I was planning to do one more review this week. One book in particular I wanted to touch on was New Avengers #29. I know I haven't touched on many of the Avengers tie-ins for Avengers vs. X-men. Again, that shit isn't my fault. Blame God for only giving us 24 hours in a day, which is hardly enough to live life as an honorable drunk and review all the comics I want. But after reading New Avengers, I decided to do something different. This was one of those issues that was really one of those aside issues where we get a break from the spectacle of seeing two superhero teams beat the shit out of each other and have prominent characters actually talk about what's going on. It may not sound very exciting, but it's shit like this that helps tie the overall story together and give it a fuller context.
One of the biggest moments in Avengers vs. X-men #8 (you know, aside from Namor decimating a whole fucking country) was Professor Xavier finally coming out form wherever he was sitting by twiddling his thumbs to scold Cyclops for...well, I don't know what the fuck he was so mad about. Cyclops to that point had been leading the Phoenix Five on a world-wide tour of utopian peace. He wasn't preaching mutant supremacy. He wasn't waving his dick in the faces of world leaders saying mutants are better than humans and they need to accept that or he'll rip off their dicks and burn them with cosmic fire. He was basically going around the world and saying all this war and violence and shit was no longer cool. It was time to listen to John Lennon for once and give peace a chance. So why the fuck was Xavier and the rest of the Avengers for that matter trying to shit all over that peace?
Well New Avengers #29 takes place before Avengers vs. X-men #8. So this is before the Phoenix Five showed any inclinations that may or may not lead them to wiping out a country. It starts with a quick flashback that helps remind readers that way back in the dog days of World War II, Captain America and Namor were basically war buddies. Hell, they were war BFFs. So him being part of the Phoenix Five is more personal than you see in the actual series. But that just sets the emotional backdrop. The meat of this issue centers around a meeting organized by Captain America, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Reed Richards, and Professor Xavier. Together, they make up the Marvel version of the Illuminati, but not the Dan Brown kind and not the kind that you hear about on the Alex Jones radio show.
What they discuss is pretty basic, but pretty deep. They all take a moment to process what's happening. They knew the Phoenix was coming, but they done fucked it up by throwing one of Iron Man's untested gizmos at it. Now the Phoenix has five X-men in it's grasp and they're literally reshaping the world with their power without any oversight or any accountability. That's a perfectly legitimate reason to be worried, but it's Professor Xavier's stake in it that makes this shit personal.
Now I've already pointed out that Xavier was a massive tool in how he basically attacked Cyclops in Avengers vs. X-men #8 for shit that he didn't cause. Namor was the one that attacked Wakanda. Emma was the one that used the power of the Phoenix and her pussy (mostly her pussy) to tempt Namor into attacking. So why single Cyclops out? He flat out admitted in the next issue that he wasn't in a position to control Namor. Cosmic force or not, Namor is going to flex his ego in ways that can destroy countries and soak panties (and sometimes both). But in this issue, Xavier says that Cyclops is taking everything he was taught and twisting it. My only response is what the fuck is Xavier drinking and where can I get some?
Here's a little X-men 101. Going all the way back to the Lee/Kirby era, Xavier taught his X-men to use their powers to protect a world that hates and fears them. He taught them to use their powers to serve mankind and not dominate them. Well that's exactly what Cyclops is doing to the nth degree. He's taking the power of the Phoenix and using it to not only protect the world, but make it a much better place. He's not demanding worship or statues made out of diamond and children's tears. He's not oppressing the poor, hoarding the wealth, or plundering resources. He's using his powers to make the world better for both humans and mutants alike. He's giving them reasons to actually live in peace and going after the assholes that would threaten it, but without killing them. Was there a lesson I missed? Did Xavier somehow throw in a footnote that said "Oh, and don't try to solve all the world's problems even when you have the power to do so. Because that would be just too easy."
But I'm not the only one that notices this. It's not just crazy fans with blogs and drinking problems that have noticed that Cyclops's behavior is pretty much fully in line with Xavier's dream. Reed Richards comes out and proves with cold hard facts that the Phoenix Five are doing some damn good shit in the world. They're not attacking the Avengers, nor are they asking for them to surrender and carry a sign that says "I'm a douchebag and I was wrong" around their necks for the rest of their lives. He points out that poverty is down, crime is down, conflict is down, and the world is objectively safer with a cosmic force now protecting it. You think the Skrulls, the Kree, or even fucking Galactus would come near Earth knowing they have to deal with the fucking Phoenix?
Moreover, he also points out that the only time the Phoenix Five are getting volatile is when the Avengers annoy them. That's like hitting a beehive with a baseball bat and then whining when you get stung. It's also worth noting that they're the ones that attacked Utopia with a full scale invasion, demanding that they hand over their mutant messiah so they could take on a force they've had next to no experience confronting. Reed Richards is a smart man, one of the smartest in the Marvel universe even. Yet he's able to understand this and maybe his absence in Avengers vs. X-men is a reflection on it. Now he doesn't address the lingering concerns about the Phoenix's history of corruption and the lack of accountability with the Phoenix Five. But he makes a strong point about them basically creating a self-fulfilling prophecy by pestering them until they get pissed enough to throw their cosmic power back in their faces.
Herein lies what has become a microcosm of the Avengers vs. X-men story and one I'm sure Marvel planned from the beginning. Both sides have valid concerns. Neither the Avengers nor the X-men can be considered villains. It's much more gray than it was in Civil War. At least with that you assume the heroes that sided with the government were going to get screwed over. There is simply no other endgame when your on the same side as the fucking IRS. But Avengers vs. X-men has a very different set of circumstances.
For one, the Avengers started this mess. Their bullshit and their lack of experience in confronting the Phoenix Force is what led to this meeting in New Avengers #29 in the first place. It's easy to forget that it was Tony Stark's machine that made the Phoenix Five and it was the Avengers invading Utopia to steal Hope that led to the fucking Limbo prison. But the X-men are also assholes for thinking they can use this force that wipes it's ass with entire planets to kick start they're dying race. They're basically dancing on top of a mountain of nitro glycerine in hopes that they can control the Phoenix. To this point, they did with the Phoenix Five. They were making the world a better place, but the Avengers couldn't let it go because they felt it was only a matter of time before the Phoenix Five became corrupt. They may have hastened this process, but their concerns are valid.
In the end, the only clear line is the one that makes Charles Xavier a complete asshole. I can't for the life of me figure out why he's committing to stopping Cyclops when he's not the problem here. Why not Emma Frost? Why not Namor? Why not Magik? Why not focus on the people who actually have a history of abusing power in some very nasty ways? Does Xavier really believe that Cyclops will lose his mind before Emma freakin' Frost? I cannot for the life of me see the logic in that. Maybe I'm just smoking the wrong strain of weed, but Xavier is the only one in this event thus far that is dead wrong on damn near every level.
Issues like New Avengers #29 leave you wondering just what forces are at play here and who is ultimately responsible? Both the Avengers and the X-men are at fault, but neither seems to be seeing the big picture. With Act 1 and Act 2 now complete, they've already passed the point of no return. The Phoenix is becoming corrupt and it's only a matter of time before it ditches what's left of the Phoenix Five and moves onto it's next host (which will probably have red hair and green eyes and won't be named Jean Grey). However this event ends, it still leaves the question. Who's to blame? The Avengers attacked, but the X-men picked the battlefield. Marvel has done an excellent job balancing this event so far and Act 3 promises to bring it all together while giving fans like me plenty of reasons to get drunk and rant about it on the internet. Nuff said!