Print Story Oatmeal box, minus the cinnamon & raisins ...
Diary
By BlueOregon (Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 12:14:24 PM EST) (all tags)

No Astonishing or Uncanny for ammoniacal, only the New Avengers.

“I'm Layla Miller. I know stuff.”

Inside: GPotD, comics.



I

“Willkommen und Abschied” (1771)

Es schlug mein Herz, geschwind zu Pferde!
Es war getan fast eh gedacht.
Der Abend wiegte schon die Erde,
Und an den Bergen hing die Nacht;
Schon stand im Nebelkleid die Eiche,
Ein aufgetürmter Riese, da,
Wo Finsternis aus dem Gesträuche
Mit hundert schwarzen Augen sah.

Der Mond von einem Wolkenhügel
Sah kläglich aus dem Duft hervor,
Die Winde schwangen leise Flügel,
Umsausten schauerlich mein Ohr;
Die Nacht schuf tausend Ungeheuer,
Doch frisch und fröhlich war mein Mut:
In meinen Adern welches Feuer!
In meinem Herzen welche Glut!

Dich sah ich, und die milde Freude
Floß von dem süßen Blick auf mich;
Ganz war mein Herz an deiner Seite
Und jeder Atemzug für dich.
Ein rosenfarbnes Frühlingswetter
Umgab das liebliche Gesicht,
Und Zärtlichkeit für mich—ihr Götter!
Ich hofft es, ich verdient es nicht!

Doch ach, schon mit der Morgensonne
Verengt der Abschied mir das Herz:
In deinen Küssen welche Wonne!
In deinem Auge welcher Schmerz!
Ich ging, du standst und sahst zur Erden,
Und sahst mir nach mit nassem Blick:
Und doch, welch Glück, geliebt zu werden!
Und lieben, Götter, welch ein Glück!

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Willkommen und Abschied” has been set to music; one of the more recent efforts is found on the 1999 anthology Rosebud: Songs of Goethe & Nietzsche.

In any case, call it Goethe's Sturm & Drang walk of shame poem.

II

A.
The short version goes like this: Wanda, the Scarlet Witch (Avenger, Magneto's daughter, Quicksilver's sister, The Vision's wife) went batshit crazy, killed Hawkeye, and ended up creating the House of M alternate history / storyline (aka line-wide crossover). When the House of M came to an end, Wanda whispered “No more mutants,” and poof ... most of the mutants were no more, the world was otherwise back to normal, and Wanda disappeared ...

Wanda's killing of her colleagues marked the end of the the Avengers comic, which was at that time on volume 3. V olume 1 ran 402 issues until 1996, volume 2 ran only 13, before volume 3 began in 1998, which at issue 85 reverted to the volume 1 numbering (500), and ended with 503 in December 2004. A month later New Avengers began publication ... it's basically Avengers vol. 4.

When Grant Morrison took over X-Men they renamed it New X-Men (old numbering, though); a couple issues after he left it reverted to X-Men. New Mutants vol. 2 ended after 13 issues but was relaunched as New X-Men vol. 2, no relation to Morrison's New X-Men. A number of titles (Thor, Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four) that Marvel relaunched in the late 90s reverted to their vol. 1 numbering after a number of issues; of those, Thor came to an end at the end of Avengers: Disassembled (aka Wanda going batshit crazy) and has not yet returned. Thus, I won't be surprised when/if New Avengers just becomes Avengers and returns to its old numbering or is cancelled and a new Avengers (vol. 4? vol. 5?) is published.

B.
While Wanda killed Hawkeye in the normal Marvel Universe, he was alive in the House of M world, and when House of M ended, Hawkeye managed to crossover or be resurrected (in this sense, he's one of those troublesome characters, like Wanda herself and Layla). After the whole Civil War mess (New Avengers 21–25) issue 26 is a one-shot of sorts, unrelated to what has come before, and more a matter of asking, “Whatever happened to XYZ?”

The resurrected Hawkeye tracks Wanda to a small city near Wundagore Mountain, where he unknowingly saves her from a thief. Wanda has been living in a small apartment with her only relative, her “Aunt Agatha” (who is never seen). She appears to be powerless and believes that she has lived her entire life in the city, and does not recognize Hawkeye, nor does she remember being a part of the Avengers or other events. Wanda tells Hawkeye that he was her “hero” for dealing with the thief and kisses him, leading to sex. The following morning, while Wanda is sleeping, Hawkeye nearly checks the truth of “Aunt Agatha's” existence, but in an ambiguous scene, appears to stop himself, gather his things and leave.
[ s o u r c e ]

Issue 26 was written by Brian Michael Bendis, who has been responsible for New Avengers from the beginning and who also wrote the whole Avengers Disassembled story, but brings Alex Maleev in on pencils. This is not necessarily a big thing, for New Avengers had been doing the rotating door thing with artists. Maleev did, however, work with Bendis on his Daredevil (vol. 2) run (“When the final issue of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev's four-year run on ‘Daredevil’ appears later this month, it'll conclude one of the most engrossing stories that's appeared in mainstream comics this decade, an ornately zig-zagging narrative about moral blindness and double lives, with a hero sinking irreparably into a pit he's dug for himself”).

The inks retain a scratchiness that hints of pencil underneath, pen rather than brush work. Characters and objects, while provided detail through the line work, are almost uniform grays and light flesh tones; whereas backgrounds are color washes and suggest water colors. And then Wanda appears, with her warm reds, her hair, lips, skin, and dress, out of which the color bleeds into the rest of the panel. Around her Hawkeye begins to look alive.

The climax of their encounter is a pastiche of Klimt's The Kiss, in reds not golds, with the roles reversed.

It is the most beautiful mainstream comic I have read in a while.

C.
The thing is, New Avengers 26 does not tell us anything new except that Doctor Strange knows Hawkeye exists and that Hawkeye knows Wanda lives. That she was de-powered and likely had no memory of her past life was hinted at in the House of M, and since Hawkeye remains an outsider, unknown to the other Avengers, their knowledge of him and of Wanda has not changed—it remains a beautiful but inconsequential (at this point) one-shot, a breather before whatever Bendis & Co. come up with in the wake of Civil war.

Quicksilver is still running around, nominally evil, and after his own mini-series (Son of M, which was rather dark, actually), has settled down as a guest star in X-Factor (vol. 3), where he has been known to re-power other de-powered mutants.

When I thought about this this morning I wondered, whatever happened to Magneto? I looked, and it turned out that he was involved in an explosion back in New Avengers 20 and his body was not recovered (meaning: he's out of the picture for now, but they can always bring him back at some point) ... thing is, I didn't remember this until I reread the comic, which tells me that it wasn't a very interesting or good story. Magneto, along with Quicksilver, had been de-powered at the end of House of M. There was a Magneto-Quicksilver encounter in Son of M, and then I lost track of him in my mind. And then we have that final, pre-Civil-War story that brings back Xorn ... a real mess, actually.

III

I prefer Tony Kline's translation (below) to an old translation one finds replicated on various sites that renders the poem in two-line chunks.

“Welcome and Farewell”

My heart was beating, swiftly to horse!
Faster even than thought it was done.
Already evening cradled earth's course,
And night hung over the mountain cone:
Already the misty oak-tree stood,
A vast giant, towering upwards there,
Where from out the shadowy wood
A hundred dark eyes seemed to stare.

From a bank of cloud the Moon gazed,
Sadly out of the mist about her,
The winds beat soft wings, and strayed
Around my terror-stricken ears:
The night begot a thousand monsters,
But my spirit was joyful, lively:
Deep inside my veins what fire!
Deep inside my heart what heat!

I saw you, and full measure of bliss
Flowed to me from your sweet eyes:
I drew for you my every breath,
My heart was wholly on your side
Springtime's rose-red glow, it shone
All about your lovely face, lit
Tenderly for me—dear God!
I had hoped, but not deserved it!

But ah, already at morning light
My heart was crushed in parting:
In your kisses what delight!
In your eyes what suffering!
I went, you stood, looked from above,
And saw me go with tearful gaze:
And yet what joy to be loved!
Dear God, to love what happiness!

—Translated by A.S. Kline
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