Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Post No. 610"

Alright, so I know I'm a day late on "Valentines Day", but give me a break. I was just too tired and busy last night to post the above, which is a vintage "Wacky Valentines" card from the early 1960's. Actually, I'm not sure if that's what they were called. I once purchased a set of 16 different ones of these, and they all seem to have a bit of the Wood-ish, Woogon-ish, Jack Davis-ish type artwork, which is possible since I know at least a couple of those artists did such jobs in the early 1960's. They are around 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" in size and printed on some of the cheapest newspaperstock type paper I've ever seen. (Anyone got any additional information of those???)

But...that's not what this post is about. I wanted to give my opinions on the first volume of Marvel Comics' The Ultimates.

Yeah. I'm not really sure if I liked it or not.

And yes, I know it's by the team that I'm always raving about on The Fantastic Four, i.e., Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary (and on early issues the inking's by Andrew Currie), of which I have absolutely no complaints regarding the artwork. It's fabulous! VERY realistic at times.

No. My complaints would be on how the various characters are treated. And, in case you've been in a hole somewhere and not familiar with this title, it's a modern version of the origin of "The Avengers".

But, let's begin with the points of this storyline that I DID enjoy first.

"Iron Man", that being Tony Stark, was right on the money as the industrial business man-playboy-alcoholic that we've all grown to know and love. His armor looked good, in fact, perhaps a bit underplayed at times. And there was this cute exchange between him and his butler, "Jarvis" regarding Batman's butler, "Alfred" that actually made me chuckle.

Characters such as "The Black Widow" and "Hawkeye" were intelligently portrayed and played some key roles in this story, and...

That's about all of the "up" side. Now the bad news.

As an updated Avengers' origin, it followed not much more than a scant outline of the original telling of such from The Avengers #1 (1963). In that telling, The Avengers got together to stop what they thought was one of "The Hulk's" outrages which turned out to be all caused by "Thor's" mischievious and evil step-brother, "Loki". And, in a way, The Hulk ala "Bruce Banner", sort of does that with this tale, but the main instigator is "Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." (or, the current version of him). Let me breakdown my various opinions of the characters here:

HANK PYM="Antman-Giantman". We always knew that Hank and Janet Van Dyke (aka "the Wasp") had a somewhat disfuctional relationship, but nothing on this scale. Here, Hank Pym's shown as a physically abusive husband to Jan whom he's know since college (no mention of his first wife as told in the original tales).

JANET VAN DYKE/PYM="The Wasp" is Hank's victim, a mutant who lays eggs in bed, and has somehow changed her race from a caucasian to an asian (neat trick) with a denial complex.

BRUCE BANNER="The Hulk" has become a monsterous, murdering, horney, homophobic psycopath.

THOR is (dear Lord) a hippy-type now which no one believes he's actually a Nordic god. They've replaced the years as "Don Blake", who eventually discovers he's been turned from the god of thunder into a lame and frail man by his father, "Odin", to learn humility, to his discovering this when he was about 10 years old which resulted in spending much time in an institution as a child. Gone now also his his mallet-type hammer and replaced with something of a style that would make "The Death Dealer" jealous.

STEVE ROGERS-"Captain America" is no longer discovered in a block of ice by The Avengers, but rather, by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and Bruce Banner helps bring him back to life. "Bucky Barnes"never dies but ends up being an old man now, and in his youth, not Cap's sidekick but rather a field phototographer for the Army. Bucky also married Cap's old girl-friend after thinking him dead.

Two of "Magneto's" evil mutants, "Quicksilver & the Scarlet Witch" are now shown as part of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s agent, but even worse, there's many hints of incest indicted between this brother and sister.

And to top it off, most of the evil in this world since the latter 1770's has been caused by those shape-shifting alien invaders, "The Skrulls", who in this story basically began World War II and created the nazis.

There's a LOT of murder and mayhem in this series, and would, to me, rate much more than a PG-13 rating.

Okay. I do relize that it's now well into the 2000's, and not the 1960's. Comic were simple 45 years ago, but---damn.

When these stories were told in the 1960's, there were a lot more memorable and enjoyable.

I'm sure there's just a slew of younger comic book fans that think this series is great.

I'm sure that there's just a slew of OLDER comic book fans that think this is a great series.

I'm just an old fogie.

So perhaps, just maybe, it's this is the future of what Marvel Comics is to be and gauged by and imitatied in the future, it's also time for this antique Merry Marvel Marcher to stop buying and reading anything new, and instead simply cherish the memories of the past.


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