Saturday, May 26, 2007


My oldest daughter loves this comic.
I have a million and six comics, and let me tell you, it's hard trying to find comics that I can read to her. She's four years old, for Chrissakes, I'm not going to read her Tarot or The Ultimates or even most Spider-Man comics.
"Well Ava, this bad man - he's called a sniper - shot Aunt May with a rifle - that's a gun with a long barrel - and now she's hurt so Spider-Man is upset and he wants to kill these guys here because he's so angry. Yes, I know. Spider-Man should use words when he's angry instead of hitting people." Yeah. I'm not going there.
99% of all super hero comics are off-limits to my daughter because I'd like her to think that there are better ways to solve her problems than by violence. It's sort of a shame because she really likes Spider-Man, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman - mostly because I describe them as "rescue heroes" who help people. I made her an unofficial comic book adaptation of the movie Superman Returns (left out the Kryptonite shiv part) which she really liked, but I've come to the conclusion that she's not ready for most comics.
Enter Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #12, by Jeff Parker and company. As part of the Marvel Adventures line, this comic is deliberately designed to be accessible to young readers, which means there are very few decapitations, old women getting shot, or bethonged asses.
Parker is the shit-hot writer responsible for the superb Agents of Atlas comic, and he's doing a great job with his Marvel Adventures books. Parker clearly gets the whole "comics oughta be fun" angle, and these books are fun, accessible, and... and... did I say fun yet? Well, they are.
In this issue, The Avengers (Cap, Hulk, Iron Man, Spidey, Storm, Wolverine, Giant Girl) have to deal with a rash of natural disasters on Earth caused by an approaching planetoid. It's not just any planetoid, it's Ego the Living Planet from the Fantastic Four! Yeah, the planet with the big face, that's the one.
Ego just noticed Earth from across the solar system and hey! Earth is pretty foxy! And she's not dancing with anyone! Ego sidles over to our planet and starts putting the moves on her/it.
"Hey, you dancin'?"

If Ego hangs around for much longer the natural disasters will kill loads of people, so The Avengers blast off in a custom Quinjet to deal with the problem. They need to make contact with the horny living planetoid and convince him to go hit on some unoccupied planet somewhere else. Not an easy task, since Ego is too vast to even notice the tiny little heroes. How are they going to communicate with it?

The answer, of course, is that The Avengers have to land on Ego and start tearing shit up in order to get its attention. Iron Man triggers some volcanoes, Storm uses her weather-control powers, and The Hulk... well, The Hulk just starts hitting stuff and giving Ego some straight talk.

"Earth just want to be friends!" Hulk yells.

Jeff Parker hits all the right notes with this comic. It's cute, it's self-aware in a metatextual way that will appeal to geeks, and it's funny as hell. Like a lot of well-done family entertainment, this comic has something for adults as well as kids, but it doesn't go overboard with pop-cultural references and sly asides (I'm looking at you, Shrek movies.)

Plus, Parker uses the Hulk as comic relief, which is never a bad idea. I'm a big fan of The Hulk, particularly when he's not taken too seriously. He's a big green caveman who smashes shit when he gets angry but likes puppies and stuff - what's not to like? In this comic, The Hulk is like a big destructive kid that The Avengers soothe by singing him songs and reading him stories. No, really. It's cute as hell. Plus, there's a little throw-away shot of The Hulk getting a rock dropped on his head that just cracks me up for some reason.

Between this issue and the comic where all The Avengers get MODOK'd, I think I have a new favorite Avengers title. Don't get me wrong, I'm actually digging Mighty Avengers right now, but I'm not going to read it to my daughter: "Well, this naked lady is really a robot who wants to kill everyone. No, Ava, I don't think she gets cold, she's an indestructible, murdering killing machine."

But this comic? I can read it to my kid, and for that I thank Jeff Parker. The only problem is, like The Hulk, my daughter wants me to read it over and over and over...


Songino said...

A comic aimed at younger audiences with the primary objective of simply being fun? It's about time.

McGone said...

"Earth just want to be friends" made me laugh out loud.

G. Bob said...

Agreed. If I was EIC of Marvel, my first move would be to chain Parker, Slott, Van Lente and a few other and have 'em crank out more books like this. I would strip off the "Marvel Adventures" tag, and just get them sold in as many stores as possible. Current Marvel titles? I would slap a big 616 warning label on them and keep them sold in the ghetto of comic book shops.

Eventually the current generation of readers will die from Cheeto overdoses and lonliness, and the next generation of readers (raised on Marvel Adventures) will be left with a healthier industry.

There's so much good frickin' stuff in those titles. My son and I read every single one.

SRH said...

I have never understood why Marvel's kid's programming, comic books, and toys insists on Wolverine being part of the mix. He is a boozing, smoking, killing machine, just what everyone wants their kid to be. Just my 2 cents.

FYI: It has taken me a bear of a time reading all of your archives, and then I had to take down your Velvet Maurader stuff. You should restart that one.

Kitty said...

I'm not really a fan of The Avengers, but this sounds like too much fun for words. I think I will check it out!

Chris Sims said...

99% of all super hero comics are off-limits to my daughter because I'd like her to think that there are better ways to solve her problems than by violence.

I... I don't even know you anymore, Campbell.

Matt Chaput said...

The world would be a much better place if the D.C. universe was just replaced with the D.C. Animated universe. And if instead of a naked self-cutting idiot with the body of a porn star, Supergirl was drawn by Dean Trippe.

This is my creed.

Anonymous said...

Wait... CHILDREN? Reading COMICS?

I... I just don't get it.

Anonymous said...

So how do you explain a plot that revolves around Ego hitting on another planet to a 4 year old?

ghostman said...

After getting cockblocked by the Avengers, I hope Ego didn't try to nail Uranus.

LurkerWithout said...

"So how do you explain a plot that revolves around Ego hitting on another planet to a 4 year old?"

This is Ego the Planet. He thinks the Earth is cute. But the Earth doesn't like him back. So the Avengers are going to help explain things...

Paul W said...

Looks cool. Thanks for the review. I might actually have to check this thing out.

But, meantime, as one of the small but dedicated group of zealots you may have heard about...

Have you tried Spider-Girl? Good clean family-friendly (all ages) comics fun. :)

Jason said...

Am I the only one who is praying that Dave's next post is his unofficial Superman comic book? I was pissed as hell after seeing the Superman movie that I couldn't bring my 5, 6, 8, and 9 year-olds to see it because of kryptonite shiv and the two minutes before and after it. Go family-friendly !

Christian said...

Not to mention that every that doesn't have a near sexual lust after Donner's Superman will be bored out of their skull after five minutes. He barely even does anything heroic.

Matt Chaput said...

What!? He rescued the FUCK out that space plane!

Oops, there goes the family friendliness.

Anonymous said...

The Avengers totally should have told Ego that Titan is available and looking.

Oh Thanos, you've got com-paneeee!

Bully said...

Dave, you and your daughter may also enjoy (if you haven't discovered it already) Parker's X-Men: First Class series, especially the recent special. With the possible exception of a little scary bit featuring Bernard the Poet, I think all the stories in the special are probably appropriate for younger readers, and more important, they stress action rather than violence (a subtle but definite distinction) and often conclude with the heroes not defeating the antagonist but figuring out what makes him tick and working with him. Good lessons, good comic. And most important, entertaining to both kids and adults.

Tyson said...

Have you tried Spider-Girl? Good clean family-friendly (all ages) comics fun. :)

I'm always happy when someone points this out. It seems so uncool to like Spider-Girl, but it's actually a really good book, and seems pretty family-friendly. Both you and your daughter should enjoy it.

I would also guess that it's particularly good book to read with her, because it would be cool for her to see a female super-hero who isn't embarrassingly slutted out.

Anonymous said...

I'm still wondering why Thor isn't on that line up. I thought that we had established that it's not really the Avengers without the big three.

Anonymous said...

This does indeed look fun. And I for one wouldn't mind seeing Storm on the 616 Avengers.

suedenim said...

Has a "Marvel Adventures Universe" Thor actually appeared anywhere? The Avengers fight Loki in the second digest (#4-8, I think), but no sign or mention of Thor.

My four-year-old niece enjoys these stories too. The plot details can be a little over her head sometimes, and she doesn't always get Spider-Man's jokes, but the Hulk is a virtually guaranteed all-ages laugh-getter.

SanctumSanctorumComix said...

I could be COMPLETELY wrong, but perhaps there's no THOR in the Marvel Adventures books, because he's a supposed "god".

Maybe, to appease the "Wal*Mart" mass-market crowd, no mention of pagan/false gods can be in there?
(And, obviously, no pseudo Christian God look-a-likes either. Looking at YOU guys; Glorian & Aquarian).



Jeff Parker said...

Dave, thanks for reviewing the book!

SanctumSanctorum, there's no such rule as you'll see in issue 16 when the Avengers go to ASGARD!

Ununnilium said...

Yay! Jeff Parker, best of the Marvel Adventures authors!

Also, as for other kid-friendly series, the first two Power Pack miniseries were pretty good, though the most recent one's art just completely turns me off.

Hale of Angelthorne said...

The part where Ego notices the Moon and says to the Earth, "Oh hey, you got a shorty? That's cool, that's cool"? I laughed hysterically over that.

The Marvel Age and DCU lines are really great for my 10 year old (who reads at a 12th grade level, but isn't really ready for A or even T+, IMHO).

lazy_cg said...

i wonder how the planeary sex thing would even work.

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