Pick of the Week Podcast

Pick of the Week #747 – Hellblazer: Rise and Fall, Book One

Show Notes

It’s possible even we are getting tired of talking about Tom Taylor’s work, but when you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll. Plus, the death of comics events, and Josh completely blanking on a Patron Power, with Conor swooping in for the rescue.

Running Time: 01:09:57

Pick of the Week:
00:02:53 – Hellblazer: Rise and Fall, Book One

00:13:47 – Empyre #6
00:24:43 – Shazam! #14
00:32:20 – Black Widow #1
00:39:48 – Young Justice #18
00:42:24 – DCeased: Dead Planet #3
00:45:57 – Injustice: Year Zero #5
00:47:40 – Fire Power #3

Patron Pick:
00:50:54 – Spy Island #1

Patron Thanks:
00:57:36 – Harley Ashley
00:59:04 – Mark Minett

Audience Questions:
01:00:49 – Ryan from Cincinnati, OH wonders if he should revive an old iFanboy ritual. (He shouldn’t.)

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  1. Marvel has run events into the ground and I remember you both liking War of the Realms, but being fun wasn’t good enough for me with that event. It felt like it wasn’t emotionally impactful enough until the final issue. I do strongly disagree with Conor saying that Civil War was the last real good one even with its issues. Secret Wars was great even with the delays and was the last time it felt like an event that mattered. Secret Wars also had some great Warzone/Battleworld mini-series like Thors, Civil War, Infinity Gauntlet with the Nova family, Weirdworld, and Marvel Zombies with Elsa Bloodstone. Since Secret Wars, essentially all Marvel events just don’t feel like they matter.

  2. If you go back and look at events from the old days, there were three successful models:

    1) Use the Annuals – this is what Atlantis Attacks and Evolutionary War did (DC did some like this, too). It gives the Annual a purpose rather than just being a 13th issue for that year.

    2) Keep everything in its own book – the original Secret Wars did this, and it worked. So did Infinity Gauntlet. It’s separate from current continuity while still acknowledging it, and if you want to story to impact continuity, then work it in afterwards.

    3) Just use the ongoing series – this is what the X-Books did, what the Avengers did. This is a bit trickier, as you want to balance the larger story with the ongoing story in each title, but some of the best event storylines used this method (and the Arrowverse, for good or ill, follows suit on TV). I always cite X-Tinction Agenda and X-Cutioner’s Song as great examples of this – the event story was compelling and impactful in itself, but each issue served the characters normally in it. When Warlock died in X-Tinction, it was during a “New Mutants” issue. When the X-Men first encountered Apocalypse in X-Cutioner’s, it was in “Uncanny X-Men,” since 2/5ths of that team (plus guest Beast) had fought him before in X-Factor (Scott and Jean were on the moon at that point).

    Empyre could easily have been model 3, as it was essentially an FF/Avengers story. If you want to have one-shots to flesh out a character or two that isn’t covered in one of the main books, like Swordsman, OK, but they wouldn’t be essential reading. The X-Men parts of the story should have been jettisoned as they did nothing to service the larger story, they only furthered their own stories (which was maybe a condition Hickman put on their participation, who knows). And the story in the Avengers mini was fluff – fine, but again didn’t really service the main plot (other than to show how far-reaching this event was, but I think this hurt more than helped).

    What would have been better, though, was to follow model 2 and fold the X-Men in more closely. You already had Wolverine on the FF, not having Wonder Man and Beast team up again was a missed opportunity. Also, with the X-Men working big time in botanicals, they could have had a much bigger role in taking down the Cotati (Black Tom and Krakoa would have been huge helps). It would have also been interesting to see Charles and Magneto, or Emma, leverage their assistance with T’Challa (“we need to talk to the king of Wakanda for a second rather than the chairman of
    the Avengers. This would be a good time to re-consider allowing our pharmaceuticals into your country, especially once you see how efficacious our plant-based work is…”). This furthers the ongoing story for both.

  3. Last Marvel event book that was impactful for me was Annihilation Conquest. As a follow up to Annihilation I thought it was very effective. Nothing since from the Marvel events has felt as impactful. AvX I guess came close and I did for the most part enjoy that, but somewhere toward the end it fell a bit flat for me. It doesn’t help that newer event books are literally retreads of old event concepts. I’m not sure the value of doing that when we can all go back and read the trades for Infinity Gauntlet, Secret Wars, or Civil War. We don’t need modern echos of those stories. That felt like a weird move to me.

    My favorite model was the Atlantis Attacks (The original. I didn’t yet read the modern one) model where it ran through the annuals. So you had an event and the tie ins all were isolated to an annual issue rather than interrupt the flow on the books themselves.

    • I did not like Avengers vs X-Men at all where the Avengers pulling a 180 and then being on Hope’s side was ridiculous at the end. The Phoenix Five were doing good until they weren’t and it put Cyclops on a bad path as a character that was seemingly fixed in Uncanny X-Men #600 until that no longer mattered. Looking at you Inhumans vs X-Men with Thr idea that Cyclops was dead the entire event due to the Terrigen mist. Hickman’s Secret Wars might have the same name as the original and has Warzones and Battleworlds, but it was a great story where it definitely had more depth than the original. That was actually built to and made sense compared to Avengers vs X-Men where due to the movies, the Avengers were never going to look that bad. Of course Inhumans vs X-Men was so much worse.

      Secret Wars wasn’t a retread honestly and also had great mini-series that you didn’t have to read. I know a lot of people who consider the Civil War Warzone better than the original series. Secret Wars was a very impactful story honestly as far as what happened with Doom leading into Infamous Iron Man, bringing back Miles’ mom, and then it ultimately was Reed versus Doom which goes back to Hickman’s Fantastic Four run. I recommend the Infinity Gauntlet Warzone to people with that Nova family along with Marvel Zombies featuring Elsa Bloodstone where they used the names of those stories while being original. Annihilation was great, but merely calling Hickman’s Secret Wars isn’t giving it a lot of credit with its actual content. Infinity Wars and Civil War 2 were retreads and had outside influences. Civil War 2 was done in 2016 to capitalize on the movie just like Infinity Wars in 2018 when Infinity War came out. They weren’t done because they were properly built stories. War of the Realms was properly built to and just did not deliver for me on an emotional level until the final issue. It felt less impactful until the ending.

    • That is a valid complaint about AvX and that’s about where it fell apart for me. Though I did like Cap admitting at the end that he wasn’t doing enough to help the mutants. I thought that was interesting as was the fall out that integrated the Avengers and X-Men teams, but most of the other fall out from the event was not great IMO and AvX was a big slope downward for me when it came to being excited about the X-Men. It was like the inflection point. The X-Men versus Inhuman’s storyline was just bad. It just didn’t make sense to me.

      I have not read Infinity Gauntlet Warzone. I probably should since I do like both Nova and Elsa. I will get around to it. What made Annihilation and Conquest impactful for me is it felt like it had the space to be defining to the cosmic setting. I think that latitude was granted considering it was in the time period of Civil War so for the most part editorial didn’t seem to care if you changed the Cosmic landscape. They were very focused on Earth politics. that was the last golden age IMO for events at Marvel. They have yet to reach that level again.

      War Of The Realms was an interesting idea that fell flat for me, but I will admit it didn’t feel like a retread which is why I didn’t include it. So kudos for then delivering a fresh event in recent history. I need to be fair.

      Infinity and Civil War 2 were just boring. I didn’t get through either of them. I feel like after Thanos Imperative they have yet to really executed on a compelling Thanos.

      Secret Wars I will admit it was unfair to say it was a retread because it was different (sort of) and some fun stories came out of it. Though it was definitely trying to cash in on the Secret Wars name, which feels weird to me. I don’t understand why they think event names are brands. It actually has the opposite effect. If you name too many thing Infinity Gauntlet or Secret Wars you basically get brand confusion or brand dilution IMO. How many Civil Wars can you have before people just sigh when they look at the name.

    • Hickman’s Secret Wars was 30 years later and it wasn’t confusing or diluting the brand honestly when it’s only the second time. I don’t find that to be a valid criticism for that event. People only cite the original nowadays as far as just the debut of Spider-Man in the black suit where no one really cares about it anymore. I thought the adaptation in the 90s Spider-Man animated series for Secret Wars was better than the actual comic event. I have no idea what happened in Infinity Wars and it obviously didn’t matter just like Civil War 2 and Secret Empire. The Infinity Gauntlet Warzone stars a completely different Nova family and Marvel Zombies was the one starring Elsa Bloodstone. Thors as a procedural detective story was so good and I enjoyed Planet Hulk. Writers at least had fun with those concepts and put their own spin on events while just using the names of those events to sell them.

      The reveal in the Civil War Warzone worked honestly and it was better written than the original series where it’s too obvious that Tony is the antagonist in the original one. People were sighing at Civil War when it was released honestly especially with the ending. Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest were great, but were allowed to do what they wanted since it was the cosmic side of Marvel. I wouldn’t consider that a golden age with Civil War’s quality. As far as a compelling Thanos, I would say that Donny Cates’ 6 issue series was well done in the last few years.

    • We appear to have very different tastes. Such is comics I guess.

    • I don’t think our tastes are that different where I like Civil War, but don’t love it overall. I love the Punisher moment with refusing to fight back after killing those villains who joined Cap’s side. The cosmic side was on fire at the time which helped with less creators involved and editorial overhead. Annihilation followed by Annihilation: Conquest was great. Then War of Kings was the best thing to come out of Secret Invasion and I really like the Thanos Imperative. I don’t know many people who like Avengers vs X-Men especially with the ending. Cyclops killing Prof. X angered a lot of people along with the Avengers switching to being behind Hope as if they were the entire time.

      I don’t think it’s a stretch though to say the original Secret Wars wasn’t full of depth especially compared to Hickman’s Secret Wars honestly. Important things happened in the original besides Spider-Man getting the symbiote suit, but it was pretty obviously done to sell toys which you can tell with the battles and that has been discussed before by Jim Shooter. It’s action packed and fun, but wasn’t really that deep.

  4. Surprised to see the guys didn’t even talk about Strange Adventures or Batman this week. Unless I’m losing it and they didn’t come out this week…

    • I was a bit surprised Strange Adventures wasn’t discussed, but Conor hasn’t exactly been that excited about this Batman run where Josh said he wasn’t reading it. Not discussing Batman isn’t that surprising since Conor discussed Nightwing over Batman more than once in the last year.

    • If we don’t include a book, it’s because we can’t think of anything significant or new to say about it. We aren’t necessarily gonna talk about every issue of a series, even if it’s a good series.

  5. Paul O’Brien did a review of the event Axis years ago. He said the problem with Axis is that its story couldn’t bear the weight of being the foundation of a crossover. That’s because it was just an Uncanny Avengers story given a bump and not built as a crossover. Civil War, World War Hulk, and Siege worked because they were built as crossovers. Secret Invasion was just supposed to be a New/Mighty Avengers x-over, Fear Itself was supposed to be a Thor/Cap Bru/Fraction x-over, War of the Realms is just the continuation of Jason Aaron’s Thor. Its not impossible to build a crossover from a run (Blackest Night) but its story has to be able to bear that extra weight. Empyre should have just been a Fantastic Four/Avengers summer crossover with all of the meat of the story therein.

    • Remender said it was never supposed to be an event and was just another arc in the run before Marvel wanted it to be bigger where Paul O’Brien. Remender’s Uncanny Avengers run felt like an event as a monthly comic with the Apocalypse Twins, Ragnarok Now, and Avenge the Earth arcs where Marvel left him alone. It didn’t need to be marketed as an event and elevated where it was great with those 3 arcs. You are right though where Marvel has a very bad habit of trying to elevate crossovers or arcs into full blown events when they can’t bear the weight.

      I think a great example of Marvel leaving things alone was the cosmic side with Annihilation going on at the same time as Civil War and leading into Annihilation: Conquest. Then you get the famous GOTG run out of that before leading into War of Kings as the best thing to come out of Secret Invasion where nothing really happened in that event. The Earth’s Mightiest Heroes episodes of Secret Invasion were so much better. When less creators are involved with less editorial overhead, you got better stories. It was able to be more focused instead of needing to do too much with the event comic and then tie-ins. Look at what happened to Daredevil after Brubaker was done where it was the Shadowland crossover which hurt Andy Diggle’s run. Forcing crossovers and events on creators instead of letting them tell their stories typically doesn’t work and Marvel has done it a lot.

    • Where Paul O’Brien was right*

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