Friday, August 1, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #22
I often throw the word epic around on this blog like tequila shooters during Mardi Gras. I try not to use it too often because there aren’t too many comics that ever earn the right to be called epic. But for rare breed of comics, the ability to be epic is practically ingrained in its DNA like alcoholism is ingrained in mine. When I first started following Uncanny Avengers, I didn’t get the sense that it would be on that epic level. But over the course of the past few issues, I’ve come to expect it so much that I have to wear an athletic cup around my balls. This is a story that involves Celestials, Apocalypse, and a grossly overpowered Rogue. It can’t get more epic than that without taking place on Emma Frost’s cleavage.
That said, even consistently epic stories can fall flat in the same way drunks can stay sober for extended periods. It only takes one shitty issue to fuck up a lucky streak in the same way it takes one shitty hand end a lucky streak at poker. The Unity Team has seen the world explode, friends die, and ripped off Days of Futures Past in their struggle against the Apocalypse Twins. In the end, Kang is the one that came out giving the finger to everyone in triumph. But Kang is known for premature celebrations so I’m going to assume he’s not wearing an athletic cup on his balls. I’m also hoping that means Uncanny Avengers #22 will make them hurt in the most epic possible way. I’m also hoping that he’s a shitty poker player.
Even if he is, Kang enters this battle with a pretty loaded hand. He doesn’t just have the power of a fucking Celestial at his disposal now. He also has a team of dimensionally displaced characters that include Spider-Girl, 2099 Dr. Doom, an Arno Stark Iron Man. They help keep the rest of the Avengers at bay on Earth so he can enjoy his new god-like power without anyone annoying him. This doesn’t stop Thor from attempting to ruin his fun, but Kang is able to deal with him the same way most people deal with hang nails. It’s not a fair fight in the slightest. Even though Thor is armed with a weapon that killed a fucking Celestial, he goes down faster than Taylor Swift on a first date.
Now everyone’s last hope at stopping Kang rests with Havok and Sunfire. That’s like relying on a drunk Steven Baldwin to perform open heart surgery on the President. In terms of a final battle, it sounds like they’re coming in more under-equipped than the North Korean army. But they’re not just throwing themselves at Kang like aspiring singers at an American Idol audition. They come in with a plan, hoping to use their powers to absorb some of the Celestial energy that Kang is gorging on like a fat guy at a hot dog eating contest. It’s not an unsound plan. It’s just not all that epic considering how many resources they have between the Avengers and the X-men.
Being under-equipped, the battle is decidedly unbalanced at first. Kang casually kills Sunfire and leaves Havok horribly burned in the process, which promises to really fuck up the plan to make him the handsome face behind human/mutant peace. Guess that means they’ll have to stick to using Rogue’s rack. It’s another instance of being somewhat callous with the characters, but since those characters haven’t stayed dead in this story that has already overdosed on time travel, it’s not worth getting pissed off about. The only ones who should be pissed off are those who think Kang using Havok’s daughter from the future as a trump card is a dick move. Then again, he has the power of a god. He can probably afford to make those kinds of dick moves and get away with it.
The battle back on Earth remains every bit as unbalanced. These dimensionally displaced minions manage to hold back the Avengers. If that sounds like a stretch for this assortment of AU characters, don’t stop taking bong hits. That’s normal because it is. Whereas other struggles in this arc have highlighted plenty of epic themes, this one falls pretty flat in that we don’t get to see how it devolves into a stalemate. We only get to see the arrival of Immortus and some more time-displaced characters show up randomly and tip the balance. Again, don’t stop taking bong hits. That’s as random as it sounds.
This is somewhat jarring because the previous issues had been pretty good about making each battle feel intimate and personal. That really doesn’t happen here. The battle with the Avengers and Kang’s dimensionally displaced army might as well be a bigger afterthought than the last three drafts of the Cleveland Browns. The lack of intensity here pretty significant, especially compared to previous issues. The only battle that really gets any depth is Kang and Havok and even that battle feels more underwhelming than an economics lecture.
That’s not to say it isn’t epic on some levels. Havok, a character who I have enjoyed bashing almost as much as Beast since the beginning of Uncanny Avengers, comes off as pretty damn badass. He’s able to absorb enough Celestial energy to make it a fair fight. Considering the nature of this energy and the extent to which Kang planned this shit out, it’s a bit of a WTF type battle in terms of premise. But it’s still fairly epic in that both characters are dealing with god-like energy. Kang still proclaims that he’s a god and tormenting Havok by taking his daughter was all part of the plan. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kang claimed that the Kennedy assassination was all part of the plan. It’s getting pretty fucking old at this point. But at the very least, Havok is able to use his powers to put up a solid fight.
That fight gets a little more even when Sunfire enters the picture again. That’s the other reason why I didn’t get a fresh bottle of whiskey and go off on another rant about good characters being callously thrown away. This time he didn’t even stay dead for more than eight pages. Sunfire came back in the form of a big ball of glowing energy. He’s basically a mascot for GE now. It turns out incinerating his body only removed his limitations. Now he’s able to put more of that Celestial energy to good use. The first thing he does with it is he gives Kang a cosmic bitch slap, which even Rhianna would admit he deserves. Then he sets his sights on the Apocalypse Twins.
Remember those assholes? Yeah, they’re also essentially afterthoughts in the context of this battle. The plan that worked so well before time travel got involved is now totally fucked. So now they’re just sitting in their ship, twiddling their thumbs and waiting for the shit to hit the fan while still standing right in front of it. That makes Sunfire taking their ship down with one shot exceedingly underwhelming. These two, who put up so many epic struggles in previous issues, basically just stood around with their thumbs up their asses waiting to get shot out of the sky. It gives the impression that they were never that much of a threat, like a guy who sees a leaky pipe in his bathroom and decides to solve the problem by burning the fucking house down.
Everything is turning against Kang. The Apocalypse Twins are defeated and now he’s got two X-men that are drunk on Celestial energy. But he also has Celestial energy and he’s had centuries to plan this shit. Surely he’s capable of beating these two, who have only had a few hours and no bathroom breaks to put together a battle plan. Well apparently, he’s not as confident in his skills as he boasts because he just fucking up and runs. That’s right. Kang the fucking Conqueror does exactly what George W. Bush refused to do. He just fucking left the battle, claiming Havok is going to regret laying a hand on him. Because when is a man ever going to regret beating the shit out of someone who harmed their child? It makes about as much sense as it sounds.
This effectively ends this epic battle that involves space gods and dimensionally displaced armies with the biggest whimper since the box office numbers for Battlefield Earth. This struggle, which had become so beautifully epic over the course of the past few issues, just ends like the Sopranos finale. Kang isn’t defeated. Havok doesn’t get his daughter back. There are some angry words and angry musings, but it all just stops. It’s like an artist putting the finishing touches on a master piece and just saying “fuck it” before it’s done. It’s a disappointing conclusion to what had been built up to be so gloriously epic.
The concluding details are annoyingly vague. Kang disappears and contacts Ahab, who just says they have more work to do. Seriously, they go through the trouble of obtaining Celestial energy and they still can’t get the job done? That’s like not being able to buy a quality toilet with Donald Trump’s credit card. Not only that, they lose all that Celestial energy in the process. Sentry, who is still in his horseman form, is nice enough to carry the dead Celestial away after assuring Wasp that they’ll still be pissed that one of them is dead. But again, there aren’t many details to here to that’ll soak anyone’s panties. He might as well just be picking up some litter left over from a keg party.
Some details aren’t quite as vague. Rogue, who didn’t get to contribute jack shit in this battle, returns to Earth still drunk on the power of every X-man and Avenger in the northern hemisphere. All that power has left her a little fucked up like having had too many shots of bourbon. The Scarlet Witch is nice enough to help sober her up, but she isn’t able to get rid of all of them. She still has Wonder Man trapped inside her. That’s certainly going to make things awkward because it wasn’t too long ago that Wonder Man and the Scarlet Witch were bumping uglies. And if Wonder Man is now trapped in Rogue, does that mean she’s going to have the overwhelming urge to hump the Scarlet Witch? That would definitely make for some of the most awesome girl-on-girl action that didn’t involve Jessica Alba and Megan Fox in bikinis, but it’s still unclear just how intrigued/horny we should be by this.
The only real impact from the end of this battle comes from Havok and Wasp losing their future daughter. That was part of what made the battle against Kang so personal. And while it was intended to give this battle an emotional jolt, it just fell flat. Havok and Wasp’s relationship only began a few issues ago. Their love story is about as epic as Cheers rerun. These two characters that only recently started flirting lost their daughter, but there isn’t enough breadth to their relationship to make anyone give more fucks than could be given by a standard made-for-TV movie on the Lifetime Channel. Now I’m not trying to make light of it. There is some emotional undertone here, but it’s hard to really bring myself to get that upset about something that only began to unfold around the time of this year’s NFL draft.
This somewhat solemn and crass ending still leaves a few doors open. While the Apocalypse Twins failed in the most unspectacular way possible, they’re still alive, albeit pretty roughed up. The Grim Reaper and Daken are also alive, having survived their big ass ship crashing in the middle of the Sarah Desert. So they’re still alive and will likely show up in future stories. But given how quickly they became an afterthought, I don’t think anyone is going to be biting their nails off waiting to see them again. This issue might as well come with a dose of valium because the ending is just that mellow.
When I finished reading this comic, I got the same feeling I get whenever I buy a bottle of premium whiskey and only find out after the first sip that it has been watered down. I had every reason to believe that this comic would sustain the epic caliber of awesome established in previous issues. It had everything it needed to end with a Jenna Jameson style gangbang. It had Kang, Celestials, an overpowered Rogue, a pissed off Havok, and the Apocalypse Twins. But like the Denver Broncos in the Superbowl last year, it fell flat at the worst possible time. It had some great moments. Havok finally did something worthy of respect and was pretty badass in fighting Kang. But Kang’s whole cut-and-run tactic ended this epic battle with an epic whimper. Kang had the power of a fucking Celestial and he still fucked up? After claiming everything he had been planning for centuries had gone so perfectly that he was starting to get bored? That’s not an epic finale. That’s a shitty side-effect to an anti-depressant. This was an issue that had so much going for it, but it just fell flat. It attempted to make Havok losing his daughter have an impact. But like Elton John at the Playboy mansion, I felt nothing. Uncanny Avengers #22 gets a disappointing 5 out of 10. The overall structure and theme of this series is still sound and the emotional overtones are still strong. But this issue was just too forgettable and too plain. If I want something this bland and flavorless, I’ll eat a salad at McDonald’s. Nuff said!