Thursday, May 3, 2012
Avengers vs. X-men #3 - Strategic Awesome
There's always a moment of awkwardness when you're on a drinking bender and you wake up in some stranger's bed naked with a ball gag and a butt plug and you can't remember how you got into this position. In my experience, claiming you were rehearsing for an acting gig in a low-budget porno helps make the man/woman/transvestite slightly less upset. It probably doesn't work as well if you're an X-man and you just got done fighting the Avengers. It probably doesn't help that the very red-haired, green-eyed, non-Jean Grey reason you were fighting flashed some Phoenix flares and ran off. It's like two drug dealers fighting over turf while a cunning junkie looking for some freebies sneaks in and swipes their stash of blow.
This is the situation in Avengers vs. X-men more or less, minus the blow unfortunately. Marvel's epic ball-busting event hit the ground running with the first two issues and really shot a nice dose of crystal meth into the mix with the previous issue. In just two issues Marvel effectively delivered on what they promised. They said that this event would have the Avengers and the X-men beating the shit out of each other and that's exactly what we got in Avengers vs. X-men #2. It was an epic struggle made possible by Cyclops essentially giving the finger to Captain America when he demanded that they hand over Hope. The struggle filled the issue with action almost as worthy as a bar fight between Eagles fans and Giants fans. However, with ten more issues to go you couldn't expect one side to tap out that quickly.
This is where it gets a little fucked up. During the battle in Avengers vs. X-men #2, Wolverine said "Fuck it, I'm going after the pretty redhead that looks like the married woman I tried to bone." He thought he could end this conflict by giving Hope a nice adamantium special. In a move that struck a blow for redheads everywhere, she flared her Phoenix glory and fried Wolverine to bone before going AWOL on both sides. It's at least partially a dick move, but you get to see Wolverine burnt to a crisp so that's a bonus.
Avengers vs. X-men #3 begins with a scene similar to what I described earlier with the ball gag and butt plug. Wolverine wakes up on Utopia after being out for a bit, not unlike a bender but with more third degree burns. Spider-Man is there waiting for him, likely chuckling at his junk with a new set of clothes. He tells Wolverine that after Hope left, everyone had an awkward moment and stopped fighting. Then Cyclops decided to surrender. So there you have it! The X-men lost AvX and the Avengers won! Wait...you mean there's still 9 more issues left? Well fuck me with a pineapple. Something done gone horribly wrong and Wolverine picks up on it.
Now all the X-men are subdued, docile, and defeated (I'll give you a minute to roll your eyes). The Avengers gather them in the center of Utopia where they now have to decide just what the fuck they're going to do with all these defeated X-men. Apparently, they really didn't think that far ahead. It's like invading a sovereign country without any plans to rebuild it after...okay, bad example. But it leads to another difficult issue. The X-men made their own fucking country with Utopia so technically does that mean they're even subject to US law?
Even if you believe international law isn't bullshit, what the fuck do you charge them with? The Avengers are the ones that came onto their soil and demanded they fork over one of their most valuable citizens. Unless you're fucking Poland, you don't take that shit. It makes for a pretty tense moment between Captain America and Iron Man. In it Iron Man likens Captain America to the position he was in during Civil War where he thought it was a good idea to start locking up superheroes for no reason. Seeing as how that ended with Cap getting his ass shot, that should be cause for concern. But it's an interesting parallel. Did Marvel bring it up for a reason? Probably not, but I guess that depends on how stoned they were when they planned this shit.
Everything is getting pretty heated and no one seems to know just what the fuck they can do at this point, never mind the fact that Hope is now missing. While they're arguing, Dr. Strange shows up with an unconscious Magik in his arms. In the last issue, he had to travel to some mystic dimension and face off against a homicidal teenage girl who took Buffy the Vampire Slayer way too seriously. It shouldn't be too tough for a man of Dr. Strange's skill to take her down. Well guess what? Apparently the Sorcerer Supreme can handle Dormamu, but not a teenage girl (to be fair Dormamu probably doesn't deal with teenage girls in his dimension so fuck him). Magik pulled a spell that essentially only made it look like Dr. Strange beat her, just like Marvel only made it look like Spider-Man was married. Wolverine, who didn't buy Cyclops's surrender for a second, shows up in just in time to call out his bullshit. It's not fast enough though. Magik exposes the spell and then teleports the X-men away with Cyclops presumably giving the Avengers the finger. It's not the kind of twist that will make you question the potency of your weed, but it works pretty damn well. Now Captain America must take a moment to retrieve his collapsed testicles.
The battle between the X-men and the Avengers is not even close to being over. While the X-men go into hiding and the Avengers regroup, Hope has to find a way to completely unfuck her situation. After deep frying Wolverine, she goes into hiding and tries to assemble a gizmo that she hopes will keep either side from tracking her. Why would she want to stay hidden? Does she really think they'll stop fighting just because she goes on the run? This is not explained. If anything, it's fucking glossed over. This scene really accomplishes nothing aside from reminding readers that Hope is still the Phoenix's main target. She still thinks she can handle the fucking Phoenix Force better than some other red-haired, green eyed mutant that wasn't nearly as big a bitch (her name escapes me). But while she's making her little gizmo, she looks into the mirror and sees another Phoenix flash. It's a nice reminder that bratty teenage redheads that think they can handle cosmic forces are in for a rude fucking awakening.
With no X-men in custody to interrogate or send to Dick Cheney's basement, they turn to other allies in an effort to find Hope. As it just so happens, Wolverine runs a school full of mutants that includes a powerful telepath related to Jean Grey (from an alternate dimension mind you, but still) and a working Cerebro. They get in touch with Rachel, who does a quick scan only to inform them that she picked up a signal in 5 different locations ranging from the Savage Land to Latveria. Why the Phoenix Force couldn't flash in a place like Las Vegas or a German brothel is beyond me, but fuck if the Avengers don't have their work cut out for them.
But there's a problem with this whole report. Earlier in the comic, Cyclops and the X-men slipped back under the radar. They knew that if they were going to find Hope, they needed a working Cerebro. Well Cyclops decided to test Rachel's loyalty to a guy that tried to fuck her mother and guess what? Blood is thicker than guys obsessed with married redheads. Rachel is revealed to be working with Cyclops from the Jean Grey Institute. It's another twist that isn't too mind-blowing, but it sets up some very interesting dynamics because it means Cyclops is pulling the strings while Captain America is being led astray faster than anyone who listens to Alex Jones's radio show.
Despite the inherent danger of trusting the alternate dimension daughter of his enemy, Captain America divides the Avengers up into five teams so they can head out to each location in search of Hope. Now this guy is supposed to be the best strategies since General Patton and he's running around like a drunk monkey trying to handle his own shit. If that makes me unpatriotic, then I apologize to the NSA and DOJ who I know read everything on the internet.
But Captain America is less worried about the traps he's walking into and more about the loyalty of his own people. After he drags Wolverine along on his team to the Savage Land, he pulls him aside to tell him that running off on his own in an effort to stab Hope is not cool. He sounds reasonable at first, discouraging the murder of a teenage girl that may or may not be the new host for the Phoenix Force. But consider for a moment that Wolverine has way more experience with the Phoenix Force and it's killed people he deeply cares about (namely a red-haired, green-eyed woman not named Hope). He knows this thing. Captain America doesn't and he seems to think that just imprisoning her will stop the Phoenix Force from getting to her. Yeah, I don't care if you are a war hero, but even brain damaged dog knows that's bullshit.
Not one to take such insubordination lightly, Captain America decides to knock some sense into Wolverine. They start fighting with the same epic, emotional tenacity that hasn't been shown since the battle between Cyclops and Wolverine in Schism. Damn, this marks the second old friend of his that he's not come to blows with. Either this guy has a temper or his social skills suck. The fight that ensues spans multiple pages and is depicted beautifully. It's not as epic as the big Avengers/X-men brawl in the previous issue, but this one still has serious impact because to this point Wolverine has been an Avenger. Well here it looks like he can pretty much cancel his invitation to Tony Stark's next birthday party/orgy.
Wolverine and Captain America bloody each other up as much as you can expect for a fight that takes up a good chunk of the comic. However, this is a battle Wolverine wasn't going to win. He's on a jet with other Avengers and after Cap determines he's not going to beat any sense into this man, he calls on Giant Man to come over and kick his ass off the jet and out of the Avengers...literally. It marks a major turning point and not just because Wolverine gets his ass kicked again and tossed out of yet another superhero team. Captain America just threw away the only guy in the Avengers who knows the Phoenix Force. He now is essentially moving forward in this battle with one hand tied behind his back, an eye gouged out, and a testicle missing. So while the Avengers may have won the fight in the last issue, they're in the process of fucking themselves out of future fights.
I'm sure this isn't too much consolation for Wolverine. The man has to fall a few thousand feet from the sky and into the ocean. I'm sure he's sustained worse at a Korean whore house, but now he's once again on his own and he'll have to carve his own way through this battle. He's not going to side with Cyclops. Not after the shit in Schism. Captain America made it clear he's not welcome with the Avengers anymore. So what's a deranged anti-social Canadian with a thing for stabbing redheads to do? Well that and all the other twists are set to unfold in the next issue so if all you wanted was to see Wolverine get his ass kicked and humbled, I think this issue should have a special place in your heart.
After an issue like Avengers vs. X-men #2, it's unreasonable and pretty douchy to expect the next issue to deliver on the same epic scale. You might as well ask Pamela Anderson to fuck you with another pair of perfect tits. I've seen a few reviews of this issue on the web and a lot of them bitch and moan about how there wasn't much action in this and not enough progression. I think those reviewers need to do what I do and get drunk before they review each comic because there's no way their sober minds are capable of grasping the bigger picture with comics like this. Avengers vs. X-men #3 is awesome, but in a different way compared to the previous issue. It moves the story forward and throws in a few twists. In the scheme of a large event like this, you couldn't ask for better progression and any comic reviewer that says otherwise must be kicked in the balls by law.
Now that's not to say I think this issue is as awesome as it's predecessor. It isn't, but not by much. Some details were glossed over, namely the scene with Hope. It really didn't do much aside from reminding readers that she's still on the Phoenix Force's shit list. And aside from Iron Man and Captain America, none of the other Avengers really said much. Given the size and scope of this mission, you would think that one of them would have had some shit to say. We didn't even get to see how the battle in space with Thor's team panned out, which I know was handled in another comic but still. There were just too many background characters that didn't get to play a part. Granted, it made for a longer and more drawn out brawl with Wolverine and Captain America, but it still comes off as somewhat lacking.
Whatever was glossed over was more than made up for with the smooth, efficient way in which this issue moved the event forward. It flowed nicely from the events of the previous issue and set up a wide range of additional conflicts that promise to span all corners of the globe. As it stands, it's not clear which side has the upper hand or the moral high ground for that matter. Marvel is playing a careful balancing act with each side and right now that balance is worthy of a circus act. I give Avengers vs. X-men #3 a 4.5 out of 5. I don't know what strange place they'll emerge in the next issue. But like waking up in a stranger's bed, it always means there was some pretty awesome shit leading up to it. Nuff said!