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Monday, May 07, 2012 

Why is AV Club recommending Bendis and Millar-written Avengers?

Following this week's success of the Avengers movie, the AV Club is writing about where new readers interested in the comics might want to start. But their recommendations are not very good:
Possible gateway: The Ultimates and The Ultimates 2

Why: In 2000, Marvel created the Ultimate line of comics, reimagining its top characters in a new universe stripped of previous continuity. After the success of Ultimate Spider-Man and Ultimate X-Men, Marvel launched The Ultimates, which reworked the classic Avengers team as a group of S.H.I.E.L.D.-sanctioned heroes protecting Earth from threats too great for just one hero. Sound familiar? The Marvel movie universe has taken many cues from Ultimates, from Captain America’s World War II uniform to Black Ops Hawkeye and Black Widow—and, most notably, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

Mark Millar has gotten flak for his shock-and-awe storytelling and generic characterizations, and while his later Ultimate Avengers work goes off the rails, his first two Ultimates series are strong action stories perfect for fans of the Marvel movies. (Just to get a feeling of how confusing superhero comics are, there’s The Ultimates, Ultimate Comics: Avengers, Ultimate Comics: New Ultimates, and Ultimate Comics: Ultimates, and this is within an imprint designed to make the universe more accessible.) With an assist from Bryan Hitch’s photorealistic artwork, Millar created a superhero team that felt like a group of real people, flaws and all.
Oh yes, and he also dredged up the Hank Pym-as-wife-abuser storyline from 1981, and in his rendition, made it even more monstrous, since this time, sci-fi tech found its way into the abuse tactics as well (Pym commands ants to attack Wasp). All just a couple issues into the series. Why must such a questionable storyline now 3 decades old be revisited so quickly and mutated into something even more shock value? That's exactly why it makes little difference if Capt. America took Ultimate Hank to task for this later; the shock tactics and turning Pym into more of a vile cretin than his 616 counterpart just for the sake of it is what ruins everything.

The AV Club then goes on to say that:
Next steps: After The Ultimates, Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers Vol. 1 is an appropriate entry point into the regular Marvel universe, picking up after the events of Bendis’ “Avengers Disassembled” storyline, which disbanded the existing team in 2005. The cast includes usual suspects Captain America and Iron Man (Thor was dead at the time, but he got better), along with Marvel A-listers Spider-Man and Wolverine and lesser-known characters like Luke Cage and Spider-Woman. The early issues are extremely new-reader-friendly, and while the book eventually became a launchpad for annual events, that also makes it a good place to get knowledge about the larger Marvel Universe. Bendis also likes to use those crossover tie-in issues to delve into Marvel history, giving readers a primer to major events in Avengers history. The trade paperback Breakout, which collects the early issues of Bendis’ run, is a good place to start.
Oh no. Just what the world needs. It makes no difference even if Bendis' hack job on Scarlet Witch from Avengers: Disassembled has been revealed as manipulations of Dr. Doom. It was still one of the crudest hack jobs in Marvel history, and Bendis' boasting about it didn't help matters. That aside, the biggest drawback for Bendis' so-called team was that it relied mostly on cast members from other books like Spider-Man and Wolverine, to name but some (and we're apparently not supposed to wonder how they can appear in so many books at the same time), and watered down a lot of the greater sci-fi trappings of the Avengers' world for the sake of noir-ish, street-level storytelling, including a story where a crook called the Hood kicked the crap out of Tigra, and Spider-Woman ends up naked at the Wizard's mercy, more shock tactic stories done all for the sake of it. Most of which isn't mentioned in the article. Even if they didn't suggest Disassembled per se, why are new readers who've seen the movie being told to try out writings as pretentious as what Bendis has concocted? That's taking an awful risk of tricking people into wasting their money over something they might even find padded out and dreary, given how Bendis frequently resorts to decompressed storytelling and overly talky scripting. How is that new reader friendly I have no idea.

Now, they do also recommend some of the work of Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Kurt Busiek and George Perez, including famous and much better stories like the Kree-Skrull War from 1971 and Under Siege from 1986, but it still doesn't clear away the damage they're doing by recommending the work of writers like Bendis and Millar, whose output is more interested in sullying the cast of characters and shock tactics. And the AV Club also isn't helping when they tell readers:
Where not to start: Silver Age comic books have their charms, but the best way to get into a superhero title is by reading contemporary stories first and moving backward. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s early Avengers issues are appropriately bombastic for the time, but probably too exaggerated for any fans being introduced to the characters through the more realistic film.
Oh for crying out loud. Not only do they act as though newer storytelling is far better in every way than the older, they seem to think realism is what appeals to the crowd in every way too. Is a movie featuring heroes and villains who can fly, have superhuman strength, magic and even weapons like the Tesseract something realistic? Hardly. All they're doing is dampening the impact of Lee and Kirby's gathering of several heroes who made their debut earlier in a number of other series and anthologies by making it sound as though it's too "silly" for anyone in present times to appreciate. They're even taking the risk of weakening the impact of a comic which did have an optimistic side to it, another something that helped make the Silver Age beginnings so enjoyable. I'd say their whole take on realism isn't very clear either, since realism to me means plausible human relations, not violence and bloodshed. I suspect that's all lost on the AV Club, unfortunately.

They do at least say one good thing regarding Bendis:
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Avengers Assemble #1, the new Avengers ongoing by Bendis that is specifically designed for fans of the summer blockbuster and features the same cast as the movie. Unfortunately, it’s a really lousy comic.
No doubt. Bendis is one of the most overrated writers of modern times, and even when he departs from the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, there's little chance things will improve so long as a terrible EIC like Axel Alonso remains. But if they think that's bad, they should consider just how worthless even his work from 8 years ago happens to be, ditto Millar's. It's the work of earlier champions like Lee, Kirby, Thomas, Buscema, and Perez that should be recommended for new readers, not stuff that's really just aimed at a small modern fanbase of people who follow Bendis and Millar onto nearly every title they helm out of near idolatry.

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I hate how mainstream comics "reporters" always obscure the past in favor of the present when it comes to comics storylines. I read the Ultimates back in high school and really, really hated it, so I gave it to a friend who liked Marvel's Ultimate line. That comic contributed to me eventually making the decision to invest my money in Marvel (and DC)'s earlier stuff, which is much better written... and the writers acctually gave a damn about their characters back then. The writer's insistence that we all want "realism" is just stupid; the Avengers movie was awesome for sure, but "realistic?" Not at all. Most people want escapism, and that's largely been missing since the turn of the century, as stories become more politicized and tilt further to the left.

This has nothing to do with the Avengers but with Archie. I remember how you mentioned that Sabrina was being abused in their current comics... now it sounds like Hollywood is going to do a dark and edgy remake of her old sitcom now.

http://screenrant.com/sabrina-teenage-witch-reboot-movie-sandy-164442/

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