Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Savaging Ravage 2099

Marvel Comics has a huge fictional universe, with over 4000 characters, fantastic locales, and a rich, layered history. Apparently, that’s not enough, because at any given time, Marvel also has at least one other line of superhero comics sold along with their regular Marvel Universe titles. Be it the New Universe in the 1980s, the 2099 and Heroes Reborn universes in the 1990’s , or today’s Ultimate Universe, Marvel always seems to need at least two sandboxes to play in.

When Marvel unveiled the 2099 line in 1992, they did it with their usual hype and hoopla, initially launching four titles. To their credit, none involved mutants or Wolverine (that would come later.) The debut 2099 title would set the tone for this new era of stories by introducing a brand new character to the Marvel Universe, 107 years later. Which brings us to RAVAGE 2099, The first of the four 2099 launch titles, written by Stan “The Man” Lee his own bad self.

I love Stan, but this? Not so good.

Let’s face it, maybe 1992 wasn’t the ideal year to dream up a whole entire dystopian future. How I long for such days, when our biggest worry was that the President had puked on a dude. This is pretty much what happens when a 60-something year old man looks at the headlines in 1992, and tries to cast forward 100 years in the future and predict what sort of dark trends and societal shifts could shape the future world into a dark cyberpunk dystopia. So obviously, the TREE-HUGGERS take over.

In Ravage 2099, ECO, a subsidiary of Alchemax, comes down on all suspected polluters with an iron fist, and the world's run by corporations. Now that a sprawling pollution bureaucracy has taken over, surely the streets must be spotless and pristine, right?

Well, maybe they're too busy dealing with roving squads of polluters to keep ALL the streets clean. I'm sure a society that puts such a high priority on the environment also deals with criminals in a humane, civilized manner.

Oh my goodness. I'm starting to get the idea that maybe ECO is corrupt. And look! they have peace symbols on their uniforms. I'll bet that's some of that “irony” I've been hearing so much about. Next we meet Paul Phillip Ravage, the "last honest man" in this particular evil empire. He's the Commander of ECO Central, which is a pretty big deal. He's very upset, because the thug squad has reported the polluter's death resisting arrest. His assistant, Tiana warns him not to ask too many questions, because her father was exiled to Hellrock, home of the Mutroids for being too nosy.

The rod up that man's butt must have a rod up it's butt. Ravage spends the whole first half of the issue being an uptight square and espousing the virtues of law and order. Later, Ravage is heading home, when he's accosted by a gang of young toughs. He's more than capable of chasing them off, but the youngest of the gang turns out to be the son of the polluter killed on the first page:

Now, this Anderthorp Henton guy? He nasty. Here he's trying to decide whether he's going to cyber pork The Wasp, Tigra, or Lady Dorma. This damn dirty bastard spends most of this issue getting naked hot oil rubdowns. He's all evil, too. He totally shoots that poor bastard with the glasses for knowing too much, which is actually pretty lucky for the guy. Now he won't have to hang around for VR Chamber cleanup. Ravage and the kid question him about the killing, and after assuring Ravage that he'll investigate, he starts planning a set-up for the commander. Meanwhile...

You Whippersnappers get off my lawn! Punks have no respect, with their disco, and their long hair! We need a good war, that’d thin out their ranks… mutter mutter…

Back at the office, Henton and his board have arranged for a friendly visitor; a reeking toxic Mutroid!

Thus begins the most inept frameup of the 21st century, just in time for the 22nd!

Least. Threatening. Goons. EVER.
Paul Ryan, for future reference, if you're going to put a guy in a dorky uniform like that, you could at least give him a bad-ass, bullet spittin' NAME, like "Hardcastle" or "Steele". This poor dope gets "Webster".

"Guess I’ll just turn off this monitor at the critical moment. I’m sure everything will go exactly as planned! Who needs to see all the details? Not Anderthorp Henton!"

So this moron turns off the monitor for the crucial minute that Ravage needs to grab Tiana, leap out the window and dangle from the edge. Then he turns the monitor back on, unable to see anything bu the smoke and flames. He congratulates himself for his cleverness before zapping Hot Oil Bikini Lady for knowing too much.

If you slow down the tape, you can see the exact moment that he switched from UPTIGHT to OUTTA SIGHT! Ravage is apparently psychotic enough to effect a complete moral and ethical reversal the instant the system turns against him personally. Suddenly, he's a rough-and-tumble, tough as nails ass-kicker. I'm totally gonna do that the next time I get a speeding ticket or jury duty. That or fume impotently.

Breaking into a dump, Ravage assembles his costume from cast off car parts, chains, gears, and other conveniently shaped rubbish. And what the hell is he sticking to his legs? It looks like protective patches of leather, but how are they sticking to him? Your mother, that's how. Ravage is such a BAD ASS, the patches are afraid to fall off.

It's absolutely beyond me why the architects of the 2099 universe decided to kick off their bold new vision of the far-flung future with a GARBAGE-THEMED superhero, but that is exactly what happened. Assymettrical, impractical, and impossible, his has to be one of the worst costumes in comics history. And that 110 year old garbage truck? Starts up like a dream, so Ravage rides off to bold new adventures. Highly Unlikely.

Obviously, this didn't go over too well, so by issue #9:

Abrupt change in direction ahoy! Suddenly, Ravage was some kind of freaky beastman:

Things only went downhill from there:

Or so it appears. I readily and proudly admit that I have never read RAVAGE 2099 #2-33.

This one was bad enough.


Diogo Valadas said...

You should read from number 22 to 33. It is the best part and it was an amazing penciler, Joe Bennett (a.k.a by us Portuguese comic fans as José Bené).

Give it a try you will enjoy it.

Brian Hughes said...

A lot of bad comics get good just before they get cancelled. I'll have to keep an eye out for later Ravage issues. I didn't know Joe Bennett was Brazilian - he is a really good artist and I'm enjoying his current work for DC.

Anonymous said...

I know this comic book is cheesy and with a lot of flaws, but I simply love this one. Call me Stan Lee's fanboy, but I enjoyed his run very much. And yes Ravage 2099 became Wolverine 2099

Anonymous said...

Two things:

1 - 'Spider-Man 2099' pre-dated 'Ravage 2099'. For somewhat obvious reasons, I bet. It is odd that this came before 'Punisher 2099', though.

2 - The "new direction" was also Stan Lee leaving the book. I know he looks like Wolverine, but really, it was a basic Hulk riff -- "I just want to be left alone, why do the keep coming after me?" that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

Ravage isn't THAT bad a series...hell, I own issues #1-17 and #20-25. Sure, it's no Watchmen, but if someone wanted a cohesive series with decent character development, I'd recommend it in a heartbeat. Well, that and Doom 2099.