Friday, January 25, 2008

Is This The Avengers Or "Blue Velvet?"

From The New Avengers Annual #2:
(click for larger image)

Obviously, Bendis is going for a dark, noirish feel with this storyline. And there is a place for that type of tale. In The Punisher.


  1. Why can't it be in New Avengers? Sure, The Punnisher has dark noirish storytelling, but why should *only* The Punnisher have dark, noirish storytelling?

    Am I missing something obvious to mainstream readers? I'm starting to think I am. I guess I don't understand why storytelling should stay in boxes. What's wrong with trying to tell a noir tale in a superhero comic? As it is right now, only a tiny amount of people are still buying comics. Traditional storytelling is certainly not selling many books, why not blend the genre lines and see if that approach works any better?

  2. Seriously, what's Bendis' beef with Tigra? Can't the poor girl catch a break? speaking of someone who's first real series collected from the first issue of the mini-series was West Coast Avengers. It's almost like Bendis feels about the WCA like Didio feels about the JLA. Wonder Man needs to watch his back.

  3. Kenny, the problem I have is that this type of storytelling doesn't feel "right" on this type of book. I'm not saying it can't or shouldn't be done. But when I think Avengers, I think big cosmic fun stories. I don't think "Sin City." Maybe I'm just old skool, I dunno.

  4. "New Avengers" has a dark/gritty feel to it, "Mighty Avengers" is high adventure (when it comes out).

    So yes, I understand the complaint, but they're clearly separate styles.

    That, and poor Tigra.

  5. But, just think what old Daredevil fans must have thought when a young punk named Miller replaced the colourful villains -Stiltman or El Matador- with a mob boss, assassins and ninjas... or when he turned the old-fashioned happy love triangle with the disgraceful ex-girlfriend selling out for a kick. It surely didn't fit; but not only did that change lead to incredible stories, it also set a mood for the character that, still today, is considered the genuine.

  6. Cheetara is still in comics? Wait, Tigra? Anyhow; I think Bendis needs to pull back his number of comics written; I can't even remember a single thing about either Avengers story, really.

  7. Kenny, if you’re responding to the blog entry only on the basis of the writing sample, you’ve been ignoring what’s been going on in NEW AVENGERS since Bendis started writing the series. Bendis writes the NA stories as crime fiction, or uses material from action movies and/or books (sequences with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents; NA #21-#22) because he apparently doesn’t know how to write superhero fiction and have heroes and villains use powers tactically. When he has people use powers, the use is very simple (mind control, super strength; energy blasts, “anything goes” magic in “Avengers Disassembled”); in recent issues of NEW AVENGERS, characters have hardly used powers at all. Jigsaw, pictured in the art excerpt, doesn’t have powers. He’s just a disfigured thug.

    You can make a case in any individual story for including elements from crime fiction or other genres (SF, horror, fantasy), if doing so benefits the plot and characterization, but Bendis is clearly an example of a genre writer in the wrong genre. The use of powers requires thinking like an SF/fantasy writer, and Bendis just can’t do that. In the recent MIGHTY AVENGERS arc, he went of his way to show Ultron and the heroes using real-world tactics (EMP, launch control centers, computer virus) against each other and got the details wrong in each instance—is that because he didn’t see them used in his source material?—when other writers would have had Ultron act more traditionally.

    I’m all for including elements from other genres in superhero fiction, but having a good writer do the stories comes first.


  8. I have to say that seeing that preview page is actually what made me want to read it. I had been thinking about dropping the title. Now I really want to know what happens with Tigra, a character I had no familiarity with whatsoever before she got beaten up by The Hood. I fully expect her to be ready to kick some ass in the near future. I think that Bendis is just trying to put her in a place where people are going to be rooting for her, even though she was a traitor in Civil War. Maybe I'm just being optimistic though.

  9. steven:

    i disagree, i personally LOVE Bendis's Avengers work and always hated the Avengers until he blew them up and reformed with New Avengers.

    Bendis is the reason I started enjoying Marvel comics without an X on them.

  10. Kenny said:

    "I guess I don't understand why storytelling should stay in boxes. What's wrong with trying to tell a noir tale in a superhero comic?"

    If you bought a TV from Best Buy, and when you opened the box, there was a blender inside, would you say, "Hey, that's OK. Obviously, they don't believe that consumer electronics should stay in boxes. What's wrong with trying to sell me a blender while claiming it's a TV set?" Or would you go take it back, and get what you actually wanted when you came into the store?

    I look for the 'Avengers' logo when I want a certain type of story, because Marvel has essentially told me that whenever I want that type of story, 'Avengers' will be there to tell it. Bendis doesn't feel like telling those kinds of stories...but he does want the large audience that the 'Avengers' he's come up with the "compromise" of slapping the 'Avengers' logo on whatever he feels like writing. It's a bait and switch.

  11. Yes, the Avengers have entered the modern age. Don't let the various crossover events hit you on your way on.

    They've never been the same since "Disassembled." The death of Captain America doesn't help, either. =(

    However, that page makes sense in the scope of things (I mean this in the broadest sense: I hate to see Tigra so mistreated), because ever since Civil War, "Avengers" has splintered: New is for street-level avenging, Mighty for super-avenging, and The Initiative is for, uh, Camp Hammond Avenging?

  12. i liked original new avengers a whole lot, but the split-up avengers have been snooze city.

  13. This further solidifies my theory that Bendis actually hates writing superhero books (if not superheroes all together). He WANTS to do crime books like Torso or Goldfish (you know, when he actually wrote well) but those don't pay the bills like the Avengers do. So let's fit a square peg into a round hole so that he can sleep at night.

  14. Crap in a hat! My phone sooo can't handle this site!

    Anyway, to reply to everything at once with two points:

    1) Bendis is writing decent stories using the noir genre. It's nice because it's new. It's nice seeing superheroes do something other than always being regular old superheroes. Old style superheroics are boring because we have 60 years of back issues for that stuff. Also, it's not like superhero comics are being gobbled up or anything. I read a conference call for the Marvel series "Trouble" recently and Millar said data he saw said there was only 330,000 total comic book readers. That was a few years ago and I can't imagine that number grew any. Anyway, traditional superheroes don't sell, so why not try something new?

    2) The blender analogy is broken; Marvel is marketing blenders and selling blenders, they're not trying to mislead anyone. A better analogy would be, "I liked it better when Marvel made TVs! I don't like these new fangled blenders! I don't care if TVs still sell or not, I want Marvel to make TVs again!"

    I guess, in the grander scope, the entire argument is moot. Superheroes are a dying breed. Hell, comics are a dying breed. No one's reading this shit anymore, anyway.

  15. Mmm... First reaction is to laugh out loud, but on further thought I can't help but wonder if following this plotline along won't give it more weight as a story -- as opposed to a gimmick ridden solicit blurb.

    If this were Maleev drawing Daredevil!

  16. Jaded Devil's absolutely correct. Bendis even said this in the letters column for "Powers" #50 (reprinted in the trade)--he'd much rather be doing hardcore crime stories and doesn't particularly like superheroes.

    Brubaker's much the same way, actually. That's why Cap got killed and replaced by the much more noir-ish Bucky/Winter Soldier.

    Both of these guys got famous for their strengths, but their strengths don't sell books, so they've been given free reign to change the mainstream superheroes to fit their strengths. It doesn't always work, but I give them both kudos for pushing the envelope.

  17. I’ve seen the argument that “Comics are junk, so. . .” many times before online. The argument has never succeeded in refuting criticism of bad writing. Typically, the poster argues, “Superheroes are junky, the stories about them are junky, so a story about anything other than superheroes is better,” or he’ll argue, “It’s all unbelievable fantasy, all junk, so you pick the junk you like, I’ll pick the junk I like, and we won’t criticize each other.”

    Neither argument deals with the mechanics of writing a story. One could take such an attitude toward any fantasy, or even any fictional story, and end up reading no fiction because none of it is “real.” Fantasy stories have structure; SF stories have structure--any competently-written story does. If an SF writer were to write a story about a superhero (paranormal), the resulting story would be practically indistinguishable from an SF story, because the powers and problem being dealt with would be placed in context. The costume a hero wears, whether it’s attractive or garish, doesn’t define the character. What the writer has him do in the story does. Unfortunately, in the MIGHTY AVENGERS #1-#6 arc, Bendis’s inability to depict real-life plot elements properly suggests that he’s scientifically illiterate.

    The most unfortunate thing about the recent furor involving Spider-Man and “One More Day” is that Marvel Editorial (Quesada and Brevoort) seem to be taking the “It’s all junk” approach themselves, by claiming online that Spider-Man as a character and his stories are oriented toward youths. They must know that their readership is overwhelmingly not “youths,” but if they acknowledge that, they would have to acknowledge criticism as well. So they say Spider-Man is meant for children and youths, and imply that those readers wouldn’t care about the problems that older readers complain about. I imagine that Quesada and Brevoort would be much, much happier if the readership for Marvel’s comics was in the 10-14 age range, and the most they ever got in the way of complaints was, “Gee, why did you have to have Peter break up with (fill in the blank). I thought she was great,” and they could tell comics fans what to read. Sorry, we’re adults, and telling us to “Shut the **** up!” won’t work.


  18. Brubaker's pretty cool with Captain America. It's still superhero-y, even though the genre lines are getting blended. Red Skull's still doing crazy bad guy stuff, there was a cosmic cube involved for a bit, and all kinds of stuff that's distinctly superhero happening.

    New Avengers, I think, doesn't pull it off so well. This thing with Tigra's like tooth-pulling, especially to hear the author say there's no misogyny behind and the bad guys won't get it any worse than they would if this'd happened to a male character. Just doesn't fly.

    And heck, you want to invoke Sin City? The women in Sin City, in spite of anything bad you might say about their portrayal, got to be a helluva lot stronger than Tigra's been allowed to be.

  19. HA... I agree that the women of Sin City are far tougher than almost any of the women in today's mainstream hero works. I really miss the kickass women of yesterday, they've all become rather high maintenance divas lately.

    Now I love Bendis work, I love the all over the place dialogue and whatnot, love his Avengers stuff. And I get that he doesn't like Tigra, but I wonder what in his dislike of the character made him decide to destroy her with the same intensity that he elevated Luke Cage. It has always been my opinion that talent on mainstream books are their to stregthen and protect the icons that will outlast us all... but the mind set of today is pure iconoclass (sp?) - maybe a hint of rebellion from indie creators discovering that only the mainstream books afford the regular and garunteed pay checks, a rebellion of the inability to put anything new into the mix. BUT really, on a book like Avengers you are their to protect and stregthen the icons. Tigra though not huge, is a bit of an icon, she has a legacy with the Rue Morgue crowd similar to people's fondness to Vamperella and Elvira... plus, for geek rebutal wasn't Tigra a tough as nails policewoman? As Tigra does she not have the reflexes and hightened senses of a cat? My cat would never let someone get the drop on him like Tigra has been suffering lately... it just reads wrong...