Comic rant: New Avengers #51 (this one’s a doozy)

I broke my own rule and went ahead and read New Avengers #51. Boy, did I regret that one.

The story is centered around the search for the new Sorcerer Supreme, since apparently the Magics of Marvel revoked Dr. Strange’s license after he finally decided to try to be a super hero for once. After questionable actions in the Illuminati, World War Hulk, the straw that broke the camel’s back was in one of the first pointless battles with The Hood and his Super Gang.

First digression: What the hell is wrong with these declarative titles characters have in New Avengers? Everyone’s calling The Hood and his Super Gang “the new Kingpin.” All right, first off: the Kingpin of Crime (aka Wilson Fisk) had connections, a front-job, money, influence, and political power. The Hood (aka Parker Robbins) has a hood that makes him invisible (and possesses the spirit of Dormamu, a pumpkin-headed Dr. Strange bad guy), two John Woo pistols, and an army of supervillains who suck royally. As far as I know, his main base of operations tends to be abandoned warehouses. Hardly a “new Kingpin,” if you ask me (and of course, no one did).

Dr. Strange hangs out in our own Dover, NJ, observing one of about a zillion magic-related characters, and wonders whether he could be “the one.” After this, he is attacked by The Hood.

Meanwhile, the Conversationists enjoy a big day of New Avenger-ing by eating Chinese and picking Team Leader. Because there’s nothing more super-heroic as this. Well, maybe standing around talking at the television in your skimpy costumes, but this has to be a close second.

It is at this point where we finally address the fact that Luke Cage was Team Leader during Secret Invasion. This was my second major declarative statement. Throughout the entire goddamn New Avengers series from Civil War until present, Luke Cage has been considered Team Leader of the New Avengers in all the write-ups, press releases, and banter between random characters. We finally talk about declaring one, and Luke Cage has no idea he was the leader for this time. Apparently if you don’t have a silly, pointless meeting to decide these things, it’s not official. This is cemented when they flat-out ask Luke if he wants to be Team Leader, to which he flatly replies, “Nope.”

After picking a person who can shoot arrows really well (but seems to only wear a ninja costume and fight with nun-chucks all the time), he asks Spider-Man to take off his mask.

Here is where the book completely blows my fucking mind.

If you know me, you know I had a serious problem with the decision a year or so back to make Mephisto un-marry Spider-Man and his wife Mary Jane. In the process, they brought Harry Osborn back to life, made his public identity secret from everyone in the entire Marvel Universe, cured his Aunt May of insta-death, re-built their house, removed Parker from his teaching job, and gave J. Jonah Jameson a heart condition. It wasn’t the fact that they flat-out did this, as much as it was impossible to rationalize editorially mandated influence over a continuing storyline. Once the curtain was pulled back, I realized my favorite character would never be allowed to grow and change (and also suggested the same for all mainstream characters, for that matter).

Every other opportunity in his entire continuity, when faced with the option of public unmasking, he refuses, citing his family’s safety as the primary concern. This logic was thrown away when they wanted more cash from the Civil War, and then was immediately returned once he did. Immediately after unmasking, his Aunt was shot, which spiraled into the story that shook my entire faith in mainstream comic books. However, in recent years he usually didn’t have a problem unmasking in front of “peers,” because for the most part they all pretty much knew, anyway. At any rate, it was about a year or so that they put the cat back in the bag, as it were, and here we are with another long laundry list of characters who know his secret identity.

Fine, I thought. Makes sense, in some ways. Maybe this is an indicator that they’re moving away from the bullshit that made me drop three Spider-Man comics a month.

Then the gang hears a crash outside their new swanky digs in Brooklyn, and the New Avengers SPRING INTO ACTION! There was only one more page left after his panel, so anyone reading knew it wasn’t going to be epic, but one panel did reveal something stunningly retarded: Spider-Man, maskless, bounds out the door and into plain view of the public to see what’s happening! As it turned out, only one person was outside (which is dubious, even in Brooklyn), but seriously! The dude’s whole world was destroyed by people knowing his identity, he just finishes telling a room full of people who he is, and then he leaps outside, mask-less? It just further advances my theory that the powers at Marvel will not rest until Peter Parker is reduced to a selfish, immature simpleton.

Also in this issue, we’re finally catered to Bendis’ character Jessica Jones (who is now Mrs. Luke Cage) revealing she used to go to high school with Peter Parker, and had a mega huge OMG crush on the guy.

It is this circumstance that reduces New Avengers from just being lame superheroes, to being lame on a Brand New Day Spider-Man-in-his-thiries-who’s-also-a-swingin’-bachelor type scale. Here we have characters who are in their early thirties, at least one of whom is married, and she reduces herself to a Facebook-fiendish teenie bopper, starting up about how she had “the biggest crush ever” on the former nerd. Keep in mind, at one point in her own series this woman quit her job and left the father of her child, and said to her yet-to-be-born baby, “Fuck the rest. All I care about is you.” This independent, oddly mature, mother, wife and female character in Marvel, gives two shits about what nickname some nerd had for her when they went to high school together their sophomore year.

In response to this, Spidey (like the rest of us) doesn’t remember her. Her retcon said she was in a coma or something, and she had to drop out. It is at this point that Peter Parker reveals that he finally had something in common with everyone else at his high school (who, bear in mind, bullied, ridiculed, and ostracized him from the beginning til the end of their four years together): the nickname “Coma Girl.” That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Spider-Man isn’t just a pathetic loser who would rather watch his geriatric aunt die naturally than be married to his hot redhead wife. He was also apparently a douchebag in high school, who makes fun of coma victims.

One further digression: earlier in the issue, we find Dr. Strange is not using his magic powers so he isn’t saught by evil magic demons like Dormamu. He’s in Dover, which admittedly is a fun Easter-egg for us, but he’s still a good forty-five minutes outside of New York City, much less Brooklyn.

He has a fight we never see (in favor of Chinese food kickball team-picking dialog), and then the result is found on their doorstep in the form of a beaten-to-shit Dr. Strange. I hope they say he used his magics to teleport him there, because there is no way the chat they had took more than ten minutes, total. And if he did use magic, he led Dormamu to the New Avengers’ secret hideout. Either Dr. Strange is a jerk, or these folk assume Dover is essentially Jersey City.

This book is a trainwreck. I just had to see what was going on with Dr. Strange, and got much, much less.

One flag. One flag, because the art depicting the demon-possessed Hood panel was simply incredible.

~ by Crivelliman on March 30, 2009.

One Response to “Comic rant: New Avengers #51 (this one’s a doozy)”

  1. I just wanted to comment that Coma Girl was the first track on the last Joe Strummer and the Mescalaros album “Streetcore,” which seems a bizar and obscure reference for a comic book to make. I therefore conclude it is in fact nothing more than a bad coincidence.

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