On Bendis, AvX, and Marvel NOW!

It should be a very big week for me.
My birthday is this weekend plus a couple of important Avengers issues also comes out this week (today, in fact):

Avengers Vol. 4 No. 31
It's beginning of the end for the Brian Michael Bendis era - a moment long-time Avengers fans have been waiting for. In fact: I know of some folks over at the Avengers Forever fan group who have vowed never to touch an Avengers book by Bendis, and I don't blame them.
Month after month, his issues were among the most premium-priced at P200 each and I barely get 5 minutes of enjoyment and hardly any satisfaction from them. None of his 4 to 6-issue story arcs felt like they needed to last that long. It's clear to me that he's stretching his stories with the intent of compiling them into collected editions, which is fine by me, but I wish he had given me more bang for my buck. He's already said that that's the prescribed format and some people are just better at it. Unfortunately, he's not one of them. Dan Slott and Ed Brubaker did the same during their runs on Mighty Avengers and Secret Avengers, respectively, and yet I enjoyed every issue!
To his credit, he has written some brilliant single issue stories: the FCBD 2009 Avengers, and New Avengers Vol. 2 Nos. 7 and 8. So I don't understand how he can't just restrain himself. If there was a story arc that I genuinely liked, it would be the one I started with: The Collective.

Other rants I have:
  • His complete disregard for continuity (In Avengers Assemble, they don't know who the Zodiac and Thanos are. WTF?)
  • His Avengers act like amateurs who have never faced universe-devastating crises before.
  • They have no semblance of teamwork or leadership at all (let's all hit the same foe at the same time)
  • His character management is a mess! For example: Spider-woman was a more interesting character back when she was a Skrull!
I have been burned several times yet I kept coming back for more. It's the most abusive relationship this side of Chris Brown and Rihanna. Why did I put up with it for seven years?
Because of the characters.
hich is also a problem because his work shows no respect for the characters and the fans that loved them. While I was initially incensed when I first heard about Disassembled and the New Avengers, I was curious about the new direction. I understand the need to bring in new fans, but why turn away old ones? Shake up the status quo - it's been done before - but why kill off characters or make them crazy and destroy an integral part of the Avengers mythos?
Of course, all that is moot now that most of those changes have been reversed.
Which brings me to today's second important issue:
Uncanny Avengers No. 1
When I first heard about this, I was like "NO SALE!". And I don't feel any differently NOW!

Sure, Wanda is back in action and they'll be using the Mansion as their HQ, but this is hardly my Avengers. In fact none of the Avengers titles/teams NOW! appeal to me. For crying out loud, I got into the Avengers to escape the mutants. NOW! they're all over the place! Yes, I understand that the creative teams they have assembled for all the titles are amazing, but like I previously mentioned, I'm in it for the characters and  I unfortunately don't recognize these Avengers anymore.

So yes, I don't believe I'll be supporting Marvel NOW! and its plethora of Avengers titles, including the just-announced Young Avengers. In fact: I'll hazard to say that my time of collecting new Avengers comics has come to an end. I'll just finish the current story lines of  Academy, Assemble (both fold this month), and Secret, and that's it.

A shame really. With my least liked writer finally leaving, I would've liked to see what they might turn up next but this is not what I had in mind. Sadly, I blame the movie for the Avengers' popularity and why every other Marvel NOW! title has the Avengers branding on it (Avengers Arena, SERIOUSLY?).

[UPDATE 10-14-2012: Marvel NOW! Secret Avengers relaunched with a movie-centric cast, which annoys me even more. So I'll just finish the current run of the Secret team.]

That's not to say that I'm no longer a fan. There's still 30 to 40 years worth of classic stories I have yet to discover (I'm waiting for the new Kree-Skrull War paperback to come out) and there's still the adventures of the West Coast team.
Which brings me to my last piece of thought:

Avengers vs. X-Men
When first announced, I thought this was a contrived, unnecessary event and given the way it eventually unfolded, my feelings about it haven't changed. Yes, I'm giving in to the Bendis abuse again (he did bookend the series) but being smarter about it - I only want to get the collected paperback edition (at a discounted price, if possible). After all, the event did involve many of my favorite classic Avengers, including the Black Panther, Hank Pym, the Vision, and of course Wanda, even interacting with the new Avengers. Who knows? I might even consider getting the paperbacks of the tie-ins.
And as far as Bendis and collected editions go, I'm also looking to snag copies of his Shattered Heroes stories (if only for Daredevil and Storm), which comes out before the end of the year, and of course his End Times saga, which would probably come out sometime next year. I figured I'd cut my losses since he writes for trades anyway.

But after that? Sadly I don't see myself diving back into the comics in the near future. I no longer feel like Marvel is doing anything for fans like me (I've been labeled a "purist", which is a title I proudly carry). I also used to treat each issue as special but I don't feel that way anymore because I have hundreds! With the way things are, I wouldn't be surprised if I reach thousands by next year! With the movie's sequel in development, I expect things are going to be the same way for the next couple more years at least.
I've always known that it has to end at some point, and Marvel NOW! just gave me the perfect reason to jump ship.

Of course, this bold announcement from the self-confessed biggest Pinoy fan of the Avengers couldn't have come at a better time: This weekend would've also marked my 12th anniversary as a fan (I got my first issue as a birthday gift to myself). It's the end times for my comic-collecting days but I know I will always be a fan of Earth's Mightiest Heroes.