Saturday, March 21, 2015

CBR GLA: Misassembled

A comedy comic book filled with dark humor? Sign me in!

Following the crossover event Avengers Disassembled, a team everyone considered a joke will have to step up to save the day!

Tippy-Toe says: Read these reviews!

Comic title: Great Lakes Avengers GLA: Misassembled 
Written by Dan Slott
Drawn by Paul Pelletier

Published by Marvel Comics 
From 2005
Lineup GLA series/Squirrel Girl
Format: Trade paperback collecting the miniseries GLA #1-4, West Coast Avengers #46 and the Squirrel Girl story from Marvel Super-Heroes #8.

Milwaukee's first superhero team is back!

Following a discrete but well-remembered first introduction into the Marvel Universe in 1989, the Great Lakes Avengers would fade into obscurity for almost two decades.

It wasn't until their mini-series by Dan Slott that the characters would finally found their place into the heart of many Marvel readers. Sure, they made a couple of appearances here and there in the past, but nothing much.

This four-issue mini was published in 2005, and reprinted into a trade paperback titled GLA: Misassembled.

For a reminder the Great Lakes Avengers, or GLA for short, are a team of minor C-list superheroes based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The team is composed of the appropriately-named Mr. Immortal aka Craig Hollis, a quiet Savage Land refuge Dinah Soar, the impressive Big Bertha aka supermodel Ashley Crawford, not-Mister Fantastic Flatman aka Dr. Val Ventura whom I'm not sure is even a real doctor, and the mysterious Doorman aka DeMarr Davis with the ability to simply make doors. And I'm not even making this up!

Our heroes are often discounted as real heroes, nobody respects them. And the only times an actual supervillain passes through town, some Avengers always end up swooping in to defeat the bad guys. But, hey, at least they have heart and believe in what they are doing.

During the course of this tale they would acquire a new member in the form of yet another sadly underrated Marvel heroine, Squirrel Girl, aka Doreen Green. She talks to squirrels. Also, she eats nuts.

With the Avengers disassembled, when there's no more heroes around, it looks like the GLA will just have to save the day, for once!

Each issue is opened up by Squirrel Girl, either commenting on the story or recapping the events. Also we are given a little glimpse at something taking place near the end of the tale.

The first issue begins with Mr. I blowing his brains out. We're off to a good start!

Craig Hollis had a pretty difficult life growing up. Not only did he witness many loved ones dying around him. It seems he also saw the one in charge of taking their souls to the other side (an entity known as Deathurge in the MU). He soon found out he was immortal.. But instead of trying to kill himself countless times, he decided to become a superhero and fight crime!

As "Mr. Immortal", Craig ran an ad in a local newspaper and was able to recruit Dinah, Big Bertha, Flatman and Doorman, and form the Great Lakes Avengers! Oh, and for some reason there also was this weird leather fetish-guy called Gene Lorrene ("Leather Boy") that showed up because he misread the add, he would keep popping up in the book later on...

Following their first introduction to the town, when they met the Avengers Hawkeye and Mockingbird, they had a couple of "adventures" over the years illustrated in the team's "wall of fame", including a clash with the one and only merc with a mouth Deadpool

At the time the Marvel Universe had just run through a crossover event running in most books back then. Titled Avengers Disassembled, it saw the Avengers and also Fantastic Four teams hurt and disbanded. Some heroes, including "West Coast Avengers" own Hawkeye, were even seemingly killed in action.

"Misassembled" takes place right around this big event. Turns out the GLA is the only real superhero team left standing!

Mr. Immortal sees this has their big opportunity. Finally the tables are turning for this little Milwaukee team. But during a fight with Maelstrom who was building some mysterious doomsday device, Dinah is killed! She meant everything for Craig! (They were secretly dating.)

Doorman and Flatman are sent to NYC to recruit new potential members - New York, the superhero capital of the world! There's always so many superheroes flying around those streets. But they come up short and were only able to get Squirrel Girl (and her pet squirrel Monkey Joe, the unofficial new sixth member of the GLA). There's also this possible new recruit Grasshopper (a sort or Iron Man-ysh hero), who gets immediately killed as they find the villains still working on the doomsday device (killing off new Grasshoppers that keep popping up to almost join the team would become a running joke with the GLA).

Deaths happen. Mr. Immortal spirals down crazyness and lots of brooding around.

Finally at the end of the day, Mr. I is able to trick Maelstrom into killing himself! The save the universe from near destruction! Their victor would sadly go unnoticed...

The team later find out they're all Homo sapiens supreme - mutants! From now on, they would be known as the Great Lakes X-Men!!

This is an hilarious mini!

Dan Slott at his finest! He's always pretty good when working on more comedic series.

A perfectly handled revival of the long-forgotten Great Lake Avengers!

The book has so many funny allusions to the industry as a whole, lots of digs at both Marvel and DC.

Great Lakes Avengers: Misassembled is a fun tongue-in-cheek spoof of the whole Avengers Disassembled storyline, but you can also see some parody of DC Comics' own Identity Crisis which followed some similar story points, only DC took those matters way too seriously (for the worse).

Misassembled satirizes comic book deaths, which seemed to be all the rage in the 2000s. The big two were trying to turn everything gritty and serious.

As such this story makes the poor GLA go through a lot. Each issue had basically a GLAer die! Yeah, strangely there's so many deaths for such a funny book, but it's part of the fun. The poor Dinah Soar is killed at the start, but also the newcomer Grasshopper, Squirrel Girl's pet squirrel Monkey Joe and Doorman are all killed. And not forgetting Mr. Immortal's brutal suicide(s).

But don't worry, while some of those are permanents, Doorman would inherit the role of "Deathurge". Mr. I never truly dies. And Squirrel Girl would replace Monkey Joe with a similar female squirrel called Tippy-Toe

The art is also really, really good. Paul Pelletier has such a funny gorgeous slighty-cartoonish style. Really fitting the great comedic tone. His work is kind of similar in tone to the very self-aware Giffen and DeMatties JLI way back when. Like a more stylized version of John Byrne (who created the original characters in fact).

GLA: Misassembled is a very funny meta series. Self-aware and playing with the usual tropes of the genre.

One of Marvel's funniest stories in ages. The only issue I really have with it is that it's way too short, it's only four issues long. I could easily see this team working as an actual proper on-going series.

The book has a great tone and humor, it's an hilarious parody with a quick pacing, the jokes are firing left and right (and in the background scenery). It reintroduced these characters and made Squirrel Girl a staple of the Marvel Universe.

It plays off superhero comics by making things seem important and serious for today's readers, killing off main characters continuously each issue in horrific ways and mostly playing on Brian Bendis' relaunch of the main Avenger book at the time.

There's a lot of great touches and details, such as having Squirrel Girl directly breaking the fourth wall to address readers. The poor girl is having her joy sucked out of her as she gets progressively desperate in these introductions warning the readers as she sees these goofy oddball heroes put through so much trauma, pain and death. Just for the sake of being "edgy" and having a lot of violence. Only here it's for the sake of satire.

This cast of lighthearted characters have their lives ruined for the audience - the readers. Entertainment, everyone! Slott's satire is quite dark. Turning these kid-friendly silly heroes into a dark angsty modern comic. (Later GLA stories would play off the funny part more following this reintroduction.)

Squirrel Girl was the real breakthrough in this series. Used since she could represent old "fun" Silver Age characters since she was a throwback to that world.  Poor Squirrel Girl goes through the trauma of losing her friend/pet...

Big Bertha also gets to join in to criticize how women are treated in comics. Here we get to see how she loves hanging in her superhero persona despite her "true identity" being that of a fashion model.

Misassembled also reprints the first appearace of the Great Lakes and Squirrel Girl I reviewed previously. The book contains the original first appearance of the GLA from West Coast Avengers #46 and Squirrel Girl's first and only appearance prior to this book, from Marvel Super-Heroes #8.

Finally the book is apparently dedicated to Monkey Joe (Rip 1992-2005).

Easily Dan Slott's masterpiece in my eyes.

Overall, this is simply a Must Read for any fans of good storytelling, humor and the superhero genre.

It's not simply a perfectly done revival of some second grade team of wannabe heroes back in full and due form, but it's also the book that (re)introduced Squirrel Girl to today's audiences. The story that made her a new underrated fan-favorite heroine similarly how the series Cable & Deadpool contributed a lot to Deadpool's status to this day.

Tippy Toe would take over narrating duties from Monkey Joe's sarcastic commentaries in later subsequent appearances.

This wouldn't be the last we saw of the Great Lakes Avengers. The GLA would get a few one-shots the following years with a GLX-Mas Special (2005), a contribution to I ♥ Marvel (in 2006) and even a Deadpool/GLI Summer Fun Spectacular (2007). The team also reappeared in Dan Slott's own The Thing mini-series where they X-Men forced them to change their names and they went through as the Great Lakes Defenders before settling on "Great Lakes Champions" during a poker tournament.

They would also a few later appearances on said Cable & Deadpool series, during Marvel's Civil War event and the whole "Superhuman Registration Act" (immediately renaming themselves to "Great Lakes Initiative"), a couple of appearances in Avengers: The Initiative and the later Fear Itself storyline.

As for Squirrel Girl herself, she was finally given her own ongoing title after so many years of fan demanding it this year as "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl", by Ryan North

I give it:
3 / 3 Howards!