Thursday, February 14, 2008

The New Emovengers and Green Emo and Black Canary

Synopsis of New Avengers #38:
Luke Cage is heartbroken to come home and find that his wife Jessica is not there. He calls her and they talk. He wants her to come home, but she says "think of the baby!" They go back and forth on the phone, expressing their feelings, for five pages. Then Luke goes to visit Jessica, and they talk, expressing their feelings, for seven pages. They wonder if the marriage can be saved. Jessica says she still loves Luke, but "think of the baby!" Then, as a change of pace, Ms. Marvel talks to Luke, and then she talks to Black Widow. We turn then to the rest of the New Avengers, who have a new apartment to live in. Daniel Rand shows them where the toilet is. The New Avengers debate as to whether they might save time using disposable plates as opposed to having to wash the dishes. Wolverine says he will go to Wendy's. Jessica and Luke are now apart. The last shot is as if to say, "think of the baby!"

Synopsis of Green Arrow and Black Canary #5
Black Canary talks to Red Arrow. Then she talks to Dr. Mid-Nite about Connor's tragic condition. Ollie sits by Connor's bedside, heartbroken. Connor is brain dead -- another story ripped from the headlines, just like Terri Schiavo. Ollie tells a brain dead Connor what a lousy father he has been. We flashback to Ollie being a terrible father, and a terrible boyfriend. Paternity tests, dead-beat dad, single mom. Connor's mom tells Ollie, "think of the baby!" and that little Connor is indeed adorable! Back to the present, Ollie still feels terrible. Then Black Canary and Green Arrow decide to talk about their feelings. They get married. But, just like the last time they got married (several months ago), their honeymoon is interrupted by a cliffhanger. Green Arrow thinks about it, and decides that next issue, he might actually have an action scene.

I understand the need to have a certain amount of emotion and character development in one's superhero comics. But, these issues out-Claremont Claremont. They are both the sort of thing you find in those Lifetime original movies.

Admittedly, Brian Michael Bendis had taken a similar approach in Alias -- but it was much more effective in that book. The big problem for me in New Avengers #38 is redundancy in the scripting. Even soap opera scripts recognize that there is only a certain amount of time for their emo dialog. In contrast, Luke and Jessica say their Bendisy lines, then say them again, then say them again. And, just in case you missed it, they say them again.

Judd Winick, seemingly recognizing the limits of his superhero-writing ability, tries to break up all the emo with sensationalistic, over-the-top cliffhangers. It's an awkward insertion of action, but he at least tries to wake people up. It's the best he can do.

I am not saying that a superhero comic by necessity needs action. But these two comics are the other extreme of the spectrum. (And yeah, I know that these books could have been themed this way for Valentine's Day -- but Bendis has had the same problem in other books lately and so has Winick).

Check out Hannibal Tabu's column for another view of these issues.


  1. I actually didn't mind the fact that Bendis had the characters expressing their emotions. He's trying to do mature genre work, and I think it's important to address the impact that a character's actions have on his/her relationships. And as far as the repetitiveness, I don't know about you, but many couple arguments tend to consist of the two finding different ways to express a single point.

    On the other hand, I always thought this subplot was a bit stagy and forced, and this issue seemed to continue on that path.

  2. except, you know, the fragmenting of the marriage doesn't make any sense, & screams "cheap melodrama!" rather than "nuanced storytelling!"

  3. Anonymous4:18 PM

    "Even soap opera scripts recognize that there is only a certain amount of time for their emo dialog."

    Actually, I think soap operas are Bendis' true calling. They guy absolutely loves the talkity-talk-talk.

  4. Member the good ol days when superheroes just showed up somewhere, and had a misunderstanding then beat the crap out of each other? I miss those days. Just sayin.

  5. . . . I'm still so incensed about this Jessica & Luke dissolution that I can't add anything intelligent to say.

  6. Comparing dialogue in fiction to real conversations or arguments only works up to a point. It should sound realistic, maybe, but it's not required to be real. Many real conversations are not worth your time or money. Ideally, dialogue will advance the plot or reveal character. I didn't notice much of either in New Avengers 38.

  7. Valerie, you're spot on with the Emovengers. It wasn't so much the horrible personal conflict these two had to go through, nor even the argument that they each presented, it was the fact they sounded like a record skipping over and over again. Sure, this is how most fights in real life do play out, with one person stating their position and the other responding with their's over and over and over again, but we don't need THAT much real life in a comic book. Bendis does a great job in my eyes of handling the relationship with a sense of realism that escapes most comic book characters, but this felt forced and like filler. Ironic that this was the first issue that felt "fake".

  8. Nooooo the last page wasn't to say think of the baby, it was to say:


    which is a fake out, cause it's really just skrull milk from the skrull cows causing the baby to go all Skrully.

  9. Mark Stroud: I don't, actually. Those days were stupid.

    Personally I found the issue rather heartbreaking. But then, I could read an entire issue of Bendis characters talking about mowing the lawn and be entertained.

  10. Bu. . . But what about Green Emo/Black Canary?

    I admit that it was fairly emo, but hey, it's not issue four, right? The flashbacks showed how much of a JERK Ollie was, but the thing is, he admits it, and he wants to atone for it by being a good father. That kind of toned down the emo for me, because Ollie in my eyes deserves to be an excellent father figure.

    Issue five wasn't anything great, but I really think it's going in a good direction, because now we can actually see GA and BC team up!