Tag Archives: A-Next

The World You Have Always Known is Born Part 5-MC2 Universe featuring Fantastic Five!!!

 

 

Welcome back, folks, to the greatest 90’s comic book blog you’re gonna find on the interwebs!  I hope you have enjoyed Emily’s work on Enigma the past two weeks.  Enigma happens to be one of my all-time favorite comic books, but a few of you are probably ready for lighter fare, seeing as how Enigma makes David Lynch films look like Jennifer Aniston romantic comedies!  Picture Perfect, anyone?  Emily really brought it home on this one!  Enigma is a tough subject, but she handled it with aplomb, wit, and humor.  (Toss her a kudos when you can!) So now that your soul and mind have been permanently scarred by entities like Enigma’s Envelope Girl and the Interior League, I bet that you are ready for a return to the MC2 summer, and this week, I bring you Fantastic Five!

This title is honestly best known for being a continuation of Tom DeFalco’s less than heralded 1990’s run on Fantastic Four.  Many of his supporting characters are in play, including the villain Hyperstorm, Franklin Richards as a character named Psi-Lord, and Lyja, the Skrull that Johnny Storm married when she was impersonating Alicia Masters.  His run is almost universally reviled, except for the issues that introduce the New Fantastic Four, which are classic 90’s gold that we will definitely cover soon here at The Unspoken Decade!

I read DeFalco’s Fantastic Four when I first started collecting comic books, and to be honest, while I was not a fan, I did always find them entertaining.  Fantastic Four might be the most difficult book to work on in the entire industry.  Do the same thing over and over again, and you’ll be accused of plagiarizing Kirby and Lee; go too far way and you’ll be accused of not carrying on in the right vein.  DeFalco, even when he struck out, seemed to be one of the least intimidated by those ghosts.  He did what he wanted with the characters, and it always worked for me just a little bit better than his work on Thor.

That having been said, I have been more tired than a guy who has driven 1500 miles in one day of the MC2 Universe formula thus far, which has centered around three books about teenagers attempting to find their way in heroism.  It’s gold with Spider-Girl, silver with J2, and then tin with A-Next.  Certainly, A-Next has its moments, but it’s as tiresome as going to Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon by that third book.  Thankfully, this FIRST ISSUE’S COLLECTOR’S ITEM breaks away from that!

Surely by 1999 no one believed that a blurb bragging of a comic's collectability could be telling the truth?  I bet someone fell for it though, and I laugh as I picture them carefully putting away their copy of Fantastic Five as they dream of a giant Uncle Scrooge bank vault full of cash that they shall never have.
Surely by 1999 no one believed that a blurb bragging about a comic’s collectability could be telling the truth? I bet someone fell for it though, and I laugh as I picture them carefully putting away their copy of Fantastic Five as they dream of a giant Uncle Scrooge bank vault full of cash that they shall never have.

 

Man, Uncle Scrooge bank vault jokes are always funny.  What is it with them?  I hope they never lose that appeal because they’re a big part of my shtick!  Those jokes aside, I was prepared to really dislike Fantastic Five, but I was surprised.  This book isn’t going to set the world on fire or anything, but the first thing it does to make me enjoy it is that it gets away from that teen hero trope that has been dominating MC2.

The second thing it does is a really good job introducing the Fantastic Five to us.  Somewhere in the 90’s superhero comic books started taking it for granted that everyone who picked one up would just know who everyone was. Perhaps that’s because of the growing insular nature of the hobby – there were few impulse buys, save the already initiated, due to only being able to access comic books via the direct market…but I digress.  DeFalco takes nothing like this for granted:

Fantastic Five #1 - Page 2
I wonder if anyone ever got blinded by Human Torch’s signal and then caused a wreck. Do you think there are lawyer commercials for those hurt in accidents like this in the Marvel Universe?
Fantastic Five #1 - Page 3
How could this work? She’s a Skrull pretending to be a human. I bought a car earlier this year, and it took 7888 hours. They demanded all sorts of ID and income verification. She is not even human and pretending to be someone else; no way they can sell her a car.
Fantastic Five #1 - Page 4
Do bands practice in Gas Stations? Is that a thing? I have never been in a real band, so I need someone who has to tell me.
Fantastic Five #1 - Page 6
I like how the robot avatar of Reed is showing something that resembles brain matter because hey, he’s smart, and don’t you forget it!

So we have our heroes, folks!  Oh wait, I guess there’s one more we need to meet…

Oh Thing, always obsessed with your aesthetics.
Oh Thing, always obsessed with your aesthetics.  Also, that lady with the grey hair REALLY hates celebrities.  She looks like she had plastic surgery so her face would permanently sneer with disdain.

One thing that DeFalco always got right, both here and during his earlier Fantastic Four run, is the characterization of The Thing.  Ben Grimm is one of the most beloved characters in comic books for his fortitude, endurance, and cool looks, but I think we love him the most for his character, which is instantly instilled in us via his tough guy dialogue.

It’s easy to forget the fact that Ben Grimm is a smart guy.  He constantly deflects the intellectual challenges to Mr. Fantastic the way the manager of the high school basketball team never touches the rock without the permission of the star.  Permission I bet he never gets!  High school is unfair, and if you don’t believe me, you have plenty of MC2 books to check out that will back up this cliche.  I’d appreciate it if you’d wait to dive into those until after this article is over, though!  That’s not too much to ask at all! Besides, I’m getting back to Ben Grimm in a moment.

As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, Ben Grimm’s dialogue may be the best in comic book history. With just a few sentences, this rock creature comes to life as whatever charmingly cantankerous role strikes your fancy.  Perhaps he is your uncle, your father, your grandfather, or a neighbor, but one way or another, you feel like you know The Thing.  No matter how much crazy cosmic stuff he gets exposed to, he always reacts just like that older guy in your life would!  I dare you to imagine your dad/uncle/grandpa/neighbor saying “What a Revoltin’ Development This Is” and not laugh.  I’ll wait.  So will Ben.

I guess you shouldn't wait too long or else we are going to see Ben kill Reed.
I guess you shouldn’t wait too long or else we are going to see Ben kill Reed.

The other thing that really makes Fantastic Five worth a look is a serviceable but interesting subplot about what happened to Reed and Sue Richards.  After all, this is causing lots of gossip in the science community.

I am very sure that one of the scientists speaking is a cuckold.  He's very obsessed with Reed's self-image as a man.  Just focus on the science, you skeevy weirdo!
I am very sure that one of the scientists speaking is a cuckold. He’s very obsessed with Reed’s self-image as a man. Just focus on the science, you skeevy weirdo!

Damn!  We’ve seen the Fantastic Four take on everyone from Mole Man to Galactus and come out more or less unscathed, so whatever happened to Reed and Sue must be serious business.  The craft on display on this page is subtle, yet brilliant.  By having the scientists discuss this, no matter how skeevily, it feel less like an infodump and more like two scientists just shooting the breeze about one of their colleagues.  If you have ever had a job or gone to school, you are more than aware about how gleeful it can be to just riff on the folks around you, and you are also more than aware about how awesome it can be just to OVERHEAR a good conversation between people about the weirdos.  Of course, few things hurts more than stumbling into that conversation and finding out it is about you.  That feels like a thumbtack point to the underside of your eyelid.  (I should apologize for that one; it hurt me just typing it.)

This conversation also recounted the original FF’s origin fairly naturally, so kudos to this one for bridging the past and the present so well:  two birds, one stone!  Unfortunately, other than Thing being Thing and this subplot, the series is full of villains that the FF (especially now that it stands for FIVE members on the squad) could defeat more easily than the Yankees could beat a little league squad.  Take this guy for instance:

 

Jesus, thank God most of the other Nice Guys from Ok Cupid don't know anything about super-tech doomsday devices.
Jesus, thank God most of the other Nice Guys from Ok Cupid don’t know anything about super-tech doomsday devices.

Am I really supposed to believe that this guy who can’t even conquer A DATE is going to defeat the Fantastic Four  Five?  And I don’t mean conquer as in make that lady bend to his will via his mastery of violence or hypnosis, but I mean conquer as in, you know, have one and know how to act on one.

That crime pays joke has to be a crime in and of itself as well, and I wish the FF would bust him for that alone.  For real, though, there’s just nothing about this guy or his smog monsters that screams threat to me, and if it does to you, I am not trying to mean, but you’re a wuss.  You can overcome that, and the first step is probably not letting wishes-he-could-date-a-supermodel-Ichabod Crane-looking-motherfucker intimidate you.

Despite his utter lack of ability to do anything, he actually manages to capture the FF at one point, and their only recourse is to allow Big Brain (what Reed is called now) to sacrifice his body to free them.  No worries, though, because Reed is a supra-genius who will just whip up another one.

That house ad at the bottom of the page seems to lack sincerity.  Are they trying to convince us or them that there will be another issue next month?
That house ad at the bottom of the page seems to lack sincerity. Are they trying to convince us or them that there will be another issue next month?

I would think Reed would have less trouble building better robots.  I mean, he’s smarter than God with one of those GIANT Texas Instrument calculators.  Remember those?  They had all those buttons, but all you ever did was play Snake and Tetris on them.  I did too, so no judgement from me.  Point being, Reed is super mega smart, even for a comic book character.  Maybe it ties into the subplot of what happened to Sue and him!  Even if it does, we have more easily-defeated villains to deal with first!

No one ever cared about the Wizard, right?  I hope not because I am about to really savage this guy, and I'd hate to hurt the feelings of BOTH of the folks who like The Wizard.
No one ever cared about the Wizard, right? I hope not because I am about to really savage this guy, and I’d hate to hurt the feelings of BOTH of the folks who like The Wizard.

I have never gotten The Wizard.  The first time I ever saw the guy was during the Acts of Vengeance crossover, and I wouldn’t see him again until this crappy game.  Don’t get me wrong, though, the arcade version of Captain America & The Avengers was awesome.  There is no version of The Wizard you could say the same about.  He’s just such a second stringer, and that second stringer is now multiplied by five.  I guess that’s appropriate because there are four five in the Fantastic Four Five, except that any member of any incarnation of this team could easily defeat The Wizard of this time.  I am even counting Fantastic Force members as having the ability to kick the hell out of The Wizard any time they wanted; I am even counting you, Vibraxas!

There is no way a guy named Vibraxas wearing that get-up gets to look that smug at anyone.  Let's all judge him back!
There is no way a guy named Vibraxas wearing that get-up gets to look that haughty at anyone. Let’s all judge him back!

Still, despite his shortcomings, Vibraxas could beat The Wizard so badly that “Wizarding” would become a gerund in The Official Dictionary of the Marvel Universe. (TRADEMARKED)  I just wish they could have used anyone in the Fantastic Four besides these guys.  Wizard and his flunkies just scream “guys the FF will have no trouble defeating.”

Wizard does help advance the subplot that is keeping this series interesting, though, so I guess he has that going for him.

Fantastic Five #2 - Page 22
What’s the deal with this “Wingless Wizard” nonsense? I have never seen this guy with wings. Did wizards at large have wings once? What the fuck does this mean?

Fantastic Five #2 - Page 23

 

Now we’re talking!  The Negative Zone!!!!  It doesn’t get more Fantastic Four Five than that!  Unless we are talking Galactus.  Which we aren’t…today.  The Wingless Wizard stuff still bothers me, and I think it will forever.  But before I wind up eternally mired in the bog of this comic book nonsense, I think it would be nice to note that Spider-Girl shows up in this short-lived series as well, which makes me happy.  Tom DeFalco does a pretty good job intertwining the MC2 Universe, especially when it comes to Spider-Girl and The FF.

 

 

Spider-Girl and Franklin Richards are butt-touch dancing!  Is this a disco?
Spider-Girl and Franklin Richards are butt-touch dancing! Is this a disco?

Unfortunately, Franklin Richards takes on Wizard’s Warriors with Spider-Girl. (I keep wanting to call her Spidey, but I am unsure if that’s allowed or not.  Someone who is a bigger fan of both Spider-Man and Spider-Girl should really let me know.  Please?) I have already proven the Warriors pack all the punch of an armless 2-year old.  I won’t go on again about how much I detest The Wizard and these minions of his, but I will say that I would have rather had Paste-Pot-Pete as a villain.  At least one of these jerks who are dressed like Wizard has a paste gun, evoking memories of the villain so awful he is awesome. Come on, how do you not like this guy?

That hat looks like he deflated a hot water bottle and then stretched the neck out.  I find it amazing, and if you're cool, you do too.  If you're not cool, GET OUT OF MY BLOG IMMEDIATELY!
That hat looks like he deflated a hot water bottle and then stretched the neck out. I find it amazing, and if you’re cool, you do too. If you’re not cool, GET OUT OF MY BLOG IMMEDIATELY!

 

Less of a threat than Wizard, but lots more fun to see for sure.  Also in the book where Our Gal Spidey (see what I did there?) teams against Wizard’s Warriors with Franklin Richards (who I will never call Psi-Lord, no matter how much he, this book, Marvel, or Tom DeFalco wanted me to because it’s just such a shitty name), we get to see a thinly veiled sex joke in a book that was part of a line aimed at kids to get them interested in comic books again.  First, though, the greatest chef’s apron of all time:

There's no need for me to make a joke here because you are still chuckling from reading that apron.
There’s no need for me to make a joke here because you are still chuckling from reading that apron.
Now you can imagine Skrull/Human sex.  Finally, someone who gets it.
Now you can imagine Skrull/Human sex. Finally, someone who gets it.

 

Aside from attempting to figure out how old is too old for a human to be to date and marry a Skrull, we also hearken back to a time when Skype was a technology for the far future that we may never see for at least 11 years. But the Fantastic Four Five’s Cyborg Thing can just whip out his laptop and get right on there to discuss his kids with his ex-wife, another subplot that you just know would have appealed to that kids market!

I don’t have an issue with these subplots so much as I think they belie what I understand was the ostensible reason of the line, which was to get kids to read comics without a lot of modern continuity baggage.  I just find the Human Torch/Lyja joke, while not terrifically offensive, just past the edge of a book for this stated purpose.  The Thing having custody issues isn’t going over that edge so much as I don’t think that kids, even kids of divorced parents like me, would find it interesting.  It is well done, though, and it gives us a different angle on the everyman nature of Ben Grimm that we love and adore so very much.  Perhaps this was just a subplot slipped in there for older readers to enjoy.  Superhero comic books, when at their best, appeal to readers of all ages, and this certainly would be something for a slightly older crowd.

The secret of why Reed is beaming his thoughts to an automaton and what happened to Sue Storm is revealed in the fourth issue of Fantastic Five (you get it already, so no more strikethrough), and it is quite a doozy to say the least.  Doozies always seem to be “quite a”.  Is there ever a doozy that doesn’t measure up?  I know one, and I will introduce you to him right after showing you the snazzy cover to Fantastic Five #4!

Fantastic Five #4 - Page 1
That’s one creepy looking Eyes Wide Shut stalker guy.

The creepy looking guy staring blatantly at Reed and Sue Richards is Hyperstorm, a Tom DeFalco creation from his earlier run on The Fantastic Four, and he is obviously named from one of those dual lists where one picks a word from each side and makes a compound word to form a name.  I am not knocking Tom for this, as I used the same thing to name characters in the 90’s.

Hyperstorm is a mutant from the Days of Future Past storyline, and beyond that, the character gets incredibly complicated and somehow becomes the reason for Fantastic Force and that godwawful Psi-Lord name.  Don’t believe me?  It’s canon, baby!

While I find Hyperstorm to be about as epic as a Juicy Fruit commercial without the catchy tune that reminds us all the taste is indeed going to mooooooooove you, at least he does something epic by TEARING A HOLE IN REALITY.  Also, The Fantastic Five has awesome space scooters.  These two things are only sort of connected.

Fantastic Five #4 - Page 18
Unfortunately the answer is yes, your mother will have to use her powers to save reality; also, your father’s face is melting.

Fantastic Five #4 - Page 2 Fantastic Five #4 - Page 3

Unfortunately yes, your mother will have to use her incredible power to save reality at great cost to herself; also, your dad's face is melting.
Unfortunately yes, your mother will have to use her incredible power to save reality at great cost to herself; also, your dad’s face is melting.

To save us all, Sue Richards gave up her freedom, and she basically gets stuck in a cosmic MRI forever.  Don’t believe me?

Fantastic Five #4 - Page 20
Just how angsty would all those angsty kids in the MC2 Universe be if they knew their entire reality is on the precipice of utter annihilation? They’d probably have feelings and stuff about it.

There’s nothing to top that.  This is a nice reveal, and it really shows the character of Sue Richards.  I enjoy the idea of her sacrifice, and I like this as a device that they could have come back to had this series lasted more than five issues.  She truly is the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four.

I wish we had a moment or two like that with Lyja, who feels flat for more of the series. She does fool that car salesman, though, so what can you say?  I imagine we would have seen more of her had the series gone on.

We leave Issue #5 for another blog, as that takes place after the millennium changed!  All in all, Fantastic Five is a quaint sort of charming, and like most of the MC2 line, while not great, is a fun little read.  The more I say that, the more it makes me believe that the line could have succeeded if it had been marketed as intended.  This could have been the kind of comic book that you could give to an 8-year old (sans Human Torch sex joke) to hook them on the industry for life!  Alas, it was not to be.

We’ll wrap up the MC2 summer next week when we look at Wild Thing!  We already saw her in our look at J2, but now we’ll see the daughter of Elektra and Wolverine in her own title!  The kids are back in school, and the summer has to end, but there’s one chance for fun right here at The Unspoken Decade!  See you next week, folks!

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The World You Have Always Known Is Born MC2-Part 4 Featuring A-Next Continued!

Welcome back to The Unspoken Decade!  I hope all of you have been enjoying our MC2 summer!  If you haven’t been enjoying it, then get ready to not enjoy it some more because we’re continuing the journey today with another look at A-Next!  But have no fear, there are only two more entries after today’s look at A-Next! The reason I decided to split up the entries on A-Next was because I wanted to take a quick look at a new round of Avengers that showed up on the scene of A-Next very quickly – too quickly, if you ask me.  Also, we needed lots of space for the original Defenders! A-Next continued one of the most beloved Avengers tropes in history, which is the shaking up of the lineup!  I know many of you have seen issue after issue of Avengers with one of those great covers that usually has a giant question mark or a group of faces on the cover with the copy “Who Shall Be The Avengers?” or something similar.  You know, like this:

George Perez is the man.
George Perez is the man.  When he draws The Avengers, I always wish there were 23987389479843789 members in the group.

A-Next did a little differently, though, and while I have been somewhat hard on Tom DeFalco here and yon, I can say I liked this twist on the trope.  Instead of a dissolution of the existing A-Next squad, Mainframe, the mysterious robot that appears to be a Vision/Iron Man hybrid, just decides to bring in a bunch of new heroes. The youngsters comprising A-Next are taken aback by this, and rightfully so.  Remember when you were young and you finally got some sort of brass ring, whether it was getting to be in Gifted and Talented class or you were named starting shortstop for your school baseball team or you even finally caught the eye of that young lady or fella you had been pining for since the first day of homeroom?  What a fantastic feeling!  Now remember when you found out others were coming into GT, that your coach wanted to start working out your arch-enemy, Tyler Kensington at SS, or your new belle or beau is all of a sudden captivated by their lab partner?  That feeling was a little less delightful in the same way that having leprosy sucks a smidge. Well, that’s pretty much what happens to our pals in A-Next, although I don’t find it to be all bad, mostly due to my favorite A-Next character aside from J2.

Meet the aptly-named American Dream, the inspiration for all those "sexy Captain America" Halloween costumes some of you hate so much.  I am ok with those, myself.
Meet the aptly-named American Dream, the inspiration for all those “sexy Captain America” Halloween costumes some of you hate so much. I am ok with those, myself.

But what the hell is up with those sexy “Brian the Dog from Family Guy” costumes?  Is that some guy’s fantasy?  He wants you to be a cartoon dog?  Or the lady dressed up wants to be a cartoon dog?  I find this befuddling and the root of the decay of America. I kid.  Mostly.  But I really do like American Dream.  I like the name, the idea, and the costume.  The creative team does an outstanding job making her impressive.  While she is obviously a derivative of Captain America, she grows into her own character that holds onto many of the same ideals and traits that we have come to know and love in Steve Rogers.  Of course, she didn’t meet the original A-Next group on great terms, though, as it was a total surprise to them that Mainframe was talking to any other teenage heroes to take up the mantle of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. So you can only imagine the dismay that J2, Stinger, and the rest of the gang must have felt when they waltzed into their HQ and saw this!

The one with the French villain mustache looks smug, but I don't know if he is actually trying to be smug so much as he just has a French villain mustache.
The one with the French villain mustache looks smug, but I don’t know if he is actually trying to be smug so much as he just has a French villain mustache.

 

His name is Freebooter, and we are shortly introduced to all of them.  We also learn that whatever things Mainframe has been programmed to do, one of them is not dealing with teenagers well.  He’s basically dismissive of their feelings and concerns, much to the delight of every cantankerous old neighbor on nearly every sitcom ever.  Why coddle the kids when you can just talk down to them in a mean robot voice?

A-Next #4 - Page 6

A-Next #4 - Page 7
Wow, that wasn’t awkward for anyone. Bluestreak has been on the team 7 seconds and has essentially already violated whatever sexual harassment clause The Avengers have.

Seriously though, is that the best Mainframe and Jubilee can do as far as integrating this team?  This is such an awkward position for both groups of teens here, and they are handling it with all the care that a bulldozer gives a pile of debris.  You’d especially think Jubilee would be better due to her history as a teen superhero.  Then again, maybe when she got demoted from the X-Men to Generation X she took it really hard, thus influencing her callous nature toward the young A-next squad here.  Of course, she is Mother F’n Goose in comparison to Mainframe, who epitomizes everything we fear about the imminent robot takeover of mankind.

One of our heroes is especially hit hard by this turn of events, and J2 takes off to sulk.  Remember taking off to sulk when you were young?  Man, I don’t know if it was just the 90’s or not, but when I was a teenager, if we gathered in groups of more than three, someone would have to get upset and go off to sulk.  Sometimes, that sulker was me.  These teenagers, despite their powers, are no different.  Dibs on being Juggernaut, though.

"Come back inside and be sexually harassed.  For once, it's happening to the boys!"
“Come back inside and be sexually harassed. For once, it’s happening to the boys!”

When A-Next shines, I feel like it shines due to moments like these, where I can actually recall my own similar personal moments, where I separated myself from groups for slights both real and imagined, but also for just feeling out of place.  I always treasured those moments when someone would come to check on me and make me feel like I belonged; I am sure J2 felt the same.  If you want to recall those days, read A-Next, Spider-Girl, and J2.  You will recall what it was to be young.  In three weeks, we’ll tackle Wild Thing as part of the MC2 summer!

Next week, Angel Hayes returns with a great article on Animal Man, and the week after that, Emily Scott ventures back into Vertigo as she looks at Enigma!

 

The World You Have Always Known is Born-MC2 Part 3…A-Next!!!

 

 

Hey, everyone!  Welcome back to our summer series looking at the MC2 imprint!  I know you enjoyed my sister’s article last week on the first issue of the Marvel Knights Inhumans.  One day, we definitely will cover the Marvel Knights imprint with diligent focus, as it deserves it.  The first wave was such a huge event in the comic book industry, and especially for Marvel.

But the imprint we are focusing on for this summer is MC2, which incidentally was hitting the stands at the same time as Marvel Knights.  Marvel Knights survived and even thrived, while MC2, except for the Spider-Girl title, withered and died.  That probably had to do with the audience at which these titles were aimed.  Marvel Knights was aimed at your standard local comic shop direct market consumer.  MC2 was supposed to be sent to outlets like K-Mart in order to attract a younger audience.  That deal never quite came together, and so the MC2 line was put into local comics shops, where the audience was probably a little too old and sophisticated to want this type of book.  Alas, those shelves are where the comics ended up.

I am not sure that the comic books would have fared better had they been placed into K-Mart.  The idea put forth was that MC2 would be a good entry point for younger readers due to them not having to deal with continuity, (or at least that is what ol’ Dean Compton has been told.  If you know better, leave a comment!), but as much as I like MC2, there’s still plenty of Marvel continuity here.  I am unsure how this entry point would have been any less confusing for these readers.  Case in point, if one is going to understand the MC2 title A-Next, one has to understand Thunderstrike.  They do a good job explaining the connection between A-Next and Thunderstrike, but it still something thrust on the reader.

A-Next #1 - Page 6

I don't feel so bad about my intense dislike for Thunderstrike since his own son seems to think he is shitty.
I don’t feel so bad about my intense dislike for Thunderstrike since his own son seems to think he is shitty.

 

This is the last of the MC2 titles that I like, and to be honest, I just sort of barely like it.  I like it in that way where one yearns for something disgusting, like Vienna sausages or Krystal.  There’s just enough of a taste here to make me want it on occasion, but on no way could I eat this everyday.  Actually, I could probably eat Vienna sausages everyday, but no way on that Krystal.

I like the covers, and I like the blurbs, but the actual writing itself here is starting to replicate itself, and not in the way that cool movie monsters replicate, but in the way 2:55 on the last day of school seems to replicate.  I mean, here are some more new kids on the super hero block (insert your own NKTOB favorite here) alongside J2, who had his own title where he was having his own issues being a teenager who is brand-new to the superhero game.  Don’t worry though; you get more of that here, as J2 will be worried that he isn’t good enough to be an Avenger.

I enjoy the Marvel trope of the teenager finding his way in both the real world (or what passes for the real world in their non-costumed lives), but MC2 is overkilling it here.  I understand why, because these books were aimed at new readers, but you can’t tell me that new readers wouldn’t be interested in the adventures of some of the established Marvel heroes that continue their adventures in the MC2 Universe, such as Wolverine or The Defenders.  Surely one of the four books that focused on the youngsters could have been given to an anthology showing us some of those adventures!  But I digress.  We’re here to talk A-Next!

I like to think of this lineup as the same except that Mainframe is replaced by the Mainframe from 1980's GI Joe.
I like to think of this lineup as the same except that Mainframe is replaced by the Mainframe from 1980’s GI Joe.

The new team of Avengers starts out via some machinations from Loki, but first we have to get the group together.  Even though there have been no Avengers for some time, several members still hold on to their ID cards, which as well we all know, work as communication devices for the Avengers.  This was still cool in 1998, although by then, I had a couple pals with cell phones, so the jig on the ID cards was just about to be up.  By 2005, you would have a device rivaling these.  By 2012, you’d have one that would eclipse just about anything these ID cards could do.  Other than work in deep space, I suppose.

Poor Jolt.  She's somehow made to look less cool than Jubilee here, and making a cvharacter look less cool than Jubilee takes a lot of work.  Like, the amount of work it took to build the Hoover Dam work.
Poor Jolt. She’s somehow made to look less cool than Jubilee here, and making a cvharacter look less cool than Jubilee takes a lot of work. Like, the amount of work it took to build the Hoover Dam.

Seriously, I feel so badly for Jolt.  There certainly is nothing wrong with being a mother, and I admire her dedication to the cause of The Avengers despite her having to see her kids off to school.  I feel badly for her because the first thing we see is her calling herself fat (when she is also not only not fat, but is indeed morbidly frail.  (Why are people just morbidly obese?  We never use that adverb anywhere else.  At least no one but me.)  She leaps into adventure in a way that no fat people other than Chris Farley, Jack Black, or John Belushi ever could.

Then I also feel badly for her because I am imagining her returning to her normal life after saving the world with The Avengers, thinking to herself how proud her kids will be of her, but when she comes through the door, all they want are their damn pizza rolls.  What can poor mother Jolt do but sigh wistfully and commence to preheating the oven to 420 degrees?

At least she gets to team up with Speedball first, who amazingly, COMES OFF EVEN MORE UNCOOL THAN JOLT.  For real.  He is so lame here that folks will clamor and sell their unborn children just to see him in his Penance phase.  Don’t believe me?  Take a gander.

But notice how casual J2 plays it here.  "No big deal, just reading a book, guess I'll go fight some demon dudes with some strangers."  Also, I know you know who J2 is because you only shop in the finest comics shops, as mentioned here.
But notice how casual J2 plays it here. “No big deal, just reading a book, guess I’ll go fight some demon dudes with some strangers.” Also, I know you know who J2 is because you only shop in the finest comics shops, as mentioned here.

He’s shopping with his mother.  Jesus Christ, the world is on the damn line and so far we have a lady with body image issues, a kid who just got powers and really has little clue how to use them, a guy who shops for clothes with his mother, and JUBILEE.  Folks, if Jubilee is the best option between the MC2 Universe and annihilation, I suggest you start finding some precious memories of Spider-Girl and the Fantastic Five because it is all going to go to hell.  Man, I despise Jubilee.  It’s mostly due to the 90’s Fox X-Men cartoon; she’s atrocious in that.

But I am off course here.  This isn’t about how awful Jubilee is; the world would end before I finished a rant on that.  This is about how Tom Defalco for some reason has decided to treat most of these older heroes awfully.  MC2 was not necessarily destined to fail; I mean, Spider-Girl had a good run, but treating main characters like this wasn’t doing these books any favors.  I assume part of this treatment of the older characters is to make the younger guys seem cooler and more contemporary, but you’ve already got J2 rocking the flannel-tied-around-the-waist-look!  There’s no need to do what seems like picking on these heroes.  Another two heroes join our merry band of adventurers, and one basically disobeys her dad from the first moment we see her, which is the complete antithesis of Jolt getting fat-shamed.

The only way her rebellion against authority could be more 90's is if she had a skateboard and was letting everyone know that using it is not a crime.
The only way her rebellion against authority could be more 90’s is if she had a skateboard and was letting everyone know that using it is not a crime.

Oh and to round out the heroes, here’s a robot.

A-Next #1 - Page 13

A-Next #1 - Page 14
“I called you here, but I won’t reveal myself. Now let’s do what I want,” is the kind of rudeness only a robot can get away with.

 

And heroes they are, because just like when the Avengers originally started, Loki is up to no good, and it shall require a new band of heroes to stop him.

A-Next #1 - Page 16
Man, even Edward Bernays and Walter Lippmann would be jealous of the spin Loki put on himself there!

Smart people joke above!  Look out!

That Loki!  Always saying is the opposite of what he is in a cool way!  He also is responsible for the creation of his greatest foes, not once, but twice.  He also has this insane knack for giving people super powers via his magic bolts.  He did so for the Wrecker and the Wrecking Crew, and now he does so for Kevin Masterson because, you know, superheroes.

A-Next #1 - Page 18

Oh, no big deal, I have just always thought about this and now it has happened.
Not only did Kevin’s clothes and body change, but he also instantly gained the power to quip.

The battle is fierce, and it looks as though Loki and his minions may just win the day, when Kevin realizes they are in Asgard.  He then uses his power to summon everyone’s favorite Thunder God, The Mighty Thor!

I love this Thor costume, and I have from the moment I saw Simonson's rendering of it.
I love this Thor costume, and I have from the moment I saw Simonson’s rendering of it.

The Avengers save the day, and as Thor not so subtly suggests, many in the group determine the time has come for a new batch of Avengers to challenge the most powerful and dastardly foes that threaten the Marvel Universe!  Everyone who was along for this ride won’t stay in the group, though.

A-Next #1 - Page 23Once again, Jubilee is made out to be the coolest one here, which means you definitely know this ain’t canon, folks!  I should go easier on her, especially when we see the decidedly not-too-fat-for-her-form-fitting-costume Jolt leaving alongside Speedball, who tells us he prefers being a solo act.  I suppose that’s true, EXCEPT WHEN HE SHOPS WITH HIS MOM.  I keep harping on these points, but I do not believe I can do enough to establish how poor it makes these characters seem.

All in all though, the comic book is fun for all 12 issues, and it even has a few cool tidbits.  I’ll talk next week about when A-Next fought The Defenders, the next batch of Avengers, and even how we should have seen Secret Invasion coming!  See you next week for more A-Next, folks!