Monday, April 23, 2007

A Not-So-Beautiful Mind (Marvel comics)
Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9 When: March 2007
Why: Jeff Parker How: Juan Santacruz

The story so far...
The world's mightiest heroes are going about their routine superheroic business, but something about this mission is going to change the way the world views The Avengers!

The target is MODOK and the yellow suited agents of AIM, who are conducting sinister experiments with untested scientific contagents.

The heroes want to put a stop to these dangerous evil experiments, but little do they realise the experiment is very soon to be THEM! MODOK and his cronies intend to turn the tables on The Avengers, and may Zod have mercy on them all for it!

Previous Form:
Captain America (#8): Cap has led teams against AIM, Charnal, She-Hulk, Ghost Rider & Wolverine.
MODOK (#192): MODOK was defeated by a Captain America/Cable team-up.
The Avengers [#2]: The Avengers have a 50% victory rate, with a single draw.
AIM [#15]: AIM has thus far been unsuccessful in battle.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Hulk 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: MODOK 5 (Professor)
Speed: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Hulk 6 (Generator)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting Ability: Captain America 6 (Warrior)
Energy Powers: Iron Man 5 (Lasers)

Y'know, when this issue came out, I think it was a given that just about every major blogsite was going to feature it in some capacity. More on that in The Hammer, but for the time being, let's use that as a segue to discuss the star of the show -- MODOK!

Actually, in Marvel Adventures kiddy-friendly-land it's MODOC because the K is for Killing. And apparently the children aren't yet ready to be exposed to the prospect of a giant floating head with no visible means of 'going potty' who lives only to kill and destroy. Hey, whatever "FCC". Just don't come crying to me when the French censors laugh at you pretentiously!

The K for killing brings us, of course, to the important question of just how likely it is that MODOK will live up to his "616" name. To properly ascertain such informations we should probably take a look at exactly who makes up this particular assemblage of Avengers!

Included in the Marvel Adventures line-up is a unique blend of classic Avengers, contemporary inclusions, and some new to the team:
Captain America, Storm, Hulk, Spider-man, Giant-Girl (Wasp), Iron Man & Wolverine.

I could go through the ins and outs of the characters, and try to concoct various scenarios under which the characters would meet on individual terms, but it would be for moot.
Statistically most of these guys are going to beat MODOK nine times out of ten, if not maybe more. That's what has made MODOK such a lovable inclusion in the world of the menacing villain. Together, the Avengers have victory all but secured, but never let it be said that odds cannot be overcome...

The Math: The Avengers
The Pick: The Avengers

What went down...
With an explosive opening, the Avengers descened through a hole in the roof of the AIM secret lair, trickling down in a cascade of colour and action. The team plummets down led by Wolverine, and a roaring Hulk who tears at scenery.

Spider-man is in fine physical and verbal form, as he and Iron Man swing decisively into the battle. Spidey's quips offer a little something for everyone; beekeeper quips keep the kids laughing, while remarks about the poor AIM of the AIM goons break the fourth wall and call attention to the kiddy-gloves being used by the villains.

Some of the goons reach a sonics cannon and begin firing it's mighty audible blast into the field, stunning Giant-Girl, Iron Man, Storm, Wolverine, and even Hulk, who manages to keep one hand clasped firmly around the goon's skull he is pounding.

From a safe distance Cap tosses his mighty shield. It slices through the barrel of the gun, destroying the mechanics and freeing his fellows from it's ear-splitting devestation.

Just as Iron Man hopes to correct Spidey on another reference to bee-keepers he is propelled across the battlefield, tumbling into the incredible Hulk. The one responsible quips before making his grand entrance, "Ha! I believe the saying is hitting two birds with one -- brainblast!!!"

Presumably this is the first appearance of "MODOC", as indicated by Storm's ignorance.
Spidey again breaks the fourth wall, identifying the character despite acknowledging he has no idea what he's looking at.

MODOK seizes the opportunity to broaden his telepathic brainblast and use it to freeze the heroes while he delivers an account of his origins. He tells a tale of betrayal, presumably because he "didn't bring the right kinds of snacks to AIM barbecues", where he was made the first test subject in experiments to expand the human mind. Little did anyone know he would become the brilliant floating brain bag that is -- MODOK!

It turns out Iron Man's armored helmet has protected him from MODOK's brainblast, but it proves little consolation for the golden Avenger. With the rest of his teammates under MODOK's spell, he quickly finds himself under attack from some of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel universe!

Once Spidey webs the armored hero up, it's a matter of the Hulk scooping him up under his arm as the Avengers followed MODOK to the inner labs where they will learn to think like their enemy.

Strapped into the appropriate hoverchairs, the Avengers are at the mercy of the AIM scientists who go about their wicked business. But it seems a bungle in the procedures to be attend to by Karl has led to the overloading of the Restructurer due to the mass and size of Hulk and Giant-Girl's bodies!

Rather than hang around, MODOK flees, leaving the heroes (and Karl) to their doom!...

The hammer...
... And for that we declare MODOK the winner!
If you disagree with this verdict, then clearly your puny mind is too feeble to grasp the complexities and implications of the scenario presented, and you must be made to conform or DIE!!!

That, or you could just post a comment and explain why you think it was wrong of me to declare MODOK and AIM the victors in this case.

I mentioned in the Tape the potential impact this single issue had as a comics revelation to the blogsites. Marvel Zombies has illustrated the potential popularity of broad thematic transformations in superheroes, so when I found out the MODvengers artwork was more than an amusing comission, I was sure the trend would continue.
Sure enough as news spread it seemed to be the talk of many blogs, not surprising giving the humorist nature of most, but the buck seemed to stop there.

I'd hoped to illustrate the power of silly, quirky, geek-chic in comics, but the numbers have betrayed me yet again. Yes, it's Nextwave all over again, only without the widespread critical acclaim and praise.
According to ICv2 News, Marvel Adventures: The Avengers #9 illustrated a two hundred unit slump from the previous issue, before slipping yet another two hundred and fifty with the issue following.

191 9.76 MARVEL ADVS AVENGERS #8 $2.99 MAR 7,512 [Source]
201 10.09 MARVEL ADVS AVENGERS #9 $2.99 MAR 7,315 [Source]
180 8.48 MARVEL ADVS AVENGERS #10 $2.99 MAR 7,053 [Source]

I guess in an obscure way this leads to one of the all purpose mission statements of this particular website. Though we lack the preemptive capacity to recommend reads in a position of preordering, we hope to provide a gateway into comics you might like to flick through, and track down for purchase.

I was a little perturbed to hear from a reader who was downloading comics illegally, and even more perturbed by a confused reader who was somehow under the confused assumption that Batman issues were somehow public domain because he lives in a foreign country.

If you've browsed through Secret Earths and come across something that's interested you, then hopefully the site is doing some kind of job. But as you can see from sales figures, it isn't exactly a river of silver dollars just because there are a few feature films. We have an obligation, as with all things, to do it the right way.

If you can't access comics readily, look around the internet. It's a pretty resourceful place. Check out some of the more prominent websites and see about finding out reputable online stores, or ebay sellers where you might pick up some of these wacky and wild reads.

Because while I like to think of Secret Wars on Infinite Earths as a resource website, it's merely a gateway to leading you to what you might want to find.
What's left for you is to enjoy the chase of reading more about characters and issues on Wikipedia, official websites, or through purchases. I'm just helping you find what you might like.

Who woulda thought a review of a comic all about a team of MODOKs would lead to such a stiff collared cermon about right and wrong? Hey kids, that's what MODOK does. He shows you the wrong way. Because let's face it, no matter how fun it might seem, imagine the practicalities of having a GIANT cranium, and a tiny little body restricted to a hover chair.

The bathroom alone, guys... Yeesh...

The Fight: 2.5 The Issue: 5

NEXT WEEK: Marvel Ultimate Alliance Mondays continues, and heck! Despite selling only seven thousand units, this issue was so hilariously fun, we're going to do it all over again! Krang and the militants of Atlantis invade! Who will save us?! STAY TUNED!

PLUS: Because this was the very special occasion of our one hundredth featured issue, strap yourselves in for a big week of updates! Tomorrow it's going to be a dark night as two heroes go at it, and then Friday someone's out for revenge for the death of an icon! Two of the biggest features you'll see on the site! BE HERE!

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