Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Uncanny Avengers #1 - Partial Brain Damaging Awesome
I try not to hold grudges. I find it difficult at times. Not because I'm really forgiving, but with all the brain cells I've killed over the years I just have a hard time remembering why I'm pissed. And if I can't figure it out, I use that as an excuse to get myself another beer to make myself less pissed. It doesn't always work, but it's an excuse to get drunk so I'll take it. I needed more than booze after reading Avengers vs. X-men and not just because the story went down faster than Paris Hilton after a line of coke and six shots of tequila. The story ended with both the Avengers and the X-men looking like assholes, but the Avengers looked like stupid assholes. I'm willing to forgive a lot of assholery, but when the shit that comes out of it is just too much I can't bring myself to forgive that easily.
By now, everyone with an internet connection and enough will-power to stop looking at porn for more than ten minutes knows how Avengers vs. X-men ended. The Avengers came out on top, as one would expect a franchise whose movie grossed a billion dollars and allowed the Marvel execs to bathe in high priced champagne, hookers, and cocaine. But how they came out on top was what made them assholes. They didn't really defeat the X-men. They just made it so the X-men had to suck their dicks to get back into their good graces when they felt that the Phoenix couldn't be controlled. Never mind that nobody seemed to notice that the Phoenix only lost control when the Avengers started fucking with it. They didn't think twice in the same way an intoxicated Paris Hilton doesn't think twice when they're inclined to suck a dick.
But worst of all, the Avengers turned out to be dead fucking wrong. They thought the Phoenix Force was going to destroy the world and Cyclops thought it was key to kickstarting the mutant race. Guess who was right? And guess who ended up in jail? I've met some asshole cops in my life who would throw a 15-year-old girl in jail for having a single joint, but the Avengers throwing Cyclops under the buss and pissing on his corpse was just a dick move of cosmic proportions. So he killed a guy who hadn't done shit since he was shot in the head and kept trying to mind rape him. Fuck, that's not murder. That's self defense. Also, they didn't throw Wanda Maximoff in jail, who also happened to go fucking crazy and kill some very beloved friends (remember Hawkeye and Vision from Decimation?) not to mention decimating the entire mutant race. And yet she's not just free. She's prominent in Uncanny Avengers, which promises to be the biggest book to spin out of Avengers vs. X-men.
Now granted all these reasons to be pissed, I'm still willing to give Uncanny Avengers a shot. It doesn't just promise to wade through the shit left behind by Avengers vs. X-men. It's billed as a new era in Marvel. It's supposed to be the flagship book of Marvel NOW! where both the Avengers and the X-men join forces in a single team. While their reasons for doing so may be fucked, both Rick Remender and John Cassaday are crafting this book. That's like Da Vinci teaming up with Michelangelo (the artist and not the turtle) in comics. So I would be stupid in addition to being a drunk of I didn't give this book a chance.
Uncanny Avengers #1 begins with a rather grotesque scene that would probably give Dr. House a boner and a craving for more Vicodin. A rather unfortunate yet familiar figure is receiving a rather extensive lobotomy from an unknown figure. That figure is about as unlucky as the coach of the Cleveland Browns in that while he's getting his brain removed, the surgeon (who I'm assuming is on the AMA's shit list) is talking about how humans are more pissed off on mutants than ever before and the only way for mutants to respond is to give the finger to Charles Xavier's memory and start killing people. Guess that's an easy lesson to teach when you're literally picking at someone's brain.
From a very disturbing scene, it transitions into something a little less nauseating depending on how much you cried at the end of Old Yeller. Wolverine gives a eulogy at Professor Xavier's funeral. Because for some reason, they didn't think it was necessary to have something like this when he was FUCKING SHOT IN THE HEAD AT THE END OF MESSIAH COMPLEX! Yes, I yelled that as I typed it because it's worth yelling. It's also worth pointing out because it serves as a reminder that the death of Charles Xavier was ridiculously cheapened because of his history of getting his ass killed. In addition, he had done absolutely jack shit in the X-books as the mutant race he dedicated his life to teaching was on the brink of extinction. Yet for some reason they forget all that shit at the funeral? It must have had an awesome open bar.
As for Wolverine's eulogy, it's surprisingly bland for something that was written by Rick Remender. He essentially reminded everyone what Charles Xavier fought for while completely omitting the fact that he was fucking MIA when the entire mutant species was dying. Hell, Wolverine was flat out wrong when he said the X-men pushed Xavier aside. Does he even know his own continuity? Xavier stepped down from the X-men and never stepped up! If you don't know the man's history, the speech will only make you wonder why Remender cut and pasted shit from John Lennon's funeral when he's shown he's clearly a better writer than this.
As the speech is unfolding, Havok takes a break from doing jack shit and visits his brother in his ruby quartz prison. He basically tells him what an ass he is for killing Xavier and letting the Phoenix Force corrupt him. But anyone who read Avengers vs. X-men even partially sober know Cyclops didn't ask for the Phoenix Force. It was thrust on him courtesy of Tony fucking Stark. Hell, Cyclops could probably sue Stark for sexual harassment if he wanted. But does he take that into account? Fuck no! He's Cyclops's brother and at no time in the history of the human race has a man let little things like the truth prevent him from rubbing salt in an open wound for their brother. In that sense Havok's attitude is understandable, but grossly oversimplifying what actually happened and ignoring the logical inconsistencies with his words just makes him too big a douche. Cyclops, to his credit, doesn't reinforce his brother's attitude. He just reminded him that nobody (including Xavier) did shit to save the mutant race. He did. So he can suck his balls.
He leaves the prison, most likely in a very bad mood, and is greeted by Captain America and Thor. They invite him for a little chat over some overpriced coffee about the future of the Avengers. Captain America, having at least acknowledged that the Avengers have a history of turning a blind eye to mutant affairs, wants Havok to join them. He the Avengers need a mutant presence and the world needs a mutant face they can trust. And who better than the brother of Cyclops and son of Corsair? Because it turned out so fucking well for them. Havok even points this out, but he's still a douche-bag. Claiming his brother is an egotist? Fuck, if trying to create a worldwide utopia and saving your species from extinction is egotistical, then by comparison Mother Theresa was a cunt.
But while Havok was chatting with Captain America and Thor, we find out who that unfortunate lobotomy patient was. It was Avalanche, another mutant who has been more MIA than Terrel Owens's child support payments. For reasons that can only be attributed to brain damage, he unleashes a random rampage in the middle of New York City. Havok assists Captain America and Thor, but the damage is done. In this scene John Cassaday's artwork really shines as does the focus on the civilian victims of the attack. That shit often gets overlooked whenever shit starts blowing up in comics. In real life, when something blows up in a crowded city people get hurt. It's one of those little things that has been missing from the comics and it definitely helps set a different tone for Uncanny Avengers.
That tone gets all the louder when Rogue confronts the Scarlet Witch while she's paying her respects to Professor Xavier's grave. Now no longer languishing with Magneto and cat people dongs in X-men Legacy, she shows up to call the Scarlet Witch a total bitch for basically being the cause of all this shit. And unlike Havok's bullshit attitude against his brother, Rogue is right. None of this shit would have happened if the Scarlet Witch hadn't lost her fucking mind and tried to wipe out an entire species. But again, she (and Remender by default) ignore her own fucking continuity when she claims she accepts responsibility. Really? How the fuck does she do that? She's welcomed back into the Avengers with open arms and she isn't in fucking jail like Cyclops. There's double standards and then there's just plain willful ignorance.
That kind of ignorance really does hurt the story and the dialog. You get the sense that Remender is ignoring the facts even though the circumstances are still fresh. The Scarlet Witch killed a lot of fucking people with her bullshit. Cyclops killed one guy while he was Dark Phoenix. Rogue is right to call her out on her shit and Wanda is total bitch for just calling X-men soldiers who were trying to save their race. This is an instance where Remender's talent fails to create a balanced moment here. Wanda is simply wrong and Rogue is right. But nothing comes of it.
And it's not just because of the circumstances. Rogue never gets a chance to calmly explain why Cyclops killing a man while Dark Phoenix is no different than committing mass genocide while under the influence of Dr. Doom. They never even get a chance to have a little hot girl-on-girl action that Marvel should know by now is something a vast majority of their male readers appreciate. That's because they get attacked by a new team of villains that have only slightly better fashion sense than the last One Direction music video. They have horribly unoriginal names like Goat Faced Girl and Living Wind. Hell, if that's how they're going to identify themselves I should just call myself Iron Liver. But however lame their names may be, they successfully beat back Rogue and the Scarlet Witch to obtain what they came for.
What exactly did they want and who exactly are they working for? How about the dead body and brain of Charles Xavier and the motherfucking Red Skull? That's who has decided to come in and exploit the aftermath of Avengers vs. X-men the same way republicans exploit dipshit religious nuts. While it was already revealed in the teasers for Uncanny Avengers that the Red Skull was going to be the main villain, ending the issue with him holding up the brain of Charles Xavier after having given a lobotomy to Avalanche early on definitely leaves an impression. That impression will either put a smile on your face or make you want to throw up. Since I've seen far more disgusting shit hunched over a toilet in a gas station bathroom at three in the morning, I smile because it helps make up for some of the bullshit circumstances of this comic.
I'll give everyone who happens to be a pussy with a weak stomach a moment to come back from praying to the porcelain god like I've done with many a hangover. Now after reading this comic, I'm inclined to disclose that some comics are worth upchucking your meal from the last three days. However, I don't think this is one of them. Comics that are worth it are usually as awesome as a pair of tits and a line of blow. This comic wasn't awesome. It wasn't bad either. It was just okay. A big, fat okay for a book with Rick Remender and John Cassaday. That's like going to a Shakespeare play and getting a Rebecca Black concert instead. Given the massive fuckton of variant covers Marvel has thrown behind this book and the top tier talent they put behind it, for this to be anything but awesome is like taking a shit on the grave of Aristotle.
This comic had some nice moments. Rick Remender's dialog was strong in some areas, but weak and others. Cassaday's artwork was consistently awesome the whole time, especially in the gruesome moments that involved unnecessary brain surgery that would earn any doctor a lawsuit and a jail cell next to Jerry Sandusky. However, what really dragged this issue down was the poor characterization. That's supposed to be one of Remender's greatest strengths, as I've articulated with many drunken reviews of Uncanny X-Force. Here, it's like he thought he was so good at it that he tried to do it blindfolded. It led Havok to coming off as a complete douche, it made Wolverine's eulogy about as emotional and heart-felt as an apology from Mel Gibson, and it did nothing to make Captain America come off as less an asshole. This in addition to the bullshit circumstances left over by Avengers vs. X-men makes this comic a hard book to digest if you've got a weak stomach, but it's good enough in other areas to get you through without chugging a gallon of Pepto Bismol.
Uncanny Avengers #1 was billed as the beginning of a new flagship title for Marvel NOW! But if this is the best Marvel can do, then check that ship for leaks and look for Leonardo DiCapprio drawing Kate Winslett naked because that motherfucker isn't seaworthy. However, it does establish a new mission and a new team against a very devious threat that isn't afraid to desecrate graves and give random characters full lobotomies. In that sense, it's a decent issue. But again, the panties of the comic loving world will remain as dry as the Sahara and the wounds from Avengers vs. X-men will still fester. Because of that, I give Uncanny Avengers #1 a 3 out of 5. It's got pretty pictures and some nice moments. That sort of shit won't get you full service at a Bankok massage parlor, but it will get you a half-hearted happy ending. Nuff said!