The Things I Do For Comics – Force Works #1
UGHHHH…. Here we are again at The Things I Do For Comics, taking a look another low point in the history of the medium. Today’s selection was very difficult on my psyche. In fact, ever since I was suggested to me in the comments of the previous installment, I think I’ve been suffering from clinical depression. I haven’t shaved, I’ve eaten nothing but ramen noodles, and I’ve been lounging in bed in my underwear dreading this review. Have you ever had a friend who’s been going through a rough patch, and you ask politely if there’s anything you can do for them and sure enough there actually is? That’s kind of how I feel about this. When I asked for reader suggestions for future terrible comics, I was surprised to see one pop up… this meant two things:
A) Someone actually read my article?
B) I owe it to this person to actually read this dreadful book!
And that’s how I ended up reading…
FORCE WORKS #1
Now, when I tell you that this book was difficult to read, I don’t just mean that the writing was atrocious and the art was dreadful… I mean it was legitimately hard to approach this physical comic. The front cover, as shown above, featured a fold out panel of… something happening? I folded it out myself, so that you could see what I mean. I didn’t have as much luck folding it back in so I ended up using clear duct tape.
Once I got past the cover, the rest of the book wasn’t exactly a picnic either. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the writers behind this book, don’t exclusively helm travesties. I’ve actually enjoyed quite a few of their collaborations, and perhaps if it weren’t for Tom Tenney’s pencils I’d be able to enjoy this book, too. But I really don’t think it’s just the art… don’t get me wrong, the art is so unpleasant that it could easily corrupt an inoffensive story, but I still feel that this concept is rotten to the core.
The book opens up with a Kree ship in orbit around the Earth, its crew laying in wait before striking on two unspecified targets. The narration explains that the commanding officer aboard this ship, a Major Kalum Lo, suffers from a skin disease related to cryo-trauma brought on by his time in suspended animation. The narration implies, whether its meant to or not, that every member of his crew suffers from this form of tissue damage.
However, it doesn’t do anything to explain why every man shown in this issue is similarly disfigured…
As you’ve probably noticed by this point, this book is pretty goddamn extreme. Even the lines have extra lines on them. This book is positively littered with poop faces. That’s not to say that the faces look like poop, although they most certainly do, but rather that the faces are contorted in a manner that suggests the characters are tackling a particularly stubborn bowel movement. Almost every single page features one of these expressions, and the few that don’t only skirt the problem by avoiding faces altogether. Hell, the first page shows a spaceship in orbit around the Earth, but I get the distinct impression that the ship is taking a painful dump. I know, I know… this book was published in a period where terrible art was the status quo, where the idea that “less is more” would get an artist burned at the stake and Mike Allred had to hide in the darkest corners of the independent comics world and Liefeld was fed grapes by virgin slaves. But while the artwork was attempting to skew to what was then a young and hip crowd, the pop culture references were most definitely geared at the senior citizen demographic…
Moving along with this bullshit comic, the West Coast Avengers have disbanded over some sort of disagreement with the East Coast crew. Remember, this was about a decade and a half before Iron Man would be considered cool or even be recognized by the general public, so he was considered a second stringer and grouped in with losers like Spider-Woman and U.S. Agent. Those three heroes, as well as Wonder Man and the Scarlet Witch, are shown meeting at the destroyed (?) headquarters of the West Coast Avengers to discuss their plans for the future. U.S. Agent shows up wearing Ben Grimm’s hand-me-downs and is needlessly confrontational with Iron Man.
Despite the fact that three quarters of his crew have requested some time to think this over, Iron Man hustles everyone along to “The Works”, his now-unoperational top secret research facility. He calls it’s a SMART BUILDING, and it comes equipped with all of the bells and whistles to which a millionaire playboy is accustomed. A hangar level, a communications hub, a pool, a gymnasium, laboratories, a recreation deck, and last but by no means least….
How the hell is this guy still a millionaire? The Vroom Room sounds like a kids play park akin to Discovery Zone, only so much more molesty. Oh yeah, and the house talks and likes to be called Plato. So basically, he invited two couples over to his creepy swinger house, right? Well, the U.S. Agent is a hard-working American man, and he doesn’t go in for those kind of back-door shenanigans. He’s the first to chime in about Tony’s plan to cohabitate, and the very idea that he and his friends will be some ready-made strike force set to operate at Tony’s every whim makes him all the more contorted, and veiny. Also, it appears to have made his beard grow in a bit.
Anyway, everyone seems to agree to the idea even if two of them never explicitly say so and Stark nominates Wanda as the leader of their ragtag group of extreme Avengers. Wonder Woman follows Plato into the other room to fax his resignation along to the corporate office of the Avengers, and Tony continues to press for an orgy. I mean, seriously… that’s what’s going on here, right?
I can find no other explanation for his insistence on everyone living on-site and the sudden friendliness between U.S. Agent and Spider-Woman. A quick look on the Google shows me no evidence of these two characters ever being romantically involved, and here they are undressing and groping one another once they arrive at Force Work’s top secret base beneath Fuck Mountain. How do they filter out the teases? They don’t let them in.
Upstairs in the living quarters, Tony shows Spider-Woman around her new pad. There’s plenty of space in her suite for her daughter and a nanny, which allows Spider-Woman the perfect balance of access to her daughter and ability to avoid parenting. She can be around for all of the fun stuff while the nanny can explain all that boring stuff like menses. After all, Mommy’s busy dressing up in a costume and being the most redundant and ineffective superhero this side of… well, U.S. Agent. A few rooms away, Scarlet Witch is sitting in the dark wearing a bathing suit when Iron Man asks her to talk U.S. Agent into joining the team for good. The scene that follows really doesn’t offer an argument against my theory that Force Works is a thinly veiled swinger commune.
Are they not gonna fuck? I’m not sure who added all of this weird sexual tension; the authors or the art team. I mean, the dialogue in these scenes is relatively innocent, and it certainly doesn’t line up directly with the overtly sexual situations U.S. Agent is creating. With two writers, it’s possible that one handled the dialogue and the other gave some direction on the panel layouts…. however, the traditional “Marvel Method” would have Tom Tenney drawing these panels based on a rough outline to have them scripted at a later date. I suppose I shouldn’t nitpick, I guess I’m just disappointed that, all those years ago, my nine-year-old self never stumbled upon this Penthouse Forum-level erotic fiction in the easily accessible pages of a Marvel comic.
So, with a five-way all but guaranteed in his future, Iron Man flies off to tell the actual Avengers about his knockoff team for some reason. While he’s en route some more boring nonsense happens up in space happens revealing that a member of FORCE WORKS is one of the targets these Kree have been keeping tabs on, and that he’s about to cross paths with the other! Frankly, the sex party storyline was far more captivating. While Tony is away, Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch head back to the ruins of the old headquarters to pick up some personal effects and run into the Vision and Black Widow riffling through the wreckage. The Vision upsets Wonder Man with his insensitivity, but that shouldn’t be surprising coming from an android. What should be surprising is the amount of veins Hank Pym installed in the Vision’s forehead. What use does a synthezoid have for the complex circulatory system of a man?
Thankfully, the tension is broken by that Kree ship entering the atmosphere and laser-beaming the hell out of the building. All four heroes put aside their differences and work together to fight off the incoming Kree army. When Wonder Man downs their warship, the Kree bring out the big guns in the form of… a big gun. The Ion Cannon fire has no discernible effect on the women but it takes the Vision out of action and makes Wonder Man start gushing pink energy from his mouth and eyes.
Shortly after their ionization, the Recorder (one of the Kree agents on the scene) informs Wonder Man and the Vision that they are the Earth beings responsible for the destruction of the Kree homeworld of Hala. A little research only served to confuse me on this subject… this would have been a fine time for an editorial note. Hala definitely existed at points after the publication of this book, but during the crossover event Operation: Galactic Storm ( I know, right?) Vision and Wonder Man did have a hand in properly fucking up the Kree Empire, so I assume that’s what they’re talking about here. Also, the Recorder is an effective fighter and Wonder Man gets his ass handed to him. Thankfully, just when it seems that all is lost, U.S. Agent and Spider-Woman arrive on the scene.
In knocking down one of the countless attacking Kree, U.S. Agent buys the team plenty of time to appraise the situation and plot a course of action. Wonder Man has already starting booking it upward toward the orbiting Kree ship to… punch it a bunch, maybe? Scarlet Witch decides to try and buy some time by scrambling the probability of the situation with her weird hex magic, and in doing so brings this dude onto the scene.
U.S. Agent, in a line that must have breezed over the colorist’s head, asks where the “Jolly Purple Giant” came from, and said giant takes a moment to kick a few Kree asses before introducing himself as Century. Iron Man rolls up fashionably late and with Century by their side, the heroes readily dispatch the Kree army. Wonder Man, meanwhile, has destroyed the orbital Ion Cannon but faced with the weapon’s imminent explosion (and resulting fallout on Earth) flies the cannon out to a safe distance only to get caught in the resulting blast.
To make matters worse, the explosion also sent a few pods rocketing toward the Earth. Inside, Century is deeply upset to discover beings called “The Scatter”, whose chief attribute seems to be extraordinary gripping strength, teleport away with Scarlet Witch, U.S. Agent, and Spider-Woman. The Recorder makes his way back to Earth in the last few panels of the issue, leaving almost no trace of the team advertised on the cover of the book. Instead we have Iron Man, The Recorder, Century, Vision, and an unconscious Black Widow against The Scatter.
So, that’s that. I finally made it through this book. I’m sort of ashamed that it took me almost a month to make it past the first three pages, especially since this book’s weird sexual undertones make it an interesting footnote in Marvel history. But now you can learn all about that without ever actually having to flip through the sloppy pages of this sad book. I’d like to thank Adam Hoffman for the suggestion, for even though it has been a trying experience I have walked away a wiser man.
As always, I’d be glad to take requests for next time, but I do have a little something in mind as a fallback!
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