Tag Archives: Avengers
I had some time off this weekend so I managed to catch up on some of my seriously neglected comic book reading. I figured I might as well spend some time getting back to grumbling about comics which is what this blog was initially focused on. First, let me apologize for the tardiness of some of these “reviews.” A lot of these comics came out awhile ago and I waited for trades, and then sales, and then I had to work through the pile. So, let’s get into it.
Avengers: Children’s Crusade
This mini-series started in 2010 and took awhile to finish – the final issue came out in March 2012. This series is steeped in Marvel mythology, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to newbies. Here’s the premise – Two members of the Young Avengers (Wiccan and Speed) think they are the reincarnations of The Scarlet Witch’s magic babies. Ever since the House of M storyline their “mom” has been off the grid, so the team decides to try and find her. They find her in Doctor Doom’s home country preparing to become his bride. The Avengers and The X-Men get involved and fisticuffs ensue. There are some deaths, and some resurrections.
If that sounds like your cup of tea, have at it. I found it a little relentless, and kind of boring. I think it got away from the humanity that makes these characters interesting and ended up too wrapped up in time travel and magic. When a story can be resolved by the snap of a finger it starts to lose me. Unless it’s fun, like Doctor Who or Star Wars. This story, unfortunately, wears Marvel continuity like cement shoes and can’t quite survive it. On the plus side, Jim Cheung’s art is gorgeous. It’s a nice blend of amazing superhero style with a slight sprinkling of manga influence.
Spider-Island: Cloak and Dagger
Cloak and Dagger have never interested me much as characters. They’re generally a little too melodramatic for me, and they tend to be pretty separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe. They started out as runaway teenagers who get their powers when evil drug dealers test their new drug on them. It’s a little too “after school special”.
I downloaded the first issue of this three issue mini-series because it was free on the Marvel app. Written by Nick Spencer and drawn by Emma Rios, I was totally charmed by this story. I’ve still only read the first one, but I plan on buying the rest of it. It’s part of a crossover during which everyone in New York gets Spider-Man powers, and the young duo are thrust into the chaos. The thing that really charmed me in it is the dueling voice over captions. They have such distinct, real personalities. I would probably read an ongoing series of this.
Ever since Frank Miller’s particularly dark take on the Man Without Fear, it seems there has been a competition between writers to see who can pile the most crap on the character. He’s been imprisoned, beaten, had his secret identity outed at least twice, and seen at least three girlfriends killed by his enemies. So, it was a bit of a surprise when I heard that this latest storyline by Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin brings some of the fun swashbuckling back to the title.
I’m not going to mince words, I was blown away by this trade. The writing is really good, but the art completely steals the show. Daredevil is blind, and this story was the first that I’ve read that really gave you a sense of how he sees the world. Sound effects take on so much meaning, and certain things in panels get magnified or highlighted to show what he perceives of them. It’s really well done and I recommend it to absolutely everyone – especially if you’re into Daredevil or want to see some truly thought provoking comic book art.
Graham Becksted’s allergies are already acting up, so he apologizes for all the sneezing. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 78th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Marvel NOW! is the latest flashpoint for Marvel fans. Everything’s changing and it’s the perfect time to jump on (or off) of various books. Almost all of the main titles are getting new creative teams. And, as has been the time honoured tradition of new creative blood, the super hero teams are getting new rosters. This is always a very exciting time for fan boys and girls alike. Who will the new members be? Will my favorite be one of them? How many teams can Wolverine BE on?
The Avengers books have always been particularly good at exploiting these moments. The covers usually announce that THIS is the issue where the new team is picked. There’s usually a smattering of cards, or faces, and a big question like, “WHO WILL BE THE AVENGERS?”
The team usually stays fairly consistent for a few years. Sure, some people may come and go, but there’s usually a fairly stable core. For example, I only really started reading Avengers during Brian Michael Bendis’ run so, for me, the core team is Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, and eventually Thor. But, for more old school readers, it’s not the Avengers if it doesn’t have The Vision, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, Hawkeye and Beast.
At this point, it seems like the number of characters who have been Avengers is growing so large that every Marvel hero from Captain America to Squirrel Girl will have been an Avenger. I mean, I think the announced roster for Hickman’s run is a little big – 24 members! That’s more characters than pages in an average single issue. But, I trust in Mr. Hickman’s abilities. And, frankly, the Avengers should be a huge book where huge things happen.
Prior to my Avengers interest, the X-Men were my team of choice. When I was a kid, we would spend recesses arguing over which characters were cooler, and building our dream rosters. That’s the thing with the X-Men – I think if you took a group of 10 people and sat them down with a list of the all the mutants in the Marvel Universe to choose from and forced them to pick an X-Team with ten characters on it, you’d get ten completely different teams.
To give you an example, here are three teams put together in the last decade or so. Bendis will be taking over the main X-Men book shortly, and he’s taking the team back to the original five (Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Iceman, and Beast). When Joss Whedon did his run the team was made up of Wolverine, Beast, Cyclops, The White Queen, Armor, Colossus, and Shadowcat. Joe Casey’s Uncanny X-Men run consisted of Angel, Iceman, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Chamber.
(I think next week I’ll try to cobble together my ideal X-Men team.)
Anyway, Marvel doesn’t have a monopoly on this by any stretch of the imagination. The first time I had read any JLA stuff had been during the Death Of Superman when the team consisted of Ice, Fire, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Guy Gardiner, Bloodwynd, and Maxima. (Just to show how many times I’ve read that collection, I actually pulled that list straight from memory.) When Grant Morrison took over, the team reverted to the classic roster of Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. And while that is an infinitely cooler team, I still look back kind of fondly on the days when the team was made up of second stringers.
As much as we’d like to think that the creative teams are the reason most people buy or stick with a book, I think the characters on the team play as big, if not a bigger, role. So, if any of you get the singular honor of writing one of these team books some day in the future, make sure you take great care in picking the roster. You could end up defining a generation’s idea of who that team is.
Graham Becksted is the only member of The Secret Graham Coast Avengers. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 69th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
In this week’s column, I’m going to do something that few men have ever attempted. I’m going to follow in the footsteps of The Glenn (http://uberfriendship.com/wednesdaysglennsdays/3200). I want to discuss Prometheus, the recent Ridley Scott Alien prequel.
I didn’t think that any movie would be able to match the pre-release internet buzz of The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers, but Prometheus damn near did it. It had a cool cast, a legendary director, and a campaign that only hinted at the ties to Alien. They also had some of the best viral promotional videos I’ve ever seen. (Particularly the one advertising the David Android http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaJD8cGfZCQ.) Everything about it was definitely intriguing, but there was always the fear that it would be a by-the-numbers sci-fi action film like Danny Boyle’s Sunshine.
When I went to see it, though, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it had some flaws. Why did were the biologist and geologist so unabashedly stupid? Why did the two people running from the giant object rolling at them in a straight line never try to dodge? What’s the deal with the casting of Patrick Wilson and Guy Pearce? But, the one thing it did very well was to leave a lot of plot questions unanswered.
Some people have seen this as a flaw, but I think it’s what saved the movie from being a total mess. Stuff like, why does the black goo affect different people differently? Why do the ‘Engineers’ do all the stuff they do? Why is David such a dick? Is David a dick? I’ve seen the movie twice now with different people each time. Afterwards, we discussed what happened for at least an hour. When I run into people who have seen it, we have our own little discussions about what this and that meant. So, whether the movie is good or not, I like it purely on the level that it gives the audience something to talk about.
Take The Avengers, for example. Don’t get me wrong – I love me some Avengers. It’s a great movie and I will watch it again and again. But, I did not leave the theatre arguing about what Loki’s motivations were. Or, if Iron Man is really as smart as he seems. No, all said was, “I loved it when Thor and Hulk fought,” or “Wasn’t that Galaga joke funny?” And the discussion ended there.
Even The Dark Knight, probably the most intelligent super-hero movie ever made, doesn’t provoke a heck of a lot of discussion. Sure, there are some interesting questions about privacy and terrorism, but they are mostly subtextual. The movie wraps up pretty neatly, and the biggest question you’re left with is, “How long is The Joker’s prison sentence going to be?”
The thing is, if Prometheus had spelled everything out to the audience I think it could have only lead to more disappointment. Instead of websites overflowing with theories on what this or that means, you’d just have a lot of gripping about how simplistic everything is. This way, everyone makes up their own answers and if they don’t like them they have only themselves to blame.
And so ends another Graham’s Grumbles. I’m sorry if this one was a little light on details, but I was trying to avoid spoilers ‘cause I know some people who are going to read this without having seen the movie first. To them I say, “Go see it! We can grab a beer afterwards and try and figure this shit out!”
Graham Becksted’s biggest question is about Elizabeth Shaw’s nationality. Is she supposed to be British or what? He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 67th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
My original idea for this week’s column was to write about the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of Spider-Man. But, I guess I’ll save any talk of that for the inevitable Amazing Spider-Man movie column that I’ll write around its July 3rd release date. But, in thinking about that I thought about a friend of mine. For the purposes of this public record, let’s call him, oh I don’t know, “Eric”. This gentleman loves comic books, but he loves Spider-Man in particular.
For his birthday one year, I tried to get him something I thought he would enjoy but was certain he didn’t have. I figured a collection of Ultimate Marvel Team-Up would be a safe bet since it features Spider-Man getting paired with various other superheroes. When I gave him the gift, while he was thankful, he wasn’t exactly thrilled. Eric, you see, didn’t actually like team books. He wants his superheroes solo or sidekicked, but not ensconced with a bunch of other solo heroes. I found this odd, as I pretty much exclusively get team books.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got my fair share of solo books. Some Hulks, some Superman, some Batmans, some Wolverine, but the titles I get most consistently are team books. In fact, right now the only solo Superhero book that I get on a monthly basis is Greg Rucka’s Punisher. Other than that, I get almost all of the Avengers titles, Fantastic Four and FF, and Ultimate X-Men. I also get X-Factor in trade paperback. It’s actually kind of sad how predictable I am in this regard.
My longboxes are populated with team books. I’ve got an extensive run of Justice League International, pretty much all of Exiles, and I’m building a good run of Ninja Turtles back issues. Many of the solo books I have are actually more like team books in disguise. I collect Avenging Spider-Man which features Spidey teaming up with different Avengers every issue. My favorite Ultimate Spider-Man issues are the ones where he’s living with Iceman and The Human Torch.
I’ve started to wonder at the psychology of this, and I’m not quite sure what it says about me. I get the love for Spider-Man. He’s a wise cracking, middle class guy who tries to do the right thing, but life routinely shits on him. On top of that, he’s kind of a geek. That’s something most comic book fans can relate too. So, this guy who we can all see ourselves as also manages to kick ass and attract quite a few beautiful women. I can totally see the appeal, and the wish fulfillment involved. It doesn’t really click with me, though. No matter what happens, his stories always end up the same way. He manages to pull defeat from the jaws of victory. He beats Doctor Octopus, but he’s late for dinner and Aunt May is mad at him. He gets rid of the alien costume that was taken over his life, but then it attaches itself to a guy who hates him. And the biggest one, he gets awesome powers but doesn’t use them to stop a thief who ends up killing his uncle. It’s kind of depressing and repetitive.
With team books, there’s a constant clash of personalities. And, with the ever changing rosters of most teams, you get to see new mixes every few issues. If you’re tired of seeing Captain America and Iron Man argue, you can see Luke Cage and Jessica Jones fret about their baby. Just when you think you’ve seen all the Cyclops you can handle, he leaves the team. So, I guess what I’m saying is that I have a short attention span and team books offer enough change to get me to stick around. I don’t know if that’s the exact right answer, but I guess it’ll have to do for now.
Graham Becksted’s adventures can be read in Ultimate Graham, Spectacular Graham, Dark Graham, Red Graham, Graham International, and The Graham Of Steel. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 68th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
I didn’t read the comics but I quite enjoyed the Avengers movie. The writing was solid with lots of witty dialogue and fun moments. The visual effects are pretty good and the credits for VFX are ridiculously long. Go see it!
In a previous column I discussed what I felt were short comings of some of the options being bandied about as the future of the comic book medium. Motion comics, web comics, etc., all had their flaws. I think, though, that Marvel has settled on something truly unique and revolutionary. It’s not perfect, but it brings something new to the table that adds to the experience without feeling overly gimmicky.
Marvel has branded this new feature AR, or Augmented Reality and it functions kind of like DVD bonus features. The first issue to offer it is Avengers Vs. X-Men #1 (a.k.a. AvX 1) which is a smart place to do it, as it’s the heavily hyped crossover of two of the biggest franchises is comics and film. The first small downside to AR is that, as far as I’m aware, you need a decent next-gen device to use it. Android or Apple, you’ll need to download the Marvel AR app. You’ll also need 3G or a wifi connection. Got all that? Okay, now you just need to turn the app on and point your camera at the cover of the comic.
Just like that, a trailer for the issue starts up. Including that one, I counted 8 instances where you could use the AR. One was an intro to the story from Axel Alonso. Another was Brian Michael Bendis discussing his favorite scene. There are others that are a bit more nerdy, like a power chart for the X-Man Hope and a breakdown of the faculty of The Jean Grey School that Wolverine started. It’s pretty unobtrusive to the actual issue, just a little AR icon in the corner of a panel. I read through the issue once, and then went back through and checked out the AR content.
First off, the good. It definitely gives you more bang for your book. Now that some comics have hit $4.99, this gives you a bit more justification for paying that price. Instead of reading the issue in 20 minutes or less and then storing it, you can go back and appreciate the art and some of the work that went into the issue. It also gives you a chance to get to know some of the behind the scenes people in a way that you wouldn’t normally be able to. It’s an extension of Stan Lee’s bullpen bulletins where he would make the writers and artists a bit more accessible.
Secondly, the bad. The creators who we get to meet don’t really sound comfortable or at ease. They might benefit from having someone else to banter with, as opposed to droningly addressing the reader. Also, anytime one of the AR things was text based it was almost impossible to decipher. At least, that’s the way it felt on my iPhone. Text was so grainy that it was hard to make it out, but it might benefit from having a narrator read it outloud. I know they’re probably trying to save people some bandwidth, but what’s the use of having a mini-bio of Hope if you can’t read it?
Finally, the issue also included a free download of Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite #1 a sort of prologue to the main series written by Mark Waid and drawn by Stuart Immonen. As far as digital comics go, it really impressed me. I think it helped that it was made specifically for the digital format, whereas most of the other digital comics I’ve read were meant for paper and then got crammed onto a little screen. There was a feeling of motion, but stuff never really moved in any way so as to make it feel like a crappy cartoon.
All in all, I was very impressed. With a few tweaks, it could be a great addition the medium.
Graham Becksted spends so much time on his phone it’s starting to feel like an omni-tool. If only it could do Cryo Blast. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 59th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
So a friend recently posted a comic he made in Disney Create, a flash based comic maker thing you can mess around with online.
I grew up on this type of crap. Disney had been releasing paint or print studio software for a bunch of their big movies over the years.
So after seeing there was something like that online, with characters from Toy Story, Avengers, and some weird ‘manga’ thing, I couldn’t help myself.
The following is the results of the past 2 hours, on Disney Create
So what are you waiting for. Head on out and start making your own creations… or abominations…
Comics can be a daunting pop culture medium to get in to. Especially the super hero genre. Some of the titles, particularly the most popular ones, have been going on for 600 issues or more. Where do you start? How do I figure out what’s going on? Even I had some trouble with this when I started to contemplate buying a series on a monthly basis. I didn’t really want to jump in in the middle of a storyline. Then I found out that the Ultimate comic line was starting.
It was exactly what I needed at the time: A neat starting point for a superhero comic. The plan was to take familiar stories of the characters we all know and love and refresh them. Give them a modern spin, and avoid some of the clean up that needed to be done later. For instance, when the Spider-Man Clone Saga got popular the powers that be stretched it out into about 100 individual issues. When Ultimate Spider-Man did it, they told the story in 8 issues. What made it work was that it simplified a lot of the stuff that got kind of crazy in the regular continuity, but kept true to the spirit.
While reading them, I got a feel for the characters in a way that only a fresh start can offer. They introduced characters without all of the baggage that comes with them normally. Once I was familiar, it was easier to jump on board the ongoing titles in the regular Marvel books. I got into some of the X-Men titles and all of the Avengers stuff that Brian Michael Bendis did.
When the Ultimate line started, they took two top notch writers and put them in the drivers seat – Bendis and Mark Millar. They did a fantastic job rebooting Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Avengers (a.k.a. The Ultimates), and, to a lesser extent, The Fantastic Four (Victor Van Damme? Really?). When they finished up their runs, they were replaced by equally awesome writers like Brian K. Vaughan and Warren Ellis. These guys took the reigns but continued in the same vein. Then, the pools started to get a little diluted. They brought on writers who’s resumes were a little more suspect. The stories started to get as convoluted and confusing as some of the stuff in the regular continuity. It was no longer a safe place for readers to jump in.
The powers at be saw that the Ultimate line was losing steam, but they took a different lesson from it than I did. Instead of seeing an opportunity to get back to basics, they decided to make it more complicated than ever. The Ultimate books are now a place where anything can happen! Stuff that supposedly can’t be done in the regular Marvel Universe can and has been done – The Wasp was eaten by the Blob who was then eaten by Giant Man! Daredevil drowned! Wolverine was blasted to death when Magneto took control of Iron Man’s blaster arm and Cyclops’ visor…
And, all of that took place in a universe destroying event called Ultimatum. Now, the Ultimate Universe is so different that I find it difficult to read. Before, I could sort of hop back and forth between the two. You could read Ultimate Fantastic Four, get a fairly good idea of who the characters were, and then give the regular Fantastic Four a shot. Now, Ultimate Reed Richards is the big super villain of the universe. Ultimate Human Torch is a member of the Ultimate X-Men who are lead by Ultimate Kitty Pryde who goes around as Ultimate The Hood. Ultimate Peter Parker is dead and has been replaced by Ultimate Miles Morales. The Ultimates are investigating some new country divided into two groups, one called Eternals and the other called Celestials. But, these aren’t your daddies Eternals and Celestials, they’re just humans with powers.
Frankly, I think it’s time for the Ultimate Universe to start fresh again. Get back to what it started as – modernized versions of classic Marvel stories. A gateway to the regular Marvel U.
Graham Becksted wants to go play some Mass Effect 3 multiplayer. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 57th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
This weekend I did something I hadn’t done in a really long time. I went to a comic book store I had never been to before. In fact, I went to one I hadn’t been to before and one I hadn’t been to in a really long time. I ended up finding five more issues for my never ending quest to get the complete run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (30 down, 40ish to go.) Accompanying me on this journey was my beautiful and frighteningly patient girlfriend. While we browsed we discussed what makes a good comic book store. What follows is a list of indeterminate length of what we discovered.
1.) Firstly, we should all be aware of the fact that comic books are a dwindling market. In the past, the top selling books sold in the millions. Now, the best of the best hit about one hundred thousand. In a good week. It makes me sad. Comic shops, though, haven’t done much (in general) to help attract new readers.
2.) Store windows and doors are usually covered up by posters so you can’t get a good look inside. This, I’m told, is a deterrent for girls/women in particular. That gender seems to want to be able to know what’s going on on the other side of a door before they open it. Crazy, right?
3.) Women are a fairly large insufficiently tapped market when it comes to comics, and superhero comics in general. Who am I kidding? With sales at 100,000 per comic or less, EVERYONE is an untapped market. Making stores more inviting for women is the bare minimum that should be done.
4.) If you’ve managed to convince some poor schmo into your store, try to make it easy to navigate. I know comic shops have a ton of stock, but if it’s so cramped that you have to rub up against people if you want to get past them there’s a problem. Spread stuff out. If you need to go to your backroom to get something, so be it. It’s better to have a limited stock on display than to have your stock so tightly packed that your customers can’t actually look through it.
4 B.) That was a distinct problem at one of the stores we went to. The single issue comics they had were so crammed together that it was impossible to look through them. I don’t care if you’re selling it for 10 dollars or 50 cents, I’m not going to buy it if I have to damage it just to get it out.
5.) In the other store we went to, they had tons of trade paperbacks (collections of single issues.) These are great starting points for new readers, but if all you can see is the spine it’s hard to grab anyone’s attention. In fact, it can be pretty overwhelming. Why not have a special rack of starting point comics. For instance, if someone just saw the Spider-Man movie and wants more of that put Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 1 on display. Or if the new Avengers movie comes out, put Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon (the writer/director of said Avengers) out. Things like that, I think, would help newbies get hooked.
Anyhoo, that’s about all I can think of at the moment. I mean, I guess you could hire some female staff or encourage the big two to put out more diverse books too. Or you could just follow the Silver Snail’s lead who already do almost all of the above mentioned things. Or you could just wait until all of the stores close and everything is sold digitally. That’s just my two cents. Or however much 600 words cost… 2 cents? Less? Oh.
Graham Becksted walked a lot this weekend. He even developed a bit of a wheeze. He has since gotten over it. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 51st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
As I may have mentioned previously (http://uberfriendship.com/grahamsgrumbles/2312), the characters that got me hooked on comics were The X-Men. In recent years, I’ve fallen off of Professor Xavier’s band wagon and tumbled straight into Avengers Mansion. The point of my little intro is thus – my first love and my current love are about to come to blows! Marvel has announced that their next big event is X-Men Vs. Avengers!
When I started reading comics, I didn’t get anything on a monthly basis. I barely even went to comic shops. My main source of new reading material was garage sales, flea markets and convenience stores. I’d give anything a shot, but anything X related got my attention more than most. When I got access to an internet connection, I would spend hours reading the fan-written back stories of all my favourite characters. For whatever reason, the Avengers books never really caught my fancy.
The big three (Iron Man, Thor and Captain America) on the Avengers were definitely a draw but too many issues had characters I considered no-name or boring. Ant-Man, The Wasp, and Hawkeye? And what the hell is Vision? And their villains didn’t exactly blow my skirt up either. Ultron’s kind of cool but Kang and Immortus are the same guy from different periods in time and are too convoluted for words. Then, there’s the Space Phantoms and, I dunno, The Masters of Evil I guess. Nothing too Earth-shattering. They don’t compare to the amazing roster of entertaining X-Men villains: Magneto, Juggernaut, Dark Phoenix, Apocalypse. Now, that’s some evil I can get behind!
When I did start buying monthly comics, the first thing I got was Ultimate X-Men. It was a brand new starting point for a group of characters I knew and loved. And every issue seemed to end with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger. Wolverine works for Magneto! Cyclops is leaving the team! Beast is dead!? It definitely kept me coming back month after month.
From this point, there are three steps to me abandoning X-Men and becoming a diehard Avengers fan. First, the original writer of Ultimate X-Men started a new title called Ultimates. This was basically the Ultimate Avengers. They totally redefined my expectations of what The Avengers could be. They were badass! Captain America didn’t take no guff from no one. Iron Man was unpredictable, and Nick Fury was drawn as Sam Jackson at his most hardcore.
Secondly, Brian Michael Bendis took over the writing chores on Ultimate X-Men. I was really disappointed when Mark Millar, the original writer, stepped down. At that time, I probably had more issues written by him than anyone else (Chris Claremont, who wrote pretty much everything X-Men for two decades was pretty high up there too). I was not expecting much from his replacement. He exceeded my expectations, but I still didn’t think too much of him. On the other hand, he didn’t completely let me down. In fact, I stuck around for 40 more issues and two more writer changes. (Robert Kirkman finally did me in, and I’ve had a bit of a grudge against him ever since.)
And, third, Bendis took over the main Avengers title in the regular old Marvel universe. After swimming in the kiddie pool that was the Ultimate line, I figured I should try dipping my toes in the ocean that is Marvel. What Bendis did in his first four issues of Avengers hooked me for life. He almost literally blew up the comic. Characters died, the mansion exploded, and a hero turned into a villain. It also set the ground work for the next 8 years of Avengers comics.
And that’s how we reach today. It’s kind of funny, if Bendis or Millar had ended up on the X-Men at some point in the last 8 years, I probably would still be a huge X-Fan. As it stands, there have been so many changes to those characters that now I barely recognize them. Banshee’s dead, Colossus is alive, and I’m pretty sure Nightcrawler is dead. I think Professor X can walk, but I’m not sure if he has powers or not. Maybe the biggest thing to come out of this crossover is that I could find a reason to start reading X-Men again. The saddest part is that Bendis has said that this is going to be his last year on the Avengers titles. I know it’s months away, but I can foresee the hole in my comic reading that this is going to create and I don’t like it…