Marvel has become the king of the epic story telling. No longer are they content with decompressed six part stories and writing for the trade, Hickman now writes stories for the Omnibus. The Game of Thrones success has probably emboldened writers to go for the epic. The Odyssey is now the standard for short stories. The difference is that as I read Game of Thrones (on book 4 at this point) characters die and they are not coming back in the next issue. Once Ned Stark is beheaded his story is over. In comic books a death is just something to mark the occasion as it were. It can be a big climax scene, a precursor to future stories, but we know in a year or three when the character is needed they will be revived in some way shape or form.
This week Hickman’s Infinity mini-series came to a close, bringing to a conclusion parts of some story lines and in the same week in Uncanny Avengers #14 three old time Marvel characters bit the dust. In my view the single issue of Uncanny Avengers #14 was a lot better then Hickman magus opus.
Infinity ends and the Avengers and many others beat back the Builders who were destroying the Universe. They then come home to Earth and are being beaten by Thanos. That is of course until his son beats him and then flies off to be the next generation of Thanos; his son Thane. Thane (sound like saying Shane with a lisp) apparently will be worse then his Dad. After 10 issues or more of Avengers, about 6 issues of New Avengers and six issues of the actual mini-series what exactly happened. Well the characters Hickman introduced when he took over Avengers are now defeated and some are back to work rebuilding all the worlds destroyed. All the former Empires in the Galaxy are back up and running and Earth is saved. Except in New Avengers Earth is still in danger of being wiped out as Black Swan laughs off what the Avengers accomplished as next to nothing. And wait, the Inhumans have loosed the Terrigen Mist on earth.
Okay so for about $100 retail, essentially nothing happened and it is all setting up the Inhumans. Apparenty they are the next set of mutants because Marvel does not own the X-Men for the movies and need a franchise to use as surrogate X-Men for the movies. No explanation that I picked up (and granted I’m reading a ton of stuff and do not follow the Avengers in great detail) made sense for why all of a sudden we have branches of Inhumans all over the Earth or why Black Bolt decided to loose the mists worldwide. Also the entire battle against the builders is already been shown to be a thing of the past and no repercussions even in comic book terms happened. Worse the real menace is still building as Hickman drones on and on in New Avengers. I can’t follow this guy anymore at Marvel. I was unable to hang on to Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four and now have to kick Avengers to the curb. Hickman has some great ideas, some very cool moments and is now being blessed with top tier artists, but the books are a mile wide and an inch deep. What happened that changed anything? All stories do not have to have some game changing moment, but a $100 epic should.
On the other hand Remender, who is guilty of the long long story form also, manages to make a single issue in his epic stand out as a great stand alone issue. Oh the deaths are not super important as they will be fixed down the road or next issue, but it was about Wanda, Wonder Man and Rouge. The characters and the way they feel were front and center in the midst of telling a greater story. Hickman never builds his characters as it is about the ideas and not the people. All stories have to be about the people and Remender made me feel like he actually cared about the characters.
A small side bar to end this column, back Remender with Black Science and Hickman with East of West are doing their best stuff with creator owned books at Image. I get that the Marvel check is important and a great job for these guys, but for my money these books are more fun.