Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chain of Thoughts on Avengers NOW!

Post-AXIS (Marvel’s upcoming mega-event featuring the X-Men and the Avengers), Marvel will be having another relaunching scheme called Avengers NOW!  Basically, it’s another Marvel NOW! – build new and initially intriguing status quos, rebrand many titles with a bunch of issue ones, and, voila!, watch the sales skyrocket – but only this time around, it is, obviously, more centered around the Avengers.  At this point, I’m still cool with another relaunching, but if there is going to be another NOW!-type attempt to boost comic book sales next year – like an X-Men NOW! – then I will be real annoyed.  Sure, it makes business sense, but in a creativity stand-point, it will feel gimmicky and gratuitous – bankrupt of any genuine imagination.             

Anyway, some few thoughts…
→ This promo art depicts the characters that will be significantly involved in Avengers NOW!.  I understand that these merely mean that new comic book titles will headline or will include these characters.  Nonetheless, utilizing these characters to promote something called Avengers NOW! gives the implication that ALL these characters in the promo art are going to be members or contributors to an Avengers team or, at least, an Avengers-linked comic book title.     I will be really disappointed if this won’t be so.  Because calling the whole thing Avengers NOW!, and then featuring these characters in its promo but actually not involving them at any form at all with the Avengers is somewhat exploitive and lacks sensibility . 
→ There are massive changes on all three major Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor.  And I’m not too excited about these changes.
→ First, there will be a new Captain America.  It seems that 90-something-year-old Steve Rogers will lose the super-soldier serum in his body, retire from superheroing and adopt more of a “strategist” role (same as the time he was “the Captain” – commander of both the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. – while Bucky a.k.a. Winter Soldier was bearing the “Captain America” mantle) in the Avengers, and hand the shield and the “Captain America” name to Sam Wilson a.k.a. the Falcon.
→ Among the changes on the top 3 Avengers, this is the one I don’t like at all, for a couple of reasons. 
→ No, I am not particularly against a black Captain America (that’s silly), but I’m against anybody else aside from Steve Rogers becoming Captain America.  Though I don’t feel strongly about it as much as I feel about somebody replacing Peter Parker as Spider-Man, I am still uncomfortable about someone else other than Steve Rogers as Captain America.  Captain America is one of those superheroes in which many of the reasons that make them lovable are rooted on their alter egos’ characteristics.  Steve Rogers is a magnificent tactician; a moral badass; a charming, gruff old-timer (since he’s from a different time); and an embodiment of many of USA’s perceived quintessential values.  His characterization and character history makes him the perfect “Captain America.” Sam Wilson is indeed a fine superhero, but no other Marvel character’s characterization and character history can match up to the kind of pedigree that Steve Roger has.  Besides, some other heroes – Hawkeye and Winter Soldier – had been “Captain America” before, but the name always comes back to Steve Rogers because no one else is really worthy in the end.  The name is his birthright.
→ I also don’t like the character design of this new Captain America.  Since Sam Wilson is no super-soldier like Steve Rogers, and his only form of “super”-power is probably the ability to communicate and control birds (lol), it makes sense that he would opt to keep his Falcon wings (so he can still fly).  Still, wearing wings and carrying the Captain America shield at the same time awfully looks inelegant, clumsy, and inconvenient.  The best weapons that Sam Wilson can carry while having wings are guns, as awesomely depicted by Anthony Mackie’s Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
→ Also, a “Captain America” should always be the leader.  It feels a bit off for “Captain America” to be just a regular member of the Avengers (though it has been done), merely following orders instead of giving them.  Sam Wilson is a soldier and is smart, but he’s no Steve Rogers (again, Rogers is a magnificent tactician).  He wouldn’t be quite as good as Steve as a field leader for the Avengers.  We don’t know yet if Sam Wilson’s Captain America is going to be a regular member or the leader of the Avengers.   But either way, it’ll be underwhelming.
→ Something will happen that will make the Thor we know no longer worthy to possess Mjolnir.  (It all makes sense now why he is wielding Jarnbjorn instead of Mjolnir in some promo artworks for AXIS.)  There is going to be a new wielder worthy of Mjolnir, and this new wielder is going to be a she!  However, she will not only inherit Mjolnir, but the “Thor” name as well.  Wait, what?  
→ According to Marvel’s press release:
“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is Thor. This is the Thor of the Marvel Universe. But it's unlike any Thor we've ever seen before.”
Hmmm.  I like the character design and the concept of a girl wielding Mjolnir, but I think it is dumb and senseless to suddenly set “Thor” up as a girl just like that.  Come on, Thor is the god – not goddess – of thunder.  It’s not like “Thor” is a mere superhero code name like “Captain Marvel” that can just be adopted by either sex with no problem at all (it actually worked perfectly for Carol Danvers).  “Thor” is the actual name of a male character.  From his mythological origins to the character popularized by Marvel, “Thor” is an established masculine name for an established male fictional character.  Just as it feels absurd to read something like
“This January: Peter Parker loses his powers, which are mysteriously transferred to Carlie Cooper!  With Peter Parker no longer needing and capable to own the ‘Spider-Man’ name, Carlie Cooper will assume the name to herself, to become the all-new ‘Spider-Man’ – not ‘Spider-Woman’ (that’s taken already), not ‘Spider-Girl’ (also taken), and not ‘Lady Spider’; she is Spider-Man from now on!  Don’t miss the relaunched Amazing Spider-Man #1!”
so is what I felt when I encountered this Thor-is-now-a-girl announcement.    
→ We still don’t know much about this new Thor.   But I think she will be introduced at the culmination of the ongoing Thor-Loki-Angela tale in the “Original Sin” event.
→ Since the whole SpOck thing is now over, the “Superior” adjective is very much available for the taking.  And the new owner of such obnoxious description is Iron Man, which I think is a character that is actually a better fit for it than Spider-Man.  Unlike the first two Avengers undergoing dramatic changes mentioned above, the man behind the superhero name will remain the same with “Iron Man.”  Still, despite of Tony Stark remaining as Iron Man, the new Superior Iron Man status quo change is as dramatic as if a new character is inside the armor
→ From Marvel’s EIC, Axel Alonso:
“What you're seeing in Superior Iron Man is a Tony Stark who’s seen both his worst and best impulses all let loose. It is Tony, but he’s going to be in a zone now where he’s never been. He's more ambitious, cunning, egotistical ... all of those quantities are unharnessed. He has a vision for the world. I like to think his position is defensible — controversial, but defensible.”
→ Ooooh… Among the three changes – Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man – this is the development I am fascinated the most.  I’m not saying I approve and am thrilled about it.  Not really.  But it’s legitimately interesting; the premise sounds intriguingly sensible and solid enough.   
→ Considering the fact that Tony Stark behaved very much like a supervillain during the “Civil War” event a couple of years ago, a darker, “mad-genius” rendition of the character, that would readily proceed to call himself “superior” regularly (just as what Doc Ock as Spidey had done), could probably work.  I’m expecting this new Tony Stark to be something like Adrian Veidt a.k.a. Ozymandias (from Watchmen) in terms of methods and rationalization, and be a bigger A-hole than Robert Downey, Jr.’s MCU portrayal. 
→ Also, since Tony Stark is the one bankrolling the Avengers, how will this development affect the team and his role in it?  Another interesting detail to ponder on.
→ Between these and the whole “Death of Wolverine” thing, some big and controversial shake-ups are happening to Marvel’s most major heroes that long-time fans (at least, Spidey is done with his turn with this stuff… hopefully) might find upsetting.   I’m not much bothered about these developments since nothing is permanent in comics.  After my whole experience with SpOck, I am more confident of this truth.   It’s even probable that everything will be back to normal – Steve Rogers is Captain America once more, Thor has his Mjolnir and “Thor” name back, and Tony Stark is a “good guy” again – sooner than later.  I’m gonna chill, and give these new stuff a look. 
→ Let me take this opportunity to detail some developments I actually want to see in the Avengers books, of which I wish Avenger NOW! is actually all about. 
  1. Spider-Man in the Secret Avengers.  Considering Peter Parker’s parentage (Richard and Mary Parker were C.I.A. and then S.H.I.E.L.D. agents), there is an awesome plot to be made from there.  I would love to see some regular espionage-style superheroing from Spider-Man (in his black costume, of course) in a Secret Avengers roster. 
  2. The memberships of the characters I’ve enumerated in my “Top 20 Characters I Want to Become Avengers” list. 
  3. MORE DOOMBOT!  Seriously, Avengers A.I. was an awesome comic book, and Doombot was the most awesome thing about it.  Definitely would love to see him in a more prominent Avenger role. 
  4. Moon Knight and Daredevil back as Avengers.
  5. Moon Knight and Hyperion simultaneously in an Avengers team.  And with a lot of exposures for both.  Being analogues for Batman and Superman, respectively, I would find such happening extremely amusing. 
  6. Hulk and Red Hulk simultaneously in one Avengers team.  Two Hulks might seem redundant.  But I just feel that it’s going to be awesome.
  7. This crazy roster: Captain Marvel (leader), Hyperion, Moon Knight, Doombot, Gambit, Howard the Duck, Hercules (or Hulk and Red Hulk at the same time), Echo (resurrect her!), Falcon (patterned with Anthony Mackie’s Falcon), Scarlet Spider (or Spider-Man 2099), Hank Pym (with yet another new superhero name), Human Torch (as a member of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four at the same time), Starbrand, Emma Frost (seriously, the Avengers should always have a capable telepath among them.  It’s what has been lacking in most of the team’s rosters through the years), Hawkeye (but Emma Bishop instead of Clint Barton), Mr. Immortal, Phil Coulson (serving as an official Avengers member and S.H.I.E.L.D. liaison), and Loki.  You can check out my rationale for some of these names in this line-up in my “Top 20 Characters I Want to Become Avengers” list.  The three main Avengers – Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor – will be in sabbatical from being Avengers during this time.

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