Greetings from the Odinson,
Last week the first official trailer for the upcoming Avengers movie directed by the great Joss Whedon was released and oh, boy, it looks fantastic. Captain America and Thor (along with Superman) have always been my favorite super heroes. The Avengers has always been my favorite team book. Joss Whedon is one of my favorite creators of all time. And now it’s all coming together in one bombastic explosion of Big Screen goodness. This is the first time a movie has featured a cast of A-list comic book heroes all working together on the screen at the same time. Hey, if it worked for the action heroes in The Expendables, then it has to work for Comics’ Mightiest Heroes!
Apparently, in the movie, just like in the comics, the god of mischief Loki will cause so much trouble for the denizens of planet Earth that a team of the world’s greatest super heroes must assemble to take on the threat no single hero can stand against alone. The trailer is amazing in how much information is conveyed in only two minutes. There’s a huge threat and Nick Fury must assemble the Avengers to take it down. Cue the rock music and action montage. Speaking of which, how many great shots can they cram into one trailer? Thor throwing and catching his hammer; Captain America leaping over a car and into battle like a hero; Hawkeye firing off his bow and looking as cocky as ever; Iron Man erupting out of the Hudson in all his invincible glory; Black Widow laying the smack down; and the Incredible Hulk raging out of control. Some of these images look as if they jumped right out of the comic book.
This film is going to have all the Whedonesque qualities of action, humor and drama. This is what he excels at. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, shows created by Whedon, were all genre bending shows that incorporated all these qualities and more. Who better to handle a huge cast like the Avengers than the man who spearheaded the Whedonverse shows? Between the Scoobies, Angel Investigations, and the motley crew of Serenity, Whedon has handled big ensembles and handled them well. Whedon also has a talent for capturing the conflict between personalities. Whether it’s Jayne challenging Mal’s command or Spike and Angel arguing over cavemen vs. Astronauts (greatest scene ever), Joss Whedon is the man to explore what it would be like to be in a room with a time-displaced soldier from the 1940s, a Viking god of thunder, a cocky billionaire genius playboy, and a meek scientist with an eight-foot tall rage monster dwelling within. The clip of the exchange between Cap and Tony Stark is pure gold.
I was so happy when I heard they were releasing the trailer, but now I am filled with sadness as the long wait till May begins. Other than Star Wars Episode I, I have not been more excited about a movie's debut than this one's. I was excited about Thor and Cap but this is the Avengers directed by Joss Whedon. Next to another Star Wars movie, it doesn't get any bigger than that for the Odinson. Though Episode I fell short of my lofty expectations, I have all the confidence in the world that this movie will be great. Not to mention Marvel's track record with their recent films. 7 months, 21 Days, 11 hours, 54 minutes, and 10 seconds until the premiere (as I type this.) and I can’t wait.
Now on to my next topic…
Who doesn’t like Wolverine? He’s cool, complex, and tough as nails, right? I know I’ve touched on this subject before but New Avengers #16.1 and New Avengers #17 beautifully illustrate why Wolverine is NOT the best there is at what he does. In one issue a henchman empties the clip of his fully automatic machine gun right into Logan’s grill and in the other, during a typical super hero battle, the feral X-Man, sorry Avenger, has his throat cut.
Of course Wolverine survives both these incidents because of his ridiculous healing factor, but surviving is not the point. Wolverine’s greatest super human ability, his healing factor, is his biggest crutch. It makes him sloppy in battle. Guys like Captain America, Batman, Daredevil, and Nightwing get by without a healing factor. And they are facing gun-toting professionals, knife-wielding maniacs, and sword-swinging ninjas and they seem to survive. Iron Fist was in both those New Avengers issues and he didn’t take a bullet to the face.
My point is modern writers have gotten lazy when it comes to dealing with Wolverine’s powers. Wolverine has always had a healing factor but it wasn’t ever to the ridiculous degree that is now. In Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Ogun actually turned the tide of his battle with Logan by pulling a gun on him. Wolverine survived, but barely. In Uncanny X-Men #205, Lady Deathstrike and the cyborg Reavers pushed Wolverine’s healing factor to its limits causing him to revert to a feral state while it coped with his injuries. In Uncanny X-Men #251, even Wolverine would have met his end at the hands of the Reavers if Jubilee hadn’t intervened.
Wolverine has always had extraordinary healing capabilities, but there was still that danger of him meeting his demise. Nowadays he’s plain and simply indestructible. In Old Man Logan, an alternate timeline, a deranged Hulk freaking eats him only to get a Wolverine tummy ache. During Civil War, Nitro disintegrated Wolverine down to only his Adamantium skeleton and he heals back to perfect health in the matter of a few panels. If there is no danger to the hero’s life then where does the drama of the situation come from? If the reader does not fear for his hero’s life than how are his accomplishments spectacular? There has to be a chance of failure for victories to have weight.
I come back to how legendary X-scribe Chris Claremont handled the character. During his long and distinguished tenure on Uncanny X-Men, Wolverine’s mutant power was an asset, not a crutch. It allowed him to recover quickly enough from his trouncing at the hands of the Hellfire Club to help turn the tide of battle in Uncanny X-Men #133. It helped him hold out just long enough for lady luck to smile on him and help him defeat the alien mastermind Horde in Uncanny X-Men Annual #11. It allowed him to go toe-to-toe with a savage like Sabretooth and survive in Uncanny X-Men #212. But his healing factor had its limits. In Days of Future Past, another alternate timeline, Wolverine meets his end when a giant Sentinel fries the flesh from his indestructible bones. In the Japan Adventure, Wolverine is beaten into unconsciousness with a wooden sword by Mariko’s father.
I just don’t think the writers today earn it with him. Wolverine is supposed to be one of the greatest heroes in the world. Like Captain America and Batman, he is a super human fighting machine. I’ve seen Wolverine get the upper hand on Shang Chi, the Master of kung Fu. I just don’t think the writers today respect this man’s abilities. It seems like they know he’s indestructible so let’s just shoot him in the face, blow him up, or impale him with a sword, knowing that any other hero that’s not bullet proof would be dead after this. But guys like Iron Fist and Robin don’t get shot in the face because they are good at their job. And Wolverine is supposed to be the best.
In New Avengers #16.1, Wolverine letting a henchman get the drop on him and blasting him in the chin shows that he has become just as lazy and sloppy as the writers who tell his adventures. I’m not saying that Wolverine during the course of a battle or in an ambush cannot sustain injuries or be hurt, things his healing factor would allow him to cope with, but make the bad guys earn it. What if in New Avengers #17 it had been Hawkeye standing on Ultimo’s chest and some faceless robot tore out his throat? It would have been an inglorious end to a marvelous super hero’s career. But it’s Wolverine…meh, no worries. Wolverine would have been better served in both these scenes if he had disarmed the henchman before he got a shot off because his super hero instincts kicked in and dismantled the annoying little robot before it ever had a chance to cut him. That’s what Cap would have done. But Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, right?
Another frustrating aspect about Wolverine’s healing factor is the inconsistency of it. In Days of Future Past a Sentinel can fry him down to his metal bones and kill him. But in Civil War when Nitro does the very same thing Wolverine heals almost instantly. In Uncanny X-Men #234, Wolverine’s healing factor saves him from the alien Brood parasite growing in his body. But in Marvel Zombies, he succumbs to the alien zombie virus just like everyone else. In The Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine his power makes him immune to the rage virus. But in What If #24, Wolverine’s healing factor cannot protect him vampirism. Yet, it can protect him from vampirism in X-Men: Curse of the Mutants.
If Wolverine is really one of the greatest heroes in the world then he should stop getting wounds every issue that would kill other guys that don’t get these wounds. This suggests one of two things to me. Either everyone else is better at their job than he is, or Wolverine, like those who write his adventures, uses his healing factor as a crutch and has become lazy and sloppy. I challenge everyone to go back and revisit Logan’s adventures from the 70s and 80s and remember just how cool this character was and how it was actually a debate on whether or not he was the best there is. Pardon the pun, but he clawed his way to the A-List by being a total B.A.
Here are just a few examples of Wolverine truly at his best: Wolverine by Chris Claremont and Frank Miller, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, Essential Wolverine, The Dark Phoenix Saga, Alpha Flight/X-Men, and Uncanny X-Men #120-122, 172-173, 183, 205, 207, 211-213, 221-222, 251, 268, and 275.
The best modern tale of Wolverine is, without a doubt, Enemy of the State. It made Wolverine the toughest guy in the Marvel Universe again, even if the writer had to make him a bad guy to do it. I like Wolverine, when he’s written well. I’m just not sure if the creators these days really appreciate this character the way they to treat him so casually. Here’s a novel idea. How about we see Wolverine get into a fight, win it, and actually not have to rely on his healing factor to survive the incident. That would be a step in the right direction.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell