Saturday, July 28, 2012
X-men Legacy #270 - Prisoners of Awesome
There are many different interpretations of Hell. Whether you're religious, non-religious, or one of those new age hippies that thinks trees can write poetry you have some idea of what a shitty death would entail. For a guy like me who has done as much as any drunk to reserve a spot Satan's anus, Hell is being stuck in traffic on a hot summer day while listening to Rush Limbaugh for all eternity with no weed. Some still prefer the fire and brimstone classics as depicted by middle eastern goat herders or Italian poets, but the Marvel universe has always offered a colorful blend of hellish imagery. While Marvel does plenty to ensure they don't piss of the Ned Flanders's off the world, they do know how to paint a pretty hellish image.
The latest Avengers vs. X-men tie-in with X-men Legacy didn't start with any hellish imagery. It involved two powerful women, Rogue and Miss Marvel, beating the shit out of each other over a petty disagreement involving the merits of the Phoenix Five's whole Pax Utopia policy. Or maybe they were arguing over who Johnny Depp would go down on first. It could really be either, but it made for an epic brawl between two characters that had a long list of reasons to beat each other up. It was so entertaining that it was more heavenly than hellish. But then at the end, Rogue was basically smacked upside the head with the equivalent of a bloody dildo when Magik showed up and revealed what the Phoenix Five was doing to captured Avengers. They weren't throwing them in jail or giving them any of that due process shit that the pussies at the ACLU whine about. They were throwing their asses into a little slice of Limbo they had brought to Earth.
Now for those of you playing the home game, Limbo isn't the Marvel equivalent of Hell but it's pretty damn close. It's hot, desolate, dangerous, and full of monsters. Hell, it's not unlike Lady Gaga concert, but with slightly less wailing screams. This is where Magik, who now possesses a part of the Phoenix Force, got her soul fucked up to the point where she might as well let an army of devils gangbang it. So of course she would be okay with throwing Earth's Mightiest Heroes into this pit. Rogue, however, doesn't quite agree to say the least.
X-men Legacy #270 involves Rogue coming to the harsh realization that maybe a cosmic force will fuck up your notions of justice, especially if you give it to a teenage Russian girl who used to hang out in Limbo the same way most girls hang out in Robert Pattinson's bathroom. Whether through arrogance or to just rub it in the face of a woman that had to see Magneto naked, Magik gives Rogue a tour of the prison she's created for the captured Avengers. It's not so much a prison as it is a slice of Hell. And I'm not talking about John Wayne Gayce's basement type hell. Magik has the Phoenix Force. She took a literal slice of Limbo, which would qualify as Hell by most definitions, and set it up so that the Avengers were trapped in special cells where they could only contemplate about escaping yet never achieve it. This proves my theory that I formulated back in middle school. Teenage girls truly have the capacity for the greatest amount of evil.
If you think I'm overstating my theory, consider what Illyana tells Rogue about her little slice of hell. She claims they're not suffering. The prisoners are just in a hell of their own making. Each cell has a torment tailored specifically to keep them from ever escaping. So if your Hawkeye, you can't use your agility because your limbs have been turned into snakes. If your Spider-Woman, you can't charm your way out of it because you're stuck to the web of a giant spider. I imagine if your Northstar, you have your dick surgically attached to the assholes that run Chick-Fil-A. How this isn't causing them suffering is logic so twisted that only a teenage girl could find a way to justify it. It's like that girl back in high school that convinced me to stick my dick in her father's shotgun. And even if they escape, she has endless hoards of Limbo monsters to keep them inside. It's almost as bad as having your dick stuck in a shotgun.
Needless-to-say, Rogue exceptionally pissed that the Phoenix wielding friends she trusted have turned into such cosmic-sized douche-bags. Moreover, Magik's little tour essentially proved Miss Marvel right. She went through all the trouble to tell Miss Marvel she was full of shit in the previous issue and now she just found out she's wrong. That's like convincing yourself you just fucked the hottest chick in Mexico only to find out immediately after that she was a tranny all along. While you may spend the next day or so vomiting uncontrollably, Rogue doesn't have that luxury. After talking to herself for a while and saying what an idiot she was, she decides that she has to basically go back and apologize for all that hot girl-on-girl action in the previous issue. I can think of few harsher conversations that don't involve me without my pants on.
Magik leaves Rogue to find another way back home so she can go off and haul more Avengers to her new hell. She might as well have left a recovering alcoholic tend a bar during happy hour at the Hard Rock casino. Rogue storms right back into Limbo and confronts Magik's monstrous pets. In order to fight through, she decides she has to absorb one so she can become that much less doable and sneak into the prison. It sounds like a good idea on paper just like the Iraq war, but she quickly finds out that absorbing a monster means fighting that monster both externally and internally. So she doesn't just have to search for Miss Marvel. She has to wrestle for control of her body. In that sense it's not unlike being a woman trying to get an abortion in Mississippi.
It's a somewhat overly drawn out struggle against the monster, but she does manage to make her way to Miss Marvel. When she arrives, she finds a very disoriented Miss Marvel. For all she knows, she's been stuck in this hell since bell bottoms went out of style in the 70s. She also reveals that she's had numerous encounters with friends claiming to want to help her escape, but they all ended up being illusions (a little fail-safe that was explored in another tie-in that you should totally read). It takes a moment for Rogue to convince her she's not another hallucination. For me, unless she has green skin and a tail, it's hard to convince me of anything when I'm tripping. But she just tells Miss Marvel that she was wrong for kicking her ass and follows her lead.
I get that Rogue had to admit she was wrong. I get that she had to really humble herself in some very bad circumstances. However, this moment was completely lacking in any sort of drama or impact. Rogue spent an entire issue proving her case with the Phoenix Five. Now she just says, "Oops, I fucked up!" and that's the end of it? Miss Marvel didn't even make much of a scene. Given her temperament in other comics, I find that to be a missed opportunity and a gross oversight for a comic that has prided itself on being driven by melodrama.
Instead of drama, we get Rogue and Miss Marvel fighting off hoards of Limbo monsters. Okay, so it's not that bad a trade-off. I'll gladly exchange a little bit of drama for two beautiful women fighting their way out of Hell. It's not a completely fair trade though. It's akin to trading Phillip Rivers for Alex Smith. You're not getting much value out of it. The action here is still pretty sweet. Miss Marvel even lets Rogue borrow some of her power, which given their history would be like letting your ex-boyfriend buy you tampons. But it still makes for a fairly epic struggle with plenty of awesome visuals. And yes, they're awesome enough to jerk off to.
However, this struggle really doesn't last that long or get to the kind of epic scale you might be hoping for. Magik, having spent more than her share of time in Limbo, senses that someone is trying to fuck with her domain and teleports back to see that Rogue has taken advantage of her generous trust. Although trust from a teenage girl is akin to stock tips from Bernie Madoff, she's still marginally bemused. Rogue and Miss Marvel attempt to take her on. They might as well try reasoning with a creationist because they fail miserably. Magik still has the Phoenix Force and she's on her home turf. She's not going to get beaten. So it's not terribly surprising or compelling for that matter when she restrains Rogue and tosses Miss Marvel back into her cell. So all this struggle that was so enjoyable might as well have been akin to taking a shit in your own bath tub.
But rather than throw Rogue in a cell next to Miss Marvel's where she has to relive the sensation of Magneto's scrotum on her face for eternity, Magik shows a touch of mercy for a fellow X-man. Unfortunately, mercy for someone of her age means throwing her into some parallel world where she can just keep fighting random monsters. It's not quite a prison cell, but it is a rather disheartening turn for her and for the story as well. Now this means that Rogue is basically locked in the basement while an awesome party is going on upstairs. That party being Avengers vs. X-men. And the idea of not seeing Rogue inject her sass into Avengers vs. X-men is about as appealing as going to a strip club and not seeing any tits.
Like Wolverine and the X-men #14, X-men Legacy #270 offers yet another compelling if not overt sign that the Phoenix Five are letting this cosmic shit fuck them up in ways that all the booze in Las Vegas couldn't match. Rogue spent all of last issue thumbing her nose at Miss Marvel for claiming that the Phoenix Five were going to become to superheroes what Enron is business ethics. It was a pretty epic battle between two beautiful women. It had some very valid arguments between the two sides that if you could stop masturbating for more than a few seconds you could find yourself seriously contemplating. This issue was much less basic and much harder to jerk off to. Rogue was essentially proven wrong and Miss Marvel was proven right and Rogue tried to make up for it. That's pretty much the jist of this issue.
It sounds basic, but Christos Gage did find a way to make it compelling. The action was the main selling point here. Rogue fighting to both free Miss Marvel and contain a Limbo monster that she tried to absorb made for the kind of inner and outer struggles that make Rogue someone that's as compelling as she is doable. However, her basically having to eat her words from the previous issue was really underplayed here. I get that Miss Marvel was trapped in her own slice of hell and probably wasn't too inclined to boast about being right. But then again, when has that stopped any man, woman, child, or animal in the history of time? If someone could find an example, I'll quit drinking. That philosophical debate and the drama behind it that made the previous issue so compelling was lost here. While the action was good and the imagery finely detailed, it still lacked the same impact as the previous issue. Even with two beautiful women as the lead character and an evil teenage girl, your brain won't be anywhere near as satisfied as your dick.
X-men Legacy has had it's share of awesome tie-ins for Avengers vs. X-men. The past few issues have been solid while fitting in nicely with the larger scheme of the story. This issue definitely adds another element by showing where all these Avengers that the X-men have captured are being housed. It's been referenced in other comics and blends smoothly with the plot here in X-men Legacy. That smooth transition really helps make the story feel solid, but the shallow interactions with Rogue and Miss Marvel along with the weaker dialog keep this issue from being as awesome as its predecessor. For that, I give X-men Legacy #270 a 3.5 out of 5. The Avengers are literally in hell. Rogue is stuck swallowing her pride, but seeing as how she's probably swallowed Magneto's semen I think that's not terribly difficult for her. What worries me at this point is that she's basically been set aside to flex her feminine fortitude in a place away from the Avengers vs. X-men and in a story that could always use more beautiful women, I find that a disturbing prospect. Nuff said!