Monday, August 1, 2016

The Women In Our Lives

In their fourth issue of the Illuminati limited series from 2007, writers Brian Bendis and Brian Reed have our members of this clandestine group letting down their guard a bit to ponder the women in their lives--an opening segment which provides some rare bonding moments for these men who come together from such diverse paths to discuss their world's present and future concerns, and how best to bring about their mutual decisions on the matters which are brought to light in their secluded location. Their subject for today--the young Kree known as Noh-varr--can be tabled for a few minutes, it seems, because the ladies on their minds don't seem like the type who enjoy being kept waiting, even in absentia.

Since the Illuminati normally move right to business, the casual discussion is completely unexpected and comes as something of a nice surprise for the reader, since these men as a rule bring weighty matters to each others' attention that require their full attention and deliberation. It's Dr. Strange who somberly opens the door, as he bemoans the absence of his former disciple and lover, Clea, who returned to her home dimension to assume her position as its ruler. And as the members arrive, Strange's frustration with the situation has the others offering a sympathetic ear.

You may find these two writers, however well-intentioned, perhaps make too much of an effort here to have these men rubbing elbows with each other over common ground. The short quips, the cut-off sentences, the abrupt momentary segues--sure trademarks of Bendis's style, who tends to apply it to any character no matter how out of character it may seem. Has Reed interacted with Clea over thirty times? Even twice seems unlikely. When would their paths have crossed, socially or otherwise?

On the other hand, there are things worth enjoying here. Strange is often at his best when he allows his human judgment and perspective to enter into his work--and it makes perfect sense for him to be dismayed by the absence of a loved one and fail to understand her behavior, when he understands so much. In addition, no doubt most if not all of these men welcome the opportunity to speak with each other in more relatable tones and words--and what better common ground could they find among each other than "misery loves company"?

Namor is the last to arrive, and thus the last to chime in on this subject. It's interesting that his lost bride, Dorma, isn't the woman that Bendis and Reed choose for him to offer his thoughts on, though perhaps it's not all that surprising since Dorma's history with Namor has very few personal moments to draw on. And in contrast, Namor's history with Sue Richards is by far the more compelling subject for this impromptu conversation.

Prior observations aside, there's nothing wrong with a little levity to bring this conversation to a close, since there is a main story to get to in this issue. And even on the subject of women, it's somehow gratifying to see that Tony Stark can be tripped up by his own foot.


Anonymous said...

I'm really surprised that Reed doesn't know who Clea is but I'm even more surprised that Doctor Strange knows that Reed met Clea exactly 32 times - why is he keeping count ??

Rick said...

"The short quips, the cut-off sentences, the abrupt momentary segues--sure trademarks of Bendis's style, who tends to apply it to any character no matter how out of character it may seem."
This smug kind of writing is one of the reasons I gave up on Marvel. It's the writer drawing attention to himself, not him telling a story. Guess they got caught up in that "Wizard Writer of the Month" crap.

Comicsfan said...

Good question Colin--frankly, I would lose track of a friend meeting my girlfriend well before that tally was reached!

Warren JB said...

That 'online' back-and-forth between Xavier and Strange almost made me too tired to carry on reading... but I have to admit, the 'Medusa doesn't let Black Bolt get a word in' bit made me laugh. And to my surprise I thought that Bendis/Namor had a good point about Reed and Sue.