Sunday, January 8, 2012


-see end of post-
There's an old joke that goes like this:
Two wrongs don't make a right, but three rights make a left.

That oldie doesn't really have much to do with this post, except for the points of:
  • Two rights make a wrong
  • this post is about a different joke (or two):
    Marvel Comics editorial (and perhaps Brian Michael Bendis).

    cover art for Avengers # 24 by Daniel Acuna

    A month or so ago, the solicitations for the March 2012 comics were announced and among the Marvel listings was this cover for Avengers # 24, by writer Brian Bendis and artist Daniel Acuna.

    When I first saw this image I felt a mixture of admiration (for Acuna's intense painting and stylish design) and unease (for two reasons upon which I am about to expound).

    Unfortunately, I did not post my comments when I first saw this, and so, I'm sure that someone somewhere must have mentioned it by now, but still a month later and I have yet to see a major internet fanguish/ field-day about the obvious problems with this cover and the story that it teases.
    I mean... how can this NOT be commented on by anyone yet?


    First off: OSBORN's LEFT HAND (the one that is all Doctor Strange-y)... is a RIGHT HAND!
    I've heard of having two left feet, but Osborn is so right-wing that right hands are all he's got?!?

    Seriously, that weird artistic gaff aside, I love Acuna's work. To be honest, as an artist, I know that weird mistakes can crop into one's work. However, that said, if even a moment was spent actually looking at the work at any stage of its progress, the error would have been revealed.

    Sadly, the days of working on art as a "fine art" process are on the wane. With the increase of "crank-it-out-fast", work-for-hire, deadline-oriented art requests, the ability to produce an actual "work of art" is, in itself, a lost art.

    Still, that doesn't excuse ANY of the supposed "Editors" at Marvel for letting this slip past.
    I noticed it immediately.
    Perhaps, it helps to actually BE an artist. I don't know.

    It seems as though every time I read an interview from editors or writers and they speak of seeing artwork coming in to the offices from any artist, it is always with a gush of unbridled praise, as if there could never be anything better put to paper, no matter how good or bad it may be.
    Yes, that is the nature of P.R., I know. And Daniel Acuna's work, while occasionally stiff, is a treat for the eyes. Yet, an editor should truly go over all words and pictures and act as a quality control filter... and actually edit.

    If this cover actually makes it to PRINT as such, then I will be aghast.


    Secondly, (and most importantly) how does Bendis think that Osborn will be able to cast magic spells?
    I know the current storyline is such that Osborn has acquired genetic stuffs and incidental superhero artifacts in an attempt to emulate the powers and abilities of the Avengers. As shown, Osborn is utilizing Daredevil's radar sense, Spider-Man's spider-sense, Wolverine's claws, Dr. Strange's magic, possibly Iron Fist's chi-focused "fist like unto a thing of iron", and Iron Man's armor-tech (and some sparkly sparkles from Luke Cage's bag-o'-glitter. I dunno).

    However, with the exception of study, meditation and practice, I don't see how picking up any magical doo-dad which may have been left lying around would allow for Norman Osborne to be able to cast spells.
    Certainly, some mystic artifacts may be able to be used to perform some magic which may be imbued within the item itself, but actual spell-casting, such as shown on the cover should be out of reach.

    While it may be that the cover is acting as a visual shorthand, and is merely giving an artistic interpretation of Osborn emulating the Avengers' abilities, that doesn't negate the fact, unfortunately, that many writers seem to think that Doctor Strange has POWERS which can be taken away, lost, stolen or absorbed. I will say this a thousand times, if I have said it once; Doctor Strange does NOT have POWERS! He has KNOWLEDGE! And that knowledge allows for him to know how to manipulate the mystical energies of the universe.
    End of story.

    To my dismay, this "Magic powers" meme is one that has been touched upon in the course of Doctor Strange's published career more than once, so maybe I can't fault Brian Bendis for adding to the mess.

    It also adds to my peeve that in the Marvel Universe as of late, anyone - with little or no training, as long as it serves the easy needs of a writer's story, can perform the magic that it took Doctor Strange years to study, practice and master.


    I don't want to continually grouse about things that have yet to see print. It's not professional, and it's not practical. For all I know, the end product could be great. Sadly, my track record of pre-critiquing in this manner, based upon my keen insights and suppositions is far better than the track record that the end-product will be better than I may suppose.

    And that, sadly, is the ironic punchline to the joke.


    I saw solicitations for Deadpool the other day, and there is a "Frankenstein" version of him running around (Evil Deadpool) who has TWO RIGHT HANDS! Intentionally - as he is composed of bits and pieces of (normal) Deadpool - which may have been shot off or in some other way "discarded" over the years. So as a JOKE, the creative team gave "Evil Deadpool" 2 right hands, since he is a composite entity. THAT is hilarious. This image of Osborn is not. (Although, how weird is it if Osborn is to lose his left hand in order to gain a mystical right hand of power? Nahhh....)


    OK. I can't remember where I saw it (or read it) but it turns out that weird hand IS a LEFT hand.
    It's just drawn in a VERY awkward position (it is FACING the viewer and twisted and angled weirdly). The thing that looks like a thumb is his little "pinky" finger, and the finger on the far side (that looks like the pinky) is his thumb.

    What doesn't help is that the lines coming from the middle two fingers is extended too far up, which also leads to the improper visual illusion that it is the wrong hand.

    I won't go as far as to say that it is physically impossible for the hand to be in that angle, since most of these artists currently work from photographs.

    I will say that it is still poor craftmanship (and poor art directorship) to have it look the way it does.
    Back in the day (in the 1970's and 80's) Marvel had a group of fledgling artists who worked in-office (called "Romita's Raiders") whose job it was to clean up wonky or confusing artwork.

    That was before the 1990's and all the horrific artwork that came to pass, which may have been the end of such art clean-up endeavors. I don't know.
    But if an art director, or editor saw this painting they probably should have asked for it to be tweaked.

    Still... even though it wasn't, I can tell now that it is the proper hand and a retraction of sorts is warranted.

    So I DO apologize to artist Daniel Acuna.
    Mea Culpa.


    H said...

    Hehehe.... whoops. Hope they have time to fix that before it goes to print. If it was intentional, it's fascinating. The 'hand of magic' is on backwards? What could that symbolize?

    I think you're working yourself up for no good reason. Comic covers always exaggerate. I'm looking right at "Fear Itself: The Fearless 6" and it has Valkyrie front and center about to cleave Sin with Dragonfang -- something that nowhere occurs in the story.

    Showing Norman Osborn with Wolverine claws, Doctor Strange hands, Tony Stark's armor, etc. is just symbolism for "Osborn can command everything the Avengers can" -- which he can, through his Dark Avengers.

    ~P~ said...

    Hi -H,

    I know I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill. I said as much in my rant.

    And while I also acknowledged that the cover could just be visual shorthand and is merely giving an artistic interpretation of Osborn emulating the Avengers' abilities.

    I do not believe, as you suggest, that it is a symbolic metaphor for the Dark Avengers.

    The current storyline does indeed focus around Osborn gaining DNA and things found at battle-sites, which he is obviously going to use to alter his body-chemistry and/or reverse-engineer for his own purposes.

    Sort of like how he was "Iron Patriot" in re-purposed Iron Man armor during the post-Civil War term with the Initiative.

    The only question I have is: How far will Bendis and Marvel editorial let him go?

    Thanks for reading my drivel and leaving your comment!

    H said...

    Ha, o mentor. Sometimes I think you like a little recreational irritation; that you're looking for a reason to get angry.

    Let me ask your opinion. I've been following The Children's Crusade and I keep expecting Doctor Strange to put in an appearance, but nothing yet except a couple of mentions and flashback cameos. The last cover, #9, has been released -- do you see the man between Iron Man and Captain America with the slicked-back hair? Is that our Doc?

    Here's an image link.

    ~P~ said...


    No, I really don't look for reasons to get perturbed. This post really is just a "tip of the iceberg" sort of thing.

    Oh, and while I also have been waiting fr a Dr. Strange appearance in Children's Crusade, he probably wont show up until the last panel on the last page of the last issue as it is all wrapped up.

    If there's a mystical event in the M.U. it seems that Doc is ALWAYS off somewhere else. Or else he'd just be able to wave his hands and fix it (or so Marvel editorial seems to believe).
    Think about it... when was the last time Doc was involved in a BIG event. Actually involved, and not either knocked out in the first issue or somehow taken off the board?


    Sadly, that slicked-hair dude in the cover image is WONDER MAN.

    David H. said...

    sorry to off topic here ~P~ but you should check out this Man-Thing / Swamp Thing cross over concept:

    Anonymous said...

    Please never stop being so hilariously anal retentive. I never stop getting a kick out of seeing you so elegantly foam at the mouth at things that have no importance what-so-ever.

    ~P~ said...

    Brian Bendis, everyone... Let's thank him for stopping by to drop a comment on my humble blog.


    Yes, I AM "hilariously" anal-retentive.
    I know.

    However, it might surprise you to know it ISN'T JUST about things of no importance.
    Oh, heavens, no.

    I worry about the big picture as well.

    - Global Unrest
    - Violations of civil liberties worldwide.
    - Global Climate Change
    - Recycling and pollution's effects on Earth
    - Orphaned and abused children
    - Orphaned and abused animals
    - Wearing clean underwear in case of a UFO abduction.

    Y'know... all the heavy stuff.

    But, when it comes to my funnybooks, I dare not shirk my responsibility as grumbling old comic "historian", lest somebody (an editor, most likely) let bad craft into the process.

    But thank you for stating that I do so "elegantly".
    I do try.


    H said...

    I will say this: having read NA #20 I think Norman's going to see Strange as his main threat and do everything he can to either take him out or get a magical expert of his own. Even poisoned and half-paralyzed, Strange still managed to get the team away to a safe distance so they could regroup... probably at the cost of any usefulness in NA #21. Still, one advantage of having Strange in several titles is that Bendis can't just put him in a coma or kill him off -- after all, he's got to be out there Defending.

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