Sunday, June 15, 2008

Amy Reads the Week (of June 15th, 2008)

What a week-end, Gentle Reader! You may not know this about This Humble Author, but I am--dare I say it So Publicly?--Rather Anxious. That is to say, in the revelry of this week-end, I found myself at some points staring off into space, wondering if I had fixed This Reference or That Mistake in My Dissertation.

Luckily for This Humble Author, Friends were on hand to distract.

Friday night's venture into Nearby Metropolis was a smash, and delicious fondue and lovely conversation were had. Saturday evening, Myself and Four Girl-Friends descended upon the local Tasty Eats and Beverage Hole (margaritas and quesadillas to be had by all) and then the local Dance Club to enjoy the celebration of not one but two newly-minted Ph.Ds, myself and another colleague. Wearing a button that declared my status, courtesy of the fantastic Supadiscomama, I enjoyed the evening Very Much and forgot, just for one moment, the possibility of Typos.

But upon arriving home to find a sleepy Husband and Pup, I was too awake to sleep myself, so I finished The Avengers: The Initiative vol. 1. As I have mentioned before, Friends, I am Rather Behind in Marvel, and I am using this strange and nebulous time to get caught up in lots of things: cleaning, organization, comics, and pleasure reading.

I quite enjoyed The Initiative, mostly for the overwhelming push towards out-of-controlness among the registered superheroes in the Marvel Universe. There is a constant sense that everything is spiraling away from everyone in control, and this issue, dealing with both the impact of the New Warriors and the Post-Registration/Post-Civil-War world in which those like Iron Man and Spider-Man now exist was Rather Extraordinary.

The focus on the children, the up-and-coming superheroes, was a particularly interesting move. There often exists two types of child hero in comic books: the one who wants to Prove Everything, and the one who Wants Nothing. There are exceptions to this, of course: I point to Vaughan's Runaways and Simone's Gen-13, in particular. But there is in most literature focusing on a child of extraordinary abilities the struggle between Being Different and Being Similar. That is to say, the child hero either loves her powers or loathes them, but there is rarely a struggle between.

Again, there are exceptions, Gentle Reader. Far be it for me to assume a Generality on All Literatures! But often, this story *is* the story of childhood: worry over difference (writ large for puberty, for change, for struggle), worry over place (writ large for parental control, for individualism, for confidence), worry over acceptance (writ large for peer pressure, for friendship, for cliques). I have Said Before that Gail Simone's Gen-13 offers an interesting view of the same-yet-differentness of the Extraordinary Child, and I point, too, to Runaways, to Whedon's early Buffy, to Heinberg's Young Avengers.

In The Initiative, we see teens struggling not with their difference, but rather the difference of Those Who Came Before: The New Warriors. Worried not over trying to fill shoes but rather trying to avoid doing such, these teens are insulated and do not, cannot, work as a team. This separation occurs early on, with the death of MVP, and the rest of the collection has the group struggling to find their place in themselves, not their place in a new team. There are few moments when the teen heroes work with each other, and almost every time, those moments fail. Rather, this book stresses the individualism of each member, and how that individualism, like Trauma's control of his fear-power and his manipulation of his power into a force of healing rather than Fear, Itself, is the backbone of a heroic story.

An interesting focus, considering What Has Come Before: Captain America's separation from Iron Man, the struggle for and against Registration, and, ultimately, the success of Iron Man and his Registration Act. When he is good, Gentle Reader, he is Very Very Good, but when he is bad, he is Downright Scary. I have always believed this about Tony Stark who, while Iron Man is so often compared to Batman, is not broken like Bruce Wayne. There sometimes is no core of humanity left in Stark. In those moments, he frightens me Very Much.

We see the darker side of these superheroes with this collection, and I think The Initiative does an excellent job in reminding us that they are, ultimately, fighting a war. But I think, too, it does an excellent job in reminding us that there are reverberating consequences to Civil War, and the Fallout will, I think, exist for some time yet.

In other news, Happy Father's Day to Those Gentle Readers So-Inclined to children, of the human or non-human kind! Mr. Reads, Pup Reads, and I will celebrate Mr. Reads's canine-fatherhood with a trip to the park and, tomorrow, a Rather Delayed trip to Our Local to pick up our comics for this week.

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