Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Uncanny Avengers #8 - Exceedingly Detailed Awesome
I don’t pretend to be an expert in minority relations. I generally operate under the “don’t be a dick” principle and the “don’t justify bigotry with ancient mythology” philosophy. I like to think that has served me pretty well over the years. I’ve never really had any problem with a particular race, religion, ethnic group, gender (when ex-girlfriends aren’t involved), or sexual preferences (again, when girlfriend’s aren’t involved). And while I may not be qualified, I still think I’m perfectly credible in saying that Alex Summers is fucking awful when it comes to minority relations.
Let’s look at his situation. His brother is basically scapegoated for the shit that happened in Avengers vs. X-men and his first reaction is to whine about it. Captain America comes to him hoping to form a new team of Avengers and X-men to avoid shit like this and once again, Havok’s first reaction is to whine about it. Later on when he tries to do a little PR work to improve human/mutant relations, his main argument involves whining about the use of the word mutant. See the pattern? Rather than do what his brother did and actually rally mutants to his cause (when he wasn’t banging hot telepaths), he just whines. When your tactics are on par with a three-year-old, you suck. That’s all there is to it.
But maybe I’m being too harsh on Havok. It’s not like he’s had an ideal situation. He is trying to lead this team at a time when the Red Skull is back and armed with Charles Xavier’s powers. He managed to pull his team out of that shit storm, but now the Apocalypse Twins have emerged from the ashes of Rick Remender’s Dark Angel Saga. They have already laid waste to a Celestial. Now they’re setting their sights on Earth again and Kang the Conqueror is somewhere pulling the strings and probably jerking off with delight. There’s trial by fire and then there’s just having a really shitty sense of timing. Havok, were he not already the lesser of three brothers, would have the worst.
Yet Havok’s poor leadership skills have been part of what has made Uncanny Avengers so entertaining. It started slow, but it has really picked up in recent issues as the team continues to bitch and moan. The X-men and Avengers aren’t used to working together. That didn’t stop Wasp from trying to jump Havok’s bone, but the general sentiment of the team is they’re about as unified as the Korean peninsula right now. And at the end of Uncanny Avengers #7, the Apocalypse Twins arrived so they better unify their asses pretty damn quick.
The twins make their presence felt in Uncanny Avengers #8 by raining holy hell on Rio de Jinero. After knocking out SWORD with their Celestial ship (which they stole by the way), the debris is on a collision course with a densely populated area. Thor does his best to save as much of Rio’s most precious resource, namely beautiful women that wear thongs and don’t mind topless sunbathing. But even the God of Thunder knows he’s fucked. As he’s trying to hammer away the debris, he recalls how it was his drunken ass that led him to forking over the magic axe that ended up killing the Celestial and allowed the twins to take the ship in the first place. It’s like that kid whose lunch money you took back in grade school coming back as a trained Navy SEAL and body builder asking that you pay up. And as Thor is finding out, that price hurts like hell either way.
Thankfully, Thor won’t have to live with the burden of being the asshole that indirectly killed thousands of thong-loving Brazilians. In the previous issue, Sunfire chose to stay on the crippled space station as it crashed down to Earth. Here, we find out why. It wasn’t some bullshit act of atonement meant to make up for being a former horsemen of Apocalypse. It was actually strategic in that by staying on board, he was able to go thermonuclear to a point that allowed him to vaporize the debris. It effectively saves Rio and earns him some adulation (and maybe a few thongs from grateful women). They then fly up to the Celestial ship together where they learn that it was hijacked, Grand Theft Auto IV style, minus the part where they ran over a hooker. Being a former horsemen of Apocalypse, Sunfire knows they’re up against some serious shit and Thor knows he needs to stop getting into bar fights with demigods.
As Thor and Sunfire explore the Celestial ship, the rest of the Uncanny Avengers assemble to investigate. They make their way to the North Pole where Arcangel established the Metropolis of Akkaba, a city entirely dedicated to serving Apocalypse. It’s basically North Korea, but with a slightly less insane leader. The mere fact that Wolverine knows of the city is cause for concern because it reveals that he’s got a few dirty little secrets that don’t involve locks of Jean Grey’s hair or other bastard kids he’s fathered because of his aversion to condoms. Not everything involving X-Force has been revealed, but both the Avengers and his fellow X-men suspect that Wolverine is being more of an ass than usual.
It further adds to Rick Remender’s tendency to link events from this series to his legendary run on Uncanny X-Force. I often say that comics that make sense are as rare as child star that doesn’t become a total fuck-up. But for every Amanda Bynes, there’s a Neil Patrick Harris. And this book takes it a step further by actually exploring the consequences for Wolverine’s bullshit. In the same way not wearing a condom will leave you either diseased or screwed, keeping secrets from your teammates at a time when the X-men and Avengers still don’t trust each other is like doubling down in blackjack when you’re broke. It’s a shitty idea. Rogue even confronts him about it, pointing out that the Apocalypse twins resemble Angel. I personally don’t see the resemblance, but both she and Wasp make it clear they know someone is hiding something. And like that nasty taste in the burger you got from some asshole at a fast food joint, it’s important to know what you’re biting into.
While Wolverine is getting surrounded by women in the exact opposite way most men prefer, we find out that Captain America crashed landed in the worst possible place that doesn’t involve a dentist office or a proctologist office. He was among the many who jumped into an escape pod when the Celestial ship crashed into SWORD and while everyone else probably landed on a nice nude beach in France, he ended up in Sudan. And for anyone who doesn’t keep up with the news (and you’re completely forgiven if you don’t), Sudan is about as pro-America as PETA is pro-KFC. And since Captain America is wearing the freakn’ flag, he might as well be a walking strip of bacon in Elvis’s kitchen.
Cap ends up having to run for his life, as is often the case in Sudan when there are more loaded assault rifles than porn. He gets wounded along the way and has to duck for cover. There’s some nice narration here, which Remender has used throughout this series. I know some fans don’t like that in a comic. If you happen to meet those fans, please give them the courtesy of punching them in the jaw because when done right, as Remender shows here, it’s pretty awesome. It adds an extra bit of drama while revealing how Captain America’s strategic mind operates.
He believes that it was no accident that he landed in Sudan. Nobody’s luck could be that shitty, even in the Marvel universe. He suspects somebody wanted him to end up here. That’s what leads him to some fancy looking box that he just happened to come across that was intended for him. Is it overly convenient? Probably, but if someone intended for him to end up in Sudan, it’s not completely illogical, like so many of Marvel’s other stories. We don’t exactly find out what is in the box. It’s another fucking cliffhanger, but it’s far from the most frustrating cliff-hanger that Marvel has done (looking at you, Age of Ultron).
In addition to giving us insight with Cap, the internal narration helps offer some insight into the Apocalypse Twins. To this point we only know that they’re the result of Arcangel not being evolved enough to use a damn condom when he was Apocalypse. We also know that Kang, who for some reason is completely MIA, took them into the future. Now we find out through their musing that they come from a very shitty future where the Red Skull, who already mind-fucked a lot of people into attacking mutants, ended up mind-fucking the whole world and the entire mutant race.
Now the Apocalypse Twins are looking to undo that by finishing what Arcangel started. On Akkaba, they have already allowed thousands of former mutants who lost their powers after M-Day to populate the city. They are all like citizens of North Korea, conditioned to serve Apocalypse. The twins don’t demonstrate the same asshole demeanor that Apocalypse did or even the demeanor that Kim Jong Ill once did. They offer telling hints at how Kang fucked things up with time again and they were intent on fixing it. But as with most things that involve Apocalypse, fixing and blowing shit are often mutually exclusive. Hell, he probably doesn’t even have different words for it.
After they finish their pondering, they confront Thor and Sunfire, albeit via hologram. They continue to reveal more juicy details, informing Thor that the Ax of Jarnbjorn (yet another unpronounceable Asgardian weapon) was used to kill anyone who attempted to ascend to the throne of Apocalypse. So yeah, that bar fight a few issues ago had some pretty fucked up consequences. And why is killing future Apocalypse’s a bad thing? Well, without Apocalypse, Kang finally succeeds in establishing his dynasty. It’s a very potent “fuck you” to Thor, who used that axe to begin with. But they even take it a step further, revealing that Wolverine killed both that creepy kid Apocalypse and Arcangel. It’s yet another “fuck you” that probably won’t help with team unity, which was already more fragile than Lindsey Lohan’s sobriety.
And since the twins are on such a roll with the fuck yous, they keep at it. They systematically kill every single one of those followers that were worshiping them earlier. They considered it an act of mercy, which I’m sure even Kim Jong Ill would have disagreed with were he still alive and only mildly sane. But it’s not as crazy as it sounds. They boasted towards Thor and Sunfire that some very nasty, Ragnarok-style shit about to happen. And they would rather their followers not suffer through it. Is it still a dick move? Hell yes. But does it make the most twisted kind of sense? I’m sorry to say it does and I never like agreeing with the Kim Jong Ills of the world.
And for the coup de grace fuck you, the Apocalypse twins ditch Thor and Sunfire before they can try to stop them. At around the same time, the Uncanny Avengers arrive. So to throw a little icing on the cake, they proceed to blow the Metropolis of Akkaba up in a way that would give Michael Bay wet dreams for the next five years. But they look at it as more than just solving their problems through explosions. By revealing some of Thor and Wolverine’s dirty secrets, they do the work of a billion failed press conferences. They know that if the X-men and Avengers can’t get their shit together, then no one can stop them. It may be the most well-thought out plan against both teams in Marvel history and it has multiple “fuck yous” built right into it. Blowing them up (which they probably assume they’ll survive) is just an extra shot of tequila to go along with the cake.
Reading this book gave me the impression that Rick Remender was showing off his multi-tasking skills. It’s like that guy in a bar after a few drinks where he demonstrates his ability to shoot pool with one hand while pleasuring two women with the other. You know he’s showing off and being an arrogant prick about it, but you still can’t help but admire him. And I admire Remender in the same way here. Recent issues have either been mostly all talk or all action. You have a boring ass press conference with one issue and a brawl between Thor and Apocalypse the next. It’s downright bipolar at times, but this issue added some lithium to the mix by mixing both talk and action. And the resulting combination is as awesome as peanut butter, chocolate fudge, and whiskey.
All the plots that Rick Remender threw into the pot from the very beginning of this series are finally starting to mix. It’s like authentic Cajun gumbo. Once all the ingredients stop moving and the chunks get softer, it takes on a more appealing consistency. The Apocalypse Twins aren’t just thrown into that pot. Remender actually takes time to explore who these two are, what their agenda is, and why they’re doing all this crazy shit that involves killing a Celestial and scaring the thong bikinis off everyone in Rio. Some may say the whole narration elements are best left for Chris Claremont’s heyday. I say fuck everyone who thinks that because Rick Remender really makes it work here, adding some emotional flare to a plot that is finally rewarding the patience of the dedicated readers who have followed this story from the beginning and squandered many bags of good weed to compensate.
What made Uncanny X-Force so awesome has finally found its way into Uncanny Avengers. This issue in many ways represents what I was originally hoping for when this series was first announced. A team of X-men and Avengers have to work together to overcome threats that neither team is equipped to handle on their own and Rick Remender throws in some of those juicy Uncanny X-Force elements to make it work. Those elements finally came out here in that not only were the events of Uncanny X-Force referenced, but the lingering discontent of the team was thoroughly explored. The secrets Wolverine kept about X-Force are finally starting to reveal themselves and it has come back to bite them all in a way that is both awesome and compelling.
While the details may finally be coming together, one glaring detail is somewhat glossed over in this issue. That detail is Kang. We’ve seen him working behind the scenes for a number of issues now, but now he’s MIA like a crack head armed with Warren Buffet’s credit card. He was mentioned, but his absence is somewhat striking given the attention to detail given to every other element of the story. I have all the faith that the Catholic Church only wish it had that Remender will reveal Kang’s role later on in the arc, but for now it is an omission that can only be ignored with the aid of potent weed.
Such a slight omission does little to take away from the overall quality of Uncanny Avengers #8. This issue has everything we were led to believe it would have from the beginning. It took eight freakin’ issues to get it, but in the same way it’s worth traveling to Mexico to get uncut blow it is worth waiting eight issues for a comic of this quality. Remender’s focus on using words to both disrupt the unity of the team and skillfully weave a tale of awesome earns this issue a 4.5 out of 5. If you didn’t have the patience to wait for an issue this awesome, then you need to up your Adderall dosage. Some comics are just worth blowing your pharmacists and fucking up your brain chemistry and this is one of them. Nuff said!