Thursday, March 28, 2013

Young Avengers So Far (Spoilers)

YA in a nutshell.

Okay, so Kieron Gillen's run on Journey into Mystery ended a few months ago, and I had a comics fan breakdown. I wasn't even sure I wanted to read Young Avengers, but, alas, here I am. But I'd like to think I'm older and wiser now, able to keep my Yamblr feels at a lofty distance while preparing myself for the possibility that the ultimate YA issue will reveal that the characters we've come to know and love have actually just been crudely assembled felt puppets that Cyclops has been using to amuse himself in X-Men jail or whatever's happening over there. I do still feel that killing off Kid Loki was a dumb move (for various reasons) from a smart person, but at least he's got Damian Wayne for company now.

Young Avengers #3 came out yesterday, and three issues in seemed like a good place to stop and reflect. Despite my apprehension, few make comics as intelligent and charming as Gillen, and it's been easy to be won over by Young Avengers. The very first pages of YA #1, where Kate Bishop (aka Hawkeye, but not the one with the penis) and Noh-Varr (aka Marvel Boy, presumably with a penis) wake up after a hook-up, set the tone with wittiness, ridiculousness, and sex positivity. The sequence in YA #2 where Loki traverses the comic's gutters and breaks through its panels to rescue Billy and Teddy is a delight. Plus the art by Jamie McKelvie is gorgeous, with clean, bold lines that radiate energy. America Chavez (aka Miss America) pouts and fights with style. Billy and Teddy (aka Wiccan and Hulkling) brood and cry like they're posing for Lichtenstein. McKelvie's image of Noh-Varr dancing to an unnamed 1960s "close harmony girl group" was so sexy that it was picked up by some scammy internet ad:

The Hawkeye Initiative is working!

Anyhoo, so what's happened so far? Well, after the last Young Avengers grouping ended in death and disaster, its various members are regrouping. Billy tries to be a good boyfriend by bringing Teddy's dead mom back to life. But the "mom" is actually an inter-dimensional parasite who quickly possesses Billy's parents and sorta-birth mom as well. They go with Loki to Asgard for help, only to be savagely attacked by Loki's birth father and nagged at by America's moms - all of whom were presumably dead.

As YA #3 came to a close, our young heroes had a brief respite at legally thirteen-year-old Loki's favorite club, but before they could finish their plans for world-saving or their underage drinking, the group of fake/possessed parents appeared and captured them...threatening death! Meanwhile, Kate and Noh-Varr are presumably either battling or having brunch with the Skrull after frantically pulling their clothes back on.

Roy Lichtenstein, Do You Know How Lucky You Are?, 1963

Young Avengers has had an entertaining and promising first three issues, and this interview with Comic Book Resources gives some hints at what's to come: shitty jobs, emotional breakdowns, and maybe or maybe-not finding out "what the hell is going on with Loki." So far, we know very little about what has happened between Loki's extreme existential crisis at the end of Journey Into Mystery and his current running around New York like a maybe-malevolent Mimi Marquez.

Young Avengers #4 will be out on April 24.

What we also know so far:
Kieron Gillen loves throwing bear traps at children.

The club can't even handle them right now: YA #3
Sexy ad: various, obviously, but here it is on Gillen's tumbr.
Teddy crying by a wind machine: YA #1
Beartrapaganza: A+X #5 and YA #3

Monday, March 18, 2013

Much Ado About Whedon

Sorry for the title. We're going to see that title a lot, aren't we?

Anyways, the trailer for Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing was recently released (film opens June 21). There is jazz and all the people look the same except for Coulson a.k.a. Clark Gregg. I'm not crazy about the trailer. Despite the contemporary setting, it looks really, really similar to Kenneth Branagh's 1993 movie version, with a lovely estate playing a character in both. In fact, Whedon has said that his mansion, designed by his wife Kai Cole, inspired the production. On the other hand, we can be assured that this version will not have Keanu Reeves struggling with his lines while being massaged by incredibly good sport and fine Shakespearean actor Richard Clifford. I am looking forward to the film very much, and I'm confident Whedon will do an excellent job with it.

The 1993 cast. Keanu, you tried. Denzel, Emma, and Kenneth were perfect.
Hero, you don't have to marry Wilson from House. Really.

What I am most excited about:

-Clark Gregg as Leonato. He is perfect for Shakespeare. When I was re-reading A Midsummer Night's Dream after watching The Avengers (not related), I couldn't help but think about what I would do if I had to cast all the Avengers actors in Dream (obviously*). Gregg, I thought, would be a perfect Theseus. He's got that ability to play older, dignified, but not flaw-free men.

-Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as Beatrice and Benedick. I looooove Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh in these roles, but I'm also interested to see what this talented pair does with this smart, sharp, secretly-softies couple.

-Nathan Fillion as Dogberry. What Michael Keaton did with Dogberry in the Branagh version was a perfectly valid way to play an Elizabethan/Jacobean clown character (imho), but it felt a little out of place in the film. As we saw in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and countless Firefly outtakes, Fillion can do a cheeseball that's a bit more restrained.

-Seeing how feminist Whedon deals with the misogynistic elements in the play. What I find so interesting about Much Ado is that it has one of Shakespeare's most positive couples (Beatrice and Benedick) and one of his worst (Hero and Claudio). I'd never want the text or intention changed, but subtle acting and directing choices can really make a difference (just think of different productions of The Taming of the Shrew). It looks like Whedon's handled that well, as he says that they "stress[ed] the human not the hymen" in the adaptation.

*For the record, here is my cast. I have a lot of time to think on the bus, ok?

Theseus: Clark Gregg. Mr. Regal.
Hippolyta: Gwyneth Paltrow. Mrs. Regal.
Egeus: Stellan Skarsgard. It's Stellan Sarksgard. The Bard's not going to be a problem for him.
Lysander: Jeremy Renner. He'd have a good level of controlled intensity when arguing his case to Theseus.
Hermia: Scarlett Johansson. Small, fierce, pretty.
Helena: Cobie Smulders. Tall, comedy chops.
Demetrius: Chris Evans. Can do the douche thing.
Oberon: Samuel L. Jackson. I'd love to hear him boom, "Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania!"
Titania: Natalie Portman. She was on a computer screen, so she counts. And she could nail this role with storminess and sensuality.
Puck: Tom Hiddleston. He could actually do just about any role in this play, but he'd be fun and awesome as Robin Goodfellow.
Bottom: Robert Downey Jr. Classic ham. Just imagine him doing the Bottom's Dream soliloquy. I'm going to imagine this whenever I'm sad.
Peter Quince: Mark Ruffalo. Mostly for the stuttering prologue scene, bless.

I have no idea what you'd do with Chris Hemsworth. I don't think you could even toss him in one of the workmen roles. Maybe Francis Flute, as a joke when he plays Thisbe? I really have no idea. He'd be a fine Lysander, but I still think Renner'd be better. Let's just go with Francis Flute.