Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Avengers vs. X-men #12 - Epic Cosmic Failure
Strap on your rubber boots, stuff your nose with cotton balls, and drink a gallon of paint thinner because it's finally here! Marvel's once promising epic crossover turned Category 5 shit storm is coming to an end! Avengers vs. X-men, the once promising mega-event that Marvel promised would be the greatest innovation in comics since Emma Frost's breast implants started off like an ecstasy fueled orgy at the Playboy Mansion. Then beginning with the 10th issue, it turned into a prostate exam with a boxing glove. After 9 issues, Marvel pretty much just said "fuck it" and ditched everything that made the story compelling. They threw away the story with Hope and any potential Jean Grey connection. They threw away any notion of making the conflict between the Avengers and X-men balanced on any level. Hell, they might as well have been a paranoid schizophrenic throwing away their medications and then watching the Matrix. It's been that fucked up. So it is with a sense of relief, mercy, and a touch of a hangover that this epic tribute on how NOT to do a major comic event comes to an end.
Now to be fair, Avengers vs. X-men still has had some pretty awesome moments. Watching Cyclops beat up Captain America was great. Seeing Emma Frost utterly neuter Thor will always put a smile on my face. And seeing Storm and Black Panther's relationship dissolve in a spectacle that would even disgust Chris Brown ensures that this event will have some slivers of gold in the mountain of shit it turned out to be. But there's a saying by some guy I used to smoke weed with before he disappeared mysteriously in the jungles of Columbia. Even a 100 epic beginnings can be nullified by 1 epic ending. There was something else he said about bratty, redheaded Jean Grey rip-offs, but at this point I'm pretty sure he was out of his fucking mind.
But as critical as I've been towards Avengers vs. X-men, I'm always willing to give a story a chance to redeem itself at least in part (unless it involves cat people dongs, ie X-men Legacy). Even though at this point the story has devolved to a point where it couldn't be awesome even if it was printed on Pamela Anderson's tits, there's still a chance that it could at least become less shitty. Marvel has already made a big deal about the aftermath of this series and how it will lead into the Marvel NOW! relaunch. And even I'm not drunk enough to deny that some of that shit looks pretty damn sweet, but it'll definitely be sweeter if Avengers vs. X-men doesn't end up swirling the toilet bowl with hangover vomit mixed with purified shit.
That may be a tall order after Avengers vs. X-men #11 because Marvel once again went out of their way to ditch the little things like detail and plot, opting instead to just try to shock readers into not regretting paying four bucks for this shit. After being poked, prodded, tempted, and talked down to like a dog, Cyclops finally lost his shit. He killed Xavier, attacked his girlfriend, stole her part of the Phoenix Force, and went Dark Phoenix. It was less a story and more a case study in how you shit all over a character for incredibly shitty reasons without having to call it German fetish porn. Now I've been in favor of Cyclops being humbled for a while. A guy who runs his own country and gets to bone Emma Frost is bound to let shit go to his head at some point. But if you're going to humble him, at least have that shit make sense. Cyclops spent the past few issues with everyone claiming he's a fucking monster after he used his Phoenix powers to create a worldwide Utopia. Not only that, the only way they try to reason with him is to fight him. Even when it clearly makes shit worse, they keep doing it like that retarded kid in grade school who wouldn't stop eating the paste. Marvel could have at least tried to be more cohesive in his downfall, but that would have required thinking.
In addition, they've pretty much ignored Hope Summers and haven't tried to make her any less a little bitch. If anything, they've made her even more unlikable, if that's not a feat in and of itself. Not only did she run off from the X-men, but she later agreed to leave with the Avengers after the X-men went to great lengths to save her ass in Second Coming. Instead, she didn't just trust the assholes who don't have a lick of experience in dealing with the Phoenix. She trusted Wanda fucking Maximoff, as in the same bitch who made her messiah tricks necessary. Not only that, Marvel reached into the deepest recesses of their asses and pulled out some elaborate story about how the Phoenix Force is connected to K'un L'un and some other redheaded Jean Grey rip-off named Fongi. Speaking of which, that connection between Hope Summers and Jean Grey that was hinted at so many times before? Completely forgotten. Now I've blacked out many times and forgotten some pretty messed up shit, namely where I parked my car and who shit in my pants. But something that blatant? Fuck, even I can't drink that much. But sooner or later, Hope Summers has to do something that makes her partially redeemable. And since Avengers vs. X-men #12 is the last issue, it's now or never for the little rip-off bitch.
Avengers vs. X-men #12 starts by just reminding readers how fucked they are and how little thought Marvel has given to the details. Iron Man basically summarizes that when Wanda went nuts and tried to wipe out the mutant race, the Phoenix Force got pissed because it fucked up its sense of cosmic order. Hope was basically the yin to Wanda's yang/nervous breakdown. She's supposed to be to the Phoenix what Wanda is to her crazy chaos magic that she used to butt-fuck the universe. And together, they're best equipped to stop Cyclops and the Phoenix. In other words, Cyclops was right. Hope needs to take on the Phoenix Force and the Avengers were fucking stupid to try and prevent it in the first place. That's how fucked this story is and how fucked readers should feel.
This knowledge isn't lost on Hope, aka the Jean Grey ripoff that is still an arrogant bitch. She finally points out to Wanda that all this shit is her fault. And she's right. It was her fault. She's responsible for M-Day. She's responsible for Hope having to be born in the first place. Hell, she's responsible for Hope having to be this arrogant little bitch that ditches the people who did everything to save her ass and trusts people who didn't give a damn about her until the world was coming to an end. So yeah, Wanda deserves to get her ass kicked and to shoulder some of the blame. But will she be held accountable for M-Day in the same way Cyclops will probably be held accountable for Xavier's death? Fuck no! That shit might actually make sense. It's just a flashy little fight between two bitches that have done nothing but fuck up reality. And flashy is fun. It's just not as fun as it would be if they were naked and covered in rum.
But that shit happened in a flashback. In the present, Cyclops has gone Dark Phoenix after all the bullshit and pestering the Avengers have done since they personally split the Phoenix. Oh wait, the Avengers were responsible for splitting the Phoenix? I'm sorry, but that shit was never mentioned. It's all just Cyclops going on a rampage while the Avengers and the X-men who have since decided to become Avengers groupies trying to keep the world intact. There's not even a thought bubble that says "Hmm...maybe we shouldn't have tried to shoot the Phoenix with one of Stark's crazy inventions or keep poking Cyclops until he went nuts." It just gives the impression that Cyclops is evil now and the Avengers had no part in it. Really Marvel? You can't spare a fucking thought bubble anymore?
As is often the case with Dark Phoenix, everyone is obscenely outmatched. Cyclops beats up and bitch-slaps everyone that tries to attack him. He compares it to them trying to snuff out the sun by throwing pebbles at it. It's a pretty fair comparison. One of those pebbles is named Nova, as in the same annoying kid from that shitty Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon that first reported that the Phoenix was coming. Well, he shows up to blind-side the Phoenix. You get the sense that Marvel just realized they were running out of pages and needed to do something with Nova so they did the least creative thing possible. There's being contrived and then there's just being lazy. Nova does absolutely nothing to change the nature of this battle aside from allowing Marvel to say they didn't ignore him. Really? That's worth wasting a two-page spread? When did you treat story like Congress treats debt, Marvel?
The tide finally does turn when Hope and the Scarlet Witch enter the battle. Really? It took them this fucking long after they did absolutely jack shit in the last issue? The Avengers decided it didn't make tactical sense to lead with the Yin and Yang that Iron Man told them in a flashback? They just had to screw with the Phoenix even more until it went Dark Phoenix? Again, there isn't so much as a fucking thought bubble to explain this obscenely shitty tactic! Did they think they needed another challenge? And that was worth incurring the wrath of Dark Phoenix?
It's yet another detail Marvel has overlooked, almost as much as any hint of a Hope/Jean Grey connection. They just needed their heroes to look stupid first by attacking something they knew they couldn't stop until Hope and the Scarlet Witch had taken their thumbs out of their asses to actually participate! What makes this shit all the more egregious is that their combined efforts finally do turn the tide. Without any other help from the Avengers, they're able to disrupt Dark Phoenix's rampage. I's still not all that epic. Again, being naked and covered in rum would help, but that may just be another extra that makes too much sense for Marvel.
The combined efforts of Hope and the Scarlet Witch finally overwhelm Cyclops. It allows the Avengers to finally participate and not look like they're pissing into the wind. Again, why the fuck didn't they just wait until Hope and the Scarlet Witch softened him up ahead of time? I seriously cannot wrap my head around that shit. But in the end it does weaken Cyclops to a point where the non-crazy part of his brain kicks in and he asks them to kill him. But the crazy is just too strong and he tries to fight back. That's when after 11 issues of Phoenix, we finally get a shadowy glimpse of Jean Grey.
Now maybe this shit is all in his head. That's probably the official story at Marvel so they can still say Jean is dead with a straight face. But whatever ti is, Jean's figure shows up to Cyclops and she tells him to let the Phoenix go. Emma doesn't tell him this. Xavier doesn't tell him this. It's Jean. She's the one who can get through to his sorry ass. It's probably the only shit in this battle that makes sense at this point. But at least we can say partially that Jean Grey does show up in Avengers vs. X-men, but at the last fucking moment no less. As if she couldn't do this before Cyclops killed Xavier. Again, that shit would just make too much sense. Really Marvel? What do you have against stories that make sense? Do they make you sick or something? If so, see a fucking doctor and quit using it as an excuse to fuck up good comics.
Cyclops takes Jean's advice. He finally lets the Phoenix Force go and it in turn goes directly to Hope Summers...as in, the same Hope Summers that was supposed to get the fucking Phoenix in the first place! This time, the Avengers don't get in her way. They don't try to blast it with one of Tony Stark's gadgets. They just let the Phoenix take Hope...as they should have fucking done in the first fucking issue! And what happens? The world doesn't end. That's right. It took a royal fuck-up that led Cyclops to go Dark Phoenix for them to realize that Hope is meant to wield the Phoenix. And with it, she essentially repairs the damage Cyclops did...after he did the exact same thing without being a messiah and without any bullshit training in K'un L'un. Again, is Marvel allergic to stories that make sense?
This scene only confirms something I suspected after smoking enough weed. Marvel purposefully dragged this series out because they knew it would sell more. And you know what? They're right. Fear Itself was just 7 issues and that's not enough money for their Disney overlords. So what's the solution? Draw a story out much longer than it needs to be. The whole point of the battle between the Avengers and the X-men was because one side wanted the Phoenix to go to Hope and the other didn't. Well now the Phoenix took Hope and it fucking worked. All that shit with the Phoenix Five didn't need to happen. It was just padded on and/or an excuse to fuck up Cyclops beyond repair. I'm not sure which reason was more pressing, but I'm pretty sure padding it and the money that would result played a bigger role.
After Hope is done fixing the damage that Cyclops did (only after the Avengers made it possible in the first place) she takes on the same White Phoenix costume that Jean Grey used to wield. So now she doesn't just look like Jean Grey and use the Phoenix like Jean Grey. She has to dress like her as well in the EXACT SAME FUCKING COSTUME! And yet Marvel did absolutely nothing to explain a link between her and Jean if there was one?
But I digress. The key moment here is where the Scarlet Witch comes in. She tells Hope that before she does what Cyclops did and try to fix the world, she should consider why she's the mutant messiah. She says it isn't because she can wield the Phoenix. It's because she can let that shit go and somehow that's going to fix everything. It makes about as much sense as saying that holding a magnet to your nuts will cure cancer. But at this point I've given up hoping that this story will make sense.
With help from the Scarlet Witch, Hope released the Phoenix with a "No more Phoenix" spell. This causes it's power to spread out, as explained by the Stepford Cuckoos, and undo M-day. All over the world, mutants start popping up again. And it's not just isolated mutants and Akira rip-offs that Hope has to fix. These are real mutants that M-Day nearly wiped out. This has another grave implication. It means Cyclops was fucking right all along! Hope was meant to undo M-Day. The Phoenix was meant to save the mutant race. He was fucking right all along and the Avengers just got in the way until the world got fucked up enough for them to realize that they screwed up. Oh wait, they didn't fucking realize that! They just watch in the same way a cow watches two horses fuck each other. And all Hope had to do was fucking let it go. Really? She needed training for that shit?!
Even though the Avengers were the ones that fucked up the Phoenix and got in the way from Hope doing what needed to be done, Cyclops is still arrested. He's still the big villain that must pay for the crimes that the Avengers themselves started. To his credit, Cyclops admits his guilt. He and Captain America have a little conversation in a ruby quartz cell where Cyclops basically laments for what he's done. He knows he killed Xavier and went crazy. And he wants to take full responsibility, even though Emma and the rest of the Phoenix Five are still missing. Captain America takes some of the blame as well, but not for provoking the Phoenix Force or anything that logical. He just admits that the Avengers were assholes for not helping mutants when they should have. That's it. That's all he apologizes for. Yet he has the balls to yell at Cyclops and call him a criminal? Hearing that from Captain America almost makes me want to renounce my citizenship and move to Switzerland.
That would have been a pretty shitty ending to the story. But Marvel just can't resist making it even more shitty. They show that Hope, after finally fulfilling her destiny, is still fucking alive! This annoying, bratty, arrogant, rip-off character didn't die in releasing the Phoenix. She's still in one piece and looking like the rip-off character we've all come to despise. I thought messiahs were supposed to sacrifice? What the fuck did she sacrifice? She betrayed the X-men, acted like an arrogant brat, and came off without a scratch. That, my friends, is how you make shit shittier.
Allow me to take a deep breath and a shot of heroine to gather my thoughts before closing the book on this herculean clusterfuck that Marvel has conjured. I'll start by saying that Avengers vs. X-men #12 didn't make shit any worse. That's the absolute least we could have hoped for at this point. But beyond that, it really did nothing that would make me conclude, either drunk or sober, that this story was even remotely decent. It did succeed in one key aspect though. It undid M-Day. It finally took mutants off the endangered species list and it did so exactly as Cyclops thought it would by having Hope use the Phoenix Force kickstart the mutant race again. So in the end, he was right and Captain America was wrong. Yet still Cyclops lost and is labeled a douche-bag. It makes about as much sense as an economics lecture by a drunk Glenn Beck. But beyond restarting the mutant race, it also forced the Avengers to admit they were twiddling their thumbs while mutants were being ass-fucked by karma. It effectively sets the stage for Marvel NOW! It also humbles Cyclops in a way that's been overdue for quite some time. Granted, it was more excessive than Marlon Brando's caloric intake, but now he's not the ruler of a country that's boning Emma Frost on the side. He's been utterly screwed so hopefully that means the rabid anti-Cyclops crowd will finally shut the fuck up for at least five minutes. Plus, it ended the Storm/Black Panther marriage. Let's face it, that alone does give this story some merit because that relationship was more screwed than Tiger Woods's marriage.
That's the good. The bad is a billion times worse. The conclusion of Avengers vs. X-men is a case study in what happens when you give a drunk a frontal lobotomy and unlimited amounts of alcohol before telling him to organize a story. This issue is like that asshole that drives a Hummer, runs over people, and doesn't even bother to slow down to take note of who they just maimed. The bikers in this case are the details and cohesiveness to this story. Cyclops went Dark Phoenix and terrorized the utopian world he created. Yet no one seemed to realize that he only did this after every fucking hero on the planet kept poking him with a stick and finding new ways to piss him off. All Captain America admitted to was that he didn't help mutants when he should have. He never admitted that he was wrong to just pick a fight with the X-men when he didn't know shit about the Phoenix.
That leads to the absolute most egregious detail of the story. The Avengers were fucking wrong in keeping the Phoenix away from Hope. Had they just gotten out of the way and let Hope do her shit, she would have fixed everything without all this Phoenix Five shit in the first place! In the end they pretty much ignored the fact that they fought tooth and nail to keep the Phoenix from getting to her, but only found out in the end that it had to happen. And all that so-called 'training' she did in K'un L'un? What the fuck was it even for? All she had to do was fucking let the Phoenix go. Do you really need to train for that shit? She did with the Phoenix exactly what Cyclops did and fixed the world. And he didn't need any training. So why the fuck would Hope? It essentially renders all those details about the Phoenix and its history with K'un L'un that Marvel pissed out like ricey diarrhea completely worthless.
Moreover, Hope Summers is still fucking alive! That's the second most egregious detail. This annoying brat/Jean Grey ripoff is still fucking breathing after this series. I know I've made my hatred of Hope very clear in recent times, but Marvel keeps finding ways to make her easier to hate. First, they constantly tease a link between her and Jean Grey and claim it will be explained in Avengers vs. X-men. But do we get those details? Fuck no! All we get is Hope ditching the X-men after they sacrificed damn near everything to save her ungrateful ass and trusting the Avengers, who ended up being dead wrong about her and the Phoenix anyways. Not only that, we have a teenage Jean Grey coming back in All New X-men. That shit is confirmed. Yet we still have this annoying little bitch who looks like her and was teased to be her still alive? If the shitty organization of Avengers vs. X-men didn't make it worth less than the paper you wipe your ass with, that shit sure does.
This event had so much promise. It started off as one of the best events I've ever read and I was so hopeful that it would raise the bar for Marvel moving forward. But once again, I've learned to never trust Marvel with big events. They only know how to start. They don't know how to finish. They can jump out of a plane with ease, but they don't know how to work the fucking parachute. Avengers vs. X-men was an egregiously bad event in that it failed to understand its own logic and was about as cohesive as Britney Spears's second marriage. The fine folks at Marvel have adopted a "Fuck the finer details" policy while thinking that the only way to develop a character is through fucking character assassination. After the sheer disappointment left by Fear Itself, Avengers vs. X-men found a way to actually lower the bar. For that, I give Avengers vs. X-men #12 a 2 out of 5. It would have been much lower, but it wasn't bad enough to make me want to ditch Marvel NOW! For the next big event, I just hope that Marvel starts giving more of a shit.
So it's over. The Phoenix is gone again and we're still stuck with Hope fucking Summers. Marvel has taken a massive shit on Cyclops's character while going out of their way to make the Avengers come out smelling like Scarlet Johannen's breasts. All I can say is good riddance, fuck Avengers vs. X-men, fuck Hope Summers, and fuck I need a beer and a mountain of blow. Nuff said!