erasing clouds

by tony doug wright

The Avengers Disassembled #500: Chaos Part 1, Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), David Finch (Penciler) (Marvel Comics)

The Avengers have faced insurmountable odds against the likes of Baron Zemo, Red Skull and Kang The Conqueror. It almost seems impossible for evildoers to succeed when "Earth's mightiest heroes" are ready to put their lives on the line for humanity. But leave it to Brian Michael Bendis, Marvel Comics star writer for titles such as Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-Man, to do the unthinkable in Chaos Part 1.

Bendis begins Chaos with Jack of Hearts self-detonating outside of the Avengers mansion in New York City. The Avengers assemble under the command of Captain America only to watch helplessly as The Vision crashes a Quinjet into the mansion. This is only the beginning of the chaos witnessed by The Avengers.

Ultron Robots, a visibly unstable Tony Stark and a rampaging She-Hulk are added to the mix. Could anything else possibly go wrong? It seems that Bendis has begun this four part series with page after page of jaw dropping catastrophes.

But it appears that Bendis is trying too hard to create an ultimate worst-case scenario for The Avengers in Chaos. Page after page we see our mighty heroes fall apart with no mercy in sight. David Finch does an excellent job of penciling these disastrous events that are impressive visually. Has Bendis dug himself a hole that he cannot get himself out of? Can he successfully complete this risky undertaking or will this be his Waterloo? We will find out on August 25, 2004, when Chaos Part 2 is released.

Demo #8: Mixtape, Brian Wood (Writer), Becky Cloonan (Artist)

Stories involving young love and tragedies seem to go hand-in-hand. It's like peanut butter and jelly for the masses because people enjoy the basic love story where boy meets girl and then one (or both) of them dies in the end. Maybe it is one of those stories where one of the lovers dies to save the other. Or maybe it is one of those stories where one of them contracts a mysterious illness and then dies in their lover's arms. Ah, romance. Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan give us their own tragic love story with Demo #8: Mixtape.

For those of you not familiar with this title, Demo is a 12 issue series of "mini graphic novels" that explores real issues faced by the everyday man or woman. This may not sound interesting to the action-loving comic book reader but Wood and Cloonan have been able to bring fresh ideas to Demo.

Mixtape follows the love story of a pretty-boy named Nick and a beautiful blonde named Jess. Don't worry, these two do not live in Beverly Hills nor do they have singing careers. These two seem to have the perfect relationship but everything comes crashing down when Nick finds Jess dead in his apartment due to an apparent suicide.

Jess has left Nick a suicide note on cassette. Nick grabs the tape and takes a trip around town listening to Jess' suicide explanation on his Walkman. Let's stop for a moment and examine a slight problem. On one page we see Jess dead on the floor. Why is she dead? Murder? Suicide? We then see Nick's reaction upon discovering the body. It is not the anguish one expects to see when someone discovers his or her true love dead on the floor. Nick soon realizes that it was a suicide and then he decides to walk around town listening to Jess' tape. Did he leave the body at home? Did anyone bother to call an ambulance?

If this is not puzzling, then wait to you hear Jess' reason for committing suicide. Did Nick abuse her? Was Nick really her mentally disturbed half-brother? No. Jess left this world because Nick would not take her out to the places where she wanted to go. OK, so Nick is self-absorbed. Is that all? It is hard to find any sympathy with the 'wishy-washy' Jess because her boyfriend could not say "Hey honey, where would you like to eat tonight?"

Wood has the right idea with Mixtape but the characters come across as unlikable and Jess' justification for suicide is very weak. How can someone feel sympathy for two foolish characters? Cloonan's black and white art is great as always and in Mixtape you can see some manga influence. Demo has put out some good issues but Mixtape is definitely not the best issue to date.

Issue 25, July/August 2004

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