Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Avengers Timeslide

Avengers Timeslide, Cover Date February 1996
Story by Bob Harras and Terry Kavanagh, Script by Ben Raab, Pencils by Roger Cruz, Luke Ross, Fabio Laguna, Frank Toscano, Manny Clark, and Oclair Albert, Inks by Scott Koblish and Rene Micheletti

Avengers Timeslide Cover

"The Crossing" wheezes towards its big finale in the second and final $5 chrome covered special of the series, as the Avengers get ready to do the time warp!

We begin the issue with another big fight on the NYC streets between the Avengers and Kang's Anachronauts, as a crowd watches. To everyone's surprise, Captain America shows up, prompting one reporter to stutter "b-b-b-but you're dead!" Also, without a big entrance, Thor is here, in his shirtless mid-90's travesty of a costume. As the heroes fight, Rita DeMarra Yellowjacket pops in, still traveling back in time towards her death in Avengers: The Crossing. The team is able to get into the Mansion, where the mystery door apparently allows the team access to time travel? Since when?

Avengers Timeslide Wasp
"What does Wasp's new costume look like? Ah, who cares."

Tobias, one of the twins, pops in, and says the Avengers future is written in stone: tombstones! Hercules throws the door open and everybody gets sucked through a time portal as Century says to grab on, so that he can guide them through.

Avengers Timeslide Teen Tony
That's what teens look like, right? Oh, and according to this story, it's March, so this
girl's just an idiot (and Marvel Editorial is super lazy).

Captain America, Black Widow and Jarvis appear in a posh building, where they're accosted by a... young Edwin Jarvis! Once the two Jarvii get close, they get a splitting headache. Captain America says they've traveled "ten years" back in time, and I think my eyes just rolled all the way back into my head. Even in Marvel's silly "sliding" timeline, haven't there been superheroes running around for 10 years? I mean, how old do they think Spider-Man is, as a college graduate who has on again off again worked on his PHD? We cut to 19 year old Tony Stark as he makes out with some random chick at a red light before peeling out, prompting a young NERD to tell his Uncle Ben that that was the car he saw in a magazine, while his Aunt frets. So, according to this, Iron Man is 29 and Spider-Man is like... 20?

Avengers Timeslide Peter Parker
Why is Tony Stark driving around Queens?

We get a similar scene where Tobias asks where he can find the famous Baxter building (reminding me of this classic), and when Willy Lumpkin says he's never heard of them, Tobias flies off. In Hell's Kitchen, a blind guy named Matt Murdock stumbles across a weakened Vision, who asks to be taken to Stark's mansion. Tony's parents fret about their son's visit, even as Jarvis instructs a redheaded member of the house staff that looks a lot like Black Widow to stop sneaking around. Back on the streets, Vision and Matt Murdock bump into a big Ben Grimm, as he tells Sue Storm that they're late for a secret meeting with Reed.

Avengers Timeslide Captain America Black Widow

In the mansion, young Jarvis finds his three time travelers rummaging through teen Tony's bedroom, but before he can get them to stop, old Jarvis realizes this is the day Maria Stark dies. On cue, someone screams, and the team gets into a punch-up with Tobias, as the Vision joins up with them. Tobias takes the Stark family hostage and flies off, even as a young Tony appears. He gets mad at the team for endangering his family as part of some crazy time travel plot, but quickly comes around and realizes he can trace his mother using a two way hologram radio deal he built for her. He says the signal is coming from a little European nation that was recently overthrown by the latest "tin soldier." Wow, Tobias must've been in a hurry. Either that, or this tracking plan has taken hours. The team agrees to go, and tell Matt Murdock that he'll stay behind, as Natasha tells him that "his time will come" one day. Wink wink, Matt.

Avengers Timeslide Ben Grimm Susan Storm Matt Murdock
Only future famous people live in the past.

The team flies over Latveria, where Tobias has been beating up Latverian goons for hours, presumably. They plan to be stealthy, but young Tony blows their plans, and they get into another big fight with Tobias. Somehow he makes a pile of rubble fall on the Starks, causing young Tony to let out a big "noooooo." Even as his mom dies in his arms, Malachi pops in, speaking in "this one"'s that the writers have forgotten about for months, as he says he would never abandon his brother. The two brothers disappear before the Avengers can do anything, and the team laments that they can't follow, because they are quick to give up. Of course, on cue, Dr. Doom shows up in his FF #5 costume, and says he can help. He calls them outsiders and says they've done enough, but helpfully launches them back to their present. We get a blurb that says we've only got two more issues to go! Hooray, Force Works and War Machine aren't part of the crossover anymore!


This is a pretty standard "time travel" plot, but I just can't get over how stupid the decision is to travel back in time "ten years," to what appears to be the 1950's, except Tony Stark has a playstation in his bedroom and holographic two way communicators. "Marvel Time" is stupid as a concept, but is there really anybody out there who can buy that Iron Man is 29 years old at this point in Marvel continuity? I always assumed he was closing in on 30 when he became Iron Man in the first place, since he's the CEO of a major company and has grown a huge mustache by his first appearance, and then spends 25 years fighting crime. Even on Marvel's compressed timeline, isn't the whole idea that there's been superheroes for "about 10 years." So why is Peter Parker a child while Ben Grimm looks like he's on his way to a secret space launch? I think the FF was around for maybe a year in Marvel time before Spider-Man shows up and asks to join? Further, the implication of this story is that Iron Man has been Kang's pawn for his entire tenure as a super hero, which is straight up insane. I'm not a big Iron Man fan, but I can't imagine being told that a character I'm a fan of has secretly been evil in every comic I've ever read featuring the character.

Tobias continues to be a completely dull and lifeless character, and seeing him square off against the team for the millionth time is a pretty dull affair. I don't know if it's just the poor pacing of this crossover or its attempts to be "mysterious," but they've consistently done an awful job characterizing all of the villains, as we still don't know if this is the 616 Mantis, or what Kang's big scheme is.

I'm not sure when, if ever, we learned that the mystery door led to a time portal, as that whole plot development seems to have come from nowhere to helpfully give the team an excuse to travel back in time, as hinted at earlier. And, of course, based on Marvel's rules of time travel, all the Avengers have done is created a screwy alternate timeline where Tony Stark's family was murdered by some goon and then Tony Stark disappeared forever. I assume somebody at the Time Variance Authority was out to lunch, which is why teen Tony can appear in the present without a problem. There's not even an attempt at hand-waving Marvel's established time travel rules. Also, weren't Century and Hercules transported through time, too? I assume they are just busy hanging out with renowned surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange while all this stuff happens.

The art obviously bounces up and down, as you'd expect from the half dozen pencilers that worked on this book. The opening few pages are truly awful, and I think Wasp wasn't chosen to travel back in time because none of these artists have any idea how to draw the "new" Jan, as she looks abysmal here. I think it's a coloring mistake that makes the maid look like an in disguise Black Widow, as she is a blonde a few pages later when she's apparently killed, but her scene with Jarvis is incomprehensibly staged. Characters are so off-model it's sometimes hard to tell who's even talking, as in one scene I had to go back twice to realize that a blonde guy with glasses was Matt Murdock, who had been drawn completely differently five pages earlier. It could not be more obvious that this issue was an afterthought compared to The Crossing issue a few months earlier, but for some reason this issue is just as expensive. On the plus side, at least more stuff happens in this issue. On the minus side, it's mostly incomprehensible garbage to get us to a plot point (Teen Tony) that we all saw coming and that remains incredibly stupid.

No comments:

Post a Comment