Monday, October 17, 2016

The Great Lakes Avengers #1 Review and **SPOILERS**

I Understand There Was to Be a Squirrel Girl?

Writer: Zac Gorman 
Artists: Wil Robson 
Color Artist: Tamra Bonvillain 
Letterer: VC’s Joe Carmagna 
Cover Price: $3.99 
On Sale Date: October 12, 2016


So you know me: it's your boy, Reggie. The comics enthusiast. Co-host of Cosmic Treadmill and Weird Comics History (which can be heard though the feed of this site’s podcast!) Fanatic of the oddball and stupid comic books most people wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. And unapologetic DC Comics supporter. It’s not a big issue with me, just that two roads diverged in the yellow wood, and I took the one with Superman at the end of it. So when it comes to Marvel, I know the broad strokes. And mostly the Silver Age strokes. I’m just going to say it: I’ve never read the original Great Lakes Avengers series. I know of it, I have heard about it and learned some some stuff, but in general I don’t really know a danged thing. Except that Squirrel Girl was in it. And that it was a kind of weird, humorous book that is generally of the type that is to my liking. So with those two facts in my arsenal, I have decided to forgo Wikipedia research and dive right in to issue #1 of Great Lakes Avengers—volume two!

Explain It! 
Okay, here’s the situation: my parents went away on a week’s vacation. Wait, that’s something else. I mean that due to a lapse in trademark on the Avengers’ name, their lawyer Connie Ferrari and her assistant Amy fly to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to see Dr. Val Venture, aka Flatman, a guy that is totally not Flat Stanley. Seems he was a member of the original Great Lakes Avengers—you know, that series I didn’t read—and due to some loophole in this contract that was written by untrained monkeys, the rights to the name “Avengers” have reverted back to Flatman because he trademarked the name back in the day. Is that how trademarks work? When they lapse, they return to their original registrant? This means good things for the family of the original creator of Mickey Mouse, Alois Hitler, Sr. Flatman is sitting on his couch in his filthy house playing what might be a fake World of Warcraft, or some kind of video game in a medieval setting. The Avengers are all prepared to pay him a million, skillion dollars, but Flatman wants just one thing: to get the crew back together!

So the Avengers officially co-sign the Great Lakes Avengers as some kind of annex to the regular Avengers, which is weird because aren’t there like three teams running around the Marvel Universe calling themselves “the Avengers” right now? Like, couldn’t Flatman called his team “the Outtasite Avengers” and somehow side-stepped any copyright laws? So first to heed Flatman’s call is Big Bertha, a plus-size model that can change her size at will. And apparently that change is usually to increase her size. I assume her clothing is made of spandex because it’s pretty tight on her from the get-go. Flatman explains that he reached out to Mr. Immortal, who has some history with Big Bertha apparently, Doorman (who does show up) and Squirrel Girl—and then we cut to Squirrel Girl, ignoring a text from Flatman while eating seafood with James Rhodes Captain America, Miles Morales Spider-Man, and Jane Foster Thor. And that’s it. Is this book trying to tell us something? Is that all we’re going to get of Squirrel Girl? I WAS REALLY HOPING TO SEE SQUIRREL GIRL IN THIS BOOK HONESTLY. Back at the diner where Flatman is holding his inaugural meeting of the Great Lakes Avengers, Doorman phases in through the table and is read to join up. So that’s something. Just then, Flatman gets a call from the Avengers for their first assignment—to occupy their new base in Detroit, Michigan!
Speaking of Detroit, a young lady named Good is working on some digital drawing while her older brother Lucky stands in the doorway, cheering on her ambition. And thus concludes our short play, Scenes Between Siblings That Have Never Happened in the History of Humanity, we hope you have enjoyed the fantasy. Just then, there’s a big explosion in Good’s room, destroying a big chunk of the house and maybe killing Lucky? You don’t see a body so I’m betting not. We see a fat guy made of fire dressed in a steampunk truss bounding by, we later learn his name is Fireband but for now we know him as the main culprit. Good spies her neighbor across the street being harassed by a villain named Pitchfork, because he’s got Pitchforks for hands. And no nose, for some reason. Good steps out onto the street to defend her neighbor, then turns into a blue werewolf named Good Boy that thrashes the crap out of Pitchfork off-panel. So that’s a thing.

The Great Lakes Avengers make it to their new Detroit headquarters, which is a derelict Stark manufacturing factory, that also happens to be up the block from some supervillains’ lair. The seeds are sown for hijinks. The team gets into the factory, which is already inhabited by a pink-haired girl with an upside-down cross necklace named Pansy. She’s been getting Flatman’s texts to Mr. Immortal, and decided to heed the call for some reason. Meanwhile: Mr. Immortal is not dead!
I love these variants.
I’m going to chalk a lot of my problems I had with this issue to “pilot episode syndrome,” though I am going to name some of said problems. One: it was too steeped in a backstory that may be neither relevant or interesting. Two: a lot of the jokes didn’t land. Three: NOT ENOUGH SQUIRREL GIRL. Seriously, if you think you’re getting away with not having Squirrel Girl in this comic book, you’ve got another think coming. The art was cartoony and looked okay for its style, but it remains to be seen if it’s the best choice for this book. As it is, I feel like it didn’t convey a lot of the settings as intended by the dialogue. Still, this was just the first issue and therefore necessitated a lot of infodump about the characters as well as the premise. So I’m going to give this the benefit of the doubt and see if things pick up going forward.
And I love Mike Allred's work, always. I'm no dummy.

Bits and Pieces:

If you're like me and you didn't read the previous Great Lakes Avengers series, you're in luck! If you find being mildly confused lucky, that is. I didn't mean to mislead you about that. I don't think you need to have read the other series, but it would probably help. There are some quips, but not really enough to consider this "funny." Still, this is just an introduction to the series and its characters, so I don't expect too much from it. I'm willing to see how wacky this gets.

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