Monday, January 30, 2006

This Comic Was Not Good - X-Men: Deadly Genesis #3

I will cop to occasionally having a macabre sense of humor, so there was a scene in this comic that really made me laugh. I'll get to that later. Anyhow, as to the actual comic book....well, I have read this comic before. Many times, actually. And each time, it was awful. However, Ed Brubaker did not write those comics, and Ed Brubaker is a good comic book writer. Therefore, he is talented enough that he manages to raise the level of quality of this comic that, by all means, should have been terrible, and instead, made the comic just "not good."

First off, I wish to mention how impressed I was by Marc Silvestri's cover to the issue. I think it is probably the best cover I have seen from him in AGES.

Granted, this scene does not appear in the comic, but still...that is a striking cover, I think.

ANYways, as for the comic itself, the killer to the story is the structure. The pace of Deadly Genesis is clearly slow, but that does not mean that it is BAD. In fact, Brubaker is currently writing a comic, Captain America, that has an equally glacial pace, plot-wise, but the differences between the two titles is dramatic, and it can basically be summed up by a single word - depth.

The structure of Captain America is similar to the TV show Lost, as the plot does not progress all that much, but through character interactions and flashbacks, we learn so much about the characters that they seem almost like real people to us. That is the effect that Brubaker has achieved with Captain America, giving even throwaway characters like Jack Monroe (who I liked a lot in Fabian Nicieza's Nomad series) deep emotional resonance with the reader. That depth is lacking in Deadly Genesis, and I think that is due to the structure of the series.

This issue #3 is basically the same exact structure of #2!!! A little kibitzing with the government at the mansion, a few segues with Vulcan and Cyclops and Marvel Girl, some scenes with the secret info Banshee was bringing back to the States, some secretive flashbacks - it's all here in #2 AND #3. And #2 at least had the benefit of having a death (even though it was presented fairly lacking in luster).

I have seen this same structure - this same lack of depth - many times. Essentially in every major X-Crossover of the past decade and a half. Occasionally, writers will manage to squeeze a little something interesting out of it (as Scott Lobdell did during the Generation Next storyline), but most of the time, it is a matter of "Here's an idea - work a series around it." Some writers totally botch it, and we get sad, sad comics like the Astonishing X-Men mini-series (A new X-Men team forms for no reason - and Wolverine is Death!!). When you have someone like Brubaker, he cannot just write hackwork, so instead, he still manages to infuse what little room he has to work with here with as much depth as possible - sadly, it is not a lot. So a slowly paced comic that repeats the same structure of the previous issue without any in depth characterizations? Not a good comic book.

In addition, we have Trevor Hairsine "drawing" the comic without actually DRAWING the comic. In #2, Mike Perkins handled it, in this issue, Scott Hanna and Nelson take over, and both do a fine job, I thought, but it is like having three comic issues drawn by four different artists - #1 by Hairsine, #2 by Perkins and #3 by Hanna and Nelson...and yet Hairsine is credited for all three. Anyhow, it is not a big deal, so long as the result is good art like this comic, and it WAS good art (although there was a funny bit early on where Beast's pants were not drawn, so the colorist had to just draw his pants onto his fur...funny stuff).

Finally, the thing that made me laugh? Last issue, Banshee collided with the X-Men's plane, the Blackbird, in an attempt to save a passenger flight (as the Blackbird was headed towards the passenger plane which Banshee was a passenger on, to prevent Banshee from sharing some info with the X-Men). He managed a feeble scream before the plane plowed right into him, still causing a collission that killed the passengers on the plane (What is this, a Debby Downer skit from SNL?). Anyhow, we got a big explosion, in which Banshee was presumed dead. However, this is comics - there's always a chance, right? Well, remember the episode of the Simpsons where the kill off Poochy? And then Krusty comes on to the screen to assure kids that he is really, really dead? There's a scene in this comic where Nightcrawler and Wolverine come across Banshee's reminded me of the Simpsons episode and made me laugh. "SEE! He is really, really dead!"

Hey, I SAID it was macabre!!

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Anonymous SpiritGlyph said...

Deadly Genesis isn't very good, is it? We have a glacial pace and a plot that won't actually be explained until issue #5. It's an utterly familiar format.

And yet, I sort of like it. Perhaps it's because it's still better than a lot of the Decimation dredge Marvel is putting out. Compare it to Generation M, which is a futute TPB about an angsty alcoholic reporter. Or you've the 198, which covers the same ground, only which undeservingly cool covers. You've got Pietro whining about being slow for six issues, and you've got six issues of robot-piloting red shirts pulling cheap fakeouts. This is not good stuff.

The problem is almost certainly random writers being given an idea and told to write six issues for it (or five for the really weak ones). Decimation just come across as a poorly organized mess. Do depowered mutants look human or not? Did the Sentinels show up immediately or two weeks after Decimation? Are the number of mutants remaining 10%, 2%, or 198? Is an agreement on the basic facts really so hard to manage?

I mean, good lord, they're even referring to House of M with a red line through it over in New Avengers. Counting Quesada, that book has FIVE editors, and still this stuff slips through. Is anyone even paying attention over there?

Well, that went deep into rant territory. What was the point of all that again? Ah, yes: Not Good has become Better Than Average.

1/30/2006 04:49:00 AM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

Why would you write a "Banshee is definitely dead" story, when everyone knows he isn't?

1/30/2006 05:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Brad said...

"And then Krusty comes on to the screen to assure kids that he is really, really dead?"

I remember it being a card with "Poochie died on the way back to his home planet" or something like that hastily added at the last minute. The best part of that was Troy McClure doing the dialogue after Homer had set up his big speech. God, I miss Phil Hartman.

1/30/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger markus said...

I mean, good lord, they're even referring to House of M with a red line through it over in New Avengers. Counting Quesada, that book has FIVE editors, and still this stuff slips through. Is anyone even paying attention over there?

Supposedly, that's the part she can't share with the public (it being her blog). It's included for the comic reader, but in character it's glossed over.
Don't ask me how well the lines hold up though or indeed the concept.

1/30/2006 02:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Stéphane Garrelie said...

deadly genesis as a whole is not bad so far.
I agree that #3 was too much like #2 and thats not very interesting in itself, but it's the middle of the story and to have chapters with less things in a book is not exceptional. I just hope it won't became bendis-like (which means 2 great first parts and the nothing for the rest of the arc), but i don't think so: I have faith in Brubaker and I think Deadly genesis as a whole will be good.

2/04/2006 08:42:00 AM  

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