Marvel recently announced a set of variant covers for its newly launching U.S. Avengersseries. As with most listicle-ized ideas in modern comic bookery, it wasn’t much of a shock to me as a stunt. It will provide local comic shops something cool to order to entice collectors with, and for the super serious collectors, there will be a future market to Pokemon Go! and just go ahead and collect ‘em all. It’s a novelty, sure, but there’s been worse ones.
What it really does, though, is cause fans to curiously align themselves to a particular hero — as jocks will take to their geographically-proximate sports-ball-teams. With that, comes that nearly indescribable urge to gain a soft-spot for a particular character… and of course then talk smack at other hero/state pairings in an effort to show one’s newfound super civic pride.
For my home-sweet-home in the south suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, comes Dr. Hank McCoy. Beast, if you’re naughty. The choice, for those in the know, isn’t too surprising. McCoy hails from the suburbs of Chicago himself (or so sayeth Wikipedia, Chicago’s Time Out edition, and countless other sources). Hence, the blue beast was chosen as the surrogate super son of Illinois.
I’ll be honest. Prior to seeing the cover and assignment, I wasn’t a fan of Beast. I don’t hate the fur ball, mind you… but even amongst various X teams and Avengers teams, he’d be nowhere close to a personal favorite. Funny enough though, seeing the cover with Hank leaping stoically off the Illinois map made me reconsider my personal feelings. Whereas California got the glitz and glamour choice of Iron Man and New York nabbed native son Luke Cage, Illinois got what I’d certainly say was a deep cut. We are home to the third largest city in the nation, and the best we muster is a guy who proclaims “Oh my stars and garters!”? In true Chicagoan spirit, my answer to that very question was a resounding “F*ck right he is!”
Beast is strong, fast, flexible, ambidextrous with four limbs, and a genius. He cured the legacy virus. He’s fluent in nine languages. He can hold up his end of the conversation with Reed Richards, Steven Strange, and Tony Stark… all while hanging upside down and teaching a class of X-babies. You see? And he’s my home state hero. It’s like we got Spider-Man and Mr. Fantastic all in one guy! And he’s the same color as our beloved Chicago Bears. Hell, he could play quarterback if he wanted!
See how quickly my opinion changed? The second they aligned my home to Hank, an affinity arose. Because he was offered as ours, suddenly there became an emotional edge to my opinion. Now when I open up my Marvel Contest of Champions mobile app, I’m more apt to hope I open up a crystal with the periwinkle protector to add to my cadre of combatants. And should people hold up their state-assigned hero as a better (“Indiana has the friggen’ Winter Solder, brah!”)? Well, I’ll be happy to scoff as I rattle off 17 ways my Dundee-native doctor can whup their candy ass twelve ways from Sunday. Curse you Marvel. What did you do to me?
It’s a cherry idea, I give them that. To turn a cash-grab novelty to in a buzzfeedesque game of proclivity is an instant hit in my book. Same way I felt when the Initiative post Civil War gave us the “Illinois Space Knights.” Same way I felt when I found out my broader home soil was home to such characters as Maria Hill, the Question (well, sort of… ask Mike Gold or Denny O’Neil), Ghost Rider, and Savage Dragon. To know that a fictional character shares the same air as you… may love a good Italian Beef — dipped, of course — and occasionally knock back an Old Style in a tallboy? Well, nothing makes me quicker to warm my icy Illinois heart.
So, it begs the question of you: What lilly-licking punk hero did your silly state get?
For me as a black man, this was one of if not the ultimate “where were you at when such and such occurred” moment.
When O.J. was acquitted, I was in the conference room at Motown. The Rodney King verdict in my office and (this is not a joke) I let all the white people on my staff go home early.
I was in bed with a five-alarm migraine praying for death or sleep, whichever came first. It was sleep and when it came it seemed to last about a second before my phone woke me. I ignored the call but soon it became apparent that was the first of many. My phone played my “wrong nigga to fuck with” ringtone so often I dreamt LAPD had arrested me again.
I picked up determined to destroy whoever it was.
“Prince is dead.”
My heart joined my head in unbearable pain. The same kind of pain I felt while at Xenon a New York club that rivaled the famed Studio 54 for a time where I was when John Lennon was shot.
I’m sure most people can remember where they were when something earth-shattering happened. However; can you remember where you were the day after the earth shook?
I can, for one day.
The day after John Lennon died I was in Barron Storey’s illustration class at Pratt Institute. Baron brought in a small organ then instructed the class to “create something moving” in remembrance of the slain Beatle while he played Beatles tunes.
Yeah, that happened.
On 911 I was in my Los Angeles home. Denys Cowan and I, both transported die hard New Yorkers, watched the news reports all day from separate houses, neither of us capable of hanging up the phone and driving the 10 minutes to the others home.
An Atlanta Hilton was my location when the news came about the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. My wife at the time had taken her class there on a field trip that very day. Somehow I knew when I couldn’t reach her she was there when the bomb exploded.
I was unable to book a flight home and spent one of the longest days of my life terrified. At 2 a.m. she called and explained how everyone had to shelter in place until they were escorted out.
All those events remain etched in my memory. Except the first WTC bombing, none nearly etched as deep as when Barak Obama won the Presidency.
Once again I was with Denys Cowan, but this time at his home. We were overjoyed, to say the least. As it turned out, so was the comic book industry.
To say the industry was supportive would be a massive understatement. There were special editions from Marvel, Image, Devil’s Due and Fantagraphics to name a few among the many. Hell, Alex Ross did a tee-shirt many of Hollywood’s A-list wore and damn for a time that shirt was as big as the ‘Hope’ image.
The comics industry embraced Obama with a passion.
Almost eight years, two terms and 96 months of crazy shit later it’s possible the polar opposite of Obama may be elected.
One of the traits shared by politics and comics are evil opposites.
There is always an evil counterpart to great heroes. It’s not hard to spot them they tell you who they are.
“It all fits somehow, his coming here to Metropolis. And at this particular time. There’s a kind of cruel justice about it. I mean, to commit the crime of the century, a man naturally wants to face the challenge of the century. – Lex Luthor
Now that we know who you are, I know who I am. I’m not a mistake! It all makes sense! In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero. And most times they’re friends, like you and me! I should’ve known way back when… You know why, David? Because of the kids. They called me Mr. Glass. – Elijah Price a.k.a. Mr. Glass
Two other great comic book foils, the Reverse Flash and Bizarro, were thorns in the side to their counterparts Flash and Superman. The Reverse flash is straight up evil I have no idea if he’s still around in whatever universe DC is entering or was around in the last universe or the universe before that. I know back in the day when Barry Allen was the Flash, the Reverse Flash was a great character and genuine evil bastard.
Bizarro isn’t evil, but he certainly plays a hazardous role.
Donald Trump is a bigger than life character. He’s great television I’ll say that. He may not be evil but he certainly is dangerous, and that’s not just my opinion it’s a lot of the globe’s as well.
The world, for the most part, was happy Obama became President of the United States. If the Donald becomes the next President?
Not so much.
From the New York Times, May 22. 2016:“Kenichiro Sasae, Japan’s ambassador to the United States, said about a possible Trump victory; “I don’t want to see that kind of United States.”
Itsunori Onodera, a former defense minister and a member of the Japanese House of Representatives, gave a lengthy list of what he characterized as Mr. Trump’s misstatements. “I don’t think there are any Trump supporters present here.”
The industry was so pro-Obama eight years ago, so I’m wondering if his opposite enters the White House race what if anything will the industry do?
It just seems if the comic book industry and frankly a lot of the entertainment world went SO buck wild over Barack Obama we should go “oh hell no!” at the thought of a Donald Trump Presidency.
Will unique issues be published showing Trump as evil?
Will Trump be featured with a wicked giant smiling grinning face on the cover of Spider-Man?
Will the Savage Dragon pimp slap the Donald?
Will he be depicted as more dangerous than Galactus? Will the Silver Surfer become his Herald sent to Mexico and the Middle East to make way for the Donald and his Ultimate Nullifier?
In Mexico, will he use the Ultimate Nullifier to make them build a wall to imprison themselves and pay for it with their pesos? Have to admit if Trump can make a country build a wall to keep their citizens in place that would be some awesome shit.
And if Mexico pays for what would be a standing insult and demeaning barrier?
If that happens, Donald Trump would be the ultimate pimp alas Trump fans. It will never happen. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “it will never happen” is what most (including me) said about Trump’s road to the Republican nomination. Well, I was wrong, and it did happen.
The only real way one country can make another do its bidding is at the point of a gun. You think Trump is crazy enough to go to war so he can get that wall built? I do, but the American people won’t stand for it.
Then again, if he’s elected President talking the crazy shit, he’s talking now maybe they will.
But I digress. Peter David! Howthehellareyou?
What will the comic book industry do? Barack Obama may not be universally loved but people he’s a comic fan. That makes him one of us.
Will we do nothing?
There’s a saying: The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil is that Good Men Do Nothing.
I am not naïve. I’m fully aware some see Donald Trump as a savior. Some see him as a confident business person and the future of America. I don’t see him that way. I see him as a very shrewd thoroughly convincing to some, egomaniac. Although I respect, everybody’s right to do what they want. As a person of color, I can’t under any circumstances support a homophobic, women hating, race baiting, KKK denying, violence inciting man who goes before the entire world and talks about his dick.
THIS IS A CNN SPECIAL REPORT:
AMERICA AT WAR!
The nightmare we thought would never occur has come to pass. America has dropped a nuclear bomb on Mexico. International reaction has been quick. The world has condemned our action. The United States of America has been kicked out of Nato as well as the United Nations. Forces are building against us, and all US citizens have been…wait a moment…we now take you to The Trump House where President Trump will address the nation.
“My fellow Americans, you know who you are. I love real Americans. Look no reason to be scared, there’s no way anyone will mess with us. Those reports of missiles heading towards us is as real as Obama’s birth certificate. The President of Spic Land, ya like that? I called it Spic land.
The President left me no choice in the matter when he insulted the United States of America. He told Anderson Cooper “Anyone who talks about how big his home is how much money he has and how big his penis is must be compensating for something.”
I hear from many many people he said his cock was bigger than mine. I told him to prove it, “Whip that tamale on out signor wetback and let’s see. If you don’t, you’ll regret it.”
He didn’t so I had to drop the big one on him. I only meant to get him but, well these things happen.
Donald Trump has used some of the very same tactics as Hitler. There are many, but I’ll just cite one, he blames a particular group of immigrants for our problems.
Most stood by and watched as Hitler proceeded to try to destroy several particular groups. Will it happen here? Can it? That, I admit is far-fetched.
On the other hand, is saying the first black President, vetted by the FBI, CIA, NSA is a Muslim born in Africa, but some guy found out on the internet that’s a lie.
In these waning days of 2015, our media tends to look backward at all the great stuff that came down during the previous year. That’s because there’s damn little that happens between Christmas Eve and New Year’s morn and people like me are tasked with filling space. This plays nicely with my powerful sense of cynicism. Hey, it’s a living.
But what the hell. For all practical purposes 2015 is already history (and I hope that comment doesn’t come back to bite me in my ass). Instead, in a fit of optimism I’d rather talk about what I’m looking forward to in the new year.
When it comes to the mother medium, I eagerly await the return of Bitch Planet, easily my favorite new series of 2015. Actually, I have yet to stop being pissed at Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro for having the audacity to take a vacation.
The third and final volume of the graphic novel series March, Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell story of the struggle for civil rights, is due out this coming year. If you haven’t read the first two books, you’ve got time to catch-up. This series carries my highest recommendation. By far.
DC and Marvel have retconned and rebooted and reimag
Bitch Planet, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, March, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, Savage Dragon, Superman v Batman, Deadpool, Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch, Agent Carter, Hayley Atwell, Civil War, Skottie Young
ined their respective universes to death, so it’s hard for me to show any enthusiasm for their upcoming projects. Why bother? They’ll only be retconned and rebooted and reimagined still again. Give me the stability and pure fun of Savage Dragon any day.
We’ve got lots and lots of comic book based movies and television coming up because Hollywood lives to run stuff into the ground. I can’t say that Superman v Batman or Civil War makes my pulse race – we’ve seen it before, and besides I have no reason to be optimistic about any Warner Bros. superhero flick. While I hope for the best, the comics movies that are putting the salt on my popcorn are Deadpool and Doctor Strange – which are two different movies.
Our pal Emily Whitten talked about the Deadpool flick in this space yesterday afternoon and backed up her enthusiasm with 32 links, so I don’t have to be repetitious. I will say that from the trailers and the hype this appears to be a movie that will either be a lot of fowl-mouthed fun and a much needed satirical jab at the form… or a complete disaster. I like both the character and the lead actor, and the campaign has been very amusing so I have reason to be optimistic. We can always use a good laugh.
Doctor Strange has been one of my favorite characters since Lee and Ditko invented the psychedelic superhero way back when I was still (barely) a pre-teen. He’s never really been able to hold onto a title of his own, but he’s been a vital – even critical – part of the MCU for over a half-century. And casting Benedict Cumberbatch as the Sorcerer Supreme (which still sounds to me like a Baskin-Robbins flavor of the month) seems perfect.
As for comics-on-teevee, I’m looking forward to the return of Agent Carter because the first series was my favorite comics-based series on broadcast television. Hayley Atwell will also be reprising Peggy Carter in the Civil War movie, which is set in contemporary time. Peggy will be real old and nobody expects her to make it to the end-credits, but, of course, that doesn’t mean she won’t be in future flicks. It’s comics, folks.
What would I like to see in 2016? Hey, I’m glad you asked. I’d like to see a year of solid storytelling that does not reply upon overworked and overproduced “events” and variant covers (except those by Skottie Young) and phony deaths – in comics, that’s redundant – and astonishing resurrections. Honest, comic books are stories; let’s get back to good stories.
You know, the kind from which they make movies and teevee shows.
Have yourself a safe, productive and amazingly entertaining new year. You deserve it.
Forgive me if I ramble as I babble. I just got back from a 2000+ mile drive, linking up with a whole bunch of good people including ComicMix’s own Marc Allan Fishman – and family, Kitchen Sink’s own Denis Kitchen (the University of Wisconsin honored Denis with a well-deserved exhibition of his work), the real First Comics’ own Rick Obadiah, Prime’s own Len Strazewski, Hardy Boys’ own Rick Oliver, and Max Allan Collins’s own George Hagenauer. And then, the next day…
You get the idea. I love going back to the midwest, even when the streets of Chicago are tied up with the big David Bowie museum exhibit. Comics with less plot but better music. Now it’s just a few hours before your earliest opportunity to read this sucker, but Monday Mindy beat be to the brass “I got nuthin’” ring. (Monday Mindy, Monday Mindy… damn, after running her column a couple years, the alliteration just dawned on me).
Because I drove – no, I’m not afraid of flying, I’m afraid of how I might react after being treated like cattle in its own crap from the moment I leave for the airport to the moment I drive off the rental lot) – I spent a couple nights in remote hotels somewhere off of Interstate 80. ComicMix’s own Adriane Nash won’t let me drive straight-through. I’d comment, but she’s just doing her job and she’s very… effective at it. Elderly widower that I am, I spent those two nights cuddled up with my iPad, reading comic books.
If you’re a comics fan who travels a lot, you’ll quickly develop an attraction to electronic comics. I loaded the tablet with over one hundred of them, along with a ton of music, of course. And I read about a dozen or so.
I want to review the excellent Justice Inc., but I’ll wait until the series is over before I give you reasons to get the trade paperback. I read a few of my top shelf favorites like Sex, Aw Yeah! Comics and Savage Dragon (those are three different titles, folks), as well as the wonderful DC Digital First Sensation Comics. And I spent some more time trying to figure out the Future’s End stuff, unsuccessfully although I really enjoyed the Booster Gold issue.
Best of the lot? The first part of Michael Uslan’s current Betty and Veronica storyline wherein the other two sides of the famed Archie triangle ditch Riverdale for an amazing opportunity in Europe. Why would they leave home for a European adventure? Hell, wouldn’t you?
Over all, it was a great way to spend a few hours in an otherwise empty hotel room. Reading a bunch of comic books, most very good, some great, some not so much.
At the end of the proverbial day, that’s what it’s all about. Not the type of controversies real, exaggerated and make-up, that we see online every second of the day, but sitting down and enjoying the stuff. My affection towards the community of comics creators present and past grows each time I can kick back and remember why ComicMix is here.