friendly neighborhood nerd. From NYC/NJ, 28 years old. Ask me about a Fandom and I can go on for hours. Firefly, Penny Dreadful, and A Song of Ice and Fire are my favorites, let's get nerdy.

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Saga: True Colours

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It’s a fine line that which divides nature and a zone of comfort; so fine it’s sometimes too easy to confuse one with the other, or think them to be interchangeable terms. But the differences are there, however subtle. For one, a zone of comfort is often a treacherous foe against personal growth. It may even render you numb before coming adversities and leave you unprepared to resist them. Am I being obnoxiously specific yet? Well I can take it up a notch. A zone of comfort can also blind you, delude you into mistaking someone’s nature. Make you see a foe as a friend when the tide is calm.

But when the tide grows restless, leaving that zone of comfort is quite the rude awakening. Hope you like those, lovelies.

Issue #52
“Not when we were so close…”

The “Jetsam Holiday” arc has been a lovely time so far, comparatively speaking. For every dark development unfolding within or without Hazel’s immediate (and extended) family, there has been lots of sunshine and fucking. And of course, there has been plenty of wholesome entertainment for the whole family to enjoy also. If the image of Hazel waging sea war against Petrichor and Ghüs while atop Sir Robot’s shoulders isn’t heartwarming, her wishing Sir Robot didn’t have to leave absolutely is. And furthermore, Sir Robot even reciprocates it.

Old foes may turn dear friends in time – just like my dad used to say… not really, but let’s pretend he did.

In the meantime, Marko and Upsher have a thoughtful conversation while frying fishies. Beyond the perennial dynamic of the journey, one of Saga‘s thematic signatures is the encounter between worldviews. Sometimes this occurs through future Hazel’s introspection, and sometimes through calm moments like this. By learning of how Upsher and Doff learned about the fugitives and their daughter, Marko finally realises something we’d long known by now. There is no action that goes without consequence in this galaxy. Whether it’s some nameless mook who becomes a villain’s motive for revenge, or a grunt left behind who’s see too much.

Their conversation migrates then to the topic of accountability when it comes to one of the most traditional roles in war: killing. Having been a soldier, Marko has obviously taken on a very active role. But Upsher isn’t entirely clean either, despite never taking a life himself. Being a journalist, his business is all about information, but its reception always risks a response, which sometimes involves violence. This is, Marko argues, the reason he will be sticking to writing fiction. Nevertheless, Upsher’s response is a banquet for thought, and I’ll quote:

“Putting new ideas into another person’s head is an agggressive act, and aggressive acts have consequences. Face it, you can be a writer or a pacifist, but you can’t be both.” The written word, to communicate or to inspire, is necessarily a political act. We’ll take this morsel with us home to mull it over, as something else comes up, demanding all heads and hands. Alana enters the scene with the news: Squire is missing. The young Robot has followed through with his plan to leave.

Cut to Ianthe, wandering the wilderness of Jetsam, and adding a touch of danger to Squire’s stunt. Her concern over The Will, now free, angry and deadly, reaches a high point upon seeing a note pinned against a tree with a knife. Menacing even when written in cursive. The note proper says they’re even; him having killed her fiancé, and she having skinned his dog. I’d hardly call it even myself – Ianthe is still in debt, but I digress. We’d be delusional to think this warning would dissuade Ianthe – too proud a villain to heed common sense.

Meanwhile, the grownups at the beach camp find Squire’s farewell note, charmingly written in crayon. His message and how he addresses himself as Princeling make his intentions clear. Sir Robot’s son intends to return to the Robot Kingdom; maybe his ways of chivalry had an unexpected, unintended side effect on the kid. Overtaken by shame, Sir Robot insists on handling this himself, then declaring this to be his fault. He then reveals the ugly incident of hurting Squire last issue, earning Alana’s anger and Hazel’s disbelief. Before Alana can unleash a (well-deserved) fist upon Sir Robot’s face, Marko walks in full-clad in armour, bearing… mushrooms.

Ah, but these mushrooms are special mushrooms. They don’t grace soups with supreme delight or allow you to summon Frank Zappa in Bloodborne (which I’ve been playing a lot of lately). These mushrooms function as flares bright enough to see in daylight or when penetrating deep in the forest. Hazel demands to come with, but her mum won’t allow it for good reason. Upsher offers to stay with Hazel, as he’s also confident his partner Doff has already found Squire.

If only he knew…

The pinky oath between Alana and Hazel marks the beginning of the search.

The scene then changes to Squire/Princeling’s point of view. He has definitely taken a shine to Hazel’s Ponk Konk, who now accompanies him as a friend to “talk with”. And it’s just as well: Squire is terrified. He roams what appears to be an abandoned amusement park, which is a creepy setting in any galaxy. According to a conversation he overheard between the grownups, the magical ingredients for the “body swap” are transported through pipes that run through these unsettling parts. Therefore, his course to take appears obvious, quite unlike the strange creatures following his movements, concealed in the overgrowth.

The worm-like creatures lunge forward, ensnaring Squire to be devoured by a nightmarish mouth spreading wide across the grass. Amidst the horror of the moment, he drops Ponk Konk, possibly into the maws of this hideous creature. Someone makes the save in the nick of time with a few well-aimed shots, however. Thankful, Squire hugs his unlikely saviour: Ianthe. Could it be he has managed to survive one beast only to end up in the maws of another?

Elsewhere, Sir Robot spots a strange jellyfish-like ship while searching for his son. The Will gets the drop on the former Prince, skewering his arm-cannon with his spear. Sir Robot doesn’t quite recognise his attacker, but The Will him well enough; not as the disgraced noble, but as the killer of his former love, Spider woman extraordinaire, The Stalk. A vengeful intent is clearly approaching. And though Sir Robot frets over being interrupted from his search and disarmed, he keeps his cool to talk with the reinstated Freelancer.

The Will is back on the job to catch the fugitives, but not before killing Sir Robot. Knowing that an ordinary, desperate plea won’t do the job, Sir Robot presents another possibility as a bargaining chip to secure his and his son’s safety: to surrender Hazel to The Will.

Seems old foes turn into friends dear when the tide is calm… otherwise, they’re only placated foes, only for so long. Treacherous asshole.

 

Saga Issue #52 Credits

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Fiona Staples

All images are courtesy of Image Comics

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Batgirl is Getting a New Direction And a New Look

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Can I say that I, for one, am glad that we’re finally getting a new author for Batgirl? Because I am. Now this is no disrespect to Hope Larson; she is a competent writer who has told some really good stories over the last two years, but for me she just wasn’t a good fit for one of my favorite DC superheroes. Now I’ll probably get backlash from the community of fans who like to criticize the whole DC darkness thing for this but you know what? Yes, it should be dark and gritty, that’s always been associated with the “bat” name. Should it try to be a little more light hearted? Sure, but it’s a balance. My issue with Hope Larson’s run was that it was way too “tweeny” considering the kind of comics we’ve seen in the past with Barbara, Cass, and Stephanie.

Now, I also get that heroes need to evolve in order to meet their targeted audience. Hope Larson in retrospect did something that I very much like. Like the political nature of Green Arrow, Hope managed to construct her stories centered around the criticisms of overuse of technology, freedom of the internet, and the use of personal data. These are topics that remains very relevant this year and will be for some time to come. The fact that she was able to use this to tell stories that no matter what I say, were still entertaining, is a testament to the fact that she was a very good writer.

However, it is still time for a change. Despite the great motivations behind her stories, they were still cringe-y sometimes. Seeing Barbara juggle her nightlife with her student life is a common theme among younger heroes, and her friends in the LGBTQ community offered real understanding for audiences, but it still felt like a teen drama.

Don’t get me wrong though, I love her supporting cast, especially Alyssa who was created by Gail Simone in her well loved Batgirl New 52 run. The author was very outspoken for gender identity and the over sexualization of females in comic books. To see Hope Larson treat characters created by Simone with love and care was really something. By now I probably sound like I loved Hope’s run on Batgirl. As I said before, it wasn’t a bad run and I enjoyed reading it for the most part but I need something a bit more than that.

Starting with issue 24, we’ll be getting a plethora of new authors for the next few issues. Like with Green Arrow, finding a new permanent author takes time but with the Benson sisters spearheading that comic, Mairghread Scott will be taking over exclusively come August and issue 26. Now, I haven’t read anything by her save the most recent Green Arrow title, which I liked hell of a lot more than the previous two. So, I’ll be seeing her writing without bias and without former convictions. I’m really excited to see where she leads Barbara in her new adventures, but hopefully she focuses more on Batgirl and Barbara rather than love interests and overly cringe worthy situations. I get Barbara is awkward but that was just painful.

According to previews, we will see the return of Barbara to Gotham and of another character, or rather villain, created by Gail Simone called Grotesque. In this version, he plays a murderous art thief who moves to create his own vile art gallery with the pieces of his victims. He ends up getting the jump on Babs and setting the device in her spine off, effectively taking away her ability to walk again.

It looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot more continuity from the Gail Simone days and either the nostalgia will hit long time fans or Scott will be taking us in a whole new direction. So many questions, the main one being: could this be the end for Barbara as Batgirl? As much as I love Babs, I am part of the group who feels she needs to pass on the cowl to someone new. But that’s a topic for another day.

Speaking of getting a new author, we also have a revamp of Batgirl’s look, which is also a huge plus for me. If you’ve read Batman: White Knight you’ll no doubt recognize this costume from it. Sean Murphy, the genius behind that story, must have allowed the costume to be used as main canon. I’m happy for this because I really, really like the new look. I was never a huge fan of the purple zip up jacket-like outfit she was sporting in “Burnside,” but that just comes down to aesthetics.

The new look is sleek and more “batty” adding more to her own persona. Batgirl and Nightwing were among the first to leave Bruce behind and create their own identity and damn if this is not screaming that she’s the best “bat” out there.


All Images Courtesy of DC Comics

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DC Is Relaunching Vertigo, Doubling Down On Millennials

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It’s been 25 years since DC Comics launched perhaps the most successful imprint in comics history: Vertigo. Since its foundation in 1993, some of the biggest graphic novels ever have come out under the Big V. Its initial run of titles made a splash on the shelves of comic stores and would cement their authors as comics royalty: Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, Brian K. Vaughn, Brian Azzarello. Old properties (The Sandman) and old legends (Alan Moore) found new life at Vertigo. These new comics were no longer the whiff! bam! pow! of the past, but they also largely avoided the hyper-violence and darkness of the 90s. They handled adult themes like alienation, religion, feminism, and, yes, violence. But they handled these themes with more nuance and variety than ever before.  For the first time in the medium’s history, comics were becoming literature.

But all of the original titles have ended, with Hellblazer being the last of the old guard, closing in 2013. After a few years on the down low, DC is planning a massive relaunch of the classic brand for a new generation.  With it comes a clear emphasis on the political power of comics. They aim not for the Gen-Xers who made Preacher, iZombie, and Fables bestsellers, but for millennials. Titles will deal with the topics its readers care about: immigration, white supremacy, sex work.

Just like in 1993, the creators taking part in the relaunch are a vibrant mix of rising stars and new faces in the comics world. Eric M. Esquivel (Roberto Roberto) will bring us a tale of demons run amok in a border town while Ben Blacker (The Thrilling Adventure Hour) will spin a tale of brainwashed witches reclaiming their power. Bryan Hill (Postal, Batman) will put a biracial cop in harm’s way as he investigates a white supremacist group. Frequent Nine Inch Nails collaborator, Rob Sheridan, is sending a smuggler on an impossible quest, and Mark Russel (God Is Disappointed In You) pits Jesus against “Superman”.

The group of writers and artists are a nice mix of diverse voices, with two women serving as writers their own titles, both of which will no doubt invite controversy. The first, Goddess Mode, takes place in a cyberpunk VR hellscape where tech support involves a huge neon sword. Its author will be video game developer Zoe Quinn, perhaps most famous for being the internet’s biggest scapegoat and the original source of the “Gamergate” controversy. The second comic, Safe Sex, will be a dystopian book focusing on sex workers who dare to love in a world where all sex is under government control. Its author is sex-work advocate and LGBTQ+ journalist Tina Horn, who will no doubt bring an expert opinion to a topic that comics really, REALLY has never handled very well.

The new books start in September of this year, with Border Town,  and the rest will follow month by month right through into the new year. They will join the pre-existing raft of Vertigo titles, as well as Neil Gaiman’s brand new Sandman Universe line.


Image courtesy of DC Comics and Vertigo

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