Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Avengers Assemble . . . Somewhere Else

Those among you who love the world of comic books might have heard that Mighty Marvel Comics, once the proud home of auteur Stan Lee, is imploding its mainstay super hero force The Avengers.

Over the next couple of months, the super hero team will watch as a lot of its members die gratuitously in battle and suffer less tangible losses (no more sanction from the UN, for all the good that does, and so on). By December, a new Avengers team will rise from the ashes with a membership that includes Captain America and Iron Man, Spider-man, Wolverine from the X-Men, Spider Woman, a 70s blaxploitation character called Luke Cage, and a newbie called the Sentry.

Why the destructive swath that has seen Avengers members Hawkeye, Ant Man, Jack of Hearts, and the Vision die? It's another case of comic company copying.

You see, the premiere super team of arch rival DC Comics is the Justice League of America, which features household name super-heroes battling the forces of evil. You know these guys - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern. Hell, Aquaman - you even know Aquaman.

The Avengers, by contrast, while usually featuring Captain America, Iron Man and Thor (who you might have heard of) also made members of characters like the Wasp (a rich heiress turned small super hero), D man (a homeless super hero), Ant Man (another small super hero), and others of similarly single-A pedigree.

So this is the solution. Major leaguers Spider-man and Wolverine will join the fold. That'll drive up the readership.

Of course, the problem is that Marvel Comics isn't really built for a Justice League type of group. In DC Comics, the world likes its super heroes. In Marvel, not so much. Probably the biggest Marvel characters are the X-Men, Spider-man, and the Fantastic Four's The Thing - all of whom speak to man's isolation from fellow man. Even if you just saved fellow man from Dr. Doom.

There is no Superman in Marvel Comics. Captain America comes close, but he can't fly - and rumor has it that he's pretty unpopular in Islamic nations. Iron Man's sort of like Green Lantern, but he's an alcoholic with heart disease. And really, there's no Wonder Woman. No A list female character at all.

So I'll check out these new Avengers and all. But I'm skeptical.

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