Thursday, March 29, 2012
Avengers vs. X-men #0 - An Awesome (Yet Unnecessary) Reminder
Ever been so giddy about something that all the heroin in Kurt Cobain's secret stash wouldn't calm you down? I've been that way on a handful of occasions, mostly when I get a fresh batch of blow or when I'm about to get a lap dance at a strip club. I get excited about comics as much as the next drunken fanboy, but few have gotten me more riled up than Avengers vs. X-men. It isn't just the notion that Marvel is going to dedicate 12 issues and Odin knows how many tie-ins to a story that revolves around the X-men and the Avengers beating the everloving shit out of each other. It isn't just that Marvel is finally bringing the Phoenix Force back into the fray after beating around the bush more than a 70s era orgy. It's mostly the sheer size and scale Marvel has undertaken with this event. They're throwing everything and their mothers' tampons into this event. They've spent a hell of a lot of time building it up with X-Sanction, Children's Crusade, and Generation Hope. Yet they aren't quite done with the prelude portion of this event. Hell, at this point the prelude is almost as long as most events and even the most excited fans will get annoyed with that shit.
Despite the endless teasing, it really is here. Avengers vs. X-men is set to shove an atomic powered jackhammer of awesome right up into your cranium. But despite all these preludes and build-ups, there are a few loose ends that deserve to be addressed before the two sides start throwing punches, fists, shields, optic blasts, etc. It has to do with the events of Children's Crusade and X-Sanction. In Children's Crusade, Wanda Maximoff returned after a long absence. She one-upped Michelle Bauchman, going bat-shit insane and treating her fellow Avengers the same way Sarah Palin treats wolves. Her complete mental fuck-up is what led to M-Day, which is what made Hope Summers necessary in the first place. Speaking of which, the events of X-Sanction more or less reinforced the notion that she is the Phoenix. She is that juicy steak and the Phoenix Force is that hungry grizzly. These two characters, who haven't even met yet mind you, are the focal point to Avengers vs. X-men and it's because of them that asses will have to be kicked and Obama's health care plan will be put under further strain.
So as part of a final prelude to help Wanda and Hope catch up to the shit storm they're about to unleash, Marvel has released Avengers vs. X-men #0. Now I've always had a problem numbering an issue 0. That's like listing abstinence as a sex position. It makes no fucking sense. But I'm willing to take a few extra hits of LSD and have an open mind about this. Whatever the number, this issue is still a vital link in the growing chain that is Avengers vs. X-men and it may or may not be an important link to the story. That or the guys at Marvel and Disney just need some extra cash for strippers and blow. If they're really that desperate, they could have just called me and I could have hooked them up. I know some people who know some people who shoot some people and have damn good shit. But I digress.
Avengers vs. X-men #0 is divided into two stories. The first story is about Wanda Maximoff, fresh off her return from Children's Crusade. The second story is about Hope, presumably still a little fucked up after the events of X-Sanction and Generation Hope. Neither story really ties into one another, but they show both characters kicking ass and I'm always in favor of that. Since Wanda's been MIA for a while, she's got some catching up to do. She gets her chance when our old friend MODOK, a giant head who probably misses his penis more than he missed Wanda Maximoff, decided it was a good day to abduct a Wakandan scientist visiting DC. It's a bit basic, but MODOK has never been too elaborate with his schemes. When you're all head and no balls (literally) you're kind of limited I guess.
I have to assume a guy as smart as MODOK (assuming again that he's smart with that big ass head of his) that he expected one of the Avengers to jump in and fuck his shit up. I've been to Washington DC. You can't smoke a cigarette indoors without a cop or the Secret Service giving you shit. But I think even he was surprised to see Wanda as the one who gets in his way. She's fresh off the events of Children's Crusade and she didn't exactly ingratiate herself to her friends nor did she make her enemies want to kill her any less. MODOK actually points that out, offering a narrative of sorts of just how much she fucked up and how much smarter she would be to just go back into hiding. I am tempted to say he's full of shit, but with a head that big and ugly it's hard to argue his point.
Wanda's rustiness shows. She's not quite able to subdue MODOK or his AIM buddies. Lucky for her, not everyone hates her guts for channeling her inner Ted Bundy in the past. Spider-Woman and Miss Marvel show up to finish the job. Now this is somewhat baffling because Wanda was powerful enough to to anally rape reality itself and depower nearly all mutants. Yet she can't handle a simple carjacking from MODOK? She's either lost her touch or she's not even trying that hard. It may be a little of both, but Miss Marvel and Spider-Woman don't hold it against her. In fact, they're as supportive as any girlfriends would be if one of their own went on a bat-shit killing spree. If only my ex-girlfriend's were so forgiving. I might still have a couple molars.
Wanda is grateful for their help, but even she admits she's pretty rusty. Miss Marvel and Spider-Woman sense this and invite her back to the Avengers mansion where she can possibly get some much needed support. Granted, these are the same people she nearly killed back during Decimation, but they can't hold that big a grudge can they? So what if she's Magneto's daughter? So what if she fucked up reality? So what if she...you know what, I'm just going to stop right there. I'd rather not try and figure out why Miss Marvel and Spider-Woman want to overlook her past transgressions. All you need to know is she takes them up on their offer. It ends up being as wise as Kobe Bryant's decision to bang a pretty white girl in a hotel.
When they arrive, Wanda doesn't even get in the door before she's confronted by Vision (aka her ex-husband). Setting aside for a moment all the legitimate reasons Vision has for hating Wanda after she did to him what the ipod did to the Zune, he doesn't even try to play nice. He flat out says that she had all the power and the opportunity to do things better than she did. Yet she chose to go crazy and attack her friends. For that, he can't forgive her. No matter how much super-hot robot-sex she can offer him. It's a powerful moment and Wanda doesn't go crazy again as ex-wives or ex-lovers tend to do when you throw the cold hard truth at them. She accepts it, walks away, and leaves the Avengers to contemplate how fucked up they've left her. It's an emotional moment and one that has been building since Children's Crusade ended. Bendis, who wrote this section, handled it brilliantly and it is by far the emotional high-point of the issue.
The problem, however, is that high-point drops off quickly. Nothing else is done with Wanda besides this. She's never told about Hope, she never discusses the state of mutants, and she doesn't even try to get involved with the crap she herself started with the X-men. It's not just a missed opportunity or a plot hole. You could irrigate all of north Texas with the space separating these incredibly important plots. The title of this book is Avengers vs. X-men yet neither the Avengers nor the X-men are in the same fucking zip code as one another.
When the time comes for Jason Aaron to tell his X-men story, it really doesn't seem all that important. With no Avengers in the area, it's just another entry in the struggle for Cyclops to reason with a teenage mutant messiah who looks strikingly similar to his dead wife. As if reasoning with teenagers wasn't on part with quantum mechanics to begin with, Hope has discovered a new past time that involves listening to police scanners and flying off with Cyclops's jet back (yes he has a jet pack AND he's boning Emma Frost) to rough up petty criminals. Granted, it's healthier than watching the Jersey Shore, but she's the mutant messiah. Cyclops tries to explain to her that she's important. Being the irrational teenager she is, she questions just how important she is and asks Cyclops about that city in Arizona that he's so secretive about. This is usually a sign that a teenager needs a better therapist. For Hope, she needs that and all the drugs in Michael Jackson's medicine cabinet.
When she doesn't get the answer she wants, Hope does what every teenage girl wishes they could do when an authority figure tells them they can't go out with a guy who has a neck tattoo and blasts his sorry ass. Now I admit Cyclops has been a douche as of late and seeing him get blasted is strangely satisfying, but in this instance he has a good reason to be a douche. That's because Hope is such an annoying brat who doesn't understand the importance of protecting the best hope for the future of an entire race. As she heads off to bust up a bank robbery, she muses how she has no fucking clue on what a messiah is supposed to do. I'm sure even Jesus had questions about his role, but at least he wasn't an asshole about it.
Hope arrives at what she thinks is just another bank robbery. She forgets that in the Marvel Universe there's no such thing as a normal bank robbery. If the perps don't have some high tech weapons of mass death or aren't dressed like floats in a gay pride parade, then they're not trying. When she arrives at the bank, she finds that the Serpent Society is the one behind this. Apparently, they got bored or ran out of weed so they decided to rob a bank. They probably also expected someone with superpowers to fuck them up just like MODOK. I'm sure they were equally perplexed with a teenage girl that looks strikingly like Jean Grey showed up instead. As expected, they don't take her seriously. For all we know they're just disappointed she didn't show up in a Sailor Moon costume. It's too bad because that would have made the rest of the battle much more entertaining.
The battle that ensues is the same battle we've seen countless times before in other recent X-men comics. Hope packs the kind of power that's akin to the infinite health and infinite ammo cheat code in a video game. First she demonstrates the value of head-butting. Then she uses her mimicry abilities to Hulk out for a bit so she can make them take back all those cute little girl comments. She was raised by Cable, damn it! She busts balls. She doesn't stimulate them. It's basic. It's generic. It's over really quickly and she's still a real bitch about it. I almost found myself rooting for the Serpent Society if for no other reason than to have them shut her ass up. There's only so much of a Jean Grey knock-off with Cable's personality that I can take.
She begins using the kind of excessive force that even Jack Bauer would not approve of. Then Cyclops and Emma show up, not yet willing to leave their messiah to her own devices. It's not quite as tense as it should be. Usually when you find your teenage messiah with blood on her hands, it's sort of akin to seeing your teenage daughter making out with Tommy Lee. You have many reasons to worry. But she still insists on being a bitch and tells them she can handle herself. She even goes so far as to actually mention Jean Grey, the girl she looks just like by some bullshit fluke, saying she can handle the Phoenix. Right, because teenage girls who reply to problems by shooting them are mature enough to handle a cosmic force. Jean Grey was a mature, passionate adult when she took on the Phoenix Force and it fucked her up in ways that Wolverine can only masturbate to. There's being courageous and then there's just being stupid. Hope doesn't even try to strike a balance. She kicks stupidity in the balls and let's it shit all over her.
There really isn't much point to this story other than to establish that Hope is ready for the Phoenix. As if the end of Generation Hope or X-Sanction didn't make that painfully apparent enough. At least in those stories she didn't come off as a complete brat. After reading this story, I sincerely hope the Phoenix fucks her messianic ass up in ways that Jesus himself couldn't heal from. She's not just a rebellious teenager. She's just a complete brat. To Cyclops's credit, he still trusts in her. But Hope doesn't seem to give a shit anymore and how can any messiah succeed if they don't give a shit when a cosmic force is coming their way?
I was extremely excited about this comic. It had the title Avengers vs. X-men on it and promised to get the ball rolling on this big ass event that Marvel is building up like the debt incurred by the John Carter movie. If I wasn't so excited, I probably would have enjoyed it more. There are a couple of nice stories here. It was a powerful moment between Wanda and Vision, one that was definitely overdue. Who doesn't love a story that involves a bat-shit crazy ex confronting her former hubby? Granted, she didn't have a shotgun or a lawyer with her, but it was still entertaining. The moment with Hope wasn't nearly as powerful. If anything, it was a big fucking waste of time. We know Hope is the Phoenix. We know she's a brat, a bitch, and an annoying replacement character that looks and dresses like Jean Grey. We didn't need another story reminding us of that shit that didn't even have the slightest impact on other ongoing events in the Marvel universe.
I may be capable of fucking my mind up with any number of exotic substances, but I can't separate the excitement from the hype surrounding this issue with utter failure to deliver with these stories. If Wanda's story had been an issue of Avengers or of Hope's story had been another issue of Generation Hope, I would have had no problems with these stories. I probably would have given them good scores. But in this comic, it was just too underwhelming or too unnecessary. There's nothing in this comic that couldn't have been dealt with more effectively or already was dealt with in another comic. Hope still came off as a bitch and Wanda came off as timid. There was too little depth and not enough connection. We don't even know if this shit will link up in the next issue and even if it does, there's no reason it has to be so fucking repetitive. Marvel has already done a damn good job of informing readers what's going on with this event. They don't need to use a comic like this to repeat themselves.
I'm still completely stoked about the Avengers vs. X-men event. I think it has the potential to supercharge Marvel comics with all the meth in Nebraska and bitch slap DC's new 52 from the top of the sales charts for the next decade. But Avengers vs. X-men #0 did nothing to contribute to that potential. It had some decent elements that made it worth reading, but for the most part it was unnecessary and poorly written. I certainly hope this isn't a sign of things to come like when you run out of blow and teeth start itching. I'm going to try and do some extra drinking so I can stay optimistic, but for now Avengers vs. X-men #0 gets this event off to a lukewarm start. I give it a 2 out of 5. So on behalf of all fanboys, I have a message for you, Marvel. Enough with the fucking preludes! We get it! Phoenix is coming! Hope is a bratty bitch that looks like Jean Grey! You don't need to keep reminding us! Just take our fucking money and get this big ass event going! Nuff said.