So a couple weeks ago The Thanos Imperative came to a finale. Not just a end as storylines start and end every month as comics do every month, but a finale. Like we've watched something gripping and tragic and exciting that has finally come to a conclusion that makes me think that the musicians are going to put down their instruments and not play anymore.
It would be madness to do so because all of DnA's cosmic stories have been terriffic. Since I lost a bunch of stuff a couple years ago, I've been taking the best mental restock I can and Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest are on my list to not just get back, but reread a couple times. There is so much adventure packed into those arc, plus character devlopment of people I hadn't ever heard of before. Who knew I would get tear-eyed over Star Lord and Nova?
Spoliers are ahead, by the way, but it's been a few weeks since the comic came out and I feel more than content to start praise/burying Caesar. So if you're still out of stock at our LCS or haven't gotten into the Thanos Imperative, scroll down until you see Rocket Raccoon. Spoilers should be done by then.
Right! So the Thanos Imperative. While definitely epic in scope and grand in scheme and thought, I suppose I feel that I didn't get enough of a dessert for all the meat and potatoes we ate. I mean, from War of Kings (the Empire Strikes Back of the Cosmic Stories, total down ending), I'd been hoping for some sort of huge return for all the loss in War of Kings. The Shi'ar are in a wreck, the Kree still have the usurpers ruling over them, Ronan the Accuser is sort of a pussy cat now thanks to Crystal (how long before she cheats on him, any bets?), a great rift had opened up in space... something needed to happen. Vader had to make that face turn and get some peace in his last moments thanks to redemption. The rebels had to win with a sense of celebration. We needed to rebuild with a sense of the future, at harmony with the losses of our past.
Instead, two of the most human characters in the Cosmic side of the Universe are gone. Secret Avengers looks to lose a member as Nova and Star Lord (who has a Cosmic Cube with 'maybe a couple of charges left', who's to say they're not still out there?) are left to face the Mad Titan who's just been dumped by Death again. The Cthulhu-verse has been 'closed' and everyone sort of shrug their shoulders and carries on.
But that's not the end of the story! I can think of a couple plot holes that make me think that we'll be going right back to this if we could get the chance. Right now, there's just The Thanos Imperative: Devastation to look forward to and I suppose that yeah, they could line up an all new epic after all of this.
But how long are we going to have to wait? Past Cosmic epics have been practically back to back and had two ongoing series to tide the readers over. It doesn't look like Guardians of the Galaxy are coming back anytime soon and neither does Nova. We know Marvel wants to cut down the amount of product they put out, but why these guys? Deadpool is just one dude, the Guardians of the Galaxy represent an entire portion of the Marvel Universe and not just that, but a theme. That 'Star Wars' feel where science and the unknown meet in the middle for fantastic alien races and cultures counter to our own.
Again, this might all be useless by the next year and Marvel could just as easily bring them all back to the printed page. Heck, they said the Cancerverse would be hanging around, maybe we'll get a sort of Tales from the Darkside out of that corner of the universe. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I really liked Black Bolt and was sort of hoping that we'd have gotten him back by now. I don't know.
I've seen so much Cosmic joy that everything else seems sort of ... not as good. And the Thanos Imperative left me sort of looking out a big window into the vastness of a space with a woman that may or may not be my sister and two robots, all wondering just when space got so big that adventure couldn't be seen from the deck of your spaceship.
Wanda Maximoff is a Crazy Lady.
It's what we got to work with folks, because the slew of other traits that are tied to the character don't clatter as much as the tin can of Crazy Lady as the plot car drives away. Since Avengers: Disassembled, a lot of characters talk about Wanda in the third person while she wanders through the landscape, interacting with people only through a point of weakness (being crazy, having her memories taken, acting out to save her children) or as a pawn for her brother/father/Doom to use.
I'm not saying other characters haven't been just as mistreated. Carol Danvers was mind-controlled, impregnated and gave birth to a child who turned out to be the man she had been mind-controlled by in the first place. Rapidly aging to adulthood, the child now a man, Carol was still in love with him in a very uncomfortable creepy way and left the Avengers to go live with her lover/son/guy. That is messed up but how much do we talk about it? Wanda changes probability to work the impossible and has kids with the Vision, only to be told later that her sons weren't real and she nearly destroys the Avengers and changes the landscape of Marvel for quite some time now. Ms. Marvel has the benefit of being a character who looks good on posters I guess, because we like to sweep her messed up romance story under the rug. We read up on it, wince a little bit in terms of plotting and how creepy it all sounds, but let go of it.
Hank Pym KILLED A WOMAN the issue before he most famously hit his wife, but we let go of that too. He KILLED AN INNOCENT WOMAN. From the back. The Avengers were already going to kick him out, it was his terrible robot plan and the violence towards one of their own members that really nailed in his coffin. Since then, he's tried desperately to shake that evil deed. Quicksilver was the bi-polar villain for awhile; he flipped from villain to hero to villain a couple of times before he settled in with Crystal. He then, in a wildly out of character moment for someone who had been on such great terms with Attilan, started the Silent War through his actions of Son of M. We again needed to look at it as a thing that happened to him, not defined him like Carol's creepy pregnancy romance and Hank's violent streak.
Character traits are repeatable, not moments in one's life that defines them. If you go outside and rescue a cat from a tree, that doesn't make you heroic for the rest of your life. If you rescued the cat because you stashed the loot from a bank robbery in that tree and the cat was in your way, that's a character trait. You want your money and the action showed how you got it. If you make a profession out of rescuing cats from trees, then it's a character trait.
We like the phrase "Moments that define us" because it's easier to label people that way. But it's the plural that matters the most. These are MOMENTS, actions repeated to show continued intent. Wanda had gone mad before in the West Coast Avengers, but bringing it back years later after other continual actions that show her to be a good-hearted and rational person doesn't mean Crazy Lady is now her new modus operandi. That's a heel turn for plot's sake, one should should have been working her way back from instead of being left on the sidelines.
In regards to Avengers: the Children's Crusade, all I can say is that it's very slow. Bi-monthly isn'tdoing this book any favors because it's very deliberately paced to try and get a lot of character spotlights, most shone on Wiccan. If this was a Wiccan/Speed mini-series, I think I could let the other guys slip into the background but since it's the only way we'll hear of the Young Avengers, I read it with the intent of knowing a little more about what they're doing, thinking, or feeling. Because the book anptheis slower paced and so much time passes between issues, the details get lost and I remember Billy wants to find his crazy Mom who's used it yet another evil plot. Now, I fully admit that we're only barely into this limited series and the next issue could be a huge fake-out and Wanda might find some final redemption in there. But who wants to wait? All I have to judge the book is what's been written out so far and this is all stuff I want to let go of.
Let's talk about the Avengers, shell we? it's been a long time and I was looking at the cover of New Avengers #6 and while the picture didn't make much sense (wait, two of these guys aren't even Avengers!), I did indeed want to know who was going to die (though suspicions were high). But I still didn't want to read it. I have an attachment to the characters, but ...
Guys, I can't read the Avengers anymore. There just comes a time when the book is just not worth your time or energy that no matter what incredible announcement you've heard or great proclamation on the front cover says, I just don't want to wade through the actual text to get to the payoff. It's not worth it and it sure as hell isn't worth $3.99. I could read Ant-Man & Wasp #1 and not only enjoy the characters featured but enjoy the story and adventure as well. It's not that I don't care about the Avengers, I'll always still prefer them over the JLA any day of the week, I just don't want to hear Brian Michael Bendis' story style right now. I felt this way about the Incredible Hulk and I'm still getting over that break up. I can go back to the book now and see what's new, but I'm okay with not buying it or that the story isn't what I want it to be. The Avengers, on the other hand, have no excuse NOT to be awesome.
Looking at the cover, I so wanted someone to read the book for me and spoil the whole thing. Then I realized I had to do it.
New Avengers #6
Now, you'd think jumping on at #6 would be hard because it's right at the end of a story arc where the world is coming apart at the seams and a great and ancient power is coming to destroy everything. But it's not; quick history, folks: the Eye of Aggamotto, one of the Sorcerer Supreme's great artifacts, is trying to be retaken by The Aggamotto, guy the thing is named after. Doctor Voodoo, current Sorcerer Supreme, is not powerful enough to keep the artifact in his care and if it's not, then ... well, let's face it. The Sorcerer Supreme's JOB is to protect us and this universe from the Unknown, aka Magic Stuff. Aggamotto is magical and with his great Eye, we would not be protected.
So the guy that got the job of Sorcerer Supreme sends Wolverine, all juiced up with Magic and Wolvie and Aggamotto face off in a magical duel for the Eye.
Also, there are Avengers in this book.
Some astute readers might think this sounds a little ludicrous. You'd be right, but let's just stick to the book right now and complain about Bendis' view of what Avengers do in their own titles as well as what a Sorcerer Supreme does a little later. We start out #6 with Wolverine getting sent out to fight by Doctor Voodoo, current Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange, former Sorcerer Supreme and current trenchcoat aficionado, and Daimon Hellstrom, the coolest guest star. Really, why Marvel doesn't have a book about the life of the Son of Satan makes no sense. Demons could be the new vampires!
Wolverine gets sent to an Infinite Drawing Pad where Aggamotto can manifest himself as anything Immonen wants to draw, all while wielding spells. Wolverine still looks like himself and any chance to throw him off his game by appearing as loved ones or old foes is just shrugged off.
At one point in the duel, Aggamotto tries to clear this up for Wolvie: "Let us pretend this is a fight for your entire life and the lives of everyone you know. And I'll pretend this is a fight for the entirety of my existence and all I need to be real and true. Only then will either one of us feel good about what we need to do here." Yeah, Logan, let's pretend like we really care about this gratuitous fight scene and that it matters. Has the fight for survival against unstoppable odds really become so blasé?
What's everyone else doing? Glad you asked! They are 'spiritually supporting' Wolverine in his great pretend duel. That means they're sitting around in a circle and Spidey's making snarky comments because he's nervous. Victoria Hand, however, is not supporting Wolverine because she has a huge gun and is sneaking out the front door only to find a crowd of people. Now, since I am jumping in, I don't exactly know what building they are out in front of, but I think it's the Sanctum Sanctorum because that's where I would keep the Eye of Aggamotto. Either the Sanctum's gotten bigger than I last remembered it. And certainly a lot more battle damaged; I don't think Aggamotto came politely knocking.
So she goes outside, sees the big crowd and then sees that the heavens are cracking open. Cut back to the Inifinite Drawing Pad duel and now Brother Voodoo's brother isn't going to take this anymore.
Quick note: Brother Voodoo is perfectly named. Yes, I know he's a Doctor and when he got the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme he started going by Doctor Voodoo, but his original name is too good to let go of. He's a guy who, not only does Voodoo, but he has a dead brother who follows him as a spirit and helps/hinders him in his adventures. There's an actual brother. That's awesome.
So, Brother Voodoo's brother, Daniel, still a spirit, takes action. Wanting to defend his brother from Aggamotto, he jumps into the duel and Aggamotto declares the battle to be forfeit. Brother Voodoo, knowing his brother would be destroyed by the powerful magical being, not to mention knowing he really should have manned up and taken this fight himself, also jumps in, taking the Eye and using it to get in front of Aggamotto. With the ever-popular big white light (really, retire this artistic device, please?), Brother Voodoo uses the Eye to banish Aggamotto for all time and vaporizes himself in the process.
Wolverine comes back to this plane of existence, wondering if he's won.
Doctor Strange reports that we no longer have a Sorcerer Supreme and the Eye of Aggamotto is gone. Daniel Drumm, having witnessed his brother's sacrifice, is pretty pissed off and jumps into Luke Cage to express his anger at the Avengers for the part they played in his brother's death. Swearing to make them pay, he leaves Cage and Daimon Hellstrom goes out to tell Hand and the crowd outside that the Avengers saved the day, so they all better appreciate it.
And you know what? I don't. Not one bit. The Avengers, as far as I know, didn't do anything but spiritually support Wolverine and feel the damage he took. Brother Voodoo, a character brought out of the minors and into the Big Leagues by the New Avengers titles and taken him right back out of the game and this great new team didn't do much but buy him time to make a great sacrifice.
Let's pretend this book had more of an impact on the Marvel Universe than building Doctor Strange back into his old job. Let's pretend that this death will have a longer lasting repercussion on the world and maybe then we might feel better about what we read and spent time on.
New Avengers #6, all you need to know is that Brother Voodoo is dead and so a job opened up for Sorcerer Supreme.