Thursday, July 19, 2012
Avengers vs. X-men #8 - Cosmic Destruction (of Awesome)
I don't pretend to know much about complex geopolitical situations. Unless it involves the precise formula that makes a perfect vodka/whiskey mix, my brain can only grasp a certain level of complexity. Considering how some of the most brilliant political minds on the planet couldn't figure out that invading Iraq was a shitty idea, I would say that nobody truly knows much about it. But I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that when you throw a massive tsunami at a country that's as friendly to outsiders as the KKK at a Wu Tang Clan concert definitely falls under the category of a geopolitical clusterfuck.
I admit the notion of throwing geopolitics into a big event like Avengers vs. X-men is like someone pouring gasoline into a tub of chocolate. You'll still eat it, but there's a chance your liver is going to crawl up out of your chest and kick your ass. However, that shit is pretty much unavoidable in the context of the story that Avengers vs. X-men is telling. Act 1 was basically Marvel finding ways and excuses to make the X-men and Avengers fight like two crack whores clawing at each other for the last rock of crack. They found pretty damn good excuses as well because it was pretty fucking awesome for the most part, but Act 2 has changed the nature of the struggle. Once Cyclops, Colossus, Emma, Namor, and Magic became drunk on Phoenix power thanks to Tony Stark's beta version of his Phoenix killer, they've been reshaping the world in a way you won't find outside a John Lennon song. They're finally standing up and saying "Enough with this war, bigotry, and Karl Rove bullshit! We're going to have world peace and prosperity for all and anyone who is against that can suck my Phoenix-powered cock!" Okay, so maybe they were a little nicer about it, but you get the premise.
Well the Phoenix Five's efforts to remake the world would be all peaches and pot brownies if the Avengers didn't still have Hope in their possession. Not only that, the Avengers keep picking fights with the Phoenix Five. To be fair that's because the Phoenix Five are now taking them prisoner, but considering how they took their mutant messiah that's somewhat understandable. Then in Avengers vs. X-men #7 this whole peace and love approach started to crack under the frustration of the Avengers sheltering this annoying redheaded bitch not named Jean Grey. So in a move that is sure to make Cyclops's penis shrivel, Emma Frost got cozy with Namor in the same way a stripper gets cozy with an executive from Goldman Sachs on bonus day and lets him know that the Avengers have Hope and a prisoner they took, Transonic, in Wakanda. Namor's solution? Lead a massive fucking wave attack on the most technologically advanced nation in the Marvel universe. Still makes more sense than the Iraq War.
Avengers vs. X-men #8 continues this geopolitical uber-fuck by following Namor as he lays waste to Wakanda in the same way Chris Christie lays waste to an all-you-can eat donut buffet. This isn't Iraq mind you where the army consists mostly of teenagers with guns, pick-up trucks, poor training, and no porn to jerk off to. This is Wakanda, the most technologically advanced nation in the Marvel Universe. The Avengers know they're pissing into the wind so they make sure Iron Man gets all his gear to K'un L'un while the Avengers prepare to take on Namor. I would almost rather have a prostate exam done giant squid.
Namor attacks the Avengers with is usual bravado that would soak the panties of any woman with daddy issues. But in addition to his usual towering testicle taunting, he offers a reminder of why he went behind Cyclops's back to begin with. He yells at Captain America for rejecting all this good shit the Phoenix is providing and for reasons that aren't entirely egoistical, he doesn't appreciate that. Now it's still possible to argue that the X-men have a good point about remaking the world and the Avengers have a good point about them having no accountability. But it's nice to see here that there's actual motivation behind Namor's stunt and for once it doesn't primarily involve finding a way to bone Emma Frost (although I'm sure that's a major factor).
Whatever morally gray argument can be made here is quickly lost dialog is traded for another epic-scale brawl. This time it's not the Avengers vs. the X-men. It's the Avengers vs. Namor with Phoenix powers. Even in that context, it still sounds like a pretty lopsided battle. But this time the Avengers have just one target and plenty of motivation with which to tenderize his sea-loving ass. This guy just laid waste to a country that happened to be the kingdom of one of their own. When shit gets that personal, geopolitics goes out the window faster than I do when I find out the hot chick that invited me up to her room to check out her thong collection had a retired marine with an M-16 collection for a father.
The battle that follows is richly detailed even if it is overly basic. It starts off with the Avengers landing a few punishing blows. However, you get the sense that Namor is just fucking with them and letting them get in a few free shots Rocky Balboa style so they can at least entertain the possibility that they may get out of this battle in one piece. But like Muhammad Ali with the rope-a-dope, he reminds them he's the fucking man real fast. He's not just the king of Atlantis with a taste for hot blondes now. He's the king of Atlantis with a taste for hot blondes and the fucking Phoenix Force. This means he can do shit like break Red Hulks arm and take a shot from Thor's hammer. It's as brutal as it sounds.
Now when someone goes out of their way to launch a full scale invasion of a country like Wakanda, that shit is bound to get noticed. Cyclops never sanctioned this shit at any point. He was content to let the Avengers run and hide while they focus on more important shit like ending world hunger and poverty. For once, that shit isn't sarcasm. But when Magneto tells him Namor is riding his titanic sized balls to a battle on Wakanda, he's understandably miffed. Emma brushes it off, telling him that he never should have expected to control a man with a hard-on for violence and hot blondes. Cyclops asks her if she knows anything about this (spoiler alert: she did and she fucking encouraged him) and she dances around the question. Yet Cyclops doesn't call her out on her shit and just prepares to reign Namor in.
This had the potential to be a very dramatic scene because Emma did something pretty fucked up here and it went beyond just lying to the guy she's currently sleeping with. She instigated this shit by telling Namor where the Avengers were and she faces absolutely no scrutiny. Given Cyclops has the Phoenix Force too, he has no fucking excuse. He should know his girl is being a deceitful bitch here and he does absolutely jack shit like he's done when he's not wielding the Phoenix Force. I could go on another long rant about how Marvel never develops any drama with Cyclops and Emma, but since future covers show them fighting in ways that would get them their own Jerry Springer special I'll hold off for now. But trust me when I say I've got my whiskey in hand in case we get the same dramatic acrobatics.
Back on Wakanda, the Avengers are still chasing their own tales against Namor. However, they had no intention of this being their last stand. Before Iron Man ran like a chicken shit to K'un L'un, he told Captain America about a secret weapon of sorts. Well that secret weapon had tits and is named the Scarlet Witch. It was already established in other issues that her powers actually hurt the Phoenix. Well this time they try to use a more direct approach and unleash Wanda on Namor. It makes for a very flashy battle that shows more struggle than a man taking a shit after binging on four jalapeno burritos.
The end result is a striking turn in the events of Avengers vs. X-men. Namor is actually defeated. Even with his bravado and the Phoenix Force, he couldn't come out on top this time. He falls to the ground (not dead mind you) and the Phoenix Force says "You lost, you pussy. I'm outta here." and leaves to link up with the four remaining Phoenix hosts. So not only do the Phoenix Five become the Phoenix Four, but they all become more powerful. It's yet another instance where the Phoenix is twisted in a new way. Plus, it sets a precedent for future conflicts. If someone can lose their Phoenix, then what's preventing them from a cosmic power struggle? It also leads you to wonder whether Emma knew about this and used Namor's desire to get into her pants to take his fragment of the Phoenix. The possibilities are vast and awesome.
But the twist with the Phoenix leads to another twist of the more fucked up variety. As the Phoenix Four are now absorbing their new power, Charles Xavier takes a break from jerking off in whatever hole he's been hiding in to telepathically scold Cyclops for what he's doing. He essentially tells Cyclops that while forcibly remaking the world with a power he knows full well is dangerous is all well and good, but now he's gone too far. He warns him to stop whatever he's doing or he will stop him. He's basically like a teenage boy's father trying to tell his kid to quit masturbating. Cyclops basically tells him to fuck off, but it still makes for a rather random moment for Xavier to rear his head again.
Now let's back up for a minute. Cyclops did NOT order this attack on Wakanda. Hell, he was the pacifist in the last issue. Yet Xavier is blaming him for this shit? In what parallel universe does that make sense? Cyclops did not contribute at all to this bullshit. It was all Namor, courtesy of Emma Frost dangling her pussy in front of him like a chocolate dipped strip of bacon. Aside from this latest clusterfuck, Cyclops's focus has been on making the world a Utopia. Yet Xavier is yelling at him? I'm starting to like that asshole better when he was crippled.
Xavier comes off as the biggest raging douche in Avengers vs. X-men to date and that includes cosmic entities. The rest of the Avengers were teleported to K'un L'un before the Phoenix Four could flex their new power, but they all concede that they might as well be Charlie Brown trying to kick the football from Lucy. They can beat one Phoenix if they throw everything they have at it, but it only ends up making the others stronger. Even with Hope and the Scarlet Witch, how the fuck are they going to beat that?
Reading this issue of Avengers vs. X-men is probably the simplest lesson in geopolitics anyone is ever going to learn anywhere at any time. The point is very simple. If you unleash a huge fucking attack on technologically advanced country, you're going to get your ass kicked even if you have a cosmic power and an ego the size of Montana. It also teaches the invaluable lesson that it's possible to fuck yourself over without a bottle of lube or a batch of bad crystal meth at a gay bar. This issue was largely dominated by the Avengers beating up on Namor and Namor trying to once again prove that his balls are bigger than all the world's oceans. Except in this case his balls couldn't take the strain and should probably stick to orgies with hot blondes. But while the bulk of the issue may have been overly basic, the outcome was a major turning point.
This is one comic where you could probably read the first few pages and the last few pages and still not miss a beat. Don't get me wrong. The middle parts are still pretty damn awesome and there's a certain smug satisfaction in watching the guy who likes to flirt with married women and steal kisses from other men's girlfriends get his ass kicked. However, there wasn't much else beyond that. The big theme here was that defeating one member of the Phoenix Five only emboldened the rest of the Phoenix wielders. It didn't just leave the Avengers more screwed than midget hooker at a bachelor party for NBA stars. It once again altered the nature of the Phoenix. Now it's concentrated in four X-men and how they handle that extra power may be the driving force behind their eventual downfall.
This major shift is what makes this comic worth reading. It's also what makes this issue awesome in the same mold as the other issues that have come before it. However, the bullshit by Charles Xavier along with the lack of details in the middle render it somewhat behind it's predecessors. But saying this is the weakest issue of Avengers vs. X-men is like saying it's the least attractive Playboy playmate in an orgy with Hugh Hefner. This is a solid issue that definitely changes the stakes for the Avengers and the X-men. As Act 2 draws to a close, it's setting the stage for some pretty fucking incredible struggles. For that, I give Avengers vs. X-men #8 a 4 out of 5. The king of Atlantis has fallen and so have his chances at a cosmic romp with Emma Frost. While he may be off the board, the rest of the Phoenix wielders have plenty of romping left. They're probably going to need some cosmic powered lube for Act 3, but I think it's safe to say they've ensured everybody's dick (or clit if your a lady comic lover) is hard enough to enjoy it. Nuff said!