Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Rant: The Phoenix Five and the Morality of Superheroes

I've had some time to think about the events of Avengers vs. X-men #5. I've pondered, pontificated, got drunk, took a few hits of acid, smoked some weed, and tapped the power of every brain cell I haven't yet killed. Usually when I do this the only conclusion I can reach is, "Fuck, I need more weed." But this time, some of those brain cells actually made a few connections and it has led me to a contemplate a certain topic in comics that is usually superseded by Emma Frost's bra size. That would be the topic of superheroes and morality.

Now I know the notion of having an admitted drunk who spends his spare time making dick jokes in comic book reviews talk about morality may seem more fucked up than an acrobatic nymphomaniac, but it is a serious issue that guides many stories throughout comics. Marvel, more so than any other comic company, loves to tell stories that involve morally gray conflicts. I'm not just talking about the kind of conflicts where you have to choke a puppy to save the life of 20 kittens either. I'm talking about the kind of conflicts that pit two sides against one another and both sides have a valid point to make.

One of those points being NOT to reveal your identity and NOT to get shot by your ex-girlfriend

Avengers vs. X-men hasn't had the same kind of social and political undertones as stories like Civil War. On the surface, it has the usual musings of your typical superhero brawl. One group of superheroes questions the size of another group's dick and they slug it out until one side proves their dick is bigger or they just bludgeon each other to the point where they agree that both their dicks can get the job done. Avengers vs. X-men offered somewhat more depth than that. This was another instance where both sides did have a valid point to make. They stem from two very different approaches to this conflict. That conflict involves the Phoenix Force, a power known for using entire planet to wipe it's butt, coming towards Earth in search of a new red-haired, green eyed host NOT named Jean Grey.

For the X-men, they're approach comes from the point of view of a species that's been endangered since House of M. Hope's arrival did bring 5 new mutants into the fold with the Five Lights. However, 5 new mutants to a dying race is like pissing in the ocean in an effort to refill it. They need something more to kick start their species and why not the Phoenix Force? The Scarlet Witch butt-fucked reality in so many different holes that the only way to even remotely undo the damage is to use something as powerful as the Phoenix Force. Moreover, the X-men have dealt with the Phoenix. They've seen Jean Grey and Rachel Grey control it for a while. That means it can be controlled and with it, they may be able to restart their dying species.

That's all well and good, but the Avengers come at it from the point of view that tampering with cosmic forces is like giving a pyromaniac 100 metric tons of napalm. Their job is and always has been to protect the Earth from the kinds of threats that would put Earth between the giant butt cheeks of evil and fart it out of existence. Given that the Phoenix has already ravaged more planets than Motley Crue has hotel rooms, they have plenty of reason to stop this shit even it means sacrificing a dying species. I mean, it's not like they're the ones that caused mutants to become endangered. Hell, they distanced themselves completely from the Scarlet Witch. Why should they give a fuck?

Can we agree to disagree? Fuck no!
The events of Avengers vs. X-men changed the moral landscape of this series in a huge way and I'm not just talking about a difference in approach towards cosmic entities that want to give Earth a planetary enema. Throughout the first few issues, another stark difference has emerged that Marvel hasn't really explored. In the Marvel universe, the Avengers and the X-men are both accomplished superhero teams that have saved the world more times than Chuck Norris pretends he did. Yet the Avengers are hailed as heroes, given parades and praise. People love them, women want to fuck them, and little kids dress up like them. By and large, they are beloved.

The X-men, however, are looked upon with the same appeal as malignant lump on one's scrotum or tits. They have superpowers like the Avengers, but they're seen as freaks and monsters. They are scorned by society and some actively work to wipe them out as was shown most recently in Second Coming. And what do the Avengers do about this vile public hate? Absolutely jack shit. Now I know I'm just a drunk, but how the fuck is that fair? How the fuck does that even make sense? In the first few issues of Avengers vs. X-men, Cyclops calls the Avengers out on their bullshit and they don't answer. They just say "Give us your messiah or we'll kick your ass and take her." They might as well have walked into a Star Trek convention dressed as storm troopers and asked Trekkies to hand over Leonard Nemoy.

Well Avengers vs. X-men #5 changed the whole dynamic of this difference between the Avengers and the X-men. And the Avengers have no one to blame but themselves. Tony Stark proved that no only is he a lousy drunk, but he also builds machines that do a shitty job of stopping cosmic forces. The Phoenix Force clearly wanted Hope. However, by fucking with it, he split the damn thing and now it's in five new hosts that the Avengers have been annoying the fuck out of for the past five issues. Thus we have the Phoenix Five, X-men imbued with the Phoenix Force and with more than enough reasons to flex their Phoenix muscle to help collapse the collective scrotum of every Avenger.

This is how the Avengers cure their constipation.
But the Phoenix Five do more than just bitch slap the Avengers for fucking with their messiah. Now that they have the Phoenix, they're planning to use this power to do more than just shit on planets or kill characters that have red hair and green eyes. They want to actually use this power to make the world a better place. They want to show the Avengers that they can do more good than they ever hoped they could. It seems like a much more humane way of proving their dicks are bigger, but it gets the point across.

In recent previews of upcoming issues, we've seen how the Phoenix Five plan to carry out this motive. In a preview of X-men Legacy #268, we see the Phoenix Five doing something the UN was originally planned to do and failed miserably at for the past 60. They're actually outlawing war and beating the shit out of those who try to keep the war going. With their Phoenix powers, they travel to war ravaged places like Africa and disarm the militias who think using civilians as target practice is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. They also talk about mind-wiping those who can't go more than five minutes without thinking about killing someone. While I'm generally against mind-control and psychic torture on general principle, when some people just can't fight the urge to maim I make exceptions.

We come in peace, motherfucker.

This creates another moral quandary that Marvel (or DC for that matter) has yet to explore. Is it right to impose this kind of peace on a world that has never taken kindly to those who impose? Even if a cause is just, trying to impose it will create more outrage than strippers at Sunday School. I mean we live in a country where people get outraged when the President tries to impose universal health care on the last industrialized country that doesn't have it. So how the fuck do you think people will react when five all-powerful figures descend from the sky and say killing each other for no reason is no longer cool?

It creates a very shady ethical question. Is using the raw force of the Phoenix to impose peace on Earth just? Moreover, is it ethical to just stand by and let people keep dying while trying to pursue less forceful but less effective means of peace? Let's face it, the Avengers spend their days fighting off Thanos and Loki. They tend not to give a fuck about stopping wars in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, South America, and Texas. They just say, "Eh, let the UN handle it." Never mind that the UN couldn't even get the tiny country of Mauritania to outlaw slavery until 2007. They save the planet, yet they let millions die every day when they have the power to stop it? I mean fuck they have a billionaire, a demigod, a super soldier, and a Hulk at their disposal. Yet they can't find a way to tell the Israelis and Palestinians to cut the violence and shit? That's fucked up right into the stratosphere.

At the same time, there's still the question of using tyranny to fight tyranny. It's like using intolerance to fight intolerance. It's a very blurry ethical line that isn't easily managed. The Phoenix Five could make the whole world into a peace-loving utopia that would finally make Bono shut the fuck up. But that doesn't make what they did or how they did it right. It also doesn't make the Avengers victims either because it's their fucking fault for making the Phoenix Five in the first place. It's the kind of story that hasn't been told or debated in comics before and I'm glad Marvel is finally doing something like this. However it ends, it'll raise some pretty unsettling questions about heroes and their roles. In the meantime, I suppose the only thing we can agree on is how hot Emma Frost looks in Phoenix gear.

Phoenix Force + Boobs = Awesome

12 comments:

  1. I've read your blog, and you were right,. avx did open a rift and blurred the exact definition of morality. IMO,. It;s high time that heroes actually DO something for the better, even if it involves a bit of coercion. Moreover, Jean Grey might have not known the actual potential of the Phoenix Force., she also had some personal issues that needed to be resolved. The Phoenix 5, however, have already realised the urgency of the situation, enough to spark the idea of using the Phoenix Force to not only bring back mutants (hopefully), but heal the entire world as well. Yes, the Phoenix is such a prominent threat, but it can be the ultimate solution if used and controlled effectively.

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  2. Thanks for the comment, Maj. You may be right. Perhaps Jean Grey really didn't know the extent to which the Phoenix Force could be utilized. Maybe something in the Phoenix Force has changed since Endsong and Warsong. Whatever the case, the issue of coercion to impose peace is still a very shaky issue because there are so many factors to consider. While it may be considered wrong to coerce others, sometimes doing so does result in less harm. But it's impossible to tell just how great that harm would have been. However, we're dealing with something psychic here. So maybe the line isn't as blurred as it could be. In the end, it may just be an issue of power corrupting the Phoenix Five because even though they're all powerful now, they're still human. It'll be interesting to see how that affects the course of the event.

    Jack

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  3. is it me or is it funny when captain america said take the beach was he referring to the beach???or hope???or cyclops??? LOL

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  4. So the Phoenix is cleaning up humanity and war...instead of undoing the fucking "no more mutants" thing. The biggest amoral fuckers are MARVEL. They keep fucking with us and teasing that Hope is Jean and even bringing the fire bird and spreading it like an STD! The Avengers come off looking like a bunch of assholes trying to kill a little girl among a group of critical endangered people. Captain America should just fuck a panda up the ass with a condom made from tiger skin. Amoral writers/editors can't produce anything close to a moral story in a giant over sized/over priced crossover. They can't even stay true to their own bullshit. When Hope was born they did this whole Cable vs. Bishop bullshit, now that's been forgotten and there's not only this new direction, but some made up bullshit about the past of the Phoenix while not even mentioning it's attachment to Jean's fire crotch. The Phoenix isn't a threat. Marvel is the threat.

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  5. I've always thought that the X-Men (and mutants in general) really didn't belong in the same universe as the rest of the Marvel U. I mean you have groups like the Avengers and Fantastic Four which were public entities for pretty much ever and lauded as heroes and celebrities of the highest order, where the X-Men and mutants are shunned because of their powers. I really doubt in a real universe John Q public would be that discerning of how super beings came about whether it was by some freak accident, cosmic waves, or luck of the genes. Since they all end up causing about the same amount of strife and property damage just chalking it up to an "image thing" always fell flat for me. That's why Civil War, strange as it was, was interesting to read. If I lived in Marvel U I might be pretty sick of costumed loonies running around too.

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  6. I agree. It is somewhat fucked that the X-men are scorned while other superheroes are celebrated. I think the difference is that mutants are harder to control and not every mutant seeks to be a hero. Then again, not everyone with superpowers seeks to be a hero either so I don't think that's a valid excuse. Part of why I don't mention other heroes in my X-men Supreme series is because I want to highlight the mutant struggle. I hope Marvel finds a way to bring that up with AvX. There's still two acts to go so we'll have to wait and see.

    Jack

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  7. i think everyone hates hope cause she looks like jean, has the phoenix coming for her like jean and especially annoying dresses like jean with the whole green and yellow thing like when jean first startesd out

    btw yellow and green is UGLY

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  8. Yes, that's definitely part of it. Hope is definitely leeching off Jean Grey's imagery. Marvel has a lot of red-haired, green eyed women, but throw the Phoenix into the mix and that's not just similar. Thta's a fucking ripoff.

    Jack

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  9. Personally I think Jean looks better with the Pheoinx

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  10. Fuck yes, Jean looks better as Phoenix. She IS the Phoenix. Accept no shitty replacement characters. Nuff said!

    Jack

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  11. If you are not Reed Richards, you have no business building or firing a machine to take down a cosmic being!!!

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  12. Yet even Reed has been known to screw it up so I really think that's a tentative rule at best. lol

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