Thursday, May 17, 2012
Avengers vs. X-men #4 - Cosmic Awesome Arrives
Sorry ladies, but I don't have much time for foreplay this time. I know when I review a comic, I like to get the blood flowing to the right areas by easing into the underlying theme of my review. I call it my fanboy roofie, only it's legal and won't get me black-listed in every college town in the United States and Canada. Thank heavens for low standards and piss poor drug laws in Mexico, but that's besides the point. This isn't a time to be cute or witty. In case someone hit you over the head with a piece of heavy mining equipment, Marvel is in the midst of a big ass event that has provided abundant excuses for the X-men and the Avengers to beat the shit out of each other. For once, the professional cynics/douche-bags that think they're somehow less douchy by not buying into big hype can't say it's a gimmick. The X-men and the Avengers have a damn good reason to beat each other up. A giant fucking firebird is speeding towards Earth looking to take a giant flaming shit on their planet or kick start a dying race, they can't seem to figure that part out. One side wants to use the Phoenix. One wants to destroy it. And like negotiating with North Korea, diplomacy has failed and the only solution at this point involves beating the piss out of each other.
Three issues in and Avengers vs. X-men has met and at times exceeded the lofty expectations that Marvel went to great lengths to overinflate. So far the battle has been pretty fucking intense, full of trick moves that double as a subtle fuck you and several shifts in scenery as Hope Summers plays the part of a bitchy teenage girl who knows she's in deep shit very well. It's been full of action and suspense. You get the sense that the clock is ticking and that giant cosmic parrot isn't getting any less pissed off. But with a 12 issue biweekly series, how many ways can Marvel make the Avengers and the X-men want to reasonably beat each other up? Well so far it's been done quite well, but the story needs to move forward. A big problem with most events is that they can start with a bang, but then they turn into that hot chick that's completely willing to fuck you but is struggling to get out of her pants while you're waiting there on the bed awkwardly with a hard-on and a beer buzz that's not getting any stronger. Nobody likes moments like that whether you're trying to get laid or in a comic book. So Avengers vs. X-men has to find enough ways to avoid that awkwardness for 12 issues. They couldn't do it in 7 with Fear Itself, so they have their work cut out for them.
But enough shit about the difficulty of making an overhyped book deliver. I know my drunken rants aren't even the top five reasons why people read this blog. You want to know what the fuck is going on with Avengers vs. X-men. In the last issue, Wolverine got himself thrown out of a fucking jet and Hope managed to lure the X-men and Avengers to five different locales where they can kick each others' ass. This was all done on purpose because Hope does actually have a plan. Now I've rarely come across a plan by a damaged 16-year-old girl that I've ever considered smart. Sexy? Probably. Kinky? Definitely. Illegal? More often than not. Yet she's the one this cosmic parrot is after so she has to have a plan. Avengers vs. X-men #4 begins by revealing part of that plan, which involves her laying beer traps for Wolverine so she can hunt him down wherever he was dropped over Antarctica. Now this answers one question while raising another. For one, it explains how Wolverine managed to get back to the Jean Grey Institute in the Wolverine and the X-men tie-in. But how the fuck did Hope get a jet to fly to Antarctica? I've seen many hot 16-year-olds get some pretty crazy shit. It usually involved blow-jobs, bondage, or costumes depicting Japanese school girls but it was never enough to get her a fucking jet. Hope claims she had help from Quentin Quere, which makes almost as much sense but doesn't make for very good porno.
I suppose the readers are just supposed to use their imagination as to how the mutant messiah got that jet. That's okay. I have a sick enough mind to fill in the dots. Marvel is much more generous in giving details about Thor's battle with the Phoenix. It wasn't touched on in the last issue, but it has been covered in various tie-in issues. All you really need to know about those issues is that confronting the Phoenix Force in space is about as smart as sticking your dick into den of fire ants. Pretty much the whole team that went after the Phoenix Force failed miserably. Thor, having to flex his godly balls, tries to lay the hammer down on the cosmic pigeon. It makes for a nice spectacle, but is about as effective as you would expect. In other words, the Phoenix decides to scorch another planet before showing Thor that while he may be a god on Earth, he might as well be flea on her cosmic ass.
It's only slightly less tense when Hope lures Wolverine onto the jet she may have sucked a few dicks to get. Remember, this guy tried to fucking stab her a few issues ago so seeking him out is like trying to bone the woman that cut out one of your testicles again. But she placates him with free beer. I admit that's probably the most brilliant tactic ever for handling Wolverine short of presenting him with an army of Jean Grey clone strippers. Once he's had enough to drink, Hope tries to convince him that she can handle the Phoenix. She can use it to do more re-birthing and less torching. Wolverine is understandably skeptical and rightfully so. This thing still killed the women he never got a chance to bone. But Hope manages to convince him to give her a chance. And if she fails, she trusts him to end her ass where she stands. It makes a twisted bit of sense, trusting the guy that tried to kill you to stop you before you fail miserably. It's extreme, but something like that sure would come in handy if you had a chance to fuck Jessica Alba and couldn't live with the fact of failing.
Hope and Wolverine now have their plan. The X-men still have theirs as well. After pulling a little Houdini on the Avengers in the last issue, the X-men went into hiding and split up to take on the Avengers in the 5 locations where Rachel Grey detected Hope's signature. At first it seemed like only the Avengers knew of those locations. Well, she might have hit a psychic Reply All and sent it to the X-men as well so naturally the X-men followed suit in hoping of finding Hope before the Avengers. All the while, Cyclops and Emma are hanging back at a safehouse that happens to be an old Hellfire Club hangout (yeah, nothing ominous about that). Since they can't rely on Rachel Grey to keep bullshitting Wolverine at the Jean Grey Institute, they look to get the drop on the Avengers through whatever deceitful way they can manage. When you have a hot blonde telepath with a boob job, there's no other way to operate.
Emma flexes her ovaries (or tits if you will) here and uses her telepathic talents to hijack the weakest mind at the Jean Grey Institute, which happens to be Toad. It's not enough that he has to clean up the shit left behind by teenagers. He's now Emma Frost's meat puppet and his mind is used to link up to Cerebra so they can evesdrop on the battles going on in Tabula Rasa, the Savage Land, Latveria, Wakanda, and Wundagore. As she reviews each battle, we get a quick glimpse of the ongoing struggle. It's very brief and doesn't offer much detail on the ongoing battles. That's probably to be expected since they are handled in other tie-ins, but the details are still extremely light. If you're too cheap for tie-ins, then you'll be confused. Then again if you're cheap enough to avoid some of the quality Avengers vs. X-men tie-ins that have come out lately, then you have problems that go far beyond your cheapness and I suggest you see a doctor or an unlicensed Mexican pharmacist.
After some thorough scanning, Emma Frost finds what she needs in the Savage Land. Her intent was to look in on the mind of Captain America and not just to pick up on his old perverse fantasies about Elanor Roosevelt. As Cap is fighting the X-men in the Savage Land, he's communicating with Iron Man as he's making what he hopes is a weapon that will kill a cosmic entity. He offers some brief insight into the nature of the Phoenix Force, explaining that it was forged in the very creation of the universe so they have to duplicate those conditions to take it down. Again, the details are exceedingly light, but that's not the point. The point is that as soon as Captain America finds out where Hope is, the X-men find out as well. How does he find out? Well that's where it gets a little tricky and at the risk of getting ahead of myself, I'm going to smoke a quick joint before I spoil it!
Before I need to run to the nearest 7/11 for a bag of Doritos, I'll try to explain some of Hope's plan. It involves getting a rocket ship that can take them into space. First a jet and then a rocket? I'm sorry, but there aren't enough dicks for a 16-year-old to suck for something like that. Luckily, Wolverine just threatens one of the fine folk at AIM to lend them one. Since needless self-sacrifice is not a job requirement for AIM, he assists Hope and Wolverine in getting their rocket. He might have still given it to her if Hope put on a Catwoman outfit and offered to drink his milk, but I guess Wolverine's claws are just as effective. Again, it still doesn't make for good porno.
The rocket takes Hope and Wolverine to a very familiar locale for all you Phoenix fans. They head to the moon, the same desolate world where Jean Grey (or a mock-up of her) sacrificed herself the first time the Phoenix fucked with the Marvel universe. I guess Hope figured she's not enough of a Jean Grey ripoff yet so she might as well piss on her grave even more. Except this time there's another little twist and this one is even more surprising than the one the X-men pulled a few issues ago.
As soon as Hope arrives, she finds the Avengers there waiting for them. Wait...how the fuck did they find her? Did she not go through the trouble of sending them on a wild goose chase? Well Wolverine must have really apologized to Captain America because he flat out betrayed Hope and led the Avengers right to her. This from a guy who got thrown out of a jet in the previous issue. Captain America is usually pretty forgiving, but this puts him in Jesus Christ territory. That and Wolverine really doesn't trust the Phoenix not to fuck up another redhead. It's a hell of a surprise and one that feels very satisfying. It's even more satisfying when the X-men show up right behind the Avengers. They've been in this position before and they knew the girl that's drawing the Phoenix Force isn't going to stay tame for long.
The stage is set for yet another Avengers vs. X-men clash. You could argue that at this point the fighting is getting old, but you douche-bags will have to find another thing to bitch about because they don't get a chance. As they're about to rip into each other, Thor comes crashing down after being disciplined by the Phoenix in ways that a Catholic School Nun can only dream of. The Avengers did their best to slow that cosmic parrot down and they failed miserably because the Phoenix has arrived. It is on the moon, it has it's host, and there's nothing anyone can do to stop it. And fuck me with a cactus, we have to wait another three weeks to see what happens next.
It's times like this I want to waterboard Doc Brown from Back to the Future until he builds another time machine so I can avoid waiting more than three fucking weeks to see what happens. Yes, I'm willing to fuck up the entire space-time continuum in order to see what happens next with this series. That may be music to the ears of Marvel's marketing team and share-holders, but for the average Joe who isn't able to beat a time machine out of someone it sucks donkey balls. The mere frustration you feel at how this issue ended just as the Phoenix Force arrived shows that regardless of the details, this was a pretty fucking awesome issue. Every aspect of the conflict was covered at least in part. The details may have been light in some areas, but that's what the tie-in issues are for. You don't need to know those details in this book. You just need to know that they all fit together in a way that culminates on the moon in a way that should have Chris Claremont reaching for a pair of late 70s bell bottom pants, a DVD of Saturday Night Fever, and a few lines of freshly cut Columbian blow. Even if you don't know shit about the history of the Phoenix, you're either dead or stoned to the point of coma to not know how vital the arrival of the Phoenix Force is to this story.
At times it felt like this issue tried to do too much, covering all five battles in each locale while moving the plot with Hope and the Phoenix forward. It even feels a bit condensed at times because not everything seems to sync up. How Hope got her hands on a jet that could fly to Antarctica isn't explained. And unless you read Wolverine and the X-men #10, you would never know he dropped by the Jean Grey Institute to tell his students they're fucked before heading out with Hope. I know it's a real bitch to make every tie-in fit with the event, but even a passing mention in a thought bubble would have sufficed. It's those little things that keep good comics from being awesome. However, this is one instance where negating some of those details made the comic feel more cohesive overall so unless you're so anal that you go into cultivations when someone uses the word irregardless in a sentence, it's easy to overlook.
Marvel has built this event up in a way that has been so cock-smashingly thrilling that if it were a ride at an amusement park, you would have to sign a medical waiver less your heart explodes from sheer awesome. The battle against the X-men and the Avengers has grown and expanded, but not in a way that feels forced or contrived. This issue really provided a sense of coherence to the overall conflict, culminating in the arrival in the very source of that conflict. It couldn't have come together more nicely if you smothered it in bacon grease and served it on a double cheeseburger. Even if it doesn't quite gel with every detail of the tie-ins, it gels enough for me to give it a perfect 5 out of 5. Four issues in and Avengers vs. X-men is delivering in every aspect so far. Can it be sustained? I've been over-excited before and let down more than Cleveland Browns fans, but I'm willing to risk it again even if it means another blow to the head! I've already killed enough brain cells with comics and various exotic substances. For comics like this, brain damage is more than worth it! Nuff said.