Marvel Now – More of the Same

No matter what Marvel comics may say, “Marvel Now” is a direct response to DC’s new 52. DC’s new 52 was and continues to be very controversial with decisions to radically change characters, history and relationships. When DC did its big relaunch I decided to buy the first few issues of all the comics and give them a fair share. Today, over a year later, I still regularly get about 10 issues and once in a while will pick up an additional book from their line. For some of the regular magazines I found I had no interest at all in the story line or characters as they had been revamped – this includes Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes to name a few. But as a result of the revamp I have loved Aquaman and Wonder Woman among others.

I’m starting to judge Marvel’s move without all the new issues coming out – unfair I know. With Marvel Now, Marvel decided not a do a complete do-over of the universe but to reset the stage where certain characters were comfortable and change things up a bit – not a bad idea on some fronts (Hulk, Avengers).

One of the first things that bothered me with the new books was the art in Iron Man, I found it lacking. The next book that I picked up was the Fantastic Four and surprisingly they seem to have 20 foster kids and their own kids as well – I have no reference point for all of these kids except Franklin and Valerie and I think Valerie is an annoying character. Then in Captain America they put Cap in another dimension or another planet, I’m not sure which yet – sure this was a successful ploy with the Hulk way back, but I don’t see this working with Cap. Finally, in the All New X-Men (really, that’s the title we’re going with?) they’re bringing the original X-men from 1960 something to present day – because having one alternate version of Hank McCoy running around wasn’t enough – not to mention the fact that the Phoenix Force (which has reignited the mutant gene) has an obsession with Jean Grey – how many times do we have to see this woman die exactly?

On the plus side, I’m really looking forward to more Indestructible Hulk – Agent of SHIELD and Thor, both stories I thought were interesting and are risking things with the character. Thor in particular the story in issue 1 leapt across centuries to weave a story that may have him really risking his life and the life of other Asgardians. The Hulk story line might be ok for a while, but I think we’re just waiting for the time when Bruce loses control again, sometimes I think we strive for him being chased and demolishing things – HULK SMASH and all that.

A few years back I wrote a blog post about killing characters off to sell comics called “…and it sold comics” (click here to read it) which is what DC’s new 52 and Marvel Now are all about – selling comics. But I fear Marvel is playing it too safely and it will come back to bite them later – after all Jubilee is still a vampire, most of the main characters have been killed and reborn so many times its ridiculous and we’ve had alternate versions of some heroes origins told so many times that I doubt even the writers know what they’ve got going on.

I would have preferred them to remake the whole universe when the Phoenix Force was defeated and given us a chance to see a Captain America that was created using a super serum to fight terrorists. A Fantastic Four that maybe had one kid, but preferably not. An X-Men with just one Hank McCoy and one Angel that isn’t .. well I’m not sure what’s up with the current Angel, but I don’t like it. A Wolverine that isn’t a teacher at a school but the killing machine we all expect him to be. Villains once in a while for the Avengers besides Kang and Ultron – maybe a new villain once in a while for your multiple issue story arcs. Hell – go further than DC did, recreate characters as different races (like you did with Nick Fury in the Ultimates Universe and movie), genders and lifestyles. Give me a reason to care about Reed Richards and have someone write Dr Strange with some balls – taking risks and making interesting story lines.

I’ll pick up the other number ones from Marvel Now, but at present I’m not really impressed with what’s come out and what I’ve read about.

Meditation

Back when I was still a stoner I used to “meditate” with my friend Ted to the Rush songs on the 2112 and Hemispheres albums. Sometimes this involved pot, sometimes alcohol and once in a while candles – lots of hand movements and singing along. Very serious business that increased the presence of the 12 gods in my life.

When I got sober a few years later I learned about Step 11

Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Through the years in meetings all over the country I’ve had the opportunity to hear about how others have meditated. Some folks talked about how they meditated in the shower,  some how they meditated on their way to work in the car or even like I used to do – listening to music that inspired them (with or without candles 😉 ).

I was pretty dumbfounded about the whole idea and just faked it mostly. When I’d pray or have a quiet moment I would consider that to be my meditation and “enough” of an effort to improve my conscious contact. It wasn’t very satisfying and truthfully, I didn’t do it very often and I never really felt calmer or centered as a result.

Then a  few years back I was at a workshop where the leader of the workshop guided us through a Mindfulness Meditation. I was skeptical but learned long ago to “fake it til you make it”. I followed her instructions and guidance as we placed our feet flat on the ground, had our backs straight and breathed in and breathed out, simple counting and focusing on pushing out the outside distraction and noise – sure enough I actually felt more at ease, more centered and relaxed. This was what I was looking for.

Granted, I’m still not a daily user – I have my faults that may be difficult for some of you to come to terms with.. sorry to disappoint – but when I do use it my day, my situations, my people places and things are so much easier to deal with. I’ve even used it when I’ve not been able to sleep – due to thoughts racing around in my head or something that was bothering me, it really helps to ease all the noise.

At first I came to scoff… 😉 Anyway, meditation, Mindfulness Meditation in particular, has become a really welcome part of my life and I can’t recommend it enough to folks. There are some links here that you can click on and read more about it and I’m sure there are places in larger cities where you can be guided through. The thing is not to quit trying – you’ll gain peace in the trying to get there.

Five Types of Meditation: http://www.fitsugar.com/5-Types-Meditation-18949375

Mindfulness Meditation instructions: http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=2125

More on Meditation: http://www.spiritualnow.com/articles/20/1/The-Different-Types-of-Meditation/Page1.html