Friday, March 28, 2014

True or False: The Korvac Saga is Over-Rated


27 comments:

William Preston said...

Yes. Though I haven't read it in decades, I still remember how disappointed it left me. Part of that, for sure, was the result of the increasingly weak, workmanlike artwork (combined with some sloppy printing). It was a pattern oft-repeated in comics: the weak third act; the whole thing adding up to less than the investment one had initially made in the story.

I wonder: Is it true that narrative arcs that are more loosely shaped turn out better than those that are part of a clear narrative sequence? Consider the "each group of the X-Men thinks the other group is dead" sequence that begins with the inconclusive knock-down drag-out with Magneto, takes a group to the Forbidden Land, and I forget what else happens. There's a larger narrative being held together, but it's not approached as "The Xuxu Saga!" Gerber's offing of the elf in Defenders is perhaps the perfect commentary on such attempts. (Project Pegasus, for my money, is a rare exception.)

J.A. Morris said...

False.

Sure, the change of artists from Perez, to Sal Buscema to Dave Wenzel is a bit distracting. But otherwise it's a great epic story that holds up pretty well today. That scene where Korvac turns into a giant is still a great moment.

I actually came to this saga after reading the What If? that referenced it. So the ending was "spoiled", but it still worked when I read the Avengers story in back issues.

Edo Bosnar said...

I'm going to say false.
Originally, I only read a few parts of it (mainly the initial, Perez drawn, issues), and found the build-up really exciting. But I only read the whole thing all the way through a few years ago when I bought the paperback edition. And despite its flaws, I still think it's a really good story - and I kind of like the ambiguous, and rather unsettling, ending.
By the way, William, it wasn't Gerber who offed the Elf in Defenders, it was the writer who followed him (Kraft, I think). Apparently, though, Gerber found the solution to the "elf problem" very amusing.

david_b said...

YES, very TRUE.

It has this.. 'aura' of a story that's trying to be a classic, but either through the not-more-than-competent artistry, way too many heroes, unmemorable dialog, or plotting that I don't feel escalates satisfactory, it stands as an ok multi-issue story. Layer in the reasons William gives, it just screams 'mundane' to me, about as exciting as the Avengers taking the bus 'cross town.

It's possible that with it's timing coming a few years after I stopped really being engaged with Marvel, but I've filled my Avengers collection with issues before and after, and there's other stories that held my attention more.

Hate to disagree with the wonderful J.A., but seeing Korvac growing in that tight t-shirt and shorts leaves me personally a bit cold.

Perhaps it's a classic for newer readers, but when set against the much grander Avengers tales, it feels more like a bologna sandwich with mayo.

mr. oyola said...

I've never read it and don't even know what it is about. I only know it by name.

Doug said...

I'd say false as well. I haven't read it in ages, but have very fond memories of the build-up with the disappearing heroes and the great Perez art. While the pay-off may not have lived up to the early stages, the story did include one of the Avengers' major villains in the Collector so that has to count for something. Karen and I have discussed reviewing this at some point -- probably not soon, however. So is it "epic"? I guess I'd say yes, it is, due to the length of the story, the number of heroes involved, the mysterious build-up, and the seemingly omnipotent villain the team must conquer to end the crisis.

And count me among those who'd say that part of the reason this may have limped to the finish line is due to the artistic changes.

Doug

J.A. Morris said...

I'm sorry david_b doesn't believe in 31st century stretching space t-shirts, I guess we're separated by denominational differences.


Fred W. Hill said...

I don't rate it as one of my personal favorite epics but I wouldn't say it's overrated either. Overall, a very good story but not one that clicked with me as something fun and awesome that I'd enjoy re-reading again and again. Not to say that there weren't some amusing aspects, such as Starhawk early on figuring out what's going on but being destroyed and re-created to not know anything of Korvac's existence, which turns out to be key to uncovering him, although beforehand all the other heroes think Starhawk's abilities must be overrated because he can't provide any useful information about Korvac -- until, of course, they finally figure out why.
Probably one of my problems with truly enjoying the tale was that by the point of the grand finale, I'd already read too many other epics with lots of casualties which are all undone at the end. It's like too many stories with Galactus or Mangog threatening the end of everything -- they lose their potency for entertainment with each re-use in a similar manner. But, heck, the latest variation might be entirely new to someone else.

Humanbelly said...

Ahhhh, but strictly-speaking, what IS that rating in the first place, to which it might be comparatively "over", hmm? (Oy, what a poorly-constructed sentence. . . let the tomato-pelting begin. . . )

If someone were to call it the greatest Avengers story ever, I'd say yes, that's an over-rating. But if one were to call it a truly memorable and unique epic in Avengers history, then False-- 'cause I'd certainly agree with that. It just wasn't perfect, and as mentioned, the ambitious storytelling was simply beyond the scope of Dave Wenzel's abilities in that crucial final issue. BUT- even more than that, that whole last issue felt incredibly rushed and "get it over with"-ish even from a plot/script perspective. I get that the Avengers are clearly supposed to be just hopelessly overmatched. . . but everyone dies so quickly and with so little effect that the emotional toll it should be taking on the reader is completely lost. And "killing" everyone is a pointless device to use anyway, because even every 8-year-old knows that Marvel isn't going to kill off about half of its A-List characters for real to satisfy one story. The other problem is that, while it's neat to experience the story from a perspective largely sympathetic to Michael at this point, the fact of the matter is that the book is called The Avengers-- and by the time this battle commences, it doesn't feel like we're in their camp anymore. I'm sure this was on purpose, of course, but it made me care just a bit less about the events of the story.

I have one other wrinkle to add, though, that may explain the inexplicable, slightly bad taste that many of us (who were buying it off the racks at the time) had after the saga was over: we didn't get the obligatory (and truly necessary) "Epilogue" issue afterwards. The following TWO issues (!!!) were an out-of-continuity filler story about. . . Red Raven, I think? Some bird-headed kid from a floating island? And a giant totem statue with a big coin in its hat? And it was so completely inane and mundane compared to the epic we'd just been through that it went a long way towards invalidating our involvement and commitment to that story. A HUGE let-down on Marvel's part, I don't mind saying-- terribly, terribly irresponsible way to treat the readers and fans, regardless of the production issues. So it's not until three months later that we pick back up with the great "Too Many Avengers" cover and story, starting another fine stretch. But I don't think Marvel could have done a worse job of dealing with the finishing touches of the Michael Saga than they did here, which is what I think subconsciuosly sours it a bit for many folks.

HB

Edo Bosnar said...

HB, I don't know if those three issues that followed diminish the actual Korvac Saga, but I agree that they were largely forgettable.
By the way, the issue immediately following, #178, is the odd one-off story featuring the Beast. The really bad, never-should-have-seen-print two-parter you're thinking about, with the flying mutant guy who looks like a giant Rhode Island Red chicken, came right after (in issues 179-180).

Doug said...

The era surrounding the Korvac Saga for me signaled the end of the Bronze Age in regard to art. This may just be me, but I felt that in many of Marvel's major titles the art began to be hit/miss rather than consistent. Of course there are exceptions, like Miller's DD. But overall as the next wave of artists began to show themselves I just found that I was experiencing dissatisfaction a bit more regularly.

And this is a general feeling; I'm not certain that I could put a finger on my problem. And too -- many of the guys who worked regularly in the 1980s were quite good. But things just started to feel... different.

Doug

Humanbelly said...

That's right-- that's right! Thanks, Edo-- the Beast was bouncing around in my head (heh), but I'd forgotten he had that one-off issue in there as well. So. . . four months. FOUR months to get to the aftermath of the Michael/Korvac Saga. I mean, it really, really did effect my own personal experience of the story at the time. The monthly disappointment kept coloring the memory of the larger experience, I'm afraid.

HB

Humanbelly said...

Doug-- don't you have school today? Or is this your lunch hour?

HB

Doug said...

HB --

Yes, I have school today, and yes, it is my lunch hour. No demerits for me, boss!

If you want to talk about a ball dropped after a climactic scene, please recall that after the first 2-issue installment of the Bride of Ultron story, after Hank has gone bananas and screamed at Janet, we find him in the next issue (#163 was the Champions one-off) checking out Wonder Man with all of the other science types -- with no mention of the events of Avengers #s 161-162.

Doug

david_b said...

Doug, I believe your comments on 'feeling different' pretty much reflect my attitude towards Marvel's Bullpen at the time.., well, about 30some issues earlier than you.

Fred, you captured another point I had forgotten to make, concerning the 'everybody dies' shtick. It gets pretty old as a plot device pretty fast.

And I strongly believe you nailed my indifference regarding this entire epic, J.A. That shirt looks like a stretchy rayon-polyester blend. They typically kinda itch..

When traveling the cosmos, give me a breatheable cotton twill any day of the week, buddy.

Murray said...

True. As already stated, a solid build-up to a real snooze of a finish.

If memory serves, the Big Finale was the first gratuitous "kill all the heroes" festival that is all too common since. Back in the day, young and dewy wet, I had no interest or desire or delight in seeing all my favourite heroes being totally ineffectual and stacked like cordwood by some no-name villain. And then the no-name villain's girlfriend saves the day, resurrecting our heroes in the process.

SO, the Avengers had no impact at all on the crisis. The crisis had no impact at all on Marvel Earth. The Avengers had their memories wiped. The whole thing was essentially "and then I woke up. IT was all a dream!"

I also thought Korvac's origin weaker than an anemic kitten. Some C-List cyborg computer villain successfully infiltrates Galactus' ship, plugs a USB cable into a socket and becomes a god?? That might also count as the first step in eroding the grandeur of Galactus to the quasi-joke he is today.

Humanbelly said...

Oh, I dunno david_b-- although the choice was almost fatally of-the-moment, and hasn't held up (of course) w/ the passage of time, having Michael and. . . Carrina? Cara? Krista?. . . portrayed almost exclusively in 70's-era workout clothes struck me at the time as being terrifically unconventional and a very fun risk to take. I mean. . . it's what folks were wearing at the time, right? (Ha-- how many times were we treated to seeing Tony Stark in a leisure suit or similar, eh?)
No argument at all about how uncomfortable that polyester/rayon stuff was, though. I cannot believe how much we used to wear it. . . and can't bear to have it on my body nowadays. Heck, I can't even abide cotton/poly blends very gracefully anymore. . .

HB

googum said...

Yes, although it has it's moments. The Starhawk reveal of Korvac is still pretty good. But that's the only thing that I really remember right now, besides the What If? comics that came from it!

Anonymous said...

Shooter's ode to megalomania.

Comicsfan said...

I remember giving the story's conclusion a thumbs-up--but I agree with the forming consensus that perhaps there were too many cooks in this kitchen.

jdh417 said...

I never read the original, but I did read the What If version, where Korvac beat the Avengers and controlled them. Things did not go well for the universe, in spite the whole pantheon of the cosmic entities being arrayed against them.

Anonymous said...

Perez at this point was just amazing, wasn't he? Holy shmolies.

Rip Jagger said...

I say yes and I have since its first publication. It's a grand sweeping saga, but it's never to my mind rated the praise it has gotten over the years. For the many reasons mentioned here.

But then many might say the same for the Kree-Skrull War, the saga I consider the apogee of the Avengers run.

Rip Off

Karen said...

I see this struck a chord. Although I find parts of this story enjoyable, overall it rubs me the wrong way, for reasons both HB and Murray mention: it feels like the Avengers become supporting characters in their own book. I never found Michael to be compelling, and the ending seemed rushed and pretentious. So I have to vote True- it's still an interesting story but I don't rank it nearly as highly as most Avengers fans seem to.

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fred W. Hill said...

I agree, Karen, about Michael/Korvac just being all that compelling as a villain. And I mentioned this before in previous postings about Jim Shooter stories and which HB brings up in this go-round, the all too common failure to follow up significant events in previous issues. For the most part, Lee, Thomas and other early Bronze Age scribes were good with the follow-up. But Shooter seemed to routinely drop the ball (and so did Byrne a few times that I recall on strips he was writing). The example with Hank Pym was rather jarring, and the same with the Korvac epic.

Vintage Bob said...

False. I really enjoyed it. It didn't reach the epic-level of the slightly earlier Ultron Saga, but I found (and still find) it highly enjoyable. Huge story arc, good mystery, neat new villain, and and much better and more unique than the later crop of garbage god-villain stories (the various Infinity Gauntlet stories, etc) or the dreadful Secret Wars nightmares.

I do wish Perez had drawn the entire story, but Dave Wenzel and Sal Buscema are much preferred to Tuska, Brown, or Heck. The art worked for me.

I have no major complaints about it. I liked it. Still do. It was odd and unique in its own quirky way, which makes me really fond of it.

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