Monday, April 23, 2018

True Believers #1: Thanos The First, True Believers #1: The Infinity Gauntlet

(Marvel, 2018) Marvel puts out dollar reprints of significant comics, the best of which were a massive Jack Kirby centennial series. These two are being put out there to get the kids up to speed on the villain character from their upcoming Avengers movie. And they have successfully un-sold me on that flick (hopefully there's a new Madea movie next week, or its Netflix for me). Marvel's 70s druggy cosmic comics were almost OK when they were funny-ish  (like Gerber's Howard the Duck stuff) but they mostly saw mainstream comics' everyday weaknesses (cliches, boring action sequences, weak collaborations with inkers making drawings worse, corny dialogue, choppy storytelling, absurd design) amplified because of over-ambitious agendas to craft new creation stories and universal orders. As Stan Lee is going through a rough patch it is worth celebrating his true genius: he knew knocking out assembly line comics that felt special and more grown up while still appealing to the juvenilia part of our' lizard brains was a goldmine. The specialness was handled by ambitious genius like Kirby or Ditko, who did all the creative heavy lifting, and whose craziest ideas bubbled to the surface. But those concepts were wisely reigned in by Lee's Borscht Belt dialogue. But even on his own with his semi-coherent New Gods and Eternals stuff Kirby still had tough 40s broads, Vaudeville spectacle, and Film Noire gangster dialogue helping him keep things grounded (that's why his best storytelling is Mr. Miracle, a god-on-earth comic that's actually about vaudeville performances). But other "visionaries" were not as lucky. Jim Starlin is great in many ways, but this Iron Man comic that introduces Thanos is the worst example of cosmic goofery, as it never even seems grand or special, just too many trippy, powerful, universe shattering ideas held together by mundane Iran Man fights (and a strangely unreasonable explanation of how Iron Man gets dressed). The backup story gets more coherently cosmic, and the Thanos' creepy stalking of Death in Infinity Gauntlet (she's the Jodie Foster to his Travis Bickle) is kinda captivating. But the idea of going to a movie this grandiose, absurd, convoluted, and inevitably LOUD, is exhausting. I am more OK with the sexual deviant Archie show and the Peanuts insurance commercials than I am about these over the top comics adaptations. Call me if they make a Little Lulu movie. 

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