(No, LibraryThing, I WILL NOT LOVE THIS BOOK. You suck.)

First off, I want to start my review with the observation that this story is ten years old. Like, it's so old that the dystopian future has multiple panels with the WTC. ... I KNOW! I feel old, too. :-( This is especially since it makes me realize I've been meaning to read it for 10 years. A WHOLE DECADE and it was NOT worth the wait. If you've read the book/series, a lot of what I say in the book will be old news, because this review is a lot of it's new-to-me bitching about it. Just warning you.

Earth X is a dystopian future of the Marvel Universe that had the makings of be really cool and interesting, yet nothing interesting was ever done with it, at least in the main storylines, which are dense and confusing. If you want a summary of what happens, read the wikipedia entry. Don't worry, you won't get spoiled. Any information you process will just fall out of your head as soon as you get it.

The individual fates of the heroes are interesting. I mean, I could rattle a few of them off and you may be like, "Oh, I want to read that." Fat Peter Parker! Spider-Girl with a Venom Symboite! Thor as a woman! Hulk as a giant baby! Wolverine as a white trash drunken bum!* Iron Man as a shut in with a house that turns into a Transformer! Alas, the parts are greater than the sum of its whole. Actual character interaction of the interesting characters is about 25 percent of this book, followed by 5 percent fighting and 70 percent INFODUMPING. Actually, no, more like

INFODUMPING

.

Really, Jim Krueger. I get that you like Machine Man and want to give him some spotlight. I don't think a whole series where he and Uatu bitch at each other was the right way to do it. Especially since their argument basically consists of:

Uatu: Watch the world and do not care because everyone will soon die. Nihilism for the win!
Machine Man: Fuck you! I have feelings!
Uatu: Well, knock it off you stupid bucket of bolts.
Machine Man: No, I want to help people.
Uatu: WELL, YOU CAN'T!

... repeated multiple times over 14 chapters. And that's not mentioning how EVERY chapter starts with a re-telling of the origin of a superhero that's one to two pages long PLUS a "Where are they now?" segment (which usually has a bullshit observation which is clearly by the writer or Ross thrown in), or how the first chapter is a History of the Marvel Universe that's so confusing and nonsensical I could only get through it by picturing all the dialogue read by the Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. And yeah, maybe they would have made more sense if I'd read some of Jack Kirby's space stories but ... I don't know. It doesn't really lead to a good mix of pictures and words is all I'm saying.

I know the story was pretty much reverse-engineered by Alex Ross pictures (although it seems like a lot of the DESIGNS weren't from him, which makes me wonder if he really should get much credit at all for this). I know they had a lot on their plate but ... was this really the best they could do? The story itself is just so dreary and full of wasted potential. What's it like in a world where Norman Osborn is the President? How has being a woman changed Loki? How the hell did Alicia have the Thing's babies?** DID ANYONE ELSE NOTICE THAT MAYDAY AND THAT IRON MAIDEN CHICK WERE KIND OF GETTING RAPED BY THE BAD GUY? That's not just creepy to me, is it? (Okay, I exaggerate but ONLY SLIGHTLY, REALLY.)

And some parts of it don't make sense. This world has a food shortage? Really? A number of the retired superheroes have ballooned in size, the Inhumans come to visit Ben Grimm and his family last minute and Alicia is able to feed them and nobody ever complains of being hungry AND THERE'S A FOOD SHORTAGE? I ... just ... bah. Stupid un-thought-through motivation.

I think the only part of the story where I was really engaged was where Franklin Richards sets Namor on fire. ("Burn! You're going to burn forever!") And maybe Luna becoming ugly and growing hard circles all over her body, because that sort of body transformation shit creeps me out. Oh, and Buzz and Chuck were kind of fun.

But really, I think the best way to enjoy Earth X is to just look at Alex Ross' notes and write your own fanfic in your head with the concepts. It may or may not be better than the story Krueger wrote, but it'll be way more personally satisfying, I'm sure.

(That Spidey One-Shot was good, though. It was a fanfic I didn't necessarily agree with but it was a fanfic DRAWN BY JOHN ROMITA SR. and had a hidden slam at Bob Harras and that is awesome anyway.)


* Okay, maybe I'm the only one who enjoys that. Usually I won't read a Wolverine story unless he's sucking Spider-Man's dick, and even then only when the writing is really good. I really dislike that character.
** Really, since she has life-giving powers now, I'd like to imagine she made Buzz and Chuck out of stone and just not told Ben about them. Some things I just don't want to be true.
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