Thursday, May 31, 2007

Damn You, Bendis!

Okay, before you read any further, I am going to spoil the heck out of this week's New Avengers: Illuminati #3.
So, I've been getting New Avengers: Illuminati pretty much exclusively for the puzzle aspect of the book. Can I, based solely on the structural story clues in the book, place these issues in their proper chronological order within the larger pantheon of Marvel comics? I wasn't keen on the whole secret society thing, and especially not keen on Mr. Fantastic, Professor X and Black Bolt being a part of it. It doesn't strike me as in their characters. But #3 was the final straw.

Why? Because they retroactively made the Beyonder an Inhuman. (I warned you about the spoilers.) Yup, an Inhuman. Same kind of guy as Karnak or Triton or Gorgon. No, he's no longer some godlike being that is wholly unknowable. No, he's not an elemental force of nature. He's just a really powerful Inhuman.

Now, setting aside the fact that runs contrary to existing continuity -- which ties his very existence to the creation of the Molecule Man -- it totally undermines who the character was, what sort of threat he meant to the Marvel Universe, and how the heroes reacted to him. He's no longer some omntipotent, omniscient, all-powerful entity naively trying to learn what it means to be human -- he's just some kid who bows down before King Black Bolt. What the HELL is that about?!?

Now, I'll grant you that Secret Wars II (when Illuminati #3 takes place) was not the best comic book story ever written. It wasn't the best crossover ever devised. In fact, I wouldn't argue if somebody told me they thought it was poorly done. But this throws all sorts of monkey wrenches into the works. Why, for example, didn't one of the Illuminati, who now know the Beyonder's origins, just call Black Bolt down to help during the series? Why did Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man spend so much time just trying to figure him out? Why would Beyonder suddenly not understand how to go to the bathroom and require Spider-Man to teach him?

But it goes beyond that story by tainting the whole original Secret Wars as well. And that series, by pretty much all accounts both then and now, WAS well done. A being who was on par, if not above, the likes of Galactus is now reduced to the level of the Infant Terrible.

You know, I used to like your work, Bendis, and I'd be able to tolerate some of your gaffs regarding continuity (including your own!) but this is just a load of drek. I'm dropping this series, even though there's only two issues left. Think about how powerful a statement that really is, coming from someone who spent most of his adult life trying to learn as much as he could about the Marvel Universe.

And, for those of you just reading the blog here, I will no longer be capitalizing "marvel" or "marvel comics" or any of that. The capitalization is, in part, a form of respect, and it's just bottomed out for me.

9 comments:

plok said...

That is so crazy! What? What's going on here?

Okay, so I might as well come clean, too: I've never considered Illuminati to be in the "real" Marvel universe anyway. Ha! Well, I don't really consider much of what's lately gone on at Marvel (sorry, I'll follow your lead: "marvel") as being in continuity -- wow, and just think of that! I don't think any of this is in continuity! Now there's a strong statement for a marvel zombie like me to make, eh?

But seriously: The Sentry? Clor? Dr. Strange's Arctic sanctuary? The Hulk kills puppies?

How could any of that be in continuity?

The Beyonder's an Inhuman?

No he isn't. I never liked Secret Wars and I never liked the Beyonder, I always thought they were both stupid, so this isn't favourite-character fan entitlement, it's just that Bendis is clearly wrong. Doesn't matter if Quesada backs him up, doesn't matter if Stan Lee backs him up, I reject that story, that story is no good. Bendis can't just do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, without having to account for any of anybody else's stories, ever! At least, he has to explain why things are different, in his stories! I own the comic where the FF travel to the Beyonder's home universe, I own the one where the Beyonder turns into a Cosmic Cube right there in the panel, I even own a later comic where that Cosmic Cube becomes a person and hangs out with the Shaper of Worlds. And these comics were all purchased with the understanding that they counted; so the way I figure it, either they still count, or marvel owes me whatever their current book value is.

Tony Stark saves a strand of Thor's hair from Avengers #1, so he can clone him? Come on. That never happened, and we all know it.

I'm with ya, Sean.

Michael Heide said...

I'm not.

Okay, I didn't like the "mutant inhuman" reveal either. But don't you think you are overreacting a bit, Sean? Yes, this issue was flawed, but look at it this way: It had great artwork. Jimmy Cheung is getting better with each issue (excluding Primate Pirates, that sucked).

Marvel is still Marvel for me. One mediocre issue of a relatively unimportant miniseries won't change that.

As for the whole bleakness of the post-Civil War Marvel universe: It will pass. Right now it works on some titles (have you read the last issue of Daredevil), it doesn't work on others (Iron Man), but sooner or later, the pendulum will swing back towards the fun Marvel universe. I'm confident.

Sean Kleefeld said...

Hey, Mike --

If it were New Avengers: Illuminati by itself, I'd have no problem ignoring the series and going on with the rest of the marvel universe. My problem is that QMB have taken pretty much the entire 616 universe down an exceedingly dark and, more significantly, less coherent path. Almost every marvel book I've picked up for the past year has been filled with war, hate, anger, dishonesty... Heroic characters who I've known my entire life have suddenly, and inexplicably, started acting like villains.

Do you know why superhero comics were popular in the 1940s? Because WWII was so dreadful and so bleak and so nasty that Americans wanted an escape. They wanted to be able to pick up something that said, "Hey, things aren't that bad and Superman will fix it all anyway." I get enough extreme polarization and angry rhetoric and backwards logic in the news every day; I don't want it in my entertainment as well.

Sure, it's valid for art to reflect life, but marvel is reflecting only one aspect of it in all of their books regardless of whether or not it's apporpriate for the tone. That's why it bothers me, and why I've dropped most of my marvel reading.

Michael Heide said...

Yeah, but like I said. I'm sure the pendulum will swing back soon.

RAB said...

One of the big selling points Marvel and DC have to offer their diminishing fan base is the sense of continuity, everything tied together in some sort of shared universe...and both companies are screwing that up.

DC keeps trying to shake things up so that it'll all be consistent and hang together while simultaneously giving aging fans the nostalgia buzz of old characters and concepts -- but their creators are all working at cross purposes, so that we get things like a convoluted method to bring back the parallel Earths which is immediately dismissed so we can have another even more convoluted method to accomplish the same result a year later.

And Marvel is going for the "surprise" factor in twists the reader never sees coming...because there's nothing in what's come before to support these twists, and they directly contradict whatever was previously established as "fact" within the stories. That's the cheapest, lowest form of "surprise twist" in writing and it amounts to playing tennis without the net. You can "get away with it" but what's the point? Readers just go away feeling cheated, and they don't come back.

(This is where I disagree with Michael: the pendulum may swing back...but it'll have a lot fewer people hanging on with each swing, and neither company can afford those losses without bringing in new readers, which they ain't doing.)

Bro J said...

Its quite clear that the EIC of Marvel has created an atmosphere in which each writer can do whatever they want to anything they want with zero restrictions. Marvel's rich history and continuity means nothing to these people. I dont know if he does this because of a brownnose thing or if he doesnt care or what. Because of this I say Marvel should just fire all of the editors. I mean, what do they really need them for anyway? The heirarchy can just be the EIC and the individual writers. Maybe with all the salaries they save they can drop the prices on the books.
I see many complaints about Bendis in other forums but it looks like some of these people still get the books he writes. I say thats foolish, why support him at all? After the spiderwoman origin debacle I said enough is enough. I have a new policy that if any writer does something that destroys past continuity I will permanently boycott ANYTHING he writes. Bendis is hardly the only one guilty of this. I include Warren Ellis (Iron Man retcon), Reggie Hudlin (Klaw origin changed, Russian Radioactive man, ect) and Brian Reed (Spiderwoman origin co-conspirator). I was most upset when I heard that Ellis was taking over Thunderbolts. T-Bolts was one of my favorite books but it was promptly dropped from my buy list. I dont care if Bendis writes a book drawn by Frank Cho and has Tigra, Mantis and Shanna in it every issue. I will not buy it. And in case any of the Marvel higher ups see this, I am not alone in this. Many others share my thoughts.
Despite all of this though it is refreshing to see a few writers respect and follow continuity. Some of them that come to mind are Fabian Nicieza, Dan Slott, Keith Giffin and Christos Gage among others.
Dont lose any sleep trying to figure out how the stories by continuity-wrecking writers fit into the MU. Simply disregard them completely. They did not happen on earth 616. Those stories can take place on another earth, we can name it earth-g, the g meaning GARBAGE!.

Alex said...

With you all the way, Bro J! Bendis
needs to have an arrow fired throu-gh his neck! Here are the top 10 r-
easons I hate Bendis like I do...

10. He killed Hawkeye and corrupted
Scarlet Witch. Sure, the former did
come back and the latter will be in
time redeemed, but that he'd let an
evil like that happen to begin with
shows what I think: "Fuck you, Bendis!"

9. Many people(myself included)wanted Tigra in the New Avengers lineup and asked him if she would be there. His reply???
"You have a better chance of Wonder
Woman in that lineup than Tigra." He disappointed so many fans that way, and why? Just because he pers-onally hates Tigra. If that's not selfish, I don't know what is.

8. Speaking of selfish, Bendis has selfishly made comics the way HE wants them and not the fans more often than not, and he doesn't care
if they want it or not as long as he does. Even though I'm glad Luke Cage & Spider-Woman are now cooler than ever, why did Bendis have to be the one to do it? How about som-ebody GOOD? A writer who people like?

7. Not to mention his two worsts sins in the Initative One shot. Not
only did the bastard make Ms Marvel
a lying meanie pants, when really she is nothing like that, to Jessica Drew, who'd saved her ass once, but he made Jarvis call Tigra
a bitch not because Jarvis hates her for real(in fact, he and Tigra have shown affection for each other
in the past despite his allergies to cats)but because Bendis was channeling his personal hatred for Tigra through Jarvis. And after he and Mark Millar made her a spy for the pro reg side when she should have been on Cap's, but they would not have her in the New Avengers as they disliked her personally, no less. Remember Tigra's loyalty to Cap, much like that of Hercules?
Bendis and Millar ruined it here by
putting her on Tony's side just for
the sole purpose she wouldn't be on
the New Avengers even though many wanted it. BENDIS AND MILLAR, GO TO
HELL!!! THE NINTH FUCKING CIRCLE!!!

6. As if THAT were not bad enough, I will have you know Bendis did an awful lot of shitty word balloons and constantly made a lot of other characters act out of character in nearly all his books. Plus, he had Sentry rip apart Carnage just for a
fact that he personally hates Carn-age even though many love him and the truth is people hate Sentry yet
a lame hero kills off a cool villa-in because the writer personally hates him. Selfish and ignorant to the core, no doubt about it!

5. Speaking of killing, Bendis is a
guy known to put deaths of charact-ers(however good)in his books. Hey,
newsflash, ya jackass, you're shov-ing a lotta shit down our throats, doing what you want but being fully
disregarding of the fans. You also,
in doing this, are hurting the good
writers of Marvel. I don't know why
Bendis is popular with some people,
but they need to smell the coffee!!

4. Bendis, besides all this and the
despicable deed of putting Spider-Man and Wolverine(who are both cool
and awesome)on the Avengers, when I
don't even need to say Spider-Man's
best when solo and Wolverine is a born X-Man and should stay with the
group of X-Men, has also caused an enormous bunch of catastrophes even
in Daredevil. Outside of Avengers!!
I mean, he even made the art diffe-rent from other art in the same bo-ok! And this was before all these other atrocities you've read! If he
had a supporter or two left, then I
think these facts will silence them

3. How much do you wanna bet Bendis
is friends with other jerk writers?
We already know he is with Mark Miller, the defiler of all that is holy and maker of the dreadful Civil War, and he's a promise brea-ker, too, but what about Joe Quesa-da? And John Byrne? And Jim Shooter
as well? What about...a whole lotta
other bad writers at Marvel? I know
not whether he was friends with any
of them, but Jerk that he is, and a
detestable antichrist, I have small
doubt he did interact well with lo-sers like these.

2. Besides these facts, and that he
is a prick of a dickhead and a rot-ten shitheaded fucktarted asshole, Bendis has also displayed a lot of mysoginy in his books and he has a knack for doing some bad stuff in the Ultimate Marvel Universe too!!!
Aside from doing what he did to the
Scarlet Witch, I'm guessing there's
a lot of other sexism and discrimi-nation against females he's done b-efore and after that! SOmebody, I'm
begging you, put a bullet in his b-rain! PLEEEEEEAAAAAAAAASSSSEEE!!!!!

1. And, the biggest reason of all, I present to you. In spite of all these wrongdoings, in spite of the tragedies he's produced, in spite of how he is one of the biggest stains, defilings and disservices the comic industry has ever known, not to mention how he's gonna be a bad role model for his wife and his
baby daughter when she's growing up
and all, Bendis still has a lot of popularity, has earned five awards and is a praised and acclaimed wri-ter. How irking and appalling is t-hat, I ask ya? I don't care how it is done...shoot him, stab him, let him fall to his death, have his so-rry ass drawn and quartered, chop him in two, anything...JUST KILL BENDIS FOR ME!!! I BEG OF YOU!!!!!!

Thank you for letting me put in my
two cents. Sorry it was so long but
there was a lot to spill on this s-ubject. Anyway, like I said, with you to the end, Bro J, and if anyb-ody agrees with me on any or all of
this, please speak up.

Thanks again.

Bro J said...

Thanks for agreeing with me Alex. I really dont understand why everyone kisses bendis' ass all the time but its reality. I mean when I USED to buy some of his work I was never really impressed by it. I think that its hyped up so much that the fan boys eat it without any questions. You mentioned Jim Shooter earlier in your post. Shooter wasnt perfect but the one thing that makes him stand out was that he had a spine and a respect for continuity! He didnt allow any writer or artist, no matter who they were, to do something that was contradictory to continuity. The fact is many of the creators back then didnt want to cause continuity issues anyway. It was a much better creative environment back then than it is now. The writers and editors all cared and wanted to make sure everything tied in neatly. its such a polar opposite to what it is like now.

M.L. said...

I collected Marvel at the time of Jim Shooter's tenure as Editor-in-Chief. I enjoyed Marvel books immensely then, in a way I haven't in years. I also respect Shooter enormously for the way he ran Marvel, creatively, editorially and professionally.

Shooter was stuck in an unenviable position as liaison between staff (artists, writers and editors), upper management (the folks who owned the characters and company) and the readership (the folks who bought the books). To his credit, he served everyone's best interests to the extent that he could. The creators were better compensated, the company made money, and we got a lot of good books during his stewardship.

But Shooter would probably also be the first to agree that times have changed at the old Bullpen, and there are different expectations of Joe Quesada's performance at post-bankruptcy Marvel. (And certainly far more scrutiny.) To say that Quesada should just handle things the way Shooter did isn't fair.

I read of someone with nominal credentials who once walked into Marvel's offices in the late 1970's, managed to talk to the right people and ended up with media rights to their major characters. He paid a pittance for them, and kept them tied up for YEARS. At that time, Marvel executives had no true concept of how much their characters were worth beyond the newsprint.

Contrast that with today, when Marvel properties are such big business the company funds its own multi-multi-million dollar movies. When Quesada gets a memo from HIS bosses to take certain characters in certain directions...there's much more pressure and scrutiny to agree. Because his bosses now KNOW what those characters are worth.

In other words, while he may be the guy who makes the call on aspects of Marvel's dealings, don't get sore at Quesada (or even certain writers , for that matter) when a beloved character starts acting out-of-character, or your favorite book takes an alarming, startling new direction you never asked for. The decision might have been made much farther up the food chain.

Even Galactus answers to somebody.