Author has written 4 stories for Superman, Daredevil, and Marvel.
Your average 19 year old who is settling in at the inferno that is university, with the temperature at simmer and steadily climbing.
Main interests these days are comics- started reading a couple of years back, mainly Marvel books, and though my reading list is by no means one of the more extensive ones out there, I have read a couple of really good, inspiring stories out of my dabbling in this genre, though a large proportion are admittedly the average run of the mill, and unfortunately a few of the not so good tales I have read here and there as well. I am sort of partial to Thor, Captain America, The Punisher, Nova, Daredevil and certain stints on team comics like the Avengers. That being said, I am more a fan of 'story arcs' and good writers who can manage to tell a story even with the most ancillary characters, so I tend to gravitate towards such stories and extended comic runs whenever I happen upon them. Lately I have started a good amount of DC stuff as well. There's also a whole lot of indie books that I dig, like The Walking Dead and Saga, to name two.
The fan fics I have been doing until now are based around this sole passion, and for the time being I probably won't venture into other mediums/genres..(yet!). I have this huge long-term plan for some of my fics that will literally take years to pan out, and the delay will probably be even more pronounced since my work rate is so slow and real life, as always, does tend to interfere. I will be looking to winnow out my projects a little and focus on one or two core titles after I am done wrapping up the current directions I am following with my fics. That will likely be a while though; at any rate, you guys will be the first to know.
Alright, for any returning visitors to the profile who might be wondering, I removed The Guardian: Amongst Marvels from my account. There is no excuse for sloppy storytelling and gaping plot holes the size of China. It's been a while since I stopped updating it: the only reason I have hesitated so long to take the next step is because of the sentimental attachment to the story. Well, the only way to go is forward, and that means no half measures when it comes to quality.
For the scant few who may have actually read that and-- gasp!-- enjoyed it, there's still Guardian: Post Singular in here for a more polished and leaner version of what was happening in Amongst Marvels. I don't know how long it will take me to update that one, but chances are that it's in hiatus for the time being. I have got a boat load of other stuff in the works, and taking this one as well will just slow me down to no end.
It hurt like hell when I saw that Amongst Marvels actually had two favourites, but it had to be done anyways. Hope the stuff that's currently brewing in the pipeline makes this worth it.
Alright, I moved the Foreword to my Captain America fanfic, In the Valley of Death: A Nomad's Odyssey, here as well. Figured that this was supplemental material and thus some people might be annoyed by having to wade through these walls of text when they want to get into the story right away.
We live in an impersonal universe. We scarcely have to look to the stars, in the entirety of their cold glory- when we can already derive this conclusion for merely observing the events that take place in the earthly plane. Natural disasters take no pity on the mortal plight they leave in their wake. But far be it for us to point fingers at such abstract deities, when much of the blame can be laid at our own feet. We say we are connected, in this age of limitless information, to each other like never before.
And yet, what does one feel in regards to the breadth of his kin, the multitudes of faces that form the collective species?
We have an intrinsic need to prioritize. Our mental resources are limited, as much as we would like to believe otherwise. Whatever emotional resonance we may possess is limited entirely to our immediate associates. We allocate our love and concern to our fathers and mothers, our spouses, our children, our brothers and sisters. Already, that seems like an impressive burden, doesn't it? There may be space, even then, for the tertiary acquaintances- close friends, neighbors, colleagues and the like. Our emotional need to connect with our peers, therefore, is more than satisfied- perhaps even exhausted. And the recipients can barely be more than several handfuls, at most. What of the billions, then?
They become, simply, statistics. There are scores of obituaries to be found in the daily news- but when do we weep when we come upon such things? We seek solidarity in our familiar circle, and shut off, whether knowingly or not, all others. We get used to their presence. They become background noise.
There-in, lies the conundrum. Individually, we function in an intensely personal manner. Our society provides a pseudo-reflection of that in many aspects, but ultimately we do realize the inherent disconnect between concepts such as altruism and our capacity to entertain such ideals to their logical conclusion. We are almost categorically unqualified to fulfill the desires stirred by such ideals.
Our minds devise several ingenious work-arounds when faced with such logical fallacies. One of them, of course, is the invention of the hero figure- legendary, mythical individuals who take it upon themselves to uphold the cause of the common good. They are the ones who feel for all. They are the ones who fight for all. They are the ones who die for all.
The reason for this initial (if long-winded) detour is, of course, to refer to the dilemma that particular situation possesses in regards to the case of the modern super-hero. The Golden and Silver Age heroes had the advantage, like all their classical predecessors of literature, of being entirely icons- beings that are merely human in form, not in function. The modern archetype, however, has the burden of fulfilling the latter purpose, as well. Readers demand relativity in order to get invested in the tale. Spider-man needs to have face-time as the hilariously unlucky Peter Parker, with all his money woes and juggling girlfriends (and Aunt May, the old hag who never dies). Every-third issue of Daredevil has to feature a courtroom piece or else the story dynamic becomes unbalanced. Even Wolverine needs a girlfriend! We need the bread and butter of the familiar along with the bold spices of the exotic and the extreme in order to gain proper utility from these stories.
The dilemma, of course, is that these 'human' heroes are fully expected to carry out their prerequisite, primary functions as well. They must rise above the tide, and stand for something. They have to- otherwise, how can they be heroes?
There must arise a multitude of contrivances, then, to bridge the gap between the extraordinary and the human in these heroes so that they are still capable of maintaining healthy, long term interests. As a result, Wolverine goes to hell and after returning, still has to explain such and such to his irate girlfriend. (Though this probably happened off-panel!) Nether bother about the fact that he still manages to devote time to said dalliance when he has splits duties amongst four separate teams. Contrivances, as I mentioned.
Death is a curious occurrence in the comic book world- specifically since it occurs to anyone significant enough, it never happens to get the final word. Conventions have developed, over the last few decades that always manage to recover a handful few legends (though lately the number is growing quite large) from the depths of the void.
Of course, we know full well the real-world reasons: there is no market sense in not using characters which have such substantial, often inelastic demand from long-run consumers. Thor, fresh from a successful revival three years prior and having had a fairly successful motion picture debut, is scarcely going to remain dead for an awfully long period after his most recent demise. Mind, he has this little summer blockbuster he has to appear in for the next year- he already has a tight schedule as it is!
The analysis that I tend to do in this vein, in the course of this series, will thus tend to focus on the sole context of the comic book world. For this purpose, I will half-assume that this world is a fully functional system with its own check and balances. It would be easy to let the bitter cynicism sip into this work, as it is without a doubt a response to events borne out of certain real-world motivations (with all its nonsensical contrivances). But to do so would be an affront to the character that takes centerpiece in this story- James Buchanan Barnes. For a moment, let us forget the reasons for his revival in the first place, or even the involvement of Ed Brubaker, the man who facilitated the deed. Let us view him, as a simple human being. In retrospect, it's all that the man ever was. A man, who found himself in desperate times; a man, who followed his greatest of friends into the depths of hell itself; a man, who found himself in the company of legends, and did his best to prove himself in their eyes; he lived like a man, he fought like a man, and in the end, he died valiantly like a man.
In case of possible confusion, that last bit of hyperbole refers to the booby-trapped plane incident in which both Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers were presumed dead for decades.
For what came afterwards, when Barnes reappeared as a former-brainwashed Soviet assassin forced to come face to face with his sins, in addition to the presence of his long-lost friend- when this Barnes appeared, he was, essentially, a new character. Fortunately, too; because it is this particular version that managed to garner such a strong following amongst readers. When he took up the shield after the apparent death of Rogers, he struggled with living up to the expectations that come to the title. It never got easy down the line, and he had his fair share of doubts, but he managed to persevere throughout the hurdles. He did all a man possibly could under the circumstances. Ultimately, he failed.
In the Marvel Universe, death has a specific, yet often multifarious meaning. I am fully aware, at the time of this writing, that Bucky Barnes may return to the land of the living once again- but then he will be as different a character to the current iteration as the latter was to the initial, WW2 version. In the meanwhile what happens to the character as he has been, so far? What happens to ideas, as they fade into obscurity? Perhaps, they die a slow, quiet death, unheard and unnoticed by any cognizant mind. Would it be too much of a disservice to provide an appropriate 'funeral', then, to celebrate and understand what they represented to us in their lives?
In the vein of such thinking, the current idea of Bucky Barnes is one that deserves a fitting conclusion. In this series, which spins directly out of the limited series Fear Itself, James finds himself in a land distinctly not of the living- or at least, not the land in which he had lived. The ethereal nature is an initial shock, of course. But soon, he finds himself asking- what will happen to me, now? What will happen next?
For the longest while, nothing does. Everything is eerily static.
Being a man of action, James doesn't wait a good while before trying to venture out on his own in search for answers- and soon he finds himself on an epic quest that takes him through a variety representations of comic-book limbo that have seen publication in Marvel over the years. In this quest, he is forced to see himself in a new light- his own, rather than simply using others as a measuring stick to evaluate himself. New questions start to arise: "Was I happy?" "Did I do enough?" "Am I afraid?" "Am I strong enough to be ready for whatever comes next?"
By now, he is a Nomad, in a fashion- he doesn't belong to his previous world, yet as he manages to wade through all these new worlds, he feels a need to press on, to pursue a worthy end-point, of sorts, to a journey which he hadn't entirely justified in the first place. Closure is the ultimate goal- but at what price? Is he ready to move on, or will he hang on desperately to what little he has?
To aid him in this particular quest, will be guides who show him the path, and stand by his side as he faces down not only his fears and self-doubts, but other decidedly shady individual with sinister motives. These guides will comprise of some iconic Marvel figures- some recently cast-off from the land of the active, others long forgotten- but he has to find the strength within himself to continue down the path.
He must complete this mission before too long. Everything rearranges around him. Out of the flickering chaos, the order of the status quo starts to return. Like some of his strange new comrades, his own consciousness may not survive this change- and the knowledge makes him apprehensive. As all the constants and pillars of everything he knows is deconstructed and laid out in their constituent elements, what comfort can he take from any of it, before he too is disassembled? He is, after all, only too human and we are all too afraid of the unknown.
"In the Valley of Death: A Nomad's Odyssey" is a sincere character piece. It is also an examination of the broader phenomenon of the 'comic book death' and the subsequent wreckage it leaves in its wake.
This humble narrator hopes that he can sufficiently interweave both aspects so as to a work of a quality befitting the scope and ambition of this project, and I hope that all readers may enjoy it as the first installment arrives not long after. I ardently await your views and reactions in that occasion, when it arrives.
Addendum: I am well aware of the fact that Bucky is well alive and continuing his adventures as Winter Soldier right now. Brubaker and Guice are doing excellent work on the series, and I look forward to reading the title every month.
That being said, I am still going forward with this fic even though the core premise might seem somewhat diminished in light of this recent development.
Let us look at the situation in this way- Bucky Barnes was dead, in a manner, for the few short months between FI #3 and 7.1. So, let us contrive that he is temporarily thrust into the plane of the afterlifes in the Marvel Universe. What happens to him then? This is somewhat of a 'it was a dream, after all' scenario, since it must inevitably end with Bucky returning to the land of the living, but the journey can certainly be more eventful than a set end-point, I would say. To paraphrase Alan Moore in What Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? : Of course, this is an imaginary story, but then, aren't they all?
The concept remains: where do ideas go when they die? The idea ,in this case, being Bucky Barnes as Captain America.
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