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Avengers Assemble!

Marvel's Avengers Assemble!

Heeey, DiNozzo!

Here’s day four of Torture Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo Week served up to you on a bright silver platter, DiNozzo!

Come on, Tony! You had to know that I was going to work a Marvel series in here somehow! The only problem was deciding which one it would be. 😉

I’ll admit that this may be a bit of a premature review for a series. Only a few episodes have aired on television. There’s no knowing how high and far the story could go. Not yet.

But you know what? I simply can’t resist talking about it!

All right, so we’ll start with the all important aspect of a story: how it begins.

As first episodes go, Marvel’s Avengers Assemble was pretty good. The two-part opening in May showed the Avengers had disbanded on Tony Stark’s, ummm, order, I guess. Despite this, Tony still keeps an eye on his fellow bachelor Avengers (for some reason he doesn’t keep tabs on Black Widow). Seeing Captain America suddenly losing to HYDRA and the Red Skull, Tony dons his armor and takes off.

Only, it seems, to get in on the fight too late to save Cap from being killed by the Red Skull.

This leads Tony to call the Avengers back together. While Hulk, Thor, and Hawkeye are at first less than thrilled to be back with the guy who so arrogantly broke up the band, the three change their tune when they see Cap’s ‘death.’

The four, of course, head out to avenge Cap by taking down the Red Skull. Widow joins them at the HYDRA base the villain currently calls home, and that’s when Tony discovers (surprise) Cap is not dead. Blasting his way in to get to Cap, Tony is met with a rude revelation: because he is dying, the Red Skull has switched bodies with Cap.

Wait, wait, I’m not finished, DiNozzo! Red Skull’s super soldier serum in this series is incomplete; it can no longer keep the man alive. Cap’s serum is quite complete; it will take a lot more than mere time to do in the First Avenger. That’s why the Skull captured and switched bodies with him.

Quickly incapacitated, Tony and ‘Cap’ are rescued by Iron Man’s secret weapon/new protégé – Sam Wilson, a.k.a. the Falcon.

With the band back together again, the Avengers and Falcon beat Skull and undo the switch. But after the round of pats on the back, the seemingly incapacitated Skull pulls another trick from up his sleeve. Using the machinery in the room they are standing in at the HYDRA base, Skull rips Tony’s suit off his body. He crushes the helmet and deprives Stark of his arc reactor, the only thing keeping the billionaire hero alive.

As the Skull escapes, the Avengers race back to their base to save Tony. They manage it in the proverbial nick of time. However, according to Tony the Skull isn’t going to be a problem anymore. He proceeds to again disband the team. Everyone but Cap and Falcon walks out on him in disgust. Falcon flops onto the floor in dejection because in answering Tony’s call for aid he got fired from SHIELD.

But an attack by the Skull (Hah! Not so defeated after all, Mr. Stark! Hmm, another fat-headed Tony ….) leads to the team having to fight and defeat him again. Beaten twice in one day – ouch. The Avengers’ Mansion is destroyed in the battle and the Skull flees. When the Skull calls on other super villains to form a cabal with him to conquer the world, Tony is finally convinced to keep the team together.

After this decision, Cap nominates Tony for leadership of the Avengers and Falcon is invited to join them. The team’s next step is to set up base in Stark Tower since the Mansion is a wreck. At the end of the show they jet off to China when the Great Wall abruptly stands up and heads for Beijing.

So far the series is doing pretty well. But I do have some questions and observations about it, a few of them less than flattering.

To kick these off, we’ll begin with the disbanding and reforming of the Avengers. Avengers Assemble is supposed to be a continuation of the television series Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! which ran for the last three or four years. At the same time Assemble is also supposed to capitalize on the 2012 film Marvel’s The Avengers.

Heroes ended with the Avengers as a well-honed, tight-knit fighting team. There was no hint that they were considering disbanding, which makes sense because it was the end of that series and any such hints would only drive fans bonkers. As others have noted, Assemble seems to shadow the 2012 movie rather than its television ‘prequel.’ This is evidenced by such scenes as Cap knocking a punching bag off its chain in the episode ‘Blood Feud’; the Hulk’s statement of “I’m always angry!” in ‘The Avengers’ Protocol, Part 2’; and Hawkeye telling Cap, when ordered to fire on Dr. Doom in ‘The Serpent of Doom,’ “After what he did to me it’ll be my pleasure!” These and other small incidents echo the movie and have nothing to do whatsoever with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

Now we come to the characters. For the most part, Iron Man doesn’t feel too changed. After the depth of character Robert Downey Jr. imbued in him, it would be hard to radically alter Tony Stark. But this doesn’t keep Tony’s arrogant and somewhat high-handed leadership style from grating on my nerves every five minutes in an episode’s run.

Ooops, I think I crossed my characters again! Was I talking about Tony Stark or Tony DiN…

Okay, okay! Don’t get mad! Moving on….

Then there’s the Hulk. Unlike the movie, this Hulk speaks in proper sentences. There are also a few added twists, such as the Hulk keeping a spotlessly clean room full of glass figurines no higher than an inch. It seems the new series’ writers want to portray the Hulk as a rather calm nine-foot tall wall of muscle until it’s time to start SMASHING! This dainty portrayal even extends to the Hulk carefully getting himself a PB&J sandwich in ‘Blood Feud,’ and then stealing Justin Hammer’s cocktail in ‘Super Adaptoid’ without breaking the glass.

In all honesty, I don’t really mind this turn of events for the big guy. Ol’ Green could use some quiet moments. I do wonder, though, if the crystal critters may not have been a step too far.

Next there’s Thor. In the two-ipart opening of Assemble I was under the impression that this version of Thor is a bit of a party animal. During the quinjet ride to Avengers’ Mansion, Hawkeye asked Thor what was on the social calendar for Valhalla that night. Thor’s enthusiastic reply was a little too enthusiastic for a minute; I thought he might actually start up a tavern song. Even though the Prince of Thunder sobered in the next few seconds, it hinted at a change in Thor’s proud and regal bearing.

This image of Thor having a “PARTY!!!” motto was emphasized in the third episode, ‘Ghost of a Chance.’ While trying to help Falcon settle in at the Tower, Tony showed him Thor’s room. If it hadn’t been for a sudden noise, the two wouldn’t have been able to avoid Thor as he tumbled to the floor while wrestling his ‘pet’ Bilgesnipe (an Asgardian creature also mentioned in the 2012 movie by Thor). Thor’s obvious lack of concern for his teammates’ near miss was his cheerful statement that they shouldn’t worry about him, as Bilgesnipe enjoyed fighting.

Uh, excuse me? Thor nearly pancaked his team leader and the new kid yet he thinks they’re worried about him? I’d say Tony and Falcon were more worried about what the Bilgesnipe might do to the rest of the Avengers if it ever got out of Thor’s quarters. Not to mention what it might do if it got out of the tower.

There appears to be some hope that Thor is getting a little calmer and more regal. I don’t mind him being jovial, but I draw the line at him behaving as if he’s had one too many gulps of ale while he’s lounging around the Tower.

Next there’s Hawkeye (thank goodness they didn’t put him in that Red Arrow knock-off costume!). While the other three members of the team are the most noticeable for their powers or size (one would have to have severe macular degeneration to miss the Hulk, let alone Thor), Hawkeye manages to retain the audience’s attention. How does he keep himself in the spotlight?

Simple. He runs his mouth.

This is nothing new. Hawkeye was always a talker, even in the original comics. I think this is a way for him to feel as if he’s keeping up with his super-powered teammates. It also distracts his opponents. When they say, “You missed!” after dodging an arrow, they’re jinxing themselves. If they avoided the arrow, then Hawkeye was aiming for something else. So I don’t have too much of a problem with Hawkeye’s constant string of repartee. The rub for me lies in that he seems to have been given the role of team clown.

For instance, do you remember when I said the Hulk was making himself a PB&J sandwich in the episode ‘Blood Feud’? Well, he had the jam and the bread, but some “dead man” had stolen the peanut butter from the fridge.

The so-called ‘dead man’ was in the gym, watching Cap work out while fisting into the peanut butter with his hand. And his name happened to be Hawkeye.

Throughout these episodes Hawkeye has repeatedly fired off remarks or done things which have gotten the Hulk upset with him. While you will never hear me advocate for the World’s Greatest Marksman to go back to the days when he was constantly riding Cap, I don’t think it’s exactly safe for him to ride the Hulk, either. This is also a departure from the friendship Hawkeye and the Hulk developed in Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but that seems to have no bearing on Assemble.

Next we have Cap. Despite the fact that the two opening episodes feature the Avengers banding together again precisely because of Cap, he remains a background figure. This continues in ‘Ghost of a Chance’ and ‘The Serpent of Doom.’ So far ‘Blood Feud’ and ‘Super-Adaptoid’ are the only episodes which give Cap more than ten lines and the same amount of time in the limelight.

This also ties in somewhat with what I was saying about Tony earlier. Iron Man is not a bad team leader. If he was, the team would have been dead a long time ago. But the most capable leader of the Avengers has always been, and I believe always will be, Cap. Tony’s good, but he hasn’t got the experience that leadership requires. Cap does.

I think this is another indication that Assemble follows the movie more than the TV show Heroes. By the end of Heroes, Cap was team leader for the Avengers. In the movie, Iron Man and Cap were sharing leadership up to a point. For the most part, though, it was Cap who called the shots. Literally. This is what seems to be going on in Assemble, showing once more that Heroes has no actual bearing on the new series.

Now for Sam. Falcon is, according to some, supposed to be the “eyes and ears of the audience.” In ‘Ghost of a Chance,’ Falcon indeed serves this purpose by finding his way around Avengers’ Tower and stopping the Space Phantoms from invading Earth. But in episodes like ‘The Serpent of Doom’ and ‘Blood Feud,’ he’s the nearest thing to a go-fer the Avengers have ever had. In ‘Blood Feud,’ he’s also the one who predictably falls into the trap of trying to answer a plea for help, only to get caught for his troubles.

It’s a characteristic mistake in film and television, one the rookie always makes. But it would be nice to see at least one rookie, particularly one as bright as Falcon, not fall into that trap for once.

As for the Black Widow, she is present sporadically throughout the aired episodes. She was there for the team in ‘The Avengers’ Protocol, Parts 1 and 2,’ ‘Ghost of a Chance,’ ‘Hyperion,’ and ‘Molecule Kid.’ But in ‘Blood Feud’ she showed up under the control of Dracula.

I know. I’ll get back to the lead vampire in a minute.

Because Widow is supposed to be an Avenger “when she wants to be, and ONLY when she wants to be,” I wouldn’t expect her to be a regular in the show for the first season of the series. This means that she won’t get too much character development initially. But her girlishly pitched question, “Oh my gosh, am I a vampire?!?” in ‘Blood Feud’ was rather revealing because it proves she can be frightened. That’s a plus.

In a way, having Widow as an on-and-off member makes sense. To the Black Widow, espionage is as essential as oxygen. If she stops spying it’s because she’s dead. She has never stopped her espionage work in Marvel history, despite joining up with other heroes and teams several times. Bred and trained to be a spy she will never aspire to be anything else, not even something as prestigious as an Avenger.

Okay, okay, now we’ll go back to Dracula. When he got added to the Marvel roster of villains I don’t know. I would guess he’s been around as long as Blade the vampire hunter. I’m sorry, but when you’re going to Bram Stoker for a bad guy you’ve either run out of imagination or are following a ‘trend.’ Worse, you could be doing both. In my opinion Malekith or the Kingpin would have been better additions to the Cabal line-up than ol’ fanghead, but that probably won’t happen. Not any time soon, at least.

The other observations I have about the series have left me with questions. Lots of them.

In the first two episodes the audience is never told why the Avengers disbanded. How Marvel is going to twist an answer out of pAssemble’s supposed combination of the 2012 movie and Heroes I don’t know. But it better be good, or they’ll be hearing from yours truly.

In those same episodes our two ‘master assassins’ leave us perplexed on several counts. First, Hawkeye is shown standing in front of a statue in the Avengers’ “Hall of Fallen Heroes” (pardon my naming it as such). The statue’s features aren’t clear but it appears to be a woman’s likeness. Is it a statue of Mockingbird? Does that mean she’s dead in this series, or that everyone thinks so? Or was he just standing in a convenient place to think/reminisce?

In a small tussle in ‘The Avengers Protocol, Part 2,’ Widow and Hawkeye both accuse the other of being a traitor. Why? Why did they make these accusations? Does Widow feel betrayed because Hawkeye left SHIELD? Does Hawkeye feel betrayed because she didn’t follow him out of SHIELD? Or is the answer something totally different?

(If the writers start a romance up between Widow and Hawkeye, they’d better be ready to hear from me. Remember my post ‘Romantic’ Tension?, DiNozzo, and you’ll know what I mean.)

What made Tony disband the team in the first place? Where did Falcon come from, and why did Iron Man choose to mentor him? If some big calamity made him split up the Avengers, it would stand to reason Tony wouldn’t abruptly do a one-eighty and suddenly decide to teach Sam to be a superhero.

Why is Hawkeye riding the Hulk? Where has Thor been? Why is Cap so reticent? This is definitely another nod to the movie, as Heroes saw Cap completely at ease with the 21st century and his team by its end episode. Assemble shows him still acclimating to a time gap, as mentioned (several times) in ‘Super Adaptoid.’

Why is Widow watching the Avengers? What does Fury fear they’re going to do that he has his best agent working with them? Odds are that every fight she participates in, Widow writes a report about it that lands on Fury’s desk promptly afterward. Any fight she merely observes probably gets the same treatment.

The Avengers have to be aware of that. Hawkeye should suspect it since he once worked with her. Why are they still letting her be a part of the team? Do they trust her implicitly or are they watching Fury watch them?

There’s still time for these questions to be answered. The series is just starting.

Yes, Tony, I’ll be watching it. And Marvel better remember that, because if I don’t like something, they’ll be hearing from me about it.

Anyway, that’s my take on Avengers Assemble. It has potential, and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes. But don’t be surprised if I bring it up again in a few months or so. More episodes will have aired, and I will probably want to talk about them.

After all, I am pretty heavily invested in Marvel characters.

See you around, DiNozzo!

Later,

Mithril

Assembled

Age of Despair

Assemble!

Hello, Marvel Writers!

As you know, in my last letters, I have asked continuously why certain things have been done. Why the heroes have made oddball decisions; why they’ve been torn apart and rebuilt; why they have lost all common sense. I am now leaving the so-called ‘Why Phase’ behind. Now I am going to supply my own answers to the why. If I’m wrong, feel free to correct me.

But I don’t believe I am wrong, fellow writers. Here are my answers:

The reason that you disassembled the Avengers in the story arc by the same name was the same reason that DC attempted to kill Superman. Heroes weren’t heroes, or clear cut good guys, in anyone’s opinion anymore. They couldn’t be trusted to stand for righteousness and the greater good. If no one in reality could, then why ‘spare’ the superheroes and heroines of your fiction?

Iron Man disbanded the Avengers because he had been in the worst, most heart wrenching battle of his life. No one could make him stay. Once he quit the others would follow, albeit reluctantly, since he was one of the pillars of the team. Oh, and those times he had quit the team previously, when he was having a seriously rough day? Those were the times when Cap (or someone else) led the Avengers until Tony felt up to coming back or he was desperately needed. No one would remember those incidents. Disassembled would make them forget.

You decided that having Mockingbird divorce Hawkeye and sending the archer on a dating spree afterward would be fine. After all, thousands of other people do it. So why should this be different in the fictional world?

And as for all the other romances and implied flings, it’s no secret that Hawkeye was an incurable flirt prior to marrying Bobbi. No one would care if he dated Echo and Spider-Woman. He’d already had a fling with Moonstone, after all. There’s not much farther one could fall after that.

At least Echo and Spider-Woman fight on the side of the Avengers. That was a small consolation. And I mean very small.

Some of you might say, “What about Cap? He hasn’t gone into the drain pipe along with a lot of other characters.” That’s an easy enough question to answer. Cap’s nearly incorruptible as a character; if anyone tried, there would be a massive outcry from the fans. You can kill almost everyone else in the Marvel Universe twenty times over and turn them insane as a result, and no one will complain too loudly.

But if you lay a finger on Cap’s character, or try to pervert him in any overt way, ninety percent of Marvelites will have a tantrum fit to rock the world. So since he’s as nearly untouchable spirit-wise as a character can be, the only things left to do to him are physical: death, shape change (with unnecessary disgusting results), and a rest period. And even that has to be temporary. Otherwise, Marvelites rise in a furor and you lose their business.

As for the X-Men, since Wolverine has become popular over the past few years, the best way to make the X-Men comics sell better was to give him a more prominent role on the team. The most important part of any team is the position of leader. Cyclops was everyone’s idea of the X-Men’s best field commander; especially when the Professor somehow divorced himself from his principles (he’s dead now, too, so it would be hard to change that). On top of this, Magneto had (finally) been reformed and saw things the way the X-Men did.

But that robbed the X-Men of their greatest nemesis. Well, since you wanted Wolverine in the spotlight and needed a new archenemy, why not kill two birds with one stone, and have Cyclops turn away from his responsibilities to take Magneto’s place as the most dangerous mutant alive?

Except, given her history, Jean wouldn’t stand for such a decision on Scott’s part. So she ended up dead – until she was needed at some point in a typical apocalyptic X-Men future. Still, this left Cyclops without a partner. The partner would have to be telepathic to continue the dynamic fans were familiar with when Jean and Cyke were still together. That left the cold-hearted, ever shifty Emma Frost to be Scott Summers’ next partner prior to his downward spiral. It’s beginning to look more and more like a perfect match the farther down the road Cyke goes, too.

Then there were the wars between heroes, starting first with Civil War and heading into Round Two with Avengers vs. X-Men. Fans have speculated for years about which heroes are more powerful than others. So far, I’d say the Hulk outdoes everybody; the next strongest would be Thor (though he has had a lot of punishment from the Hulk previously). Ben Grimm would come in a solid third (no pun intended).

So who would win in battle between each other, Cap or Iron Man? Hawkeye or the Wasp? The Thing or Namor (who does NOT qualify as a mutant)? Wolverine or Cyclops?

The Marvel Universe was torn up to answer these inane, inconsequential questions. If people wanted to see which heroes are stronger than which, it would have been better to do what Legolas and Gimli did in The Lord of the Rings; have a contest to see who could take down more bad guys faster, better, etc. There’s also the idea of ‘play fights,’ where camaraderie is at the heart of the duel. There wouldn’t be any real need for the Hulk or Thor to hold back in such a fight; it would just be pure fun for the two of them. That would be better than watching great allies and, more often than not, great friends, trying to knife each other or blast the other to atoms.

As for bringing back the Phoenix Force and writing up another Summers’ child (is she Jean’s and Cyke’s daughter, or is she Cyclops’ and someone else’s? I still don’t have that straight) as a so-called ‘Phoenix Messiah,’ that was just to get the ball rolling for another superhero war. This one was to answer the question of whether it was the X-Men or the Avengers who were the stronger team. Considering the X-Men were split nearly down the middle, it wouldn’t be hard to have the outcome be the Avengers. (On a side note, naming the ‘Phoenix Messiah’ Hope was a lame idea. Rachel and Nathaniel Summers are stronger names.)

You disbanded the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. because spy stories were ‘so last century.’ SHIELD may not be high in anyone’s esteem for its espionage work, but it was the eyes and ears for several of the heroes and several of the teams. Without the agency, the heroes are left flying as blind and deaf as a plane with no radar and a dead radio. Any information that SHIELD could give them about their enemies or potential threats is now gone. Any villain they capture is no longer taken care of by the moderately able organization (it is hard to imprison determined super villains, after all).

Of course, I’m sure you didn’t really mean to do that. Just the price of literary trends, after all; reason is always first under the bus.

Then there are the Marvel Zombies and Ultimate lines. The zombies were to capitalize on the undead mania that swept the world during the nineties and early twenty-first century. And while it is still going today, it has lost some momentum. I hope it runs completely out of steam; I’m fed up with it. Same plots, same endings, same hopeless situation for the protagonists in every story. And, oh yeah, everybody dies at the end. How BORING.

The Ultimate series was written to exploit the heroes hitherto non-existent ‘Dark Sides.’ You couldn’t use the ‘mainstream’ comics for this; there was too much history for the heroes there. If they all suddenly turned into psychotic flirts and murderers, fans would be furious (rightly so) and retaliate. So a spin-off series was devised for the ‘Ultimate’ stories, which are the equivalent of mad scientists cooking up monstrosities in the basement of a dark, dank castle. Every Ultimate version of a Marvel character is as gross and perverted as Igor and the monster of Frankenstein legend.

So, am I right about these answers to the ‘Why,’ fellow writers? I think I am.

This is a crime all the way through. The heroes do not deserve this; we, the fans and readers-in-passing, do not deserve this negative nonsense shoved down our throats in nearly every issue. Heroes are not meant to have ‘dark sides’ that can explode at the flip of some invisible switch at your fingertips, which makes you cackle with glee. We’re not laughing at the changes the switch shows off. Neither should you, and this is why.

When you drop a hammer, do you need to watch it to know it falls? When it rains, do you go out with a watering can and pour water on the flowers in your garden? When you write, do you use a spoon to put down the words?

When a hammer falls, it makes a noise on contact with the ground. When it rains, the flowers are being watered. When one writes, they use a pen, pencil, or a keyboard.

Heroes are like hammers, heroes are like the rain, and heroes do not change their attitudes or beliefs for anyone or anything. Sometimes their allegiance changes, yes; but only when the organization they gave it to is no longer worthy of their loyalty.

Heroes have doubts. Heroes have flaws. Heroes get into disagreements with each other. They have tempers. They make mistakes. But they do not become psychotic killers at the drop of a hat; they do not attempt to kill the friends and teammates who have saved their lives countless times in countless different scenarios.

Heroes do not have spontaneous flings that stop almost as fast as they start. If they fall for someone, something really drastic has to happen to change their mind about them. Caring is not an on/off switch or a toy to a hero.

Heroes are grounded in the principles of right and they have what the bad guys don’t have.

They have people in their lives that they care about: wives, husbands, children, siblings, friends, girlfriends/boyfriends, fiancés, colleagues, parents, etc. They see ordinary people struggling who care about their families and friends, too. And since they have the power to help them, they fight the villains who would make the struggle worse for these everyday people.

The villains don’t have that. When was the last time Dr. Doom, Apocalypse, Kang, Mr. Sinister, or any of the other villains, truly cared about anyone but themselves? If they did, even for a little while, they would have stopped trying to take over the world or stopped trying to destroy it. Even when they said they loved someone, they didn’t stop their plans. They went ahead with them. That’s what makes them evil.

It is this foundation in the principles of right that makes heroes good.

This is how and why fans, readers, and viewers connect with Marvel Heroes. This is what makes the characters great.

And this is what you have been ripping out of them for the past twenty years.

Sincerely,

Mithril (An Angry True Believer)

Villains

Trickshot (Barney Barton)

Trickshot (Barney Barton)

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Have you noticed how certain villains never seem to take a break in the Marvel Universe?  Dr. Doom is always a neat bad guy to have the heroes fight; there’s almost nothing scary he can’t dream up.

Others, well, not so much.

For instance, let’s take a look at Henry Pym’s self-adapting, berserk-o android Ultron.  I have to admit, it’s a pretty good bad guy.  Very like the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, it wants to wipe out humanity; especially the Avengers and specifically Henry Pym.

Not a bad back story.  But can’t it have a rest for a few years?  Right now, Ultron has sent his androids from the future (isn’t that Kang’s bailiwick?) to finish off humanity.  From what I’ve read, he’s done a pretty good job, though it won’t last.  Somehow or other the whole attack is going to get nipped in the bud, the world will go back to the way it was, and Wolverine and a few of the other heroes are going to be the only ones who recall what Ultron almost succeeded in doing.  And then, of course, some other universe-shattering disaster will occur to keep the heroes strained to the breaking point.

I’m sorry; but this is a tired plot.  Pardon my pandiculation.

The same goes for Kang, the Conqueror.  The guy rules the fortieth century and can’t keep his greedy mitts off of ours, whether it’s the twentieth century or the twenty-first.  He has tech beyond even Tony Stark’s most delicious dreams, yet he can’t defeat one little band of determined ‘primitives.’  Way to go, Avengers!!!

Still, it’s a little tiresome right now to have them dodging the futuristic emperor of a galaxy only their farthest descendants will know.  Does he have to keep coming back right now (literally)?

I for one am fed up with the Phoenix Force coming to harangue the X-Men, and now the Avengers, over and over again.  Give it a rest, please!!!  The Phoenix is almost as trite an enemy now as a simple bank robber.  We’ve seen enough.

There are better villains to throw at the X-Men.  I am really, really tired of the Phoenix Force.

Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister have also lost their edge.  Apocalypse has nearly the same m.o. as Kang and Ultron while Mr. Sinister is trying to outdo Dr. Frankenstein.  These guys, apparently, never think that they’re stretching themselves too thin.  But there’s literally nothing new in the plots that have the X-Men or members of the team facing off against either of them over some diabolical plan they haven’t already tried in past arcs.  Why not send them to the beach to catch a few rays and give the heroes a few years’ breather?

As for Norman Osborne – why isn’t he dead now?  Or at least in an insane asylum?  I know he makes a great Green Goblin, but he’s gotten awfully tedious.  Retiring him for a few years and giving the suit to some other villain (preferably not to Harry Osborne, poor kid!) would be a refreshing twist.

Can some other, less used villains, get a chance back in the limelight for a few years?  Ultron, Kang, the Phoenix, Apocalypse, Mr. Sinister, and Norman Osborne have been used so much lately that they’re downright boring.

What about Trickshot, Atlas, Moonstone, and the other evil members of the Thunderbolts?  They could make an entirely new cabal of villains who would at least give the heroes some exercise.  It would be interesting to see the Cain/Abel relationship between Trickshot and Hawkeye developed a little further; the World’s Greatest Marksman is definitely hurting from his brother’s change of heart.  Having him and Mockingbird go up against Barney Barton would be exciting; it could certainly re-launch their romance.

What about the Shadow King?  Isn’t he still floating around somewhere?  It’s been a while since Deathbird dropped by the X-Mansion, too (guess she’s still embarrassed about being defeated by a lone archer when the entire team of X-Men had trouble thwarting her).  Juggernaut’s been away for some time, as have Toad, Blob, Avalanche, and Pyro.  Now those guys knew how to wreck stuff!

Doc Ock is currently residing in Spider-Man’s head.  How soon can we have him back in tentacles trying to shish-kabob the Wallcrawler, and getting webbed up for his pains?  The Kingpin’s been laying low these days, too, as have Spidey regulars Hobgoblin, Electro, and the Lizard.

Did Venom and Carnage finally leave on a rocket into deep space?  Those two gave Spidey a run for his money, and it wouldn’t be hard for them to do it again.

Then there’s the Red Skull, the Mandarin, Baron Zemo, Zodiac, Red Hulk (who really, really shouldn’t be an Avenger), the Scorpion, the Grizzly, the Rhino, Sandman, Crossfire, the Ghost, Mystique – when can she, Rogue, and Nightcrawler have another hash-out fight?  It’s been some time since they did that.

Where have Loki, the Enchantress, and Skurge been?  And the Kree?  Then there’s The Leader, Crimson Dynamo, and the Abomination.  Are they all on vacation in the Bahamas?

The Serpent Society and the Wrecking Crew could do with some attention.  It would be interesting to see Natasha Romanoff facing off with her ex, Alexai Shostakov (a.k.a. the Red Guardian turned ‘new’ Ronin).  Mole Man is still alive, isn’t he?  Even if all he did was give the FF a case of the giggles, it would be nice to see him again.

The heroes don’t need ‘shaking up,’ fellow writers.  If anything, they need a breather.  Sending the less-than-Earth-shattering villains to harass them would be a nice change of pace.  Who knows, maybe it would be just as exciting as watching the big guys who’ve been hounding them.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Bored, Tired, and Troubled True Believer)

All Webbed Up

Spider-Man

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Amazing!  Spectacular!  Scarlet!  Iron!  Superior!  Ultimate!

How many other superlatives are going to fit in front of Spider-Man?  Personally, I was quite satisfied with ‘amazing.’ 

Adjectives aside, Peter Parker’s life has hit the ditch.  He and M.J. are no longer married (why?), Aunt May has gone and married J. Jonah Jamieson (!! 😛 !!!), and recently, Doc Ock took over Spidey’s body and appears to have killed him.

That’s not going to last, I’m sure.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I really liked the thought of ol’ Webhead and Mary Jane getting married.  You say you guys split them up because she was more of a confidante for him.  What better confidante can he have other than a wife?  After all the pain he’s been through (and continues to endure), the unluckiest hero’s personal life was at least looking a little brighter than it had previously while he and M.J. were together.  He deserved it, I believe; especially when everyone else in his life was getting battered to pieces. 

I’m talking about Norman Osborne, who refuses to leave for the great beyond. Harry Osborne – I don’t even know what’s happened to him lately, other than he’s been killed and brought back to life.  Flash has suddenly become a double amputee. Aunt May has married J. Jonah Jamieson (fixing her up with Phil Coulson was less disgusting).  And Madame Web is dead, with former super-heroine Arachne taking her place (and what about Arachne’s daughter?  NCIS isn’t a nursery, after all).

With all this going on, it’s a wonder Pete’s not in hiding.  Not to mention his new responsibilities as an Avenger, and he’s not on the best of terms with several of his teammates right now.

It’s like Spidey’s whole world – not to mention the world of all the other super heroes – has spun out of orbit (oops, pardon the pun).  His life’s begun pinballing in a thousand different, crazy, illogical directions all at once. 

What happened, not just to Spidey, but to all the heroes?  Everything was going just fine, and then some sort of crazy bomb went off and the Marvel Universe was torn to tatters.  Friendships broke, characters were shattered, disasters erupted, and all the good guys suddenly developed nearly psychotic dark sides that they can’t seem to keep in check.

Real life doesn’t work like that.  People don’t just abruptly cut loose into insanity en masse.  If they did, we’d be in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse right now.  Why should the Marvel Universe suddenly develop this unreasonable tilt to its axis?

Yes, I know our Webslinger is traditionally thrown into the meat grinder.  He really ought to be inducted into the “Most Tortured Superhero” Hall of Fame.  That’s not the issue here.  The problem is that this isn’t the meat grinder; this is the shredder.  Spider-Man and many others are being shredded and then taped back together improperly.

They don’t deserve this.  More importantly, the fans and readers-in-passing don’t deserve this.  It has got to stop, and soon, or the Wallcrawler and several of his contemporaries are barely going to be salvageable.  Spidey’s too good to die off completely in the hearts of fans.

That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be remembered well once the shredder has been unplugged and he’s been put back together.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled and Frustrated True Believer)

Ultimate-ly Disheartening

250px-Ultimate_Comics_The_Ultimates_1_Variant_Cover

Hello, Marvel Writers!

So today we talk about the Ultimate Marvel Comics line up.  First of all, I like the team-up roster for the Avengers. It’s not perfect, but it brings together several of the strongest characters in the Marvel universe and gets the ball rolling.

That said, though, things go downhill from here in every Ultimate story.

The Hulk has gone cannibal at least once since the opening comics for this spin-off series.  That’s gross; I thought the Hulk wasn’t supposed to be a monster.  And then this happens? 

Very. 

Bad. 

PR.

As for Cap goading the Hulk into fighting his nemesis in the opening comics, since when did Steve Rogers let others fight his battles for him?  Or set his eye on a lady who was already taken?  This version of the character doesn’t deserve either the mantle of Captain America or the name of Steve Rogers, fellow writers.

What the heck happened to Thor?  This isn’t the Prince of Thunder that I’m familiar with by a long shot.

And as for Iron Man, all I can say is ouch.  Tony’s been getting a romantic pounding in this comic line, among a great many other scars.  First off, having him date Natasha was a bad idea.  Second, killing Jarvis is cruel.  Third, why hasn’t Wasp ever had the chance to go one-on-one with Mystique before she had to rescue Tony?  I’d love to see her beat Mystique into pancake batter; or any one of the Avengers or X-Men do it, actually.  If that can ever be arranged, I’d be happy to take a look at it.

As for Ultimate Natasha – come on!  The whole reason she’s even interesting is because she turned her back on her past of wanton murder.  If the Natasha of the mainstream comics ever meets Ultimate Natasha (should that Black Widow ever be brought back to the land of the living) she’d probably kill her on sight alone.  The original Black Widow would never, ever, even think of killing one child, let alone three.  In fact, she faced off against her boyfriend Daredevil when he tried to do it once, and it nearly cost her life to do that.  It certainly put the kibosh on their romance.

You’ve already heard my opinion of Ultimate Marvel Hawkeye: he’s as twisted and bent around as you can get, a total perversion of the original Clint Barton.  Giving him a family was great (though why couldn’t it have been with Bobbi Morse?).  And then, typical of the original character’s bad luck, it got yanked out from under him.  Hard.  So he kills the person responsible for this (Natasha?  Really?  It had to be Natasha who did it?) and yet he seems bent on getting himself killed in battle even after this act of vengeance.

Perverted and suicidal.  That’s attractive.  To top it off, as previously mentioned, he’s also been enhanced. His eyesight isn’t normal but results from optical improvements that let him “see the world in black and white.” 

Okay, if he sees it that way, then why is he hiding in the dark?

And as for the fates of Henry and Janet Pym, it’s cruel and unusual punishment.  Bad enough that the Wasp has to put up with a ferociously abusive Hank, next she has to die.  On top of that, she has to end up as someone’s main course to boot.  Did cannibalism not die out in the Ultimate Marvel Comics universe?  I’m beginning to think it didn’t.  As for Pym – beating up on Wasp like that?  Seriously?  He was never a sadistic sort of man, even in his worst mental breakdowns.  

And the changed X-Men – ugh, talk about being perverted!!!  Since when did the Prof. ever start considering robbing the cradle romantically?  And having Kitty Pryde date Spidey??  That’s bad juice, people.  And as for the other changes to the X-Men, I’d rather not think about it.  Rogue and Iceman together just doesn’t work as well as Rogue and Gambit does.

The FF has suffered here, too.  Having a love triangle spring up with Reed, Sue, and Ben is just nasty.  And on top of that, no one seems to be keeping an eye on Johnny.  Sue, as I recall, was always much more protective of her younger brother even when he was old enough to take care of himself.

Seriously, fellow writers?  You get the chance to rewrite Marvel history, and it goes in this unhealthy direction?  The characters were better off as zombies than they are as these versions, which must have come crawling out from under a rock.  Is there a way to re-bury them?  I’ve got plenty of shovels. 

I find it very, very sad.  This could have been something much better.  Instead, it portrays our heroes as resurrected, psychotic road kill.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)

Marvel Zombies – Seriously?!?!?

Hello, Marvel Writers!

“It’s clobberin’ time!” 

That has to be one of the best known catch phrases in entertainment history, and I have to say that it never gets old.  Almost sixty years after the comics came out and, despite all the other cultural changes in how people speak to each other, Ben Grimm’s battle cry still has the same defiant ring to it.

The same can be said for “Avengers Assemble!” and Logan’s, “I’m the best there is at what I do.”

However, a great many other things have changed, and not necessarily for the better.  For starters, there’s this fascination people have developed in the undead.  Vampires, zombies, werewolves, witches, etc., are all in high demand these days. 

Marvel has several such characters, most of whom are interesting.  Blade is quite intriguing as he resists the urge to act on his vampire nature, fighting it – and other vampires as well – to protect the people he would otherwise constantly be compelled to kill.  And never let it be said that Dr. Strange is a lousy ally (although I’ve never found him particularly entertaining, to be honest, except for his cockamamie spell incantations; those were fun!)

But throwing our dashing heroes into the middle of a zombie war, as has occurred in Marvel Zombies, is just a step too far.

First of all, most of them probably wouldn’t even get infected in the first place.  Any zombie that tried to eat Ben Grimm would lose all his teeth on the first bite. Cap, Black Widow, and Wolverine’s immune systems are so much faster than the average human’s that they can’t even catch the common cold, let alone some zombie strain.  The Hulk has bullet-proof skin, so he’s pretty well zombie-proof. Thor is Asgardian and therefore immune to practically everything. Iron Man would taste worse than Ben, and all Johnny Storm would have to do is “Flame on!” and he’d instantly be unappetizing to anything, especially zombies. 

Which reminds me: Why are zombies always getting shot to ribbons or hacked to pieces?  They are dead and decaying bodies reanimated with below animal intelligence.  All anyone needs to do to kill a zombie is find and turn on a flame thrower, the more fuel and range it has, the better.  Poof, no more zombie problem.  I like that, saves a lot of energy all the way around. 

In all seriousness, this side series of Marvel comics is totally and completely unappealing.  There are plenty of zombie stories out there.  Why do our favorite heroes have to be forced into fighting them or, more to the point, joining the throng of undead?

Really, really unnecessary, fellow writers.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Disappointed True Believer)

The Purpose of Heroes

Assemble!

Hello, Marvel Writers!

      “A man needs heroes.  He needs to believe in strength, nobility, and courage.  Otherwise we become sheep to be herded to the slaughterhouse of death.  I believe this.  I am a soldier.  I try to fight for the right cause.  Sometimes it is not easy to know.

      “But I do not sit back and sneer in cowardice at those with the courage to fight.  The blood of good men makes the earth rich, as it is here.  When I die sword in hand, I hope someone lives to sing of it.  I live my life so that when death comes I may die well.  I ask no more.”

Sackett’s Land by Louis L’Amour

So wrote Louis L’Amour, best known perhaps for his novels of the Old West such as Hondo, Last Stand at Papago Wells, The Quick and the Dead, The Californios, and numerous others.

Stan Lee started something great when he penned the first Fantastic Four comic book.  He gave readers a glimpse of a universe with heroes, human in that they had flaws and foibles, but magnificent in how they rose above those things when necessity demanded their utmost in courage.

They had, and have, tempers.  They got and get sick, they broke and still break bones, and they retired and still retire (at least for a time) when they were and are emotionally drained.  And yes, they made and continue to make mistakes.  They fought and still fight with each other as much as with their enemies.

But despite all that, they were still heroes.  That’s why people continue to read about their adventures; why they go in droves to view the movies at the theaters.  If these flawed, breakable people can stand up to an evil, no matter the pain they’re in, no matter how tired they are, and say, “No.” – then why can’t we, the fans, do the same?

Yes, Iron Man, Cap, and most definitely Thor, are not real.  No one is going to be walking down Fifth Avenue and have to jump out of the way of a battling Yellowjacket and Ultron.  But what if one of us readers or viewers someday ends up with a choice between helping someone or saving ourselves in a crisis?  What role model will we have to steady us as we say, “No, I will do what is right.  I will help.”

Not all of us have great real life role models.  There are many fortunate people who do, but what about those who don’t?  What are they going to have to inspire them?  The answer is heroes.  Even if they are fictional – and there is no shortage of them inside or outside of comics and theaters – they are characters we can relate to more strongly than we can relate to actual flesh and blood people from time to time, especially in hazardous situations.

I’ve already listed several of the Marvel characters whose behavior of late has been less than inspiring.  None of it sounds particularly heroic when compared with earlier Marvel stories, does it?  So far Captain America has been the only hero to stay anywhere near heroic on and off the battlefield.

But how much longer is that going to last?  He’s already been ‘killed’ once, and he has been changed into at least three different animals in the same number of stories: a wolf, a tyrannosaurus rex, and don’t get me started on the incident where he ended up a spider.  That plot line was absolutely and completely disgusting.

How long can this go on?  How long will readers pay to read comics that spin their wheels in amoral mud?  And if the movies become as depressing as the comics, only the television shows will remain.  How long will it be before those are gone as well?

What I’m trying to say, fellow writers, is that people don’t need stories by ‘artists.’  It’s nice, and they’re great reads.  However, art usually comes about when the author isn’t striving for it, but for story and character.  Moreover, readers don’t want ‘stories’ that ‘delve into the human psyche.’  Psychologists are available if people want a psych evaluation.

What readers and viewers want – and what they need – are good stories well told with heroes who espouse morality and great ideals.  That’s all they want.

And unfortunately, my friends, right now we’re not getting it.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled and Frustrated True Believer)

Poker – Gambit Style

Gambit

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Bonjour.  C’est la vie, as the French say.  And the Cajuns of Louisiana – which brings us to the next Marvel character under discussion here: Remy LeBeau, a.k.a. Gambit.

The first introduction I had to Gambit was in the 90’s television series.  His back story there is one I have often found to be a likeable twist of storytelling: a thief (or other sundry character) joining a team of good guys to be reformed into a real hero.  It was great to see Rogue and Gambit fight – as much with each other as with the bad guys!  Because of her powers, Rogue wouldn’t let Gambit get close to her, but it was clear that he really did love her, and vice versa.

Now that you see how the TV series shaped my opinion of the character, imagine my consternation when I began reading about his comic book history.

Much of it makes very little sense to me, I admit: the few X-Men comics I have are fragments of story arcs, and the ones that include Gambit have him pretty close to what I saw in the TV series.  So the winding maze of his life events in the comics are lost on me faster than a cat would get lost in a pile of yarn.  The two things that did jump out at me were: a) his assistance in the slaughter of the Morlocks (aside from one small girl he purposely rescued), and b) his expulsion from the X-Men.

To both, all I can say is, “What?  How did this happen?  Why did this happen?”

Gambit has always had a soft spot for children (as shown in how he treated Jubilee in the TV series) which has been more likeable than his tendency to flirt with every lady he meets.  If there is a list out there of the top ten flirts in Marvel Comics, I hereby nominate Gambit for first place!

To get back to the point, I can easily see Gambit working to protect a Morlock child from death; but aiding and abetting the killing of countless other Morlocks, several of whom were also undoubtedly children?  That’s not the Gambit I came to know.  He wouldn’t have helped; he’d have turned on his employer (Mister Sinister, I believe it was, in these comics) first, and died before he got too far into the tunnels rather than commit murder.

As for his expulsion from the X-Men, it’s uncharacteristic of the X-Men on its face.  The X-Men have accepted Wolverine as a teammate, Archangel, Emma Frost, and even Mystique at one point.  Wolvie’s record is far from clean; Archangel has been used by several bad guys to kill numerous innocents, and more perhaps when he’s ‘lost’ himself in misery or pain; Emma Frost is constantly shifting between good and bad, and DO NOT get me started on Mystique.  So after accepting these and other less-than-good citizens of the Marvel universe into the fold, suddenly the X-Men decide that Gambit’s not good enough for the team, after all he’s done for it?  That’s a bit out of character, isn’t it?

And sending him back to work for Sinister is just plain wrong.  Once bitten, twice shy.  Sinister is trouble, and being a thief for as long as he was, Gambit would know better than to risk his neck by running with a man who wouldn’t think twice about slitting his throat.

To top it off, the whole fiasco has thrown a giant monkey wrench in the romance that he and Rogue had going.  Talk about a sad thing.  After Jean and Scott, Rogue and Gambit were two of the X-Men who deserved to be together romantically.  Getting them married would also have been a big plus, and a way overdue event for the team.

Why do this to Gambit at all?  Was it to make him a more complex, or appealing, character?  He was already both with his easy manner, which hid a genuine distaste for his past actions and a desire to leave them behind.  Was it to make him a really dark, really noir protagonist?

Why?  All it’s done is to ruin him as a hero.  Gambit was an intriguing member of the team for his remarkable desire to be good cloaked in nonchalance.  Now he morally resembles the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

With all due respect, fellow writers, he really didn’t need a slime bath.  He was just fine the way he was, and readers are going to miss the old Gambit, as they are going to miss other wrecked characters, several of whom I have listed in other letters.

So au revoir, fellow writers!  The aces are in your hands. All we True Believers have got at the moment are a set of black eights.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)

Song of the Mockingbird

Mockingbird

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Just out of curiosity, have you ever seen an actual mockingbird?  They’re very pretty birds about the size of the average man’s fist, and they have light brown-grey feathers.  Each wing has a white band across it, and they hold their tails at about a forty-five degree angle most of the time.  They have a beautiful song, when they’re not mimicking other bird calls, that is.  They can be found from rural towns to big cities all across the country.

So when I learned that there was a Marvel super-heroine called Mockingbird, I was immediately put in mind of the talents of this particular little avian.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that not only was she a ‘normal’ human, she was also farsighted and needed glasses!

Heck of an idea someone had to pair her off with the Marvel hero who has the sight of a Middle-earth elf!  Hawkeye and she seemed to be as much of a match as Susan Storm and Reid Richards.  They were definitely a more likeable pair than Jean Grey and Scott Summers, or at least they were to this reader.

And so we come back to the question that I asked in “Fletching and Nocking”: why have Mockingbird finish her split with Hawkeye?

Yes, the escapade in the West Coast Avengers comic line is definitely a cause for tension between them, although I think they could have handled it better than they did.  And yet, after she is a prisoner of the alien Skrulls for several years, once she returns, Bobbi Morse shuts her husband completely out of her life with a divorce (after having a good cry first).

They are currently hinted to still love each other but they continue to avoid acting on that love.  Despite this, when Hawkeye dated Spider-Woman, Mockingbird was shown to be rather embarrassed by the whole idea, the first time she’s shown any emotion over one of his ‘romances.’  Why not have her act on that embarrassment, and at least tell him off?  He’d probably take it from her before he took it from anyone else he knows.

Why is Mockingbird avoiding Hawkeye like this?  Wouldn’t it be more likely that all that time in captivity aboard the Skrull ships would make her miss him more than before?  Say you were held prisoner on an alien ship for an untold number of years, away not only from the planet that you loved but the most important people on it, people who may get killed at some point soon in an alien invasion you were powerless to fight or stop.

Eventually you get rescued and, on seeing them safe, split off from them for most of the next twenty years (after a perfectly natural tearful reunion)?

That’s kind of heartless, depending on who you are.  In other cases, it would be a sign of going crazy.

Right now it looks like Mockingbird has been avoiding Hawkeye and the Avengers.  The last time they fought side by side was at least two years ago, and she never showed up in the entire Avengers vs. X-Men storyline. Not only that, she never thanked Hawkeye for getting her help before she was given the serum mixture that saved her life.  It wasn’t his idea to give it to her, but he let Fury give the juice to her all the same, just to keep her alive.  All that work and she doesn’t even say thank you?

And again, why give her superpowers?  As I’ve said before, Mockingbird’s strength was the same as Hawkeye’s and the Winter Soldier’s.  She was a normal human who fought powerful bad guys and won – rather recently, too – such as when she faced off against the Wrecking Crew singlehanded.  No one was going to argue that she had no place on the team during that fight; she was as accepted by the Avengers before and after that, powers or not.

In that battle, she didn’t have powers.  And that made her even more valuable than any other team member when push came to shove.

After all the hard knocks she’s taken lately, fellow writers, I would say it’s time to give Mockingbird a break.  Let her spread her wings with the rest of the team, and fly beside her Hawk.  The results may be surprisingly fruitful in plotlines.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)

Fletching and Nocking

Hawkeye's New Suit

Hello, Marvel Writers!

Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work, fellow writers! This letter has to do with the World’s Greatest Marksman: Hawkeye. First, the newest costume for the archer is great and a definite keeper, in my mind. The original wasn’t bad, but these days it looks really ridiculous. I would keep the hip quiver as well; as proved in the movie, Hawkeye can run out of arrows quickly.

Back to his persona. Wow, talk about getting tossed from pillar to post. This character has been hammered, and then some. First a reluctant villain under the spell of the Black Widow’s many charms, then the loudmouth upstart trying to prove himself to the fledging Avengers, next a stalwart Avenger, now…

Now he’s not exactly anything.

Hawkeye’s first slide into rampant flings began when he ‘dated’ the super-villainess Moonstone during the time when he believed that Mockingbird was dead (lousy choice of post dead wife date). Later he had a dallying ‘romance’ with the Wasp (she’s taken, people!) and after Disassembled he had a fling with the Scarlet Witch (who ‘killed’ him, twice). In the recent comics since Mockingbird finalized the divorce they started after Hawkeye discovered she had killed a man who abused her, he has ‘dated’ deaf vigilante-turned-heroine Echo (formerly Ronin) and, recently, Spider-Woman.

Despite all this, when told by Cap that Mockingbird was on a list of international spies wanted dead, he rejoined the Avengers so fast it left his teammates practically speechless. Later, he was distraught when she received grievous injuries in battle, injuries that prompted Fury to give her an experimental serum to save her life. Hawkeye was virtually mum on the obvious dangers of the whole idea (a first for a character who regularly has more quips than arrows). I don’t know of any other time the character was so quiet about a dangerous situation regarding Mockingbird.

In light of these instances regarding his ex-wife, why the yo-yo effect with Hawkeye’s romantic life? The character was never this fickle with his flirting in previous stories.

It is also worth noting that this isn’t the only part of the character that is being batted around more harshly than a ping pong ball: once a staunch advocate of the old ‘do not kill’ superhero code, Hawkeye has become somewhat picky when he follows it these days. I think that it’s understandable that he would not willingly spare any Skrulls he was fighting, since one of the aliens successfully impersonated his ‘dead’ wife. Anybody would be killing mad after something like that.

And his decision to permanently take down the Scarlet Witch not too long ago isn’t hard to understand, either, when one considers that she ‘killed’ him (twice). But this would hardly be a decision he wouldn’t wrestle with or have qualms about, something that doesn’t appear to have occurred when he made that choice.

Yet when faced with a criminal such as Max Fury or the ‘new’ Ronin (Black Widow’s ex-husband), Barton suddenly balks at finishing the villain off. Isn’t that a little silly? If he’s willing to finish aliens and former teammates, why not villains who have earned their walking papers many times over, and for whom he had absolutely no feeling?

A brief overview of Hawkeye’s history is enough to make plenty of new readers shake their heads and say, “Ouch. What a hard story!” Over the last twenty years, Barton’s been all but shattered and rebuilt to the point where it’s amazing he’s still recognizable as the character he was in the sixties. It’s nice to see him getting along better with his teammates and stretching his wings as a commander of the team (or one of its auxiliaries) true; however, the rest of his character is practically a disgusting mosaic of the shards of his previous integrity. There’s little farther that ‘mainstream’ Hawkeye has to go before he becomes interchangeable with Ultimate Hawkeye (who is a near-total perversion of the character).

The fact that Hawkeye’s been sent spinning off into one ‘romance’ after another seems, to one who looks hard at the list of circumstances under which he met these ladies, to be more like a search for his wife Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird) than the indecision of a berserk flirt. The pattern is something that she appears to be unaware of, but the threads of different stories point to Hawkeye desperately missing her all the same.

With all due respect, why not make Mockingbird miss him back for a change? Moreover, why not make her act on that? I don’t see anything demeaning or wrong with the idea for either character. They were married in a whirlwind before; why not go about it a little more slowly this time around? Reed and Susan Richards have lasted this long. Why not give another superhero a shot at that life?

Considering what he’s been through, Hawkeye’s definitely earned some happiness and needed respite. Heck, this type of story could open up all sorts of great avenues for both these characters and their teammates.

After twenty years on the rack, fellow writers, I’d say that Hawkeye’s been beaten enough.

Sincerely,

Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)