Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #14
If watching Dr. Who while stoned has taught me anything, it's that streamlining the space time continuum is like trying to perform brain surgery blindfolded while break-dancing. It's unreasonable to expect Marvel or anyone to effectively streamline the long list of alternate timelines. Hell, DC got so frustrated with it that they just said, "Fuck it, we're rebooting." But Marvel has been trying to find some sense of harmony with these various timelines in wake of Age of Ultron. They already have Galactus laying waste to the Ultimate universe. And Uncanny Avengers is in the middle of a story that involves time travel and taking advantage of those who fuck up when time traveling.
The Uncanny Avengers have been overmatched and outsmarted by the Apocalypse Twins so far. But they're not the only ones they have to worry about. They still have pissed off time travelers like Kang to deal with and a pissed off time traveler is right up there with a pissed off Hulk in terms of shit nobody wants to deal with. So as I review Uncanny Avengers #14, I'm ready to hear Doc Brown shit himself in horror as the timeline continues to get more fucked up. I’m also ready to hear a lot of fans shit themselves over the kind of death that comes along with a fucked up timeline so I hope I’m not the only one ready to be frustrated and pissed by this issue.
Doc Brown and Dr. Who already probably have some serious migraines. After Kang finds out that the Apocalypse Twins have basically cock-blocked him from going back to their time, he sees that his entire future is falling apart. Not one to take such cock-blocking lightly, he starts fucking with the timeline even more. He travels to multiple timelines that exist throughout the Marvel multiverse, including the 2099 universe and the dystopian future that Rick Remender created with Psylocke in Uncanny X-Force. Kang figures if he’s going to discipline the twins, he’ll need to risk a fucked up paradox to make it sufficient. I could say it makes the story even more convoluted, but I can’t say Kang isn’t resourceful.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to see Kang lead his new time-displaced army against the Apocalypse Twins. He basically just falls to the wayside while the rest of the story focuses on the Scarlett Witch. I’m not against a more focused plot. It makes this series much easier to read while drunk. However, part of the appeal of the recent issues of Uncanny Avengers has been its ability to balance so many different sub-plots and so many different characters. That is pretty much abandoned in this issue, but for good reason. Wanda Maximoff is about to transport the entire mutant population to an artificial world. Like a gushing neck wound, that kind of shit can’t be ignored.
So after rescuing Wolverine from his degenerate and exceedingly horny son in the previous issue, Rogue and Sunfire take it upon themselves to stop the Scarlett Witch once and for all. And while Rogue promised Wolverine that she would make a concerted effort not to kill her, she assumed that Wolverine was just doing his best Mitt Romney impression. She makes it clear through some well-crafted internal monologue that she still blames the Scarlett Witch for all the damage she did to the mutant race. And this shit is way past the final straw.
They go after the Scarlett Witch and Wonder Man, who are in the process of beginning the spell that the Apocalypse Twins requested. They’re ready to bring the entire mutant race into this new world they created. However, the Twins still think that Wanda is going to make it so that these mutants don’t arrived pissed off. She made it clear to Wonder Man that she has no intention of complying with their request and the Apocalypse Twins don’t seem that worried. They’re content to just sit back, drink wine, and enjoy the show. I admit I would probably do the same thing if I was that confident that one of my crazy plans wouldn’t fuck up. Then again, I’m a drunk with humility.
However, Rogue and Sunfire don’t know that the Scarlett Witch intends to screw the Apocalypse Twins over. As far as they’re concerned, she basically agreed to be their magical bitch. So when they arrive, they’re ready to take her down. It’s ironic because it’s really hard to root for the Scarlett Witch. She committed mass genocide and gets a fucking pass with the Avengers. Cyclops and the X-men try to create a global utopia with the Phoenix Force and he gets thrown in jail. I’ve made it clear in my reviews that I think the Scarlett Witch is about as deserving as a pass as O.J. Simpson. Yet here I am, actually giving a damn about her succeeding in her plan while the X-men she screwed over are now the assholes.
Daken and the Grim Reaper are there to stop them before they can disrupt the spell. And while I may be rooting for the Scarlett Witch, there’s no way I can get drunk enough to root for these assholes. The battle that follows isn’t quite as epic as some of the other battles that have taken place over the course of this arc. It’s pretty basic actually and some may even get a little impatient to see what happens with the Scarlett Witch’s spell. But I think it’s a given that most everyone at this point is impatient to see Rogue and Sunfire beat the shit out of these two. In some ways it causes the story to drag, as if this sort of fight was contractually obligated. I get that there’s supposed to be action in these comics, but it couldn’t hurt to make it at least feel meaningful in the same way cocaine makes people at least feel they’re invincible.
As the basic yet visceral battle unfolds, Wolverine manages to heal up enough to join the fight. There’s no way he would miss an opportunity to discipline his wayward son in a way that won’t give him a boner. However, there’s none of the personal drama between these two that made their struggle in the previous issue so compelling. I understand that most of that shit was vetted in the previous issue, but it still felt somewhat incomplete. Just seeing Wolverine attack his son while Daken just looks like he’s trying not to get too horny is somewhat underwhelming.
But Daken’s main role here is to basically keep Wolverine from stopping Rogue. At this point he realizes that Rogue had no intention of keeping that “no killing” promise she made him. Given how liberal he has been with killing, I don’t think he should be surprised. He actually looks like a little girl watching her mother throw away her favorite teddy bear while Rogue goes in for the kill against the Scarlett Witch, which isn’t very fitting for a guy who murdered his own son…even if he didn’t stay murdered.
And Rogue lands that killing blow. Having absorbed Wolverine’s powers and his lifetime of killing skills, she effectively gives the Scarlett Witch the Mariko Yashida treatment. Sunfire made sure Wonder Man wasn’t in a position to stop her, leaving these two to finally settle the argument that began all the way back in Uncanny Avengers #1. While it may look like Rogue won the argument on the surface, the impact of this scene is far greater.
The big problem with death scenes in comics is that most of the time, it’s done just for shock value. It’s no different than making Megan Fox wear a tank top in a movie. It’s for purely superficial appeal. But for the past few issues, Rick Remender has effectively built up the Scarlett Witch’s story so that there really is a true emotional impact here. She may have nearly wiped out the mutant race, but she was prepared to risk everything to stop the Apocalypse Twins. With the exception of those who took too much valium, this moment has just the right impact.
However, the opposite applies to Rogue. And it’s not just because she didn’t have a fucking clue that the Scarlett Witch was actually trying to screw over the Apocalypse Twins. There really hasn’t been much of anything done with her to make this moment have an impact. So when she stabs the Scarlett Witch and lets her fall off a cliff, there’s no depth to her reaction. Wolverine is clearly upset, but after what he endured against Daken, that’s understandable. There’s none of that with Rogue and it only gets worse when the Grim Reaper comes in and returns the favor for what she did to the Scarlett Witch.
The only emotion evoked in this moment is frustration mixed with WTF. Rogue only has a moment to reflect on what she just did and then she gets fucking stabbed. It’s like a crack head that got sick from smoking too much crack that tries to make themselves feel better by smoking more crack. It does everything wrong that the moment with the Scarlett Witch did right. It’s annoying and frustrating, especially to Rogue fans. She underwent so much great character development over the course of X-men Legacy, but that development basically stalled with Uncanny Avengers. And her getting stabbed makes her look like a deer that Dick Cheney ran while on his way back from a successful hunting trip.
It only gets worse when the Grim Reaper effectively shocks Rogue to the point where she’s reduced to bone. This only adds more to that shock value that seems tailor made towards pissing fans off. Granted, she had Wolverine’s healing power at the time and it’s not clear that she’s fully dead, but that is certainly the impression that’s given here. It’s the kind of scene that should never be read while recovering from a hangover. It only makes the dry heaves and vomit more painful.
And it doesn’t stop there either. In his pissed off rage, Wolverine brushes aside whatever guilt he may have still felt for killing Daken the first time around and kills him again. This time he’ll probably give fewer shits than Wesley Snipes gives about the IRS. But at this point Wolverine killing his son has no fucking impact whatsoever. And there’s still the matter of the spell that Rogue and Sunfire so rudely interrupted. Yet for some reason the Apocalypse Twins don’t even show up. The focus is all on the death in the story and anyone who doesn’t have a stomach laced with tobasco sauce will probably be sickened.
At the very least, Wonder Man tries to recapture some of the emotional impact from all this death. He goes after the mortally wounded Scarlett Witch after he shakes off Sunfire. He understands that by finishing the spell, they’ll still have their best chance at screwing over the Apocalypse Twins. So in an act of self-sacrifice that is far more befitting and less shocking, he lets the Scarlett Witch absorb the full extent of his power so that she can cast the spell. It does effectively kill him, but at this point everyone should be pretty desensitized to that shit. Also, he got to bone the Scarlett Witch in the previous issue. If he’s going to die, this is a damn good way to go out.
There was once a time when death in comics was more meaningful than a cheap sales gimmick or a way to troll fans. I’m sure that just before this issue came out, Rick Remender got himself a beer and some pretzels, loaded up his Twitter feed, and laughed his ass off at the shit storm that followed. Now when it comes to character deaths in comics, I try to treat it like the nasty scar I have on my left ass-cheek that I got from a rather unpleasant Halloween party at a frat house in college. I know how it happened and I can’t change that it happened, but I know it eventually will heal to the point where I don’t have to explain it to my doctor anymore.
The death in this story was not like the bullshit deaths in other stories. This one actually had heart and emotion, at least for Wonder Man and the Scarlett Witch. For Rogue, not so much. And because of that, this issue only partially succeeds in making it worth getting another scar on my ass. I give Uncanny Avengers #14 a 6 out of 10. It’s the kind of emotional turning point that if it were a romantic comedy, it would give every straight woman a pussy boner. But it lacks so many of the elements that made previous issues of Uncanny Avengers so epic. And given how death is like wedding vows with Larry King, there’s no telling how much of this shit will stick. Whatever the case, my ass is ready for another scar if necessary. Nuff said!