So I was going to write this blog last week (Wednesday) until someone told me they were curious to read my review/thoughts on "The Avengers" after I went to the Midnight show Thursday. Gave me an excuse to put it off and also helped me realize that after my insane trip into Morrison-BatWorld for the better part of three months I think I'm better off doing this bi-weekly rather than every single week. That's not to say there won't be months when I do it on back-to-back weeks if time/mood/inspiration strikes me but I'm planning on every other week.
Man the fake posters I found when I just Google searched "Avengers movie poster" are hilarious....
Anyway, so my quick thoughts on the movie. I found it to be the most fun, exciting, and comic booky of ANY of the major comic book films that have been released since "Iron Man" really kicked off this phase. I saw MAJOR because I still feel like "Scott Pilgrim" was the most comic booky of any comic book film ever...seriously, people turned into video game coins in that one....
As for "Avengers", I felt it totally embraced the insanity of the great comic book events without losing the character of the...characters...involved in the action. Really that's a balance that most event comics can't find (I'm looking at you "Flashpoint", "Secret Invasion", "Siege", hell pretty much everything Marvel event save "Civil War"). The prerequisite hero vs. hero sequence, the utter destruction of New York City, death, banter, teasers, character growth, somehow Joss Whedon & Zak Penn managed to cram it all into the script for this one and not feel like any department was lacking.
Everyone from Captain America to Black Widow to random SHIELD operatives got a moment of some kind. I was a big fan of how Agent Coulson reacted to Cap because it is a reaction you see from soldiers in the Marvel U from time to time. I loved the disparate opinions from NY's populous pertaining to The Avengers, I loved Hulk but more importantly I dug Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, Tom Hiddleston was even more awesome here than in Thor, Jeremy Renner & Scarlett Johansson were great as Hawkeye & Black Widow fighting as "average" humans in the midst of truly god-like powers.
A friend asked me why I didn't think of Tony Stark as a normal human when I said that and I guess it is, in part, because of the power of the Iron Man armor and in part to due to his truly superhuman intellect. Widow & Hawkeye are soldiers whereas the rest of the crew are technological/scientific/mythological gods....made me want to see Fury get down & dirty with the rest of the team too.
Banner felt like a barely restrained monster, Cap felt like a man not quite in sync with the times but also like the man who would never quit fighting that we know in the comics, Tony Stark was still the Tony Stark we have come to know in the Iron Man movies but yet we saw growth in his character through this movie as well. We got more depth from Widow & Hawkeye than we had seen in their previous appearances, and Thor...well I think we saw a whole other side to Thor's character in his interactions with Loki. I could feel his desire for Loki to just be...better...
Never did I feel the movie dragged nor did I ever feel it was overstuffed with action or dialogue at any point. It's pacing was great, it's storytelling was great, and the ultimate fight was amazing in that it wasn't JUST a fight, it also brought us character moments in the chaos. That takes BOTH writing & acting skill....yeah, I typed "skrull" not "skill" there at first....
And the bonus scene...the first one I mean...that shit rocked my mind!!! I was jumping up and down inside to see Thanos on-screen! I know it's a tease that probably means nothing to your average fan, but being I was at a midnight show along with a sold-out theater of diehards, the place went nuts! If it was a wrestling show a "holy shit" chant would have probably broken out....and the bonus bonus, well the fanboy in me popped for that too as it was a total Whedon or Bendisesque scene straight from the comics. All praise to this movie and I can't wait until I see it again...hopefully not in the 3rd row from the screen this time though...
Now onto the other half of this blog, the original plan, a look at the very first exposure I ever had to Geoff Johns' run on The Flash ,"Rogue War"!!!
Prior to being recommended this trade (thanks @KLaing509) my only exposure to Wally West was in Grant Morrison's (shocking I know) JLA where I found him very interesting, but not so much that I decided to pick up his book. That was actually the case with pretty much every character (save Batman) that Grant had on the team; I dug them in JLA but didn't read their individual books. So when I was basically told that I could get the book with a "satisfaction guarantee" I had no problem giving it a shot. Suffice to say that I was not disappointed!
See what I didn't know upon starting this read is that "Rogue War" was the culmination of Geoff Johns' long-term story arc. That has the potential to be a very detrimental thing for a reader but to my shock and to my happiness, this was a story that was extremely accessible from the get-go and in large part it was due to this:
Two pages of bios on the major characters involved in this story, heroes & villains alike, followed by a page of "What Has Gone Before" to bring people like me up to speed (no pun intended) with the events that set all this up. But that's not all, the first couple chapters of the story introduced me to the back story on Mirror Master, on Heatwave, and briefly on the new Trickster. It gave two out of the three a history that rounded them out for someone as ignorant as myself to the Flash mythos.
I learned about how Mirror Master wasn't the stereotypical character that became a villain. He didn't come from a terrible family, and even though he was an orphan, his home wasn't a terrible place. Aside from one other boy who is alluded to sexually abusing other children, it seems the orphanage was an overall good place. It is when Evan (MM) is put into the position of being assaulted that we see what is inside the boy, as he kills the abusive kid before he can do to the future-MM what he did to others. There's more to MM's back story than that, the story of what led him to become a Rogue, but that's just taste of the life Johns pulls you into in just a few pages.
Heatwave gets the same treatment, except we see him as a trouble kid from the get-go, one who burns down his own home with his family in it, killed another kid who locked him in a freezer, but kept trying to right his life before giving into his pyromaniacal tendencies and becoming a Rogue. A natural rivalry with a Rogue known as Captain Cold, amongst other things, led to him going straight and it was that, combined with a stint in jail, that led to Heatwave joining the FBI alongside other reformed Rogues.
And the story is set...two sets of Rogues, the criminal & the reformed, and my immediate assumption, with minimal clue as to what came before, is that that is the foundation of the "Rogue War".
The mysteries are thrown at you right from the beginning as the reader joins, in mid-conversation, a talk between Captain Cold & and the new Captain Boomerang (thank you character bios!) about the identity of Boomerang's mother in relation to his super-speed powers. We also get introduced to another central conflict via a note from The Top to Cold...
Now before this turns into a lengthy page-by-page review of "Rogue War" let me just hit on some of what drew me into this book, what caused me to track down all the previous Johns' Flash trades, and why it makes me sad that Wally West is MIA in the New 52.
In one 8 issue collection, Johns sucked me into the life of Wally West and a large part of the reason why is due to how...wholly...he fleshes out the life of the character. From his relationship with wife Linda Park to his bond with the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, to the larger role of the extended Flash family, the world of Wally West just feels full and wholly realized...like the life of an actual person. Despite not being familiar with the whys, I can feel Linda's pain in the moment that she sees Zoom, I can sense Wally's disappointment in Piper, and his terror when the Zoom's take him back to the worst day of his life.
On the flip side, it's intriguing to see the twisted family dynamic that exists within The Rogues, how they take care of one another, how they operate within a certain standard of behavior and have self-imposed rules on the crimes they will commit. It's fun...in a weird sort of way...to see another generation of Rogues and how the originals think they are ruining the name.
Essentially, when it boils down to it,"Rogue War" is all about family and legacy. Be it the Flash lineage, the Rogue Family Robinson, the Zoom's of present & future, or the little family of Wally & Linda West, this is a tale all about the ties that bind which makes the closing moments so much sweeter.
Honestly, despite this being a story that's creeping on a decade-old, it's those reasons why I'm not really playing spoiler here for those who have never read it. This is a truly emotional story and I'm afraid that knowing what happens would take away some of that impact. If you've never read this, if you've never really experienced the Wally West Flash, please pick it up and see for yourself why it's such a sad thing that a character with so much depth has been left out of the New 52 picture.
Wally West was the Flash that most fans my age grew up with, and as much as I've grown to like Barry Allen over the last 8 months (the pre-New 52 one bored me somewhat), for most of our lives he was just an inspirational figure, not a real character, unlike Hal Jordan who, even after his evil turn & death/Spectre resurrection was ALWAYS around, thus Kyle Rayner was never quite THE Green Lantern. But I digress....
Luckily Geoff Johns "Flash" has been/is being collected in Omnibus form by DC Comics so I strongly recommend you go check them out in my Amazon Store over there in the links. You will thank me for it. While you're at it, you should totally pick up Johns' "Teen Titans" run too and see why the New 52 Starfire has pissed off so many people...
Wally West: 1960 - 2011??
(I hope not)