Thursday, January 26, 2017

Crabs, Assemble!, Part Twenty-Four: The Avengers: Heavy Metal

 I should have jumped ship with Roger Stern....

 Legendary AVENGERS scribe Roger Stern, as detailed in a letters column reprinted in this very book, was fired after a disagreement over a future plotline. (Neither editor Mark Gruenwald or Stern gets into great detail in their comments, but interviews with Stern conducted in BACK ISSUE magazine point to Captain Marvel as the bone of contention that did Stern in. Gruenwald wanted Captain Marvel to be humiliated and disgraced, and forced to step down as team leader, her role being filled by Captain America. Stern, Captain Marvel's creator, had been building her up as a strong, competent character, and did not want to tear her down, which lead to his removal from the book. Also gone from the book was quality writing.)

 The deconstruction of Captain Marvel gets started here, with her authority being constantly questioned and undermined by Doctor Druid, who is basically Kelsey Grammer in ill-fitting flannel onesies. She also undergoes weird power fluctuations, makes bad decisions, and just looks weak and stupid. This, in itself, might not be such a huge issue, if I hadn't been binge-reading THE AVENGERS for the past few months, and recently seen:

 Ms. Marvel brainwashed, raped, impregnated, and abducted BY HER OWN BABY!!!!

 The Wasp punched by her husband, and then becoming the team's resident skank, dating Tony Stark and Paladin, and leading The Black Knight on.

 Spider-Woman losing her powers and being shuffled off into the sunset.

 Tigra sleeping with almost every male member of her west coast team, and having sex WITH AN OTHER-DIMENSIONAL CAT CREATURE. Or two. This after washing out of the east coast team, because she was scared of her own shadow.

 Jocasta being tossed out onto the streets like yesterday's trash.

 She-Hulk wanting to sleep with The Sub-Mariner, whose wife is, literally, two feet away.

 And that selfsame wife, Marrina, becoming a ravenous monster and being killed for no good reason.

 THE AVENGERS ain't been treating its females too well.

 THE AVENGERS: HEAVY METAL collects THE AVENGERS #'s 286-293, and starts off with Ralph Macchio (Not THE KARATE KID.) scripting over Roger Stern's last handful of plots, and it begins decently enough. The team finds itself pitted against various and sundry android opponents, including The Super-Adaptoid, Machine Man, The Mad Thinker's Awesome Android, T.E.S.S.-One, and Sentry 459. The problem is, THEY'RE ANDROIDS, and not very interesting ones. Macchio is not suited to follow Stern, and I had a very hard fight with myself over just closing this book and leaving it unread. I pressed on, mainly because I'm in the home-stretch of a binge-read, and my OCD would go into overdrive if I left a chunk of the series unread, was a struggle. The art of John Buscema and Tom Palmer helped me keep going, and the departure of Macchio, who is replaced by Walter Simonson towards the end of the collection, was also a big help.

 The Simonson issues continue the tradition of shitting on the female members of the team...This is where Marrina goes nuts, mutates, and has to be killed. These issues were nowhere near the level of Simonson's legendary THOR run, but he improves with each passing issue. He seems to struggle with The Black Knight, who was a well-adjusted member of the team in the last few volumes, and makes him a brooding, British-accented man-out-of-time. I'm also not sure if we're supposed to think Doctor Druid is evil, or just a dick. The issues following this have not yet been collected, so I'll probably never know....

 This volume has a couple of letters pages, some original art by Buscema and Palmer, and a MARVEL AGE interview with Walter Simonson. In the big picture, this is a completely forgettable volume that you could pass on fairly painlessly.

 THE AVENGERS: HEAVY METAL earns a measly five out of ten devil heads.