Wednesday, April 27, 2005

WOLVERINE & CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 Marvel Comics, 2004

This is one of those comics that I'm a little embarrassed to own.

I mean, this only came out a few years ago. It's okay to drag out the stupid shit I bought when I was a kid, but what about the stupid shit I bought when I was 30? What does it say about me as an adult that I willingly purchased Wolverine & Captain America #1? I mean, look at the cover - nothing wrong with it I guess, but... can't you kind of tell, just by looking at it? It has the feel and smell of a hundred other pedestrian, boilerplate comics you've read before. It's not that it's so bad, it's just that it's so utterly not good. And I willingly spent hard-earned money on this mediocrity, the sequential art equivalent of an episode of The Fall Guy. What does that say about me?

It says I'm an American and damn it, I like medioctrity! Cheap cookie-cutter crap! Pour it down my hungry gullet! Feed me your slop! I'm like a little piggy, rolling in comic book crap!, sorry.

The story by R.A. Jones pits Captain America and Wolverine against a group of generic comic book super-commandos for control of some mutant superchip or something. Forge from the X-Men and Ms Marvel (sorry, Warbird*) from The Avengers join the fun as plot cogs and expository devices. Forge exists just to tell Captain America about the super-chip and to cobble together a tracking device, and Warbird exists to give Cap somebody to talk to. To be fair, I can’t really comment on the entire four-issue series because I only bought this one issue, but based on reading this, it’s not so good.

The art by Tom Derenick is superheroic, but the facial expressions are limited to grimacing and bug-eyed screaming. The characters have a weird tendency to look like hairless monkey-people. Since I don't think Derenick was trying to draw the characters as hairless monkey people, I think this has to be viewed as a shortcoming.

Let’s take a look at the comic itself, shall we?

In the panel below, Professor X and Beast are in the X-Men Mansion, chatting about the newly discovered superchip. Forge is present, but isn’t visible in this panel. Beast suggests that they take the superchip to the Avengers Mansion for further analysis. No, Beast doesn’t want to take the superchip to The Fantastic Four, he wants to take it to The Avengers. I guess if the X-Men did the logical thing and flew the superchip to Reed Richards, the book would be called Wolverine & Mr. Fantastic, and that sounds stupid, doesn’t it? Anyway, a simian-looking Professor X agrees and tells Forge to take the McGuffin – I mean, superchip – to The Avengers, and to be quick about it!

Since when did Professor X start plucking his eyebrows like that? That’s creepy, he looks like RuPaul or a Vulcan or something.

Please take note that Professor X urged Forge to haul ass. So of course he decides to walk to the Avengers Mansion. No shit, on the very next page (below) we see Forge strolling down a country lane. Where the hell is he heading, to his grandmother’s house? Forge, the Avengers live in New York City! Hop on a bus at least if you don’t want to take the Blackbird! I’m not sure if this weirdness is the result of bad writing, or a miscommunication between artist and writer, or what. Maybe they just wanted to make Forge look like a total idiot.

Weirdly, Bad Guy Cyborg Commandos #213-216 have anticipated that Forge would walk from Westchester County to Manhattan with the vital superchip, and have set up an ambush along the way. Behold:

Later a battered Forge appears in the Avengers Mansion. I guess he crawled the rest of the way to the Mansion.

You see, it’s shit like that. I don’t know, maybe I’m being anal, but how do you publish something like that? It makes no sense. If that happened in a movie you would die laughing, but in comics stuff like this gets a pass. I mean, an editor could have caught that, the whole Forge walking to New York thing. You could have dropped a caption in there that says, “Two hours later, in Central Park…” and that could have at least explained where Forge is. Maybe a thought balloon that tells us that Forge took a cab into the city and was taking a shortcut through the park on his way to the Mansion. Something. Anything. It’s shit like that that makes people regard comics as a lower form of media. It’s slack.

Anyway, Wolverine shows up and fights this rocker chick, and more stuff happens, and then it ends. Unless the remaining three issues of the series did a complete 180 in terms of story, art, imagination, and coherence, I don’t regret my choice not to pick them up.

*I’m going to do a whole post some day on how Ms. Marvel is a better name than Warbird.


Anonymous said...

Man, I remember this. Jones is a horrible writer; I think the fact that he was friends with Derenick is the only reason the series was made.

It was on the shelf for quite a while; in 2002 the villainess Rapture appeared in Weapon X: The Draft- Kane #1, and Jones said in an interview that it was originally meant to be an epilogue to the Wolv/Cap mini but he had to rewrite it into a prologue.

I think that should have told him something.

Thankfully, Derenick is working with much more talented writers now, like Chuck Austen.


Psychbloke said...

What's going on with the legs on those bad guys?
Has the little ginger one fallen down a pothole?
If he's kneeling, how does he twist round like that?

Anonymous said...

You rawk , dude !

Brian Cronin said...

Well, really, as Dan alluded to, when your comic got made do to the "star power" of Tom Derenick...well, you're in trouble.

Anonymous said...

But Eudaimo, Wolvie and Spidey had to tell Aunt May SOMETHING...

Interesting rumor- the guy that wrote that is supposedly ghosting for Whedon on X-Men.

Ian said...

The "walking to Avengers' mansion" panel tells you exactly why this comic is bad. If this was a good comic, you would have let it slide. But since it's a bad comic it's just another part of the book you can point to when you need to explain why it doesn't work.

Ms. Marvel is so much of a better name than Warbird. Ms. Marvel sounds like she won a beauty pagent that Stan Lee hosted and who wouldn't want to see that?

Woody! said...

I think we really need to acknowledge there are too many bad guys out there if there are no better names than "Kite" for your would-be assassins.

Anonymous said...

There are so many reasons why the comic book industry is dead. Most of the reasons are obvious. Writers forgetting rules like "every comic is some kids first comic" and other basics of serial writing. Companies with an obsession to sell to an older demographic that just doesn't buy comic books while completely ignoring the potential audience who used to buy comics for the past century, the kids. The list goes on and on, but here's a minor one that is illustrated by this series.


Back int he sixties Stan Lee, Kirby and Ditko would crank out two or three iconic characters every single month. Those good guys and bad guys in colorful garb are characters who are still around nearly thirty years later. Can you name a villain created in the past twenty years who is still a major player? Nope, and I think one of the reasons is the lack of costumes. Look at "Condor". Now if Kirby had created that bad guy he wouldn't have dressed him as a 70's glam rocker with silly leather. They would have had at least made *some* effort to make them visually striking. Some ideas would have been dumb (I imagine Ditko dressing the team of bad guys up like actual birds, feather beaks and all) but at least they would have made an impact. Instead all villains wear trench coats or leather. Give 'em guns and make them as generic as can be. You know, so they're more "realistic" and not like some comic book or something.

Geesh. It's pop art for gods sake. Writers, let your imagination go wild for a change.

David Campbell said...

2 points for Ken

NiolK said...

I was retarded for a short period last year and bought this full series. Your supposition about the rest of the story is on the money. Fucking crap.

I eagerly await your post about Ms. Marvel and exactly how the fuck that could possibly be a good name.

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