Robot 6

The Fifth Color – GRR! BAM! KABOOM!

the fifth colorOkay, say you have a collection of Megos (not to far a stretch for a lot of you).  You’ve had them since you were young and they now decorate your bookshelf or your computer desk, basically in a display of fond memories.  Sure, you’ll pose them from time to time, dust off their cloth costumes with care, maybe even do some repair work, but they sit in a place to remind you of your childhood and the wonders of your imagination.  Perhaps even some spare cash on eBay, but let’s go with the more touching idea about childhood and memories.

Now, add to this, say you have a younger brother.  Or a little sister, or a son or daughter.  Someone of the next generation set who is totally enthralled by your collection of figures.  In great childlike wonder they ask you about each and every one, amazed by all the stories they represent.  It’s great to see someone love something dear to you and it’s a great bond that helps me sell comics and connects us all through our fandoms.  If you’ve never explained a comic book plotline that you love (no complaints now) to someone younger than you, please do so at your earliest convience.  They’ll think you’re a genius for knowing the tale and you’ll be reminded of your own viceral reactions to the story at hand.

Anyhow, you have your Megos and your sister/brother/son/daughter/etc. seems to love them as much as you do, so you eventually relent and let them play with your figures.  They very gently take each one from you, go off to the living room and then suddenly POW!  BANG!  BOOM!  CRASH!  They’re smacking them together as part of some terrible fight.  Plastic clicks against plastic, some are catapulted off the couch, others are mauled by childlike enthusiasm and small, but dangerously strong hands.  They’re having a ball, you’re cringing in the corner.  Or ready to run and yell because those are YOUR toys!  Play nice!  Those are collector’s items!  You’ll RUIN them!

But at the same time… you used to play like that with them.

(eventual SPOLIERS: for Siege #2 ahead, but really I’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard by now.  Bendis likes a good death in his event books!)
Oh, don’t give me that; everyone at one time or another has broken a toy in their lives.  Whether on purpose, due to shoddy craftsmanship, due to an accident, everyone has gotten a little too rough and had a foot go missing.  Or a rubber band snap.  Or even just a figure not looking the same way anymore, some paint rubbed off, some scratch here and there.  In your imagination, these figures have flown the surface of the sun, they’ve all be secret agents who’ve had to hide under seat cushons, they’ve had to war amongst themselves because you never got any villains or (for the ladies in the house) had to go on dates in a Barbie dream car.  Toys were meant to be played with (unless they’re made by Todd MacFarlane) and to be put through the rigors of your imagination.  Otherwise they just sit on a shelf, collect dust, pose from time to time and live small, sheltered, uninteresting lives.

As you watch this younger person in your life throw his or her arms into the air with a giant “Ka-POW!” and that back of throat rumble explosion noise that is given to every child at the age of five and you watch your figures burst forth to knock against furniture, have their uniforms or tunics pulled askew, maybe lose a boot under the couch, bonk into a window, you should be reminded of what toys can do, how they can live under the right imagination.  But, most likely, you’re thinking of how much they’re losing in value, how much they need to be preserved and played with ‘correctly’.

What I’m trying to say is I’m tired of watching the Sentry rip things in half.  It was cool once and now it’s so much a cliche that the story stops for me when I have to see it again.  I groan, I roll my eyes.  I get mad because that’s Ares!  The GOD of WAR!  That’s not fair or right!

But it’s the story.  It’s the imagination to wonder what comes after that, what happens because of that and doesn’t that look totally awesome-rad-cool to see his guts spilling out all over the page like that and what can possibly defeat the Sentry now.  It’s not the toys or how I want them to be, but how we use them to tell someone something else about anything our imaginations can devise.  Playing with toys roughly is not a bad thing, as long as they are not broken and then discarded.  Even broken toys can tell some amazing stories.

I betcha Hercules and Phobos are going to be making a trip sometime to Hades to get Ares back.


One Comment

Referring to the characters as “toys” raises the point as to why the issue, or for that matter, the SIEGE event was written or even conceived. Osborn was insane going into it, and was manipulated into the invasion besides; he’ll be dead, presumably, or insane at the end. So — why write about him? In SIEGE, he’s the equivalent of the deranged movie monster who tells his monstrous gang members to kill for the sake of killing. The audience is expected to enjoy the bloodshed.

Bringing in the heroes at the point that Bendis is doesn’t really help. An unknown number of Asgardians have died, been crippled, etc., and the compressed timeline Bendis is using — the only explanation (rationalization) for why the President hasn’t ordered a halt to operations — means that the damage has been done. It’s not as if the “siege” was going to succeed, so the only way the heroes could have been “heroically” successful was to stop the siege before it began — which eliminates the basis for SIEGE, and, if you examine the “Dark Reign” premise, eliminates the basis for “Dark Reign.” If the heroes had acted heroically, they would have identified the Skrull impostors before any fighting began, and eliminated the basis for SECRET INVASION.

The only reason for writing SECRET INVASION (SI) and “Dark Reign” that makes sense is that Bendis would much rather write about villains, their plots, their schemes, their conspiracies, and their manipulation of the heroes than about heroes. SI and “Dark Reign” glorify villainy; the manipulation of the Sentry in DARK AVENGERS #13 and the dismemberment stunt in SIEGE #2, the high point of the issue for many (?) readers, only emphasize that point.

Putting aside all the mechanical storytelling flaws in SI and “Dark Reign,” why did the proposals for the events ever get approved? Do Quesada, Brevoort, Bendis, et al., think that heroes are so tired and boring that writing about villains would be a hell of a lot more fun and rewarding?

I’ve challenged people before to justify the publication of SI, etc., on the basis of their literary attributes. Brevoort recently tried to argue that Bendis’s stories have emotional truths, but that’s only true if a story succeeds. No “Avengers” storyline Bendis has done succeeds in mechanical terms.

If boys playing with toys were imagining themselves to be the villains and boasting about how many cops they’d killed, or how they’d tortured and killed people, they’d be referred to child psychiatrists or worse. Glorifying villainy as Bendis has done isn’t as deranged as fantasy murdering is, certainly, but choosing to elevate the villains over the heroes is suspect.


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