Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm sure there were worse crossovers, but still...

Quasar has to announce who he is, since he looks different with each artist switch.
The common rebuttal to anyone complaining about big crossover comics is, "Well, if they didn't sell, Marvel and/or DC would stop doing them; but they do because you keep buying them and bitching about it." I'm not really even paraphrasing there, that's generally it.

But say what you will about today's event crossovers--that they're nothing but boldfaced cash-grabs, that 90% of them would be over in two issues tops if the main characters didn't insist on being stupid, that none of them have an end that isn't just a lead into the next one--it pains me to say it, but there is a basic level of quality. Compared to this one, anyway: Starblast #4, "The end of the world (as we know it)" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Kong, Palant, and Buckler Jr, inks by Don Hudson and Ernie Chan.

Now, I love Mark Gruenwald's work: Squadron Supreme, Quasar, his run on Captain America. This wasn't his best, by a long shot. I think partly it's because he was trying to cram in a lot of lesser-used C-list characters: I'm cool with having Quasar, Black Bolt, Binary, and Ikaris on board; but have to draw the line at Perun, Solar Wind, and Darkstar. They say--the very same 'they' that complain about crossovers, no doubt--that every character is someone's favorite, but if there's someone whose favorite is Darkstar, they're keeping it under their hat. (Darkstar fans, feel free to prove me wrong.)

Throw in the New Universe--or at least the earth from there, since apparently in keeping with an ancient editorial edict about no aliens, the rest of the New Universe was lifeless--and the Stranger; and you're well on your way to a four-issue miniseries that's going to be virtually impenetrable to anyone who hasn't been reading a lot of cancelled comics for a decade or two. Gruenwald had successfully crossed over with the New Universe in Quasar a few years back, in a solid single issue that catches up with it after a few years. But then Quasar brings back the Star Brand--it's like a Green Lantern ring, only it's a crappy tattoo, and the powers and rules of the Brand's use are murkier and more arbitrary than a power ring--and the waters aren't just muddy, they're dirt.
A two-thousand foot tall robot should make for a good finale. If you have a fight with him, that is.
The villains don't help, either. There's Brainiac knockoff Skeletron, whose most frightening aspect is that he's a robot with toes; and perennial alien jerkwad the Stranger. Even when he's an ally, the Stranger's creepy and wrong: sending the earth heroes into battle, he heals several of them (and corrects the continuity of a couple...) then mind-controls them into fighting the bad guys they probably would've fought anyway. Which gives an excuse for another several pages of Marvel Misunderstanding, as they fight Quasar and the New Universe characters instead. And no spectacular final battle with Skeletron, just the most anti-climactic ending I think I've seen in any crossover, even the ones that lead in to other ones.
Quite possibly the worst page of art I've ever seen from Marvel.
Maybe--and this is a big maybe--art could've saved this one. And it doesn't. This was in maybe the tailend of Marvel's biggest output ever, and it was becoming painfully obvious that a lot of books were getting slammed out by artists that weren't ready, and may never be ready, for a professional mainstream comic. Even Hudson and Chan on inks couldn't salvage it. This was a Quasar-centric crossover, hard as that may be to believe, and it was plagued by a problem he often faced in his regular book as well: whenever he got a good artist, it was just a matter of time until said artist was rotated onto a popular book, leaving Quasar to be finished by whoever could be found at the last minute.

So, not the greatest comic ever. But, it still beats Genesis.


SallyP said...

Man, this looks...painful.

Barukh Asayah Nahon said...

Just read Secret Defenders 11 and let your eyes bleed...