The Brown Wedge
Kieron Gillen, Ryan Kelly and Jordie Bellaire’s THREE is a political comic on every level. The level on which it got most of its publicity was a right-to-reply in a conversation conducted between comics – Three is an a riposte to Frank Miller’s Thermopylae epic 300, almost an unauthorised sequel. Stressing this may have enhanced its impact – comics fans like sequels – but might also have held it back, downplaying the extent to which Three works for someone (like me) who has never actually read 300, and how much further it goes than the simple “your fave is problematic” style callout its early press positioned it as.
AKA Is There A Marvel Tumblrwave?
(Important disclaimer. I am something of a partisan, in that my brother is writing two monthly comics for Marvel. This partly explains why I’m so interested in their strategy, but I haven’t mentioned his titles in this piece. Oh, and Hazel Robinson writes for this site. And I’ve been to the pub with Kieron Gillen, but then so have a lot of people. Look, speculative Internet random, just assume I’m very biased. Sorry.)
POSTCARDS FROM THE DINERVERSE
Young Avengers ended well. If I say that my favourite issues were 6 and 7 and 14 and 15 it might seem like a terrible unintended slight to Jamie McKelvie, who drew only one complete issue of those four, along with everything else. But they were my favourites – the issues where the comic was most clearly about the parts between the adventures: shit jobs, cheap eats, parties. The stuff of late teenage life.
It’s the 13th issue of Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie’s run on Young Avengers tomorrow. Aside from a foreboding moment for triskaidekaphobic fans, it’s the start of the end of this season. A season I have miserably failed to live up to the initial commitment of writing about every issue of. For largely boring adult reasons like ‘needing to do the washing,’ ‘never seeming to get a minute to think,’ ‘being very stressed and tired’ and worst of all ‘not really being able to get away with writing at work.’ All of the responsibility and none of the capacity.
If I saw myself as a grown up, from the vantage point of some reality-trashing portal back to youth, I’d be thoroughly appalled. Where did all my conviction go? “No, shut up,” my older self would plead, “it’s incredibly complicated trying to remember to function like a normal human being” while my sullen, accusatory teenage self glared at me with all the anger and disappointment of discovering that ‘normal human being’ becomes the peak of her existential ambition.
A Brief History Of Teen Superhero Comics, Part 4
It’s probably the most famous panel in 60s Marvel history. A gag, a cliffhanger, a revolution. A young woman standing in a doorway, smiling, in total amused confidence, at the boggle-eyed kid she’s just been introduced to. “Face it, Tiger… you just hit the JACKPOT!”
It’s Amazing Spider-Man #42, a half-dozen issues into John Romita’s run on art. It’s the debut of Mary-Jane Watson, and a defining moment for the teen superhero comic. For the first three years of Spider-Man – under Steve Ditko – he’s been an awkward, put-upon nerd: teen frustration sometimes pushed into farcical territory. Then Romita replaced Ditko, long-running plot threads were put to rest, and Peter Parker could suddenly get a life. A love life. A complicated love life.
I love Miss America. She’s really fucking angry, she likes punching things and she’ll tolerate a great number of things for barbecued pork belly. She’s also sensible and intuitive and curious and has a fierce not-just-survivalist instinct that enjoys scraping through things but doesn’t want that to be the end achievement. She’s not out for fame and you couldn’t pay her to join the Avengers (according to Vengeance) and she likes dragging small chaos-oriented types around by their feet. She’s great; I love her, indeed, so much it briefly warped my brain into cosplaying her at ComiCon last week.
But she’s not Kate Bishop. And I love-love Kate Bishop. I love Kate Bishop to such a terrifying degree that the idea of attempting to cosplay her makes my palms go sweaty, not just because of the idea of all that lycra in a humid convention centre but because I would be panicking about attempting to both do her justice and convey all of my feelings about Kate Bishop As A Thing. Because I really truly relate to Miss America and I think she is the coolest but Kate is my favourite.
WARNING: There are some BIG SPOILERY SPOILERS in this for Young Avengers volume 1 and volume 2 through to #5.
I guess there was probably a lot of hand-wringing about his butt. But I probably glazed over during anything that followed the phrase ‘Noh-Varr’s butt.’ Just to get this out of the way: Jamie McKelvie is doing an extremely fine job of supplying some slightly-older-than-young-and-thus-ok-for-your-correspondent-to-goggle-at totty, here. Who knew the whole part-cockroach thing was attractive?
The question that appears to be being raised by the young people is: is Young Avengers cool enough? And indeed, if it is cool enough, is it also geeky enough? Are Billy and Teddy’s hairstyles preventing them being colossal dorks?
I don’t even want to get into the last question of that (although no, no of course they are not; they’re just vaguely dealing with being super greasy teenage boys for goodness’ sakes) but whether Young Avengers is too cool is a good question.
Y’see, Noh-Varr looks pretty cool. He’s a silver-haired alien boy for ladies in their twenties to mentally high-five Kate Bishop over. He’s got a spaceship and nega-bands and he’s been in the grown up Avengers and he’s totally done it, probably several times.
This week Avengers Assemble #15AU came out, by Al Ewing (yes relation) and Butch Guice. The comic is, as Hazel has pointed out, the most British thing ever published (at least by Marvel) and it is absolutely rammed with references – some obvious, some rather more obscure. Because Al is a pro, I reckon the comic is comprehensible without understanding all this stuff, but it’s safe to say there are parts of it many US readers won’t really get. There’s also parts of it which tap a knowledge of recent Marvel continuity, and we’ll explain that too.
So here’s an annotations post, which in the way of annotations posts will be updated with new information as you uncover it in the comments boxes. (And will also be updated with links and images!)
Contains, obviously, HEAVY SPOILERS for Avengers Assemble #15AU
New series! Recently I have been suffering from insomnia, and to give a sense of routine to my bedtime (which should help) I’m trying to read a short amount before I go to bed every night. To get me into the swing of things I’m reading one Canto per night of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, in the Oxford World’s Classics Edition translated by CH Sisson.
Because I am a pie-eyed narcissist incapable of having an experience without wanting to blog about it, I’m going to write about this. The only rule is that I have to wait until the next day to do so, and I’m not allowed to check the book. So only the memorable impressions will get through. You can follow the individual posts on Tumblr but I’ll post “digest” versions here too – with comments! I already know I’ve got some completely wrong impressions about Dante and Beatrice (for instance) though I’ll get a chance to correct those.
And that ends the introduction.
At the weekend I finished reading The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe to my kids – audience L (almost 6) and D (3 1/2) liked it, or maybe they like the ritual of bedtime stories and found it tolerable content to fill said ritual, I dunno. My Dad thoughts follow.
This was never my favourite Narnia book as a kid – some of which was budding contrarianism and some of which was that it’s all over the place in terms of pace, plot, mood, you name it. Lewis has three stories here: the one he wants to tell, the one he insists on telling, and the one he fakes the reader out into thinking he’s telling.
This is just a coda to Tom’s brilliant (but spoiler-y! Very spoiler-y!) piece on Journey into Mystery. This is less spoiler-y and much more ramble-y and nothing like as in-depth but Tom asked me to write it, so you have him to blame.
I am not a Western comics reader. I have read some and indeed, enjoyed them a lot but in a hobbyist way that didn’t make me feel like a fan, per se. Even for someone much enthused by enormous run of things, the unassailably enormous back history of Marvel or DC characters always felt like too much work in comparison to the apparent safety of manga, where I had done the groundwork to know where my incestuous reincarnated celestial beings were at. Or more accurately to the present day, CSI, in front of which I had found my adult self lounging and wondering if anything in the geek culture that raised me would ever interest me again.
‘So far so nylons and lipsticks,’ you might think; however, this doesn’t explain why I ended up in the pub last Friday, cursing at the Marvel app for its dysfunctional purchase downloading and burbling ‘Kid Loki is THE BEST why did no one TELL me that comics were GREAT?’ Tom enthused about how heartening it was that young people were reading Marvel again- ‘I’m twenty five!’ I protested, ‘that’s REALLY OLD’ and then proceeded to have some kind of showdown altercation with a table. Or maybe a door. Or a fellow patron. A grown up showdown, no doubt.
I was and still am absolutely livid that no one told me how great Journey into Mystery is before- my emotional core has been utterly destroyed by it but I want to curl around it and clutch it to myself as though it were my child. Finally, I totally get why people care so much about Marvel and superheroes- I’m reading the whole of Thor, as though this can somehow provide attrition for my years of ignorance but honestly, it’s the gateway drug that’s the masterwork.