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DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE!

This is going to be the first column in what I hope will be an ongoing discussion on how incredibly fucking stupid comics can be.

That’s right: Stupid. Fucking. Crap.

Because after all, if Sturgeon’s Law is true and 90% of everything really is crap, then it’s inevitable that we are all fanboys sailing on a sea of shit, and the sooner we recognize this, the better we can appreciate that the slim 10% of quality stories being published that are in serious need of recognition.

Taking a cue from a fellow disgruntled reader, I wanted to talk about Marvel’s current “Dark Reign” storyline, another in a seemingly endless line of mega events from the publisher that overpromises and underdelivers.  By now you know the score: in the wake of “Secret Invasion,” the government has granted control of a legally sanctioned Avengers team, the Initiative training program, and the full might of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Norman Osborn. Think about that for a minute.  Norman Osborn.  The Green fucking Goblin. The United States government has handed over its super human offensive power to a known murderer, psychopath, and super villain, simply because he says he’s found God and reformed his life of sin.

In the real world, that would be like Obama appointing Osama bin Laden as head of the CIA because he said he’s really sorry about 9/11.

Now before you brand me a cranky old bastard and move along to your favorite porn site, let me say right now that I fully understand that enjoying comics is all about suspending your disbelief for the span of twenty-two pages.  Shit, I’m the guy who has a man crush on M.O.D.O.K. so I think I know a thing or two about suspending one’s disbelief.  “Dark Reign” is not your typical bit of fantastic fiction, though it’s not asking you to believe in a secret alien invasion, a superhero civil war, or the magical eradication of the planet’s mutant population.  It’s asking… scratch that; it’s demanding, that you believe the Marvel Universe is so fucking incompetent, a place that something as unlikely as Osborn’s meteoric rise to power could happen so effortlessly.  I’ll suspend my disbelief while reading comics, but what I won’t do is beat it senseless, lock it in a dark room, and throw away the key.  Do the editors at Marvel really expect me to believe that the government, with absolutely no reservations, doubt, or any thorough process of vetting, would bequeth such oversight and power to Osborn solely on the strength of his redemption and newfound nobility (yeah, it helps that he also killed the Skrull Queen, but then why didn’t the government toss him a more reasonable bone like, say, immunity for his past crimes?)?

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Think about it this way: would our government give someone like the Unabomber a government job if he helped foil a terrorist plot, shave some time off his life sentence for services rendered, or simply say “thanks for the help but you’re still a sick fucking bastard and we’re gonna keep you locked up for life?”  This is essentially the dilemma that Marvel is expecting you to overlook or ignore, and it’s a huge flaw that they went ahead and built their entire story on, one that a little common sense exposes as being too asinine for words.  But I’ll find those words!

Whatever. We have to play the cards we’re dealt in life, no matter how badly they suck donkey ass, and this is the story we’ve been given.  How does it hold up? Are you having a good time with it? I’m not. I’d like to, but after eight months of this nonsense I find I am so incredibly bored that asking my wife how her day was is beginning to sound like an exciting way to pass the time. As the months wear on, I find myself consuming more and more Maker’s Mark just to stay enthused about it all, but my buzz is wearing off, and I’m getting angry that this monstrosity is going nowhere.

Okay, so Norman Osborn has miraculously come to control his Dark Avengers, the Initiative, and H.A.M.M.E.R., but what the hell is he doing with all this power, besides jerking off whenever he hangs out with dark Ms. Marvel and reminding everyone how he’s in charge now?  Eight months later, Tommy Lee Jones Osborn seems content to sit on his laurels and gloat.  And why shouldn’t he when the combined forces of Marvel’s registered and unregistered heroes (Yeah, remember that whole Civil War thing?  Funny how that made no difference whatsoever…) are too chicken shit to man up and stop him. “Dark Reign” doesn’t have to be this bad, but month after month Marvel deliberately keep things at a stalemate, with Osborn not quite willing to step up his game and kill the heroes before they become a problem (a task I’d hoped the new Thunderbolts would have been working on this whole time, but those retards can’t even take down Deadpool, so I’ve given up thinking they’ll ever be a serious threat). And the heroes bitch and moan about what a monster Osborn is but never fucking do anything about it!  To date, I think the only one who’s offered a proportional response to the situation has been the Punisher when he ironically tried to put a Skrull bullet through Osborn’s head, but of course we know how that one turned out.  Still, can’t blame a guy for trying.

In the long run though, “Dark Reign” has proven itself to be a story of empty threats and bullshit posturing, a non-event pretending to be something extraordinary.  And the fact that it’s still not over worries me. I’ve read that starting in September the story will move into its next arc, called “The Iron Patriot Acts.”  Conceivably this story could take all year to resolve, and my fear is that when it’s over and the dust has settled, not one fucking thing will have changed, and readers will have shelled out nearly $800 (if you’ve been collecting every issue under the “Dark Reign” banner, you will have paid about $565 as of 5/10) to read a story that does not deliver, fails to entertain, and robs you blind one issue at a time.

For the record, I am indeed a cranky old bastard, and currently a drunk one at that, but I rant because I’m angry and I’m angry because we deserve better stories than this. We deserve more comics like Agents of Atlas, Deadpool and Invincible Iron Man. Titles that have spun out of or been directly impacted by “Dark Reign” but used this event to their benefit to tell amazing stories. Do me a favor: If you agreed with even a tiny portion of what I had to say here, when “The Iron Patriot Acts” rolls out in September, remember to vote with your dollar.

And don’t believe the hype.

-Tony Rakittke

Thanks again to Prickle for providing the inspiration for this column.  Drinks on me when we meet in Hell, buddy.  Got ideas for a future rant?  Drop me a line and let me know!  If I like your idea, I’ll use this space to plug whatever it is your into and think we need to check out.  Until next time…

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