Avengers #23 and the Joys of an Intergalactic Posse

November 21st, 2013 Posted by Gavok

This week gave us Avengers #23 by Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu. It acts as chapter 14 in the 16 chapter event that is Infinity. Normally, I abhor comic book events (Fear Itself broke me), but Hickman’s been killing it here. It’s a wonderful space epic that mixes two unrelated threats and intertwines their stories. On one hand, you have the Builders, a cosmic threat based on killing to preserve life. On the other hand, you have Thanos, the cosmic threat based on his love for Death.

The whole thing has been filled with a ton of great moments. Speeches and actions come off as incredibly badass and satisfying while seemingly everyone gets their own moment to shine. In this week’s installment, there’s a wonderful moment based on Captain America leading his forces to Earth, which is being conquered by Thanos and his soldiers. Cap is assisted by various alien forces, who intend to help Earth as gratitude for the Avengers being so important in the war against the Builders. Before leaving, he tells Super-Skrull and the other alien warlords in the room, “You didn’t have to… What I mean is… I want to thank all of you for this.”

Super-Skrull responds, “Thank us when we’ve earned it, human. What good is effort if we fail? Do best intentions soak up the blood and bury the fallen? And if beaten, who remembers the conquered? Not I… So save your thanks until we stand over the broken bodies of our enemies. Save it until we’ve won.”

The problem is that Thanos’ forces have taken the Peak, a SWORD space station built to prevent invaders. The team of Manifold, Black Widow and Shang-Chi go off to shut it down and protect the Avengers on their journey to Earth, but it isn’t so easy. Black Dwarf, one of Thanos’ top henchmen, is running things and he’s able to dispose of Widow and Shang-Chi easily. Manifold teleports back to the base and sees that Cap’s already left, leaving only Super-Skrull and the others. The Avengers are doomed. Earth is doomed. What can they do?

Then this happens.

Super-Skrull, Ronan the Accuser, Gladiator and Annihilus vs. Black Dwarf. Black Dwarf talks a tough game, but he stands no chance. He already took a loss when he tried to invade Wakanda, so he isn’t going to do much better here. Lot of sweet smacktalk is said and in the end, he finds himself judged guilty by the Accuser and his hammer. It’s an enjoyable moment in a massive story of enjoyable moments.

What truly makes this great isn’t the galactic curbstomping itself, but why it’s happening. This isn’t like your average superhero team taking down a threat. This a foursome of enemies. Since the 60’s, these guys have been antagonizing everyone from the Fantastic Four to the X-Men on a regular basis. Super-Skrull and Ronan represent two races that have acted like the Hatfields and McCoys of outer space. Annihilus is borderline pure evil and went to war with everyone, including his brothers-in-arms here.

And yet here they are. Fighting. Together. For us. A lot of times these superhero stories, especially in the big events, talk up how pointless and bittersweet these victories are. What good is Batman stopping the Joker when he’s just going to kill another dozen people the week after? Wonder Man even made a big stink about how the Avengers were causing more damage than they were worth with none of the writers ever really finding a good argument against it other than, “He crazy.” This, on the other hand, is kind of a beautiful thing. Former enemies to ourselves and each other are able to put their differences aside to make sure Earth can be protected all because of the ripples of Captain America’s actions.

I seem to recall Peter David’s Hulk: The End saying that the death of the human race would have led to the Kree and Skrulls burying the hatchet for the sake of celebration. Hickman’s storytelling impresses me far more.

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This Week in Panels: Week 209

September 22nd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Hey! It’s you! I’m busy as hell this week, but I’m still going to be doing a bunch of ThWiP off-shoots over the next couple days. Tomorrow it’s This Year in Panels while this Friday I’ll be doing the return of This Character in Panels. Why? Because it’ll have been four years as of Friday, that’s why. Ah, the days of ThWiP Week 1 in 2009.

Back when people still remembered Skaar.

So anyway, this week brings us the end of Injustice: Gods Among Us for the time being. “Year One” just ended and there’ll be an Annual in November. Then it relaunches in January. In the meantime, I’ve written a retrospective/review of sorts for Den of Geek US the other day. Speaking of which, I’m going to be doing more hands-on stuff with that site, so that’s pretty exciting for me.

This week I have my fellow Injustice reader Matlock, who is still reading up on most of the DC villains comics. Gaijin Dan still has his manga and Was Taters makes her grand return. Let’s get to it.

Action Comics #23.3
Charles Soule and Raymund Bermudez

Batman #23.3
Frank Tieri and Christian Duce

Batman ’66 #12
Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell

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Infinity Speculation: The Lost Son of Thanos

September 5th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Infinity #2 came out yesterday and proceeds to be one of the very few big comic events that I’ve been able to enjoy. So far, at least. What was curious was the Black Bolt subplot, which is used as the issue’s cliffhanger. Thanos has shown to be incredibly interested in something Black Bolt has to offer and it isn’t the Infinity Gems, since they’re all out of the Illuminati’s hands. Thanos has been sending his galactic flunkies to different worlds with the demand for a tribute. They must give Thanos the heads of all of their subjects who are between the ages of 16 and 22.

This coincides with the recent Thanos Rising miniseries, where it’s established that Thanos became the Screaming Jay Hawkins of the universe by having bastard children all over the cosmos. Not a single one of them takes after Thanos, even in appearance, and he’s become interested in wiping them all out. Obviously, that tribute would catch the needles in the planetary haystacks.

In the end of the issue, Black Bolt holds a meeting with the Illuminati in a realm where Bolt is able to speak freely without risk of kickass explosions. He hands Richards some kind of trinket and we have this exchange:

Black Bolt: And as I will be delivering my response to his request in person… I brought you here to give you this.

Reed Richards: What is it?

Black Bolt: Records. The hidden archives of Inhuman kings and queens. In there you will find what Thanos is looking for.

Black Panther: But what you said about the tribute—

Black Bolt: The tribute is a lie. A convenient one that Thanos is telling to cover up the truth… He doesn’t desire the death of every child of a certain age. He wants to ensure the death of a very specific person.

Black Panther: Who?

Black Bolt: The one Thanos has come to Earth to kill… His son.

Right there we know that Thanos has a child on Earth and that child is an Inhuman. Again, it’s an offspring that won’t resemble him, meaning you’re not going to see a purple dude with a craggy chin and a mullet. It’s strongly possible that this will be a new character. After all, this is an event story and it can’t be an event story without introducing a new superhero who will barely, if ever, be touched by any other writer afterwards. They can’t all be Blue Beetle and Layla Miller.

But what if it’s someone established? Someone that we, the readers, would know? I’m not the most well-versed in Inhuman history, but I’ve seen those who are scratch their heads at who it could be. Then a theory popped up in my head.

Let’s let Charles Xavier from New Avengers: The Illuminati #3 explain it.

Illuminati #3 is a very strange issue in retrospect, whether you loved it or hated it. People have differing opinions on Brian Michael Bendis’ writing, but one thing everyone seems to agree with is that his writing really fell to pieces towards the end of his Avengers/New Avengers run. After Siege happened, Bendis started running out of stuff to write stories about and flailed about as he stuck around well past the expiration date.

Yet he never did follow-up on Illuminati #3.

For those who haven’t read it or need a refresher, Illuminati #3 is an issue where Bendis decided to retcon the hell out of the Beyonder. Instead of being this omnipotent cosmic force, Bendis labeled him as a man with a mutant gene who was exposed to the terrigen mists and became a super-powerful mutant-Inhuman. Black Bolt claimed he had no memory of him as being his subject and after crossing paths with him in space, the Illuminati shamed the Beyonder into seemingly leaving the universe. The last page was ambiguous as Beyonder walked the streets of Manhattan. Was he using reality as a sandbox again or was he in the actual New York City? We never found out.

So what if it’s the Beyonder that Thanos is out to kill? It’s a longshot, but it’s food for thought.

The stories Hickman are telling through Avengers, New Avengers and Infinity are massively dire in terms of our heroes’ chances of victory. The Infinity Gauntlet has been deemed ineffective. A space armada featuring two Superman stand-ins and Thor is sent on the run. It isn’t out of the question that someone on the Beyonder’s level would be needed to turn the tide in some way. That, and it would give closure to that Illuminati story.

Then again, I also predicted Magog was Booster Gold’s father once upon a time and that was totally wrong, so what do I know?

Edit: I’ve also seen some speculation that Thanos’ son is the new Nova, who is both hiding a secret of some kind (according to Phoenix-Cyclops in AvX) and is one of the characters to appear on the cover of Infinity #6. Interesting.

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