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Post By
Dane Whitman

In Reply To
Omar Karindu

Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 4,242
Subj: Great post
Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 01:08:44 pm EDT (Viewed 26 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Disappointed with the Avengers right now
Posted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 02:53:19 pm EDT (Viewed 563 times)

Previous Post

I have to admit, I haven't been terrifically fond of Hickman's Avengers, either. Usually slow pacing means deeper characterization, but…well, I find Hickman's Avengers flat characters, even by super-team book standards. The new additions all seem to speak almost entirely in vague technobabble and cryptic metaphors, Sunspot and Cannonball are sharing the same hyperactive hipster personality, and Captain America has never felt stodgier. Infinity was a real low point; dully obvious plot turns (Cap makes an inspiring speech! The heroes rally against the baddies! The surrender is a trick so we can hit bad people with hammers when they least expect it!) were treated as if they were intricate plots deserving a glacial pace. Of course, it was also pretty clearly editorially driven, what with the film-friendly Thanos and space adventure and not-mutants-at-all-Fox-has-those-film-rights Terrigen empowerments, so I don't hold it against Hickman's vision for his.

Still, Hickman seems to see the universe as a kind of great deterministic machine that's nonetheless vulnerable to chaos (hence "black swan" being an actual character, not just a metaphor for Karl Popper's notion of falsificationism), which isn't exactly the sort of vision that lends itself to stories about emotionally genuine characters or even to apt social allegory. It's not quite cosmic horror, but it does have a kind of…cosmic apathy to it, an arid sort of feel that's novel but not ultimately all that fulfilling or insightful. He's never struck me as writer who's overly interested in people, just in systems.

The exception is New Avengers, where the Namor/Panther stuff has been excellent. I'm not sure I buy the Beast and Doctor Strange jumping off the slippery slope with the others, though, and Reed was supposed to have learned not to do this sort of stuff in Hickman's FF series. I'm also curious about how on Earth anyone writes these guys as heroes ever again given that, if I understand the story correctly, they've been killing billions of people on alternate Earths with antimatter bombs in order to preserve "their" Earth.

But I read the series as sort of the ultimate critique of proactive, conspiratorial "superheroes," a sort of anti-Warren Ellis/Mark Millar notion in which being the "hard man" just destroys your soul and doesn't really save the world anyway. In deeming themselves the only people willing or smart enough to handle the crisis, they've shut out the rest of the world (and this in the era of crowdsourcing and open collaboration!) and in order to compensate for not really being up to the job they're all making literal or metaphorical deals with the devil. It's an Illuminati series about the utter stupidity, the moral bankruptcy of the Illuminati concept.

Or at least that's how I read it; I get the sense the series' fans see it as "heroes making the hard choices and doing what needs to be done," which is really creepy when you consider that they've already gone far beyond genocide by most definitions. The way this ends will matter greatly; I sure hope the joke's not on me. (just don't ask me to try and wade through any more of Black Swan's irritating dialogue; dropping names the reader's never heard of works in small doses, but it really can't be the basis for an entire character.)

Thanks for a really well written response. I don't know that the illuminati have actually committed genocide, because I haven't understood ever panel. I think the gist is they have been lucky so far to find worlds with no one on or that are dying anyway. That or someone else does the killing. I may be wrong.

Given the choice of watching earth die or destroying another earth - maybe one that is corrupt or something - what are they going to do? It is a hard choice but a necessary evil. I think Hickman has been trying to balance how tough this is and all these heroes to one degree or another really don't want to push the button. That is my reading, but yours is just as credible.

I've been disappointed by Marvel's desire to show smart people as evil. This has been shorthanded for the last decade. It is a cliche to have someone very clever lack the human touch or miss the single detail that matters, but like all cliche it can be overused. Smart does not mean the same as uncaring. I'd love it if marvel broke away from this, if only for variety.



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