Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #4 - Villainous Badass Awesome
There are some world class drunks out there (like yours truly) that don't need a whole lot of excuses to get wasted. But some of those excuses are pretty fucking stupid in the grand scheme of things. When a guy gets fired from his job after his house is foreclosed upon because he spent too much money on a Brazilian stripper named Coochie Mocha, he's more than justified in getting shit faced. But when your name is Tony Stark, you have billions to your name, and you can build an army of robot Pamela Andersons to cater to your every perverse fantasy, you have no excuse. There was actually a time when Iron Man was a world class drunk in Marvel comics. He's not the first comic book character to struggle with real world addiction, but he was by far the least believable.
Iron Man's movies may be as awesome as Scarlett Johansen's rack, but in the comics he's about as sympathetic as Mitt Romney pleading for food stamps. He may claim to be sober, but I refuse to believe that some of the shit he did in Avengers vs. X-men wasn't the result of some mind-altering substance that just doesn't show up in piss tests. Only a drunk could determine that the best way to deal with the looming threat of the Phoenix Force was to shoot it with a big ass gun. And only a drunk would pretend that he was too fucked up to take any level of responsibility for shit that he caused. But Iron Man has faced absolutely zero scrutiny for his role in Avengers vs. X-men, just as he faces zero scrutiny for the shit he did in Civil War (thanks to a bullshit retcon). As such, I scorn him on behalf of all us honest drunks.
In both Avengers vs. X-men and the ongoing Consequences mini, Iron Man is still walking around as if he played no part in the bullshit surrounding the Phoenix. He didn't seem to give a damn when Cyclops was thrown in jail and he didn't get any shit from Captain America for his gizmos being responsible. He also pretends to have a new appreciation for the mystical aspects of life. There's a term for that as well. It's called being fucked up out of your mind, leaving no doubt that he was smoking something in Avengers vs. X-men. But I doubt Marvel will ever admit to it.
Whatever shit Iron Man is on, there's no indication he's sobered up. Cyclops, who we found out in the previous issue was working a plan with Magneto on the outside, is still taking all the accountability for what happened with the Phoenix even though he's only partially responsible at best. Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #4 continues by having Tony Stark pay a visit and not for a conjugal visit in the women's prison either. He's still high from his Joseph Smith style religious experience, but unlike Joseph Smith it isn't a complete fraud. He expresses a desire to understand the Phoenix while still deflecting responsibility for his role in fucking it up and having Cyclops take the blame. Whether out of boredom or pity, Cyclops humors his curiosity. There's really no indication here as to what Tony hopes to gain or why the fuck he's not taking responsibility like a good recovering alcoholic should. Either he's drinking again or he gave the finger to Alcoholics Anonymous. Either way, he's still a dick.
Whereas Iron Man's latest non-alcoholic obsession does nothing for the story other than remind readers of what a dick he is, there are other parts of the story that help actually move things forward. In the first issue of this mini, Captain America said he suspected that someone with a lot of access and too much free time was helping the Extinction Team. Unlike the CIA's suspicions about Iraq, this actually proves accurate because someone who definitely has that kind of access is Agent Brand of SWORD. She worked closely with the Extinction Team in the pages of Uncanny X-men. So it makes such perfect sense that she would be the one to help them that you feel like you were lobotomized in your sleep for not thinking of it. Apparently, she's been coordinating with Magneto because she's of the opinion that the Avengers and the X-men intent on sucking their dicks for approval aren't going to do what needs to be done for this new influx of mutants. Since she admits she's also a mutant, she decides to roll the dice with the Extinction Team. While she may be fucking Beast at the moment, her willingness to give the finger to both the Avengers and the X-men earns her plenty of points in my book.
So by now, we've caught up with every member of the Extinction Team except one. Of all the members that were forgotten faster than Vanilla Ice's movie career, Namor definitely got shafted the most. After he laid waste to Wakanda and set the stage for the glorious breakup of Storm and Black Panther, he was barely mentioned and never even seen. Well now that he's on the collective shit list for both Wakanda and the Avengers, he's been lying low. That's understandable, but still a dick move. Apparently, he's been hanging out in the old ruins of Utopia, which have since been shot to shit. This happens to be where Hope, everyone's least favorite rip-off bratty bitch, decides to travel to track down Cable. It makes about as much sense as the rest of the bullshit she's done outside of betraying the X-men. But I guess I've come to expect that from her.
But despite Hope's annoying presence and incessent intent on making everyone hate her, there's a nice moment to be enjoyed here. Hope goes out of her way to ask Namor what the fuck he was thinking when he laid waste to Wakanda. I imagine it's akin to asking someone what the fuck they were thinking when they fought that transvestite hooker over a half-eaten hot dog on a cocaine bender. But Namor basically describes how the Phoenix fucked him up and showed that being the king of Atlantis with access to all the hot mermaid pussy he wanted just didn't amount to jack shit in the grand scheme of things. Nothing else really comes of this other than Hope being an annoying bitch and Namor discussing why he took his sexual frustrations over Emma Frost out on Wakanda. But at least we finally get to see what the fuck he's been doing since the Avengers vs. X-men shit hit the fan.
Namor's handling of the events of Avengers vs. X-men is at least twenty seven times more mature than Colossus. In this series, he's developed the kind of hatred for his sibling that couldn't be matched outside the Baldwin family. Now free from the Cytorakk influence and made to feel like an ass for helping his sister, he's basically become one of those creepy hermits who lives in a cave, minus the occasionally spying on children at playgrounds. Storm, who received a message about Colossus's location courtesy of Magik in the last issue, paid him a visit. Since she's nowhere near the asshole that the Avenger strive to be, she doesn't turn him in. She just tries to talk to him. Colossus only tells her to fuck off and leave him alone in the most polite way possible. Of all the members of the Extinction Team, you gotta feel sorry for him the most. He went out of his way to save his sister and all along she was just fucking with him. That's like a homeless man finding out that the stray dog he's been taking care of was a stuffed animal all along. It's tough shit.
But Colossus isn't the only one Storm visits. After she's done chatting, she encounters Magneto. Now in nearly every other era of X-men, when Storm is on the same page as Magneto it's usually accompanied with a violent battle that involves magnetism and F5 tornadoes. But for a time, these two actually worked side-by-side during their days on the Extinction Team. I admit it always felt awkward, like having a pot head manage your stock portfolio. You know it couldn't last, but it was fun while it did and made work a shit ton more interesting. Storm and Magneto have what may be their last civil conversation. Storm tries to convince him that he can still be a good guy, but Magneto makes it clear that good guys don't make progress in this world. To get shit done, you need to be a little bit of an asshole of a villainous kind and that's something that he's willing to do that the Avengers are too chicken shit to try.
There's tension everywhere it seems. Siblings now want to kill each other and former allies are too fucked up to do anything. But some elements of Avengers vs. X-men Consequences have taken an approach that probably wouldn't make an episode of Jerry Springer. In the last issue, Cyclops met up with a fellow prisoner named Jake who happened to be a mutant. He was no Magneto. He was a dipshit burglar who happened to be among those who got mutant powers after the events of Avengers vs. X-men. Rather than whine about how he's going to be hated and feared, he actually made friends with Cyclops and expressed a desire to make his life better. Hell, he even got an X-men tattoo. He sounds like the kind of guy you want to have your back in prison and not in a way that will lead to severe rectal trauma.
Unfortunately, Cyclops doesn't get the chance to become prison buddies with this guy. In the previous issue, a bunch of other prisoners with poor impulse control and no fresh anuses to sodomize tried to shank Jake and Cyclops. They failed miserably. But this time, they succeeded in attacking Jake. Cyclops tries to help him, but the guards don't let him this time. Instead, they just subtly laugh their asses off and use his collar to shock him so he can't save the guy. It's a sad end to the most lovable prisoner since Tony Montana. But it has a strong impact and one that sends a message that goes beyond why you shouldn't give prisoners tooth brushes and nothing better to do with their time.
While Cyclops is left reeling by this latest injustice on top of the massive amounts of shit already piled on top of him, Wolverine pays another visit. To this point the only things his visits have accomplishes is making him an even bigger asshole than before. Maybe he's had time to sober up or maybe he's finally stopped drinking shitty light beer, but he actually comes off as decent this time. He finally tells Cyclops that he believes that he didn't mean to kill the Professor when he was fucked up on the Phoenix Force. He also has a very nice bromance moment where he tells him that while he may hate his guts for what he did in Avengers vs. X-men and for having access to Jean Grey's pussy, he still respects him and still thinks he can be the better man. Whether he's trying to dissuade him from this stupid martyr gig or trying to dissuade him from getting back at the prisoners who killed Jake, he sends a clear message.
However, I don't think Wolverine expected Cyclops to respond to that message by secretly contacting Magneto. In the previous issue, he revealed that he had been keeping in touch with him as part of some sort of plan. At the time, the plan didn't involve him being busted out of jail. Well after seeing how the world is treating new mutants like Jake and how few fucks people like the Avengers seem to give, he changes that plan. He's prepared to give a big middle finger to the justice system and allow Magneto to break his ass out. On behalf of everyone who has ever gotten a bullshit parking ticket, I say fuck yes!
The word badass and villain is thrown around a lot like herpes on the Jersey Shore. Marvel has done a great deal to blur those lines over the years, whether it's with their stories or with their characters. It's an inescapable fact of comics. If most of these characters existed in real life, we would think they were complete assholes. Tony Stark flies around in an Iron Man suit and doesn't share that shit with anyone. Wolverine is a drunken, sex-crazed dick with anger management issues. Fuck, if I want that I'll visit my cousin in Texas (if he hasn't broken parole). But every now and then, Marvel walks that fine line in a way that even if a character existed in real life you would be inclined to say, "Fuck yeah! Someone get this guy a beer and a hooker!" The end scene with Cyclops accomplished this feat in the best possible way.
This issue helped tie up a few more loose ends that were not addressed in the previous issue. With only one issue left, the mysteries are falling to the wayside in favor of setting the stage for All New X-men and all the rest of Marvel's overhyped relaunch that they'll never admit to being overhyped. We already knew Cyclops was going to bust out of jail, if for no other reason than to ensure the sanctity of his anus for mutant kind. But this issue actually presented an even better reason for him bust out if his asshole wasn't good enough. The death of that prisoner mutant, Jake, effectively conveyed the message that rotting in a prison cell isn't going to solve the problems mutants now face in the post Avengers vs. X-men world. And since the Avengers and his fellow X-men can't be bothered to deal with it, Cyclops needs to flex his nuts again. You couldn't give the man better motivation without serving it on Emma Frost's tits and Jean Grey's pussy.
Nearly everything in this issue fit together nicely. However, it did drag a bit at times. The whole notion of Iron Man wanting to understand the Phoenix seemed about as pointless as Mitt Romney's position on welfare reform. And while every scene involving Hope Summers is akin to smearing horse diarrhea on the page, her conversation with Namor amounted to less than Donald Trump's prenup. While there's definitely the potential for these scenes to expand in the final issue, they didn't really give much reasons for the reader to give half a shit about them.
Avengers vs. X-men Consequences is largely a transition series meant to bridge the gap between Avengers vs. X-men and Marvel NOW! As such, it has to wade through the river of shit carved by Avengers vs. X-men and somehow mask the stench. The first few issues did an admirable job, but the past two have taken it to some badly needed levels of awesome. While Avengers vs. X-men will always suck, the way in which Marvel is moving forward from it doesn't have to. I give Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #4 a 4 out of 5. Now if I can get serious for a moment, let's all have a moment of silence for Jake, the imprisoned dip-shit burglar who didn't stand a chance. Rest in Peace, Jake! May your last breath be accompanied by an intact asshole. Nuff said!