Monday, November 14, 2005

The Crossing - The Suckiest Suck That Ever Sucked

In exchange for his promise to pick up Street Angel, I told a pal that I would read and review the Crossing. To reaffirm this pledge, he also made it his "You Decide" choice for last month (or this month, whichever). So here it is. I have read the entire Crossing crossover, and, surprisingly enough, it was very bad. Okay, that did not really come as much of a surprise, but man, was it bad. It was so bad that I cannot bring myself to doing an issue-by-issue review of the Crossing because it was just THAT bad.

Instead, I will offer up the following fifty reasons why the Crossing was terrible:

1. The story was hyped with the shocker that TWO Avengers were going to die! The Avengers who were killed? The second Yellowjacket and Gilgamesh.

2. The story required knowing that Yellowjacket II was an Avenger. She was an Avenger for ONE issue, SEVEN years before this story began. And it was an ANNUAL!

3. The story required knowing that Gilgamesh was an Avenger. He was an Avenger for ten issues, FIVE years before this story began.

4. HAD you known who Gilgamesh was, then his death would have made no sense.

5. It revealed that, for basically his entire Avenger career, Tony Stark was secretly working for Kang.

6. It also tried to argue that all of Hank Pym's mental problems stemmed from Kang attempting to turn HIM into a traitor, with Pym resisting.

7. It required the belief that Iron Man had a weaker will than Hank Pym.

8. It made Iron Man into a MURDERER!

9. As a "shocking" death, the writers had Iron Man kill off...the Avengers' nanny!

11. As ANOTHER "shocking" death, the writers had Iron Man kill off....the Force Works' Public Relations Manager.

11. Right before this story, War Machine gained a new alien suit of armor that looked both A. Ridiculous and B. Hideous.

12. War Machine's career path at this point almost exactly mirrored Guy Gardner's, to the point of just creepiness. Guy had his own title where he was a Green Lantern, but just with a different ring. Jim Rhodes had his own title where he was Iron Man, but just with a different suit of armor. Then, about two years into the run, Guy loses his ring and Jim loses his armor. Guy gets new alien powers. Jim gets a new alien suit. Eerie, ain't it?

13. At this point in time, USAgent was wearing a costume that involved a skull cap. I HATE Skull Caps on super characters! You know the ones I mean, where just their face shows? What an ugly look!!!

14. They turned the Wasp INTO a giant wasp!!!

15. This is one of those rare examples of a comic where, even THEN, everyone knew it was a pile of garbage. Often, it is when we look back upon things of the past that we say, "Man, that was worse than I remember" (take 90% of the cartoons you watched as a very young child). Not so with the Crossing. At the TIME, everyone thought it was terrible.

16. The Avengers line of comics were almost resigned to being the red-headed stepchildren of the Marvel Universe. Rather than {gasp} putting popular artists on their titles, they instead took the much more loserish route of having "hot" artists design new costumes for the Avengers. Oh, and Humberto Ramos did one cover. That was it. And they BRAGGED about it!

17. Almost all the new costumes were awful. Most broke the Ron Frenz Rule of Costume Design (prime examples being Black Widow's costume, War Machine's costume, Quicksilver's costume and Wasp's new look).

18. They had this really forced relationship between Hawkeye, War Machine and USAgent. They were "Brothers In Arms" (this apparently was a previous crossover involving the three that I do not recall). It was so forced. It ALSO reminded me of Guy Gardner's series of the time, where Guy was suddenly good friends with everyone.

19. This one was around back in Roy and Dann Thomas' Avengers West Coast, but it annoys me either way - calling Spider Woman "Spi" as a nickname.

20. Right in the middle of this "major crossover that will change the Avengers forever," they were so far behind that they had to use at least one fill-in artist on every title involved in the crossover!! Talk about not giving a crap.

21. Bob Harras' Avengers work at least had some good moments. So, naturally, he gets elevated to Editor in Chief of all Marvel right in the middle of the crossover. His replacement as co-writer on Avengers? Ben Raab.

22. Beyond time constraints, the Avengers at the time just seemed more likely to be drawn by artists who, more or less, were just not ready to be doing everyday books. Look at Jimmy Cheung's work on these titles, and look at his work now. Yikes.

23. Dan Abnett wrote War Machine. He also co-wrote Force Works with Andy Lanning. There was a crossover between Force Works and War Machine. How awkward must that have been for Andy Lanning? That could not have helped the terribleness of the situation!

24. The Crossing was so bad that Force Works almost looked good, just by comparison.

25. The motivations just made NO sense whatsoever. Who was Mantis getting back at exactly?

26. The opening story has Yellowjacket II travel through time until she lands in our past (she HAD been in the future with the Guardians of the Galaxy). The thing is, she comes across a bit in the "future" that appears to depict what would happen if Kang had won. However, the scenario presented in the issues as to what would happen if Kang DID win were NOTHING at all like the future scenario that THEY wrote themselves in part one!

27. A major part of the storyline involved Century.

28. There were all these "mysteries" that they just did not seem even the SLIGHTEST bit interesting in answering.

29. Kang's biggest warrior, the dude who KILLS Gilgamesh? It's a little blue guy named NEUT!!! NEUT!!!

30. Iron Man is revealed as a murderer in part one, yet we follow him for the next few issues of his own title, which was super creepy, as we know that he is a murderer!!!

31. There is an issue of War Machine where he "saves the world" by stopping a facet of Tony Stark's plan and it is never referenced in any other title.

32. War Machine and Force Works were both cancelled two issues after the Crossing ended up. So the big "revitilization" measure did, well, NOTHING.

33. Speaking of the mysteries, they kept on with the "Who's that young woman?" when it was CLEARLY Luna! But they wouldn't come out and SAY that! They kept it a "secret," even when she dies! But it is OBVIOUSLY Luna! Yet they kept acting like it was ooooh...a MYSTERY!

34. The Avengers' big plan to save the day is to travel back in time to bring 19 year old Tony Stark to the future to beat older Tony. HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?!!?

35. Thor and Captain America weren't even involved in the crossover, as Waid and Ellis knew the Crossing cooties would infect them if they did, that's how terrible the Crossing was.

36. The time travel issue, in particular, is terrible. They come across various Marvel characters in horrible, horrible manners. Like Ben Grimm bumps into them in an alley. Or Matt Murdock helps the Vision out. It is just mind-numbingly stupid.

37. Tobias and Malachi...wow. ANOTHER "mystery" that is CLEARLY meant to be Vision and Scarlet Witch's kids, but they would never just tell us this!

38. HERCULES punches Tony Stark in the face (SANS mask!!), and Stark shrugs it off. HERCULES, people! HERCULES! In case you say, "But he was depowererd," we were shown a few issues earlier that Hercules can still break down trees with a punch. Yet it only dazes Tony Stark!?!?

39. That art on Timeslide was so bad, you could actually tell that Ed Benes has improved!!

40. Gyrich shows up to battle the Avengers with SHIELD Mandroids - for NO REASON!

41. The Wasp has no problems with being a giant WASP!

42. Deathcry was in the comic book.

43. There is a character named Moonraker, who, to fully get, you'll have had to know Mantis' full backstory!

44. Black Widow leaves the Avengers on a mission to meet up with Hawkeye. Next issue, she's there, no problem. It was so odd.

45. There's a scene with two Jarvises that measured a 100 on the Unintentional Comedy Scale.

46. Kang's absolute plot makes almost ZERO sense.

47. When Teen Tony is hurt, Marianne Rodgers travels into Tony's heart...just to look. Huh!?!?!?

48. The last confrontation has Kang just info-dump the plot to the Avengers! All this time and no plot, and it is all dumped in the Avengers' laps in the LAST ISSUE!

49. Tony Stark dies from the good ol' "stepping in front of a big blast"

and the fiftiest, and most important, reason why the Crossing was terrible?

50. It was the brainchild of Terry Kavanagh.

'Nuff said, indeed.

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23 Comments:

Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

I truly feel your pain. I read the whole thing at the time and can no longer remember what happened, who did what to who, or why it was even called "The Crossing." I'm imagining Captain America and Kang decked out in 19th century pioneer hats fording a river Oregon Trail-style, and that's all I've got. Actually, I'd totally buy a book with Captain America and Kang in 19th century pioneer hats, which is why I am Part Of The Problem.

11/14/2005 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger Sleestak said...

"34. The Avengers' big plan to save the day is to travel back in time to bring 19 year old Tony Stark to the future to beat older Tony. HOW DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?!!?"

And yet, fans like the same plot as shown in the awful Young Avengers title.

11/14/2005 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I think this "pal" should be taken off the Christmas card list.

Oh, and Sleestak? You're dumb.

11/14/2005 08:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Jakanapes said...

Hah, this was so bad that it took Heroes Reborn to scrub away the stain. Heroes freakin' Reborn!!

I can just see the meeting..

"OK, how are we going to write our way out of the Crossing? We have a teenage Tony and a mutated Wasp. Plus, I have NO IDEA what happened."

"um, how about we kill all the heroes and restart them on a different planet? And let Liefeld do Captain America?"

"Brilliant!"

11/14/2005 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger John Lombard said...

Ah, thanks, Brian.

Other people should note that you can get Brian to do basically anything by offering to read Street Angel.

11/14/2005 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Bill Reed said...

GILGAMESH!?!? NOOOOOOO

11/14/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Strangely enough, this list makes me want to read this crossover!

11/14/2005 09:40:00 AM  
Anonymous jdonelson.nyc said...

What is "the Ron Frenz Rule of Costume Design?"

11/14/2005 10:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Dan Coyle said...

Avengers: The Crossing, without a doubt, was the absolute worst superhero comic I have ever read.

Joe Quesada said last Friday that the reason he didn't take PainKiller Jane and Ash to Icon was because of stuff like the crossing, basically- editors or former editors cherry picking the best assignments for themselves.

Mind you, Harras had been on Avengers for several years, and before the Gatherers storyline kicked in in earnest, he told some pretty good stories. But there's no way Kavanagh should have still been getting work from Marvel at that point, nor Howard Mackie, nor Bob Budiansky, nor Tom DeFalco, nor Danny Fingeroth.

Sure, I could be just another mean fanboy by trashing these guys. But the fact remains their stories were about NOTHNG. They were dull and unexciting and had little in the way of themes, pacing, or subtext. Mackie in particular couldn't even remember continuity in his own stories.

Thank you, Joey Da Q, for making it less lucrative for editors to do freelance work.

11/14/2005 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous dj anderson said...

I remember e-mailing Len Kaminski shortly after "The Crossing," and asking him why he had left IRON MAN just before the whole thing went down. He said something to the effect of "It was like Editorial had just gone insane. There was no way to make it work, so I just got the heck out of there." Whatever happened to that guy, anyway? He wrote some GREAT comics in his day.

11/14/2005 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Click here and scroll down for the Ron Frenz rule.

11/14/2005 10:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quicksilver's costume was a good update to the classic powder blue one. Black Widow's was neither good nor bad. The rest were not good. Thor doesn't even show up in his Deodato outfit except on the covers until the end. Otherwise he's just wearing his shirtless outfit.

-Ralf Haring

11/14/2005 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous RAB said...

I'm lucky in never having been exposed to any of this era until Kurt Busiek -- in full Englehartian continuity deconstructing and reconstructing mode -- took it all apart and rebuilt it in AVENGERS FOREVER. It sounded like incoherent nonsense when retold in that mini-series, but at least there it was supposed to...and from the sound of the above, Busiek didn't have to do any work to make the original stories senseless.

11/14/2005 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Morts said...

My favorite point is that Avengewrs; Dissasembled basically revolves around a plot point from The Crossing

http://www.livejournal.com/users/typolad/21170.html?mode=reply

11/14/2005 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

14. They turned the Wasp INTO a giant wasp!!!
41. The Wasp has no problems with being a giant WASP!

okay, it may have been irritatingly over-literal, but I actually quite liked that change.

16. The Avengers line of comics were almost resigned to being the red-headed stepchildren of the Marvel Universe. Rather than (gasp) putting popular artists on their titles, they instead took the much more loserish route of having "hot" artists design new costumes for the Avengers. Oh, and Humberto Ramos did one cover. That was it. And they BRAGGED about it!
With a Joe Madureira cover! With an Alex Ross cover! With a Jim Lee cover! With a Jim Lee and Alex Ross cover, even though their styles clash!

No change there then.

33. Speaking of the mysteries, they kept on with the "Who's that young woman?" when it was CLEARLY Luna! But they wouldn't come out and SAY that! They kept it a "secret," even when she dies! But it is OBVIOUSLY Luna! Yet they kept acting like it was ooooh...a MYSTERY!
Just like New Thunderbolts. "Who is that mysterious glowing figure in the sea?" The same sea we saw Captain Marvel falling into last issue, you mean?


And you missed:
51. Busiek retconned the entire thing in Avengers Forever and the 2001 Annual, so you've just wasted a great deal of time and effort on a story that isn't even canon anymore.

:)

11/14/2005 03:59:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Crap, I DID forget to mention the idiocy of what "The Crossing" MEANT.

I could switch that in for some of the 50, I bet.

In any event, "The Crossing" referred to the act of "Crossing" through time.
It's only mentioned a few times in the whole crossover (and it sounds awful when they DO say it), but that is presumably why it was called "The Crossing."

And just speaking again of the idiotic inconsistency of the story, later on in the story, when they bring Tony Stark back, that is titled "Avengers: Timeslide."

So they can't even keep the terms standard when the term is what the crossover is NAMED after!

11/14/2005 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Sleestak, while I have recently been a bit down on Young Avengers (since the issues without Cheung have made me say, "Wow...Cheung is really, really important to this comic book), the plots really are not all that similar.

In Young Avengers, older Kang goes into the past to put "right" something that went "wrong" in HIS timelines, which is to kill the bullies who were picking on him when he was a teen. Teen Kang breaks from him at this point, and escapes to our time, bringing together the Young Avengers to help protect him when Kang eventually comes calling.

While you can certainly reasonably dislike that story idea, it is a marked difference between "Young Kang escapes to the present" and "Avengers come up with a PLAN that involves bringing Young Tony to the future."

The former was instigated by the young person. The latter was some plan determined by a group of (supposed) intelligent adults.

11/14/2005 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man. I thought I put that memory of The Crossing deep within the psyche. Avengers got me into comics (The Masters of Evil take over the mansion & Zeus takes on the Avengers) so I've forgiven a lot. But not that. It was so bad I almost got out of comics, and then when Liefeld took over, I did. But what pissed me off more than anything else was that nowhere (that I could find either) was a list of the order the issues had to be read in. I'd pick up my comics once a month and try to guess it made sense (which, mind you, was pretty much impossible which ever way you read them). That and I couldn't afford the War Machine issues.

Oh and what was so wrong with DeFalco? Thunderstrike rocks!

11/15/2005 02:43:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Excellent point.

I, too, had a hard time reading them in the right order.

It didn't help at the end when War Machine and Force Works were basically on their own story schedule. They were on the West Coast while the rest of the crossover took place in New York and Antartica.

11/15/2005 04:55:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Arndt said...

4. To clarify, Gilgamesh was the real name, Forgotten One or Forgotten Hero was the code name. He is/was an Eternal, and he cannot die or be killed hy any mortal means or any means we understand. How did he "die"? Or rather, what was the visual canonical excuse that Marvel used to throw continuity out the window in the face of a tiny henchman? Gilgy was hit real hard?

6. Why does every new Avengers writer have/had to revisit the Pym thing? Each "Pym is really cured this time" event is worse than the prior one! Every single freaking one is a story that while adequate is still of lesser quality than the one immediate prior. Ultimately what happens is that the breaking point between Pym and his wife, a bit of spousal assault, is transformed in degree. A bit of spousal assault is transformed into an episode in a series of spousal abuse. What's the difference?

Hank Pym could be forgiven for hitting his wife during a moment of mental illness. If hitting Jan during a consistent, constant, and lengthy period of time is the state of canon.... then he's a bastard. I like Hank Pym as an emotionally ill-adjusted polymath. I hate it when a new writer tells me that the character I liked didn't exist.

5,7. Tony's alcoholism suggests a weak will. Chemical or behavioral addiction aside, Tony has always had certain weaknesses to mental manipulation on some level or another. At least two of his arch-enemies deal in mind-control. I prefer Kurt Busiek's and Dave Michelinie's approach. The alcoholism was something he fell victim to in stories in the past, but like Beth McCabe was a constant presence that was not impacting again. Every new writer making Tony actually falling to drinking again.... is being lazy!

12. Guy and Jim were heroes that got hooked into by fans because of their personalities and partly because of their powers. But they were also replacement heroes from franchise headers. Essentially "War Machine", "Thunderstrike", "Azrael", and a few other titles and new franchises were vehicles to continue adventures of characters that were redundent in some respects but unique in others. Thunderstrike failed in that respect and was killed. US Agent never got a title but did get his trappings as the sixth Captain America stripped from him. War Machine the title was a way for Jim Rhodes fans to see him as Iron Man but Iron Man fans got Tony Stark back. Frankly if DC can nurse a franchise surrounding a family of crimefighting martial artists and acrobats for over fifty years, then Marvel can support two Iron Man characters each with a different name.

Giving War Machine alien armor kind of misses the point as it distracts from Jim Rhodes as a character and it gives him an ugly costume.

Guy Gardner got the yellow power ring in part because Sinestro was dead and because his character arc with the Green Lantern Corps had reached a head after twenty-something years. He was made an anti-Green Lantern of sorts and made an anti-hero in the literary sense. It tied into his history but broke away the character away from strict contemporary ties with another set of characters. Gerard Jones still wrote the character for a period of time, I believe.

Guy Gardner lost his powers and only gained the Vuldarian stuff because TPTB wouldn't let Beau Smith just have Guy being an adventurer; the character had to have powers. So he slapped him with powers that could fit into an arc of sorts. He explained that somewhere either in his website or in his Busted Knuckles column!

18. I did enjoy Guy suddenly being everybody's friend because it made sense! The reason he was a jerk before was partly brain damage but also in part there was resentment between him and other heroes for a lot of reasons, most of them based on a dimension of his Green Lantern status. Once he was free of GL ties he could run into other characters free of angst.

Also Ice was dead. So he was no longer jealous of Superman. He was still a jerk in many ways.

19. They couldn't call her Spidey, Spider-Woman is a long name, and super-heroes are freaks who need to address each other with nicknames.

34. It doesn't. The respect for continuity also vanished in Iron Man's own title, but it was minutia and most people should regard the "Teen Tony" period as semi-canon at best!

38. It happens.

11/15/2005 10:32:00 PM  
Anonymous Paradox said...

You read "The Crossing"????

Are you O.K? Did the doctors at the ER have to put you on medication? I know you had to go..."The Cursing" has been known to bring strong men to their knees praying for death!

To me, this is the absolute low-point in Avengers history, mostly because we can't even blame this mess on Leifeld.

11/16/2005 12:43:00 AM  
Blogger John Lombard said...

Another vote for someone putting together a checklist here -- I'd like to complete my run at some point.

Or Marvel could release this in TPB and market it like Showgirls -- so bad it's... well, still bad, really.

11/16/2005 06:11:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Ta da!!

Avengers: The Crossing #1
Iron Man #320
Force Works #16
Avengers #391
Iron Man #321
Force Works #17
Avengers #392
Iron Man #322
Force Works #18
War Machine #21
Iron Man #323
Avengers #393
Force Works #19
War Machine #22
Iron Man #324
Avengers #394
Force Works #20
War Machine #23
Avengers Timeslide #1
Iron Man #325
Avengers #395
Age of Innocence: The Rebirth of Iron Man #1

11/17/2005 01:21:00 AM  

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