Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I've Been Mulling This Over For A While

I was thinking about Jonathan Hickman's Avengers run recently. It seemed like something I could have gotten into. He was inclined to go big with the threats they faced, but the pacing seemed too slow, the cast too large. Subplots were brought up, then largely lost or ignored, because there didn't seem to be time or space for them. And there was this curious, "tell, don't show" approach to things.

The one I remember was at the point when the heroes were fighting each other - as usual - and then Hank Pym returns from some months-long journey across the multiverse. He'd been tracking some signal, and when he found it, he also found those Beyonders, casually wiping out a bunch of Celestials.

That seems like that could have been awesome. Hank surviving all sorts of harrowing things to find some answers, and he stumbles into a war on a ludicrous scale. With the levels of power being thrown around there, Pym could be obliterated six ways from Sunday without either side even noticing. Just escaping could have been an adventure.

But we hear about it after the fact. Just some thing that happened, you know, a while ago. Hank's here now, he's fine. No big deal. Hickman decided those pages were better spent on Reed Richards telling us how smart he is, and how much he sacrificed failing repeatedly (again, in flashback, because we weren't shown most of these failures). Or Steve Rogers being a grumpy, scowling old man.

It still works as a moment of establishing the enormity of the challenge facing the Avengers, I admit. The threat doesn't even regard them as an opponent, a threat, or anything at all. Entirely irrelevant. Which, of course, means it's a great time for the Avengers to rally, set aside their differences, pull some super-science out of their asses, and defeat these guys. I do not subscribe to the idea that when you get to that level of conflict Earth's heroes are useless except as a distraction for Adam Warlock or Thanos (the Starlin Approach)*

I think Thor and Hyperion did at least try to throw down with the Beyonders, but most of the heroes opted for building liferafts that would somehow survive the end of the universe. Which sounds a lot like giving up to me, but maybe "advancing in the opposite direction" is a better description. I guess Hickman wanted to focus on what people do when they can't win, how they make peace with that. And in that sense, Hank's escape, however narrow or exciting, would have been pointless. All it meant was the Avengers knew the nature of their end. Doesn't seem an entertaining path to take, though.

* Because let's be honest, Thanos and Adam Warlock are a couple of schmucks. The grape-chinned dumbass who follows Death around like a puppy (even Deadpool has more self-respect than that), and the tangerine imbecile who thought excising all good and evil from his soul was a great idea. No possible way it could backfire. But yeah, they're the ones who make things happen on a cosmic scale.


SallyP said...

Hickman's flaws remind me a bit of the same problems that I have with Bends. I have no problem with sprawling epics, but plot lines that are left dangling and other things drive me nuts.

I like a beginning, a middle and an end, and with the never-ending giant crossovers, we never ever seem to get and end, or even a respite from the next crisis.

CalvinPitt said...

You're absolutely right about all the crossovers and events. Even when a writer can start something interesting out of it, they never get around to moving it forward because they have to do another crossover.