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May 27, 2015 3:56 PM   Subscribe

 
Yeah, they're changed forever until the next reboot.
posted by Renoroc at 4:26 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


It's kind of hilarious to read an article praising Millar's original work on The Ultimates when he seems to have cribbed just about all of it -- including Bryan Hitch's art -- from Warren Ellis's Stormwatch and Authority series.
posted by kewb at 4:29 PM on May 27, 2015 [15 favorites]


kewb: "It's kind of hilarious to read an article praising Millar's original work on The Ultimates when he seems to have cribbed just about all of it -- including Bryan Hitch's art -- from Warren Ellis's Stormwatch and Authority series."

Yeah, the article mentions Millar's work on The Authority, which was just sub-par bullshit forced continuation of a typical Ellis series after Ellis left. The original Authority (and before that, what Ellis did with Stormwatch when he took over that) wasn't fantastic, and it was kind of a cliché Ellis series, but it was pretty good, and doing some original thinking around and desconstruction of superheroes in the real world (sort of a precursor to what he'd later do with Black Summer, No Hero, and Supergod. Millar just added some rape and stuff, as he usually does.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 4:39 PM on May 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


From the article:

[...]by 1999, the disastrous Batman & Robin had squirted a stink on the very idea of a cinematic comic-book adaptation.

I can't decide if this is bad writing or, given the context, good.
posted by JHarris at 4:41 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Millar declined to be interviewed for this article...
I reached out to Loeb for an interview but was told he would only speak with me if we didn’t discuss Ultimates 3 or Ultimatum...

posted by 1970s Antihero at 4:47 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved the Ultimate imprint. It lost its way, but Ultimate Spiderman and Ultimate Fantastic Four in particular were just awesome rollicking good fun stories to me.

I think that what made them great at the start was that they captured those essences of the stories and characters, and didn't deviate from them for a long time. Fantastic Four was about family, exploration and adventure. X-Men was about outcast isolated youths. Spiderman was about a kid trying to live up to a massive burden of responsibility.

The Ultimates were about... beating each other up? I guess. I preferred the others.
posted by Wataki at 4:50 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Never was much of a Marvel guy, until this latest round of films. Guess I have some reading to do.
posted by evilDoug at 4:54 PM on May 27, 2015


Last word from Bendis is very important:

There’s one final lesson. According to Bendis — the alpha and omega of Ultimate Marvel storytelling — the key to the reboot was understanding what made the old Marvel archetypes worth rebooting in the first place. “The transition that we made was based on the fact that the concept of Spider-Man wasn't broken,” he told me. “The Spider-Man origin and its themes are pretty much perfect. So adaptations are much like a Shakespeare play: The trick isn't to fix it and say you know better than Shakespeare. It's to find the truth of it and keep the truth going for a new audience.”

And while the movies may have a lot of Millar trappings, I think more importantly they have what Bendis is talking about too.
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on May 27, 2015 [16 favorites]


Millar was/is a hack. Ultimates was fun but ultimately not really that great of a comic. I guess it has inspired the MCU but I think that MCU is more of a blend of 616 and 1610 well at least pre ultimatum which wss complete garbage.
posted by vuron at 5:02 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Millar does spectacle well. He's also very good at finding ways to update things that make sense. On the other hand he's hugely cynical and given to just cruising on minimal effort if he can get away with it. On balance I think The Ultimates is one of his best works and a lot of the smarter bits of it did end up on screen with the MCU- on the other hand his Captain America was horrible and I'm glad that aspect didn't translate over.
posted by Artw at 5:06 PM on May 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


BLACK KNIGHT WAS NOT AN ORIGINAL AVENGER
YOU BASTARD
(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:14 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hah. Hahahaha. The Mark Millar hate! Hahahaha.

Look, you're not going to like this. Don't take it personally. It'll be like me telling you that George W. Bush is smarter than you. It won't compute. But ...

Mark Millar is the single most influential writer in pop/genre culture in the 21st century. Period.

Don't believe me? Scoreboard. All of that stems from his Ultimates run.

Notice I'm not counting Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2, Wanted and Kingsman.

Kingsman, $400 million worldwide! Off a budget of $80 million. And no A-list main star, like this guy here. Hell, Wanted was fucked up, but it made $341 million off a budget of $75 million. DUDE. The only reason we're not seeing Wanted 2 is because Angelina Jolie wanted to be a director.

Sure, you can point to Feige, Whedon and Downey, Jr. as playing bigger parts in the MCU success. And you'll be right, to a point. But those movies don't get made without being able to point to examples of the characters operating in modern times.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:27 PM on May 27, 2015


Influence doesn't rule out hate. Just sayin'.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:33 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mark Millar is the single most influential writer in pop/genre culture in the 21st century. Period.

Who fucking cares? He's bad at writing good things.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:34 PM on May 27, 2015 [28 favorites]


The Hollywoodification of Marvel has been a long, long time coming see, for example, Tim O'Neil's Excelsior - Stan Lee, Marvel Comics, and Hollywood.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:39 PM on May 27, 2015


It's really sad to me that Ultimate just became another continuity snarl. I guess I like superheroes sort of but the continuity is so dense (and often so stupid) that I don't get any enjoyment out of reading the actual comic books.

I often fantasize about a world where continuity is explicitly banned and every superhero comic is a limited series. Or like, there's a full reboot once every 6 months. Or you have multiple books coming out at the same time directly contradicting each other. Spend a year paying 12 different artist/writer teams to tell the same story 12 times, Rashomon-style.
posted by vogon_poet at 5:42 PM on May 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Ultimates got bogged down eventually , but Nu52 has to be the shortest turnaround ever of something cycling from a fresh start to being bogged down by continuity. I think they burned through any advantage that could have given them inside a year.
posted by Artw at 5:42 PM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Millar's good works are the results of borrowed effort from Morrison which has been addressed multiple times. There is a massive difference in quality of red son and his more recent independent works. He is however stellar at self promotion and cranking out material that movie studios love. But I think you can point to Blade trilogy as being just as critical to the current glut of cape movies.
posted by vuron at 5:43 PM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


TBH I suspect the real secret is that outside of doing the "first" appearance of a character it doesn't really matter and it's smart high quality writing that's going to save you from feeling like you should have read a several phonebooks of history previously and not continual reboots.
posted by Artw at 5:45 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem with Nu52 is that they really didn't reboot fully. The have a half hearted reboot that totally ignored the need to reboot Batman and Johns GL run. It was honestly doomed from the start.
posted by vuron at 5:46 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


If only there was some way we could create new characters instead of constantly rebooting but I realise that this doesn't work in this Universe.
posted by nfalkner at 5:47 PM on May 27, 2015


Probably more great comics outside of the big 2 with fresh new characters than any other time right now, FWIW. If it's what you want it's there for the taking.
posted by Artw at 5:50 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


All of that stems from his Ultimates run.

Even the original article, which rather overstates the case for Millar's influence, disagrees with the notion that Millar deserves primary credit for the films.

Frankly, Millar strikes me as far less influential than someone like, say, J.K. Rowling, who inspired other people to create similar works and arguably turned the entire YA adventure genre into A Thing for Hollywood.

With Millar, you can point to four direct adaptations of his work, all of which radically changed that work to make it more palatable, and most of which are by the same director, Matthew Vaughn. Millar's comics work is otherwise a partial influence on Marvel's movies but not anyone else's, even within the overstuffed superhero genre film annals.

More than that, Millar has the problem that his work is not terribly original; he's far more influenced than influencing. "Cultural influence" is not really the same thing as "box office returns;" there's reason Nathan Rabin never runs out of Forgotbusters entries. (Really, who looks back at the film versions of Wanted or even the recent Kingsmen and sees genre-defining classics that everyone's out to imitate?) Millar has made a lot of money, but he hasn't made much of a dent in popular culture unless you absurdly overstate his influence on the Marvel movies.
posted by kewb at 5:51 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Nu52 has to be the shortest turnaround ever of something cycling from a fresh start to being bogged down by continuity.

And do-over fatigue. For all the talk of Big Change, they keep playing the same old trick, and they solve nothing. You either can't keep continuity straight or you can't remember how this version is different than the others and what you have to remember and what you have to forget -- there is no benefit to the change.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:53 PM on May 27, 2015


The big 2 are merchandising and licensing companies. Comic book sales are virtually irrelevant for them. Why develop new characters when the golden and silver age IP is so much more valuable? Stasis is god for the big 2 to the point where Marvel is basically shuttering the ultimate universe.
posted by vuron at 5:55 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


The other thing with both DC and Marvel is the characters are all locked into a perpetual present where they never age and nothing really changes, and they've always been around for a decade plus at most, unless they are "Golden Age", into which their entire history of adventures are crammed.

Unlocking time and letting characters age and come and go would be marketing suicide but would fix a lot of the problems those universes have.
posted by Artw at 5:58 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


X-Men was supposed to be like that, which is kind of laughable given how they've ended up being the same characters acting out every possible iteration of their early story lines again and again and again...
posted by Artw at 5:59 PM on May 27, 2015


More than that, Millar has the problem that his work is not terribly original; he's far more influenced than influencing.

Alan Moore midway through cocktail party: "What If A Superhero Was Not 100% Good"
Frank Miller midway through cocktail party: "What If A Superhero Was Not 100% Good"
Kurt Busiek midway through cocktail party: "What If A Superhero Was Not 100% Good"
Mark Millar, rushing into the room three hours later with mustard on his shirt: "WHAT IF THEY ALSO DID SEXUAL VIOLENCE THO"
posted by Greg Nog at 6:01 PM on May 27, 2015 [82 favorites]


Mark Millar is the single most influential writer in pop/genre culture in the 21st century. Period.

I am glad for Mark Millar now that I know he has at least one fan that truly believes this.
posted by griphus at 6:06 PM on May 27, 2015 [14 favorites]


Garth Ennis: "I've already done it. Can I do some war and cowboy comics now?"
posted by Artw at 6:09 PM on May 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Artw: "Garth Ennis: "I've already done it. Can I do some war and cowboy comics now?""

You mean "WHAT IF GAY PEOPLE WERE REALLY SCARY?"
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:16 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


tl;dr: Jeff Loeb ruins everything.
posted by entropicamericana at 6:17 PM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh god, Greg Nog, that sums it up perfectly.
posted by Kitteh at 6:19 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Unlocking time and letting characters age and come and go would be marketing suicide but would fix a lot of the problems those universes have.

A lot of people make this argument, but I'm not really convinced it's true. We have a lot more examples of successful characters in the adventure/action genres where the characters are treated as evergreen or just get "rebooted" than we do long-running serial stories that progress in real time with retirements. Think of Sherlock Holmes, Dracula (albeit that the immortality is built in), James Bond, and so forth.

When it is tried, real-time aging doesn't always work that well or it is fudged quite a bit. Indiana Jones's fourth film trued the tactic, and was a mess for a lot of reasons, but one of them was that no one wanted to see Harrison Ford sidelined for Shia Leboeuf. Beyond that, you have the serialised British characters like Judge Dredd, which ostensibly progress in real time and have had stories about how they're getting old and beaten down, but are unlikely to actually be retired or displaced for newer, younger protagonists. I suppose there's Lee Falk's Phantom, but that cheats a bit with its long line of identical, interchangeable protagonists. In general, pop-culture audiences are far more attached to the characters than to their settings.

Really, the demand that makes sense is for individual creators getting to produce definite endings, something the ongoing serial format doesn't really allow. It's not just that no one ages past a certain point, it's also that no one can be permanently killed, and no successful story can be allowed to stand inviolate.
posted by kewb at 6:22 PM on May 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here is a thing I wrote to friends earlier this month about The Ultimates.:

Because I am a curious person, after finding out that Clint’s wife [in the Ultron movie] was a character from an alternate-universe storyline called The Ultimates, I picked up the trade paperback collection of the first six issues at the library yesterday. The premise of the Ultimates is that the superheroes are less super than they usually are. Steve Rogers, for instance, is given a version of the super-soldier serum, but he also undergoes extended treatment with steroids and multiple surgeries in order to be Captain America.

In addition to Clint’s wife and kids, other elements of the Ultimates storyline that make it into the movies are:

The Triskelion, the SHIELD headquarters building that is destroyed in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The idea that Bucky and Steve grew up together in Brooklyn, rather than meeting in the army.

The Hulk cage from the first Avengers movie.

Nick Fury as a leather-wearing black man. In fact, at one point the team are sitting around talking about who would play them in the movie of their lives, and Fury says, “Samuel L. Jackson, who else?” and I had to check publication dates to be sure this wasn’t some kind of in-joke. It wasn’t; the comics were published in 2002, six years before Marvel started making movies.

I am grateful that other elements of the comics were not incorporated into the movies. In this universe, the favorite insults of even the so-called good guys are “fat,” “pussy,” and “retard.” I guess one way to make Tony Stark less super is to reduce his quick wit and sharp tongue to the worst kind of locker-room name-calling. Bruce Banner is a pathetic loser who is despised by everyone; his big moment is when he finds out his ex-girlfriend Betty Ross is on a date with someone else, so he hulks out on purpose and destroys half of Manhattan in a quest to find and rape her. This Hulk is surprisingly articulate, and he uses his power of speech to say things like, “Banner is pussy! I show you real man, Betty! Hulk is so horny!”

The dust has barely settled over the ruins of midtown when Hank Pym (Ant-Man) gets cranky with his wife Janet (The Wasp). His crankiness quickly escalates into verbal abuse, and from there into an extended scene of brutal physical violence.

It was vile. Vile in that way that makes one question one’s commitment to the free press and the open access provided by libraries. Vile in that way that makes one think about throwing it away, never returning it, and just paying the fine rather than letting it go back onto the shelf.

I believe in libraries. And the first amendment. Passionately, sincerely, and purely. I will return the vile book, where it will be re-shelved in Young Adult Graphic Novels. So be it.

On preview: Greg Nog nailed it more concisely.
posted by not that girl at 6:30 PM on May 27, 2015 [25 favorites]


I reached out to Loeb for an interview but was told he would only speak with me if we didn’t discuss Ultimates 3 or Ultimatum

Lololol sob.

First and last time I've ever refused to purchase a comic that was on my pull list was the second issue of Ultimates 3. I was like, Sorry, CBG, I know you're going to have to eat this, but I can't in good conscience pay money for this.
posted by bq at 6:40 PM on May 27, 2015


Ultimates 3 is like Shakespeare in comparison to Ultimatum which basically got me to rage quit the ultimate universe until Hickman's run.
posted by vuron at 6:45 PM on May 27, 2015


I appreciated the Hank Pym/Janet Van Dyne relationship in the Ultimates. Pym is a difficult character to write without veering into cartoonishness and the whole wife abuse plot line as originally handled is just a hot mess. I suspect they killed Janet off because they didn't want to deal with the dynamic any more. So when U Hank Pum turns into a bitter violent failure I felt that was just about right.
posted by bq at 6:45 PM on May 27, 2015


not that girl: "Bruce Banner is a pathetic loser who is despised by everyone; his big moment is when he finds out his ex-girlfriend Betty Ross is on a date with someone else, so he hulks out on purpose and destroys half of Manhattan in a quest to find and rape her. This Hulk is surprisingly articulate, and he uses his power of speech to say things like, “Banner is pussy! I show you real man, Betty! Hulk is so horny!”"

Holy shit, really? I mean... really?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:45 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


I actually remember when D.C. allowed (some) characters to age. Yes, I know I'm a dinosaur as I've mentioned before.

Mike Grell's Oliver Queen hit the big 40 and kept going. John Constantine kept getting older. I think he got to 50. Kent Nelson ended up an old man. Dick Grayson matured from boy to teen (when I started reading) to young adult. Barbara Gordon also aged into that young adult category and actually graduated from university. (Although I see these days, she's younger and back in school.) Even Marvel allowed young Peter Parker to move from high school into university and grad school.

So it's not that these characters have never been allowed to age. They have. It's just that at some point, the business executives running these companies decided, rightly or wrongly (and I know which side of the fence I come down upon) that for marketing reasons, aging is not a good thing. Maybe at some point, some adventurous suit will rescind that decision, although the odds of that happening look ever slimmer.
posted by sardonyx at 6:51 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


YES BUT LETS NOT FORGET BETTY WAS ON A DATE WITH FREDDIE PRINZE JR.
posted by bq at 6:52 PM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mark Millar is the single most influential writer in pop/genre culture in the 21st century. Period.

Who fucking cares? He's bad at writing good things.


It is important that we consider this aesthetic standard in many contexts
posted by clockzero at 6:54 PM on May 27, 2015


The big 2 are merchandising and licensing companies. Comic book sales are virtually irrelevant for them. Why develop new characters when the golden and silver age IP is so much more valuable? Stasis is god for the big 2.

I would agree with you, except for how far and away the best recent Marvel movie was about a superhero team from a series that started in like 2008.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:58 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I loved that version of Hulk. Ultimate Banner is repressed and emasculated, it makes sense that his Hulk would be a big ball of hypermasculine id.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:01 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would agree with you, except for how far and away the best recent Marvel movie was about a superhero team from a series that started in like 2008.

A team made up of characters whose first appearances range from 1941 to 1964.
posted by rifflesby at 7:04 PM on May 27, 2015


Guardians of the Galaxy 2008 was a reboot of a series from 1969. Rocket is named after Rocky Raccoon (Beatles).
posted by bq at 7:06 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, you're talking about Guardians. Never mind >_>
posted by rifflesby at 7:06 PM on May 27, 2015


Starlord 1976
Drax 1973
Gamora 1975
Rocket 1976
Groot 1960

Granted almost all of them with the exception of Gamora have changed dramatically over time but let's not pretend GotG isn't composed of Silver Age heroes. I love DnAs GotG (Bendis not so much) but most of GotG was basically a riff on Starlin's cosmic Marvel.

Too bad they can't seem to use Warlock.
posted by vuron at 7:13 PM on May 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


The first few Ultimates had a couple of my favorite Thor moments. His entrance into the fight with the Hulk in Manhattan once Bush signs a foreign aid bill and in a later issue when someone is doubting Thor being a god and he walks in saying, "Oh ye of little faith".

Still kinda miffed that at no point in the Age of Ultron did Thor say, "Ultron, we would have words with thee".
posted by Ber at 7:42 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


TFA makes me wonder if bankruptcy would be the best thing for DC right now.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:56 PM on May 27, 2015


I loved that version of Hulk. Ultimate Banner is repressed and emasculated, it makes sense that his Hulk would be a big ball of hypermasculine id.

Doubling down on the obvious root of Jekyll/Hyde isn't exactly groundbreaking.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:57 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Mark Millar is the single most influential writer in pop/genre culture in the 21st century. Period.

Don't believe me? Scoreboard. All of that stems from his Ultimates run.


That's just wrong. The Mighty Marvel Movieverse is based principally on the surprising success of the first Iron Man movie, which doesn't owe anything to Miller (you've got a cameo by Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury at the end, but that movie is just as big a hit without it).

The Captain America movie borrowed a few costume details from the Ultimates, and nothing else. The Thor movie owes nothing to Miller except maybe the tiny detail of Hawkeye being a SHIELD agent. Avengers takes a few more things from the Ultimates, but doesn't really need any of them to be a success at that point (Avengers would have been a hit even without Samuel Jackson or that particular Hawkeye costume).
posted by straight at 8:18 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


I believe in libraries. And the first amendment. Passionately, sincerely, and purely. I will return the vile book, where it will be re-shelved in Young Adult Graphic Novels. So be it.

I'm just gonna say that while I also believe in those things, and can respect the purity of your commitment, I also believe in a certain degree of curatorial caretaking, and could respect some quiet exercise of that.
posted by weston at 8:24 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Frankly, Millar strikes me as far less influential than someone like, say, J.K. Rowling, who inspired other people to create similar works and arguably turned the entire YA adventure genre into A Thing for Hollywood.

Yes, but you have perhaps forgotten that Rowling is a woman, so
posted by shakespeherian at 8:27 PM on May 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


Millar was part of the "Brain Trust":

Bendis:

before the iron man movie was set to film but way into active pre production, i, and others, got a super secret call asking if we'd read the iron man script as it existed and come to the set for what is now referred to as the iron man brain trust. we were hand picked by jon f. and kevin f. for our unique takes on the character.

i was there, mark millar, axel, joe, tom and a few others who may or may not want me airing thier biz. we were flown out and brought to the stages which were the howard hughes spruce goose warehouses. (which in itself was awesome)

we were brought through the sets and the armor as they were being built and met the entire staff. all of which was filmed for the dvd. i have no idea if it will make it in. i half hope it doesn't. i wasn't my usual glam self.

we then sat in a big room with the marvel guys and jon f. all day and went through everything. we talked about everything. every inch of it. we looked at the spx houses demo reels audtioning for the job. and yes the best reel got the gig, obviously.

truth told. the script was in pretty damn good shape at this stage. but that wasn't the point. the point to me is a good idea is a good idea and a bad one is a bad one, doesn't matter where it came from. there is a lesson here.


Millar:

Millar has his own take

Just got word this is no longer a secret so prepare for some Braggy McBraggy. But as Bendy has written on his board this morning, we can finally talk about one of the coolest things to happen in our careers. Completely out of the blue, when the script was still in the early stages, we got a call from Jon Faverau to fly out to the beginnings of what would be the Iron Man set and do a little script consultancy work...

The brian-trust was all people involved in Iron Man to some extent at the time and hand-picked by Fav. This was me (because ULTIMATE Tony was a big influence on the film), BB, Joe Q, Tom Brevoort, Axel Alonso and Ultimates editor Ralph Macchio. We signed an official secrets thing after reading the script (which I swear I somehow managed not to ever tell anyone about) and got to work on this little baby over a couple of days. It was genuinely thrilling and we not only got a look around the caves which we were being built out there in the California desert, but also got to see some of the early ILM test stuff (a lot of which never made it to the finished movie).

posted by Artw at 8:34 PM on May 27, 2015


I'd put a lot of it's success down to lucking out with Robert Downy Jr., but by coincidence or design his Stark is very Millar-like.
posted by Artw at 8:41 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I came in here to grouse about the praise for Millar's Authority run, which was shit, but I see that the MeFi Brain Trust has done the reqwyrt already. Kudos.
posted by waxbanks at 8:51 PM on May 27, 2015


Ultimate X-men is what got me back into comics. There certainly was an appeal to starting fresh with respect to continuity, although from there I managed to transition into Batman, etc. without much difficulty. I don't think DC's New52 is ending because its continuity is snarled; rather, I think it was just poorly planned and the grand events championed by Jim Lee / Dan Didio et al. just ended up being really weak and dull; whereas there was some really good stuff happening in individual series. IMO DC's biggest weakness in recent years has been giving tons of work to a handful of pretty crappy writers and artists. There are still a few gems but they could do with a good housecleaning.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:54 PM on May 27, 2015


I have long maintained that you could make squillions of dollars with an Authority as the movie tagline writes itself. However, it would also bankrupt several countries to make, so perhaps it's best that nobody has tried. But in any case, it would sure as fuck be Ellis's run on the title.

As for more money == better than, by that metric Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant tower over everybody with a little franchise they like to call A Night at the Museum. (As told in Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!) Though I also argue that The State is more of a cultural touchstone, at least for my cohort.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:58 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that Hitch's contributions to The Ultimates were more influential on the movie than Millar's, the stuff that carried over was largely visual.

I often fantasize about a world where continuity is explicitly banned and every superhero comic is a limited series. Or like, there's a full reboot once every 6 months.

I sometimes wish they'd do comics runs like TV seasons. Maybe 6 months off for production and then 6 months of double-size or biweekly issues released. You'd run into fewer problems with fill-in art, have a lot of time to hone every aspect of the story, and get some breathing room to see where stuff like universe-wide continuity sits as multiple series wrap up around the same time, it could really cut down on the chaos of doing universe-wide storytelling and crossovers. You'd have to stagger releases so there's constantly stuff out, but you'd also get some excellent time for one-off runs and lesser known properties to shine at times that most of the biggest books are in production between seasons.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:20 PM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


feh. Miller's Ultimate Tony is pretty much the same as classic Marvel Tony they've been publishing for years. It's the other characters that he did more distinctive versions of, and the movies haven't used anything from Miller's versions of Cap, Thor, or Hulk (okay, maybe the detail tying Hulk's origin to the Super Soldier program). They borrowed Hawkeye's look and Samuel Jackson for Fury and the role of SHIELD in bringing the team together and that's about it. (And as jason_steakums points out, the first two of those are from Hitch's art rather than Miller's writing).

And the plot of the first Iron Man is taken entirely from older Iron Man comics (the origin in the cave, the war on bad people using Stark tech, the relationships with Pepper, Stane, and Rhodey--none of those things are in Miller's Ultimates).
posted by straight at 9:44 PM on May 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mark Millar is the single most influential writer in pop/genre culture in the 21st century. Period.

Man, it's embarrassing to see someone write that with a straight face. Never mind that "influential" doesn't even mean the same thing as "successful"; at best, Millar is an extraordinarily canny self-promoter, capable of getting what passes for journalism in the comics field to go along with the hype that his work is somehow much more daring and relevant than it has ever been. (Or what Greg Nog wrote.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:08 PM on May 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


Millar is the worst thing to happen to Marvel comics since Rob Liefeld.

And I don't recall Liefeld ever working to turn every character he worked on into a genuinely despicable shitshow. I might have thought his stuff was silly, but I never thought his characters were aggressively horrible people. Yes, the MCU takes some cues from the Ultimates-verse, but those cues are largely visual. The films work because the souls of these characters are absolutely NOT the stuff that Millar put out.

Fuck that guy.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:05 PM on May 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, trying to give Millar credit for the MCU is just nuts. The characters are the 616 versions, with the exception of Hawkeye. And I suspect it is not co-incidental that he's also the dullest of the MCU crew. Thor? Zero Ultimates influence. Cap? Zero Ultimates influence. Hulk? Oh god ZERO Ultimates influence. Iron Man? Maybe a tiny bit in terms of extra snark, but he's not y'know, a constantly drunk cancer victim.

Hell, even Fury, though he has the visual of Ultimates, is probably closer to 616 in terms of being ruthless but not the total dickwad and sadist of the Ultimates universe.
posted by tavella at 12:06 AM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Garth Ennis: "I've already done it. Can I do some war and cowboy comics now?"

I had to read "The Boys" to accept that someone can out-Millar Millar.
posted by pseudocode at 12:49 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


But one ailment was obvious to any brand-new reader who bought a Marvel comic for the first time: There was so much backstory that the stories were almost incomprehensible.

Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit.

My first Fantastic Four issue. My first Avengers issue.

For decades Marvel did very very well with comics that positively gloried in continuity, daring new readers to pick up the pieces.

What did Marvel in wasn't incomprehensible comics, it wasn't even shitty comics (neither the seventies nor the eighties had been entirely devoid of those), it was shitty, shitty, dumbass business decisions.

It was Ron Perlman deciding that Marvel needed to be Disney, by buying crap toy companies, trading card companies and ultimately, Heroes World, its own direct market distributor and taking Marvel exclusive to them, though the company had no clue to handle a market that large, going from being the 3rd or 4th biggest DM distributor to one that had to handle every comic shop in the world.

That in turn led to the other big companies going exclusive with Diamond, the biggest DM distributor with only a few of the larger indies ending up with Capital, the other big distributor. So Capital went bust, Heroes World went bust, dozens of comic shops caught in the chaos went bust and the direct market collapsed.

All of which made worse because Marvel had chased away its major creative talents, Liefeld, McFarlane, Larsen, Silvestri, Lee, Portacio and erm Valentino to form Image, which touched off a glut of superhero universii, none of which were sustainable in the long run, most of which ground to dust in the space of two years or so, which again led to dozens of comics shops going bankrupt, as well as several publishers.

Oh and Marvel bought up one of those new superhero publishers, Malibu, a long standing veteran of exploitative b&w crap and almagation of several older indie publishers, only to shut it down and gut it as all Marvel needed was Malibu's digital colouring expertise, something it was lacking in.

Meanwhile Marvel's own attempt to flood the market with ninety bazillion X-Men titles collapsed too, leaving more comics shops ruined, while "Marvel devolution" as people called it, meant huge numbers of its own staff and freelancers were axed.

Which in turn arguably led to Mark Gruenwald's heart attack and death, brought on by stress.

That's why Marvel was in trouble at the end of the nineties, being owned by Perlman, not continuity.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:46 AM on May 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


♫ "Is he strong? Listen bud, he’s got radioactive blood." ♪

Just wanted to pop in to say that my son (nearly 4) loves Spiderman, although has never seen any actual superhero media (just action figures, Lego, costumes, tshirts - no TV, films, or comics). I think at nursery they play the old Spiderman and Batman TV themes sometimes, and today he was singing his version:
Spiderman, Spiderman
Does what a Spiderman do
Swings a web,
Catches bad guys in a web,
*makes explosion or maybe punching noise*
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:01 AM on May 28, 2015 [16 favorites]


The Ultimate line outlived its purpose: it was a What If the Marvel Universe was a hip movie franchise? and got fans thinking about it differently. Then it became a hip movie franchise, making the line redundant. Mission accomplished.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 3:55 AM on May 28, 2015


The two main differences for me between Ultimates and Nu52 were first that Ultimates stuck to the core of the characters in some way, and also that they didn't completely replace 616.

Ultimate Spiderman isn't 616-Spiderman, but he's still the same character in terms of base motivations and who he is. Same with the X-Men, Iron Man, Cap, etc. As Alexandra Kitty put it right above, it's a full on "What If...?" universe. Change the surroundings, change the circumstances, but the elemental nature of the character was still there to drive the evolution. Scott Summers is still recognisable as the nerdy up tight guy, Logan is still the wild man with no memories, Parker is still a kid dealing with bereavement and powers, etc, etc.

Don't like that? You could still read 616 and ignore Ultimates. Nu52 didn't respect the characters though, especially those from the darker side of the spectrum. I still held hopes that someone would get hold of the Authority and take them back to the Ellis style era, and Hellblazer was a personal favourite. The Nu52 reboot of these characters just didn't seem right. It's been a while since I read them, but I can remember reading the stories and just having a gut reaction to the way the characters acted. John Constantine has always been a liar, a cheat and an arsehole, and a distant last a magician. The Nu52 made his least important element the main part of him.
posted by MattWPBS at 7:08 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Too bad they can't seem to use Warlock.

They did - they're just calling him The Vision. Dude was 1) made by mad scientists 2) in a birthing chamber with 3) an infinity gem on his brow. Vision is straight up Warlock.

I'm looking forward to see Paul Bettany in a perm'd wig doing double duty as The Magus.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:16 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, WRT the Ultimates' and the Ultimate universe's influence on the movies, not that girl's comment above is a good summary of what the MCU took from the Ultimate line, and what they left on the table. In terms of why the Ultimate line eventually failed, the Vulture article doesn't really get it, although there's a clue here:
Then-writer of Ultimates Joshua Hale Fialkov told me the writing was on the wall: “The way it was put to me was, we need to do something gigantic,” he said, “but if it didn’t raise the profile of the universe, then they’d end it.” It was a sales failure.
Almost exactly the same thing happened to the WildStorm universe, the group of titles originally created by Jim Lee and which eventually spawned The Authority, a detail which the Vulture article seems to curiously ignore. The Authority was wildly successful for WildStorm, but its success also meant that lesser writers, starting with Millar, simply kept trying to outdo Ellis' original "widescreen" vision (Ellis' first Authority arc had the villain destroying three major world cities simply to recreate his family's personal symbol/logo on the face of the planet), with the eventual result that the world was basically reduced to rubble, and after that where do you go? (Many of the characters still exist in DC's New 52 continuity, after Lee sold his company to DC in return for an administrative post, but the company was effectively defunct well before that.) And Marvel made the same mistake with the Ultimate universe, since the Ultimates were a success, they kept trying to do the same thing, turned up to 11. That's how you end up with "Tastes like chicken."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:18 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Hollywoodification of Marvel has been a long, long time coming

No kidding Last year I read Marvel Comics: The Untold History, and according to author Sean Howe, Stan Lee was out in Hollywood trying to get Marvel movies made as early as the 1970s (and, arguably, neglecting running things in New York). When I see Lee's cameos staring in Raimi's Spider-Man films, I'm reminded of how hard he worked to get there.
posted by Gelatin at 7:31 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


The irony in Marvel Comics: The Untold History is that after decades of experience in bamboozling and screwing over their talent, Marvel's management went to Hollywood and bamboozled and screwed over, repeatedly, by the movie studios.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:40 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are more than a few parallels between Stan Lee and Gary Gygax - both quested after Hollywood and ended up instead becoming mascots for the thing they helped create.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:42 AM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, if you can track down a copy, check out Comic Wars: Marvel's Battle For Survival which came out around the time of the first Raimi Spider-Man and focuses on the Bad Ole Days of 90s Marvel. It picks up where Marvel Comics: The Untold Story loses interest.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:49 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


And the plot of the first Iron Man is taken entirely from older Iron Man comics (the origin in the cave, the war on bad people using Stark tech, the relationships with Pepper, Stane, and Rhodey--none of those things are in Miller's Ultimates).

The movie also stays far far away from Orson Scott Card's Ultimate Iron Man, and thank god for that. (The article didn't get into that, so quick sum-up: Tony Stark is a brooding boy genius whose entire body is made up of regenerating neural tissue. His arch-enemy is his dad's eeeeeeevil ex-wife. Sometimes he builds robot suits, but that's not really important.)
posted by Iridic at 7:52 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that thing is garbage and ignored by everyone.
posted by Artw at 8:27 AM on May 28, 2015


Was Tony Stark's dad Howard Hughes meets Walt Disney before the MCus take on him? Because that is a thing I really like.
posted by Artw at 8:28 AM on May 28, 2015


(Ellis' first Authority arc had the villain destroying three major world cities simply to recreate his family's personal symbol/logo on the face of the planet)

Was it also Ellis' run where he killed off Kaizen Gamorra (one of the Wildstorm universe's Big Deal Villains) by having the Authority run their ship into his compound?
posted by griphus at 8:49 AM on May 28, 2015


Ultimates stuck to the core of the characters in some way

I'm...not sure what core you're thinking of when you compare Ult to 616. The difference between the two is that the Ultimates U, with the exception of Spider-Man and perhaps one or two others, is "Like 616, but over the top and complete assholes."

Captain America, by definition, is not an asshole. If your Cap is an asshole, you're doing it wrong--and Millar demonstrates exactly that. Ultimates Bruce Banner is nothing like the original Banner except for his power set. I could go on, but mostly I just hope that Mark Millar never comes anywhere near a Marvel property again, and I hope to god DC doesn't let him near their stuff, either. "Date Rape Superman" is not a Superman I need to see, thanks.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:04 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


And the plot of the first Iron Man is taken entirely from older Iron Man comics (the origin in the cave, the war on bad people using Stark tech, the relationships with Pepper, Stane, and Rhodey--none of those things are in Miller's Ultimates).

There's nothing new in Tony Stark being an alcoholic either: 1979's Demon In A Bottle.
posted by Paul Slade at 9:05 AM on May 28, 2015


I just hope that Mark Millar never comes anywhere near a Marvel property again...

Wow, I just remembered Millar's Captain America-analogue in the Authority and sigh
posted by griphus at 9:09 AM on May 28, 2015


not that girl: "Bruce Banner is a pathetic loser who is despised by everyone; his big moment is when he finds out his ex-girlfriend Betty Ross is on a date with someone else, so he hulks out on purpose and destroys half of Manhattan in a quest to find and rape her. This Hulk is surprisingly articulate, and he uses his power of speech to say things like, “Banner is pussy! I show you real man, Betty! Hulk is so horny!”"

Coincidentally I was just complaining about this exact issue. The Ultimates probably shouldn't have been one of the first books I picked up when I decided to get back into comics...

Spider-Verse was fun, though.
posted by these are science wands at 9:10 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


In fact, I was grimly expecting them to do the Ultimates take on Cap in the movies, because the it has been the 21st century take on superheroes that you can't be a good, compassionate guy and be *cool*. So I was utterly delighted at how well the MCU got him; that he didn't go to war for pride or desire to kill, but out of a fierce desire to protect people. That when he wakes up to the future, he isn't some cliched vision of a guy longing for a psuedo-50s past, but someone who adapts and appreciates many things about the future, while of course still grieving for the people and world he has lost. That he is not a sexist, he is not a racist, he is not a government stooge, that he believes in what America can be but is not blind to what it is.

They even got his dry sense of humor! Truly, I was amazed.
posted by tavella at 10:12 AM on May 28, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think it's significant that the second cap film is a Brubaker story - Brubaker has done more than anyone to reclaim Cap from the Millar version.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


"the best recent Marvel movie was about a superhero team from a series that started in like 2008."

Oh, you're talking about Guardians. Never mind

You have a minor typo there- surely you meant to write "Big Hero 6".

Seriously, that's a film that shows you CAN be successful with new heroes- especially because it's arguable that the film characters are completely new renditions, in spite of having comic characters with the same names..
posted by happyroach at 10:28 AM on May 28, 2015


Last week there was a book where MODOK summoned up a bunch of other MODOKs (including Number None from Nextwave, a Spider-MODOK and the MODOK that fell in love with Maria Hill!) and they all blasted the shit out of each other because some weren't sufficiently Designed Only for Killing I guess. This week (in a different book!) MODOK fought some Sentinels and murdered Bullseye. What I'm saying is, the best thing the Ultimate universe ever did was crash into 616 and explode.
posted by emmtee at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, Miles Morales.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Personally I love Ultimate Jessica Drew, a.k.a. that time Bendis accidentally wrote a really believable trans girl character. A couple of weeks ago I started reading the Ultimate universe more-or-less from beginning to end, and I found it difficult to get her out of my head. Quoting myself rather than linking this time:
She was cloned from Parker as part of an attempt to make biddable superpeople with predictable powers (short version). For reasons of Superscience she still had Peter’s memories, so they were going to wipe her personality and write her a new one: Jessica Drew, CIA agent. But she escaped, and met the original Parker, they had a Team Up, and then the story kept on being about him while she sort of disappeared, taking her old memories and her new legal identity with her.

And every time she’s popped up since she’s been further along in the process of deciding what it is that makes her her, what to keep from her old life and pattern of thinking, what to embrace that’s new. She has all these memories of friends she can never have, because they were friends with him, and now she’s being hit on by Peter’s friends and she’s way too freaked out to deal with it gracefully.

And then Peter goes and dies and she’s left as the last piece of him, but she’s not him any more (never was!), but she feels so strongly about him, so strongly about his responsibilities and his legacy, and when this new kid Miles Morales shows up she’s kind of too hard on him, especially since she won’t open up to him about just why she’s so invested in him being a good Spider-Man.

Just, like, I have a lot of feelings. She’s obviously not written as a trans girl but, like, wow, parallels, at least to me.
She's been in a number of comics but it seems like only Bendis remembers to include the identity stuff, so if she pops up somehow in whatever follows ExplodoWorld I hope it's still him who writes her.
posted by these are science wands at 11:08 AM on May 28, 2015 [6 favorites]


Halloween Jack: "(Ellis' first Authority arc had the villain destroying three major world cities simply to recreate his family's personal symbol/logo on the face of the planet), with the eventual result that the world was basically reduced to rubble, and after that where do you go?"

If you're Warren Ellis, you end your run on the series with The Authority literally killing God, in the form of a giant eye-in-the-pyramid shaped cosmic alien being that's returned to the solar system to destroy it. So there's that.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:24 AM on May 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love that Miles hadn't actually been Spider-Man for all that long before he was press-ganged into joining an army of Spider-Men including like, Spider-Ham and Emissary of Hell Leopardon Spidey and 60s cartoon Spidey and a talking car that was also Spider-Man. To fight vampires. And this actually happened to him; he knows for certain that there is an entire universe that's flat-shaded and the only building in Manhattan with a sign is the Bugle. He knows Peter Porker objectively exists, and is a spider who was bitten by a radioactive pig. That has to mess you up a little.
posted by emmtee at 11:51 AM on May 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


Was it also Ellis' run where he killed off Kaizen Gamorra (one of the Wildstorm universe's Big Deal Villains) by having the Authority run their ship into his compound?

That's the one.

Joakim Ziegler: I'm talking about the "World's End" storyline, well after Ellis had left the book (and WildStorm) behind, and even after Millar, Ed Brubaker, Grant Morrison, and other writers had had their crack at the characters.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:53 AM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Reading Mark Millar comics is so depressing. Like, it makes sense, once or twice, for your bad guys to be vocally racist, misogynist, homophobic, and pointlessly violent to everyone they encounter, but when almost every single bad guy -- and quite a few of the good guys -- you write is like that it starts to look like you're just enjoying yourself, saying the bad words the other writers aren't brave enough to say.

I am flicking through Millar's run on Authority as I write this. I'm, uh, not entirely sure why.
posted by these are science wands at 1:10 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Millar's run on Superman Adventures, the comics counterpart of the DCAU Superman cartoon, was really really good. Precipitous drop after that, though.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:26 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Man, I dug the first couple runs of The Ultimates when they came out. They felt fresh in a way that superhero comics hadn't in a while. And sure I'd read all the deconstructy stuff, but this was direct and adventure full without being, well, old. And Ultimate Burning Man Thor was awesome! An explicitly anarcho-radical superhero in a mainstream book!

And Ultimate Spider Man was continually surprising and fun.

And don't get me started on how the first few appearances of Ultimate Dr. Strange could have made the BEST DR STRANGE STORY EVER.

But then I read some more of Milar's stuff. Oh god it was bad. And then Ultimatum. I was embarrassed to read that. Embarrassed for myself, comics in general, and for the authors.

What a quick rise and fall. RIP my hopes.
posted by lumpenprole at 3:00 PM on May 28, 2015


"Too bad they can't seem to use Warlock."

Well he's made cameo appearances in both Thor 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy (in a cocoon).
posted by Tenuki at 3:54 PM on May 28, 2015


Oh, you guys mean the other Warlock.
posted by Artw at 4:01 PM on May 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Iron Man? Maybe a tiny bit in terms of extra snark, but he's not y'know, a constantly drunk cancer victim.

The hulkbuster armour and calling it from space in UoA seemed to take Iron Man in a more ultimate universe direction.

Captain America, by definition, is not an asshole.

Captain America is an enhanced human who personifies militarism, and specifically the militarism of the nation with the greatest force of arms and highest budget for weaponry globally. He practically defines being an asshole.

One of the things that the MCU has managed to do remarkably well is sell CA outside the US.

You have a minor typo there- surely you meant to write "Big Hero 6".

I only saw the trailer, it looked like the Big Hero 6 character was influenced by Fuji from the Authority, did it come across that way in the film?
posted by biffa at 4:15 PM on May 28, 2015




The hulkbuster armour and calling it from space in UoA seemed to take Iron Man in a more ultimate universe direction.

The Hulkbuster armor was first seen in 1994, about 10 years before Tony fought the Hulk in Ultimates.
posted by straight at 4:59 PM on May 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Captain America is an enhanced human who personifies militarism, and specifically the militarism of the nation with the greatest force of arms and highest budget for weaponry globally.

He's arguably more identifiably with militarism as a member of the armed services and someone specifically associated with WWII, but really, most superheroes are personifications of militarism. They're almost all about inhabiting a narrative where the protagonist has superior force and therefore stories where we're talking about how it's used (you could make the distinction that domestic save-the-city vigilantes are about policing vs militarism, but we spend a lot of time here talking about how that distinction seems thinner and thinner). There's a reason why classic superheroes that aren't specifically military are sometimes used in foreign political cartoons representing the USA.

MCU Cap is somewhat explicitly identified with militarism, particularly in origin, and therefore can't really be separated from it or its problems, but he also seems to be highly aware of those problems, conscientious about trying to live up to the ideals many good people hope they'd have when given power either in the form of state military might or personal superiority. He's what we like to think America is. Or hope it could be when we're disillusioned.

If we're really going to pick an MCU character who personifies militarism -- particularly US-flavored militarism -- there's just no better choice than Tony Stark, who not only calls up the superior force narratives but also manages to simultaneously represent the armed forces and the military-industrial complex and our hedonistic consumptive proud techno-utopian aspirations all at the same damn time. As a country we are so much closer to Stark than Steve Rogers. Even when we wish we weren't.

Yoking the two together and contrasting them isn't just for comedic or dramatic tension, it's a pretty insightful way of exploring national identity and political questions.
posted by weston at 5:02 PM on May 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


Captain America is an enhanced human who personifies militarism, and specifically the militarism of the nation with the greatest force of arms and highest budget for weaponry globally. He practically defines being an asshole.

Wow. I can't tell if you've never read a (non-Ultimates) Captain America story or if you just didn't actually comprehend anything about Cap when you read it. Cap stories, over and over, are about the clash of his ideals with things like the military-industrial complex. If you haven't actually picked up on that, you're speaking in ignorance.

It is absolutely possible to come from a military background and not be an asshole. It happens in real life. I'm sorry if you can't accept that.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 5:25 PM on May 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have read some non-ultimate Captain America. Sometimes he had some conflict with the military industrial complex but I would suggest this is much more likely to happen when dealing with issues internal to the US. Other times he is quite happy to Illegally enter a foreign state, often for example on the orders of SHIELD, to pursue some political end, and without any consideration as to why that might be problematic - the comics often assume that is perfectly fine. It's not helped by the somewhat interchangeable representation of Shield as an American/UN body and the potential conflict this would engender if it were UN but acted as if it were American.
posted by biffa at 11:46 PM on May 28, 2015


Biffa, sorry, dude, but you've missed the point of the character in a profound way. It's not hard to point you to several examples where Cap stands in direct opposition to the government and militarism in general. It's baked into the character that he stands for the ideal of America, not literally America.

I mean, this is a character that took out the President ... in 1973 ... at the height of Vietnam. There's a reason he's on the "freedom" side of Civil War.

Saying otherwise besmirches the POV of innumerable writers.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:07 AM on May 29, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm making a distinction between the CA that is often presented in his favour and some of the other actions he takes part in which are glossed over but which are often illegal under international law. I agree there are stories where he is shown as representing American ideals rather than American government, and where he might go up against the American establishment, as in the examples you give. If you read my comment, you see I acknowledge this happens but make the point it tends to happen in defence of domestic American rights and to defend the US wider society. In other non-ultimate comics he clearly takes actions which are directed by the US government/Shield and which would be illegal under international law but which chime with the US's real world policy of interference in other nations and which thus tend to be glossed over in favour of the story, remaining unquestioned. One of the things that I liked about Millar's ultimate CA was the non-US perspective on CA, which emphasises how others might see such a character, wrapped in the flag of an aggressor or as part of a hegemony and representing the hard power they can bring to bear on non-allies.

'besmirching'? Pointing out how the character is treated in one place being as valid as how it is treated in another? The problem really comes from the fact that the more popular comic characters feature in so many places that they will be used in different ways that don't agree with each other over time. Another example would be how in one comic one of the Avengers or X-men will be lecturing some new hero on how we don't kill even when there are powerful reasons to do so, then in another title one or other members of their teams will be slaughtering faceless hordes.
posted by biffa at 2:20 AM on May 29, 2015


The premise of Captain America is basically, "What if there were someone who embodied the most praiseworthy ideals of America, someone who confronted the difference between America's ideals and the country's disappointing reality?"

You could say that some writers have gotten this wrong and written stories where Cap fails to live up to that standard, but I'd say that's a failure of the writer more than something inherent in the character.

I suppose one could question whether even this level of mythology is too self-serving for Americans to indulge in, that we should be looking to more international, universal ideals rather than nationalistic ones. But I think given the existence of American mythology, it can be more effective to try to call the country to account based on the ideals that we claim to adhere to, rather than some loftier standard that most people don't even claim to aspire to.
posted by straight at 10:50 AM on May 29, 2015 [4 favorites]


Plus he punches Hitler, that's hard to dislike.

First appearance, boom, Hitler-punch. This is before America was in the war, mind.
posted by Artw at 10:53 AM on May 29, 2015 [6 favorites]


In other non-ultimate comics he clearly takes actions which are directed by the US government/Shield and which would be illegal under international law but which chime with the US's real world policy of interference in other nations and which thus tend to be glossed over in favour of the story, remaining unquestioned.

It might help if you could point out a particular story or run of stories in this vein.
posted by kewb at 1:12 PM on May 29, 2015


I feel like someone might be confusing Cap with the Comedian from Watchmen.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:00 PM on May 29, 2015


Read Secret Wars 1 over lunch - for something that's the start of a continuity reset it seems shockingly continuity dependent. But also like it might actually be good, to the point where I might go back and read some Avengers stuff.

Flicking through Secret Wars 2 it seems like that is the actual start of that story.
posted by Artw at 2:01 PM on May 29, 2015


I saw that Secret Wars was happening and decided to read the entire Hickman Avengers/New Avengers run. Then I read Secret Wars. Then, confused, I went back and caught up on Hickman's Ultimates run.

Then I read the rest of the Ultimate universe.

So, really, it's Hickman's fault I'm reading comics again.

finishes comment, goes back to reading hawkeye
posted by these are science wands at 2:32 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


So... Was it worth it?
posted by Artw at 2:44 PM on May 30, 2015


You can probably skip Hickman's Ultimates and just wiki it. But I really enjoyed his Avengers and New Avengers. It was nice to read a comics story that had a couple of years to run its course, over two titles, without being interrupted -- for the most part -- by Big Events. It was also cosmic and grand and it was nice that Big Stakes were allowed to have Big Consequences for once, even if the reason for that was that the whole universe was going to be rebooted once Secret Wars got going.

I'd say it was worth it.
posted by these are science wands at 11:14 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


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