Well it’s been six months since my last attempt at this. I think part’s six and seven made my distaste for what I was reading fairly clear and honestly in the normal course of things that would have been the end of it. But then Marvel SNAP launched globally and I got very into that (I’m cooling on it after a few months but that’s due to structural issues rather than the core gameplay). As did most of my brothers.
So we were talking about it and some of the, to us anyway, obscure characters featured in it. Then a month or two later Marvel’s Midnight Sun’s came out which I played for quite a while and enjoyed. The one of my brothers got a Marvel Unlimited subscription and was getting back into Marvel comics and telling me about them. So basically over the last three or four months there has been a constant influx of Marvel stuff daily which has broken down my wall of disdain for Avengers Disassembled and I am going to heroically stride once more into the breach of twenty year old comics.
Much like the other post Avengers Disassembled individual title tie-ins this stories takes place after the various disastrous Avengers related events that occurred in New York. It focuses, unsurprisingly on the Fantastic Four and it’s, well, it’s grand. It’s workmanlike, there are no highs or lows really. The characters “feel” like themselves and there are some clever and amusing bits of dialogue. But it all feels very by the numbers. Maybe if I knew the wider context of what was happening to the Fantastic Four at this point it would be better as some references are made to stuff. But honestly I doubt it. It was all so generic.
In short some giant alien pillars fall out of the sky surrounding New York and begin to pull it into the air. The Fantastic Four intervene and after the requisite amount of punching stuff they found out the pillars belong to what is basically an alien conglomerate of Galactus refugees who go around giving planets in his path cloaking “freeware” to hide from him. Only they somehow get word that something in New York can cancel it out so their leader is going to reluctantly fuck New York into the sun to save countless worlds. All while looking a lot like Dr Zaius. The FF obviously arent up for this but get overpowered. Only! Not-Zaius has discovered the thing that can fuck their cloaking is Sue Storm who heroically agrees to sacrifice herself. Reed bursts in last minute and shoots her, taking away her powers. Reed then makes some unconvincing threats which the aliens graciously ignore and they fuck off after plonking New York back in place and repairing the damage.
At this point Stretch reveals he actually fooled them by switching Sue and Johnny’s powers. Ho, ho stupid aliens and their amazing facial hair. But maybe the joke is on everyone who isn’t a giant purple planet eating fuck because the G man rocks up and crushes the alien ship in his hand and then saps Johnny turning him into something suspiciously herald looking. But we’ll never know as the disassembled tie-in ends there. Oh I never mentioned the artwork. It was as mediocre as the narrative. Well executed but not a style I liked with no wow moments.
Editor’s Note: I wrote the above on January 30th. I didn’t read the five comics below until February 20th.
The Mighty Thor
I won’t lie. I had some serious trepidation going into this. The only bit of the Avengers Disassembled event that held up for me were the earlier three issues of Thor (which I reread as it had been half a year). I don’t think it held up unfortunately. Well it’s a bit more complex than that. As individual issues of a comic I think these were by and large a mixed bag. There were some good bits and the dialogue always felt on point. The artwork was also well done being reminiscent of the kind of art you’d see in collections of myths which was definitely the mood they were going for.
But the story mixed normal comic book stuff with an overarching narrator in the style of those aforementioned anthologies and I didn’t find that mixture really worked. The story moved too swiftly with important characters dying literally on the page they showed up or as collateral off screen damage. In theory this makes sense in a Ragnarok situation but despite making sense it lacked any emotional impact. The story also required you to have a working knowledge of some pretty obscure Thor villains as well which didn’t help.
Despite all that I enjoyed it because the central idea and they way they approached it was so strong. Beta Ray Bill also put in an appearance which I liked. But to give an executive summary Odin (who was dead at this point) had something called the Odinforce which is basically head god super energy. Thor had this when he took Odin’s place but lost it. He realised that to get it back what he needed was wisdom not power so he retraced Odin’s steps but he had to outdo Odin’s sacrifice to make it meaningful. So instead of one eye he blinded both and instead of hanging for seven days on Yggdrasil he hung until he died. This allowed him to get the wisdom of Mimir’s well and knowledge of the runes.
With this he realised that the Asgardians were trapped in an endless cycle, they lived the same lives and met the same dooms again and again and he remembered everyone of those cycles and realised that all their sacrifices and deeds were cheapened by that repetition. He also realised the cycle was orchestrated by some shadowy super gods (the comic makes this seem less goofy). His time as a mortal man give him some mental inoculation against the cycle which was what compelled the gods to act as they did.
Thor then fucked off to Asgard and tore of Loki’s head, which kept living and was carried around by Thor as his sidekick. Thor then teamed up with Surtur and got him to reforge Mjolnir with the understanding Thor would then usher in the final battle of Ragnarok. The battle happened. Everyone died. Thor with bodyless Loki then goes to find the norns (who are tools of the shadowy over gods) and destroys the loom of fate ending the cycle and bringing a final death. This also involved a pointlessly sexy shot of the norns having their robes torn. But comics gonna comic I guess.
Thor then fades off into some super god dream. As you do.
As far I know this whole storyline never shows up again. The Asgardian gods just pop back up and the shadowy over gods (who fed on the mythic cycle) never get addressed again. I find that a shame because it was a really interesting idea. As was the whole act of Thor retracing Odin’s steps as part of a cosmic ritual. I mean its probably no surprise it didn’t get addressed as it ended Thor (as Ragnarok tends to). It also highlights how poorly the various mythic pantheons integrate with the mainline Marvel universe when all their origin myths and eschatology are simultaneously objectively true.
That is one ugly cover. What is going on with Scarlet Witch’s body? Why is She Hulk in her underwear? What’s that? Because it’s the 90’s? Oh, ok. The interior wasn’t much better. The Avengers show up in the ruined Avengers mansion. Tony Stark goes on about how he’s too broke to fund the Avengers and how he has a responsibility to his workers and so on. Danvers goes on about how she hates Wanda (apropos of nothing I find Carol Danvers character insufferable in the comics). Then you get various two page spreads as they all reminisce about the Avengers greatest days and then go their separate ways. It was almost aggressively mediocre. It was inoffensive and worked well as an epilogue to the event.
The differing art style for the flashbacks were nice. It would have been cool if they could have got the artists who did the story arcs to do them but as some of them were dead that was obviously not possible. Also, while I feel I mention it too much, Bendis’ inability to make characters sound distinct really hurts it.
Avengers Disassembled – Final Thoughts
It was much worse than I remember. I remembered nice looking artwork and some cool moments and forgot all the shit. It’s like when you rewatch a movie you enjoyed and realised you remembered ten decent minutes out of three boring hours. Considering it took me ten months to get through it all it certainly didn’t reinvigorate my interest in Marvel like I hoped. Like the song says “I try to force it but it’s not there.” So where do I go from here?
I’m tempted to read Morrisons X-Men run. But I don’t have it in me to endure Frank Quitely’s art and it’s honestly better to shotgun the X-Men stuff. So I’m going to go with the planned reading order I proposed back here Which means next up is:
Iron Man: Extremis (6 issues)
Secret War (5 issues)
House of M (64 issues)
I will probably actually slot in Morrison’s X-Men run between Secret War and House of M.