Posted by: Graeme McMillan on April 19, 2007
Is it so wrong of me that I’m cursing the fact that I have to, you know, work today, when I’d much rather be sitting in front of C-SPAN watching the Alberto Gonzales testimony? In between all the things I’m supposed to be doing this morning, I’m already checking all my usual news and politics sites to see what he’s said and whether he’s been nailed yet. Even if there’s nothing wrong with (a) wanting to skip work to (b) stay up to date with current affairs, I’m sure that there is definitely something wrong with (c) enjoying Gonzales squirm when presented with his own words and asked to explain them without coming right out and saying “Well, obviously, I was lying.”
But on less political matters:
There’s this moment in MIGHTY AVENGERS #2 where it looks like Brian Michael Bendis is doing a very funny metatextual joke at the expense of Frank Cho. Janet Van Dyne, the “winsome” Wasp – and why does no-one else call her that anymore? When did describing people as “winsome” go out of style? – looks at the brand new all-woman mostly-naked Ultron and says “Does anyone think that looks exactly like me with worse hair?” I read that and thought, hey, Bendis is making a funny about the fact that Frank Cho can only draw one woman and just changes their hairstyle. Good for him! And then it turns out to be a plot point by the end of the issue, and I was depressed.
That said, this was a pretty Good issue. A low good, sure, but stronger than the last issue… Bendis is already visibly processing what worked and didn’t from his first issue, the most obvious indicator being his dramatic dialing back the use of thought balloons (Not getting rid of them altogether, sadly – Don’t get me wrong, I like thought balloons just fine; I just don’t like Bendis’s take on the idea, which is too cute by half). He’s still overusing flashbacks, however. If he was writing this review, this would the point where I’d say something about his use of flashbacks –
EIGHT HOURS AGO:
Hmm, this episode of Lost is interesting. Brian K. Vaughan’s first one, huh? Maybe I should finish off that Mighty Avengers review. Frank Cho’s art is technically very good, but oddly lifeless, though – The coloring really gives it some weight and saves it –
– and then we’d come back to me writing this review right now.
(Also, if he was writing this review, it would probably be more positive, and I would say more things in parenthetical asides. Like this one. And then, caught in the moment of demonstrating, I’d probably say something like “Oy”.)
Both Mighty and New Avengers have become overly reliant on the cross-time-cutting (New much more than Mighty; wasn’t almost all of the most recent issue a flashback?), and I don’t really see why, or what it adds to the readers’ enjoyment of the story. You could argue the opposite, in fact; in New, it actively undercuts the tension for the reader – you already know that the characters have survived their encounter with the other Avengers because you’ve seen them fine and healthy a day later already. It pretty much reads to me as if he’s trying to keep himself interested more through structural trickery than through the stories he’s writing, somewhat offputtingly, but I’m holding out hope that we’ll either see him pulling back on the gimmick and/or explaining his use of it before too long.
Nevertheless, this was a fun enough book. Like this week’s Justice League, you can see Bendis trying to write the stories that he read as a kid, but his own style tweaks that formula whether intentionally or otherwise. Not that that stops it being interesting or enjoyable; if anything, it may make it more enjoyable than your average monster/robot/superhero slugfest. It’s not a book to change your life or even your reading habits, but I think that Bendis has passed the point of wanting to make those anymore; books like this make me think that he’s instead at the point of comfortably trying to give them what they want, as long as he can make it work for him, as well. And, if nothing else, it is entirely devoid of someone telling you how Civil War changed everything, meaning that it’s automatically better than almost every other mainstream Marvel title right now.