Thursday, November 29, 2012
Uncanny Avengers #2 - Not-So-Overhyped Awesome
I get that big businesses like Marvel and their Disney overlords could give three tenths of a shit about how much a comic or movie is hated by fans and critics, so long as it makes a fuckton of money. Every fan and every critic in the world could whine at the top of their lungs about how much they utterly despised something and threaten to go on a hunger strike while shitting on every affiliated product associated with the company. Marvel and their Disney overlords will still just casually shrug it off and go back to counting their money while doing blow off the tits of Russian hookers.
I bring this up because Uncanny Avengers #1 was billed as the biggest event to come out of Avengers vs. X-men. It was automatically deemed as the third most awesome thing Marvel has ever done after Mary Jane Watson's ass and Emma Frost's tits. It certainly had all the necessary elements to be awesome. It directly followed up the big (yet utterly illogical) events of Avengers vs. X-men by establishing a new team. This team would have heavy hitters from both the Avengers and the X-men while bringing back equally heavy threats like the Red Skull. It also promised to utilize the talents of Rick Remender, who has made Uncanny X-Force worth it's weight in Colombian imported blow, and John Cassaday, who made Astonishing X-men worth it's weight in purified whiskey. However, despite all these amazing elements, the shit was underwhelming. So they buried Charles Xavier, Havok was a douche-bag, Wanda and Rogue got into a fight with their clothes on, and the Red Skull took Charles Xavier's brain. You expect a book by Rick Remender to be that fucked up, but you don't expect it to be that underwhelming. However, it's a given that Marvel gives microscopic levels of shit. The issue still sold over 300,000 copies thanks to an onslaught of overpriced marketing gimmicks that nobody wants to admit still work.
Now I still maintain that Uncanny Avengers #1 was not even within the same time zone as a typical issue of Uncanny X-Force in terms of sheer awesome, but that's only from my drunken perspective. Hell, from my perspective, old Simpsons reruns are still funny after a few bong hits. But based on the numerous reviews and assorted bitching on message boards, I think it's reasonable to conclude that Uncanny Avengers #1 left plenty to be desired. For some, just seeing Charles Xavier get his brain ripped out after being such a douche for so many years and seeing Rogue and Wanda go at it in a way you can still jerk off to was enough. But the issue left me wanting more. Thankfully, the issue ended on a pretty awesome and pretty fucked up note with the Red Skull holding up Charles Xavier's brain as if it were a cup of Hitler's semen. There are so many ways that can become awesome that even an annoying delay isn't enough to make me want to skip the next issue.
Uncanny Avengers #2 doesn’t try to be quite as grotesque in the beginning. It merely deals with the immediate aftermath of Avalanche’s rampage in New York City, who had part of his brain cut out in an exceedingly grotesque way in the previous issue. Now I’m not saying there’s ever a valid reason to go on a rampage, but having your brain cut out by a Nazi should certainly earn a guy some sympathy. Wolverine isn’t in a very sympathetic mood though. He muses at how between Cyclops’s recent power trip with the Phoenix and Avalanche’s latest brain fuck powered rampage, it’s a pretty lousy time to be a mutant. Hell, I almost feel like buying the guy an Evanescence album if he wasn’t such a douche. But Captain America and Thor are taking a more pragmatic approach. They see this as more than just a guy who had a lousy day and ended up losing have his brain. They know someone has too much free time on their hands and since internet porn is no longer enough, they need to start a mutant war. So with Havok now as a figurehead, they're prepared to fight back. We're basically all fucked is what they're saying.
We only get a brief understanding of how fucked we are when the fine, dishonest folks in the media (or whatever qualifies as Fox News in the Marvel Universe) report the inevitable irrational response to the New York attack. The message is pretty basic, but Remender actually adds an element of connection and coherence that was lacking from the previous issue. He mentions the slaughter on Genosha, which left an indelible mark on the public about what happens when the mutant population surges. It's basically, "Do you really think they'll want to hug and smoke a joint after all those millions of mutants we killed?" It would be like the Ayatollah's in Iran inviting the entire population of Israel to a holocaust parade. That just just doesn't sit well for some.
But the broadcast isn't just the typical talking heads that Rupert Murdock pays millions to undermine truth in politics. Behind this veneer of typical talk show trash, the Red Skull is wielding his influence. So I guess TV in the Marvel universe is only slightly less evil. He still manages to get a few random citizens to murder a few mutants in cold blood. It's a rather disheveled scene, but it gets the point across. Normal humans that know how evolution works (or weren't homeschooled in Texas) know what happens when a stronger species emerges. Survival is the only universe instinct in addition to the instinct to fuck indiscriminately while intoxicated.
In addition to fucking with the general public, the Red Skull also has Rogue tied up in an S&M style dungeon. Again, he's still not as evil as the heads at Fox News, but he's getting pretty close! Both Rogue and Wanda were attacked by the Red Skull's latest brand of superpowered Hitler lovers and rather than leave them to whine to the Avengers about how he dug up Xavier's body, he abducted them. Again, still not as evil as Fox News. But Rogue, referencing some very kinky sexual proclivities that fanfiction writers live for, is able to trick this sexy looking woman made of water and steal her powers. From there, she breaks out and is intent on getting to Wanda so they can finish their cat-fight from the previous issues, hopefully with their clothes off this time.
But Wanda wakes up in much more comfortable settings. The Red Skull awakens her without being too disgusted by her being both Jewish and a gypsy. But he's willing to overlook that since she's shown a willingness to dab in a little genocide. He talks a bit about how he once had the chance to kill her father, but didn't. Then he fathered a woman who has the power to conduct mass genocide with a fucking sentence fragment. That's fate making lemonade out of lemons, spiked with a little PCP right there. It's a prime example of Rick Remender making connections in a story that give it a level of coherence that any self-respecting drunk can only admire. It works great on a sobriety test and even better in an awesome comic.
Despite the obvious revulsion Wanda should have to an unapologetic Nazi, she hears the Red Skull out. He shows her his fancy new training facility that he hopes to use to wage war against mutants. He also reveals that he's basically a backup Red Skull, his consciousness transferred to a spare body that was created back in 1942. To him, just a few months ago the most advanced phone still had a crank shaft. Now he's in a modern world where phones actually talk back and mutants are on the rise. And he wants Wanda to wipe them out again with another M-Day.
Now seeing as how the last time she pulled this stunt it caused mass genocide and incurred the wrath of the Phoenix Force, she would be completely against the idea. And by all accounts she is at first, but then the Red Skull gives her just the right nudge in the form of some telepathic mind raping. Where did he pick up that trick? Well that brain he was holding at the end of the previous issue should be a blatantly obvious clue. Marvel is assuming their readers have enough imagination to figure out how the Red Skull took on Xavier's telepathy. I question that assumption as some of our imaginations only exist to put tits on everything we see.
Imagination aside, Wanda is clearly influenced by the Red Skull. She's actually prepared to do another M-Day. However, Rogue is equally prepared to kick her ass in ways that will make her say, "No more broken bones!" After the Red Skull steps out, Rogue finds her and they resume their brawl from earlier. Sadly, they keep their clothes on. But Remender maintains some heavy dialog in between. This is one aspect of the book that is somewhat annoying. There's a lot of talk and it doesn't really improve the action. It just makes you think, "Why the fuck are they wasting their breath when they should be down to their bra and panties by now!" Wanda tries to say in way too many words that Rogue is just a thug who used to bone her father. It becomes a bit cliched, much like the dialog from Thor earlier. But even if the dialog is weak, it doesn't prevent the story from flowing in a very awesome manner.
That flow eventually leads Wanda and Rogue to a very gruesome discovery. They find Charles Xavier's body, which the Red Skull so sickeningly desecrated in the previous issue (in a non-necrophiliac way hopefully). This finally gets the two women to table their cat fight. Even though they have many reasons to hate each other, they're smart enough to understand that when the body of Charles Xavier is lying before them without a brain something is horribly fucked up. But they don't get a chance to be too disgusted. The Red Skull catches up to them, revealing that he's fused Xavier's brain with his somehow and now can use his telepathic talents to make them do whatever they want. I'm guessing these girls are in for the sickest fetish porn in the history of reality. And why not? The Red Skull is a German sadist last I checked. Who knows what kind of shit gets him hard?
Whereas the first issue tried to overcompensate for earlier shortcomings by shocking the hell out of readers (and making those with weak stomachs re-taste their meals for the past three days), this issue didn’t need to compensate for jack shit. This issue actually felt like an issue that Rick Remender would write in his most sober moments. It had solid, cohesive dialog. It had disturbingly grotesque moments that somehow came off as more than torture porn. It was nowhere near as disturbing as Deadpool feeding pieces of himself to Arcangel in the first arc of Uncanny X-Force, but it was right up there! Moreover, it actually came together in a way that felt as satisfying as a book that sold over 300,000 copies ought to be.
What made this issue work was the Red Skull. I know it’s taboo to praise an evil, Hitler-loving Nazi, but he really stole the show here and not just because he also stole Charles Xavier’s brain. He’s still a Nazi at heart, only able to get erections when a minority is being brutally oppressed. But he goes about it in a way that would make Hitler himself cry with joy. Using both Xavier’s brain and the Scarlet Witch, he demonstrates he’s out to do more than just throw giant robots at this new mutant-filled world. He’s willing to fuck reality again with M-Day 2.0. Rogue getting caught in the crossfire helps keep this issue from making a Nazi too awesome. And the disturbing (yet not grotesque) end offers a world of potential that I’m sure Rick Remender will turn into many more grotesque moments.
Now it may still be fair to call Uncanny Avengers ridiculously overhyped. While this issue may be awesome, it has yet to make a mark on the greater Marvel universe. That may just be a result of it being the first book in the relaunch whereas most other Marvel books are still in aftermath mode from Avengers vs. X-men. This book has plenty of potential to really spread the awesome over numerous Marvel titles, but at the moment it seems a bit narrow in scope and disorganized in terms of flow.
Never-the-less, Uncanny Avengers #2 is still a clear and welcome upgrade from the first issue. It still has a ways to go before it can be worthy of the hype that should come with having names like Remender, Cassaday, and 18 different variant covers attached to it. There are still a number of elements that need to come together, but my faith in this series has been officially renewed. As such, I give Uncanny Avengers #2 a 4 out of 5. First you had the Red Skull holding Xavier’s brain in his hand. Then you had him mind-fucking two beautiful women. Who knows what he could do in the issues to come? With a brain in one hand and two beautiful women under his control, he could either do something extremely evil or extremely pornographic. Nuff said!