Monday, August 13, 2012

Running In Place

It's not every day you hear someone pitch the idea of a Quicksilver series. Given how Marvel has always had to tie one hand around its back when using the character, you couldn't imagine a series which would allow this speedster to really cut loose--as he would be expected to, in a title where the focus is completely on him.

That's partly why I picked up Son of M in late 2005--because Quicksilver's potential has never been fully explored (or maybe "allowed" is a better word). I suppose that's been because he's always been part of something--part of a group like the Avengers, or part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, or part of X-Factor, or even just as part of a duo with his sister, Wanda. And with his power, any group of allies is literally going to hold him back--since, realistically, Quicksilver's abilities, when actually tapped into, tip the scales considerably in his allies' favor.

Son of M, finding Pietro without his powers at the end of the House of M series, unfortunately wouldn't be able to satisfy in terms of the character we'd been waiting for (an interesting way to phrase it, given who we're dealing with). Still, in the first two pages of the issue, we see for the first time an impressive list of exactly what Quicksilver can do:
  • So fast he's a blur to human eyes
  • Bullets can't touch him
  • Can run up the sides of tall buildings and across the surface of water
  • 0 to 60 in 7 seconds
  • Top speed of almost 220 m.p.h.
  • Body can withstand the impact of his feet hitting the ground 30 times per second
  • Bones can absorb shocks that would shatter those of ordinary men
  • Tendons have the resilience of high tensile steel
  • Brain processes information at 5 times the speed of the average college graduate
  • Can outthink 20 opponents at once
  • Can outrun a hurricane
Suffice to say, Quicksilver's power is super speed, and all it entails. This guy could wipe the floor with practically anyone if he wanted to--he moves and acts faster than you can think. The problem is that you can't use a character like that in a comic book to his fullest potential. Battles would be over in seconds, and they would all be no contest. Consequently, Quicksilver has regularly gotten his ass handed to him. Often he's usually taken out of a fight within 3 panels of making his entrance.

It usually goes something along the lines of:

So when Son of M asks us to swallow how unbeatable this guy was, you could hear more than a few of us snapping our pencils in half.

To seemingly compensate for what we weren't getting in the super-hero, Pietro was given an incendiary and very abrasive personality, which was born almost overnight when his sister was shot by a human (unknowingly manipulated by Magneto) while at the United Nations. Ask someone nowadays what's uppermost in their mind when they think of Quicksilver, and it might be something like "he's an arrogant jerk who rubs people the wrong way" as opposed to anything having to do with his power. It seems such a waste.

Fittingly, Son of M focuses on the man, not the mutant, which at least attempts to deal with that bottled up frustration of his without Pietro being able to fall back on the false sense of superiority which his power provides him with.  Yet Quicksilver's problem with readers has been one of underutilization more than his attitude.  If you're going to create a character who's so dramatically powerful and expect to utilize that power on a regular basis, at least look down the road and realize the kinds of stories you're going to have to write for him. Otherwise, you're just taking the wind out of his sails--and ours.

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