Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Assault on Olympus

The splash page of the Champions number three isn’t an assault on Olympus, it’s an ass on a chaise lounge*. Specifically, Black Widow’s string bikinied ass and Speedo-clad WWIII watching Ice Man ice dance. Seriously, check out this page, you’d have no idea that these three people just lost their buddies to an ancient God of Death and have no idea how to bring him back:

* These are the kind of Dad jokes I’m making now. My wife is not a fan, but my nine-year-old would love this joke.

Anyway Natasha is giving Bobby shit for not caring about finding Hercules or Venus, while she’s just sitting around catching some rays and enjoying what looks to be a Long Island Ice Tea. And Angel’s like, “No, no, no. Bobby really cares. Probably more than us!”

Maybe not more than everyone, WWIII because while you guys have been kicking it like Zack, Kelly and Slater did at the Malibu Sands Beach Resort, Ghost Rider is actually doing something about finding his buddies. Which, of course, pisses everyone off. Angel calls him “a bad penny turned up”, Ice Man first thinks that Blaze is joking and then tells him “he’s sick”. Both times threatening to kick his ass.

There’s a couple of things here: one, Professor X did a really shitty job of instilling any trust in WWIII or Bobby. Though I suppose if your mentor faked his death for a couple of years and told only one person of your super tight group that he wasn’t dead, then you’d be a little gun shy about trusting people too. But I mean, come on. Why the attitude?

A brief explanation as to why the ‘tude is the second thing: when Marvel first started selling comics, one of their hallmarks was that the heroes may be super, but they went through the same crap that you did. They bickered, they argued, they were the antithesis of the “We REALLY are Super Friends!” of the DC world. And this style of writing made the Marvel characters popular and relatable.

But sometimes, it gets to be too much. Both the Angel and Ice Man come off as real dicks here. You have zero leads and your teammate comes back with a solid one, the first thing you don’t do is to be an asshole. Because he’s done way more than you have – and to be honest, it’s not much. He literally went back to the scene of the kidnapping and thought about it for 30 seconds. Still, it’s more than these clowns did. So just chill out, Ice Man.*

* Another Dad joke!

We move to Olympus where there’s a lot of expository words, Zeus is talking to Dionysus and he’s sad because he’s forced to screw over his son, Hercules. Pluto is talking to Ares and Hippolyta and he’s happy because his stupid scheme is actually working. Guess who comes in motorcylces a blazin’*? The Champions! But Ice Man apologizes to Ghost Rider for doubting him, which is nice.

* Another one!

They fight the Huntsman (who doesn’t turn out to be all that tough) and a handful of mutants (non X-Men type) before booging on over to the wedding. The Huntsman gets there before them and warns Pluto, but guess who kicks the Huntsman’s ass? Yup. Angel. He swings him around by his staff, lets go and the Huntsman gets a bump on the noggin. Hercules punches Ares in the face, which was pretty dope. Then Venus turns Hippolyta’s sword into a plow which clunks off her head, knocking her out. BTW, I’m not 100% sure it’s a plow because Venus calls it a “gentle tool of peace” which is kind of a weird descriptor. Also, it’s not drawn incredibly well.

Now, the Champions are about to kick Pluto’s ass, but Hercules wisely tells them to get behind him because there’s no way they can handle him. And that makes sense because they can’t. The Ghost Rider tells the gang to hold his beer, he’s got something up his sleeve and walks over to Zeus. He basically tells Zeus that he got played and that he’s a bit of an idiot. Instead of incensing Zeus, the King of the Gods (who has a notoriously short fuse) is crestfallen. He yells at Pluto, who runs away from Olympus back to Hades.

Zeus says that he’ll deal with Pluto “later” but probably never does because that’s the way it rolls in Olympus.

This is an underwhelming ending to the Champions’ first arc. Things kind of just peter out. But that’s comic books. For the most part, no one ever really scores a full-fledged knockout. Either the villain is defeated (and most of the time, it’s through luck or a deus ex machina, rarely is it ever the direct result of the good guy’s plan) or the bad guy slinks away.

I guess that’s to set up the stakes for the next time the bad guy comes back. You’re supposed to think, “Man, Bad Guy X almost beat Good Guy Y last time. I bet it’ll be even closer now!” But the result is that, the hero looks like a chump and was fortunate to have luck on their side. This sort of storytelling isn’t just a comics thing. It happens all the time in movies and wrestling and other stories where you have a “Big Bad” that you’ve spent weeks building up only to realize that your heroes are definitely not strong enough to take down.

Basically, the writer has painted himself into a corner and there’s only one way out.

There are two things that I wanted to end with:

1.     The first three Champion covers all use the word “comrade”. It appears to me that someone got a dictionary for Christmas but did not get a thesaurus. Comrade is a good, strong, comic book-y word. But c’mon Boris, you keep using this word and people are going to think that you’re red.

2.     When I was a kid there were two things that I loved to read: comics and Greek mythology. So, Hercules has always been one of my favorite characters. Naturally, I thought that I’d like all of the Marvel Olympus characters. They’re cool, but a little dopey. Pluto is kind of a dipshit though (at least the way he’s written here, he is), I thought a guy who looked like this:

would be tough. BTW, the first time I saw what Marvel Universe Pluto looked like was in the above image from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. He looked like a ancient Greek Darth Vader. He doesn’t act like it in this issue. Though I will say I do like how Dionysus and Zeus are going to go get hammered and forget this whole mess ever happened.

All-in-all, I’d give this issue three Angels out of five. The art was a little better as was the writing. It’s still heavy on the explanations and these guys bicker too much (all without Hercules too, who is usually written as a classic asshole) but it held my attention. The cover art is still the best part about the books.


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