Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Discuss: Rick Jones



18 comments:

Edo Bosnar said...

What to say about Rick Jones? He's been with the Marvel Universe since it's inception, and witnessed and took part in some of its key events: the birth of the Hulk, the founding of the Avengers, the Kree-Skrull War, etc. He's also associated with some of Marvel's most iconic characters, like the Hulk, Captains and Marvel, and Rom, among others.
The problem is, I never found him a very compelling character on his own. He always seems to function a plot device rather than a character with a distinct personality: in Hulk he was the teen hanger-on who provided a 'common guy' element to the stories, for Cap he was a Bucky stand-in, in Captain Marvel he became Billy Batson (although his attempts to become a rock/folk singer were kind of interesting), and in the Kree-Skrull war his use of the vague Destiny Force served as a kind of deus ex machina to end the whole thing. In fact, even in Avengers Forever, which I just read the first time recently, and in which Rick is ostensibly the central character, his main purpose seems to be to assemble that disparate group of Avengers. After that, he became kind of pointless and at times annoying (although I admit a second reading of that story may change my perspective).

Anonymous said...

Ahhhhh....the ultimate boy-who-could-be-YOU!

He’s kind of the ultimate witness-to-history in the early days as well. He causes Banner to Hulk up, he’s there when Cap is defrosted, he & the Teen Brigade become the Baker Street Irregulars of the Avengers, he becomes the new Bucky, is bonded to Mar-Vell and is the very lynch pin of the Kree Skrull war. Something I forgot until my recent pilgrimage to collect & read the entire Silver & Bronze ages, is that it’s actually one of Rick’s radio messages to the FF which Loki intercepts in Avengers #1 thereby creating the Avengers. That boy sure got around!

I guess his role made the most sense in the Mar Vell years. That whole idea of itself didn’t make much sense and seemed contrived to me, but Roy wrote it well and of course it had (mostly) Gil Kane and later Starlin art, and some wonderful big and small stories.

Although Stan created him, very much as the boy who could be you, I always thought felt that Roy wrote Rick as the boy who should have been HIM. That feeling of a hanger on whose life had no meaning except in so far as it connected to the super hero world kind of sounds like young RT to me. He also, of course, spontaneously turned into a musician/singer/guitarist and was offered a contract after two seconds by (the superbly named) Mordecai P. Boggs. He generally had some hot chicks hanging around him too. I think there was a lot wish fulfilment floating around Rick.

Richard (not Jones).

Inkstained Wretch said...

Rick Jones always struck me as a kind of holdover from the earlier, pre-Marvel era of comics when the writers thought adolescent/teen characters were necessary for readers to have somebody to identify with. It was like Stan didn't quite have enough faith in the pull of his own creations and fell back on an old story-telling standby.

Stan Lee may have resisted the pull of creating derivative heroes until the late 70s but he couldn't resist creating Marvel's version of Jimmy Olsen...

I never warmed up to Jones. His presence in the early Avengers stories is painfully awkward. It is clear that his 'teen brigade' is supposed to be as much of a pull for readers as the regular heroes. Clearly, Stan Lee realized early on that wasn't the case.

His latter-day incarnation as seemingly every other Marvel hero's sidekick strained credulity too...

Matt Celis said...

He worked okay for me in early Hulk stories as Bruce Banner's confidante and Hulk's guardian (of sorts). I didn't mind his pivotal role in the origin of the Avengers. But I wish he would have faded away like Snapper Carr from the pages of JLA.

Looking just like Bucky is where I started to want to slap the writers and Rick Jones silly.

never read mar-Vell so can't say much about Rick Batson.

P.S. The Rick Jones deus ex machina ending is why I think the Kree-Skrull War is vastly overrated. Our heroes should have prevailed thru their own wits and efforts.

Bruce said...

I never cared for this character or how he was used. Even as a kid, I found it ridiculously coincidental that he ended up in the middle of all these world-changing events. Comics are based in large part on suspension of disbelief, and Rick strained that credibility every time he and his guitar turned up.

He is/was the Forrest Gump of the Marvel Universe (and I didn't care for that movie, either).

david_b said...

I can just hear Iron Man reflecting at some point, "Y'know, the Kree-Skrull conflict COULD HAVE ended up much cooler if ol' Rick would have ripped out some crunchy extended Steve Vai guitar solo on his axe."

Yep, that pesky Rick Jones...

Post-Hulk buddy tenure, Rick was a square peg in nearly every round hole page he was on. He was a mercifully brief Bucky during Steranko, and he eventually found a nice niche in Mar-Vell giving the sagging title some solid '70s traction and relevance; it was typical Marvel cosmic-shtick, but it made for some improved story-telling around CM ish's 27-40.., when I collected, but insightfully wasn't considered a device valuable enough to carry through future Kree adventures.

Ironically, they never seem to want to kill him off.

"So who's bright idea is that..??"

Matt Celis said...

Has he been used much in the past 25 years? I vaguely recall Rick or Bruce getting married in Hulk but can't remember seeing him after that, and I haven't bought a new marvel since around '88.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, he was basically just a plot device in the early days, like Edo said. I preferred Rick the way Peter David wrote him...he had more personality and a sense of humour.

Matt, Rick did get married to Marlo Chandler (who was Hulk's girlfriend when he went by the name Joe Fixit), but she ended up cheating on Rick with Moondragon...so, yeah...

Mike W.

Matt Celis said...

I'm sure that was more than fanservice...

Hoosier X said...

Margo had an affair with Moondragon?

Wow.

Uh, getting back to Rick Jones ...

He's so awesome! I love all those early Hulk stories, and the Teen Brigade was just one more of the random elements of the early Marvel Universe. (I've always loved how they save the day in Avengers #8.)

And, yeah, he's had his ups and downs over the years. (Like when Margo had an affair with Moondragon.)

And I really liked Avengers Forever. It's the last time I read a current Avengers story I liked, which makes it the only Avengers story I've liked since about 1990. And it was all built around Rick Jones.

I have no idea what he's doing nowadays as I only read four Marvel comic books.

Hoosier X said...

I pulled out the Avengers Marvel Masterworks so I could read that Avengers #8 I mentioned earlier.

It's so awesome.

But the real show-stopper is the Wasp's dialogue when she sees Kang:

"I'll bet he's not bad-looking under that silly headgear he's wearing."

To stay on-topic, I had forgotten that it's not just Rick Jones and the Teen Brigade that save the day. Kang was so contemptuous of the Wasp that he didn't make much effore to capture, her and so she was able to do her part in the defeat of Kang.

In your FACE, blue-headed dude!

Pat Henry said...

A far less annoying lackey than Snapper Carr.

Rip Jagger said...

Being a largely unabashed Captain Marvel fan, I first think of Rick Jones as Cap's partner trapped in the Negative Zone, a snarky Billy Batson-type trading quips with the hero.

The attempts over the decades to make Rick relevant have sometimes been quite painful. He, like his inspiration Snapper Carr is a relic of a time when it was imagined the comic book reader wanted to identify with someone other than the hero.

We don't need a teenager to connect us to the Hulk, being the Hulk is a pretty nifty metaphor for adolescence on its own.

Rip Off

Matt Celis said...

I liked his use of the Temptations as background singers on "Super Freak."

Doug said...

Matt, I was unaware that Rick Jones was leading that "Ghetto Life".

Doug

Karen said...

I did hear him say that cocaine was a hell of a drug. I think that might have come out in Sean Howe's book as a matter of fact.

Pat Henry said...

Rip Jagger said...

"a relic of a time when it was imagined the comic book reader wanted to identify with someone other than the hero."

This was the same kind of stupidity that caused creators to insert children into SF/Fantasy dramas. Kids don't want to "identify" with Jimmy Olsen or Wesley Crusher. They identify with Superman and Captain Picard. You'd think if these creators would just reimagine their own childhood they could understand that.

Fred W. Hill said...

When talking about Rick "being there" at so many key events, of course he played key roles in both the creation of the Hulk and the Avengers, but the latter only due his connection to the Hulk, and if my recollection is right he's absent from Avengers # 2 & 3 but back again to greet Captain America in issue 4 (a classic issue, but still much of that story is pretty ridiculous). Of course, the only reason he became connected to Captain Mar-Vell was because Roy wanted to pay homage to the original Captain Marvel, who at that time was still in legal limbo after DC comics had essentially sued him out of existence. My introduction to Rick Jones was actually in Captain Marvel #22, which I got off the rack in 1972. At that time I was totally unfamiliar with that earlier Captain Marvel & Billy Batson and I didn't yet know of Rick's previous associations with the Hulk, the Avengers and Captain America, although I picked up on all that as I became more familiar with Marvel's Silver Age. I actually liked him as written by Starlin and later Englehart in Captain Marvel. Even in those early Hulks he was rather integral as a key member of the supporting cast -- he certainly didn't play the part of a typical sidekick. Interesting, though, that he disappeared from the series shortly after Bruce Banner's identity as the Hulk became public knowledge. Seems Stan must've figured once the Hulk's secret was out, Rick no longer served a purpose as the sole keeper of that secret and Banner's only confidante. And even in Captain America, Rick's sidekick status was very brief - just those 3Steranko issues. In the Avengers, he split the scene just as the Kookie Quartet era began. At any rate, despite his reputation as a "professional sidekick", he was never directiy involved in the superheroics like Bucky, Toro, Robin, or Kid Flash, etc. In those early Avengers, he did get rather annoying in constantly whining about not being allowed to join the group -- my adolescent response was, "you stupid punk, you can't join because you don't have any powers or unique skills to add to the group. Sheesh, get a clue!"

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