Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Avengers and X-men: AXIS #3
We all dream of living in a perfect world. We read comics and we want to live in a world where superheroes always stop the bad guys without any collateral damage or circumventing the law. It’s probably the same world where a guy like me can go on a three-week bender and never get hung over and where hookers never overcharge. Sadly, that’s not the world we live in. We live in a world where Superman gets shit for stopping an alien invasion because it caused too much collateral damage. Never mind that he wasn’t the one that caused it. He still gets blamed the same way McDonald’s gets blamed for obesity. It’s a sad fact that to get shit done, sometimes heroes aren’t enough. Sometimes people have to be assholes and not in the traditional Gordon Gecko sort of way. Sometimes it takes a raging asshole to defeat an even Nazi-level asshole.
That’s the situation in Avengers and X-men: AXIS right now. A coalition of Avengers and X-men went up against the Red Onslaught and lost. Thanks largely to another round of Iron Man’s dirty secrets, they ended up getting captured and trapped. Now their only hope of living in a world governed by Hitler’s wet dreams, Magneto and a team of villains have to be the ones to take down the Red Skull. It’s not as ridiculous as it sounds. Villains, by definition, are narcissistic assholes. If someone else is trying to take over the world who isn’t them, they’re going to have problems with it. Avengers and X-men: AXIS #3 promises to show just how asshole villains can play the part of heroes. So long as Nazis are the only ones that get hurt, they can call themselves heroes, albeit temporarily.
That means they have to make good use of their temporary title and in this, they actually succeed. With Iron Man the only one left, a team of villains that includes Sabretooth, Hob Goblin, Carnage, Loki, Mystique, Dr. Doom, Absorbing Man, Enchantress, and Jack O’ Lantern are the only ones who can stop the Red Onslaught at this point. Some might be tempted to say we’re all fucked. But on paper, it’s worth noting that these guys are ruthless in ways that would make the Captain Americas of the world violently ill. So when they start busting up the Red Skull’s big adamantium Sentinels, it’s not surprising. But that doesn’t make it any less satisfying. Carnage said it best. There’s villainy and then there’s Nazi villainy. And some villains just hold themselves to a higher standard.
These villains bring all sorts of epic firepower to the battle and they use their villainous charisma to make it awesome. I can actually hear Tom Hiddleston’s voice when Loki boasts about his trickster ability. That or I just took one too many bong hits in the span of five minutes, but I’m not going to assume. Unlike the first two Thor movies, Loki doesn’t steal the show. Everyone gets in on the act. Magneto and Dr. Doom show off their skills as well and they are total assholes about it. That’s what makes it so satisfying.
This also helps set them apart from the heroes that fought the Red Onslaught early on. Sure, they’re fighting a uber-powerful Nazi. Sure, their actions are technically heroic. But they do it with an attitude that is anything but heroic. They take on the Red Onslaught the same way Donald Trump takes on charity. They don’t suddenly become these peace-loving, hippie type ex-villains. They’re still the same villains. They’re just sharing the action with the heroes because they understand a Nazi with this kind of power is shitty for everybody.
All this ego and dick-waving does somewhat mask how shitty the situation is for them and the heroes. The Red Onslaught is still armed with Charles Xavier caliber telepathy. The only thing that’s keeping these villains from being mind-fucked is Kid Omega, who is known more for having goofy hair and a bad attitude than he is for being a competent telepath. But he’s still able to hold the Red Onslaught off long enough to allow for a devious tactic that only a villain would attempt.
First, it involves Mystique taking the form of Captain America. For a Nazi, that’s like waving Hitler’s severed head in their face. This pisses the Red Onslaught off just long enough for the Enchantress move in and work her magic. And by magic, I mean her tits. And by her tits, I mean her Asgardian level magic. She actually is able to use her power to make the Red Skull fall in love with her. She’s the fucking Enchantress. As powerful as the Red Skull might be, he still has a dick. It’s the kind of trick no hero would ever try. Who would even want to get a Nazi to fall in love with them who didn’t have the kind of perverse fetishes that can only be found in a Romanian brothel? That’s why being a villain has so much value in this fight.
So now the Red Onslaught is hopelessly smitten by the power of the Enchantress’ magic and her awesome rack. It’s the first time where it really feels like the battle has turned against him. It gives time for Carnage, Sabretooth, Jack O’ Lantern, and Absorbing man to take out the last remaining Sentinel. It’s not too epic a struggle at this point for them. It also frees the heroes that were trapped earlier. However, this is poorly depicted. It’s another instance where the struggle is lacking in detail, but this time there are other elements to enjoy and not just Enchantress’ rack, although that is a big part of it.
Enchantress actually taunts and demeans the Red Onslaught while he’s under her spell. It’s more than a little pathetic. Even Emma Frost is less domineering and that’s saying something. She doesn’t make any righteous speeches about how Nazis suck and Asgardians kick ass. She actually talks about using the Red Onslaught as another one of her pets who are hopelessly under the influence of her spell/vagina. So maybe it’s actually a good thing when the Red Onslaught actually breaks the spell because her and the Red Onslaught is a love that’s too perverse, even for the internet.
With the Sentinels down and the heroes now free, they can actually win this battle. They can use the inversion spell they never got to use in the previous issue and stop the Red Onslaught before he turns the world into a Nazi wet dream. So of course this has to be the moment when Kid Omega finally fails miserably and allows the Red Onslaught to start mind-fucking everybody. Even Genesis, who was wounded at the start of the battle, isn’t immune. So the battle is back in the favor of a Nazi. It’s not a pleasant feeling, but it helps that Deadpool is hanging around and trolling Iron Man. Only Deadpool could make a moment with a Nazi not feel quite as bad.
That still doesn’t make the Red Onslaught’s tactic any less effective. Villains might be effective in their own right, but they’re not always known for their ability to shield an Xavier-level Nazi telepath. So most of them become villains again and attack the Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange before they can cast the spell. But some, like Deadpool, make this moment feel a little less dire by coming to the rescue and singing a few catchy songs from the 50s in the process. Why? He’s Deadpool. He doesn’t need a reason.
This helps give the Scarlet Witch enough time to cast the spell, but with Dr. Strange down for the count she needs help from someone else. And the only one nearby who can is Dr. Doom, the same asshole that used her to carry out M-Day. It’s like having to be a lab partner with a pyromaniac. It’s not ideal and has the potential to go horribly wrong. But since they both have plenty of incentive not live in a world ruled by a super-powerful Nazi, they get the job done.
The spell is cast. It’s not all that spectacular. It’s not even that flashy. There are Christian Rock concerts that are a bigger spectacle than this. But again, it works. Everybody wakes up and in another batch of missing details, the villains are gone. They came to help and they ditched them without even drawing dicks on their faces with permanent marker. So I guess they should consider themselves lucky.
They’re even luckier in the sense that the Red Onslaught is now back to being the Red Skull. He’s also out cold and no longer ranting about inferior races or other Nazi crap. But what gets everybody worked up is the possibility that Charles Xavier is still somewhere in his mind. He did show up in Rogue’s visions earlier. Since he’s supposed to be “inverted” now, that means he can finally tell everyone that it’s okay to stop bitching about Cyclops.
Unfortunately, that’s where a different kind of shit storm gets kicked up and this one is painfully familiar. Step back for a moment and remember Avenges vs. X-men, ignoring the violent nauseous feelings often associated with it. It began with the Avengers and X-men debating who should possess a dangerous force within a living body. But this time it’s not Hope fucking Summers. It’s the Red fucking Skull. The Avengers want to take him to Avengers Tower and imprison him. The X-men want to wake him up and see if they can reach Xavier. This is especially important to those like Cyclops, who probably would at least want to say he’s sorry for accidentally killing him. But this is not what happens.
It’s actually a much more dramatic moment and not just because it doesn’t use shitty rip-off characters like Hope fucking Summers. It creates yet another clear divide between the Avengers and X-men after they know all too well what that sort of shit leads to. Even Havok thinks it’s bullshit that the Avengers aren’t giving them a chance to reach Xavier. And when Havok is in agreement with his brother, it’s usually a sign that somebody is going to lose their shit.
While that doesn’t happen here, the divide is definitely there. Steve Rogers arrives to keep things from turning into Avengers vs. X-men 2: The Sequel Nobody Wanted. He’s able to defuse the situation, saying they’ll try to get Xavier’s mind out of the Red Skull’s. But this is the same Captain America that made a similar promise in Avengers vs. X-men and fucked it up. So nobody should really feel that confident.
On top of that, something fucked happened to Genesis in that he’s now more “Apocalyptic” in stature. There’s no explanation given. There’s just some funny quips from Deadpool, which is the next best thing I guess. It shows that maybe the inversion spell had a few side-effects, but it offers few other clues. It’s intriguing, but confusing. It’s like watching 2001: A Space Odyssey while high on Ecstasy, minus the profuse sweating. I’m not sure what to make of it and nobody really reacts from this either. It’s a confusing and contrived moment that felt forced, which is disappointing given how satisfying the rest of the battle was.
This all leads to a pretty bitter departure between the Avengers and X-men. It’s so bitter that Havok up and quits. He basically says, “This whole Unity Squad is bullshit. I’m going back to being the nicer Summers brother.” It leads him to telling Wasp that she’ll never enjoy the sweet feeling of Summers caliber masculinity again. It’s presented as a semi-dramatic moment, but really doesn’t have much impact. Again, this is a relationship that felt so rushed and forced that there’s no way it can be taken as seriously as it needs to be. Maybe it’s for the best because this relationship was never meant to be epic. It might work best as an extended one-night stand that’s somewhere between a bad romance novel and a rerun of Seinfeld.
I’ve always been somewhat confused by the term bittersweet. I used to associate it only with a bad martini, but I think it applies nicely to this issue. The Red Skull was defeated, but it poured a fresh bottle of sulfuric acid in the lingering wounds left by Avengers vs. X-men. This wasn’t a case of two superhero teams coming together and triumphing over evil. The villains stole the show here. The heroes just stood by after getting their asses handed to them and when it was all over, they found a reason to bitch and moan to one another about it. Now the Avengers and X-men hate each other again and suddenly I feel like it’s 2012 once more. While I would love to return to a time when I didn’t have to worry about Ebola, it now feels like one of those situations where everyone’s inner asshole is bound to come out at some point. But maybe that’s the point. That’s exactly what makes Avengers and X-men: AXIS #3 work.
The heroes don’t win here. The villains do. And when the heroes don’t win, they become assholes about it. It’s one of those stories that looks like a shitty idea on paper, but it somehow finds a way to be awesome. It’s still lacking in a number of details, but between Deadpool being an Avenger and Enchantress using her tits against a Nazi, this story is starting to give me a boner for all the right reasons. I give Avengers and X-men: AXIS #3 an 8 out of 10. It still needs some refinement and more of Enchantress showing her tits. It also needs to avoid the same trap as Avengers vs. X-men, but that shouldn’t be too hard. So long as everybody keeps Iron Man away from giant guns and shitty rip-off characters, this story just might not turn into a clusterfuck. Nuff said!