Thursday, May 14, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #4
There comes a point where trying to do something too much has the opposite effect. While this may not work for endeavors like masturbation, it can happen in an ambitious comic book arc. There's no question that Marvel was going to make a lot of buttholes clench when they revealed that the Maximoff twins weren't fathered from Magneto's nutsack. It is a bullshit retcon and I think they understand that on some levels. But they also understand that we're okay with bullshit retcons if the stories that follow are awesome. The success of the Winter Soldier is proof of that.
The same really can't be said with the post-AXIS narrative in Uncanny Avengers. It did the right thing by focusing on Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch looking for answers on their true origins. However, that's one of the few things this story has done right. It's tried to tell other stories about the High Evolutionary, Vision, Dr. Voodoo, and Sabretooth. These stories have been more forgettable than a Paul Blart movie. It's not that the ideas are bad. It's just that there are so many fucking stories unfolding at once and I can only stand to stay sober for so many of them. Uncanny Avengers #4 makes an effort to try and bring them together. It succeeds only in part.
However, it succeeds in the most critical part in that it answers the burning question that triggered this whole story. Who are the true parents of the Maximoff twins? Well, the answer is as underwhelming as it blunt as it is underwhelming. The High Evolutionary, who captured the twins in the last issue, tells them what they came to discover. He doesn't make them beg for it. He doesn't tease them with riddles or whatever shit the Batman villains are doing these days. He just tells them with the same crass demeanor that I would use when I tell the barista at Starbucks that they got my order wrong.
It's nothing out of a Tolken novel or anything. It turns out that the High Evolutionary just abducted the Maximoff twins as infants, as a baby-napping asshole is prone to do. Then he did some experiments that gave them powers. It wasn't enough. So in his disappointment, he returned them to their parents, which he implies are the Maximoffs. That's it. That's their secret origins. They're not mutants or Inhumans. They're just the High Evolutionary's failed experiments. It's as bland as it sounds. It still has an impact on the twins, but it's hardly satisfying in that it still doesn't make the retcon any less shitty. It really couldn't, given the vast history between the twins and Magneto. It's still not an excuse. And if excuses can't get you out of a traffic ticket, it doesn't warrant a retcon.
This revelation is the most concise part of the story at this point. And because it's so bland, it's easy to skip the part where the twins whine about it. There's still a shit storm going on. The High Evolutionary sent one of his perverse experiments that wasn't a disappointment to deal with it. Her name is Luminous and she looks like she got locked in a tanning booth. That still doesn't stop her from kicking an unholy amount of ass.
She was the one that subdued the Maximoff twins. She's also tasked with subduing the attack by the Low Evolutionary, who tried to help the twins. Their reward for being so helpful is getting their asses handed to them by someone who has the power of a mentally stable Scarlet Witch. She also has the benefit of not having an annoying, whiny brother to distract her. So in that sense, I can see why the High Evolutionary likes her more than Wanda. She's still a raging sociopath, but she still comes off as less likely to go crazy and commit mass genocide with a sentence fragment.
That's not to say the battle is completely unbalanced. Sabretooth finally does something that doesn't involve being the Uncanny Avenger's glorified pet. Like the Maximoff twins, he was manipulated by the High Evolutionary as well. He finally got sick of that shit and decided to fight back. He's able to cop a feel on Luminous and rough up the High Evolutionary's forces in ways that would make Wolverine at least somewhat proud. He'd still probably want to punch Sabretooth in the balls, but an inverted Sabretooth would probably forgive him.
It's still somewhat generic, but it helps that we get a little insight into the inverted Sabretooth's mind. He reveals that on some levels, he's still the same brutal psychopath that he's always been. However, he's now able to channel that brutality into something more productive, just like Wolverine. It's not the most in depth insight into an inverted villain's mind we've seen, but it adds a little something extra to a story that really fucking needs it.
We really don't get that kind of insight from anywhere else. Dr. Voodoo is still trying to contribute in a way I'm too stoned to make sense of. Like many of the other characters, he got separated when the Uncanny Avengers traveled to Counter-Earth. And at this point, it's hard to give more than half a shit about his story when he's doing so little.
It was almost as hard to give a shit about Rogue, who has been strapped to a gurney by some guy who looks like a walking cure for constipation. But finally, we get some measure of convergence because the Maximoff twins join her. They didn't spend any more time yelling at the High Evolutionary or demanding to know more about what he did to them. They just get thrown into the shitty trap where the creepy old guy can torment them too. Again, it's as bland as it sounds. Am I really that stoned or is there a pattern here?
For that reason, it's just as unsurprising when the Maximoff twins decide they've had enough of this creepy old guy and break free. There's really no struggle or cunning to it. They just use their powers in the least spectacular way possible and somehow the old guy still acts appalled. It's poorly detailed and hard to follow. All anyone needs to know is that the twins escape and they manage to free Rogue in the process. She's been stuck in a room with this guy for nearly the entire arc. She's a whole new level of pissed at this point.
Her escape and her taking her frustrations out on this guy still isn't as satisfying as it sounds. She yells at him for silencing Wonder Man, who is still trapped inside her and not because of a bizarre sex accident either. Then Quicksilver knocks him out, telling Rogue he's not worth maiming at this point. He may be right on some levels, but this guy has been about as memorable as an Inspector Gadget villain so it might have helped to see Rogue rough his ass up a bit. Instead, she just lets him go. That's right. She let another creepy old guy live and didn't even debate it. And this is a guy who may have murdered Wonder Man. Yet Rogue just yells for a moment and shakes it off? I've seen waitresses at restaurants make a bigger deal out of a shitty tip.
There are still other characters in the Uncanny Avengers who have yet to do jack shit since arriving on Counter-Earth. Dr. Voodoo is one, but the Vision is the other. Even though Wanda Maximoff is a big part of this story, he still hasn't been doing shit. Instead, he's spent his time hanging out with a hot new robot chick named Eve that apparently loves him and wants to have robot babies with him. I guess in that respect, I can't blame Vision for opting to spend time with her. She's probably less inclined to go crazy and commit mass genocide as well. Vision's standards really aren't that high at this point.
Not much really comes of this, but it does give Vision a chance to finally decide whether he'll give a shit. Eve basically gives him the same ultimatum that every woman gives the main male character in shitty romantic comedies. Either come with her and be happy or stay and be miserable. This is usually the point in the movie where a shitty Green Day song starts playing, which makes Vision's decision painfully clear. Sure, it might be better in the long run to stay with a hot robot woman capable of creating a superior life with him, but he's still loyal to his friends. He's admirable in that sense, but it's still a moment that lacks any sense of emotional weight.
The most emotionally satisfying part of the story we get at this point comes from Luminous kicking ass. She may look like a football that Tom Brady tried too hard to under-inflate, but she knows how to torment her enemies. She finally manages to turn the tide on Sabretooth. She doesn't opt to just snap his neck either, which really wouldn't amount to much in terms of impact. Remember, this is a guy who got fucking decapitated and still survived. So she opts for something better and decides to use her powers to age him to Old Man Logan type status. It's creative, I'll give her that. But it's still Sabretooth. Even when he's inverted, it's hard to know who to root for so I usually root for the character with the nicer rack.
The High Evolutionary stops Luminous just before she could make Sabretooth dependent on depenz and boner pills for the rest of his life. He's still a guy who hates to throw away perfectly good genetic material. He's a psychopath, but he's not a wasteful psychopath.
Being environmentally friendly still doesn't earn him any points with Rogue or the Maximoff twins. They finally show up to join the battle. They're finally starting to meet up with the rest of the team against the chief architect of this douche-baggery. I admit it is at least somewhat satisfying to see more of the Uncanny Avengers converge around the High Evolutionary. It's still hard to get very excited at this point without the aid of really good blow. But if it means Rogue and the Scarlet Witch have a chance to be BFFs again and kick someone's ass, I'm willing to get on board with that.
The High Evolutionary still has to flex his douche-baggery. He still has an entire fucking planet full of his creations to fight for him. This even includes an army of Groot ripoffs that rise up from the ground and surround the team. However, this isn't as daunting as it seems. One of them happens to be Captain America, who has also been doing jack shit since he showed up on Counter-Earth. Somehow and in ways that were not at all detailed, he managed to break control of these Groot rip-offs and join his friends. So the Uncanny Avengers are getting close to full strength again. It's just been so slow and bland at this point that I couldn't get worked up about it even if I were sober.
It took it's sweet fucking time, but this story is finally starting to come together in a meaningful way. Granted, it's past that point in a porno where there's a viable boner to work with and the convergence is still sloppier than drunk monkey in a shit-throwing contest, but it's still partially coherent. We have an explanation about the Maximoff Twins finally. It's still more bland than Dick Cheny's facial expression, but it does fulfill a key purpose for the story. We now know the true origin of the Maximoff Twins, at least until the next bullshit retcon. That's really the only thing this issue accomplished, but at least it accomplished the most important part of the story.
Besides that, this is a story that leaves a metric fuckton to be desired. The struggle between the Low Evolutionary and the High Evolutionary wasn't all that epic. The struggles with Sabretooth were a little more enjoyable, but still fairly bland. The biggest problem with this issue is that despite what it accomplished, the story has been so choppy and dragged so much that there's little emotional weight to it at this point. There's no emotional hit for the Maximoff Twins or anyone for that matter. It's valid, but it's unsatisfying. Like me getting a rejection letter from Harvard Law School, it offers no surprise. This isn't a bad issue in terms of the big picture, but it is very forgettable. I give Uncanny Avengers #4 a 5 out of 10. It's not going to make anyone's head's explode. It's not going to give Lewis Black another aneurism. It's just going to answer a question that most have stopped giving a shit about. Nuff said!