Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #1

The word “rectcon” is to comics what the C-word is to women. Few things will offend, enrage, and annoy comic book fans than a bullshit retcon, especially if they perceive it as part of some petty agenda. That’s why there are still many fans still pissed off about “One More Day” and “The Clone Saga.” There’s just no better way to shit all over years and years worth of stories than just up and saying, “Fuck it, we’re magically changing this shit.” That’s not to say all retcons are bad. Madelyne Pryor is a retcon that needed to happen. But the latest relaunch of Uncanny Avengers, stemming directly from the events of Avengers and X-men: AXIS, involves dealing with a retcon that has pissed more fans off than the Sopranos finale.

There’s nothing anyone from Marvel can say at this point to change the perception. By making it so Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are no longer Magneto’s children, they’re playing right into all the crackpot conspiracy theories that some fans have about the way Marvel treats mutants. They know like everyone else with an internet connection that Marvel doesn’t have the movie rights to X-men. Hell, they can’t even say the word “mutant” in their movies because Fox’s lawyers will pounce on that shit like a pot head pouncing on an unopened bag of potato chips. And since Joss Whedon wanted to use Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch in Avengers 2, Marvel is all too willing to suck his dick. And since Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch have a long history with the Avengers, there’s some legal wiggle-room that I’m sure involved a lot of dick-sucking.

Now it’s bled into the comics. Marvel has changed the history of two iconic characters whose legacy has been closely tied to Magneto for decades. It’s because of that legacy that their stories carry emotional weight. Then in AXIS, that legacy was shot to shit by the revelation that Magneto wasn’t their father. Sure, that’s a good thing to hear on Maury. It’s not quite as good to hear in this instance. Now ignoring for a moment this bullshit attempt to cash in on Age of Ultron, I’m not saying this concept still can’t be awesome. Uncanny Avengers #1 is going to make the effort regardless of how pissed off some fans are about AXIS. I’m just saying that it’s going to take a lot of awesome to mask the stench of a retcon like this.

To do this, an exotic setting helps in the same way exotic dancers give something extra to a lap dance. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are just as annoyed by this retcon as everyone and are trying to understand it. That takes them to an exceedingly exotic location called Counter-Earth. It’s basically another Earth crafted by the High Evolutionar. It orbits on the opposite side of the sun and it’s full of the kinds of creatures that would make cos-players feel right at home.

And while it is full of exotic creatures that look like Thundercats rejects, it still has the same problem with assholes who cheat at poker. I guess that’s one evolutionary achievement that must always be preserved. Quicksilver somehow believes playing a game of poker with a bunch of thugs will help him find out who his real father is. This pisses off his opponents, who see right through his bluff and know he’s after the High Evolutionary. What follows is a bar fight and a street chase that tries to be like a James Bond movie, but lacks the charm. Maybe Quicksilver should’ve had a martini and a cool car.

The Scarlet Witch eventually joins in the fight, going after the other thugs who don’t take a poker game quite as seriously. She can fuck with reality. She easily win a bar fight. But beyond the action and the chases, there is some nice inner monolog about the impact of this revelation. They don’t just brush it off. This shit really fucking bothers them and it should. They just found out Magneto isn’t their father. The only problem with this scene is that it feels like they skipped a couple of steps to reach it. That doesn’t make Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch getting shot in the end any less intriguing. It just feels a bit rushed.

The Maximoff twins have picked a shitty time to go on their little spirit quest. The rest of the Unity Squad is still in the process of unfucking themselves after the events of AXIS. Thor isn’t on the team anymore. Havok is still inverted. Wasp is probably going to sue the Avengers for inflicting too much emotional distress and will probably win. That leaves a team that’s supposed to bridge the gap between Avengers and X-men with only two fucking mutants on the team. And rather than deal with all the mind-fucks they endured with AXIS and the shit leading up to it, they have to deal with Maximoff family drama.

It’s not like this issue shouldn’t be addressed, but it still feels rushed since it jumped right into bar fights and street chases. The Unity Squad, despite having just been shaken up, decides to go after the twins because I guess the whole tension between Avengers and X-men will solve itself. As a concept, it’s as fucked as it sounds. But it still has merit. Rogue even sympathizes a little with the Maximoff twins in their effort to find their real father and she was among those who wanted to choke Wanda to death. It helps give the situation some depth as they follow their trail to Wundagore.

This is where Sabretooth makes his first contribution to the Unity Squad. No, that’s not a typo or a drunk text. Sabretooth is part of the Unity Squad now. He’s still inverted so it’s not quite as fucked up as it sounds. But for some reason, they think he’s fit to be part of this team. How anyone was convinced of that must’ve involved a heated debate and/or a really lucky hand at poker. Whatever went into this decision, we don’t get to see it. Again, it just rushes into the plot with the Maximoff twins. It’s not unexpected, but it still feels like it’s skipping way too many steps.

It does help that despite being inverted, they keep Sabretooth on a tight leash. They make it clear they don’t even trust an inverted version of him and he makes it clear it pisses him off. But he’s still able to track the Maximoff Twin’s scent into the High Evolutionary’s old hangout. This is where they find out that the twins took a trip to Counter-Earth. Now it’s just a matter of catching up with them and convincing them to settle for an appearance on Maury.

That’s not as hard as it seems, but not as easy as it should be. The portal is destroyed so Brother Voodoo has to teleport them to Counter Earth with help from Vision. It sounds like one of those feats that Reed Richards does in his sleep. It’s only fucked up when one of the High Evolutionary’s guards finally decides that trespassers are a bad thing and attack. He does this just in time to fuck up Brother Voodoo’s spells. And as anyone who has known the Scarlet Witch for more than a week knows, fucking up a spell can really ruin their day and even fuck up an entire species if they’re really unlucky.

This time, no genocides or inversions occur. The only real consequence seems to be that they arrived on Counter Earth at different locations. That’s not terribly fucked up. Hell, that’s basically like the mid-season finale of the Amazing Race. The problem is that it segments the story somewhat and there are only so many different directions I can follow while drunk.

Brother Voodoo apparently pissed off some of his ancestors by fucking up the spell. That means the Unity Squad’s return ticket is now MIA because their day just hasn’t been fucked up enough. Vision also arrives in the middle of a metropolis on Counter-Earth. He even takes the time to admire it as being much more high-tech and clean than anything he’s seen. I guess this is a subtle way of him saying he’s found one too many condom wrappers in a park. But then he’s drawn by another AI that looks just like him, but has boobs. I don’t know the complexity of Visions machinery. I don’t even claim to understand those who are sexually attracted to robots. I’ll just say that, as contrived as this is, I think Vision should go for it. Machine or not, good pussy is good pussy.

It’s not nearly as comfortable for Rogue, who winds up in the lab of some creepy old guy who looks like he should be hiding in a dumpster outside a Victoria’s Secret. He’s found a way to paralyze Rogue so he can do some experiments. He claims that mutation has the power to build new worlds for new creations. I think that might just be code for saying he wants her to try on the custom thong underwear he’s designed for her. He also throws in that he managed to erase Wonder Man from her mind. He says it in the same casual manner that I throw out empty beer bottles. Given how this plot was never resolved and completely lost during AXIS, it feels forced in addition to being creepy as hell.

Even so, Rogue still didn’t get the worst of it. Winding up in the lab of some creepy old guy is bad, but Captain America wound up in some fucked up garden that’s more giant spider web than garden. Fortunately for all those with arachnophobia, it isn’t full of giant spiders. It’s just full of tree creatures that drain the life from its victims. I still think it’s less horrifying than spiders. Captain America sees how these creatures feed on their prey and he’s not eager to be digested like a hot dog at the Superbowl. He doesn’t end up escaping, but he’s still Captain freakin’ America. He just wouldn’t be very American if he was defeated by a fucking tree.

I guess the only one who could say they were lucky with where they ended up was Sabretooth. He appeared in the middle of what looks like a nice park with a pristine fountain. He even describes how there are no foul scents anywhere. There’s not even a moldy ham sandwich rotting in a dumpster. The creatures don’t try to kill him, but they welcome him with the same way animal rights activists are welcomed at barbecue.

Since he’s inverted, his first instinct isn’t to kill every one of them and roast their bodies over an open flame. He just tries to get the fuck out of there and find someone who’s breath stinks of burnt steak. But before he can get too far, he runs into the High Evolutionary. So he ends up finding exactly who the Maximoff Twins were looking for and he wasn’t even looking. I guess this is how he learns to empathize with what Wolverine had to go through. This is the kind of randomly contrived shit that ruined so many weekends and drinking binges.

I admit it’s hard to make an objective judgment on this issue when the shit stains of the big retcon are present in every moment. That said, I can’t say that this book didn’t just gloss over it. Magneto not being Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch’s father is a big fucking deal and this issue treated it as such. The whole conflict emerges directly from Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch reacting to it. There’s nothing inherently wrong about that. Hell, it would’ve made the retcon even more egregious if they just shrugged it off like Peter Parker lost another job or pissed off another girlfriend. But in pursuing this story, it leaves a few shortcomings.

This issue really didn’t feel like it deserved to have a shiney new #1 on the cover. It felt like it could’ve easily been the next arc in the previous volume of Uncanny Avengers. The lineup changed, but it’s still following the same story. In addition, there’s a bit too much showing and not enough telling, even by kindergarten standards. There is some action, but there’s not a lot of explanation of depth to that action. There’s some “Oh fuck!” moments as well, but none that will cause anyone to spit out their coffee. In the end, this issue was solid yet unspectacular. It has promise, but nobody who was disappointed in the retcon is going to change their mind after reading this. Uncanny Avengers #1 gets a 6 out of 10. Maybe this is an issue that would’ve best been resolved by a stint on Maury Povich. Not saying that a trip to Counter Earth to fuck up the High Evolutionary isn’t a close second, but I just think that Eminem and Jerry Springer desensitized us to baby mama dramas at this point. Nuff said!


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