Saturday, 21 March 2015

Avengers, Volume 2: The Last White Event Review (Jonathan Hickman, Dustin Weaver)


It’s been a couple years since I read the first crummy volume of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and I think I’m just about ready to face the second. Maybe I was wrong and Hickman needed some time to get going, maybe his writing got better, maybe I’d find a new appreciation for his Marvel stuff now, maybe… not. The Last White Event (which sounds like something the Klan would attend) is yet another poor Avengers book to add to the pile of crap Avengers books Marvel has, and continues to, put out. 

From my understanding of this odd tale: Earth is evolving into a new phase and is somehow becoming sentient - this process being called a White Event - and something called a Starbrand - a being with the power equal to the power behind the White Event but with the aim of potentially destroying the planet rather than cause it to evolve - is formed. There is a Nightmask - the dude with the glowing tattoos - who was born 47 days ago (he’s an adult by the way) to shepherd the Starbrand into fulfilling the White Event. Or something.

This volume introduces us to the Starbrand, a nerdy university student who doesn’t realise he has the power (of Greyskull) to destroy the world, who fights the Avengers - they’ve got to have something to do in their own book! 

I could sort of follow along with Hickman’s ambitious if convoluted story and, now that Secret Wars (the final chapter in his Avengers run) is almost upon us, I can see this volume is a building block in the overall story - I just don’t care. White Events, Starbrands, sentient planets - I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Hickman is a great ideas man but he’s a lousy writer. His Starbrand character really doesn’t seem interesting at all, despite all the importance suddenly heaped upon him. And all this talk of other new things, White Events and so on - meh. I can too easily take it or leave it. 

Rounding out this underwhelming volume are two issues, the first of which might well be the most forgettable superhero comic I’ve ever read. It’s about a father and daughter sharing a secret about some person somewhere who does something - again the Avengers are background characters in their own comic - and then it’s over. No idea what was accomplished or why. 

The other issue has the Avengers attempting to do an Ocean’s 11 and failing. They try to pull off a heist in a casino where a black market auction is taking place, except all the baddies, mostly AIM personnel, know who they are despite trying to keep a low profile. They play casino games and win some, lose some, then fly away at the end. While not as bad as the last issue, it certainly feels as throwaway. 

On the one hand I think Hickman’s big, cosmic ideas are well suited to the Avengers title. They should face massive threats and be challenged. Dustin Weaver and Mike Deodato’s delightfully cinematic art backs up this approach. It’s just Hickman’s limited writing ability that gets in the way of realising that in a compelling comic. He’s all surface texture, like those symbols representing the characters at the start of each issue (what, I’m not going to read it if my favourite character’s not in it?) - style without substance yet again and the effect is like reading an outline rather than a finished comic. 

The Last White Event is like a game of sci-fi D&D where the Dungeon Master is intoning an incredibly boring story except you have no choices - you just have to sit there and listen to him drone on without any control over what to do next. If that sounds appealing, Hickman’s Avengers might be for you. Me, I think it’ll be at least another two years before I attempt Volume 3!

Avengers, Volume 2: The Last White Event

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