Saturday, May 26, 2012

Avengers #26 - Suicide Missions Can Be Awesome

There was once a time when I reviewed a greater variety of comics on this blog. There was also once a time when I didn't drink before nine in the morning, but circumstances change and so do people. What doesn't change is the annoying fact that God was too lazy to make the days longer or at least set another day of rest aside so that there was more time to review comics. But I'm not about to argue with God. He already cursed me by giving me a penis and a brain, but not enough blood to run both. He also cursed me with only one liver that can barely get the job done. Never-the-less, I did my best to review many different comics until the time came where I just couldn't reasonably deliver and still have enough time to get sufficiently drunk. That is why this blog has been exclusively reviewing X-men comics for months now. Plus, it's called X-men Supreme. I hoped that part would be obvious.

However, changing circumstances require that even drunks adapt. Avengers vs. X-men is an event that spans more than just the X-books. The events of this series have crossed a myriad of titles, including the regular Avengers titles. Now I don't talk about them much on this blog because again, it's called fucking X-men Supreme. However, I do keep up with them. Brian Michael Bendis has been the top dog on the Avengers books for a while and for the most part, the guy whose balls were big enough to kill Ultimate Spider-Man have carried this series. But now like the X-books, the events of Avengers vs. X-men have caught up with it.

This leads to a particular aspect of the Avengers vs. X-men story that hasn't been addressed all that much in the main series or the X-books, yet it was clearly established in the first issue. If you're sober enough to remember that far back, you should remember that before Captain America ventured to Utopia to calmly discuss with Cyclops the treat posed by the Phoenix (which is not unlike the way George W. Bush calmly discussed with Saddam Hussein his questionable regime in Iraq) he sent a team of Avengers into space to intercept the Phoenix. Well that story hasn't been overlooked. It just hasn't been told on the books that I've been sober enough to review. Well I'm in between bottles of whiskey, so I might as well step outside the traditions of this blog in the same way I often step outside the traditions of my country's drug laws. Except this time, I hope it doesn't end with me getting sodomized in a New Mexico county jail.

Avengers #26 takes the events of Avengers vs. X-men #1 and follows them into that cold, dark bitch we know as deep space (or Ann Coulter's vagina depending on the context). It begins by briefly expanding upon the scene with Captain America and the space team he assembled. He doesn't mince words, which might have saved him an optic blast to the head in confronting Cyclops. He tells them they're going up against a cosmic force that looks upon them with the same callousness as an elephant looks at the undigested seeds in it's shit. He calls it a suicide mission, but one they really need them to go on because they need to buy time. It may sound pointless and reckless, but when you know you're about to get flash fried by a cosmic bird you gotta take a few chances and be a bit of a douche.

Like anyone about to go on a suicide mission, there are two inclinations. One is to go on the bender to end all benders in Las Vegas with a stolen credit card from a absent minded hedge fund manager. The other is to hunt down your favorite gal pal and try to squeeze in a last minute romp and maybe see if you can convince her to try anal one last time. Noh-Varr, aka the Protector, decides to do the latter minus the anal (or so it seems). He meets up with his girl, Annie, who looks like the kind of girl you find in a biker bar and who gets her labia pierced on a dare. So why wouldn't she date a Kree? But like any girlfriend, she gets upset when she find out her boyfriend is going on a suicide mission and not even giving her enough notice to extract an expensive date from it. I don't know how vindictive Annie is. She appears to be much more forgiving than most of my exes, who always used that "the world is ending" routine as an excuse to run up my credit card debt.

Thankfully, Brian Michael Bendis is a lot more tasteful than any shitty meal my ex-girlfriends ever ordered. The Protector offers Annie his sincere affection and even does a nice little light show for her as they kiss, without slipping her a tab of acid no less. Leave it to an alien to upstage over 95 percent of us normal men in our never-ending efforts to get laid. It's still a relatively sweet moment. It doesn't have the same emotional impact of more notable Marvel relationships. These two are a long ways from being Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Give the Protector a chance to make a deal with the devil and maybe it'll be more gripping. For now, it's just something to put a smile on your face before shit starts blowing up.

And shit does blow up and not just because of the Phoenix. The initial attack already played out in the pages of Secret Avengers, another book I didn't have the time or blood-alcohol content to review. You don't need to know much other than it failed miserably. Apparently, flying head first into the teeth of a pissed off cosmic entity isn't the best strategy. It's like running into boxing ring naked with a target on your scrotum. You're not going to last long. For some reason, this upsets Beast. Even though he's dealt with the Phoenix before and should be the least surprised among everyone that they got their asses kicked, he still sees fit to destroy what is probably some very expensive piece of Avengers equipment. This is the same guy that criticized Cyclops for acting irrationally. Go figure.

But they're not quite ready to just admit they're specks in the Phoenix's shit just yet. The Protector, most likely emboldened from swapping a little spit with his girlfriend beforehand, helps Beast with his analysis and comes up with a potential strategy. The Phoenix Force is a power that doesn't operate under the traditional rules of physics, even by comic book standards. It rips through the universe and scoffs at the laws of physics in the same way Newt Gingrich scoffs as the parts of the bible that condemn adultery. So they need something else that makes Einstein roll over in his grave, namely Thor's hammer. The mystical metal, Uru, already has some pretty exotic properties. The Protector theorizes that they can use some of that mystical potential to wound or even contain parts of the Phoenix. I'm tempted to say it's a long shot, but when you're dealing with the Phoenix Force a plan to use Thor's hammer is as much a long shot as having every being in the universe spit on it.

Despite having been roughed up in the first battle, Thor pulls his Asgardian ass together for round two. What follows next is cosmic onslaught between Thor and the Phoenix Force. You've got an actual demigod against a cosmic force armed with power that would turn most solar systems into salad dressing fighting one another. It sounds epic and guess what? It is! For several solid pages, it's every bit the battle you imagine it would be.

Now we've all had those arguments in the school yard with the kid who likes to eat his own boogers. We argue endlessly on what would happen if two comic book characters fought/teamed up/fucked/or had a baby. I normally stuck to the arguments that involved who would fuck who and how fucked up their fucking would be. But occasionally, I argued about how epic certain battles would be. The Phoenix Force and Thor are a couple of characters that definitely came up on more than one occasion and without the need to sniff the glue. I won't say that the scene that unfolds in this comic is exactly how I imagined it (I often imagine the Phoenix with bigger boobs), but it's pretty damn close!

It's by far the most satisfying part of the issue and unlike before, it doesn't end with a horribly lopsided victory for cosmic forces. Thor actually manages to wound the Phoenix somewhat if that term even applies. He actually proved the Protector's theory right. He was able to capture and contain some of the Phoenix Force's energy in what is the equivalent of a Ghostbuster's backpack. For a moment it seems like there's actual hope in this struggle. There may not actually be a need to throw a phoney Jean Grey into the teeth of this cosmic parrot. Of course, that shit would make too much sense. It turns out the Protector isn't too interested in preventing the planet from being charred like a buffalo wing. Even though his gal pal is there, he's still a Kree and when the Kree come across great energy they gravitate towards it like a fat man to a Dairy Queen. That means the issue ends with the Protector screwing them over, taking the contained piece of the Phoenix Force and preparing to return to the Kree Empire. It's like paying a hooker to knock your junk around and then stealing her purse after you're finished.

While I've never been nearly as passionate about the Avengers comics as I have the X-men comics, I do consider them a guilty pleasure from time to time. They're usually the books I read when I don't feel like getting worked up into frenzy after downing one too many shots of tequila. I'm sure it's different for those who see the Avengers in the same way that I see the X-men, but for this issue and the Avengers vs. X-men as a whole I think we can come together in a moment of harmony. We're not the Crips and Bloods making peace or anything. The stories in our respective books are entwined for this event and Brian Michael Bendis accomplishes this with the same seamless efficiency that others such as Kieron Gillen and Jason Aaron have managed.

This issue really expands on the more cosmic elements of this event. While much of the conflict is centered around Hope and the threat facing Earth, the universe is still a big fucking place even in the pages of a comic. This event should take some time to add a few cosmic elements and it definitely works here. The Protector is in the most awkward position because he's not just about saving the planet where his fuck buddy resides. He's got some baggage with the Kree and why shouldn't he? The Kree have a history of sticking their alien dicks in the business of humanity and when a cosmic force like the Phoenix takes interest, why shouldn't they take interest as well? It makes for some nice drama on top of the cosmic battle between Thor and the Phoenix Force. The only major issue is that the emotions were a bit light, even in the end when the Protector gave his friends a royal fuck you. It didn't have much impact when it probably could have, but given the history of the Kree I guess it shouldn't be too surprising. It's like finding out that Nigerian Prince that promised to marry you in exchange for your credit card information turned out to be a fraud.

Avengers #26 was probably the most fun I've had reading an Avengers comic in quite some time. Marvel has really done all the right things in tying other series into Avengers vs. X-men. I honestly can't remember the last time any comic company did such a good job of making the tie-ins fit together so nicely, but then again I can barely remember the last time I didn't pass out drunk next to a dumpster on St. Patrick's Day so what do I know? Well I do know that Brian Michael Bendis deserves praise for making this comic both awesome and relevant to the greater AvX tapestry. For that I give Avengers #26 a 4.5 out of 5. Space is one big unforgiving motherfucker, but when the Phoenix Force is involved expect even suicide missions to suck in ways that make every hangover you've ever had seem tame. Nuff said!

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