Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tuesday Ten: 5 Awesome Comic Events.....

I bought a comic book over the weekend. 

An actual, print book that I can hold in my hands. 

After years of reading just Marvel Unlimited, it feels odd to have an actual trade in my hands again. What did I pick up you ask? Blackest Night, the Green Lantern event from 2009. I never actually read it and my local Books-A-Million had the trade for $20. With my coupon, I got it for $9. Why not? 

While browsing the shelves I saw trade collections of all sorts of comic events, going back to the 1985 DC Crisis on Infinite Earths, which set the template for universe status quo altering events. That got my wheels turning on some of the awesome events I've read over the years, so here's a Tuesday Ten of Awesome Comic Events which of course, will be followed tomorrow by the not so awesome events. 

5) Acts of Vengeance - Marvel - 1989 

Why are the villains of the Marvel Universe so set on going up against one particular hero or team? What's stopping Magneto from going after Iron Man? Doctor Doom from tussling with the X-Men? Juggernaut crashing into Thor? Red Skull launching a scheme against anyone not named Captain America? 

Acts of Vengeance answers those questions as Loki recruits the villains of the Marvel Universe into a scheme that boils down to "Hey, let's go against someone that has never faced you before and take advantage of the lack of experience!" The villains, especially the lesser ones like Hydro-Man, Wizard, Gryphon, etc. go along with this plan resulting in the typical initial success and then crushing defeat. 

It's a series of Marvel fan "What-Ifs" at least, as we get to see the Avengers take on the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Blob, Toad, Pyro, Avalanche), Thor and the debuting New Warriors against Juggernaut, Fantastic Four against Shocker, Beetle and Stilt-Man, and Magneto finally realizing "Hey, Red Skull is a Nazi, why haven't I killed him yet!?" 

The highlight of the event is of course Spider-Man being imbued with the powers of Captain Universe and becoming a cosmic level hero as a result. Empowered Spider-Man takes on Graviton, Count Neferia, Magneto and a Mega Tri-Sentinel. Which is AWESOME. 

The only lasting fallout from the event is Spider-Man's experiences as a cosmically powered being and all the villains realizing Doctor Doom is a dick (he didn't bother showing up and just sent some Doombots instead). 

4) The Infinity Gauntlet - Marvel - 1991

The series that launched a franchise. The Infinity Gauntlet is what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been building to for the past decade. I doubt the Infinity War movies will include Thanos killing half the lifeforms in the universe and then going on to destroy Eternity and ascend to become the spirit of all existence. Just a hunch. 

The Infinity Gauntlet series is about Thanos attempting to impress Death with his mastery over the Infinity Gems. That's why instead of wiping out all life and giving the heroes no chance of success, he just wipes out half of all existence and gives the heroes a sporting chance. This event was an instant classic and the repercussions are still being felt in comics, movies, tv shows and games to this day. Establishing the power of the Infinity Gems 26 years ago gives the Marvel Universe a simple touchstone of "When these stones start to appear, shit is about to get real". 

As for the immediate sequel series to The Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War was pretty good and we'll talk about Infinity Crusade later....

3) World War Hulk - Marvel - 2007


After the events of Planet Hulk left his wife dead and his newly won kingdom a burning husk, Hulk heads back to Earth for revenge on the Illuminati (Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Charles Xavier, Black Bolt, Dr. Strange) for sending him to space in the first place. The result is a months long cross-over event with Hulk going up against almost every hero on the planet. Ghost Rider even drops a building on him, before realizing that Hulk isn't actually evil as the Penance Stare found no sins. Making Hulk out to be sort of the Villain and sort of the Good Guy at the same time is what elevates World War Hulk above other "one long fight scene" events, like for example, Maximum Carnage. 

Greg Pak's work on the Hulk comics is incredible and during this event he even made Amadeus Cho to be a decent character, showcased just how powerful Dr. Strange can be and gave plenty of opportunity for heroes to show off what they can do when they unload on someone as strong as the Hulk *and* show some characterization based off of if they agree with the Illuminati's actions. 

It's smashy, it's got good characterization and it's a tight plot so you can avoid the many side stories if you want. 

2) Flashpoint - DC - 2011 

The latest DC event I've read, Flashpoint continues DC's strong history of really cool alternate-reality stories (see the entire line of Elseworlds). Barry Allan accidentally causing drastic changes to the state of reality is almost totally worth it just for Thomas Wayne as Batman. Deathstroke as a pirate and the "villains" of this reality being Aquaman and Wonder Woman make for a better, "what the hell is going on!?" story then it sounds. Granted, I'm a fan of Geoff Johns work and DC alternate realities, so this was a great event for me! 

The end result being the establishment of an entirely new DC Universe (the New 52) was great as I like when there's repercussions for the heroes. Now the later event, Convergence, which undid most of the good will built up from least it didn't involve alien parasites. 

1) Crisis on Infinite Earths - DC - 1985

Speaking of large scale DC events that reset the entire universe, here's the original reboot button! 

Crisis on Infinite Earths was the attempt by DC's Editorial Staff to make sense of the 50 year history of their characters, keep in mind this was also over 30 years ago, so is it any wonder that today we're getting arguments over the origin of Wonder Woman? How about the connection between Superman and Superboy? Crisis temporarily resolved the issue of heroes having multiple origins and vaguely defined powers. Pre-Crisis Superman was far too strong for most writers to create compelling stories after 50 years of slowly adding more powers, so Post-Crisis Superman became dramatically toned down. 

Batman started the process of shaking off the campy nature of the Adam West show and would soon be given new life thanks to Frank Miller. Older heroes were killed off or phased out, letting new characters fill their spots, most notably with Wally West taking over the Flash mantle of his uncle, Barry Allen. 

When it comes to in-continuity reboots, Crisis on Infinite Earths is the original and it blew my mind as a kid when I first read it. I had never seen stakes this high and the aftereffects this huge! 

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