Friday, January 13, 2006

The Day the Powers Died

About halfway through Daredevil #79, something hit me like a Circle K 40-ounce mug full of ice water dumped over the top of the curtain during a hot shower. I had to stop, go back a few pages, and reread to make sure I hadn't deceived myself, but sure enough there it was.

A Bendis sighting. Issue 80 confirmed it.

Somehow, Brian Michael Bendis, the man who'd brought us some of Daredevil's greatest stories, the gritty and dark Alias, the complete reimagining of an icon in Ultimate Spider-Man, and the groundbreaking Powers, had overpowered the hack who's been soiling his good name by plastering it on every mediocre book churned out by the Marvel machine.

It got we wondering when the imposter had first began the ruination of a good man's reputation. What was the point where it all went south for Bendis? The answer was actually much easier than I'd guessed.The fucking monkey issue of Powers.

And for those of you who didn't read it, I didn't say "fucking monkey issue" because I had a negative opinion of the monkeys--though I do--but rather because the entire issue is about apes having animalistic sex with each other.The only possible explanation was that Bendis had been knocked over the head and tied him up in his own basement, kept only conscious enough to endorse the checks sent to him by Marvel. Fortunately, he'd already submitted several issues worth of Daredevil and Ultimate Spidey scripts to artists, allowing those books to remain high quality for months following the assault, preventing many readers from even noticing the change. Before long, though, the Doppel-Bendis to take the reins.

Soon, we had Jean Grey switching Wolverine and Spidey's brains into the others' bodies. Daredevil fought a infant-sized demon. Ultimate Spider-Man substituted new Ultimized characters for plot development. Powers moved to Marvel and Alias became the yawn-inducing Pulse. A secret war was waged over the course of nearly two years. Hawkeye got killed, Scarlet Witch gained the power to alter the entire universe, and the Avengers broke up. When they got back together, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman, Sentry, and Echo/Ronin stole the spotlight. All the world was turned on its ear as mutants became the ruling majority, and all the heroes could do about it was talk and talk and talk some more.Oops, sorry about that. My... uh... finger slipped on the mouse.

As I was saying, as difficult as this time has been, there's light at the end of the tunnel. I have seen the coming of the Bendis and He shall rise up, rub salve on our wounds, comfort us in times of unrest, maketh us to lie down in green pastures, and smite our enemies!Okay, I admit it wasn't a mistake that time. Look, all this monkey humpin' is going somewhere. Somewhere big. Somewhere grand. To a height no blog has ever reached before. You just have to trust me. And keep reading everything I write. If I charge you money to read what I write, you should pay whatever it costs to keep reading because, seriously, dude, if you don't everyone else is going to be talking about it and I'm going to win awards for it and you're going to be the only schmuck who didn't read it.

So you'll keep reading? Good because...... now that I know this is all it's going to take to keep you enthralled, I don't have to put forth any more effort than this.

What simian ugly-bumping taught Bendis...'s evil twin was people would put up with garbage as long as his name was attached. Why take the time to craft a good four issue arc about Peter Parker when you can stretch it to nine issues by adding Ultimate Dreadknight, Ultimate Man-Thing (not to be confused with Giant-Sized Man-Thing), and Ultimate Karkas? Why write an Avengers book about the Avengers when you can fiddle around with fringe characters of the Marvel Universe and have Cap or Iron Man make an occassional cameo? Why continue expanding the character Jessica Jones, one of the most interesting original characters to hit Marvel in years, when you can just make her pregnant and whiny? Why concentrate on turning out four high quality books a month when you can crap out fifteen-plus, crossover all your characters from one to another, and plot and write every major event for the company?

More than anything, if readers keep buying every one of those abominations as they get pooped out, what reason is there to respect the readers?

The answer is simple.See you next time, idiots! suckers! morons! True Believers!


Blogger Jhunt said...

You know, I'd heard tell of this "Monkey Sex" issue of Powers, but I guess I never really believed that it was, in fact, composed primarily of dialogue-free scenes of monkeys doin' it.

I was, it seems, wrong.

Wow, I'd be pissed if I bought that issue thinking it was a regular, "Police procedural in capes" issue of Powers. Did it have a purpose? Is the monkey reponsible for the death of a pimp in the modern-day or seomthing?

I stopped reading Powers after about the fifth tpb, so I don't knwo if the series might have shifted enough to make this "special" issue fit in with the story as a whole.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Interestingly, there's an interview with Michael Avon Oeming up over at IGN's site, in which the following exchange takes place:

IGN Comics: I know this is an old subject, but one I've always been curious about. When you read the script for Powers #31 that called for a primate gang bang, what was your initial reaction?

Oeming: "Awesome. I'm always excited for something new. The "Monkey f---ing" issue was a blast."

Well, then. I'm sure it was for those who didn't actually have to pay for the damn thing.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Jake said...

jhunt, the monkey issue was the beginning of a five issue arc where we learn that Detective Walker's been alive since, literally, the dawn of human civilization. Part of his power was immortality. There was another monkeyman with similar power and the two fought to a standstill at the end of the first issue.

In the next issue, Walker was a Conan ripoff and the other guy was an evil wizard. Then they were in China in the 1800's in a colony of other powers living in the Himalayas, far from the "normal" population, debating whether they should remain distanced or if they should take an active role in saving the day.

In the fourth issue, Walker was supposed to be like a 1930's pulp hero and the fifth was in the 80's or early 90's. In each issue, the other evolved monkeyman keeps showing up, killing off Walker's wife or lover, and beating up Walker worse than anyone else ever has. In the final issue, however, Walker fights him back to a laboratory where scientists are developing those green, power-overriding lights the cops use in the interrogation rooms. The lights negate both Walker and the other guy's invulnerability and their immortality and Walker kills the other guy.

The side effect, though, is Walker loses his powers permanently.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I knew there was a reason I don't read Powers ...

I have the first two trades, but they just didn't do it for me. Apparently if I had kept along that road I would have been subjected to monkey sex. The Road Not Taken, indeed.

Thank you for showing me my choice was not in vain.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Todd-el said...

Good god.

12:50 PM  
Blogger CalvinPitt said...

Jake, what you fail to realize is evil bendis is actually. . . Alexander Luthor, trying to ruin as many people's lives as he can with his nonsensical, overly complicated looking schemes!

By impersonating Bendis, he can destroy Marvel, he can then rule DC, safe in the knowledge that . . . I don't know, there's probably some reason for it. I can't be expected to come up with everything.

Man I hate monkeys!

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

I actually liked the story arc that came out of the monkey-fucking issue. The monkey-fucking issue itself? I could do without it, although not for the reasons you're thinking.

There's nothing inherently wrong with a whole issue of dialogue-free ape-man scenes. 2001: A Space Odyssey has a good twenty-plus minutes of that right in the beginning, and that's one of the best movies ever made. In fact, it's rather obvious that Bendis, going for an ages-spanning epic, means to make an intentional Kubrick allusion.

The concept of Walker as an immortal born at the damn of civilization who's become too old to remember his own origin is a pretty clever one, and Bendis and Oeming mostly pull it off. The conflict with his nameless rival, who keeps killing and re-killing the people he loves in era after era, is also a good idea. What I can't get past is how the hell the ape-men magically transformed into human beings.

Evolution isn't some magical transformation whereby animals just "turn into" new animals over the course of millions of years. It's a process whereby mutation and natural selection cause gradual change from generation to generation. So Walker's descendents could become humans, but unless Walker himself has a heretofore unknown shapeshifting power, he should still, in the present day, look like a damn monkey according to Powers #31.

I'm fine with the monkey-fucking. But you don't fuck with Science.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Jake said...

Good point, Iron Lungfish. I forgot to mention that.

Also, the concept of the arc wasn't bad, but the monkey fucking could have been 4-5 pages preceding the Conan story. That's where I saw the ongoing Bendis problem of never doing in one issue what you can do it five. Hell, if he were writing that arc today, we'd probably get two issues of ape humpin'.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thoughtful comics commentary.


Monkey porn.

I've hit a jackpot!

11:44 PM  
Blogger kelvingreen said...

Yeah, I liked the immortal arc, but the monkey issue I could have done without. Mainly because it was $3 for pictures of monkeys shagging, but also because, as Lungfish rightly says, Kubrick allusion aside, it doesn't really make sense from an evolutionary point of view.

Then again, I suppose you could read it as the characters reincarnating, then the evolution thing isn't a problem. But then you get a whole host of other problems. Guh.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

I had less problems with the monkey sex thing than I did with the occasional 2-page spreads of graphically dismembered corpses. Seriously, do we need to see body parts ripped out and strewn across a crime scene. I almost dropped Powers over those scenes- there's no need for such extreme graphic violence.

7:05 AM  
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