Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Avengers and X-men: AXIS #6

There's a reason why asshole douche-bags tend to be the same people who become fortune 500 CEOs, career politicians, and used car salesman. As much as we despise them, these people know how to get shit done. Sure, it often involves blurring and/or shitting all over the ethical and moral boundaries that most reasonable people have. And sure, it often creates the kind of kind of collateral damage that that ruins lives. And sure, it also tends to...actually, I think I'll just stop right there because I don't need to make myself that depressed around the holidays. I'll just say that the traits of asshole douche-bags tend to make an impact and part of what has made Avengers and X-men: AXIS so intriguing is that it's giving the heroes a chance to do just that without resorting to mind-control or evil clones.

We've already seen how far they're willing to go once they shake off those annoying feelings of selflessness and compassion. The X-men have teamed up with Apocalypse and taken over Manhattan. Tony Stark has turned San Francisco into a perverse mix of Candy Crush and never-ending porno. It's been chaotic as fuck at times, so much so that it's hard to remember that the Red Skull is still on the loose. But that's part of what makes this bold new world so volatile. It helps kick up a different kind of shit storm in Avengers and X-men: AXIS #6. At this point, the Avengers and X-men aren't really that far away from getting a job as lobbyist for Goldman Sachs.

Even if the X-men got that job, they would suck at it because they wouldn't have the devious subtlety that is necessary for all soulless lobbyists. It just wasn't enough that the X-men teamed up with Apocalypse and took over Manhattan. They had to go the extra mile and broadcast to the world that they've claimed the Big Apple as a new mutant nation and no humans are allowed, except for maybe Jennifer Lawrence and Channing Tatum. They even go the extra mile, saying they have very little incentive to treat humans nicely. Having just come from a mutant concentration camp, it's hard to pin that solely on the inversion. But that's still not enough. The X-men had to help Apocalypse make a fucking bomb as well. That probably can be pinned on the inversion spell, but at this point it's more of an excuse than a detail. And I know from my experience with traffic cops that excuses are about as valuable as frozen dog shit.

So who would dare take a stand against a team of deranged X-men who have teamed up with Apocalypse and are willing to drop a bomb on humanity that'll do more than get them fined by the FCC? How about Mystique? No, that's not a joke. I know it sounds like one of those ideas I can only come up with after a certain number of bong hits, but that's what actually happens. Mystique is the one to try and confront the X-men and tell them this is fucked up.

Now bear with me here because it makes more sense than it actually sounds, even without the aid of a bong hit. Mystique was on Genosha. That means she was inverted. So were Nightcrawler and Rogue. And Apocalypse being the biblical ass that he is sent those two to deal with Mystique. It makes for a clash that perfectly captures the essence of the whole inversion concept. Mystique is the one saying this is wrong. Rogue and Nightcrawler just laugh it off and try to murder her ass with a smile. It really does sound like something that shouldn't work, but in the context of the inversion, it actually feels right. It finally conveys the kinds of compelling emotions that were so lacking from previous issues. Mystique is now a hero. Rogue and Nightcrawler are now villains. And somehow it's presented in a way that feels genuine and awesome. Maybe the weed has inverted parts of my brain, but it really does work here.

It's almost a shame that Sabretooth has to come in and ruin this overdue family moment. Like Mystique, he's inverted too. However, he doesn't come off quite as compelling as Mystique. That's mainly because there have been a number of cases in the past where Mystique has tried to be a hero. She's tried to help her kids (and failed miserably). She's tried to join the X-men (and failed miserably while sleeping with Iceman in the process). It's only in the past six years that she's become the kind of unrepentant sociopath who would usually masturbate to the idea of detonating a bomb on humanity. But Sabretooth has a long, rich history of being the kind of degenerate asshole who wouldn't just jerk off to the thought of detonating a bomb. He would film himself doing it while dancing to Justin Bieber music.

Nobody is going to ever buy Sabretooth being a hero any longer than a Seinfeld rerun, but again the inversion spell gives him a convenient excuse. That's really all he needs to save Mystique from getting the worst kind of family therapy outside Jerry Springer. He escapes with her into the Morlock tunnels, but the battle still served its purpose. It showed the extent of the inversion and did it in a way that actually felt compelling. And my liver couldn't be more relieved.

The same can't be said about Tony Stark's liver. In addition to launching his new Extremis 3.0 enterprise in the most lucrative and douchebaggy way possible, he started drinking again. We've already seen in the events of AXIS and Superior Iron Man why he had to stop drinking in the first place, but now that he's surrounded by beautiful women and a fuckton of money, who can blame him?

Well how about Daredevil? And unlike Mystique, no inversion spells or bong hits are required to understand this. He takes some time to cock-block Iron Man from his never-ending orgies and drinking to tell him that this new endeavor of his has been causing a fuckton of problems. I imagine the radio folks said the same thing to the guys making TV shows. But this is a bit less contrived and requires fewer lawyers. Daredevil just happens to be one, but it's not necessary for him to point out that charging for the Extremis 3.0 app has caused a crime wave that make the 80s crack wars look like a Sunday School picnic. Tony Stark's response? Meh, that's capitalism asshole. Yes, it's a total dick thing to say. And yes, it's totally true.

It leads to a second clash that actually carries with it some meaningful emotions. Like the battle with Mystique and her kids, the effects of the inversion are secondary in the sense that it reveals a deeper division. Tony Stark likens his product to other expensive goods that people love to steal, like plasma TVs. Sure, plasma TVs don't turn anyone into supermodels. They just let us common folk look at them. But it's not an invalid point. He has something here that is a luxury and like the kid who sold his kidney for an iPad, people will go to fucked up lengths to get it. But when was the last time Apple ever let anyone try a free sample of their shit? Sure, we can question Tony Stark's business practices. And sure, he's still an ass for beating up Daredevil and telling him to fuck off. But he's not entirely wrong here and that's part of what makes the whole inversion concept more compelling than just another excuse to get people fighting. Alcohol does the same thing.

Alcohol might have been a better option for the clash between Dr. Doom and the Scarlet Witch, if only because it would've made for more cursing. But in this case, the more meaningful impact of the inversion is interrupted by the fight. Dr. Doom, now inverted, is announcing to his people that he's been a real asshole dictator and he's willing to give democracy a try. Now at this point, it's clear that the whole inversion spell was pretty fucking potent because no dictator in history has ever, even at their most humble, just thrown up their hands and say, "Fuck it, I'm an ass. Let's do things America's way." Maybe that happens inside George W. Bush's wet dreams every now and then, but it doesn't happen without the aid of fucked up magic. And that's what makes the moment so important. It also makes it disappointing because the Scarlet Witch just randomly shows up and starts pitching a hissy fit.

There really isn't much depth to it. I can't even make a good PMS joke about it. I won't say it's completely random since the Scarlet Witch already hinted at her intentions in previous issues, but it feels like another excuse. She just starts whining about how Dr. Doom used her in the past. But seriously? She needed a fucking inversion spell to do that? She could've turned his asshole inside out without it and still come off as a hero. Like the other fights, it shows how much of an asshole the inversion has made the Scarlet Witch. It just doesn't do so with Tony Stark's swag or Rogue and Nightcrawler's passion. Maybe alcohol would've helped here too.

As helpful as alcohol often is in fucked up situations, Quicksilver is a close second. With help from Magneto, never one to stay out of affairs that allow him to fuck with his daughter's life, they're able to rescue Dr. Doom before he can completely lose all his dictatorial credibility. Sure, it pisses off the Scarlet Witch even more. But that's the kind of shit that happens at least once a week without the aid of an inversion spell. So in that sense, it reveals that not everything is totally fucked up in an inverted world. And we should all take some comfort in that.

We shouldn't take nearly as much comfort in the idea that an inverted Thor (the one with the penis and not the new one with the boobs) becomes a degenerate gambler whose idea of Valhalla is Las Vegas. To be fair, even the most inverted among us would still prefer Vegas as a close second to most versions of heaven, but that's besides the point. Like the other inverted heroes, Thor is taking some time to enjoy himself and piss off every casino owner on the strip. But unlike other degenerate gamblers, they can't unleash Joe Pecci on Thor and hope he walks out with a broken hand and missing testicle. However, I still think Joe Pecci would've fared better than Loki did.

This is another clash that has many of the same undertones as the one between Mystique and her kids. There's a family element to it that makes the inversion feel like more than just another excuse to get them fighting again for our amusement. Like Mystique, Loki has attempted to be less a dick at times. It rarely works out and this is no different. He even goes so far as to tell Thor he loves him like a brother and Thor's response is to punch him through a wall. I want to say that's typical brotherly affection on an Asgardian level, but it lacks the subtle Tom Hiddleston charisma to make more than a glorified bar fight. It still has all the right emotions, albeit inverted. It helps reinforce the effect of the inversion. And I think at this point, it needs no reinforcing. That still doesn't make Thor beating up Loki less satisfying.

Eventually, Loki has to escape because he knows he's never going to beat Thor when he's on a winning streak in Vegas. Too many hookers and fellow degenerate gamblers would have his back. So he's picked up by Spider-Man and what's left of the non-inverted heroes. They meet up with Steve Rogers, who helps get Loki up to speed on why the heroes are acting so fucked. He also adds that most of the non-inverted heroes are no longer in the picture because of the wonders of Pym particles. So yeah, they're that much more fucked.

The solution? First, they need to establish priorities. What's more important? The X-men packing an Apocalyptic bomb capable of wiping out all humans not carrying an X-gene or Thor's gambling streak? Loki would probably argue an inverted Thor on a gambling streak would be way more dangerous, but he would be outvoted because Steve Rogers has already assembled a team of inverted villains that have enough votes to overrule him. These inverted villains, as fucked up as it may seem, are now the de-facto Avengers. It once again shows the extent of the inversion without resorting to another fight. It may sound way too fucked up to work if it were a movie trailer, sort of like the LEGO Movie, but that doesn't stop it from being awesome.

If the point of this issue was to show just how fucked up heroes can be once they stop giving a shit, then it definitely succeeded. The message is pretty clear. When these heroes act like assholes, they're way better at it than ordinary villains. Could Magneto or Sinister have helped Apocalypse take over Manhattan this quickly and this efficiently? Could Loki have scared a casino into letting him win when most casinos would knock out the front teeth of anyone they suspected of counting cards? I think not. This issue finally starts providing the kind of details and refinement that previous issues lacked. The problem is they weren't exactly the details that were most vital.

Now I'm not saying this issue exchanged actual plot for a cupcake recipe or something that random, but it essentially moved the story forward without tying up too many loose ends from previous issues. We still don't get a clearer understanding of just what the fuck the inversion spell did and how the fuck others are reacting to it. But this issue reveals enough to let us know just how fucked everybody is. It still wasn't terribly concise. However, it conveyed all the right emotions and somehow found the time to join the party with Tony Stark. The story as a whole still needs refinement, but it's finally starting to sober up. I give Avengers and X-men #6 an 8 out of 10. Now it just needs to avoid the kind of hangover to be genuinely awesome. And if it's lucky, it won't wake up next to a blow-up doll and a stolen pig. Nuff said!


  1. So eventually once everything gets straightened out, are they gonna do anything about the Scarlet Witch. I mean, just how many times do you get to mess up the world with one of your spells???

  2. Tony beats up a blind man. That must be an all-time low for him.

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