Tag Archives: J2

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!

 

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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!

 

The World You Have Always Known is Born-MC2 Part 2…J2!!!

Hey everybody!  Hope you enjoyed the first part of the MC2 Summer here at The Unspoken Decade!  It only gets hotter from here!  Last week, we talked about the  cornerstone of the MC2 Universe, Spider-Girl.  This week, we tackle J2, which is appropriate, because J2 does a lot of tackling.

If you figured out that J2 is connected to the Juggernaut, quit reading this immediately and go apply at your nearest police department; the force could use someone with those detective skills.  They have lots of tough cases that only a mind like yours could crack!  Ok, that was harsh, but indeed J2 and Juggernaut are connected, as J2 is the son of the original Juggernaut, just as Spider-Girl is the daughter of Spider-Man.  That’s a trope that we see time and time again in the MC2 Universe.  (Should I say universe or imprint?  I have wrestled with this a few times, and I can’t decide.  Opinions in the comments, please.)  I have no issue with that, as I am sure that is what the majority of readers wanted to see.  I was more interested in seeing things venture into the unknown in my favorite titles, especially J2.

My favorite super villain is Juggernaut.  From the moment I saw Juggernaut, I was completely mesmerized.  Few characters have a look so appropriate and striking.  When you see Juggernaut, you think Juggernaut, even if you don’t know that’s his name.  I’m fascinated by the ferocity and strength that is summed up simply in the catchphrase we have all come to know and love:  “Nothing Stops The Juggernaut!”  (If you said “I’m The Juggernaut, bitch”, I am unsure we can be friends anymore, and congratulations for ruining comic books.)  The real question here, though, is does J2 measure up?

Even if he does not measure up to Juggernaut, he will always have the admiration of ECW star Raven for continuing the legacy of tying flannel around one's waist.
Even if he does not measure up to Juggernaut, he will always have the admiration of ECW star Raven for continuing the legacy of tying flannel around one’s waist.

 

If you don’t know who Raven is, you are missing out, big time  Take some time, get the WWE Network, and then check him out on ECW.  If there is anything more 90’s than the comic books we have been talking here at The Unspoken Decade, it’s definitely professional wrestling.

Speaking of wrestling, we learn quickly that Juggernaut is gone, but he made a face turn before he disappeared.  Despite the fact that we are told instantly that this is indeed the progeny of The Unstoppable Juggernaut, he is nowhere to be found!  That was a letdown to me.  I had hoped to see Juggernaut, yelling at his kid to mow the lawn or remarking about how when he had the Crimson of Cyttorak, he used it the right way.  Something about crotchety Dad Juggernaut makes me laugh so hard that I scare kittens.  That’s literally true.  We just got a kitten, and my bellowing made it seek sanctuary in the kitchen.

We do see Zane Yama-Marko, Juggernaut’s son, and we quickly see more of him than he would have cared for us to see.  We also see more of him than we would have cared to see.

You never forget your first time.
I wonder if that volleyball player in heat would have been so excited about J2, giant and naked or not, if she had heard him crying for his Mama just a second or two earlier.

The above picture shows you the first time that Zane is able to morph into J2!  I’m pretty sure this isn’t what they meant when they say “You never forget your first time.”  J2 has all the power of his Dad, but none of the experience.  In fact, just like May Parker, he’s still in high school!  Unlike May Parker, though, who has both the jocks and the nerds in her corner due to her physical and mental prowess, Zane is an out and out dork who aspires to approach ladies. No one would have confused me with Don Juan during my high school days, but even I was aware that talking about math was uncool as hell.

Did he expect her to reply like it was some sort of hokey Valentines Day card?   Like sh
Did he expect her to reply like it was some sort of hokey Valentine’s Day card? Like she was going to say, “Zane, my favorite equation is adding you and me “2”gether!” or something?

Zane may be more like Spider-Man than Spider-Girl other than, you know, not having his powers and all.  But just like a young Peter Parker, Zane is burdneded by a lack of social graces at school, and the lack of a male father figure at home burdens him as well.  He does have the good fortune of having a best friend with the greatest name in history: Montana Gold.  I think she has a crush on Zane as well, but he is blinded by the stunning Talia, who is rendered amazingly by Ron Lim.

Lim is the 90’s to me.  In my first days of collecting, I was exposed to his work on The Infinity War, where he drew, well, everyone in the Marvel Universe except The Punisher, who I wish I could have seen in a crossover in that event, if for no other reason than to see Punisher in a spot he had no business being.  Sort of like how I just slapped him into this J2 article.

Due to the fact that Ron Lim drew everyone in that book, his take on many of Marvel’s characters became the take on them in my eyes.  He was the first guy to draw Alpha Flight for me, and because of his rendering, they continue to have a soft spot in my heart to this day.  And if he could make me an Alpha Flight fan, just imagine what a fight between J2 and The Incredible Hulk drawn by him could do.

When it comes to getting beaten up by The Hulk, it's like father, like son for J2.
When it comes to getting beaten up by The Hulk, it’s like father, like son for J2.

Ron Lim being fantastic aside, J2 was easier for me to relate to while also being very easy to cheer for.  He was trying to find himself in a brand new world, something I could certainly identify with. I was 18 and about to turn 19 when I picked these comic books up off the shelf, not much older than Zane.  I had been where he was at just a few years prior.  I was starting 9th grade, I had never kissed a girl, I was too smart for my own good, and I was about as secure as pile of money inside a wet paper bag on a casino floor.  Thanks to Upward Bound, I was able to find myself.  (Upward Bound is a terrific program for impoverished kids who want to attend college.  Check it out and support it all you can!)  I somehow channeled all of my passion for nerd stuff into being cool-no small feat in the 90’s.  It ain’t like today, kids.

But here I was, now a freshman in college, and I was overwhelmed.  A blind dolphin 7,839 miles from the ocean could not have felt more lost than I did.  I attempted to use my charm at college, but everything was going wrong in my attempts to make new pals.  Zane couldn’t make any pals (other than the excellently named Montana Gold!) either, which somehow made me feel a bit better about my own predicament.  Don’t worry folks, for the both of you who are, I eventually figured out how to make friends in college:  ALCOHOL.

Zane didn’t have that option, what with this being a family friendly comic and all (STILL CODE APPROVED, KIDS), but he did have his mother.  J2’s mom is great, working hard as a single mom and being an assistant district attorney, but she is also leery of J2 and wants to know what his connection to her missing husband is.  Zane, being J2, keeps the secret from his mom despite her efforts to find out as much as she can about him.  Can you imagine how awful that must be?  When I was a teenager, my mom’s constant forays into unraveling all my secrets were awful enough; I can’t imagine how much more terrible that would have been if I had a secet identity my mom was also looking into.

J2 #2 - Page 2

That classified shtick would never work if she knew that was her son.
That classified shtick would never work if she knew that was her son.

J2 also saw the debut of an MC2 character who would get her own title:  Wild Thing!   Wild Thing is the daugher of Wolverine of and Elektra, but I am loathe to say more here;  it’s an MC2 summer, and she will be getting her own entry! You don’t have to wait that long to see her, though.

J2 #5 - Page 1
Even in an alternate Marvel future, Wolverine still guest-stars to boost sales.  Hell, they just used his LOGO to boost sales here.

J2 is also a member of A-Next (the next entry here in the MC2 summer!), but he obviously has many ties to the X-Men family as well.  That’s evidenced not just above, but also when the Uncanny X-People guest star, or my favorite, when we are introduced to Magneta, Mistress of Magnetism!

J2 #6 - Page 1J2 being the connection between the Avengers/X-People is another way that MC2 harkens back to the old days of the Marvel Universe.  I find it similar as to when Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver joined the Avengers.  Marvel has always felt special in the way its characters are tethered together, and these little touches in the MC2 Universe kept that feeling alive.  J2 being the connection between the two groups made perfect sense, as he can easily transfer between them.  I have no problem believing that he would be with the X-People (That’s what they are called now, folks, and to make that name even worse, Jubilee is their leader.  She’s the worst!) in the morning while then turning around and going toe-to-toe with some of the hardest hitting super villains in the galaxy with A-Next at his side.

J2 just succeeds on all levels.  I think that Tom DeFalco’s magnum opus was the MC2 line, in particular the Spider-Girl title.  That’s definitely the best of the bunch, but J2 is my favorite.  This title seemed to speak directly to me when I picked it up off the shelf in 1998, and when I read it now it brings me back to a more confused but somehow simpler time.  How, nostalgia, how you bring the dichotomous together!

For real though, if you see this in a dollar or quarter box, snatch it up!  You won’t be let down as you get to see J2 try and find his way in the world, his way with girls, and then finally, he tried to find his Dad!  These are twelve solid issues that will leave you with the same sort of smile you get now when you think of Joey Lawrence laying a “Whoa!” on you.  OK, the smile J2 brings will be better than that!

Next week, Angel Hayes is back as she takes a gander at…The Inhumans!  Sound the trumpets!  Here comes Marvel Knights!  And in two weeks, the MC2 summer continues with A-Next!!!