Saturday, January 05, 2008

Best of 2007: The Bottom One

Okay, I was planning to do a bottom five list of the worst comics I read this past year, but realised that three of the books were mostly just mediocre pieces of shit and the other was too fresh for me to jump on the bandwagon with everyone else. So, that leaves one book. It may surprise you, it may not, and it shows just how fucking retarded I am since I bought the entire things, but the honor of the bottom one goes to...

New Avengers: Illuminati

That's right, folks, the book that looked the history of the Marvel universe in the eye and promptly blew a load into it. I reread this... gem of a series last night and, wow, seriously?

I had high hopes for this five-issue series since I like the idea of the Illuminati, a secret group of heroes that have worked behind the scenes, secretly guiding the post-human community in specific directions and doing cool shit. Except they don't do cool shit, they do retarded shit that is Bendis just putting the pieces in place for the upcoming Secret Invasion storyarc in the most clunky, nonsensical ways possible.

The first issue takes place right after the end of the Kree-Skrull War with the Illuminati paying the king of the Skrulls a visit to tell him that if he tries anything again, they will fuck him up good. And, to prove they're serious, Black Bolt speaks and blows up the king's ship. Except--and forgive me if I'm taking this a little too seriously--the vocal blast powerful enough to blow up a giant spaceship DOESN'T ACTUALLY HARM ANY OF THE SKRULLS WHO ARE STANDING FIVE FUCKING FEET AWAY! Right there is the first example of why this series is such horrible crap: it doesn't have any sense of consistency or logic. I simply can't figure out how that works at all. I can usually overlook a lot of stupid shit in superhero comics, but that still leaves me gesturing wildly while shouting out half-formed sentences like "What the--why doesn't--Black Bolt should--BAD GODDAMN WRITING GO AWAY NOW!"

The second issue didn't bother me that much when I first read it, but I've since read a shitload of Jim Starlin comics and now I have a serious fanboy hatred of issue two. In that issue, Reed Richards gets the Illuminati to help him gather up the Infinity Gems, of which he already has three including the Soul Gem. Now, I don't know about you, but the last time I saw the Soul Gem, Adam Warlock had it (looking on Wikipedia, I see that sometime since Thanos #6 he may have lost it--in an issue of She-Hulk maybe?) and now Reed just has it. What? That's like if they were collecting mythical items and he just had Thor's hammer, no explanation given. It's just, "Oh, he has that, I'm sure there isn't a story there at all."

There's also the fact that the Infinity Gems don't work together to form the Infinity Gauntlet. At one point, one of the Illuminati members says they thought the case and Reed responds "Says who?" (Oh god, I am feeling so fucking fanboyish right now.) Um, says the Living Tribunal. Fuck off. So, when Reed makes the Gauntlet work at the end and the Watcher shows up, all freaked out... it kind of doesn't make any sense. It makes absolutely no sense.

Then there's just the small little mistake where the writers seem to understand and support past events while contradicting them right on the same page. Namor mentions how they (the heroes--although, as I've pointed out, these heroes mostly did shit-all anytime the Gauntlet was used) stopped the Gauntlet from being used twice (The Infinity Gauntlet with Thanos and The Infinity War with the Magus), but then Reed mentions how the last time it was used, he ceased to exist--except that was the first time, not the second. It's little minor shit like that that make it hard to actually forgive Bendis and Reed's rewriting of past events, because they don't seem to know what version of events they're adhering to.

Issue three is the infamous Beyonder issue where we learn that the Beyonder is really an Inhuman. No, wait, a MUTANT Inhuman! Since I have no attachment to that character, no fanboy freak-outs. I should point out that I am bothered anytime a group like this gets together and confronts a superior form of life and tells it that it shouldn't interfere with anything because they know better, which the Illuminati do here. The problem there is that the Beyonder has just as much a right to interfere with things on Earth as any of them. Saying that he isn't natural implies that both Inhumans AND mutants aren't natural and should just fuck off to space. Just saying.

I did a long post on issue four previously that saves me the effort to repeating everything wrong with that issue. At first, I was simply going to give the honour of worst comic of the year to this issue since it bothered me so much, but then I thought about the entire series and realised, yeah, the entire thing sucked.

Which brings us to the final issue where Skrullektra's body becomes an issue and Black Bolt is revealed to be a Skrull. I still don't know why exactly he revealed himself like that. Actually, I think that's the biggest flaw of this series, really: I kept reading issues and not understanding why shit was happening. There were no motives, no logic and... GAH! Goddamn.

Thinking about this series today, it became clear that the every issue did at least one of two things: set up the Secret Invasion or hinted that Black Bolt is a Skrull. Issue one showed the pissed off Skrulls and them stealing DNA samples from the heroes (as well, they never actually break Black Bolt out of his cell, he just kind of shows up). Issue two probably suggests that the Infinity Gauntlet will play a part. Issue three hints that this Black Bolt is a Skrull because he doesn't remember the Beyonder's transformation in the terrigan mists. Issue four sets up Noh-Varr as the next Captain Marvel and a Kree/Earth alliance, of sorts, against the Skrulls. And, issue five is the first part of the crossover (officially).

Except was the series ever billed as being such a strong lead-in to that crossover? Wasn't it supposed to just be all about the Illuminati's secret actions between the stories we knew? What about rewriting said stories? What about two characters contradicting one another's version of events, but both being viewed as facts?

I'm sure there were worse comics than this series released in 2007, but I didn't read them. And I really wish I hadn't read these issues.

Tomorrow, my top ten books of 2007.