Friday, January 31, 2014

Rick Remender (and Dan Slott)

I wanted to talk a little bit about Remender today, but because he is, in my opinion, one of the best living comic book writers today, I really don't think I could tackle everything I like about him and his latest comics in one go, so here's a few random things that popped into my mind while I was reading Uncanny Avengers #16 today.

Like Slott (of Superior Spider-Man,) Remender deals with a lot of ridiculous subject matter. For example, in the latest issue of Uncanny Avengers, The Apocalypse Twins, who were raised in the future by Kang the Conqueror, have resurrected several dead friends of the Avengers and X-Men, and used them to subdue the Unity Squad while they waited for the celestial executor to destroy the Earth. In the meantime, Immortus and his Infinity Watch are hoping that the Wasp can destroy the tachyon dam blocking them from travelling back from the 30th (or something) century and saving the world. That's not even the whole story. I just gave a quick, two-sentence summary. There's plenty of more ridiculous shit where that came from.

What I love about Slott is that he never seems to forget that he's writing in a comic book. He keeps an element of campiness and tongue-in-cheek attitude when writing, but still making powerful emotional connections to the characters. If you need evidence of Remender being wacky, and the above paragraph wasn't enough for you, I suggest reading Black Science, which is some of the goofiest shit I ever read.

Slott and Remender know how you feel about comic books. They know that if they threaten one of their main characters with death, you're not going to feel anything. I mean, did you think that Tony Stark was going to die at the end The Avengers? Are you stupid? No, instead, they create tension in better ways than "The Hero's going to fight to the Bad Guy, but is he strong enough oh guess he is."

Slott's strategy seems to be create tension on the periphery. That is, he focuses more on potential damage to the protagonist's relationships to create tension, again, while being blatantly obvious about the fact that the reader knows main characters don't die in comics. A little over a year ago, Peter Parker "died", but if you're paying the slightest bit of attention to the story, it becomes very obvious that he's going to come back. Slott knows that you're not impressed or believe that Peter Parker is going to stay dead, so he doesn't waste any time pretending like he will be. No, instead the focus becomes what the person pretending to be Spider-Man will do with Peter Parker's life, and those changes I believe will be permanent, which creates tension. Prime example, the person pretending to be Peter Parker now has a new girlfriend, and she's a really great character. But, every time she comes up, I can't help but feel bad for her. She genuinely fell in love with the person she believes is Peter Parker, but when the real Peter comes back, he's going to look at her and go, "Who the fuck are you? Scuse me while I go back to dating my tall, hot supermodel girlfriend." Tragic, but great writing.

Remender is taking a different approach, probably because there are no supporting characters in his stories, just the same ten or so people. Instead, Remender treats characters very frivolously, having them get killed off all the damn time, and then making you feel for like an asshole for caring about, because what did you think this was, literature? Instead, Remender wants you to focus on how characters die, why characters die, and what they die before they bite it. For example, Rogue accidentally punches a villain so hard she breaks his neck. You know that the guy is going to come back to life, but the fact that Rogue lost control of herself and took a life is something that doesn't go away. You can't recon shame.

 Like I said, too much to tackle in one day, and I don't want this to get too long, but, yeah, if you have a lot of time on your hands, go read all of Uncanny X-Force by Remender and then start on Uncanny Avengers, both by Rick Remender. If you have a lot of time on your hands, go read Amazing Spider-Man #600-#700 and then Superior Spider-Man by Dan Slott.

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