eXaminations

We’re knee-deep in crossover blam blam, which means a lot of Avengers fighting X-Men.  This time, we’ll be looking at:

  • New Mutants #42 in which we have the Asgardian crossover.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men #10 in which Cyclops visits the school.
  • X-Factor #236 in which I get a reminder of a terrible annual crossover.
  • Uncanny X-Force #25 in which the team loses half its roster.
  • Uncanny X-Men #12 in which the X-Men fight the Avengers.
  • X-Men Legacy #266 in which the X-Men fight the Avengers.

…and finally Avengers vs. X-Men #4 which is breaking my usual alphabetical order because I’m going to rant a bit about it.

I’ve missed an issue of Vs. because The Zone was sold out when I got there, so as soon as I secure a copy, I’ll go over it.

Let’s begin.  Be weary of SPOILERS.

New Mutants
Continuing the title’s crossover with Journey Into Mystery, I immediately realized that I hadn’t bothered to pick up the tie-in issue for part 2, but the recap page, told by Cypher in a pretty amusing storybook sequence, did a great job of catching me up to speed.  Basically, a bunch of tortured ladies with a taste for flesh (only to be horribly punished when they consume it) escape from Hel and head after an Asgardian hiding out in San Francisco, conveniently across the street from the New Mutants.  To protect himself just before being consumed, he casts a spell given him by Loki to protect himself, transforming all the assembled Gods (including Thor, Hela, Loki, Sif and the Warriors Three) into mortals and wiping their memories.  The Mutants also forgot the incident, but both Cypher and X-Man detected that reality was amiss and here we are.

The problem here is not the villains themselves, but the danger of using a widespread reality-altering spell.  When it eventually falls apart and reality snaps back, the backlash would be fatal to those affected by it – namely the heroes of Asgard.  So they find Loki and spend the issue gathering ingredients for a counter spell, only to discover Loki doesn’t actually remember who he is, but instead has been lying to the team and stringing them along (which, as is pointed out, is a very Loki thing to do).

This is a very fun issue and it is a welcome distraction from the monotonous crossover goop that’s going on in the rest of the line.

Wolverine and the X-Men
A problem with having the X-Men tie-in so close to Schism is that you’re going to have to find a way to get the Team Wolverine characters into the conflict.  It’s not really that difficult, actually, as a handful of them (Rachel Summers, Iceman, Angel, Chamber and Gambit) just decide that it’s bigger than the X-Men split and head off to join Cyclops.  The bigger matter here is it’s the first face-to-face conversation for Cyclops and Wolverine since the break-up and it gives Cyclops and his crew a chance to see the school.  But it’s really just an issue of Cyclops and Wolverine laying out their sides for one another, and it really doesn’t work that well.  For one, this kind of dialogue isn’t needed to be used again.  We know Cyclops’ side – he’s been saying it in every issue he’s appeared in through the various books.

But my bigger problem here is that it doesn’t fit into the main story presented in Avengers vs. X-Men.  In issue three, the fight against the X-Men ends with Team Cyclops escaping and Wolverine contacting Rachel to get the five fight backdrops possible locations for Hope.  On route to that, Captain America boots Wolverine out of the plane.  Just when was he supposed to go back to the school to host a brief meeting with Cyclops?  The contradictions get worse with Legacy.

Whoever decides to make a reading order for this mess is going to have a time.

X-Factor
Like New Mutants and X-Force, X-Factor is staying clear of the crossover and instead continuing to do its own thing.  This issue continues the “real life hero” story with the villain being revealed as a Mojoverse tie named “Scattershot”.  I immediately thought of the early ’90s crossover “Shattershot” through annuals of Uncanny, X-Men, X-Factor and X-Force that was a very terrible Mojoverse story that made little sense when I was 9 and even less sense now.  But I was wrong – this seems more like a new character based on the ridiculousness of that time.

With Mojo playing into it, it looks like we may finally be learning the tie between Longshot and Shatterstar that has been hinted at forever but never explained.  But not in this story, as the next issue is going to be a road trip starring Polaris, Banshee and Wolfsbane.

Not the best story, but still good.

Uncanny X-Force
Once upon a time, X-Force was relaunched to give the X-Men a dark ops “kill squad” to do the very harshest of tasks that went against the very basic fundamentals of the X-Men.  That goal has kind of fallen apart, and now we have this book just to have this book.  I’m not saying it’s bad or anything, I just think it’s superfluous and doesn’t fit in anywhere, especially now that Wolverine’s running a school.  Anyway…

This issue kicks off with half the team leaving and the remaining two members, Wolverine and Nightcrawler, heading out to save Deadpool, who for some reason is now powerless and lacking his mutilated facial scars (I don’t read Deadpool).  I questioned why they even bothered putting in that plot element when everybody in the X-Office tends to ignore all the other things that go on in other books, but now I’m just yakking on.

The villains this go-round are Omega Red clones (or based on his DNA or whatever) and with the team in desperate peril at the end of the issue, I highly doubt both Psylocke and Fantomex will stay gone.  And Deathlok – whatever happened to Deathlok?

Uncanny X-Men
Since AvX #3 conveniently set up five separate wild goose chases for the Avengers and X-Men to not only not find Hope, but also fight each other, the tie-ins all have tons of material to go with.  This issue sees the ridiculously oddly setup team of Namor, Sunspot and Hepzibah head back to Tabula Rasa, only to encounter the Avengers team of Thing, She-Hulk and Luke Cage.  And there was more fighting.  We’ve already seen Namor against Thing twice thus far (okay, they were different angles of the same fight) but here it is again, with the characters both commenting that the other is not really a member of the team they stand with.  Does anyone really take Namor as an X-Man or Thing as an Avenger?

This is the type of thing I see more and more in Marvel, especially when a ridiculous shipping schedule and a company factor of using whatever character a creator wants in whatever book they want them (looking at YOU, Bendis).  In a sense of breaking the fourth wall, a creator will acknowledge that the story idea is not really working, and then move past it.  We see it often when characters ask Wolverine just how many places he can be at once.  It’s an old thing, usually used to explain away a plot hole that the story cornered itself into.  Peter David sums it up in his book “Writing for Comics” by recounting an Incredible Hulk plot where he had barely two pages to get Rick Jones off of an exploding aircraft and no logical means to do so.  Finally he just had Rick parachute to the ground and tell the others that he always keeps a parachute for just such an occasion.

But this isn’t covering up a bit of contrived plot done to keep the story moving.  This is a whole mess of continuity and character location that creators just seem to not care about anymore.  No, neither Namor or Thing really fit with these teams, yet I’m still stuck watching them fight in three separate issues.  You can’t just yuk yuk  that one away.  Oh, and speaking of which, wait until we get down to Legacy.  Remember that you saw She-Hulk here.

Hepzibah pops back up for the first time since Ed Brubaker left the book.  You may recall that the former Starjammer came back to Earth with Professor X, Darwin and Nightcrawler after the death of Corsair and had no desire to return to Shi’ar space.  She fell into a relationship with Warpath that was abandoned by Chris Yost and Craig Kyle during X-Force (because kill squads are cooler than gushy feelings) and she’s been MIA since.  Her sudden reappearance here makes me think that she may be the (or one of the) sacrificial lamb that gets killed off to make the MEGA EVENT important (see Hawkeye, Goliath, Wasp, Ares, Bucky), or maybe they’re just running out of X-Men.  Whatever the reason, Kieron Gillen doesn’t seem to be too familiar with the character, as her normal speech pattern that’s been around since the 70’s has vanished.  I suppose that’s not too big a deal, and maybe even touched upon earlier.  I can’t remember – it’s Hepzibah.  Here all she wants to do is get naked with Namor.  Imperius Sex, you know.

Greg Land is on art and this time it isn’t pretty.  There are a lot of his creepy girl faces, especially with Hepzibah who suddenly looks like a human glamor model with overly pale skin.  Also, for whatever reason, he’s decided to draw She-Hulk in a business casual outfit rather than her superhero attire.  Not the worst I’ve seen from Land, but not the best either.

X-Men Legacy
On the flip side of Wolverine and the X-Men, we have the various X-Men of Team Wolverine discuss amongst themselves, away from Wolverine and Beast, whose side (if any) they’re going to be on.  Like we saw before, Rachel and Iceman decide to join up with Cyclops, but the rest of the staff decides to stay at the school and watch over the kids.  Including both Gambit and Chamber, who you might recall left with the others in an issue that came out the VERY SAME DAY as this one.  Hell, Gambit was even one of the featured X-Men in the second issue of Vs.  This seems like a huge mistake to be making, especially when the book’s editors are the same ones editing the other.  How do you let that happen?

Anyway, with members of Wolverine’s staff showing up on the X-Men’s side, the Avengers dispatch three members to watch over the school.  If you think it’s irresponsible of the Avengers and seemingly goading on a fight, you might be onto something.  Especially when one of the Avengers sent is Moon Knight, whose entire character is based upon mental instability.  Mix that with this book’s resident hothead Frenzy, and cue the fight.  Unlike in other places through this crossover, the Avengers are clearly in the wrong here.  It’s Moon Knight who responds to Frenzy’s taunting and throws the first punch, and it’s She-Hulk who goes to far and accidentally injures two of the students, Glob Herman and Hellion by not thinking before she attacked.

You might notice that She-Hulk is on the “school guarding” team here while also being on the Tabula Rasa team over in Uncanny.  I highly doubt this was an intentional story bit, as on the recap page of AvX #4, She-Hulk is left off the listing of the Tabula Rasa team, as well as the actual art depicting the fight.  It’s more like lines got crossed on which characters went where and being an X-Men editor means you don’t actually have to fix things like this.  Actually, that’s not really fair of me.  After all, both of these books are shipping twice a month.  How are they supposed to go back and fix something like that in both story or art?  But that’s assuming that the editors don’t touch the books until they’ve already been written, drawn and scripted.  It’s more likely they just don’t care.

The underlying theme here is that Rogue is hesitant about fighting the Avengers because of her actions during her first appearance back in the wonderful, wonderful Avengers Annual #10 (no sarcasm – one of the best comics I’ve ever read).  You know, when she single-handedly took out Captain America and Thor, but permanently absorbed Ms. Marvel’s powers and memories (which she has since lost).  That would be a neat thing, except that’s not the last time Rogue fought the Avengers, as the dialogue would suggest.  Back in Uncanny Annual #8, she dropped She-Hulk by herself, and she was on the team that fought the Avengers in defense of Magneto in the teams’ first crossover.  Here, I’ll even give you a picture.

But that’s not to say that this entire issue is plot mistakes and contradictions.  Someone finally gets around to acknowledging that Rachel spent a long time as a host of the Phoenix Force and she never went around blowing up planets.  In fact, before this story, I’m pretty sure the only time the Phoenix blew up a planet was when it consumed a star during the Dark Phoenix Saga, and that was only because Mastermind had caused it to give into its lust for power.  And that wasn’t a Phoenix host, but rather the Force itself taking human form.  Am I really the only one who remembers that?

Avengers vs. X-Men
We are now a third of the way through this MEGA EVENT.  I’ve heard it called “the end of the first act”, but realistically that would be the end of the first fight where Team Cyclops escapes.  Last issue, we had a reason for Wolverine to go off as a free agent as Captain America chastised him for wanting to kill Hope, then beat the crap out of him and tossed him onto the Antarctic tundra while on route to the Savage Land.  I called that uncharacteristic, but compared to this issue, it’s not so bad.

No, this is the issue where stupidity reigns supreme.

So Wolverine is walking around covered in a polar bear he killed (which is impressive, since polar bears don’t reside on that side of the world, which five writers and five editors all missed) when suddenly he finds a trail of beer cans that lead him to an X-Jet which Hope has somehow commandeered to meet him.  Now keep in mind that Hope fled Utopia on foot – and after the battle went down, SHIELD took occupation of the island.  Also keep in mind that Hope has managed to find Wolverine, a single man covered in a snow white bear in the whole of Antarctica.  And not only that, he only discovered her by following a few beer cans rather than seeing the big honking jet they led to.  Mutant detection, possibly?  You might also recall last issue that Cyclops mentioned the only functioning Cerebra unit was in Wolverine’s school.  So how the hell did she find him?

So Hope has decided that she is going to accept her role as host of the Phoenix and use its power to restart mutantkind.  She, like so many readers, believes that this is her destiny.  So she goes to Wolverine, the man who has sided with the Avengers and expressed his desire to KILL her, asking for his help.  He never actually agrees, but asks into her plan, which apparently is enough for her so she goes and takes a nap.  Seriously, she just says “Cool, I’m out, try not to betray me while I sleep” and that’s that.  So Wolverine goes and calls the Avengers, of course.

Well, maybe not of course, because you might recall last issue Wolverine explained that he was going to kill Hope to keep the Phoenix from coming to Earth and got demolished by Captain America for it.  So now Wolverine is alone sitting next to the sleeping Hope, with full knowledge that the Phoenix Force is on route.  Why not just pop your damn claws into her right there and be done with it?  Because there are still eight more issues, that why.

But then there’s also the matter of why in the hell Hope went to Wolverine at all?  After all, her goal is the EXACT same one Cyclops had in mind for her.  I’m pretty sure she knows this.  It’s the exact reason why the X-Men are fighting the Avengers.  So why does she bother going to Wolverine when she could instead go to a whole honking load of X-Men that want exactly what she wants?  Instead, she goes to the only one who nearly wholeheartedly is against her plan.  And then takes a nap in front of him.  You might argue that since Team Cyclops is on the run, she can’t find them.  Oh, come on – she just found Wolverine, covered in a polar bear in Antarctica.  That’s over 5 million square miles that she found one guy in.

So long story short, Wolverine and Hope invade an AIM base and steal the rocket to the moon.  Seriously, they steal a rocket to the moon.  The idea is to go to the Blue Area of the Moon because Hope is being drawn there.  You might recall this as the location of the battle between the X-Men and the Shi’ar Imperial Guard where the original Phoenix died.  And that’s as good a spot as any, right?  So of course, right then, the Avengers show up because Wolverine called them.  Why did he go along with the plan?  To get Hope off-planet.  Because apparently, should a giant energy force come for you, the whole planet is safe as long as you happen to be on the absolute closest area you could find.  World is safe, let’s go home.

But then the X-Men also show up, because Emma Frost used Toad, the janitor, to access Cerebra remotely and seep into Captain America’s mind and hear Wolverine’s phone call.  Not like Cyclops didn’t have numerous people on Wolverine’s staff that could have done it.  After all, it’s not like any of the teachers who stayed behind are mad at the ones who left to join the X-Men side.  Hell, some of the teachers who stayed behind ARE the ones who left to join the X-Men side, and one of them, Chamber, is a telepath.  If you’re going to have plot errors, you might as well use them to your advantage, yes?

Anyway, the X-Men show up via teleportation, because one of their members is a cross-dimensional teleporter.  One more reason Hope should have gone to Cyclops instead of Wolverine.  But we’re not going to accuse her of being really stupid, but rather assume that she knew that had she not gone to Wolverine, there wouldn’t be a plot reason for the Avengers to show up on the moon (since she single-handedly sent them on a multi-national wild goose chase).  So instead, because the name of the book is Avengers vs. X-Men, everyone acts really stupid so we can keep the fights going.

And that’s the problem with this book.  It’s ridiculously contrived and the longer it goes the more I’m thinking that those involved aren’t really sure what they’re doing.  And this is a book compiled by the so-called Marvel “Architects”.  These are supposed to be the guys who are the foundation of the Marvel Universe.  But they don’t seem to really know what they’re doing here.  Everyone is just running around and running around.

As an X-Men fan, I feel cheated that the Phoenix story, and even the possible rebooting of the mutant population, is wasted on this mess.  I can only hope that the next eight issues get better.

Next Time
It looks like Marvel is breaking its bi-weekly shipping of AvX, so I may not wait until the next issue for another eXaminations.  This week’s books look like this.

  • Astonishing X-Men #50 leading closer to the apparent wedding of Northstar.

And that’s it.  In an entire X-Men vs. Avengers MEGA EVENT crossover, we get a week with only one release and its not even a tie-in.  So we’ll probably wait a week for the rest of these to come out.

  • New Mutants #43 wrapping up the charming Exiled story.
  • Wolverine and the X-Men #11 where the Shi’ar kill squad comes looking for Hope.
  • X-Men #29 continues the Skrull nonsense.
  • X-Men Legacy #267 which throws Iron Man at Team Rogue.

I would also like to mention that Powers #10 is coming out next week.  I’m only mentioning this because several years ago, I was buying 20+ comics a month, one of those being Powers.  Then I wrecked my car and dropped a number of titles I wasn’t particularly interested in,and the recently renumbered Powers went out.  I think I had issues #1 and 2.  That was at the beginning of 2009.  Three years later, issue 10 comes out.  Wow.

Advertisements

One comment

  1. Maybe they can’t keep track of which characters are where because nobody’s acting in character anyway so they all blend together.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s