Friday, August 24, 2012

Secret Avengers: The Remender Redemption

It was upon first appraisal of Rick Remender that I recognized his style felt like Morrison in the same sense that Morrison felt like Moore.  It has to be recognized that nearly each and every character in a Rick Remender storyline has more depth and emotional complexity than most superhero books can hope to achieve, and it unfolds without too-oft repeated contrivances (or as-yet unexplored facets on those contrivances, or tropes, if you like) and ill-suited demographics-pandering that are built into the structure of Comic Books: the Entity, as a whole, both at this time and (let's admit it) most of its existence.

Could be that Rick Remender's a new breed of comic book writer, the metaspawn emerging around the Age that Morrison made Weird, altering the scope of the world with the destruction of Genosha and wide-screen life-tampering and near-cosmic grounded in adventure proper, writ large with neon signs and snappy dialogue.  He's not John Byrne and he's not Chris Claremont, thank Christ.  He's the type of fellow who knows the nuance of nerd like the palm of his hand, yet walks through the socially-crippling flames unscathed, with a quip or quirk that you'll need to reread, a hook that you can explain in two sentences, and cliffhangers that aren't simply driven by virtue of being the final page.  He kills characters with all the mercy of a slaughterhouse manager. This makes him very dangerous for the entities within Marvel 616, resilient as they are.

Rick Remender could turn the Marvel Universe into a graveyard and make it matter as he did so.

Secret Avengers, your surprise of the week is a newly reformed Masters of Evil. Have some.

Mind you, this is supposed to be a professionally structured review of The Secret Avengers storyline currently occurring (post Status Quo Disrupting Revamp? Pre?) but it will likely degenerate into gushing fandom for the man's work.  He made a comic book with a joke title (Uncanny X-Force) into one of the freshest and most surprising titles in the Marvel Universe, and has mined the veins of the mountains that came before with an aplomb as graceful as a swan and as ruthless as a badger.

Remender was no doubt raised on Bruce Campbell  dark physical comedy and likely when he saw the dystopian hodge podge future burned away by the Phoenix in Here Comes Tomorrow he liked what he saw.  Twisted variants on all the old themes, fresh and remastered as villains or heroes, morally grey issues greeted with enthusiasm rather than trepidation.

Currently two of his titles, the effective Uncanny X-Force and The Secret Avengers, involve his rehashing of two groups that seemed silly by title in the morally ambiguous quagmire attempting grand declarative statements: The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and The Masters of Evil.  Elements of The Venture Brother's Guild of Calamitous Intent are called forth: Who would want to join an organization called Evil right in its title?  How many demented souls would actually want to carry such a title? Plenty, it turns out, and not all of them from what we would call reality.

Remender alters the Marvel Universe landscape as he murders innocents and guilty alike... the mythos of place is conjured up and handed off to other writers, friends every one, to explore and adventure in.  The key to any Remender storyline is simple.  It's fun, see.  A comic book is supposed to be fun.

The activity of reading a comic book is a leisurely one. A novice, unschooled, must be entertained, but a certain gravitas (to greater or lesser extents) must always be given to the auteur providing the imagery.  Remender's eye for artists from his time in Fear Agent on has served his work well, a complimentary matter of fast motion and stillness incorporated to suit the events of the story.   Matteo Scalera's one of the latest in a line of artists whose ample abilities seem to suit the activity of Rick Remender's script, with motion and perspective driving the story at a steady pace.

Small moments like this mean so much. Pun intended.

So what is the story, at least with the Secret Avenger's corner of the Universe? Seems that Nick Fury has had this habit, since a very long time ago, to have life model decoy androids of himself all over the globe to keep from getting assassinated and to foster a sense of confusion, since he's the ultimate Cold Warrior.  One of his life model decoys went a little bonkers, calls himself Max, and is assembling a new Masters of Evil in a supervillain bar-pit formed by a Molecule Man battle (remember the landscape shifts mentioned before?)... and he's been collecting crowns of power (calling back to the first missions of the Secret Avengers series, led by Steve Rogers, Supercop)... to become Lord of the Abyss.  And the Abyss, from what we the reader can easily gather, is a darkness beyond demonic, reminiscent, in fact of the Qlippoth explored in Alan Moore's Promethea (the 11th gate in the Tree of Life, the Beggar, the Fountain).

This makes for entertainment, people.  A comic is supposed to be a good time.  And so long as this procession of entertainment continues to keep up in quality, we should pile great heaps of our money at the base of its altar, the serial, and its throne, the graphic novel.  Long may the King, Comic Books: the Entity reign. Long may it be held to a higher standard, with examples set by quality writers and extremely talented artists.

Max Fury, that's like Max Power or Lance Uppercut right?

No comments: