SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
Happy post-Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope we all find ourselves a little fat and happy today as some will be enjoying a four-day weekend and others will be battling the hordes in the shopping megaplexes for the best deals and bargains for this now official holiday season. Before we begin here, I just wanted to note that my shop, Metro Entertainment has never reported any sort of ‘record sales’ on Black Friday, so please don’t forget to visit your local comic shop while you’re out shopping today! Drop by, say Hi, pick up a trade and don’t forget about the tiny shops in your big shopping adventures. Might I interest you in one of our reasonably displayed Lantern power rings?
Anyhow, Thanksgiving has come and gone and hopefully instilled we celebrators with a sense of family, community and unity. Whether you spent it with the family, your football watching buddies or at a local shelter making sure people had a hot meal on a holiday, Thanksgiving is not just about the thanks, but the giving. Mix the two and suddenly you got yourself a season! This of course, makes me think of the Avengers. Most things make me think of the Avengers, but let’s not dwell on that.
In any case, the original continuity created for Thanksgiving (before the retcons and corrected histories) was that some Pilgrims couldn’t farm, some Native Americans could, they got together and shared and then had a big old dinner to celebrate. I know! It’s like Stan and Jack cribbed notes for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Incredible. These days, what with every flavor of five or so guys standing together calling themselves ‘Avengers’, it might be hard to see this. Plus, the general nature of the super-hero rarely allows for such simple ideas of community. What if the Pilgrims and Indians had to slog through a three-issue misunderstanding fight before they combined their efforts against their true enemy, corn? Add to this the never-ending villainy that our heroes battle, the in0fighting that naturally occurs when people of strong personalities get together in one room, court-martials, break-ups, Disassembling…
This year, I’m thankful for Dan Slott. Mr. Slott has taken the Mighty Avengers and really made them Marvel’s premiere team book in my humble opinion (I know! Bendis even stuffed the ballot!). He acknowledges all of the above problems (maybe not the corn threat) and yet, for all the difficulty there is in assembling, we are still given a united front of heroes, bound together to stop a titanic threat to the Earth, who will succeed through perseverance, teamwork, intelligence and maybe a little luck for kicks.
They’re even led by Pym! Who on Earth let this man in charge!? For the past eight years or so (hrmm), all we’ve seen of Hank Pym is a wife-beating loose cannon, an also-ran not as good as the people he supposedly towered over. The original Ant-Man was shrunk down amongst his peers and had to be slowly built back up; the architects of the post-Civil War American makeover, with the Registration Act and the infamous “List of Things to Fix About Everything” kept in the Baxter Building’s Basement, all had a long road to redemption. Tony Stark had to break himself down to a vegetative state, Reed Richards has to look at an infinite reflection of himself and find his family missing and Pym? Well, Pym had to just get up and do something about it all. At the beginning of the year, he took his dead wife’s codename and, while a little creepy and a lot sad, I’m rather surprised he’s really lived up to it all. A founding Avenger, he’s really founded this new crew, creating an infinite Mansion to hold them all, creating plans on the fly and holding the weight of responsibility better than I think even he expected. Add to this his fancy new title of Scientist Supreme and well, that’s an article for another time.
With him is a motley little crew of adventurers and heroes, sometimes a little of one more than the other. USAgent has kind of been this guy everyone wants to do something with but can’t figure it out long enough to make anything stick. He was on Omega Flight for a time and you have to be pretty lost in editorial to be the American on a Candian super-team. Here, with the rest of the Mighty Avengers, he’s essential: he’s their heaping helping of brutal honesty. Sure, he’s no criminal but he’s as close to Hawkeye as the Avengers can afford right now: the guy who’s got the guts to challenge authority and punch evil in the face while the science-types do their thing. Speaking of science types, Amadeus Cho brings the youthful enthusiasm that Janet Van Dyne used to bring to the team back in the olden days. Sure, he’s a little cocky about it but he’s a great backup for Pym’s ideas on the fly and there’s no shame in being a sidekick. Just as Rick Jones. Quicksilver needs this job more than anything as, no matter what team he’s found himself associated with, the Avengers are the only people to ever give him a chance and put some faith in the former Evil Mutant. Stature believes so much in what her father did in his time as an Avenger, I think both she and Vision should probably stay to not only do right by those who came before them, but to learn a little about who’s costumes they’re assuming.
And of course, no Avengers group is really an Avengers group without Jarvis. Sure, they’re Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but they’re human as well, even the gods. Having Jarvis supporting the team in his own, taking care of all the little things you don’t think about when aliens are invading or the world is in peril, keeps the characters grounded and keeps them real. These are Earth’s Mightiest, after all, and on Earth they stay. Jarvis reminds us all that heroes still need to eat, have their laundry done and maybe talk to someone on the outside from time to time. He’s a secret keeper, a shoulder to lean on, a fantastic cook and the human element needed in the realm of the fantastic.
Marvel’s entering their ‘Heroic Age’ or so some teaser posters tell me and focused on the front of those posters are Captain America, Iron Man and Thor. And these are indeed Avengers, no doubt about it. These are the men who helped make the Avengers who they are today, who kicked it up a notch and made that tagline of ‘Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ a label you could believe in. What the poster doesn’t show you and what we Marvel fans already know is that behind these men come a tradition of heroes, men and women inspired by these three who follow in their footsteps and lead others to do the same. No one hero is honored above the others for, as Avengers, together we are mighty.