Saturday, 5 August 2017

Jessica Jones: Alias Book 4 (#22-28)

"The pity.  I don't want it.  I swear I don't want it" - Jessica Jones

So we come to the fourth and final volume of this introductory chapter into the life of ramshackle PI Jessica Jones.  She possesses super strength and can fly, but heroing never worked out for her.  We've seen enough hints and clues dropped throughout the previous three volumes that something pretty awful happened to her in her recent past and we're finally going to discover both how she came about her powers but also what that incident was and why she still suffers PTSD about it to this day.  She's been dating Scott "Ant Man" Lang off and on while this book also sees the return of Luke "Power Man" Cage who she has also had a sexual relationship with recently. And while this book closes out this part of her life, she was to become a regular in the wider Marvel Universe and of course there was an acclaimed TV series shown last year with a role in the 2018 MCU film "The Defenders" to come.  This volume's major antagonist is The Purple Man, Zebediah Killgrave whose voice can compell anyone to do his bidding and ssayed so creepily by David Tennant in the TV show, although he wasn't literally purple like his comicbook version.  I've actually covered Killgrave before in the second Waid/Samnee Daredevil volume here.  Anyway this is a packed seven issues so there won't be much brevity. Onwards!
Young Jessica.
We begin fifteen years ago with Jessica as a high school student dreamily looking at Peter Parker who is being bullied by Flash Thompson and friends.   She decides today will be the day she asks him out and follows him to a science exhibit, but as she reaches out to attract his attention he is bitten by a radioactive spider and feeling wonky he goes home leaving her looking downcast in his wake.

Later as she goes home she is wrapped up in her thoughts and is nearly hit by a truck containing radioactive material, a passer-by pulls her out of its way.   At home she looks at the picture of Johnny Storm of The Fantastic Four which she has tacked onto her wall, and her hand creeps into her knickers as she starts having a fiddle with herself before being interrupted by her kid brother who comes in and asks what she is doing.   She screams at him to get out and he leaves.

We then cut to her in the car with her brother, her parents are having a row as they drive to Disneyland with discount tickets provided by Tony Stark who her dad works for.  Her brother teases her and she punches his arm.  He starts yelling and her parents tell them to shut up.  Distracted her father loses control of the car and it slides half under a military truck and a canister comes loose and falls into the car onto Jessica's lap.  Then the car flips and catches fire and everything goes black.
A terrible tragedy
Then Jessica wakes up in a hospital bed.  It's dark, she looks out of the window and sees Galactus and the Silver Surfer.  The nurses notice her and say she's been in a coma for six months and the power surge from the battle outside must have woken her up, "it's a miracle."

Unfortunately she was the only survivor of the crash and we cut to her sitting in the office of the woman who runs the "Moore House For Wayward Children".  She tells Jessica she's been found a foster family, the Jones who are interested in adopting her.  The mother lost her family when she was the same age as Jessica and really feels for her. They also live in Jessica's old neighbourhood so she can go back to the same school.  Jessica remains surly and silent. The woman tells her she is special and lucky, "you have been given a second chance in life."  Jessica remains silent but looks conflicted by this.

Back at school people keep asking her what it was like being in a coma, she says "it was like... nothing" she tells them.   People gossip about her and then Flash tries to bully her so she aggrssively tells him and his mob "fuckers!  Seriously, all of you die! Just die!!"  And she runs away.

She sits on the bleachers sniffling to herself and Peter Parker comes up to her and tries to offer some words of comfort.  She thinks he is just looking down on her in pity and flees.  As she runs she flashes back to memories of her family, school, the Moore House and doesn't notice her feet have left the ground until she is floating a good few metres in the air.  She rises up higher and then flies forwards and down and lands in the river. 
First flight.
She tries to fly out and manages to get above the water, but then falls in again.   She starts to drown but Thor appears and grabs her and flies her back to dry land.  She vomits on his shoes saying  "shit... fuck".

Thor: "Young lady of Midgard, thy language leaves something to be desired".

And off he flies.  Later that night while watching J. Jonah Jameson ranting about Spider-man on the telly Jessica asks her adoptive father why people like the Fantastic Four but not Spider-man. "Image" her dad replies.

The Fantastic Four have a nice, clean cut look to them while Spider-man wears a mask and has creepy powers.   Jessica asks him if he had super-powers what would he do?  He thinks then says perhaps help people.  But when it comes down to it, how do you know who is worth risking your life for?  But if he did have them, he'd "sure as shit dress better than Spider-man". 

Jessica goes to a park and decides to test her powers.  She lifts a bike one handed over her head, then shoulder charges a thick tree cracking it all the way through.  She then tries to get the hang of flying and gets herself into the air.  With great glee she takes control, "Oh man! Oh man.  Shit yeah!!"

We then cut to a super villain called The Scorpion robbing people at a launderette.  Jessica lands on top of him and knocks him out.  People gather roud saying how cool she is.  They ask if she's a super-hero and she says, "yeah. Yeah I am".  One says "no costume?" another responds "eh, I think costumes are a fad anyhow."
The birth of a new hero,
We then return to the present day, Jessica is sitting in Matt Murdocks office with a handsome blonde man.  His name is Ka-zar and he lives in a secret tropical forest hidden away in Antartica called "The Savage Land".  He has come to them because Zabu is missing.  Zabu being a sabretooth tiger who raised Ka-zar to adulthood.  He needs a detective's help to find him.

Jessica says "no. I'm sorry.  No way in hell".  She isn't going to some savage jungle in the middle of the Antartic.  Ka-zar says he'll pay handsomely but she says she doesn't even "go over the Queensborough Bridge because I'm scared the Green Goblin might drop someone on me".  So she isn't going to go fight dinosaurs to find his cat.  She then leaves the office and Ka-Zar snarks, "Wow.  And I though Shanna got menstrual."

Back in her office she listens to her ansaphone messages, she has been getting a lot of crank type calls ever since J.Jonah Jameson wrote the nice article on her as seen in Book Three.   Then she gets one call that makes her freeze.  it's about someone called "Killgrave".  The person wants her to call back because they know she has history with this person and she has an important situation she wants Jessica's help with.  She hangs up and Jessica stays frozen, as her eyes show her in pain.  Then she runs to the toilet and vomits in it.
Present day Jessica is pissed at Carol Danvers.
We then cut to her talking with Carol "Ms. Marvel" Danvers in the garden of Avenger's Mansion.  Jessica is angry that Carol told the woman who called her about Killgrave and her involvement with him.   Carol is curious as to why she is so mad at her.  She says she just referred people who needed to know. She says Jessica is her best friend on the planet.

Carol: "And the reason I can be friends with you is that I understand what is the matter with you.  Okay? I see past all of this 'thing' you do, this person you act like and I know who you really are."

She says Scott Lang feels the same, now she needs to deal with her issues surrounding The Purple Man.  Jessica angrily tells her she needs her to stop telling her what she needs.

Then Captain America appears and is pleased to see her, inviting her inside.  But she doesn't go, then Scott Lang buzzes up riding a bee and asks if she is OK.  Overwhelmed, Jessica runs and gets into a taxi.  But Scott Lang pursues her and grows back to normal size in the cab much to the driver's annoyance.  Jessica begs him to leave her alone, but he says he knows what happened with Killgrave.
Yeah, smooth going Scott.
She scowls and says nothing.  He goes onto say that as an Avenger, a UN peace keeping taskforce, he can't just date anyone.  She had to be approved and although she came under a lot of scrutiny, Captain America put in a good word for her, "See how you're being all paranoid and no one has done anything remotely bad to you?"  Jessica tells the driver to pull over and departs telling Scott to "respect my fucking boundaries!" And she flies away. She lands close by, vomits then holds her stomach examining it and looks distressed.

We then jump forwards in time to her going to the house of the woman who called her, Kim Rourke.  Inside the house is a large crowd of people.  Kim says she is going to speak for the group. Everyone here has lost someone because of Killgrave.   She tells Jessica about a diner Killgrave went to when he ordered eggs, then told everyone eating there to stop breathing and thirty-four people died because of that, one of whom was her sister.
The Purple Man victim support group.
Jessica tells her it's not hypnosis he uses, "Killgrave has the power to overcome people's wills."  His power originates from his skin cells.  The pheromones and other secretions make a combination of psychoactive chemicals which when inhaled or absorbed by others allows him to take advantage of an "monomania".

Jessica: "It isn't hypnosis.  it isn't... the person... The victim cannot be blamed for.. for.. for anything they do when they are under that asshole's control".

Kim says what they are looking for is "closure".  Jessica tells her that Killgrave is being held in a prison for super-villains called "The Raft".  Kim says they know that but although Killgrave admitted to many crimes when first captured but she represents the families of the victims he didn't admit to.

They were people he murdered mainly for sport and now he refuses to take responsibility for them.   She believes he is denying them for "fun".  They have taken every legal route to try and get him to cooperate but no luck.   They have to live with what he did every day, he won't let them rest.

One of the group asks if she used to be a superhero and she says yes.  He asks if she came up against Killgrave and she says yes.  Kim says they know she was involved in one of his captures, and Jessica says yes.  She then asks if Jessica can help them.  She's quiet for a moment, then closes her eyes and says "Yes."

Then we cut to her waking up in just her undies in an unfamiliar bed.  She staggers up and discovers that she is in Luke Cage's flat.  She asks where her clothes are and he says, doesn't she recall last night?

Luke: "You don't remember calling me drunk out of your fucking mind and telling me that I'm not half the man Matt Murdock is and that I could go fuck myself?  ... And then about fifteen minutes later or so, you flew into my window and crashed into my fridge."

She ponders the wreckage and says she'll pay for it.   Apparently she then threw up all over her clothes which are at the cleaners.  She mumbles she doesn't know why she said what she said.

Luke asks her what sent her on this "little binge?"  She starts by saying she doesn't want to talk about it, then changes her mind and says "Killgrave".   She has been hired to find evidence on him to help some people who hired her.  He asks what her history is with him and like pulling teeth she finally opens up about what happened a few years ago.
Killgrave is a fucking prick.
The art changes, drawn by Mark Bagley, it looks much more traditional Marvel superhero stuff.  She is in her superhero identity "Jewel" all happy and confident.  She flies into a restaurant which people are fighting in.   Sitting calmly at a table is Killgrave, she stops and stares at him as he asks what her real name is.  She answers him and he tells her to take off her clothes.  She starts to but then he orders her to take care of the police outside and completely under his control she goes out and smashes them up.

Back with Jessica and Luke, he asks how long he had hold of her and she says "eight months".  Luke asks if he made her... implying rape.  She firmly says "no." He is somewhat disblieving but she says what he actually did was make her "stand there and watch him fucking other girls, telling me to wish it was me.  Telling me to cry while I watched".  He would pull college girls of the street, but when there wasn't any around he'd make her beg him for it.

Jessica: "Beg him. He'd just sit there and at his request I would beg him for it... I would beg him to fuck me... I would beg him until I cried."

For eight months she lay at his feet, slept on his floor, bathed him.  He would do it to her for every setback he suffered at the hands of the other superheroes. She dropped out of sight for eight months and it "had absolutely little to no effect on my family and friends".  Luke Cage moves closer and gives her a much needed hug.
Hugs are nice.
He says did she put him in jail, she says it was everyone but her. She says it didn't matter that he put those thoughts in her head, because she still felt them and it didn't feel any different from when she thought for herself.  In fact it feels better because "the command is pure.  It's strong. It's loud and clear."

Jessica: "In my mind I can't tell the difference between what he made me do or say and what I do or say on my own.  The only reason I know I wasn't in love with him is that I say to myself, how could I be?  I hate him.  That's it.  That's what my sanity is holding on to."

She knows that although it was chemical and pheromones affecting her, but it felt like she was in love with him.   Tell a crazy person what he sees is just chemicals in his brain and he's still going to see things.
A break for freedom.
Luke asks if she hurt anyone and she admits that yes she did.  Killgrave is crazy, months would go by where he would just fuck college girls and watch TV then all of a sudden... and we return to the flashback as Killgrave angrily shows her a newspaper with the headline "Daredevil Saves The City". He rants how he hates him then tells her he's sick of looking at her, she will put her costume on and go to the Avengers Mansion and beat Daredevil to death.

She flew off and as she got further away from him, his hold over her disappeared. Which left her with no idea what to do.  So she decided to continue her mission even though she could feel her body trying to stop her.   She knew it was fucked up but couldn't stop herself.

She landed at the Avenger's Mansion and they were coming home from a mission.   She swooped down to attack Dardevil, "except it wasn't Daredevil, not even close... it was the Scarlet Witch."  She hit her and then finally realised what she was doing was wrong and just stood there. She tried to form an apology but couldn't and tried to flee.  Thor came after her and tried to hit her with his hammer.

The Avengers and The Defenders who were teaming up with them all came after her and Vison who was The Scarlet Witch's husband belted her round the head knocking her out.  Carol grabbed her before any more harm could come to her.  He neck was messed up, her nose was broken, she lost some teeth and her spine was damaged, her retina detached "and on top of it my mind kind of gave up on me."
Carol to the rescue!
The combo of Killgrave's mindrape and the beating from the Avengers and just the mental stress of it all caused her to just check out.  She scowls at Luke saying she can tell he's pitying her. He asks how long she was out for and how did she come out of it.  Jessica asks if she has heard of Jean Grey of The X-Men?  She's a powerful psychic.

The art style changes again, this time drawn by Rick Mays.  Jessica is hanging out in a park in her mind.  Jean Grey comes up to her and tells her they caught the Purple Man, put him away for good.  Daredevil got him, beat the crap out of him.  Jean asks how that makes Jessica feel?

Jessica says he loved her.  Jean says he didn't, but Jessica insists in his own way he did.   Jean introduces herself and transforms into her Phoenix costume.  She says she is here to help Jessica, "into the next phase of your life."  Jessica just needs to trust her.  Jessica says she fucked things up, Jean says she'll help her but she needs Jessica to wake up.  So Jessica does so.
Jean Grey is the coolest.
She's lying in a hospital bed again with Jean and Nick Fury looking down at her.  Jean apolgises for getting into her head without asking but it was for the best.  Fury says she's getting the best medical care in the country and she'll be good as new.

A few months of treatment and therapy later she's ready to leave.  She hugs Agent Clay from S.H.I.E.L.D who's been watching over her.   Then she walks into a room where all The Avengers are waiting.  Iron Man apologises to her on behalf of all of them saying they overreacted.

Jessica mumbles an apology to them, but Scarlet Witch says she wasn't to blame.  Fury then offers her a job as S.H.I.E.L.D liason to The Avengers.   She'd be a level six agent and an auxillary Avenger.  He says she's a survivor and a fighter and he wants her on his team.  But Jessica tells them she appreciates all this but she's done with costumes, she doesn't have what it takes.  She thanks them for the closure then turns her back and walks away.
The Raft.
In the present she moves close to Luke and they snuggle.   He offers to take the job for her, but she says she needs to face him.  "Good for you" he says.  We then cut to her arriving by helicopter on The Raft.  She meets Clay and tells him she feels like "barfing up my uterus."  He wonders why she didn't fly, she brushes him off.  They embrace saying she appreciates him taking care of this, "what are high-ranking government employees/ex-boyfriends good for..."
They walk past the cells containing "the worst of the worst".   Killgrave is at the end, the conversation will be recorded but no one who doesn't already know what happens between them will ever see it.   He says that he thinks nothing will come of this and does she want him there with her.  She says she'll speak to him alone and she approaches his cell.

Killgrave: "Jessica Jones. If it isn't my favourite comic book character of all time."

She tries to talk to him but he keeps talking about a comic book layout of their conversation and speaking of himself in the third person describing what he thinks Jessica's thoughts are and that there were things they shared "the truths only they know."

Jessica tries to keep him on topic, telling him she's here as a representative of the families of his victims.   He just says "you don't want to embarrass yourself in front of your readers."  She keeps on telling him that the families each lost loved ones because of him but he refuses to acknowledge what she is saying, "something really bad s going to happen to you Jessica.  I wouldn't turn to the end.  I bet something really horrible happens."

The watching Agents think he's "fucking insane".  Agent Clay wants to go in and punch him. Jessica asks him if they are all characters in a comicbook why doesn't he get up and walk out of there.  "I'm not the writer" he responds.  He tells her she smarter than this, he's shown her.

Killgrave: "One day you're a high flying super hero no one has ever heard of, the next you're the centre of the world.   All of a sudden it's all about you. Continuity inconsistences be damned, it's all about you.  How did you get your powers again? How did I get mine?  How was that? Accident? What?  Gloss over it now.  Don't get too techinical."

Angrily she shows him a photo of a girl he made dance of the balcony of a hotel in Chicago.  She talks over him as he tries to mess with her head some more.  She yells that the girls brother deserves to know why his sister died. "He needs to hear you say it! Say the words1  Say: 'I killed your sister because I'm a crazy fuck'".

He just tells her she was there for the flashback. She acts like a whore in front of the readers because "you are a whore... you're the biggest whore in the history of the medium".  Jessica gives up.  As she leaves he tells her not to contradict continuity or "they'll eat you alive".  She falls into the arms of Agent Clay upset at the whole situation.
Killgrave won't budge.
Outside she smokes a ciggie and Clay asks her what she is thinking.  She tells him she's still scared that he has a hold over her. And now she has to return to her employers and tell them she has nothing.   They hug again and he jokes for "a comicbook character, you're pretty well rounded".

Later she returns to Kim's house to give her the bad news.   But when she opens the door, Kim says she'll call the police.  Her TV is on tuned into the news, it's reporting on a riot in The Raft.  And Killgrave is a confirmed escapee. Kim thinks Jessica is responsible, "all you mutant fucksare all the same.. you trick us, you manipulate us".  She threatens to call the police again and Jessica leaves.

She goes and hides in an alley near her flat and calls Carol leaving a message that she is terrified and unable to go home because Killgrave might be inside.  She confesses she visited that morning and maybe she inspired him to pull something. She calls her mum and tells her to go and visit aunt Jenny to get her somewhere safer. She gets a call from a doctor who had treated her last week saying she needs some important follow up tests. She hangs up and slumps down tearfully.

She calls her office and Malcolm her somewhat unwanted teenage assisstant answers it.   He tells her someone called "Quaterflash" keeps calling and hanging up.   She asks if anyone is in the room with him, he doesn't understand what she means, then asks how he got in.  He used her spare key.  She tells him to get out and fires him, he asks her why she called if she didn't want an answer.  She says she was calling for her messages.  She tells him to get the fuck out of her office and go home. 

She watches him leave the office alone.   She gets a call from Agent Clay.  He has no idea how Killgrave managed to escape.  He took a copter and a pilot and fled to the mainland.  She hears a click on the line, they are tracing her call so they can pick her up.  Paranoid, she tells him how does she know he hasn't been taken over and whispering in his ear.  She'll come in when they catch the fucker.  Black humvees pull up and in a panic she flies away.

She arrives at Scott Lang's place.  He's heard the news too.   She says she doesn't know where else to go.  They end up in bed together and as he sleeps she smokes and watches the news which says the city is in chaos and The Avengers and Fantastic Four should be doing more to help. She crushes an ant by mistake and when she turns to apologise to Scott sees him dead and covered with thousands of ants.  She stares in horror.
Oh no. Poor Scott. What a shame.
We pull back and Killgrave is sitting in a chair opposite as she screams in terror.  He orders her to be quiet, while she screams that she killed Scott.  "Well I am the bad guy" he says.   But he didn't actually kill him, he just made her see it.  Scott is awake and Killgrave tells him "look at me like you want to fuck me because I'm the best a third-rate character like you could do."

He tells her to stand up saying he hopes this will be one of "many reminders of just how special you are to me and how much I detest your whore ways". He then makes her visualise Carol with Luke and Scott.  She gasps and cries, then he tells her to shut up as she's annoying him so she does so.

He then tells her she is to come outside he wants to do "something violent and chaotic, as is my destiny to end this."  He wants her to come and witness his big scene.  Scott is told to stay put while Jessica dresses and follows Killgrave out into the crowds.  He orders everyone to start beating up the person to their left until they are dead and fighting breaks out.

As they walk through the chaos, Jessica suddenly sees an image of Jean Grey, when she was in Jessica's mind before she set up a "psychic defence trigger".  Because she was so worried about Killgrave taking her over again she thought something like this would work.   Jessica asks, "I.. I can end this?" Jean smiles and says "please do" and vanishes.
Even Captain America is impressed by that punch.
The Avengers arrive on the scene and Killgrave orders her to break Captain America's back when she doesn't accept his first kill demand, "do it now, whore!"  And she punches Killgrave so hard he goes flying and is knocked right out.  Carol hugs her while Jessica sheds cathartic tears and the crowd now no longer under control stop fighting.

Scott arrives on the scene and tells her it was a villain called Carnage that blew the security system in The Raft. He says not to mention what happened to him in his bedroom.  She then has a confession to make to him.

Jessica: "I'm pregnant.  I'm three months pregnant".

And Scott's face falls when he realises it's not his. And he walks away saying, "bye Jessica". Later she meets up with Luke Cage outside her building.  She's the subject of another glowing headline in The Daily Bugle, Luke says she's officially the only one Jameson says nice things about.

He then tells her that over the past couple of months he hasn't been able to stop thinking about her. She frustrates him, but he worries about her and after she told him about what happened to her, he found himself caring about her.  And he says he's here for her if she needs him. 

"You like me?" she queries and he grins and says "Yeah". She tells him she's pregnant and he's the father.  He breaks out into an even wider grin.  He asks if she wants it and she says, "very, very, very much."  He keeps grinning and she says "Alright then.  New chapter".  And that brings this volume and the series to an end.
Just look at that grin.
So here at the end we finally found out why Jessica was suffering from PTSD and so reckless and angry.  Killgrave is a monster.  He might not have physically raped her, but the mind rape he subjected her to is like something out of a nightmare.  To make her feel so debased and worthless is just repugnant, he's basically the ultimate gaslighter and merely a more extreme version of abusive relationships people suffer from every day.  It's understandable why she has pushed people away since then and it's tragic seeing the happy, enthusiastic Jewel full of public spirit reduced to an emotional wreck.  It's interesting that she opened up properly to Luke Cage, rather than Scott Lang.  Scott was pushy and demanding whle Luke Cage let her come to him and confide in her own time.  Her backstory of losing her family the way she did, and the only thing positive coming out of it, her powers, getting turned against her is a real tragedy and explains her reluctance to use them apart from exceptional circumstances.  As I said in the intro, Jessica and Luke and their baby become part of the Marvel Universe back then, cosmic retcons not withstanding. At the end of the book, writer Brian Michael Bendis says that Jessica's adventures will continue in the series "Pulse".  The main difference will be no sex and swearwords and that "Jessica will be happier, at least for a couple of pages".  And after that cathartic punch delivered to Killgrave by her, thanks to the ever awesome Jean Grey, all her pain, self-loathing and anger was behind that swing and I am not saying she's instantly over all her issues, but you can defnitely see how she gained some much needed emotional closure and yes, she's probably happier now most definitely shown in her enthusiasm to be a mother.  And that finishes this series off on a nice happy ending. Awww.

40 comments:

  1. But what happened to Zabu?! You know he's one of my favourite characters since I was a kid. Please tell me there's another book that shows he's ok.

    Wow, that was brilliant. Again so much to process. But if all Marvel comics had been like this I'd have probably read the more. This is proper 'grown up' stuff; and not in that faux edgy way I hate.

    Alan Moore said he wrote Rorscach to demonstrate what being a 'superhero' would be really like. The level of obsession needed such that you'd never find time even to shower. Jessica though takes that one step further. She's just so real. Which is weird perhaps because she actually got powers rather than badass normal. But that's s testament to the writing.

    Purple guy is also the same. It's a common company trope for someone to get superpowers and then use them for tacky selfish things. Like when Fry gets superspeed and goes into the girls changing room, and everyone starts yelling ("Oh right, that's invisibility.")

    But I don't think I've ever seen a serious take on that. Supervillains may have whacky schemes to take over the world or whatever, but you never see them just being complete jerks. Which is strange when you think about it because we know how actual bad guys behave. It's so obvious there'd be shits who'd just abuse people for the sake of it. Look what just the power of Internet anonymity has done.

    And it's a great and plausible take on the mind rape cliché. Bendis is to be congratulated for going there. Writers are always tacitly admitting to their darkest thoughts, so it's brave that he can envisage what someone might do with powers like that. I'll ponder more on the meta aspects later, but this is meta meta what with the acknowledgements within the story.

    Jessica's reaction is also plausible and so very raw. Especially that survivor guilt, and the horrible tormenting herself that maybe she was consenting all along. That's such a common reaction to real abuse.

    I loved the use of artwork to convey not just the different time periods but also the values and tropes of those times. I'm also quite pleased with myself that I've picked up enough from you to get some of the references. Is that radiation truck the one that gives us Daredevil and Turtles perchance?

    But this really is a great illustration (snob mode: activate!) of how comics can actually be proper art, even in the hokey genre of costumed meta-humans.

    I'm going to re-read and ponder more, but I'm very much loving this. But please tell me Zabu's safe.

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  2. So in this instalment of Malitia's thought and random trivia:

    - “Later as she goes home she is wrapped up in her thoughts and is nearly hit by a truck containing radioactive material, a passer-by pulls her out of its way.”

    With her luck that was Matt Murdock (Daredevil) despite it not making sense timelinewise (Matt needs to be around 5-10 years older than Peter Parker for his backstory to work, and his power granting accident happened in his high school years too). But whenever someone tries to make sense of the time-line of the Marvel Universe the cosmic horrors from outside reality get a bit closer to invade us. :3

    - “looks out of the window and sees Galactus and the Silver Surfer”

    So it must be Wednesday. :D (For some reason comic books are traditionally released on Wednesdays in the US.)

    - “But if he did have them, he'd "sure as shit dress better than Spider-man".”

    “Man, I think everyone made some awkward fashion choices when they were fourteen” - Doreen Green

    - “Zabu being a sabretooth tiger who raised Ka-zar to adulthood.”

    And member of the Pet Avengers.

    - “So she isn't going to go fight dinosaurs”

    Leaves more dinos to fight for the truly deserving… like Squirrel Girl!

    - “Carol "Ms. Marvel" Danvers”

    I don't know if I mentioned earlier, but she uses the codename Captain Marvel nowadays. And the Ms. Marvel identity got taken over by a Pakistani-American teen girl with stretching powers (well, shapeshifting powers, but she mostly uses it to grow/shrink, and stretch).

    - “Carol: "And the reason I can be friends with you is that I understand what is the matter with you.”

    I'm trying to figure out if this is a jab at a particularly (in)famous awful storyline or not. O.o

    - “She dropped out of sight for eight months and it "had absolutely little to no effect on my family and friends"”

    And that's probably all we need to know about her friends and family. :/

    - “Jean introduces herself and transforms into her Phoenix costume.”

    Which places this before the whole Dark Phoenix thing. (The one FOX so desperately tries to adapt and fails. Mostly because it's the ending to several years worth of stories so it can't really work as a standalone story, or even as the endpoint of a trilogy… except maybe if that trilogy is very much focused on just her journey.)

    - “he keeps talking about a comic book layout of their conversation and speaking of himself in the third person”

    Breaking the fourth wall is not a power Killgrave generally has by the way.

    - “Continuity inconsistencies be damned,”

    This is strangely prescient and self-deprecating considering Bendis got cursed by the fans, among other reasons, for his pretty loose interpretation (if not blatant disregard) of continuity.

    - “her not to contradict continuity or "they'll eat you alive"”

    And yet Bendis is still alive. :3

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  3. Also I've a complicated relationship to Jean Grey. (Points at her metaphorical "JUSTICE FOR MADELYNE PRYOR!" T-shirt.) I mean wish she stayed dead after the Dark Phoenix Saga, but that was apparently not meant to be. :/

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  4. Malitia: I'be actually covered one of the more recent Captain Marvel series, but I was under the impression that back then when she wore the black and yellow leotard she was still Ms. Marvel.

    Alan: I am afraid I can't tell you what happened to Zabu, maybe Malitia knows?

    And yes, this was some great stuff. I like how all of the revelations were left until the end of the series, so we had time to get to know Jessica without having a massive amount of backstory being dumped on us right out the gate.

    Ironically it was the sheer awful pettiness of the Purple Man that allowed him to stay free for so long. With Jessica to torment and no need for grandiose plans to take over the world he was able to stay off the radar of the rest of the supers. If you check out the Daredevil trade I linked that he's in, that pulls no punches about him raping and impregnating women. He also uses his power to force himself to get up and walk when he'd been hit by a train and had most of his bones broken. It's probably only him needing to concentrate on keeping himself upright that saves Daredevil from having his heart stop.

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  5. Well, when she had that particular costume, she was either Ms. Marvel or Warbird. Because she is one of the Marvel heroes with way too many names. ^^;

    At least not civilian though. But let's be real there is no competition to Cable, I mean, Nathan Christopher Charles Askani'son Dayspring Summers.

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  6. That's a ridiculous number of names. I can't think of any DC characters who come close to that. I hope Deadpool mocks them.

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  7. The pettiness angle is a brilliant one. I don't know if my perception is skewed because of the other stuff we talk about on Mammoth; but it's almost like he's a representative of that misogynistic stereotype. Indeed the whole story seems like a bit of a feminist response to that. Without wishing to get into gender stereotypes I'm surprised a guy wrote this. You'll know better than I if Jessica is an authentic portrayal of a woman; but she very much seems so. I find her completely plausible.

    I had a brief look at the Tropes page for the TV series. I find it really hard to get into TV these days, just watch the occasional documentary on IPlayer (and Dr Who of course) but I seem to have lost the patience for long drama series. Guess that's why I just dip into occasional episodes of kids stuff now and then. But I'd be up for watching JJ I think. It seems like it's self contained enough that I wouldn't have to be aware of all the MCU background to follow it. (and also it has Krav in it)

    But I loved the reveal in this story as to why she is as she is. Again it's so authentic. It addresses the effect of trauma very realistically (despite the setting and the fact she has superpowers) in a way most comics don't. I don't need to lecture you on all the usual rubbish about psychological damage manifesting as cool brooding angst and all that.

    It's a very meta series whether by accident or design. Other tales may address the perception filter thing or denial when the town mayor doesn't take the hero's warning seriously ("But he's one of our biggest charity donors" etc). But is there a commentary here on the authorities ignoring rape or not believing victims? Who knows, maybe I'm just reading too much into this, cause you've feministed me :-)

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  8. She does feel authentic to me. Without getting too much into it, but my first girlfriend was married (though had finally separated from by then) a man who was abusive emotionally and physically towards her and she threw up many of the same walls and used similar coping mechanisms to Jessica.

    The TV series is very good but very darker, unlike the strip there are no Avengers or other brightly coloured supers. It's part of a series of TV shows, including Luke Cage's, Daredevil and Iron Fist's setting up a Defender's series with her in it. It puts her battle with Killgrave who is played to perfection by David Tennant (though not purple sadly) front and centre as she tries to bring him to justice. It captures his petty cruelty superbly, most notably when he takes over a family's house as a base and orders the kid to wet himself.

    I read an article I think on Cracked by a woman who escaped an abusive relationship and was full of praise for the show for depicting the abuses suffered by the victims of gaslighting, mind game playing, sadistic domineering monsters. As the comic series in well over a decade old, Bendis was ahead of the curve there. I'm glad I read this series after visiting Mammoth because it's definitely given sheltered ol' me more of an idea that Killgrave is in someways only a slight exaggeration of the real evils out there.

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  9. I can never decide whether the sorts of people documented on Mammoth exist in significant numbers, or whether the Internet just makes a relative small minority more conspicuous. I find the whole alt-right Kekistan meme culture a bit bewildering tbh. However the fact remains there are enough guys with attitudes like that to make kilgrave completely plausible. But one more grounded note, abuser tactics like those endured by Jessica, and her reaction/coping strategy is all too common. I won't go into details either, but a friend is going through something very similar. I think I've mentioned that she thought I was psychic because I was able to predict certain things; but of course that's just because they're such common red flags. But I suspect enough women have either had personal experience or know a friend who has, to make Jessica very identifiable.

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  10. I do honestly think the type of people documented on Mammoth are a minority. I've had straight male friends all my life and never come across anything like that. Before I stumbled across the site I had never heard of MRAs, MGTOWs, Incels or Red Pillocks and that's after nearly twenty years of internetting. So I am grateful for Mammoth for helping me realise they are out there, but I think they stay confined to small enclaves although the rise of the alt-right makes me realise I would have come across them anyway even without Mammoth warning me.

    I hope if I have another girlfriend who has had the same experiences, I'll be a Luke Cage to her and let her tell me in her own time. And not a Scott Lang who tries to force the issue and upsets her.

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  11. Yeah I don't know anyone like that either; although I suppose there'd be a selection bias thing in the sorts of people I hang around with. Funny though how Mammoth can affect your thinking. I found myself going "gosh, maybe it's all around me and I've got that privilege blindness thing". But no, I know we're not supposed to be judgemental but I suspect they are a load of inadequates who hide away at their parents wanking into socks. Abuse is all too real though. I've seen it with a couple of friends. One was an interesting case. Two friends from uni got together. Now you'd think the bloke was as nice as pie, and he was to the rest of us. All mild mannered and right on. In fact a lot of people had assumed he was gay. But it transpired he was constantly putting our other friend down. That incessant undermining. No violence, but just constantly making her feel worthless. Anyway she got shut of him, but it did take a while. That's why I never do the "Why didn't she just leave?" thing. This lass is incredibly bright and worldly, but it's not that simple. Abuse has a strange effect. Same now with my other friend. It is tricky. You want to be there for them in a non judgemental way; but at the same time you don't want to be an enabler. My approach is to always be there for her, but also to be totally honest. I'll point out when she's falling into the trap of making excuses for him or blaming herself, and I'll let her know if she's in denial. The irony is she knows all this herself, but it's that thing that you can simultaneously know something intellectually but still be affected emotionally or psychologically. People eh?

    But again, that's why I love JJ. It's all so real.

    (emailed you btw)

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  12. @varalys

    Of course he did. But also of course Deadpool is Deadpool so...

    http://68.media.tumblr.com/06ed2bdd01f2bca19e33f902559c9985/tumblr_inline_newji5Njtr1rbdoc1.jpg

    http://www.paperdroids.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/cable-and-deadpool.jpg

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  13. Ugh. I really should stop reading comments on the internet. (This place is an exception.)

    I just run into a rant that blamed all Marvel's ills on the diversity efforts. And then, somewhat hilariously, equated "good stories" with "good sales numbers" *facepalm* yeah...

    In June (most recent Diamond sales chart*) Marvel's Top5 best selling non-Star Wars comics were:

    1) Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #1 - 224,620 (will fall, who knows how much, to issue #2 because that's how these things work)
    2) Edge of Venomverse #1 - 98,052 (same as before, also event title)
    3-4) Secret Empire #4-5 - 91,621 and 87,675 (The shitty shitty event most people hate!)
    5) Defenders #1 - 64,253 (same comment as the first.)

    From this I conclude that according to this guy truly good stories are Spider-Man related, events, and #1s so Marvel should probably only produce Spider-Man event one-shots from now on! :3

    Okay, if I'm a bit less sarcastic and take out #1s and events:

    1) Amazing Spider-Man #29 - 59,464
    2) Old Man Logan #25 - 59,216
    3) X-Men Gold #5 - 54,720 (I loaned the first issue from a friend to check it out as it's designed to pander to my specific Claremontian nostalgia... I felt insulted and ignore it ever since. Apparently I'm quite alone with this.)
    4) Amazing Spider-Man #28 - 50,925
    5) X-Men Blue #5 - 50,374

    So good stories are about Spider-Man and X-Men (especially if there is Wolver... I mean, Old Man Logan in it) then? :3

    Okay okay... even less sarcasm, let's take out the Spider and X franchises too:

    1-2) All New Guardians of Galaxy #3-4 - 49,907 and 47,385
    3) Defenders #2 - 46,158 (WTF did I say just some paragraphs ago? O.o)
    4) Avengers #8 - 45,386
    5) Mighty Thor #20 - 42,643

    Still big names with movie/TV franchises (and Jane Foster), apparently that's quality? So should we run the comics on MCU synergy? I mean that might be the only thing the "hard core fans" could possibly hate more than the experimental/"girly" books. XD


    * http://www.comichron.com/monthlycomicssales/2017/2017-06.html

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  14. When I was a kid Spiderman was probably the Marvel character most people were aware of, here in the UK at least. Mainly I guess that was because of the cartoon series with the wonderfully catchy theme tune. The Hulk was probably second. Again that's probably because of the TV series, although with the Hulk I suspect a lot of people didn't even realise he originated in comics. Pop cultural osmosis and all that.

    So I'm wondering how much of the popularity of characters is just brand recognition.

    I understand that Wolverine is now the mainstream fan favourite. Is that down to the movies or are the movies cashing in on the comic character?

    But is popularity an indicator of quality anyway? I don't want to get snobbish here but I'm reminded of Bentham's (mis)quote about pushpin and poetry.

    Of course, from a marketing perspective sales are an issue. But is there any real evidence that it's 'diversity' affecting the performance of the company? Isn't financial woes and near bankruptcy Marvel's business model anyway?

    I suspect it's really just a manifestation of that 'male spaces' sadfuck gatekeeping, looking for any stick to beat inclusiveness in comics, regardless of the facts. And bearing in mind the success of the JJ TV series and the Wondy film, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more of a move in that direction anyway. Of course we're back to the gatekeeping. If something does badly it's women spoiling things. If something is successful it's pandering to filthy casuals.

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  15. As a minor aside, just remembering that in the very early Shanna the She-Devil comics she came up against a villain called Mandrill. His power was that he could compell just by speaking to them. Shanna was the one woman immune to that.

    Wonder if there's a deliberate parallel there? Especially as Shanna was involved with Daredevil at the time. (Hmm, Shanna also had a thing about Peter Parker come to think of it)

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  16. Bleurgh!

    http://i25.photobucket.com/albums/c73/PRV5/kazar-23-02.jpg

    Shanna was second wave I guess?

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/d0/96/8f/d0968f865a7e12d5390cfface265219a--marvel-comics-devil.jpg

    Even Black Widow couldn't resist Mandrill's charm (although I'm well on board with his masterplan)


    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-9DaS_h-uddY/U9d-2oeUh1I/AAAAAAAAVBs/XLz_RumysK0/s1600/Picture+32.png

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  17. I've never quite forgiven DC for cancelling all the LGBT starring comics (bar Harley Quinn and Hellblazer) that they launched to great fanfare with the DCYou. That was mainly pushback from internal DC politicking though. But the fact they never gave the titles a chance and announced the DC Rebirth before the DCYou titles even got the first wave of trade titles out showed me just how much the words of the big two regarding honouring diversity are just words. Amazing how the indies manage it just fine....

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  18. @Alan

    - “So I'm wondering how much of the popularity of characters is just brand recognition.”

    A lot. And Marvel consistently fails to translate that into comics sales somehow. So based on given evidence I'm on the opinion that most of Marvel Comic's problems come from their marketing sucking.

    - “I understand that Wolverine is now the mainstream fan favourite. Is that down to the movies or are the movies cashing in on the comic character?”

    Oh, Wolverine is popular in- and outside of comics. Actually he is one of the three really popular comic book characters Marvel sold the film rights for and got really popular in the movies too. (The others are Spider-Man, and Deadpool.) So in this case probably both.

    Also to make things weirder… Marvel really doesn't like to produce comics (provide marketing) for characters they don't have the movie rights for (for the eternal whining of X-fans), so technically Wolverine is dead in the comics for 3 years by now.

    That doesn't mean there isn't an alternate universe older version of him around (Old Man Logan) and the clones... one of them (X-23, Laura… the little girl from the Logan movie, the comic version is more in her twenties) is occupying the code name Wolverine and tries to keep an even younger clone (Gabby) alive, oh, and they have a pet wolverine (Jonathan).

    COMICS EVERYBODY! :3

    - “But is popularity an indicator of quality anyway?”

    Not really. Most of Marvel's most fondly remembered, critically acclaimed, etc. comics struggled at sales and generally got cancelled early.

    - “But is there any real evidence that it's 'diversity' affecting the performance of the company?”

    I don't think so. It's a case of having a whole bunch of regrettable decisions and blaming the thing that was tried the least ('diversity'). But this stops self-reflection. “Maybe our Marketing strategies right out of the 90s are outdated? Nah! It must be the new thing. New things are bad.” And also there is a vocal part of the fanbase (“hard core fans”), who apparently don't want anything to change ever, and violently hate the books not aimed at them. If there is anything in the argument it's that books designed to appeal to a different/wider audience probably won't sell well with 90s marketing because that's squarely aimed at “hard core fans” and collectors.

    As I said: Marvel's marketing SUCKS! :P

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  19. Aaaand syncronicity:

    http://www.xplainthexmen.com/2017/08/158-no-focus-less-direction/

    So the cold open "explains"...

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  20. Malitia, it really is interesting hearing this stuff. Seem like you have the same issues with Marvel that I have with DC. Although to give DC some grudging respect, they've done a hell of a lot better with the DC Rebirth than they did with The New 52. Just wish they hadn't thrown the LGBT babies out with the New 52 bathwater.

    Also apologies for delayed responses, my flu made a gallant counter attack over the weekend and I am now a proud owner of lungs and sinuses brimming over with mucus. Yuk.

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  21. Ouch. I hope you get better soon. ^^;


    One of the reasons I refuse to do company wars. Both are bigass corporations clinging to the 90s. Sometimes one or the other acts less like a clueless idiot for a short while, but they don't deserve my never dying loyalty over that.

    I'm just trying to read what I like from their line-up and ignore the rest as much as possible.

    Apparently I was never the true believer type.

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  22. Cheers, I'm past the fever and aches and pains part which is good. And my sore throat is gone so it's just the nasty mucus left to be cleared out. So I hope it'll be over finally by the end of the week.

    I've never done company wars. I ended up reading DC because I started reading comics in 1986 and DC was having a real renaissance, so although I was mainly drawn to the mature stuff like Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, Doom Patrol and Sandman all the proto-Vertigo stuff, there was a sense of vitality in the normal titles I picked up from the local newsagent. And they only stocked DC comics. By the time I graduated to just the Vertigo stuff and indie titles, in the period 89-92, Marvel seemed mired in a Leifeldian hell and just didn't interest me.

    It's only doing this blog that got me checking out Marvel stuff, whether it be Ennis's work on The Punisher and Nick Fury or this fine series. Also the original Marvel NOW got me reading Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, Daredevil and later Squirrel Girl.

    So anyway, while I know a shit-tonne about DC characters I still spent my coverage of The New 52 bitching about how bad it was. And the stuff that was good (The Movement, Frankenstein, Dial H, Gotham By Midnight etc) got cancelled. So now I have been introduced to Marvel after long enough I think my coverage of DC and Marvel will be fairly balanced now. But I owe myself allegiance to neither.

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  23. I think I already told that me being on the Marvel side is mostly thanks to access.

    I read what comics were published here (Hello Claremont's X-Men) or otherwise could get my hands on (example some of Simonson's Thor... in English). Which happened to be overwhelmingly Marvel stuff. My exposure to DC was mostly through cartoons and old live action TV shows. Then I lacked any reliable way to get comics at all for a time so I pretty much skipped the 90s-00s, which was sort of lucky I guess. ^^; I got back into comics with the original Marvel NOW too... was a very confusing time trying to navigate modern Marvel after the 20 years skip.

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  24. Sounds like we both skipped the same period. I only got back into comics a few years back. Oddly thanks to my interest in anime sending me back into comic shops to buy manga and going for a good browse. And now we have wikis it's great not having to suffer continuity lockout any more though.

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  25. In my skipped years I kinda drifted to anime-manga too. My coming book to comics however had a sadder cause... My best online friend and the person most responsible for my manga addiction died in late 2009, and it kind of didn't feel right to read manga watch anime for a while. I mean I kept breaking down sobbing. My whole media consumption shifted for a while then.

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  26. Oh I am so sorry :( I know how hard that can be, my uncle was a big anime and manga fan. He got into it to bond with his daughters and found out he actually liked it and he used to lend me stuff too and we chat a lot about related stuff. He died a few years ago and I inherited all the stuff his daughters didn't want. I always think about him when I read or watch Black Lagoon for example as that was his favourite.

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  27. I still couldn't get myself to reread Blame! (it was one of his favorite series; I didn't like it half as much, but found very interesting to analyse*), but at least got around Azumanga Daioh (which we both loved).


    * It's a cyberpunk/post-apocalyptic sci-fi series. Back in the day, if I remember correctly, I made the case that it's actually dark fantasy with sci-fi coating based on its tropes and themes.

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  28. Sounds interesting. Our comic shops have big manga sections but virtually 90% are all the usual suspects. Anything out of the ordinary you have to pick up online. That's a bit annoying because the both do a 3-for-2 offer which at least got me all nine omnibus volumes of Full Metal Alchemist for a decent price, but can be frustrating due to the fact they often have big gaps in runs and so on.

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  29. Sorry to hear about your friend and family members. As Varalys says though this is all very interesting. I've mentioned that I was never that much into either Marvel or DC as a kid. I liked the black and white stuff like Savage Tales because they were channeling that 30s pulp vibe. But I didn't really get into the colour stuff. Partly it was quite confusimg just knowing what to read. To this day I'm not sure if the various Spiderman titles had to be read together.

    I was really fascinated by the adverts. America seemed so cool. You could get Sea Monkeys! And there was that magazine (Grit!) that you could sell and get prizes like BB guns and radios. And of course all the martial arts stuff.

    I only really knew Batman from the campy TV series. And tbh that's still my favourite incarnation. Loved the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman series. But really these were just standard heroes, like Bruce Lee or Evel Kneivel. I was of course aware there were comics, but I suspect it's like how kids in the 90s were with (as Vic Reeves put it) "those kung-fu turtles". Even today there's a few films I've seen that I only found out later were based on comics.

    In the late 80s though a mate bought a comic shop. So I did a bit of crash course reading. There was a bit of a comics vibe, but just as part of our general music and boozing scene. It was mainly the indie stuff we went for. Love and Rockets, Moebius etc. I also really liked Dark Horse. Their Aliens continuation was fantastic. Cheval Noir was good too. Took me a while to realise the obvious. I persevered with 2000AD until 2000AD on principle (I'm a krill tro thargo) even though it had got a bit rubbish. But in its golden age I don't think there's ever been anything to match it. Maybe Warrior came nearest. Deadline could have been good, had some great strips, but could get up its own arse a bit. Wonder whatever happened to people like Shaky Kane and the rest? Reminded me of Jesus and Mary Chain. Ok, but nowhere near as brilliant as you think you are.

    I wonder how kids feel about comics today? Everything just seems to be some sort of film or TV tie in. And for the rest it's that faux edginess. You can post all the Joker memes they want, but can you imagine publishing a comic like Action today?

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  30. I always like hearing peoples experiences with finding comics.As for the final question Alan, unfortunately comics are another medium with an aging fanbase, and unlike videogames which has it's highest age range in their forties as the first generation that grew up with the medium, at least videogames are constantly attracting a fresh new young audience.

    I've been looking for anime and manga I can use to try and inculcate Joe into them in a few years time, best I've managed are the rather excellent Adventure Time comics, and despite it's sometimes mildly risque content, Dragonball. But I haven't managed to find much that I wouldn't delay until he was in his teens amongst the current crop of DC/Marvel. Well... maybe Squirrel Girl :P

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  31. I think the most kid friendly title in Marvel's current line-up is Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur*, which is technically still rated T. And starts with a(n apparent) death. (Marvel comics! \o/) When it was announced my favorite reaction was "OMG! Clifford the Big Red Dog got hardcore."

    * http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Moon_Girl_and_Devil_Dinosaur_Vol_1

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  32. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d47696cd0dd2ac36619f9af0ea02e3235d1d8e4ff4784c887e0be8085bdda6bf.jpg

    Well, I distinctly remember an Emily from somewhere*. :3

    * Secret Wars 2015 - Runaways (It had nothing to do with the Runaways proper, but it was fun.)

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  33. I suppose there are just more entertainment options these days. Pity though, I do have a bit of nostalgic fondness for comics. All those different genres. Sport, war, sci-fi. And now it's just getting kids (or their parents) to pay for toy adverts. Although I guess that's always been there. Remember ROM the space knight? And of course Transformers. Did you know He-Man originated as a Conan the Barbarian action figure. But as the movie developed into something a bit more graphic they just made him blonde and created a new character? (If you've seen Conan the Destroyer, that's the tone they originally intended)

    Is Adventure Time related to the weird cartoons? Julia loves that. I just found it bewildering though. No doubt it's brilliant and I'm missing out.

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  34. "Is Adventure Time related to the weird cartoons?"

    It is. There are a LOT of tie-in comic books to cartoons, novels, TV series, films, videogames whatnot... including new current Transformers and ROM titles (from IDW, I've no clue how these relate to the old Marvel ones).

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  35. Pricing is the real death of the single comic, nearly £3 in English money. They literally make their money back via trade sales and as content generators for the movie and TV shows which is why you get so many six issue plot arcs and far fewer done-in-ones nowadays. Writing for the trade used to be considered poor form but even the most zealous monthly buyer has to admit it's what's keeping the medium alive now.

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  36. Adventure Time is very strange. Julia insists it makes sense though. I did like the general tone and imagery. Very Dadaesque. Almost Terry Gilliam.

    I was a bit confused by Transformers. Especially as I didn't initially realise there were two factions of robots. ("Hang on, wasn't he on our side a minute ago?"). It's weird with those blockbuster films. I understand how the budgets mean they have to appeal to the East Asian markets, so that affects both visuals and plotting. But paradoxically I find the Marvel ones just impossible to follow. They seem to require too much prior knowledge to be internally comprehensible; but I can also never figure out how they're meant to fit together as part of that Marvel universe thing. The only one I really liked was Captain America because that operated pretty much as a stand alone vehicle.

    And there seems to be something similar going on with the comics. Just too many alternative continuities and reboots. I can see why there's a difficulty attracting new readers. But it seems they're just assuming people will only read for a year or so anyway, so I guess a rolling reset marketing strategy makes sense.

    Gosh, that makes me sound very curmudgeonly. Obviously, as this blog demonstrates, there's plenty of good comics out there.

    Three quid though; ouch! Comics should cost 7p (Earth Money), or the equivalent in galactic groats.

    I don't mind writing for trades. Means stories have to be plotted with a beginning middle and end. And short runs may be good for quality control. Also less chance of writer having a breakdown and turning aardvarks into Nazis. Saga seems to be holding up well though. Or you could do it like Freak Brothers and produce one issue every decade.

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  37. There will be Saga at the end of the month, it'll be my treat for forcing you to read three posts of me squeeing about my fave anime series and how crappy the manga tie-in is.

    I haven't actually seen the Adventure Time cartoon, but the comic is ace. One issue is a Choose Your Own Adventure story. I have considered it for the blog but I actually think it would defeat me.

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  38. “but I can also never figure out how [Marvel's Transformers]'re meant to fit together as part of that Marvel universe thing”

    Originally they and the Marvel G.I. Joe comics were part of the main Marvel Universe (Earth-616) up to and including the villain Circuit Breaker appearing in Secret Wars II (the possible mother of all shitty events). After Marvel lost the license they retconned them into alternate universes (Earth-91274 for the US, and Earth-120185 for the UK versions) which still have Marvel heroes. This, not counting that one plot hole involving CB, worked pretty fine.

    ROM on the other hand remained Earth-616 when Marvel lost the license (had too many ties to other books to do the alternate universe trick), only the poor title character became the UnPerson.

    “Just too many ... reboots.”

    I think you mean relaunches. The “Ending the run just to relaunch it with an new #1” thing. That's one of the things I called 90s marketing earlier.

    #1s sell around twice as much on the direct market (US comic stores) than any later issues of the same comic, except maybe some big “milestones”, which Marvel at this point seems to pull right from its ass. This happens because old “collector's item!” reflexes are still alive and well in some retailers, and because #1s get all the marketing push from the publisher (and occasionally higher prices because, hey, they over-order, why shouldn't we overprice?!).

    Cynical AND self-destructive. Yay. :/

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  39. Eh. I should have written "TO the direct market", as comics are for the most part not returnable. So if a store over orders they paid for it and are stuck with it.

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  40. Ooh yes, relaunches is what I meant.

    The collectors instinct exploitation is interesting. All those alternative covers. Still, that's the free market I guess. Must confess I liked having the number one editions of stuff like 2000AD and deadline. I even once bid on a copy of 'comic cuts'. That's a 19th C thing generally regarded as the first true comic (hence the name) so I'm obviously not immune myself.

    It took me decades before I realised GI Joe is just what we call Action Man over here. One thing I liked about the film was the little bit about "kung-fu grip" from the adverts for the toy.

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