Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Avengers Two: Wonder Man and Beast

Avengers Two: Wonder Man and Beast #1-3
Limited Series
Marvel Comics

This is a mini-series that wouldn't be published today -- not because it's a lighthearted buddy comedy, but because it's loaded with footnotes.

In my youth [As seen in Stone Age Funnies #1 -- Ed], footnotes in comics were seemingly de rigueur. They were your guide to following plot developments that happened outside the comics you read, and they were a way of maintaining the feeling of a shared universe without relying on a constant stream of crossovers. While Marvel has its recap pages at the beginnings of its comics right now, these take up far more space than the footnotes ever did, and are generally more limited to recapping what's happened in the few issues previous. The footnotes, on the other hand, could refer to something that happened in a decades-old comic just as easily as it could something happening in another comic hitting the shelves that same month. Ah, those were the days...

But I digress.

Avengers Two, although starring both Wonder Man and the Beast, is really Wonder Man's story. At the time of the comic, he's just come back from the dead at the second time -- this time at the hands of his new lover, the Scarlet Witch -- and is trying to reconcile himself with all the things that have happened in his life. You see, getting a third chance at life has made him very self-conscious, bringing all of his perceived failures and shortcomings into sharp relief, and he wants to make amends.

Here's a problem, though: I'm not really sure what he intended to do. He flies out to California, sure, because that's where he was based for much of his career. And then he... sulks. Don't get me wrong, this isn't page after page of melancholy -- the Beast's presence and his chemistry with Wonder Man make sure of that. But most of Wonder Man's time is spent either reacting to outside forces (to his old agent, to a plane hi-jacking, to It! The Living Colossus) or berating himself for his past indiscretions. He does track down some old acquaintances of his own volition, but you really get the feeling that he didn't think of that until after he was already out there.

There's fun to be had in this mini, and there's a nice slobbernocker between Wonder Man and It! The Living Colossus at the climax, but it's not going to knock anyone's socks off. I picked it up for $1.50 total, and for a price that low you could do worse.

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