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Bryce (Mouser) said on February 4th, 2010 at 9:33 am

Remember kids! They’re both heroes!

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When did comics become about characters I don’t like brutalizing characters I do like? This transition worries me.

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Now, more than ever, the Sentry is emblematic of everything wrong about Marvel comics.

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CandidGamera: Why?

I mean, sure, this is more like an Ultimate event than a 616 title, but how has Sentry been bad otherwise? And even this event isn’t bad because it’s a one-off, seemingly.

Not to get too personal, but your blog seems to indicate you haven’t bought any Marvel for a while. I can’t imagine people would say Siege/Dark Reign is worse than what came just years before.

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Joe Quesada: Remember, kids, smoking is bad for you!

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Actually, the last five years of superhero comics has totally inured me to this.

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I’m currently reading The Boys, so I’m getting a kick out of your *END TRANSMISSION*

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And this is just a small part of why I don’t even bother with mainstream comics, anymore. True, Invincible falls into the gore trap quite a bit, too, but at least its events take place only in one title and have ramification.

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HammerHeart said on February 4th, 2010 at 11:18 am

I beg to differ: Siege #2 was awesome. Even that scene was perfect: it’s the only moment as gruesome as that in the book, but it’s also an important beat in the story – it underlines the viciouness of Osborn’s invasion force (and specifically the threat that the Sentry presents, which is also referenced in the extra material at the end of the book). This moment is a critical gut-punch in the context of the ongoing battle, and it’s followed by the reactions of most major players who witnessed it (all perfectly illustrated by Oliver Coipel). This issue’s final scene suggests that next issue we will see the long-anticipated Thor x Sentry showdown, and I can’t wait. Anyone who claims that Bendis can’t write action-oriented stories should read this comic to see him doing exactly that, and doing it well.

The tension is rising, Captain America (the original!) and the Avengers are entering the fray, and there are several “F%$K YEAH!” moments through the story – overall, so far this is the best event-comic that Marvel has published in years.

And I’m frankly tired of the “oh, this isn’t suitable for young children” complaints. Let’s be honest: first, that ship has sailed LONG ago – the majority of the audience for mainstream Marvel comics is NOT composed of kids, and hasn’t been for a looooong time now. And second, like it or not today’s kids are not the kids of twenty years ago – with all the violent videogames and movies that they’re currently exposed to, they actually LIKE this over-the-top stuff. I have a 6-year-old godson who reacts to brutal scenes like this by excitedly saying “WHOA, WICKED! THIS IS AWESOME!”

Just my two cents.

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See, this is why I was disappointed when Disney said they weren’t going to interfere with Marvel’s editorial direction. Somebody ought to mail some of the major stockholders a copy of this.

Either way, I now have a single page to point to when I need to explain why superhero movies sell millions of tickets and superhero comics are lucky to hit 200K sales.

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BREAKING NEWS: Geoff Johns Defects to Marvel

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“Let’s be honest: first, that ship has sailed LONG ago – the majority of the audience for mainstream Marvel comics is NOT composed of kids, and hasn’t been for a looooong time now.”

Like I said, I’m just hanging around waiting for Disney to put that together. There’s no excuse in the world for the primary output of a people-in-tights-hitting-each-other comics company to be completely inaccessible to people under 18.

Well, there’s one: “we’ve fallen into the trap of catering exclusively to our aging, shrinking fanbase, and if it weren’t for the movies and TV shows based on work from decades ago we would have gone out of business by now.”

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I’m not reading Siege. Who did Sentry just tear in half?

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HammerHeart said on February 4th, 2010 at 11:51 am

“There’s no excuse in the world for the primary output of a people-in-tights-hitting-each-other comics company to be completely inaccessible to people under 18.”

There’s no reason why Siege would be inaccessible to people under 18. People under 18 play games like Grand Theft Auto, which is far worse than Siege. Like it or not, people under 18 probably enjoy this stuff more than many middle-aged readers who miss the Good Ol’ Days, when violence was sanitized and superstrong punches caused no physical damage beyond the villain being thrown away across the air (which isn’t really any healthier than showing the physical effects of violence – “cartoon violence” performed by realistically-drawn characters is NOT the same thing as “cartoon violence” performed by Wile E. Coyote).

“People under 18″ probably prefer books like Siege over books like Marvel Adventures, the audience for which is composed of very young kids + nostalgic adults.

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It was Ares, so y’know, he’ll get better.

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@Tenken347

Apparently, it was Ares

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Are there any superhero comics writers left who actually like superheroes? It seems like everywhere I look, writers are trying to one-up one another in showing who can be the most ruthless, power-mad, unlikable jerk. I miss the days when I could like a superhero as a person, and not just because they win all their fights or get away with things I never could.

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It’s simple really. Disney is targeting the tween/teen boys market. To people older than this, they typically react to the above image with awareness of its gratuity, and they typically react with despair.

The tween/teen boy reacts to this image like he’s just tuned in Skin-emax for the first time. His mind is blown. He knows he’s getting away with something he shouldn’t.

Disney gets plausible deniability, first because they purchased this pre-existing company and made statements about not interfering and free speech is great and stuff… And they can always say “Hey, it’s just comic books!” because it’s not happening in major _mainstream_ movies. This way they get to keep the edge that appeals to the desired market, and they can get them to watch whatever they’re calling the Disney Awesome Boys Cartoon Channel.

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I know nothing about comics, but feel better MGK!

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Man, Hammerheart…a six-year old kid who thinks the above is awesome?

What did he think was awesome when he was four?

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“There’s no reason why Siege would be inaccessible to people under 18. People under 18 play games like Grand Theft Auto, which is far worse than Siege.”

Never seen intestines or spines in GTA. For a good selection of giblets you need Fallout 3- which is also rated M for Mature, meaning it’s for games 17 and up. Okay, I guess I was off by a year.

“Like it or not, people under 18 probably enjoy this stuff more than many middle-aged readers who miss the Good Ol’ Days…”

Except they don’t. They’re not reading them. That’s the point. The average of the comic book reader is in the mid-to-late 20s.

“‘People under 18′ probably prefer books like Siege over books like Marvel Adventures, the audience for which is composed of very young kids + nostalgic adults.”

Okay, here it is one last time: people under 18 are not reading comics. They’re getting their superheroes from the movies and cartoons that still have that unhealthy way of approaching violence where I don’t have to look at anybody’s frigging spleen.

Marvel and DC are both hemorrhaging readers and not replacing them, and this is bad news. There are about ten times more people interested in these characters than either company is willing or able to attract with their current output, and that is worse news.

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Ares. Ares found out Norman lied to him about who was in charge of Asgard, and turned on him. Norman sicked Sentry on him.

Anyway, as a teenager I played Mortal Kombat and saw stuff like Total Recall that seemed pretty brutal at the time. I think kids now have probably seen worse than that. Anyway, how many kids are really buying Marvel comics and paying 3.99 an issue anyway?

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I’m thinking Marvel comics are probably some of the most brutal kid-accessible things that are out there, actually.

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This seems petty, MGK. The culmination of seven years worth of tightly connected continuity in the Marvel Universe isn’t likely to be a jumping on point for kids/new fans. We can argue about if that’s how comics should be published, but there are plenty of age-appropriate and high quality opportunities for kids to get into Marvel.

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Fred Davis said on February 4th, 2010 at 1:25 pm

…and no one’s noticed the &@*% censored swearing that precedes the gibleting?

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Are there any superhero comics writers left who actually like superheroes?

They’re working on the “kids’ titles” like Marvel Adventures or the Johnny DC line.

Or writing for shows like Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

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LightlyFrosted said on February 4th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

The problem here isn’t that the Sentry is ripping Ares(?) in half. Nor, I fear, can it be explained away by ‘well, kids don’t read comics anyway’. Consider instead this to be emblematic of a broader trend, where we now need to wade through a river of blood in order to maintain the interests of existing fans, while running the risk of alienating potential new fans.

I’m not saying that graphic violence doesn’t have its place in graphic novels – quite the opposite. But it sort of reminds me of what one of my elementary school teachers taught me about cursewords – they’re more effective if you don’t use them all the time. I can go back and read the death of Gwen Stacy and still be mildly shocked at the power of the moment that her neck breaks, because frankly, that wasn’t something people saw coming. Nowadays, with us wading through an age of crises where both companies decide to thin the herd of c-lists by killing them whenever they want to look edgy, I have some doubts that moment would have anywhere near the same effect.

I suppose what it comes down to is what you suppose people are looking for in a comic book character. I’m not suggesting that we return to the silver-age of comics – heavens no – but as someone above said, ‘it’s just Ares. He’ll be back later.’ You’re wasting someone being torn in half on a character for whom it ultimately doesn’t matter? _THAT_ is the creeping problem that this emblemizes.

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This picture should be on the cover!

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what’s the tally on cities in the US that DC has eradicated

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Ken B3:
We do see way worse, and way earlier. (I’m 17, I totally know these things.)
We download comics from the internet, just like with everything else.

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I think that this is way tamer than having Green Lantern’s girlfriend stuffed into a refrigerator. Plus it’s only one panel, not the end of decency in comics as we know it.

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LightlyFrosted has expressed what I meant to say in my reply in a far less whiny-sounding way. Sadly, “guy gets ripped in half by someone with superstrength to show that this shit just got real” has become a predictable trope, and its use is really going to have to be re-evaluated.

Beautifully rendered entrails, though, I must admit.

Matt B: I think so too, but nowadays we’re *all* pretty much looking back on that bit of Kyle Rayner’s origin and going “Ooh, I really don’t think we needed that…”

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Skychrono : I buy Incredible Herc, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Fantastic Four.

The Sentry started out as an enormous retcon. The kind that comics get shit for all the time. Strike One. He’s revealed as an emo nutcase paralyzed by his own power – the very exemplar of the poor Marvel “woe is me, I’m a superhero” trope. And the increasingly prevalent hero/villain ambiguity in the Marvel Universe – that picture is worth a thousand words.

“What If Superman Were a Psychotic Emo Douchebag?” is exactly the kind of thing I expect from Marvel these days, and it’s exactly what I don’t want to read.

Except, y’know, when it’s done by Mark Waid over in Irredeemable.

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I can see why you’re sick, Mighty. I’m sick after looking at that image, too!

Matt B, I’m not sure I understand your use of the word “tamer” here. I agree that Kyle’s girlfriend being in the refrigerator was more shocking, but the image was far more suggestive than explicit. It follows the Hitchcockian method of letting the viewer fill things in with their imagination. This… there’s nothing left to imagine. Furthermore, it’s less meaningful; Ares, being a god, can walk this off. *glances at the image* Might take some time, though.

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It’s almost impossible to even really talk about things like this when America’s endlessly confused strain of prudery has conflated “mature” content with juvenile shit like this.

…and no one’s noticed the &@*% censored swearing that precedes the gibleting?

Everything that could possibly be said, this says.

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It’s still tamer than that Thor vs the undead Vikings miniseries that came out a few years ago.

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(slaps two penny’s on the table)

First off, quit talking about the division between ‘adults’ and ‘kids’ being 18. At the age of 16 we entrust kids to drive on their own, so let’s assume we can trust them to see graphical representations of violence without it psychologically damaging them. Because that is what this is ultimately about. Censorship in video games, movies and more importantly comic books ultimately is about protecting developing mind and attitudes from harmful and potentially damaging influences.

Would children find a super hero fight with intense gore and brutal fights entertaining? Sure.

Would young adults get the over-laying story of Siege? Perhaps.

But would either group understand that at it’s core, Siege is an event that is about an unbalanced individual given power by a legitimate government and his abuse of that power, challenged by individuals who have put morality about the word of law? Perhaps not.

Perhaps not. That is where the line of Siege borders. Is the Sentry’s murder of his former teammate and supposed friend Ares without purpose? No. It’s designed to show that the Sentry himself is not only immensely powerful, but also dangerously unbalanced… we have been shown that his powers essentially come from a drug, a drug he is addicted to. This addiction and the influences of Osborn have stripped away the humanity and morality of what was once believed to be a shining beacon of heroism. The Sentry’s brutal murder of Ares is not purposeless violence, but the crowning moment showing us how far an individual has fallen.

For lack of a better term, this is equivalent to showing the Sentry sucking dick in an alley for his next hit. Can you tell your audience that without being graphic? Yes, but in a medium that blends the written word with visual images, is it not far more powerful to show it?

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“Everything that could possibly be said, this says.”

About American society’s very odd attitudes to violence as compared to ‘bad’ language, nudity and sex? Maybe. Regarding the comics industry/Marvel? Not so much.

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“Man, Hammerheart…a six-year old kid who thinks the above is awesome?”

I wouldn’t be surprised, as at that age the understanding of the totality of what it would be like is pretty limited.

“What did he think was awesome when he was four?”

When my nephew was about that age he has my mom tape a science special about mummified humans. Not just the wrapped Egyptian ones, but also bog bodies, and other unintentionally mummified bodies. The only one that I thought would be too much for him was a mummified infant with gaping empty eye sockets, from the Tarim Basin in China.

(http://www.flickr.com/photos/centralasiatraveler/2199836329/)

Little kids often don’t mind a little gore or being scared. (Maybe not filmed gore, but I think they’re okay with drawn gore which isn’t as realistic.)

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It’s OK, folks. That was a pagan god, not a person. Besides, I don’t think we have a lot to fear from little kids thinking it’s OK to rip each other in half with their bare hands. Unless we actually have kids that can pull it off.

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Y’know, generally speaking, I’m against the darkification of superhero comics, and opposed to gratuitous gore.

That said — this was, hoenstly, NOT a case of GRATUITOUS gore. EXTREME, yes, but it was (as has been pointed out) an isolated incident in this issue — in this SERIES, thus far, and was played as a Major And Significant Moment, with horrified reactions from the parties on both sides.

This is almost certainly the Sentry’s moral Event Horizon, and I’m hoping that part of the upcoming “Heroic Age” is the elimination of that character from the Marvel Universe.

THAT said … when I turned the page and saw that scene, the three words that popped into my head were … “HEY KIDS! COMICS!”

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solid snake said on February 4th, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Magneto did the same thing to Apocalypse in AoA. Just sayin.

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The Olympians have a revolving door in the afterlife, so Ares will be back.

I’ve never liked Mustard Boy. In fact, I hate him. Hate’s not strong enough for it either.

He’s a rabid animal that needs to be put to sleep.

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Baron of chaos said on February 4th, 2010 at 5:34 pm

The fact for me is that this is not represnting of the entire comics(dislike “crossed” or any Garth Ennis thing. Where we add anal rape, dirty jokes to general dismembering). Is one page that is extreme, but also need ot be that to show how far a character had gone. Also no one had already pointed out that this is the exact same action, down to the pose, of Sentry’s first appearence in 616 earth, where he simply torn apart Carnage. At the time we just puzzled about if cletus was inside the suit at the time. But here the important thing is tha tessentially this mark the “Omega” of Sentry role in MU, as he is now.

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there is killing someone
and there is KILLING someone

Ares was dead as soon as he went for Norman, the method and execution of his death however is where this goes from simple murder to Shock Gore and Awe and it comes off as Bendis trying to keep up with the recent Gore on the DC side of things

and possibly using it to show stark contrast to what is coming after Siege

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I really have to take issue with everyone pointing out how necessary and useful this is, since it’s a defense that comes up all the time with these moments. Apparently they need to show that “the gloves are off.”

When has this ever been a problem? When has there ever been a superhero story- hell, a sci-fi/fantasy story- where the villain came off as unthreatening because he wasn’t dismembering people? Did anyone, watching the “Empty Child/Doctor Dances” two-parter on DOCTOR WHO, think “I’d be more scared by those gasmask kids if they were eating people’s intenstines”?

And the whole “kids under 17 love the carnage” argument aside, doesn’t all this kind of feel out of place? I mean, this level of blood makes sense in DAWN OF THE DEAD or SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, but this is ultimately still a story about dudes with absurd physics-defying powers punching each other, no? Doesn’t it feel too much like they’re shoehorning in horror-movie violence into tales of high adventure and heroic melodrama?

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Baron of chaos said on February 4th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Evan I think you misunderstood some point. The dismembering of Ares was just the last step of the fall of Sentry. in fact IS a shocking event. In Wildsotrm univers? At some point was everyday occurence. Same in most of image universe. Indie comiccs often engae in the most depreaved and unusual way to damag ehuman body, same in vertigo comics. So ther eis normal. In MU 616 this event is so HARSH that caused lot of shock , both in the comic and in internet.
Oh extra note. Would have been bette rif Sentry, thrown him in the sun? Stabbed him? Used a giant hammer to sent him into coma? Behead him? Punch him very strongly partly off screeen wtth a big crunch, or used silhouettes to show the scene. Hey perhaps if he shot him like punisher people would have loved it, as it would have been a Clean way to kill him. The fact tha there are way to kill people in fiction more accpetalbe or “nobles” than other (swords I’m talking about you), is quite stupide and sincerely extremely wrong.

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Baron: If it was in silhouette or just off panel, it would have been better. It would have had more impact. As it is, the emphasis is on the gore. If the reader wasn’t distracted by the intestines flying around, it would seem more like a shocking act, rather than a gory one. Seeing someone get hacked to pieces/shot/whatever is less dramatic than hearing their screams then seeing the results. It’s a psychological shock. Which is what I gather this Significant Moment called for instead of another Sobek moment.

Besides, readers of 616 probably read other lines and companies. Just because this time it’s 616 doesn’t mean that this time it’s a shock.

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Alluvion: I’ll agree with Baron above you, and say that you’re just splitting hairs.

I too am a “reader” and I agree with what most people said above – that the face that it DID happen this way, a way that’d be more readily accepted in The Boys, but in a big 616 event, was a Significant Moment for me. BECAUSE this time it’s 616, it’s a shock.

If Ares died off screen it wouldn’t be the same. This was a Big Thing, at least to many readers – just because you disagree, doesn’t mean that The Reader was worse off because of all this.

To everyone that hates Sentry: he’s more than a retcon, he’s an interesting character that Bendis put in that was explored in a number of ways, but was ultimately meant to end up like this all along.

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Most people here are talking about this as insiders who follow comics. Me? I stopped reading comics a long time ago, and I’m not sure why… but i remember being a kid and reading a Superman comic where Toyman kills a kid with a knife. Traumatized me for years.
The whole 7 years of continuity sprawl might make sense in context but when someone goes from the Iron Man or Spider-Man movies to this its a bit shocking
and that is way too much gore

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I’m 15 and I read this issue.

So yeah. Kids, comics, etc.

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That THOR vs Vikings mini-series was SO AWESOME.

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“BECAUSE this time it’s 616, it’s a shock.”

Doesn’t that damage 616, though? It means that it’s the same R-rated crapsack world. The two big mainstream comics universes have- in theory- a certain idealism and bigger-than-life feeling that ultrareal gore kind of undermines.

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Evan Waters:
It’s like someone said before – by not doing something, saving it up and making it special, you really do become larger than usual.

Like someone who never curses, or the land of Oz opening up into color instead of sepia.

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But they’re not saving it up. This is happening all over the place. DC and Marvel are totally losing sight of the border between traditional superhero action and, well, DAWN OF THE DEAD.

I love DAWN OF THE DEAD. But it’s not a superhero story.

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Kids have to learn about psychotic emo douchebags ripping greek gods in half somewhere. You want them to find out about it on a street corner maybe?

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When our escapist entertainment has something like this offerred as an ‘AW COOL’ moment, then escapist entertainment is clearly FUBAR. So glad I’m not getting involved in this crap. Wake me up when superheroes start fighting supervillains and being actually heroic for a change.

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Mary Warner said on February 5th, 2010 at 1:22 am

I’m so glad I’m not reading Siege.

I hope all the talk is true and Marvel really is going for lighter-type stories after this. I’m so sick of the depression and rampant paranoia of the last few years.

And when I saw this on here today, I did immediately think of New Avengers #2 with the Sentry ripping apart Carnage. That scene wasn’t so disturbing since Carnage was so inhuman, and to tell the truth I was glad to see him go. But that doesn’t mean I like gory stuff like this. I don’t even like gory movies, which seems to make me an extreme rarity amoung comic-book fans.

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Speaking as someone who does enjoy a lot of gory movies, I can’t stand to see comics emulate that in narratives that don’t accommodate it. The Marvel 616 Universe, even though it was emo before emo was emo, is not built to accommodate this level of bloodletting (even less so the DC Universe, but that’s another post).

What the writers have forgotten is that a gory movie like say, I don’t know, Ichi the Killer (to name one they might very well enjoy), is a new world that is forced to establish ITS OWN UNIQUE RULES in its narrative. The basic rules of Marvel 616 or the DC Universe were established long ago, and although they can be tweaked, the necessities of branding, merchandising, and basic story logic prevent them from straining too far against what the years have canonized as the basic aesthetics of those universes.

Here’s the most important truth: When these universes have been established to the general public in other media as defined by a particular aesthetic, then contradicting that in the comics is a bad financial and creative decision, as long as the defined aesthetic is still making money. The most successful Marvel movies have established the Marvel Universe to the general public as a high-gloss, energetic world full of colorful characters who suffer realistic emotional turmoil over the ethical issues involved in using their own powers (natural or technological), all set against the backdrop of a society that’s not far removed from our own. If this sounds familiar at all, it’s because THIS IS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. The movies have been remarkably faithful to the basic principles of this universe, and moving the comics elsewhere when those movies make hundreds of millions is short-sighted.

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@RKWilson
“…in a medium that blends the written word with visual images, is it not far more powerful to show it?”

Not at all. The shower scene in Psycho shows little but manages to be traumatic, artistic, and lasting, while the Hostel movies are graphic and shocking, but little more than an unpleasant diversion. The latter get called “torture porn” because when a work is too blatant in its intent it becomes pornography. Good storytelling manages to imply and suggest instead of jamming it in your face. (Exceptions, I’m sure, abound).

As for the argument some are making that six year olds think this sort of thing is awesome: when me and my friends were kids we found a Penthouse magazine. We thought that was pretty awesome, too, but you won’t see me saying that we should have that kind of content in our superhero comics.

All that said, I wasn’t terribly bothered by Sentry turning Ares into a Pollock. The image is removed enough from the human form to be somewhat abstract. To be honest, I find the pattern of violence in Geoff Johns’ comics much more problematic.

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If you go back and read the original Sentry miniseries, it’s clear he’s the most shameless Mary Sue character ever to make it past the editors into a mainstream Marvel/DC comic. “Look at me! I’m a Marvel Superhero and I got to go on adventures with all my favorite characters Spiderman, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and they all think I’m awesome and I’m their best bud, and I’m so powerful I win every battle, and even the Hulk calms down and is happy when I’m around! (Oh, and my nemesis is so evil, it’s the one thing the Hulk is scared of!!!)

Secondly, he just really doesn’t fit in the Marvel Universe. He has the power of “A Million Exploding Suns”, but Galactus is powered by eating planets. He makes Thor seem much less awesome and infringes on the Hulk’s “Strongest One There Is” shtick. He supposedly has a computer system that helps him instantly race to wherever he’s needed the most, which means that any time you read a Marvel comic and the Sentry doesn’t swoop in to save the day, you can be sure that the story you’re reading is at most the second gravest danger the world faces at that moment.

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I wouldn’t necessarily call Sentry a Mary Sue in his own mini for the simple reason that that was kinda the point of the whole exercise – what if the most powerful hero in the world had been forgotten?

Bringing him into 616 was, as much as I love the character, a mistake to me. Unless you put him into cosmic adventures and have him face off against equally powerful threats, it’s too difficult to craft a story around him that doesn’t end up like Siege #2.

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Urthman: I gather you missed the last issue of Dark Avengers, where Bendis goes right into deconstructing completely who the Sentry is? Because it turns out he was a weak-willed drug-addict all along, who was shunting his massive psychological issues aside into a second personality, the Void. And he is bat-shit insane now, to boot.

As for Siege #2, personally I think that ultra-gore moment was there to mark the end of the “dark” period of Marvel comics. It was the moral event horizon for the Sentry, and he will be gone for goodafter this series ends.

As such, it was pretty fitting, because while the last years did not have such scenes, they were a damn sight darker than I liked. Although it was very interesting to see how the heroes handled such adversity. I am quite generally disappointed in the Dark Avengers title, though, since the protagonists in there stayed just the same psychos they were in the beginning ( excluding Noh-Varr und Ares, who weren’t insane to begin with ).

I think the gore *was* over the top and probably a bad decision to render Ares “death” in that way, but it definitely isn’t the proof of the death of the comics industry, as some are portraying it. I find a typical Garth Ennis comic to be much more morally disturbing.

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“The culmination of seven years worth of tightly connected continuity in the Marvel Universe isn’t likely to be a jumping on point for kids/new fans.”

And this doesn’t seem like a problem? “No, sorry, Billy, you can’t start reading here. There’s seven years leading up to this moment. Go read the little-kid stuff until the next story-arc comes around. Should be just a couple years off, now. Oh, it’ll reference things happening here and you won’t know what’s going on, but it’ll be a jumping-on point. Not like this. Trust me.”

Also, to whoever compared this to Magneto ripping Apocalypse in half at the end of AoA, there are a few significant differences. Apocalypse was pretty dry inside–just wires, mostly, and a very little bit of that used motor oil Marvel called blood back in the day. If I’m remembering the panel right, you couldn’t even really see any details, it was just the silhouette of blue-lips’ two halves framing a battered Magneto. And even then, it was a clearly good (if desperate) guy pulling out his absolute last-ditch effort to stop a clearly bad guy.

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Baron of chaos said on February 5th, 2010 at 8:15 am

Someone brought up the Superhero movies “someone goes from the Iron Man or Spider-Man movies to this its a bit shocking and that is way too much gore” . Do you mean the same superhero movies that have the rule of making the villain die an horrible death at the end of the movie(mos tof the time it is). Seriously I can make a list of very nasty deaths in movie(from the firs tbatman movie where Joker/Jack Nicholson is thrown from a skyscraper without much remorse).
I think here the problem seem to be NOT the death, because if we remove death from action comics is like watching Rambo cartoon(abysmal…), but more the gore of it. MAINSTREAM Super heroes Comic had some restrain to show blood and guts, preferring other, equally horrible if one think about, way to die. Probably no one would have raised an eyebrow if Sentry just used energy blast to turn Are sin ashes, or thrown him in the sun, or chocked him to death, or stabbed with a sword(Wolverin essentially main trick, deconstructed in the book “Soon I’ll be invincible” when the main chracter point how retractable blades are not a very heroic power as they can be used only for killing or mutilating people), or broke his neck, or spine(another favored of many fans, beheading wroooong, neck breacking heroic!), also off screen anything can go, and if we got the written detail later is even better(including the always favored RAPE- Rape is copyright of Doctor Light.) Boys if we love it off screen. I think the in the end the problem eveyrbody has her eis witht he blood. People do not like to think that their heroes do have organs and blood running into them, at least not red blood(green blood is ok, thats why is so fun killing zombies and aliens.) If look inhuman is always better. Create muhc detachment so we don’t have to feel sorry or being shcked by its death, is an “it”. Same reason not many poeple like to make a trip to slaughterhouses and don’t like to think about where meat comes(“because cow’s cub don’t sound too right”). To this we should add also the nature of the hero, we expect such slaughter by dark heroes(like wolverine or Deadpool) not a superman wannabe(by the way the superhero comic book universe is OVERFILLED with supermen wananbees , and the superman gone bad is veyr old trick/idea Irredeemable is just the last of it), So My point is STOP MAKING TWO WEIGHT AND TWO MEASURES. sure is very gorey, but is JUST ONE FUCKING SCENE at the end of very tough battle. Ares was going to die, they choose the most brutal way, for shock value, and considering how much we are talking about it, worked fine.

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Who can read all that? Honestly.

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“I gather you missed the last issue of Dark Avengers, where Bendis goes right into deconstructing completely who the Sentry is? Because it turns out he was a weak-willed drug-addict all along, who was shunting his massive psychological issues aside into a second personality, the Void. And he is bat-shit insane now, to boot”

So in other words EXACTLY THE SAME WAY HE’S BEEN SINCE DAY ONE?! Christ, are they really still “revealing” this shit?

Also, Baron of Chaos: sorry, not buying it so far.

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SilverMoonWolf said on February 5th, 2010 at 9:24 am

Breaking news! This just in!

NO ONE CARES ABOUT THE SENTRY.

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I took a look to see what this was about.

It is grotesque and purile.

And also? Heimdall talks like goddam Mary Jane. “I am saying this to you…” I swear, if you removed the amount of times Bendis has his character’s mention that they’re about to say something, you’d have three words to a goddamn page.

What’s most amazing is that Ares and Sentry, two of Marvel’s best new characters in what… 10 years? Both from minis, both damaged by Bendis when he brought them back, and now fully destroyed in the same shitty splash page.

At least Sentry got that cute li’l “Age of Sentry” mini a while back.

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Everyone talking about whether or not kids can handle excessive gore misses the point; namely, that kids rarely have control of their own spending money. The parents hold the purse-strings, and they’re going to be upset if Marvel’s “must-buy summer event” that is being pitched as a can’t miss, the future of the Marvel Universe begins here, once in a lifetime spectacular involves on-panel disembowelings.

Hard-sell tactics combined with non-family-friendly content equals pissed off parents. Pissed off parents cut off much needed young audiences, and worse, pissed off parents can become bad publicity in one slow news day. Anyone at Marvel want to be the one to go on Bill O’Reilly to explain why their Disney-owned company features guys being ripped in half? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

From a purely business standpoint, this is a dumb move. It might be creatively fulfilling, but Disney didn’t just pay four billion dollars for Marvel so that Brian Michael Bendis could write his gore-porn fanfic. They’re publishing mass-market entertainment, and that if that means ditching the hundred thousand or so grown-up fans who really love watching their childhood characters rape and mutilate each other in favor of a hundred million kids, then they should do it.

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Zenrage: The Thor vs the Vikings mini was a MAX title.

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Looking at the arguments of whether or not it is too gory – it’s not no much that you can see all the intestines and spine, but why you can. It is a completely gratuitous shot, which has been drastically over-rendered to give it ‘weight’ because the event has none.

Ares is barely an ape, mindlessly following orders and fighting. His only dimension is “Angry”. He just fights. Then, someone tells him to fight someone else. So he does. Considering his total lack of depth, his successes, failures, life, and his death are meaningless.

Equally meaningless is the Sentry, who is a walking top trump, dropped in as needed. Much like his killing of Carnage way back when, he just shows up, looking like a hero, does something horrifically violent, and everyone acts stunned. Much like Ares changing sides, his continuing trend of suddenly being monstrous becomes less and less effective each time it is repeated. This is the law of diminishing returns, and something Bendis doesn’t understand as his plots repeat themselves as much as his dialogue until they’re a predictable mess.

So with Ares, a dull, one-note character on one side, and Sentry, a walking plot device, there is no empathy to make this scene matter. Which is why Coipel has to draw a spine and intestines exploding all over two pages.

Because if he didn’t, you probably wouldn’t have noticed that it happened anyway.

That’s why it’s inappropriate, shameless, grotesque, and purile, and not the tragic shock it’s clearly meant to be.

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Does anyone else find it hysterical, that they showed all of Ares’ organs exploding in blood all over the page… but they BLEEPED OUT THE SWEAR WORD?

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Baron of chaos said on February 5th, 2010 at 11:12 am

ahh Bass finally said something I can totally agree with. The point here is that, apart from the fact that soccer moms got all peeved about blood instead of the more kid-safe bone breaking or just the off screen rape, it was pintless. Ares and Sentry got a wave fo success due some good min series. Too bad none of them was used for anything interesting afterward, with theor personality devolving. Right now they are just two shells of characters, with few lines of dialogue in each comic book they are. The fact the one kille dthe other is quite meaningfull.

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Stupid soccer moms and old fogeys!

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Fred Davis said on February 5th, 2010 at 11:28 am

Actually there’s no spine in that picture… no bones at all actually, so basically Sentry’s powers involve the ability to cause all the bones and skin in a person’s body to turn into red paint, but to leave the internal organs of a person’s torso intact and even still loosely held together by thin filaments of fat and sinew.

I do hope the next thing out of Sentry’s mouth was: “…And the flowers, are still standing.”

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Baron of chaos said on February 5th, 2010 at 11:56 am

Hey Fred your description mad eme think about “Akira” movie for some reason….hey is not tha tSentry going to become Tetsuo eh? No because I puzzle who would be Kaneda at that point.

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“For lack of a better term, this is equivalent to showing the Sentry sucking dick in an alley for his next hit. Can you tell your audience that without being graphic? Yes, but in a medium that blends the written word with visual images, is it not far more powerful to show it?”

No, not really. That’s just being excessively gross with graphic ‘adult’ juvenalia without merit. But since DC’s already trod this same type of ground with Identity Crisis a few years back, I’m surprised that Marvel hasn’t yet tried this tack yet.

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Let’s be honest here, if this was a fight scene in Invincible, most of the people complaining would just be jerking off about how awesome Robert Kirkman is.

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Looks like good, wholesome family-style entertainment to me.

P.S.: I blogrolled you. Hope it’s okay, you’re one of my favorite internet writers.

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Hey, don’t worry MGK, this was rated T+, so as long as there was a parent present any 13 year old could enjoy this.
Because we all know as long as there’s a rating, it’s all cool.

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Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn about either one of them. Still think the gore is grossly unnecessary (pun bashfully intended).

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DistantFred said on February 5th, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Oh you poor, naive comics fans… do you really believe that this and Blackest Night are really going to be the end of the GRIMDARK and gore that has so integrated itself into comics over the last decade? With all the same writers and editors in place?

Really?

Man, I can’t wait to see how much you love the ceaseless exploding, human shaped blood sacks that will so characterize Brightest Day and The Heroic Age by this time next year, or the year after.

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“Because it turns out he was a weak-willed drug-addict all along, who was shunting his massive psychological issues aside into a second personality, the Void. And he is bat-shit insane now, to boot”

… This sounds really familiar. And predictable. And it made me roll my eyes. (Seriously? “The Void?”)

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It could be worse, it could be called “Dark Sentry.”

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Master Mahan said on February 5th, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Someone really needs to photoshop it so Ares turns out to be full of delicious candy.

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See Marvel just HAD to show the Sentry graphically ripping somebody in half, because if they hadn’t, they couldn’t have shown the Sentry graphically ripping a guy in half!

Makes total sense!

Keep them cusswords censored though, cause that would be crossing a line.

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Baron of chaos said on February 5th, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Hmm jus to say soemthing….Is it really that dark and gory? I mean sure is shocking and all. But why this is ok in the afore mentioned Invincible or just in Ultimate universe(ultimatum does not count is the Milhouse of ultimate saga!), but in 616 not?!
Of cours ei know the ultimate universe and Max lines were born for the purpose to have funny gory stories while keeping 616 safe, but again it was bound to happen. Kid will be shocked? Hmm doubt it, all considered. Unless they are really young. But then even Kravne Last hunt can be fuckign shicking for them(i remeber when I was child was my first comic book of spider man and i was scrwed up seeing Spider Man, that I knew from those 80 toons wher ehe hanged aroudn wiht Firestar and Iceman and of course Aunt May’s dog, laying dead in a coffin…)
Yes kind long comment, but hey I like to talk/write :)

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“Everyone talking about whether or not kids can handle excessive gore misses the point; namely, that kids rarely have control of their own spending money. The parents hold the purse-strings,”

Were you ever a teenager? Did you ever see a movie you shouldn’t of? Buy a cd with a parental advisory sticker? Play an ultraviolent video game? Read a freaky gory novel? My parents excersised super strict control over what I was doing, and I still found ways to get around them and use the money they gave me as allownce to buy stuff that was questionable. Most of the friends I ran with were the same, and Im sure its the same for my kids today. They’ve got it even easier, thanks to the internet, as a couple commenters pointed out above.

Im not sure that parents holding the pursestrings is the deterrent to sales you’re assuming it is. There’s decades worth of pop culture targeted at teenagers, and hated by parents, that proves otherwise.

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solid snake said on February 5th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

For the person who said there are no bones, I ask this quysetion- What would you call the vertebrae in the picture cause those are called bones. And yes When Magneto killed Apocalypse it was somewhat the same shot, but more effective. The reason it was more effective was the same reason that Psycho is a terrifying movie.YOU DON’T NEED TO SEE EVERYTHING FOR IT TO BE EFFECTIVE. Sorry had to get that out of my system.

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Wow. I’m 30, and I don’t think I’m grown-up enough for that kind of thing.

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@Bass: The earliest Ares stroy I remember was the first issue of Champions of LA. In ’75. So the character AT LEAST as old as I am. So very much not a new character. And Sentry as one of the best new characters? He was used originally as essentially a meta-fictional exercise and is otherwise been a sort of “dark” Silver-Age Superman. You’ve got weird standards to slap a best label on that…

That said Tobin’s Age of the Sentry was awesome…

“Siege” so far doesn’t seem any better or worse than any of the other Bendis-helmed Marvel events…

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Yes, kids can get around their parents. To a degree. It still impacts sales. There’s a reason R-rated movies tend to gross less than PG-13, PG, and G movies, which is why pictures like PROM NIGHT get cut to PG-13 for theatrical release, with the cuttings saved for the “unrated” DVD.

And that’s the thing- material like this would easily be an R or NC-17 on film, and though it’s not photorealistic, to my mind the sheer static detail of stuff like this makes it gorier than most of what’s in movies, where it’s blurred by motion and rarely is in front of your eyes for very long. It’s even more extreme than what I can see in an R-rated horror film, except the fringe stuff like Lucio Fulci, but here it’s the mainstream.

If THE DARK KNIGHT can reach audiences and make kajillions and be a totally effective gritty action picture without gore of this degree, why do major Big Two comic events feel the need to constantly go there?

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We face the same problem with tv shows and movies. Bloody gore: the censors shrug. Naked boobies: ZOMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

If/when DC Comics dedicates an issue to Power Girl shopping for lingerie that, you know, actually fits, with this amount of dedication to detail, I think we’ll be a happier planet…

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“Let’s be honest here, if this was a fight scene in Invincible, most of the people complaining would just be jerking off about how awesome Robert Kirkman is.”

Um, no, it’s a little more complex then that. This would be a gory scene in Invincible, but it would cause far less commentary because Kirkman established early on that in his universe a superstrong individual punching a normal results in Very Bad Things. I read his comics, I’m prepared that things might get messy.

Like it or not, Marvel and DC are not only stuck with decades of continuity, but also with a certain expectation among readers as to how the world works. It’s possible to be a comic fan, fully realize that super powered battles should result in rains of organs over several city blocks, but not care because that’s not what you want or expect out of a given publication.

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@Master Mahan: You mean, like a rainbow-puppy-sparkle edition?

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Fred Davis said on February 5th, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Those aren’t veterbrae, unless Aries has giant vertabrae bigger than his heart and lungs, those are GRIMDARKDOUBLEPLUSGOOD shoulder pads of some kind.

Remember Liefeld’s law:
(Psi*Mu)/(B*G)= GRIMDARKDOUBLEPLUSGOOD
Where:
psi = Shoulder pads/pouches
mu = mullets
B = blood
G = Guts
and lastly GRIMDARKDOUBLEPLUSGOOD = the only important thing any writer of comicbook stories should be aiming for. Coherent narratives? emotional punch? interesting stories/characters? All worthless if there ain’t some GRIMDARKDOUBLEPLUSGOOD for its own sake.

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@LukerWithout: I thought Ares was knew, and that only DC had really bothered. My bad. As for the Sentry; he’s not a Superman rip-off. He’s a MIRACLEMAN rip-off. But it was done well enough to feel like it was inspired by Miracleman, as opposed to being just derivative. He really had something going.

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A yes, memes instead of actual discussion WELCOME TO POST-4CHAN INTERNET

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A yes, memes instead of actual discussion WELCOME TO POST-4CHAN INTERNET

I must have imagined the hundred comments.

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Sorry, Fred, but you’re high; those are definitely vertebrae.

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Well, I must admit the amount of people who obviously, *clearly* haven’t bothered to read the issue, have no idea in which context the scene and the whole story happened and *still* feel that they are entitled to dump on what Marvel is doing here… that number is way too high.

Doesn’t mean that criticism is not warranted, the scene was pretty extreme. Although, as I said above, it marks the end of an era of darkness in the MU, so I think it is appropiate as a closing statement on it.

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Baron of chaos said on February 6th, 2010 at 9:19 am

After all that was said here, I can only say one last thing. As regard for me I’ll buy this comic, given a chance, and to the hell the rest of the world. Where i live kids pass their time torturing dogs with fireworks, anyway. So why should a give a dman about them?

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I would suggest that children who torture dogs with fireworks are probably the ones we should give a damn about the most.

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Spider Jerusalem said on February 6th, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Anyone who tortures dogs with fireworks is clearly going to go far in life and can probably take of themselves.

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Candlejack said on February 6th, 2010 at 2:35 pm

I like how Marvel marks the end of grim, dark, bloody violence with…grim, dark, bloody violence. It’s like an alcoholic celebrating his first steps toward sobriety with tequila shots.

I don’t mind blood and gore in comics–or anywhere else outside of real life. It just seems weird that Marvel has decided shiny and heroic is the way to go, but instead of actually doing shiny and heroic stories, they just hit the ugly notes harder now. Almost as if they’re just planning to go back to business as usual, but still want to be able to say “See? 30% more shiny and heroic now.”

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It just seems weird that Marvel has decided shiny and heroic is the way to go, but instead of actually doing shiny and heroic stories, they just hit the ugly notes harder now. Almost as if they’re just planning to go back to business as usual, but still want to be able to say “See? 30% more shiny and heroic now.”

The phrase “It’s always darkest before dawn” comes to mind. This is the half-way point of Siege. This is Osborn and his goons at their most powerful, just before Steve Rogers and the real heroes take them down and return things to the “Way It Ought To Be”. This is the demostration of what is wrong just now that has to be addressed. If it isn’t dark, then it misses the point. This isn’t the start of the Heroic Age, this is the end of the Dark Age and that’s an important distinction.

On a different note, the idea that kids are still reading comics and therefore comics should be kid friendly is laughable. The kids are GONE, and while it might be a good idea to try to bring them back, doing so by pissing off your existing audience just leads to bankruptcy. Just ask WCW how that change from Rasslin’ to Sports Entertainment under Russo went.

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Yeah, the end of the Dark Age. We’ve heard that one before. We heard it with Infinite Crisis, we’re hearing it with Siege and Blackest Night. As long as it’s the same writers and editors with the same interests, we’re going to get the same material: lousy crime fiction with superhero trappings.

You know what? The current comic book fanbase will stay no matter how much they get pissed on. The hardcore fans are pretty pathetic, and they’ll keep buying the Superman books with no Superman and the Batman books with no Batman, and the gore-heavy books, and the big events, and the weekly series. They will stay NO MATTER WHAT, and even if some miraculously leave, it really doesn’t matter, because both companies make the bulk of their profits on licensing rather than publishing. So moving to an all-ages direction is a smart financial move, no matter how nervous bloodthirsty fanboys get about it. They’ll stay, because they have so little else in their lives. They may not deserve good comics anymore, but kids do.

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Really, though, would moving to a more “PG-13″ level of content (apologies for the ratings system analogies but they’re all I can think of at the moment) drive away fans at all?

It’s hard for me to say exactly why comic creators have moved in this direction, apart from a general “darker is better” and “we have to always RAISE THE STAKES” mentality, which I think overlooks the complexity of tone and atmosphere and balance within a story. Or it may just be that they really want to be making horror or crime or gritty action comics, but superheroes are where the money is.

Long story short, I think a lot of good would come of forcing Bendis, Johns, etc. to sit down and watch some of DOCTOR WHO’s best episodes to see how you can do family entertainment without sacrificing creepiness or sadness or drama. Seriously, “The Doctor Dances” would blow Johns’ mind.

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@Evan Waters: I’ll see your “Doctor Dances,” and raise you a “Blink.”

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Blink is so damn good.

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Since I know that at least Bendis can and does write stories which are much lighter and still are compelling writing, with characters you can fall in love with ( i.e. Ultimate Spiderman ), I think the direction Marvel went with was largely editorially driven.

It always comes back to Americans seemingly being deeply traumatized since 9/11 and living out their traumas in fiction. I mean, it seems pretty obvious in retrospect that a lot of franchises went with “darker and edgier” at around that point.

Let’s hope that they got it out of their system in more or less one decade and we get back to good stories featuring good guys.

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After throwing people into the sun, Sentry’s next favourite tactic is tearing up torsos.

So I object on the basis of repetitiveness. None of this ‘oh think of the children’ here.

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“It always comes back to Americans seemingly being deeply traumatized since 9/11 and living out their traumas in fiction.”

?!!?!?!!

Uhh. Maybe because I’m American I don’t have the right perspective, but could you explain that? Not seeing the connection.

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Evil Abraham Lincoln said on February 8th, 2010 at 9:42 pm

If the Sentry has the power of “1000 exploding suns” and visibly glowing eyes, why didn’t he use some sort of “hyper-sun heat beam vision” attack against Ares?

I don’t know, it’s fucking comic books. If I wanted to see halves of human bodies, I’d go to Bagram again.

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Leigh Mortensen said on February 10th, 2010 at 2:37 am

Frederic Wertham was Right!

In all seriousness though, I had much more of a problem with the 1980′s animated series of GI Joe where you had dozens of characters firing what looked suspiciously like M-16′s and AK-47s at each other and .. oddly enough.. a total lack of the life shattering consequences you would expect from same. But then, for all I know Snake-Eyes and Cobra Commander wore their masks because they were missing large chunks of their faces.

For that matter I have more of a problem with the fact that there is a kids cartoon on tv now that features a cute, three fingered version of Wolverine. Not because Wolverine has killed more people than the swine flu, but because how are the claws supposed to pop out between his fingers when he has the same number of fingers as claws. It just seems like a logistical nightmare.. ok I’ve lost track of what my point was, carry on.

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Candlejack said on February 10th, 2010 at 3:47 am

I’m pretty sure the Joes and Cobras of the ’80s were just playing the biggest game of paintball ever. Kind of sucked for Cobra because they always had to come up with the scenario and provide the venue–and god knows all those Cobra temples with arenas of ssssport couldn’t be cheap–but on the other hand, they also never had to clean up afterwards.

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