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Books Read in 2017 # 2-4 - Marvel Comics got really good when I wasn't looking - Tim Lieder [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Tim Lieder

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Books Read in 2017 # 2-4 - Marvel Comics got really good when I wasn't looking [Jan. 9th, 2017|12:37 pm]
Tim Lieder
2. All New Wolverine: Civil War II - I recently re-read 52 which I cited as the comic book series that got me excited about superhero comics all over again and while I still enjoyed some aspects of the story (Lex Luther was truly evil) I found the series as a whole rather painful to read. I would have been much more eager to let the creators pat themselves on the back for giving the world a lesbian Batwoman if they didn't draw the splash page with her entering the fight with her butt to the audience but still twisting enough so that you can see her boobs. And that was compounded by the fact that the writer was sad that he didn't get to have his "did she fake her orgasms" joke. The John Henry/Niece story was predicated on the idiot plot and the cliche of the strong black man who is poor but proud (kind of like those tv movies where the family always refuses to take a turkey because they don't take charity even though they are all starving - I don't remember where that scene was but I fucking hate it - I think I hate it more now because it is total Reaganomics bullshit where the only valuable poor people are the ones who are starving and proud. The ones who actually take the fucking turkey are the parasites of society with their food stamps and welfare).

Getting off the subject. Anyhow I realized that as much as I liked 52, superhero comics can still be just as stupid and cliche as they were in the 90s when I stopped reading them. And DC has been breaking my heart all last year as I read collection after collection that were just banking on people being really shitty to each other as a way of being deep and profound. The only stories I kind of liked were the ones where Brainiac kidnapped a bunch of cities and had them fight each other - mostly because almost no one wanted to fight and most of the time they just found ways of getting out of the bullshit battle royale scenario. But for the most part, I was reading post-apocalyptic after apocalyptic stories where DC couldn't stop killing off their worlds. Earth-2 gets invaded by Apokalips and everyone dies - but not before most of them turn evil. Superman takes over the world after Joker tricks him into killing Lois. The Batman-3000 future is assured (or whatever the fuck that's called) no matter how much everyone tries.

So it's refreshing to read the new Wolverine as a story about a young woman who also has to take care of her clone. That's not to say that Marvel doesn't engage in its post-apocalyptic meshuggas. Hell, Days of Future Past made The X-Men. And most of this series has Old Man Logan which is one of the silliest post-apocalyptic stories in comic book canon (the evil Hulks, the Clint Eastwood take on the Hulk blatantly ripped off from Unforgiven, the fact that Red Skull is president after killing Captain America because that's how democracy works - even in a post-Trump world that makes no fucking sense) and still it's actually fun.

Ok. First off, Squirrel Girl is amazing. I would like to say that Squirrel Girl needs to be a movie. Squirrel Girl needs television shows and cartoons. The opening story where Squirrel Girl is forcing Wolverine to clean up her mess from the time in the last story when she put a tracker on a squirrel is just enough silly to be awesome. And the ending where Squirrel Girl misinterprets the squirrel giving a speech about forgiveness and responsibility when all the squirrel wants is a fucking nut.

The Old Man Logan material falls into a nice groove where Old Man Logan is there to provide a contrast with the father relationship that Laura has with the original Wolverine (who is still dead) but since Old Man Logan comes from a place where everyone is dead and Gabby killed Laura, it gets to be a "you are him but you aren't him" story and that kind of flounders in the chase sequence and the Old Man Logan gets crazy bits. Also Gabby has wolverine powers which isn't much of a twist. Basically by the time the story is over, Old Man Logan is given the boot (because he tried to kill Gabby) and Laura & Gabby go their way. In a television show this would make sense because you can't keep Hugh Jackman on the payroll indefinitely but in a comic it need only make sense from a story perspective and since this is a comic about a young woman who is growing into her responsibility and power, a grandfather Wolverine character is just going to drag on the story.

Also the Civil War II tie-in seems idiotic. I think it's all based on pre-cognition crimes since I read Ms. Marvel dealing with the same thing a couple months ago. I guess it makes sense for the superheroes to fight about ideologies in which the reader can see both sides of the issue and it's better than the old reasons why they used to fight (they just met). It is still little more than an excuse to make superheroes fight.

3. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel You Know it's True - I can forgive the squirrel/girl puns in these titles. Ms. Marvel is still my favorite Marvel title at the moment, but damn Squirrel Girl has fun with its premise. And it's strange to use the term "fun" in relation to comic books. Aren't comic books supposed to be fun? Seriously, the main thing about comic books for better or worse is escapism. Of course, they don't have to be escapism and Will Eisner proved that graphic novels can be about whatever you want them to be about. Besides Alan Moore and Frank Miller took superheroes seriously with Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns, but this led to many writers getting the wrong message. Instead of "hey let's work with the real world a little more and see what comes out" they went with "let's make everything really fucking depressing all the time because that's what the audience wants. Call this number if you want Robin to die after the Joker beats him into paste with a crowbar).

So Squirrel Girl is fun and I will not say that the next 3-4 books that I review, but damn it's great to have a fun comic book where the heroine isn't taking everything seriously. Goddamnit, she's Squirrel Girl. She talks to squirrels. She also has a big tail. That's it. So of course they have her taking on Galactus and winning (or at least convincing Galactus to stop getting a craving for snacking on Earth). And self-aware comics can be great (they can also be tedious) so when the opening story has people telling Squirrel Girl stories while waiting for rescue, of course Captain America is going to keep switching to Hydra (and even monarchy at one point) because why not poke at the biggest controversy in Marvel titles. The main story is about an evil squirrel from Asgard who turns everyone against each other and the roommate getting to go to Asgard and convincing Loki to become Cat-Thor - which is yes, Thor if he was a white cat. There are so many points where comics hit the reset button and come back to the state where they were at the beginning and while some have to be done (Wolverine is not going to stay dead), I REALLY LIKE this Loki who is just in it for the shits and giggles. Sure, super powered pranksters are going to be dangerous no matter how much they think it's all in good fun so Loki could be deadly eventually, but Loki just fucking around for his own amusement - that's quite beautiful.

4. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: BFF - Thus far this is the book that I admire more than I like. Moon Girl is a young black girl who is also a total nerd and is only slightly more fantastic than the average nerd kid (I could go on about how YA writers depict teenage and child nerds as super geniuses who are always making scientific and technological advances that are beyond most adults.) This is the set-up title. The dinosaur comes from another dimension or the past (I am not certain) along with neanderthals who form a street gang and take over the gang activity of gentrified Manhattan neighborhoods (weird) and then there's a great deal of material about what to do with the dinosaur. The Hulk is smart again. I suppose that works. Anyhow I look forward to future titles.