Avengers Complete! Now What?

For some time now I’d been trying to transition from straightforward weekly new release bulletins to something a little more bloggy (read: pathetically self-indulgent), but related to comics all the same. That War of the Realms rundown really burned me out. Not just with writing brief four-color reviews either — I was worried that I needed a real break from superhero books. I’ve been reading and collecting comics pretty much nonstop for over thirty years and, for whatever reason, these last few months had seen my unread stacks pile up to unprecedented heights (save for the stupid WotR tie-ins, given my stubborn insistence that I read every damn page in order and on time) and my enthusiasm for reading the latest installments of some of my favorite capes n’ tights books had stalled considerably.

Then Comic Con happened.

It was another joyful blitz of pop culture enthusiasm, this time accompanied by more friends and family than any prior year. It was particularly fun to finally be able to share this experience with my kids, knowing full well that they’d find something to gravitate towards and get excited about. JDG spent a lot of time nerding out in gamer panels and demo-ing upcoming releases, and LDG drank a lot of margaritas and joined SS for a marathon of high-profile animation spectaculars.

We had our share of celebrity run-ins too. Aisha Tyler served us beer; RF and Chip Zdarsky are basically dating now; MMJ spent the weekend thinking she posed with Mark Hamill (before the Fluke Skywalker news broke). Speaking of my dear MMJ, without whom I don’t know that I would have ever been talked into this craziness in the first place, all she talked about for days leading up to Con was all that Peanuts swag. And we nailed it. She got it ALL. And, thanks to Preview Night, we got into that Star Trek transporter experience without spending half a day in line.

And I did all the fantastic things that I love about Con. I sat through all four hours of the Eisners (dominating the pool; it’s like the other four people I was with weren’t even trying) and several more hours of scholarly Comics Art Conference discussions. I met Tom King & Mitch Gerads. Bill Sienkiewicz and I reminisced on a mid-80’s convention in San Francisco (he held up the signature line that I accidentally cut by regaling me with stories of a drunken James Doohan and foul-mouthed Mel Blanc). I got books signed by Seth and Gilbert Hernandez. Two new commissions for our coffee gallery came home courtesy of Andrew MacLean and Nooligan. And I roamed the exhibit floor for days buying so. much. stuff.

Perhaps most significantly, however, is a single issue of Avengers vol. 1 in beautiful condition that MMJ bought for me on Sunday. There’s nothing outwardly important about issue #81, part of Roy Thomas and John Buscema’s great Zodiac story from the late 60’s, but for me, it was the last piece of the puzzle to complete a run of every single Avengers comic from Lee & Kirby’s #1 in 1963 through the latest issue of Aaron & McGuinness’s eighth volume of the title (which, if the Legacy numbering can be believed, encompasses seven hundred twenty-one books).

Since I was a little kid, and my grandfather would drop me off at Jack’s cigar store on Chestnut to let me peruse the racks of glorious comic book covers, the Avengers have been first among my extensive fandom allegiances. And when I got into my teenage years, and discovered direct market shops and really fell down the hobby rabbit hole, I dreamed of a day in which I’d manage to somehow collect every damn issue.

Seems a bit silly, I know. And going into this year’s convention I was short just seven comics. I knew it was going to happen, and I already had been ruminating on a list of a few other books that would look nice in my Collectorz database as “complete,” but I was wonderfully unprepared for how great it would feel to have that final book in my hand. I was a kid all over again.

And it rejuvenated a love for the capes n’ tights mythology that, I think, has helped keep me young (or, at least, eternally light-hearted and optimistic) for decades. Good thing too, because as the week’s new books hit the shelves, there was at least one that was seemingly crafted specifically for me. A much-heralded rebirth and rejuvenation of a different superhero franchise, courtesy of Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz.

Instead of continuing to blather on with my own feelings, however, I’m going to post a snippet of the conversation from our Idle Time chat.

RF: House of X rules! I feel like I need a primer on the last 5 years of X-books haha.

BC: This is all new territory not set up by the other books.

RF: Right, I know he’s cleaning house and building up something new. But I like positioning X-Men as anti-heroes, or at least more morally complex than the other teams.

IP: Yeah the last five years of books have been all over the place and he’s ignoring them. Next week the alternating X-book called Powers of X (said as Powers of Ten) comes out, also by Hickman.

BC: Super into learning more about what Charles is doing

RF: Yeah, I like wondering who is more evil? Chuck or Magneto?

IP: Charles seems like he did something similar to what Wanda did in House of M, hence the title.

BC: I really like how he clarified Omega Mutants too.

RF: Clearly defining them and listing who they are is really helpful. I also dig the map and key of Krakoa. There’s a large part of the island where nothing is going on. But obviously Charles is hiding something, or he wouldn’t need that helmet.

IP: Helmet makes me think it’s a portable cerebro and he is using his powers at all times.

RF: Yeah, I imagine if Krakoa is a living being, Xavier can use his telepathy on it like anything else with a mind.

BC: It’s very nice to be excited about X-Men again.

IP: Finally!

RF: I would like to see a great X-men movie in my lifetime, and putting some effort into revamping the comics should help with that, but… The way this book is going makes it seem X-Men will be a niche, maybe more adult-oriented book. Don’t know how that will translate to screen stuff, but there are so many stories to pull from that they haven’t touched; they could definitely make a cinematic-family friendly X-verse. It is nice just to have them in the conversation of good books being produced.

BC: I do think you can do a really good one-two punch of X-Men movies where the first is the original five against Magneto or some other villain. Post-credit sequence can be them going to Krakoa and getting fucked up. Second movie is Giant Sized X-Men.

RF: I love that OG Krakoa story. That’d be nuts to see brought to life.

July 17 | Weekly Buzz | July 31