Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Avengers and X-men: AXIS #7


For some people, it doesn't take much for them to say, "Fuck this, I'm doing this my way." The threshold varies from person to person. Some people have to lose a loved one or get a visit from a demon or an angel to get to that point. These people are pretty set. They're like creationists, but with functioning brain matter. Then there are those who will jump ship if the barista at Starbucks spells their name wrong. These are the petty, self-indulged assholes who often become supervillains in comics. Their threshold is even higher and their competence is even lower. Avengers and X-men: AXIS has exploited this notion like a child actor with a drug problem with varying degrees of success, but the concept itself is still appealing.

It took the collective mystical talents of Dr. Doom and the Scarlet Witch, but they really did it. The heroes of the Marvel universe had their, "Fuck it," moment and the villains had theirs. But unlike the villains, these heroes have a better track record of competence. The world being intact is proof of that. So what happens when they try to do the job the villains constantly fucked up? Well the X-men have already taken over Manhattan and the Avengers are looking to kill them. So yeah, the world is pretty fucked up. Avengers and X-men: AXIS #7 promises to explore that world and I'm ready to take the ride. I know I'll need a barf bag at times, but if it comes from eating too much comic-style bacon, it's worth it.

This world might suck on a large scale, but it's paradise for Cyclops-haters. Before the battle begins, he has a little brotherly chat with Havok. In it, he admits that he would sacrifice his wife in order to end the war. Now Havok has to do the same with Wasp. Since she's not a mutant, she's not going to survive Apocalypse's little gene bomb. But that doesn't bother Havok all that much it seems. There's no real tearful pleading or last-second change of heart. He just concedes that this is what has to be done. It's a dick move, but it once again shows the extent of the inversion in a meaningful way. Now I'll step aside for a moment and let the Cyclops-haters masturbate to this scene if they haven't already.


For those who don't need a box of tissues and a bathroom break, this brotherly discussion quickly gives way to yet another epic brawl. It's Avengers vs. X-men again, but there's a different setup here and it's not just because there's no Hope fucking Summers. These are not the regular Avengers. These are the Astonishing Avengers, made up primarily of inverted villains. They're now the only ones who can stop the X-men from going full frontal evil and wiping out the human race. In other words, humanity is fucked. But it still makes for an awesome spectacle, full of a unique brand of action that could never happen without the aid of bullshit magic. I know magic has had a shitty reputation thanks to Spider-Man and while the battle here doesn't redeem it, I feel it can at least take the paper bag off its head.


It's not the most epic battle in that it doesn't involve any cosmic forces of infinity gems, but it's not intended to be. Unlike the previous clash between the Avengers and X-men, there is actually a strategy here. It's a crazy concept, I know. But it's true. While the Astonishing Avengers battle the X-men, Spider-Man and an inverted Deadpool, complete with a new hippie view on life, slip into Apocalypse's ship to stop the gene bomb. This might be the only time I'll ever consider rooting for a hippie, but Deadpool actually finds a way to make being a hippie awesome. Let me say that again because I think it bears repeating. Deadpool made being a hippie awesome. I'll give some people a moment to sober up from that.

He's not the main focus of the battle. Hell, he's not even on top of this unfolding clusterfuck. But he's actually the one narrating some of this battle, complete with hippie-style rhetoric. It feels way out of place for a story like this, but it somehow works. It somehow makes impending genocide less morbid. And unlike most hippies, Deadpool is willing to do more than just sit around, drop acid, and pretend that it counts as doing something. He actually is willing to incur Apocalypse's wrath while Spider-Man stops the gene bomb. It's probably the first time anyone could ever use the word hippie and badass in the same sentence and keep a straight face.


Deadpool's hippie-style taunting helps give the overly one-sided battle that follows a unique tone. It's far more engaging than the "I'm evil so look at the size of my penis!" and "I'm good so my penis is inherently bigger!" type exchange. It helps spice up a battle that Deadpool, even in his non-hippie form, can't possibly win. This is fucking Apocalypse here. This is a guy who got into a bar brawl with Thor and battled him to a stalemate. How the fuck can Deadpool hope to compete with that? He can't, but he knows that and he knows it without the aid of being high. Again, he's the only hippie badass to ever exist.

As much fun as Deadpool's hippie-fueled smack-talk is, it doesn't buy Spider-Man enough time to stop the gene bomb. Remember, he's not superior anymore. That means he's not going to be as competent as he would if he were still an asshole. And nobody in the Marvel universe can seem to get anything done unless they're an asshole. Apocalypse forces the battle back outside into the non-Avengers vs. X-men clash. He roughs up Spider-Man a bit and I can't exactly cheer for him as much as I did hippie Deadpool. At least hippie Deadpool had personality. Spider-Man just tries to give Apocalypse a lesson in what evolution actually is. He might as well be debating a creationist. It makes Spider-Man's efforts feel downright bland.

Eventually, some of the X-men come to Apocalypse's aid and get Spider-Man away from him. They don't need him giving lectures on evolution. Leave that shit to the Bill Nye's of the world. It forces Carnage to come in and save him because once again, Spider-Man isn't superior anymore. Hell, he's barely above inferior in this fight. But he's still a hero here so I can't belittle him too much. I'll leave that to the Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy fans of the world.


Spider-Man isn't the only one who ends up needing saving either. Sabretooth, who I still have trouble seeing as anyone other than an asshole, attempts to take on the Summers brothers by himself. He even tries to throw in a jab using the recently-deceased Wolverine. He may have hated Wolverine, but even Sabretooth understands how much Wolverine hated all things Summers related. Inverted or not, he can get behind that. The problem is that he's still taking on a couple of Summers brothers who have Storm at their back. If Wolverine were still alive, he'd be laughing his ass off at how badly his efforts failed. I know the roles are supposed to be inverted here, but I just find any battle that ends with Sabretooth getting his ass kicked inherently awesome.


While this epic battle is still ground zero for the ongoing clusterfuck that is AXIS, there are smaller yet still fairly epic battles going on in other parts of the world. One other battle that has been unfolding involves the Scarlet Witch and Dr. Doom. Basically, the Scarlet Witch has gone full feminazi on Dr. Doom's patriarchal ass. She sees how he's now working with Magneto and Quicksilver and concludes that they all must die. Logical? Fuck no. But from a feminazi perspective, it makes perfect sense.

This is one of the few instances in this story where the lines of inversion become somewhat blurred. Because let's face it, Doom and Magneto deserve this shit from Wanda. For the crap they've put her through and the way they've used her, she really didn't need to be inverted to snap like this. She just needed to be pissed off enough. Well the inversion finally gave her the nudge she needed and now she can finally hulk out in a way that can't be attributed to PMS.


It's a visceral moment, but one that's somewhat muted by the Scarlet Witch's horrendous excuse for trash talk. She basically talks like a drunk Hydra agent when she's attacking Magneto, Quicksilver, and Dr. Doom. She calls herself the Queen of Chaos, blaming all her anger on her family and Doom. Sadly, it's not wholly inaccurate. They have caused at least 90 percent of her problems throughout her life. But the way she points that out is just devoid of emotion. There's no depth here from either side. It's just a battle between inversions that doesn't feel like it has that strong an impact.

But it's a battle that reveals what may or may not be a special "fuck you" to Fox and Bryan Singer. In her rage, the Scarlet Witch attempts to "purge" her bloodline so that she'll be free of the bullshit that her family heritage has caused her. It affects Quicksilver since he's her twin. However, it doesn't affect Magneto. She takes this to mean that Magneto is actually not her biological father. This would be a real middle finger to decades of continuity establishing her as Magneto's daughter, but then again Marvel has shown it's been willing to do that before with Spider-Man and Mary Jane. I don't see why they wouldn't do it with the Scarlet Witch. The bottom line here is Wanda is pissed and Marvel's Disney overlords want to stick it to Fox and their shitty X-men movies. Mission accomplished in both respects.


Between these raging battles, there's plenty of pending destruction and doom. So where the fuck are the inverted Avengers in all this? Does inverting them mean they prefer to sit around and jerk off to Game of Thrones reruns while these battles rage? That actually might make sense from an inverted standpoint, but they do have to take an interest in a battle that could result in the destruction of the world's non-mutant population.

That leads to a meeting between the inverted Avengers, which includes the newly Superior Iron Man and the Kluh, the inverted Hulk. None of these guys have done much to distinguish themselves in this story so this meeting has about as much excitement as a Mormon bake sale. But they don't need to really discuss much in the end. They all just take a vote and agree that the X-men need to die. That should solve the problem of the gene bomb. It's crude, but perfectly in line with their inverted reasoning. That means it'll be Avengers and non-Avengers alike vs. X-men. Seriously, it couldn't be less subtle without putting Brett Ratner's face on all the X-men.


At this point, it's starting to get pretty damn dark. But hippie Deadpool continues to provide the perfect antidote. He still continues to battle Apocalypse. He hasn't forgotten that he once helped save him when he was still the lovable yet insanely creepy kid, Genesis. It's probably the only instance in this battle thus far that carries significant emotional weight. And Deadpool, true to his hippie values, doesn't attempt to fight back that hard. He knows it's a losing battle. That probably makes him the most competent guy who has ever faced Apocalypse. And yes, I really wrote that. A hippie Deadpool has exercised competence. Now it's starting to feel like my brain is inverted.


It doesn't change the outcome for hippie Deadpool. As lovable as his hippie ramblings were, they're no match for a pissed off Apocalypse. Eventually, he literally loses his head, which I guess is as good a way as any to shut him up without going full Barakapool. It leaves Apocalypse and the X-men in a pretty good state. They've fought off the Astonishing Avengers. They've silenced a hippie. Now they're about to detonate the gene bomb and get rid of all these annoying humans. Overall, I'd say that's a pretty productive day, even by X-men standards. It couldn't have been more productive without Emma Frost buying a new thong.


There's nothing inverted about the tone of this story at this point. There's no subtlety, no build, and no process. The X-men have gone evil. The Avengers have gone evil. And the villains are trying to fill the role and doing only a marginal job of it. It makes for great action and spectacle, but it does so in a way that's like going from watching Inception to watching another Die Hard sequel. There's not much progression in between. And maybe we shouldn't expect that much because magic is involved here. If magic could be used to end a marriage and retcon two decades of comics without much detail, then it sure as hell could be used to invert heroes in the most extreme way possible without much detail.

So from a logistics perspective, the concept works and the story that comes from it is still plenty entertaining. Hippie Deadpool alone makes this issue worth buying. But it's still unsatisfying in the sense that the whole inversion happened so damn fast that we don't really get a chance to see the heroes and villains undergo the process. It just jumps straight into an orgy of hate, minus the lube. It's messy and rough, but still coherent for the most part. It has things for both a sober and non-sober mind to enjoy so I can't be that disappointed. That's why I give Avengers and X-men: AXIS #7 a 7 out of 10. I accept that certain elements of this inversion won't stick. Heroes will go back to being heroes and villains will go back to being villains. But if ever there was a time to make an exception, could we at least keep hippie Deadpool? He's the only character in any universe that could actually make hippies entertaining. Nuff said!

4 comments:

  1. If Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch end up being Inhumans, then I'm guessing the High Evolutionary is the one who jump-started their dormant powers.

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    Replies
    1. That's a popular assumption. It just might make too much sense for Marvel's liking.

      Jack

      Delete
  2. To be fair, Wanda and Pietro being the children of Magneto was itself a retcon. Prior to their first miniseries, they were the children of the Whizzer and Miss America.

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