Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Uncanny Avengers #5 - Public Relations Nightmare (of Awesome)
I know I’ve been pretty critical of the Avengers lately. In my recent reviews, I seem to gleefully wave my dick while slamming back shots of tequila whenever the Avengers are pwned. I won’t say that after reading Uncanny X-men #3 I was extremely hung over and had a strange piercing in my balls that I don’t remember getting. I’ll only say that strange things happen when you get drunk in New Orleans during a gay pride parade. But while I may seem like I’m anti-Avengers, I want to assure my readers that I’m no embittered hater.
I love the Avengers. They are Marvel’s mightiest team of heroes. They had a billion dollar movie. They have Samuel freakin’ Jackson and Scarlett freakin’ Johanssen. Their capacity for awesome is beyond dispute. The purpose of subjecting them to more poop jokes than usual on this blog has to do with their success. They won Avengers vs. X-men with their shit smelling like roses. And like the New England Patriots, The New York Yankees, and rich white guys who bitch about the gays and poor people they are a big target. They’re easy to hate and easy to get annoyed by. Maybe me calling them a bunch of lying, hypocritical dickheads after Avengers vs. X-men is excessive, but that’s warranted in the same way that calling Donald Trump a dick is warranted.
And to their credit, the Avengers are trying to take the lessons learned in Avengers vs. X-men and apply it so they aren’t easy targets for poop jokes. The point of Uncanny Avengers was to bridge the gap between the Avengers and the X-men. The first arc involved putting together a new team of both Avengers and X-men to see if they can work together without someone shooting a cosmic bird and blaming it on mutants. The results were only semi-successful. The X-men they ended up entrusting to this task was Alex Summers, who is basically the New Coke version of Cyclops. Not only was he a total douche to his brother, but he’s nowhere near the leader in terms of experience and track record. That’s like making a former living weapon the headmaster of a school for mutant children. Okay, bad example.
But to his credit, Havok managed to pull his team through when the Red Skull attacked armed with the brain of Charles Xavier. Granted, the Red Skull got away and a fuckton of innocent people were horribly traumatized. But Havok was able to hold his own on a team with Captain America, Thor, and Wolverine. He’s still a douche, but he proved himself as admirably as you could hope for.
Unfortunately, he’s going to have to prove himself even more because some nasty shit is brewing from some loose ends left by Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run. During the epic Dark Angel Saga, Archangel apparently thought he was too advanced to need condoms. As a result, he knocked up one of the horsemen in what may have been the only sex tape nobody ever wants to see outside of Japanese fetish porn. It’s not clear if Angel is going to get sued for child support in the tradition of Evander Holyfield, but apparently it has already been long enough for a couple of new baby Apocalypse’s to emerge from the most unholy of twats. I’m not sure if Havok is ready to face an Apocalypse threat yet, but there’s no fucking way he’s prepared for a couple of baby Apocalypses. Like any child that results from forgetting to use a condom, there’s going to be some tension.
But Archangel and the Avengers aren’t the only ones who should be shitting themselves over the possibility of Apocalypse babies. Apparently, someone has already beaten them to the punch and knows how soiled his pants end up being. That someone is Kang the Conqueror, a villain who has crossed paths with the Avengers more often than the X-men. But I guess now that the X-men and Avengers are sharing a collective vision, they might as well start sharing villains too. And I’m all for it because not only does it continue elements from Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run without coming off as overly nostalgic, it creates the kind of threat that feels like it can only be best handled with some Avengers/X-men collaboration.
However, that powerful threat, as awesome as it may be, takes a seat to more pragmatic matters in Uncanny Avengers. Seriously, it’s never mentioned again in this issue. It was akin to a teaser that only shows you the good parts of an Adam Sandler movie and skips all the parts that suck. But in this instance, some of those pragmatic matters actually make sense. And after Avengers vs. X-men, these comics are in desperate need of shit that makes sense.
The first logical thing the new Uncanny Avengers do is step up their manpower. They didn’t exactly measure up against the Red Skull in the first arc so how they fuck can they expect to measure up to a threat like Kang and Apocalypse? Their new recruits include Avengers veterans Wonder Man and Wasp. And they’re not just joining the team for an extra set of fists to punch the Red Skull either. Wonder Man has a history with the Scarlet Witch that may or may not involve him wanting to feel her tits. He’s a calming influence on her and for a woman who can bitch-slap reality, that’s a pretty important thing to have. Unfortunately, they aren't exactly thrilled with their first meeting with Rogue and Havok. Apparently, they have different tastes in terms of how to decorate the Avengers mansion and I guess fighting for all that is good can't work without decor worthy of a Bravo mini-series. It once again shows that Havok is in over his head, yet still doing his best not to come off as a douche.
He’s not the only one worried that he’s destined to fuck things up. The Scarlet Witch also confronts Captain America about her presence on the team. It’s already well-known that she’s a mentally unstable mutant who could fuck up reality if she has a bad case of PMS. Her being on a team that showcases a new collaboration with the Avengers and the X-men is neither wise nor logical. It would be like putting Justin Bieber in the Wu Tang Clan. Nothing good could come of it. But Captain America helps reassure her and maybe soaks her panties a bit in the process. As we saw in the first arc, sometimes it does come in handy to have a reality-warping mutant on the team.
With the addition of two new Avengers, the team is starting to get horribly unbalanced. The X-men on the team are like the token black characters in a slasher movie in that they’re just a way to get the ACLU off their ass. Well Wolverine does some recruiting as well and hunts down Sunfire in Japan. If you’ve forgotten that Sunfire is still alive, that’s okay. You don’t need to cut back on the booze. He’s been MIA for a good reason. He sort of pissed his teammates off when he joined Apocalypse to get his legs back (they were blown off previously) and he’s been drowning his sorrows in booze and self-loathing ever since. That makes Wolverine the perfect guy to convince him to join the team because no matter how bad Sunfire thinks he has it, at least he can’t say that he has to live with the fact that Cyclops boned Jean Grey and he didn’t.
Armed with these new recruits, the new Avengers team calls a meeting. And what does Havok propose they do with this new muscle? Maybe it would be advantageous to hunt down the Red Skull and kick Xavier’s brain out of his head before he mind-fucks more people or maybe it would help if the new team gets proactive and starts hunting down threats like Apocalypse before they start blowing shit up. No, that would make too much sense. That would be something Cyclops would do and Havok just can’t have that. Instead, he’s going to hold a press conference. I shit you not, that’s his plan.
It may sound stupid at first, but after I took a few bong hits I realized it made a lot of sense. This new X-men/Avengers team really hasn’t gone public yet. And as a few news reports in the issue showed, people still aren’t all open to a new population of mutants. The Red Skull actually convinced people without mind control that mutants should be hunted down, beaten up, and images of their bruised bodies broadcasted on Instagram. Those are probably the same people that still think Barack Obama’s birth certificate was forged, but they’re still a threat. Moreover, Havok wants the whole team, including the Scarlett Witch, to join them. It’s a risky move that any politician will tell you means you’ll get your ass handed to you by bloggers and Fox News. But Havok wants to try the truth approach rather than relying too heavily on bullshit. In that sense, he’s clearly very bad at PR.
Despite the many logical reasons why he shouldn’t do it, Havok has his press conference and even got a kiss on the cheek from Rogue in support. That alone should count as a partial win. He addresses the media as best a Cyclops-lite can possibly manage. Unfortunately, he spends a good deal of time just whining about his brother and like the first issue, he gives some piss poor reasons for hating him. Exactly how did Cyclops stray from Xavier’s dream when he used his power to create a utopian world for humans and mutants alike? Havok never explains that. He doesn’t even try. He’s still a douche, but he does come off as somewhat likable. And in PR that’s usually enough to bullshit your way to progress.
Another key aspect of PR is don’t let some psycho super-villain attack during the middle of a press conference. That’s like Elliot Spitzer getting a blowjob from a hooker while he’s busting a prostitution ring. The villain in this instance is a nasty fellow named the Grim Reaper. It’s not exactly clear if he’s linked to the earlier teaser with Kang and Apocalypse, but it is clear that he wants to make Havok and the Avengers out to be more of a douche. It finally allows Havok to say “Avengers Assemble!” without someone laughing their ass off. It’s basically another test to make up for the nasty shit the Red Skull did and this time the cameras are rolling so it’s in his best interest, PR-wise, not to fuck up.
Despite having a pretty tough contingent of Avengers and X-men in front of him, the Grim Reaper does a damn good job of single-handedly humiliating the new Uncanny Avengers. First, he neutralizes the Scarlet Witch, which is always smart when you’re dealing with a reality warping psycho-bitch. He then proceeds to rough up Wonder Man, Rogue, Captain America, and the rest of the team. If the point of this press conference was to avoid coming off as inept, Havok is failing miserably. You get the sense that none of this shit would happen if Cyclops were leading.
But in the end, they do manage to subdue the Grim Reaper. It’s actually pretty simple on the surface. Rogue swaps some power from the injured Wonder Man and proceeds to slug the Grim Reaper right in the face as if she caught him stealing her panties. That’s all it takes to knock him out, but it’s not quite as simple as it looks. Keep in mind, the cameras are still rolling. This is still a press event. And Rogue just helped prove the Red Skull’s point in showing how dangerous mutants were. It ends the issue on a somewhat ominous note while also being a new case study in how NOT to conduct a PR campaign.
Going back to what I said about the Avengers actually trying to apply the lessons they learned in Avengers vs. X-men, this issue was by far the best example in the post-Avengers vs. X-men era of a more unified Marvel universe. Yes, Havok was still a douche and his speeches are about as inspirational as George W. Bush giving a lecture on grammar. But he and this new team of Avengers really came together in this issue and established a clear vision for both the team and the series. In many ways this issue is sort of a transition from the team being just a knee-jerk reaction to Avengers vs. X-men to being an actual force in the Marvel universe. And I can say with a semi-sober mind that I’m all for it!
Granted, their first efforts at fostering human/mutant peace ended in another semi-disaster, but the premise is clearly established and neatly fleshed out. I can already hear some hyper-douchy hipster types choking on their lattes over this issue focusing too much on PR. That’s like going to a Metallica concert and having to listen to Justin Bieber. But the reason I give an extra-large finger to those hipster types is because it actually makes fucking sense to focus on this sort of thing, even if it is boring on the level of watching the Fox Business Channel. If the Avengers and X-men are serious about working together, then they kind of need to sell this shit to the public. Because what good is working together going to do if the public still supports the Red Skulls of the world and makes beating up mutants a new Olympic sport?
Even if you find the concept of PR less appealing than watching C-SPAN sober for eight hours, this issue offers plenty of action and a few nice moments of drama. This new Avengers team is different from the others in that they aren’t all on the same page and not all of them are in good standing with the public. Hell, one of them committed mutant genocide and another teamed up with a mutant tyrant. That’s like a rapper collaborating with Vanilla Ice on a song. That’s more than a tough sell, but it definitely helps make the story more awesome no one’s brain needed to be cut out. So it’s win-win!
There’s a lot to like about this issue, but if you hate Alex Summers then all those good things will probably be overshadowed. He may be the leader of this new team, but he’s still a douche who does nothing but whine about his brother for exceedingly shitty reasons. In addition, the teaser at the beginning with Kang and the Apocalypse twins was awesome, but it really didn’t amount to much in the larger story. It felt out of place and if the attack at the end was linked to it, then it’s hard to make that connection without the aid of LSD. It’s also hard to imagine Rogue and Wanda as cat-people without LSD, but I don’t hold that against this issue.
This issue still lacks the concise, focused awesome that made Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force so legendary. However, it is definitely a comic that is up to his lofty standards. Even if you didn’t enjoy the first arc, this issue offers the promise of plenty more awesome. We’ve got new characters in Wasp, Wonder Man, and Sunfire. We’ve got a new Apocalypse threat. I mean if that shit isn’t enough for you, then you’re either smoking too much weed or smoking the wrong kind. I give Uncanny Avengers #5 a 4.5 out of 5. Like it or not, superheroes need good PR and as anyone who works in the PR department at Penn State now knows it doesn’t take much to fuck it up. That’s what the Uncanny Avengers are going through right now, but I think it’s still better than Penn State’s PR problem. Nuff said!