Posts Tagged ‘ Brian Michael Bendis ’

Richard Rider Is Not Dead

Nova (comics)

Nova (comics) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been an exciting week for fans of Marvel’s cosmic universe. First, Marvel announce a brand-new Guardians of the Galaxy film heading to cinemas in 2014, and now it looks like cosmic hero Nova will play a huge part on the comic side of things as Marvel is set to include him in their new initiative ‘Marvel Now’. Could this be the return of Richard Rider?

When Marvel announced Nova would show up in their 2011 cross-over preview book ‘Point One‘, most fans assumed it was the return of fan-favourite Richard Rider. This was not the case as the book paved way for a new Nova known as Sam Alexander. Created by Jeph Loeb, it looks as if Nova has been reverted back to a teen-hero status in order to make the character more of an underdog as well as relatable.

Before his demise, Richard Rider’s abilities as Nova had risen to a level where he could pretty much take on Silver Surfer or a whole Kree fleet and hold his own. While Rider was incredibly powerful, it was the sentimental moments between Nova and his brother/parents that defined Dan Abnett/ Andy Lanning‘s run on Nova for me. At one point, Rider was essentially the Peter Parker of the cosmic universe.

With the real integrity of Rider’s story previously covered, what else is there for a writer to cover with Richard Rider? It could be argued when Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning finished with Nova during the 2010 cosmic event  ‘The Thanos Imperative‘ they killed off Richard Rider as a testament to their own work. After all, DnA’s run on Nova had taken Richard Rider from a teen-hero with confidence issues, to one of the most popular powerhouses in the Marvel Universe. Like Ed Brubaker had done with Bucky, DnA had pretty much made Richard Rider their own.

For a new Nova to work however, Rider simply has to be either alive or resurrected. When him and Guardians of the Galaxy leader, Star-Lord made their last stand against Thanos in ‘The Thanos Imperative’ Nova was left trapped in an alternative universe with the whole Nova Force (the energy that powers the Nova Corps) inside as well. Sam Alexander has to be drawing his power from some where, so it’s likely Richard Rider escaped the Cancer Verse, and just hasn’t made his return as of yet.

To further prove Sam Alexander is the new Nova for good, the character has recently debuted in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man television show. While the show hasn’t proved popular with fans, Marvel seem intent on making the show fall inline with their comic universe as much as possible highlighting that the new Nova is here to stay. What this could also suggest is that if there are any Nova plans in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I wouldn’t be surprised if they involved Sam Alexander and not Richard Rider.

With a new Nova, Loeb and Marvel have a chance to take the character back to his underdog roots, and make Nova relatable again. It also provides a welcome opportunity for Richard Rider to receive some new character development. With Sam Alexander being a teenager, Rider will probably act as a mentor for him and any other Nova corps that appear. Speaking of which, with Marvel’s new found importance on their cosmic universe, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Marvel launch a Nova Corps to rival DC’s extensive Green Lantern Corps.

I feel as if Jeph Loeb is coming under unfair criticism from Nova fans. Creatively, Nova is a hot property and taking on a character that was defined by Abnett and Lanning could see his project fail before it has even started. It’s also unfair to judge Loeb on making the new Nova in memory of his late son Sam Loeb, as all writers have to draw their stories from somewhere. While risky, it might give Loeb to motivation to put his recent poor form behind him and tell a good story.

While the rest of Marvel seems to have completely ignored Abnett and Lanning’s cosmic run, I will give Loeb or whatever writer who tries to reason the resurrection of The Guardians, Nova and Thanos enormous credit. We haven’t seen the last of Richard Rider. His time as Nova may be finished but for now, lets give Sam Alexander a chance.

Avengers Assemble #1 Review

The Avengers (2012 film)

Image via Wikipedia

It’s not often I do comic book reviews, but when I heard Marvel were releasing an in-continuity title for audiences seeing The Avengers movie, I was intrigued. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by Mark Bagley, does this latest Avengers offering serve up anything different than what’s on shelves already?

The hook with this book is that from the start, all of the movie Avengers are present. Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow all feature, however there’s no sign yet of Nick Fury. Though considering the 616 version of Nick Fury may alienate movie fans that’s understandable.

Avengers Assemble #1 opens with Bendis highlighting the rise of a new Zodiac. Praise must be given for Bendis for providing a threat for the team that differs from the movie. Bagley’s artwork leaves a little to be desired, up close his artwork is brilliant, from long angles it’s lacking in detail.

In terms of characters, Clint Barton steals the show. Bendis shows he can write Hawkeye brilliantly, showcasing his sarcastic traits that prove the Ultimates dress-up hasn’t changed much about the character. As a long-term reader, I felt as if a Bucky reference was due when Clint was hitting on Widow, but I can understand why none was used. Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, get enough screen time, but there wasn’t really any reason as to why the team was together, other than being at the right place at the right time. If Bendis really wanted inspiration for how to formulate the team, he should have taken notes of his own New Avengers: Breakout arc. That’s how you form a new Avengers team.

My main criticism would be how the Hulk is handled. From this take, it’s easy to see why Bendis has refrained from largely using the green giant in his eight-year Avengers run. In this book, the Hulk is reverted back to his dumbed-down mindless version. For a long-term Marvel reader, this is a little distracting, as that’s not usually how the Hulk is written these days, however it could because a dumbing-down is in store for the Hulk during Jason Aaron‘s Incredible Hulk epic.

To conclude, Avengers Assemble is a fantastic jumping on point for Avengers movie fans, while still offering something new for long-term readers. It’s light on continuity, but full of great dialogue and solid characterisation. In terms of how well I think Avengers Assemble will do in the future, hopefully there’s more to come from this book to make it stand out amongst the million other Avengers titles.

Rating: 7/10

 

Why Marvel Should Give The Sentry A Movie

 

The Sentry rips Carnage in half. Interior pane...

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The Sentry has to be one of the most controversial comic book characters of this millennium. It was writer Brian Michael Bendis who brought Robert Reynolds back into the centre of the Marvel Universe by including him in The New Avengers. Since then, fans have ruthlessly criticised the character so often, Marvel had no choice but to respond and they decided to kill the Sentry off in 2010, and the character has not been seen since.

That’s quite a lot of hate. First and foremost, why do people hate the Sentry? Was it because he created continuity problems? Is it his overpowered skills set? Or is it his constant crying and running from battles? More often than not, people seem to dislike the Sentry because he was constantly used as a plot device for high-octane battles, as seen in World War Hulk, New Avengers and Siege. His split personality of Robert Reynolds and the destructive Void persona seemed like an interesting idea. After all, the Sentry is the deconstruction of the Superman archetype. A man with such an extreme set of powers, but burdened by his dark side. If he was handled better, the Sentry could have been Marvel’s answer to Superman and then some. But I guess they figured that’s what Thor is for.

Is Sentry just a Superman rip-off? No, but Marvel have hung the Sentry very close to that label in previous years. His dark side was never truly explored, and more often than not if he wasn’t used as a plot device for action sequences, he would simply run away from a battle in fear. If you need an example, look no further than Secret Invasion. He had potential for some great stories, but he spent too much time lost amongst various Avengers teams.

So what am I doing here wishing for a Sentry movie? We are arguably at an age where Superman is becoming obsolete. People no longer care for immortal characters. When a character is incredibly powerful there’s only so far you can go with them. The Sentry is the ultimate deconstruction of the Superman image. The Sentry is a character so powerful, yet ultimately flawed. If Marvel decided to release a movie on the character surely they would attract a Superman audience, but unlike the DC superhero, the Sentry could offer more providing his flaws were developed on screen. Rob Reynolds would be a more relatable figure than Clark Kent, but would still offer the same amount of thrills.

If X-Men: First Class proved anything last year, it was that you shouldn’t judge a movie before it’s released. Fox’s latest mutant adventure faced worldwide threats of boycott, all because it didn’t stick true enough to the source material. Yet, nearly a year later, and I would say X-Men: First Class was the best comic book movie of 2011 (it’s a pity it didn’t box-office records, but that’s a marketing issue). If a Sentry movie headed into production it would generate quite a media storm. Some people would love the idea of a Sentry movie, and others would ultimately hate it. There’s noting worse than no one caring about the movie (I’m looking at you Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance).

For it to work, I think a Sentry movie would need to exist outside the Marvel cinematic universe, meaning under studio such as Fox or Sony. I feel this would be best, in order for the character’s darker psychological problems to be explored. It’s no secret Marvel Studios aim their movies at a young audience, one I don’t think would appreciate a super powered being ripping his enemies apart.

For all my wishing, I don’t think we’ll ever see a Sentry movie. I think Marvel just lost their way with the character at a crucial time, so I’m not even sure if we’ll see him in the pages of the Marvel universe in the near future. I’ve said time and time again however, there comes a time when Batman and X-Men get boring and it’s time for something new once in a while. Iron Man proved that. If a former b-list hero played by a washed out actor looking for a comeback can hit big, there’s no reason why there couldn’t one day be a Sentry movie.

 

 

Should Marvel Reboot?

Various characters of the Marvel Universe. Pro...

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DC’s New 52 reboot is one of the most significant things to happen to comics in decades. There’s no doubt that DC has done well to make their comics reader-friendly by wiping away most of their continuity. It was a risky move, but the result has put DC back on top over Marvel with sales figures. With Marvel falling behind for the first time in years, it raises the question whether it’s time for them to initiate a total reboot, in attempt to wipe their increasing convoluted continuity clean and become more accessible for new readers?

Yes Marvel Need To Reboot

1) Their Continuity Is Too Messy

One of the biggest challenges for new readers of Marvel comics is to try and come to terms with the X-Men continuity. Spanning for over fifty years, the X-Men books are almost unrecognisable to new readers. Gone is the Professor X and his X-Men vs. Magneto and his Brotherhood of mutants, replaced by a universe where former villains are now allies. Continuity isn’t just messy when it comes to the X-Men though. Spider-Man suffered a continuity crisis when an editorial decision decided to have the devil, Mephisto erase Peter’s marriage, and make everyone forget that Paeter Parker is Spider-Man. These are the kind of examples where it’s easy to justify a Marvel reboot.

2) They Need More Characters From Diverse Backgrounds

Where Marvel has become seriously outdated is that they lack some diversity. Sure enough, Brian Michael Bendis is doing superb work on making Miles Morales an engaging, fresh character in Ultimate Spider-Man, while Ed Brubaker maintains the Falcon as one of my favourite characters, but Ultimate Marvel aside, they are still lacking. How would a reboot help introduce characters from different minorities? Characters such as The Incredible Hulk, Wolverine and Iron Man remain incredibly popular because they’re over fifty-years-old. Resetting the clock would allow Marvel to give new characters from diverse backgrounds more extensive back stories and make them a core part of the Marvel Universe, rather than side characters. Marvel could incorporate Ultimate Nick Fury into the mainstream universe, or even create some new characters, as seen with Marcus Johnson from the recent Battle Scars series. It’s time now for characters from diverse backgrounds to simply be more than just side characters.

No To A Reboot

1)Continuity Can Be Restored Easier

It was easier to see why DC chose the reboot The Justice League. The team had become outdated, irrelevant and aside from X-Men, had the most confusing continuity in comics. They needed a new slate. Marvel is lucky not to be in that position just yet. While they’ve been going on a little over-board on events lately, it’s becoming clearer that they know what’s working and what’s not. With financial struggles, Marvel was forced to cancel titles such as Alpha Flight, Dark Wolverine, X-23 and Iron Man 2.0. With the excess weight taken off, Marvel should have time to focus on making their existing lines better. An example should be the work of Dan Slott on The Amazing Spider-Man series. When Slott took charge, he had the duty of recovering the series from the One More Day mess left behind by JMS and Joe Quesada. Now, Spidey is one of the most fun comics around. More writers need to focus on wiping away what didn’t work before, and bringing back the characteristics that made the superheroes so engaging in the first place.

2) Their Characters have Come Too Far

Another problem with a company ride reboot would be that it would undermine the journeys that Marvel’s characters have taken over the past years. Writers such as Grant Morrison, Joss Whedon and Jason Aaron have worked hard to strongly develop characters like Cyclops and Wolverine. Would all that be diminished if the X-Men line rebooted?

The same applies to characters like Bucky Barnes and The Scarlett Witch. Both characters have had writers spend years developing them, so it’s difficult to imagine a reboot wiping their continuity clean.  DC showed how ruthless they can be when Wally West was cut from the New 52 relaunch. I would hate to see that happen to any of my favourite Marvel characters.

Conclusion

Will Marvel reboot? In my opinion, Marvel is likely going to judge the future of their comic line by how well their event Avengers vs. X-Men is received. If the event reaches mainstream publicity and sales are good, I can imagine Marvel will hold off a reboot and spin great stories off AVX, similar to what happened with Civil War. If AVX fails to impress, I feel as if maybe Marvel will probably initiate a reboot. After all, if the top two teams Marvel has battling each other can’t succeed, then it’s definitely time to go back to the drawing board. There seems to be a trend with comics lately, as if they’re aspiring to be like the 90’s again, with over the top art, page after page of heroes fighting and little substance. Marvel also really need to turn this around if they want to keep on top of DC in the future.

Deconstructing: The New Ultimate Spider-Man

Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man

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The death of Ultimate Peter Parker has been one of the most talked about events in comic books recently, but more importantly, Marvel have finally unveiled who will replace the web-slinger, and it’s a half-black, half-Hispanic 13 year old known as Miles Morales. Astonishingly, the news that Ultimate Comics Spider-Man was being replaced reached high profile media outlets such as Fox News, The New York Times and USA Today. It’s great the comic book industry is getting lots of media attention, but is that the only reason behind the push for diversity?

The Marvel Ultimate universe is commonly known as the testing ground for Marvel comics. The Ultimate universe was originally created by writers Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar, as a fresh start to attract new readers, without being bogged down by years of continuity. Years later, the Ultimate universe took a dip in quality when writer Jeph Loeb, killed off most of the existing characters in the disaster event known as ‘Ultimatum‘. Since then, the Ultimate universe has suffered in quality, therefore its purpose now seems to be to serve as a testing ground for new ideas.

I consider the decision to put a half-black, half-Hispanic character in the role of Spider-Man as nothing more than a publicity stunt. Yes, it’s good to give attention to the minorities that might feel overlooked in mainstream media, considering the growing diversity in the USA, but there is a far better way to do that then putting established iconic characters as minorities. Two of my favourite Marvel characters are Luke Cage and Sam Wilson (The Falcon), who both represent the African-American/Black minorities. These characters are well-established comic book characters, and are more than capable of headlining their own books. The comic book industry needs more characters like them. Luke Cage did originally appear to represent a very corny, stereotypical view of a black superhero, but Marvel learnt from that and gave him a much-needed new look. Years later, and he finally looks like he has his own movie on the way.

Miles is always going to be known as ‘the other Spider-Man’ who lives in Peter Parker’s shadow. He should have been given his own superhero identity, allowing diversity in comics to finally breakthrough from previous stereotypes (Luke Cage’s original yellow outfit). If Marvel introduced Miles Morales as a brand new character headlining his own series, I’m sure that would of eventually taken off, allowing Marvel to later introduce Miles to the mainstream Marvel Universe.

But that wouldn’t have got them as much media attention, which tells you everything you need to know.