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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Dancing Between Raindrops

Most of the releases from the Big 2 this week revolves around their respective mega crossovers/events/whatchamightcallits  (Siege for Marvel, and Blackest Night for DC, for those of you living under a rock).

And like all major cross overs that came before, this means that a majority of their other titles will be considered “tie ins”. And these “tie-ins” SHOULD flesh out the ongoing soap opera in the main books for the Event.

There is an inherent Problem with this approach for Siege and Blackest Night.

Siege is essentially one Giant Brawl for Captain America’s goodie-two-shoes vs Norman Osbourn’s baddies-bad-boots-posing-as-goodie-two-shoes.

Blackest Night, while intriguing and shocking thus far, is at its heart a giant brawl between the Black Lanterns and the Rainbow Brigade.

Below are Marvel’s releases with the “Siege” Banner this week.

Just a sidenote: I love the way the “Siege ” banner sits on the cover.

Anyway. what’s inside these covers are essentially the Director’s Cut for Siege#2. They let the fan boys know where all the other major combatants not showcased in the main series are fighting their fights. I admit, it can be pretty awesome if it is your kind of thing, but somehow, it just did not work for me.

Next, we have the biggest disappointment of the week.

Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corp have been the cornerstones of the Blackest Night Series. We saw events develop in these books that that were not seen in the main Blackest Night Series, events that were essential to the development of the whole saga and gave the series an unexpected dept.

I expected more of the same from Green Lantern #52.

We all knew that Sinestro became the first (only?) White Lantern from the events of Blackest Night #7. I was excited to find out more about how Hal Jordan and the rest will react to this new development. Instead, we have a weakass story of how Ion, Parallax and the rest of the mascots for the various rainbow corps came about, and a rather lame buildup to the Final Showdown that is sure to come down in Blackest Night #8.

I’m not asking for these tie-ins to advance the ongoing saga. I think it is hard to toe the company line, and at the same time try to tell a reasonable story between the heavy hitters.  I just think it is pretty f-up to make fans pay 4 x $2.99(at least) for essentially the same story. Hell, they even share the same dialogues between the different books!

I guess, it is not that surprising that my book for the moment is this:

Besides the pretty awesome cover, the story tells the evergreen tale of love lost and the descent into the abyss that follows. The twist in the tale is pretty frickin fine as well.

For your consideration, when you have $2.99 to spare, you can do worse than to invest it in an Amazing Spider-Man book.

By worse, I mean any of the Siege tie-ins, of course.

Would this be less tasteless if it is done a few more months down the road?

Found this off the Internet.

Black Lantern, Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson as a Black Lantern, MJ

Personally, I think it’s kinda brilliant, but I know of a few who would hiss and crawl my eyes out for even entertaining the thought.

This is the line that absolutely slayed me:

“There has been controversy over whether or not Jackson can really call himself a Black Lantern, when he appears to be a White Lantern.”