It’s all about WAR(s)!

Right now, there are at least 3 wars raging in the big 2 universe. And I am just talking about the “regular” universe and not the various multiverses that they have.

War is one of the ultimate story telling techniques for companies with big and recognizable rosters.  It is a wonderful excuse to bring together their biggest names in a big showdown and milk the feel good (and cash) factor of the various brands for all they are worth. Kind of like WWE’s annual Royal Rumble.

Over the past few years we’ve seen lots of wars being raged. Civil War, Skrull Invasion, War of Kings, Annihilation War, Secret War, Secret War 2, Kree Skrull War, Sinestro Corp War, The Invisible War, Doom War, World War Hulk, Siege just to name a few. Even events like House of M, Blackest Night and Final Crisis though technically not wars, have the same factors as all the above mentioned storylines.

Comic War veterans (like myself) have come to realize that not all wars are created equal. For every Blackest Night, there is a World War Hulks. And we have probably come to a realization of what makes a “war” work and what doesn’t.

2 factors which make or break a “war” storyline for me are:

– the “time between installments” factor

– the “does anything that happen here matters” factor

Regular readers here will know that I think “Blackest Night” is the most awesome storyline since Huckleberry Finn, but it reaaaaaaally irks me that we can go weeks, even up to a month without any progress in the main story. I understand that is probably the publisher’s attempt to cash more out of this mega event, but having to wait so long for a fast and furious war just seemed wrong. This is what I think is the primary reason for the failure of “Siege” as well.

“War of the Supermen” certainly fixed the timeliness factor well. It is essentially a 100 minutes (yup you read it right, MINUTES) war and the whole story is over in 4 issues that comes out weekly. Pretty awesome, except for the fact that it does not pass the “does it matter” test. Sure the whole New Krypton concept has gone down the toilet and the fatalities were high, but New Krypton was a concept that is like the proverbial fish and overstaying guest. It stank because it has hung around beyond its welcome period. And at the end of the day, no matter how many Kryptonians die, we know that the primary ones (Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, Krypto the Super Dog) and even the sub primary ones (Zod and gang) will live on. PLUS: the action sequences were quite crappy. They should have taken a peek at what the Green Lanterns were doing in Blackest Night.

Which brings us to the mess that is World War Hulks… or Fall of the Hulks… or whateveryouwanttocallit.

It is… in every sense of the word, a HUGE mess. Beside the awful story telling and horrible characterizations, it does not even have the decency to end its run early. The whole fiasco with Red Hulk and the Intelligencia started even before Siege and it is still ongoing. The gaps between each inconsequential installment of the series is painstaking and furthermore, the creators seemed to be under the pompous delusion that whatever happened here matter. I mean… Hulked out marines and… Hulked out heroes????? The Hulk brand can do A LOT better.

Anyone still intending to do a “War” story should really look at how Marvel is kicking ass in “Second Coming” for the X Men.

The action is fast and superbly furious. There is AT LEAST one installment of “Second Coming” every week and each installment progresses the story with new plot twists and casualties from the war. And the best part? They did all this without sacrificing the quality of the storytelling and the art.

The casualty rate in Second Coming is high and we have already seen the death of an instantaneously recognizable X Men, with numerous others suffering potentially career ending  injuries.

And the best part? Marvel does not seem like it is going to let up on the body count any time soon.

Say what you want about the overexposure and brand exploitation of the X-Men, but Marvel certainly knows how to protect the brand integrity of the X-Men. By telling stories of the highest standards when it comes to mega events like “Second Coming”. (Childish sidenote: I still can’t help sniggering at the title)

THIS is the way War should be done.

A special mention this week should go to The Amazing Spider Man. Almost 2 years ago, I was doing some serious bitching about the concept of Brand New Day. I am still not happy with the deus ex machina they used to annul the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, but I have to admit that much good came out of it. The whole “Gauntlet” mega storyline and its various mini components have worked superbly so far, and they would not have happened if Peter Parker was still happily, or unhappily married. I love the fact that they never let the “Spider Man” concept grow old and so far, managed to reinvent some of his older rogue gallery to make them more than the goofy concepts they were 30 years back.

My favorite panel of the week, however has to be this….

If only for the preview tagline.

I mean, seriously…

“Lobo PUNCHES PEOPLE WITH RINGS… hard”

Comics does not get better than this. *Excite*

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Of an Ending and 2 Goodbyes

And so it ends.

For a 4 issue event, Siege lasted 3 issues too long.

I mean it is essentially ONE big BRAWL and Marvel managed to drag it out over the main “Siege” books, “Siege Embedded”, “Siege: Random Marvel character”, “the XXX Avengers” among the OTHER countless tie ins. It is paced less like a brawl than a leisurely game of Bridge played at the local old folk’s home.

Siege IS the BIGGEST damn Mess I’ve ever seen.

I speak as someone who is not above sitting through an entire M Night Shayamalam movie just for the payoff at the end. If anything. the ending of Siege was ALMOST as bad as the whole set up and premise. There was no emotional connection to the *surprise* death at the end of it all. The only thing going for the ending was how conveniently (and sneakily) Marvel (or Brian Michael Bendis) managed to tie up some loose ends in their current continuity. In one fell swoop, Marvel found a way to kill off a character that was too awkward to exist in their little multiverse and at the same time found a purpose and place for a newly resurrected one (who conveniently is gonna be starring in a movie real soon). *cough* Steve *cough* Rogers *cough*

Which brings me to the “death”.

We now have the obligatory heroes send off at the end of the mega crossover. The “send off” issue, besides milking fan boys of our remaining pocket money for the month, serves as a recap of the fine things the “hero” has done and a reminder of why people love him.

In that respect, Siege’s hero send off was staler than the sweat of the boy who had just ingested a gallon of Cheezit (trust me, I know about this subject, sadly) because there just isn’t so much to “remember” *insider nudge nudge wink wink* about this particular character!

It’s exceptionally bad when compared to the “sending off” in Marvel’s other event for the moment – The X-Men’s Second Coming (Insert your own lewd joke here)

It is MY Marvel event for now. To be honest, there is not much of a fight here. It is currently pitted against Siege and… *horrors* World War Hulks. I am a HUGE fan of the Hulk. I even semi enjoyed Ang Lee’s vision of a poetic Hulk. But a Hulked out Marvel universe is too much for me to bear. This shall be a gripe for another day…

The pacing for SC has been superb. The death was really shocking.  The emotional investment I have in it is immense. Added on the whole new team dynamics of the X-Men since the Utopia storyline. I get the feeling I always get from reading my favourite pulps – That there might not be that bright cheery ending at the end of it all. That we are watching the characters go to hell in a fast car, but it is too damn fine a ride for us to look away.

Simply awesome.

Of course, I must point out this week’s fine reference to sunny lil Singapore.

Fear the prowess of Maxwell Lord!!

Return of the Panaromic Covers

Remember the comic buying craze in the 80s/90s where fanboys buy comics in bulk to collect the ultra rare variant covers? Those were the days of gimmicks such as holographic covers, die cut covers, fold out covers, pencil sketches covers, and my favorite the “combine our 1000000000 difference covers to form a hug-eass awesome poster” covers.

Marvel has done it again with Siege… Apparently the variants of Siege combine to form this little treasure… The look on Norman Osbourne’s face is priceless!

And now that they just announced the offshoots for Siege  (namely Siege: Captain America, Siege, Spider Man, Siege: Loki, Siege: Young Avengers and Siege: Secret Warriors), they decided to follow up with the announcement of the 5 variant covers by the super talented Marko Djurdjevic. The covers for the issues will form the panorama below.. Simply awesome…

While we are on the subject of variant covers, I decided this to be one of the best I’ve seen in recent times… For Blackest Night #3

Speaking of the ongoing feud between Siege and Blackest Night, Marvel just issued this little press release to comic book retailers…

In an effort to provide assistance to comic retailers in 2010, Marvel is offering retailers an opportunity to turn unsold comics into an extremely rare Siege #3 Deadpool Variant!

Retailers – for every 50 stripped covers of the following comics sent to Marvel, you will qualify to receive one FREE Siege #3 Deadpool Variant.

Is it any wonder most of the listed titles are Blackest Night Tie ins? Apparently, retailers had to order large quantities of these Blackest Nights Tie Ins in order to get super rare limited editions of Green Lantern power rings.

And said Deadpool Variant?

Let’s talk Mega Events

I am sensing a conspiracy…. or very brilliant marketing people.

Marvel kickstarted their new mega event on the rare week when there is not much activity from DC’s Blackest Night.

Siege, like all Mega events promised to have far and long reaching consequences in the Marvel Universe, much like the Skrull (I mean Secret) Invasion last year, World War Hulk the year before that, Civil War the year before and the House of M nonsense the year before that. The list goes on…

The series will (presumably) chart Norman Osborne’s descent into madness (again) and possible fall from grace. Much as I want to see the series crash (I am very fatigued by these Mega Events, especially when this seems to be an extension of Secret Invasion), it is actually off to a good start. The main books for Siege is promised to be limited to only 4 books, so the actions come fast and furious.

Just check out them apples.

All this within the first issue!! Good break from the trend of Mega Events building up for 2 to 3 issues before the action starts flying. Naysayers might say that the whole Dark Reign of last year was ALREADY the buildup to this event, but I say Nay. I mean you’ve got to love Brian Michael Bendis. He seems to write action sequences as well as he does Tarentino-esque dialogue sequences.

The sad fact is, good though Siege might be, I sense that it would continue to live in the shadows of Blackest Night. Pun fully intended, baby.

I have to admit, the spin off series from Blackest Night are starting to… lose their novelty and charm. It reached a point where they are mainly issues in and issues out of  DC heroes getting shocked at their closest friends and family members coming back from the dead, they get mocked, they get taunted, they get into a fight, DC heroes win. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The main series and the 2 core Green Lantern titles however, are going VERY strong, and… I didn’t think this was possible, picking up the pace and growing deeper than I could possibly fathom at the start of the event. I am genuinely excited to see what comes next after each and every issue. Geoff Johns has this ability to sweep the rug from under my feet with every twist that he introduce.

Case in point… *SPOILER ALERT*…

That has got to be one of the biggest “HOLY CRAP” moment I’ve had in a long time. Simply awesome.

Couple that with the fact that the mainstream media is piling on the coverage and upping the profile of Green Lantern (prob as a build up to the movie) (Did I mention they seemed to have very good marketing people?), GL seems poised to be the next Dark Knight.

For one thing, I want to have a limited edition Green Lantern lantern (LEGLL), like Sheldon does.

While Big Bang Theory has always been full of comic references, they went all out this week. Sheldon actually managed to SCORE a not bad looking girl with this LEGLL.

Awesome.