Monday, February 4, 2008

AVENGERS #368 – November 1993


Bloodties Part One – Family Legacy
Credits: Bob Harras (writer), Steve Epting (penciler), Tom Palmer (inker/colorist), Bill Oakley (letterer)


Summary
Magneto’s EM pulse wave has inadvertently created a civil war in Genosha. Fearing that Magneto would inspire the Mutates to rebel, human Genoshans are exterminating them. The Mutates are using their powers to fight back. The government wants Nick Fury and SHIELD to prevent the Avengers from getting involved, fearing their presence would escalate the violence and affect human politics. When pressed, Fury admits to the Avengers that intelligence reports hint that they might be attacked to make a statement against the world’s indifference towards Genosha. Crystal assumes that Luna, her daughter and Magneto’s grandchild, would be a target. The Avengers discover that Luna has been replaced with a Mutate shapeshifter. The Mutate blows herself up to make a statement. The Avengers attempt to go to Genosha, but are blocked by SHIELD agents. Meanwhile, Government agent Henry Gyrich and Avenger US Agent are sent to recruit Professor Xavier, hoping that he can ease tensions in Genosha. Fabian Cortez makes a statement to the world, holding Luna and claiming that he is the leader of the Mutate rebellion. He says that now all humans will be exterminated in Genosha.


Review
This is the start of Bloodties, a crossover between the X-Men and Avengers franchises intended to celebrate their thirtieth anniversaries. I can maybe understand a special issue to celebrate an anniversary, but doing a crossover between two franchises because they started in the same year seems like a stretch. It’s not a bad issue, as Harras is able to make the setup for the storyline pretty interesting. The characters at least have an emotional stake in the story, which sets it above a lot of the crossovers from this era. Steve Epting’s art certainly isn’t at his current level of quality, but it’s decent enough.


There are some natural connections between the Avengers and X-Men, and the first part of the storyline exploits a few of them. Former Avenger Beast is paired again with Henry Gyrich, calling back to the late 70s/early 80s era of Avengers. Crystal is the mother of Magneto’s grandchild, so it’s logical that she would be drawn into the human/mutant conflict. Even though the first part of the story is in an Avengers issue, the crossover already feels more heavily balanced towards the X-universe. Genosha is firmly an X-book concept, and the impetus for the civil war is directly related to the recent X-crossover. The main villain, Fabian Cortez, is also firmly grounded in the X-universe. I’m not too familiar with this era in Avengers history, but it seems like the title is undergoing an X-makeover anyway. The leather jackets, headgear, bad haircuts, headbands, and odd costume designs all look like attempts to mimic the look of the X-titles. Characters with more traditional costumes, like Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch, look extremely out of place. One of the letters on the letters pages praises the book for having “attitude” now. Marvel’s promotional material for this event definitely hasn’t aged well, with even Captain America featured in a leather jacket and chunky headgear.


With Apartheid coming to an end, Marvel apparently decided to look for other global atrocities to find a new direction for Genosha. It looks like they decided on the civil war in Yugoslavia. Fury and SHIELD are introduced into the story solely to indicate the UN’s reluctance to get involved. I have a mental image of a dry erase board in Marvel’s conference room, with names like “North Korea”, “Bosnia-Herzegovina”, “Sudan”, “Afghanistan”, “East Timor”, and “Tibet” written all over it. “Okay, guys…I think we’re on to something…” If Marvel published this story today, I can just imagine Joe Quesada all over cable television, bragging about how smart and relevant this story is. I’m starting to miss the days when the media just ignored us.

5 comments:

James said...

This era of the Avengers was very poor (and, yes, it was an attempt to bring the book closer to the sensibilities of the X books). Captain America in a team jacket was bad enough - but Black Knight, a guy who wears a full suit of armor, sporting the same jacket over it was just laughable.

Teebore said...

I know this era of the Avengers gets a bad rap, but just like this era of X-Men, it's when I first started reading Avengers (Avengers was the first book I moved to when I expanded my reading habits to include non X-books)so I have an unshakeable fondness for the "Leather Jacket X-Avengers", if you will.

This version of Black Knight, patently ridiculous leather jacket and all, remains one of my favorites.

And of course, I loved this crossover when it came out, seeing as how it brought together two franchises I was already reading and loving.

Anonymous said...

I have to stand up for this era of Avengers too. The X-trappings are dumb, but Harras stabilized the lineup for quite awhile and got some decent character work and stories out of them. As a kid, I loved the Sersi/Black Knight/Crystal dynamic and liked seeing another female chairperson in the Black Widow.

I too loved the crossover when it came out as a child - but I recently reread it and could barely get to the end. It feels like there's so many seperate events going on and the teams as a whole barely interact.

It's funny to look for Revanche in this crossover. She keeps popping up after having been forgotten about, usually in a miscoloured costumes, and with almost no dialogue. I wondered why they felt she had to come along on the mission.

Teebore said...

Put aside the jackets and whatnot, and an Avengers lineup of Captain America, Vision, Black Widow, Hercules, Crystal, Black Knight and Sersi is pretty sweet. Especially w/Black Widow as the chairperson instead of the expected Cap.

I remember now Revanche showing up in background scenes during this crossover, and wondering what the hell she was doing there.

Anonymous said...

"If Marvel published this story today, I can just imagine Joe Quesada all over cable television, bragging about how smart and relevant this story is. I’m starting to miss the days when the media just ignored us."

So true. Funny and sad at the same time.

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