Thursday, August 28, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #23
When it comes to comics, I sometimes have to approach them the same way I would approach a dominatrix. I know there are times when it's going to hurt, but there will also be times when it feels awesome. The challenge is sticking it out and holding on. Okay, maybe that's not the right figure of speech I should use, but it's somewhat relevant. In the same way Peyton Manning can be good for a hundred games and choke in the Superbowl, some comics can be awesome for months on and and end up taking a nose dive into a mountain of pig shit. I won't say Uncanny Avengers got that bad at the end of the Apocalypse Twins arc. I'll just say that I needed to burn a little extra incense than usual. But I still see plenty of potential in this series. Like a dominatrix with an awesome boob job, I'm willing to endure a little more. Uncanny Avengers #23 is the first issue to take place after the Apocalypse Twins arc. Rogue, Captain America, and the Scarlett Witch are alive again. Havok is still a douche, but he's way ahead of Hank McCoy after kicking Kang the Conqueror's ass. For that reason alone, I'm willing to apply a little extra lube and burn even more incense in anticipation.
The lube definitely comes in handy early on because there are definitely some plot holes to squeeze through and not in the way that is usually accomplished on the set of a gay porno shoot. It's perfectly understandable on paper. After taking on a Celestial and ripping off X-men Days of Futures Past to beat Kang, some of the Unity Team take a vacation. Nobody would blame them at all for spending a month in Tahiti drinking martinis from a hot tub full of rum. It's when they return that the extent to which Kang fucked them up starts getting confusing.
When they arrive, Captain America has somehow aged into a Martin Sheen rip-off. And Wolverine, who may or may not still have his healing factor, is somehow okay despite now having a shitty haircut. There's no explanation other than Kang just really fucked them up that good. It's like the blackout part of getting drunk and waking up with a tattoo in Chinese that nobody wants translated. It forces drunks like me to make way too many assumptions and as someone experienced in blackouts, that can be dangerous. That's not to say some parts don't make sense. Those that got directly fucked up by Kang, namely Rogue, Havok, Sunfire, and Banshee, are too fucked up to go on a vacation and the Avengers are trying to find ways to unfuck them. It's still confusing, but at least this blackout doesn't result in a nasty hangover.
There's some nice discussions here with Wasp, the Scarlet Witch, and Cap. Rather than use this as an excuse to retire early, they all seem to want to dust themselves off from this latest scrap with Kang. For some like Wolverine, who still may or may not have his healing factor, that's no harder than sleeping in the next day and taking a few cold showers. But for Sunfire, who became a disembodied hunk of fire thanks to Kang, a few showers and some bed rest just ain't gonna cut it.
For Havok, whose face now looks like he tried to go down on a porcupine, he needs a different kind of healing. First off, he's going to need that and a damn good plastic surgeon. But since he's a Summers, he could probably still get laid way more than most men. He also gets to reunite with Wasp in a moment that would be much more emotional if their entire relationship wasn't built around time travel. Their relationship is still being portrayed as more epic than it really is, which is probably the biggest plot hole of this whole story. But with enough lube, it still goes a long ways to help him heal and convey the right emotions. I still think a plastic surgeon would have been more helpful.
But the one who is most fucked up and most hung over from the party with Kang is Rogue. She was the one who had to go toe-to-toe with a fucking Celestial. In doing so, she had to absorb a fuckton of powers. That's like taking all the hard liquor on the top shelf of a bar, pouring it into a bucket, and chugging it in one gulp. It might sound badass, but it'll fuck anybody up no matter how powerful they are. For Rogue, that means Wonder Man is stills trapped inside her. And while this means she now has to worry about a guy always watching when she's taking a shit, it also means she can't touch anymore.
Now this should sound familiar to anyone who stayed sober in the 90s. This is exactly the same shit that Rogue went through when she absorbed Ms. Marvel's powers. She was super strong, super vast, and super sexy. However, she couldn't control her powers enough to touch. She probably remembers how much it sucked, only being able to have an intimate relationship with her shower head, and gets pretty pissed off. For someone who survived a fight against a Celestial, it's a unfair on the scale of the Saudi Arabian legal system. It's also pretty inane in that this shit has been done. And even though I wasn't entirely sober for a good chunk of the 90s, I really don't think this same story needs to be told again.
That's not to say that Rogue's struggle isn't compelling. There's a lot more emotion and depth put into this than the Havok/Wasp romance. It also isn't just Rogue who's struggling. Wonder Man is still trapped in her mind and as much as he enjoys being stuck in the body of a beautiful woman with a great rack, he probably prefers a form where he can effectively bang the Scarlet Witch. He's now just another voice in her head. He attempts to calm her down while she throws a classic 90s hissy fit. It almost made me want to break out my Nirvana and Pearl Jam CDs. Then I realized I don't listen to CDs anymore and just feel sad that Rogue has to go through this shit again.
The Scarlet Witch eventually catches up to Rogue before her hissy fit does too much property damage. She tries to calm her down as well and reminds Rogue that she has a pretty good incentive to help her fix this. She doesn't want to relive the 90s either. She wants to get Wonder Man out of her so they can go back to bumping uglies in ways that would make Magneto's head explode. Considering how much these two hated each other when Uncanny Avengers began, it's actually a nice moment that basically forces them to help each other in a meaningful way. It's also nice in that it still leaves the door open for some really hot Rogue/Scarlet Witch lesbo action, but my penis is getting ahead of itself. It's still a big confusing on why this played out 90s plot is happening again, but at least there's a plan to address it and not drag out it for five seasons of a cartoon series.
The emotions between Rogue and the Scarlet Witch feel genuine. The same can't really be said for Havok and Wasp. Despite Havok's face still being fucked up, he and Wasp share a tender moment alone back at the Avengers Mansion. But it's still confusing in that it gives the impression it has more depth than it actually has. This whole relationship went from playful flirting to them being married and having a kid in the future in just a few issues. Even a relationship with Taylor Swift has more backstory than that. These two don't have decades of romance to build on. Nobody is going to mistake these two for Reed/Sue or Peter Parker/Mary Jane. Hell, Peter Parker/Carlie Cooper has more emotional depth than these two. They try to come together, lamenting over their lost daughter, but it just falls flat. And that's not because I'm a callous drunk. There are just way too many gaps between flirting and being Celine Dion style in love to take it seriously.
It's almost a relief when this emotionally bland moment is interrupted by Immortus, who claims he has a way for them to get their daughter back. Unfortunately, he's not big on specifics. He just basically says what was already implied by the end of the previous arc. Kang's defeat helped secure the futures that he came close to wiping out. Now Immortus' Infinity Watch will make sure nothing fucks them up again. But none of this really explains how Havok and Wasp can get their daughter back. He just basically plagiarizes old Beatles songs and says they need to overcome their grief and keep loving each other. He might as well tell a kid that just saw his dog get run over by a truck that drawing rainbows will bring it back to life.
It's not a glaring plot hole, but it's still pretty damn confusing. I'm all for the power of love. I've listened to plenty of Bon Jovi songs. I know it's supposed to be strong and all, but it has the depth of an opinion piece on Fox News. It gives no hint about what Havok and Wasp need to do or how they're going to do it. All it does is keep trying to remind everybody that these two did not have an epic romance until recently. My short-term memory may be more fucked than my sperm count, but even I can't overlook details like that.
The only detail Immortus gives them is the detail they already had way before they considered having a kid. They need to stop the Red Skull, as if that isn't always implied in the Marvel universe. They already know he's on the loose and armed with Charles Xavier's brain. They also know from the Apocalypse Twins that he's going to really fuck things up for mutants. So did Immortus really need to give them that advice? Isn't any relationship improved by stopping the Red Skull from succeeding in anything he attmepts?
The Red Skull himself seems to understand that. Now that the Unity Team is busy fighting off their Kang-induced hangover, he's in a perfect position to exploit their weakness in a way only Nazis can. He even has a few additional resources this time, namely Ahab. Kang decided to ditch him in the past and now he thinks it's a good idea to help the Red Skull. Just typing that makes me want to roll my eyes and bang my head against my desk. However, Kang has shown that he's able to out-think even a fucking Celestial. I'm not going to discount the possibility that he could also out-think a Nazi.
This part of the story is probably the least confusing because no matter what the Red Skull is planning, it's pretty much a given that it's the kind of plan that would make the ACLU shit themselves. He's a fucking Nazi. There's really not much variation when it comes to evil plans. So for this plot, he's busting out a Nazi classic. That's right, he's resorting to concentration camps. Sure, they didn't work out well for Hitler and they kind of gave Nazis a bad name. But the Red Skull has never given many shits about bad publicity. If he's going to exploit the talents of Charles Xavier, he might as well go for overkill. Isn't that the Nazi motto after all?
This issue was more than just a little confusing. I'm won't say it's as confusing as the fourth season of Lost, but anyone who reads comics stoned like me is going to wonder if elves secretly gave them a frontal lobotomy when they weren't looking. The tone of this issue was very different compared to recent issues and rightfully so. Kang left a mess worthy of 50 college frat parties behind when he fucked with both the timeline and the Celestials. The Unity Team here isn't a team as much as it is a group of shell shocked racoons. They're all trying to pick up the pieces and the Red Skull is standing over them with a flame thrower just waiting for the perfect opportunity to broil them where they stand. There are some nice character moments, but the pacing is choppy and incoherent. The only thing that's really clear is that the Red Skull is remembering how much he enjoyed Nazi-style concentration camps. That gives this issue a sense of impact. Anytime someone thinks concentration camps are a good idea, it's a given that something fucked up is about to unfold. With AXIS on the horizon, this issue helps set the foundation, albeit unevenly. I give uncanny Avengers #23 a 6 out of 10. Rogue is having an identity crisis, the Red Skull is getting nostalgic, and Havok's career as a face model is over. That much is clear. Whether this leads to more time travel or more Celestials getting killed remains to be seen.