Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #5
There comes a point in a shitty movie where it’s clear that it’s not going to turn into the Godfather anytime soon. But you still sit until the end, if only as a lesson against getting movie recommendations from a stripper fresh off two lines of blow. Like a finding out the hot chick in a porno is actually a transvestite, you still keep at it to finish the job because who wants to leave something like that incomplete? It’s hard to imagine that Uncanny Avengers: The Quest to Justify Another Bullshit Retcon will be anywhere near as satisfying. But I’m still determined to see it through, even if the chances of it being awesome at this point are on par with the chances that Megan Fox will respond to my dick pic.
Now I’m not going to say that the story Rick Remender has been trying to tell with the High Evolutionary, Counter-Earth, and the Maximoff twins has been completely without merit. It does set out to answer an important question: who are the real parents of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch? The problem is this story goes about answering that question the same way most kids go about cleaning their room. They eventually do get around to it, but the results are messy and unsatisfying. The High Evolutionary didn’t offer the twins any soul-crushing, heart-wrenching revelations. Hell, he’s dealt this conflict the same way most people deal with a pizza that gets delivered late. It certainly hasn’t helped that all the side-plots have been dull and disconnected as fuck. But Uncanny Avengers #5 finally starts to bring them together. However, like condoms at the Duggars home, it’s a little late to have much effect.
It still tries to establish a foundation for those effects. Before we all figure out how the Uncanny Avengers deal with the High Evolutionary’s douche-baggery, we get a quick flashback to an era before bullshit retcons where goofy costumes weren’t restricted to gay pride parades. It recapped the fateful moment when Magneto confronted the Maximoff twins and claimed he was their father, thereby birthing a generation of lawyers for Fox and Marvel/Disney. It feels like another harsh reminder of how this moment was essentially shit all over by a retcon, but it actually helps re-establish the Maximoff family dynamic that has been central to this story. It still reeks of legal wrangling between Disney and Fox, but I get the sense those two would sue each other over pizza toppings at this point.
There’s a much less successful effort at establishing dramatic effects with Vision. As much as I enjoy hearing Paul Beatty’s voice in the words, the whole sub-plot with Vision and his hot new robot wife falls flat. She talks about leaving Earth behind and raising their robot children on some perfect utopian world where there’s no conflict, poverty, or shitty reality TV shows. As appealing as that sounds, she comes off as sort of the antithesis to Morpheus in the Matrix. She doesn’t want to guide Vision into a better world. She just wants him to say “fuck it!”
Now nobody at all would blame Vision for taking a hot robot woman up on such an offer, but there’s really no indication that he even considers it. There’s no passionate argument. It’s as flat as a debate on a physics message board. Like the rest of the sub-plots in this story, it feels forced. It’s basically a distraction with a predictable ending. And for a sub-plot that involved a hot robot woman, that’s downright tragic.
Finally, the sub-plots fade and we get to the shit that blows up. Most of the Uncanny Avengers have finally caught up with one another, albeit in a very sloppy and uncoordinated manner. It’s like a bunch of kids with ADD coordinating on a group project. It’s chaotic, but it does produce some nice visuals that Daniel Acuna brings to life.
It appears epic, but it still falls flat in a way that’s not entirely avoidable. This story dragged so much with slow sub-plots that it’s hard to get too excited about this battle. While it does have some visceral moments, it lacks drama for the most part. The Uncanny Avengers are just fighting the High Evolutionary’s forces in a way that’s not going to inspire the General Patton’s of the world. But it does finally establish a major confrontation, even if it took way too fucking long to get to.
The scale of the battle is quickly lost when the focus shifts to the Scarlet Witch. It’s not necessarily bad at first. We get to see the Scarlet Witch play the part of a merciful savior to a few innocent creatures, something she can never have too much of in the post-M-Day era. But she prioritizes beating the shit out of the High Evolutionary, if for no other reason than because he was a real dick about revealing their true history.
Now this is a problem. The High Evolutionary isn’t her father and he didn’t fudge the facts with her in the slightest. He flat out told the Scarlet Witch what happened to her and her brother. He needed test subjects. They fit the bill. That was all there was too it. It’s still a dick move, but again it really limits the impact here. Is she really going to be that pissed that Magneto isn’t her father? It’s just not really that clear she has a reason to go Wolverine-style berserker on his ass.
This still doesn’t stop her from taking her frustrations out on him and saving Rogue in the process. That’s another sub-plot that didn’t offer much drama. Rogue is pissed about the High Evolutionary purging Simon from her mind, but it really doesn’t add to the struggle here. Like the henchmen of James Bond villains, she’s basically a background character here. For anyone who came to enjoy Rogue’s sassy, sexy persona in the 90s cartoon, it’s just pain insulting. Seriously, how does an inverted Sabretooth have more lines than her in this issue?
While most of the sub-plots in this arc have contributed jack shit to the main plot with the High Evolutionary, one finally does something important. Hell, even the Oakland Raiders are capable of making a good draft pick every now and then. This one comes from Dr. Voodoo of all people. He managed to get in touch with the spirits of all those creatures that the High Evolutionary killed. Surprisingly, they didn’t like being cast aside like used toilet paper so they decide to fuck up the High Evolutionary’s shit. It didn’t necessarily happen in the most cohesive manner, but fuck if it isn’t satisfying on some levels.
This forces Luminous, the recently revealed half-sister to the Maximoff twins, to step up and pick up the slack. She’s a cunt, but not on Joffrey Baratheon’s level. She just tries to finish off the Scarlet Witch so that she can’t aid Dr. Voodoo. That and I’m pretty sure that beating up her siblings gets her sexually aroused. That’s all that has really been revealed about her to date. So she doesn’t even have Joffrey’s charisma going for her.
That makes it a relief of sorts when Vision shows up to take her down in the least surprising, least flashy twist since Bernie Sanders’ last campaign speech. Despite Vision’s history with the Scarlet Witch, there’s a distinct lack of drama in this moment. He just saves her, leaving behind a hot robot woman off-panel. It succeeds in neutralizing Luminous, but it doesn’t do much more beyond that other than give them a front row seat to watching the High Evolutionary get tormented by pissed off souls. I admit I’d pay to see a show like that. If the Paranormal Activity movies can turn a profit, why the hell couldn’t a show like this work?
But even the spirits of the damned can’t stop the High Evolutionary. He still shrugs them off the same way Taylor Swift shrugs off an Apple user agreement. He no longer has the same charisma and vision that he had earlier in the arc. He’s just an asshole making excuses now. He’s basically a smaller, less menacing, and gayer-looking version of Megatron from Transformers. He’s still powerful, but in the least interesting way possible. A villain can only look so menacing when his color scheme matches one of Elton John’s old outfits.
So if the spirits of the dead creatures he killed can’t stop him, who can? How about Quicksilver? No, that’s not a rhetorical question that Joss Whedon probably asked during a bar bet. That’s actually the guy who steps up to finish the shit once and for all. Given how few shits anyone gave about him getting killed in Age of Ultron, it sounds out of place. However, it somehow works here.
I’m as serious as anyone who puts whiskey in his coffee can be. Quicksilver manages to emerge from utter obscurity in the battle to take on the High Evolutionary before he can escape with Sabretooth and Rogue, who I’m guessing he wants to dissect or breed, not necessarily in that order. But as he’s going after him, there’s this insightful inner monologue that gives insight into the mind of someone who has only ever looked for more reasons to be an asshole.
It’s probably the most defining moment of the arc aside from the High Evolutionary’s revelations. He muses over how he’s always used his ties to Magneto as an excuse to be an asshole. Now he doesn’t have that excuse anymore. He actually has to own his douche-baggery and either live with it or hope Bravo gives him his own reality show. And he does all this while kicking the High Evolutionary’s ass. If he had done this in Age of Ultron, I might actually have been able to overlook his goofy accent. At the very least, he made sure the High Evolutionary doesn’t get out of this battle without looking fucked up.
While he’s able to rough the High Evolutionary up pretty damn good, he doesn’t get a chance to finish him off. Rather than stick around and tease the Maximoff twins about how they were just one of his many failures, he opts to ditch them and Counter-Earth. Luminous follows him as well because I guess he needs stay creepy by having an insanely super-evolved bitch at his side. He drops a few ominous warnings, but they’re no different than anything Dr. Claw has said on Inspector Gadget. It makes for a very rushed and unceremonious ending because he still had a whole fucking planet with which to fight the Uncanny Avengers. He just seemed to get bored and throw it away.
The aftermath of the battle is also pretty rushed. There’s no picking up the pieces of Counter-Earth or helping out the Low Evolutionary. They just skip right back to the part where they return to the Avengers Mansion and basically try to undo all the shit the High Evolutionary did to them in the most convenient way possible. That means Captain America will ditch his Groot-like appearance and Sabretooth will go back to looking like a deranged lumberjack on crystal meth. There’s still some nice insight from Vision regarding the hot robot woman he left, but that’s another element that basically gets ditched. So we didn’t even get a sexy new robot character out of this story. It would’ve made a nice bonus/consolation prize, but I guess society isn’t ready for sexy robot characters. If we can’t even get a fucking Wonder Woman movie until 2017, what hope do sexy robots have?
There’s still some effort to deal with what happened to Simon in this arc. It leads to another moment between Vision and the Scarlet Witch that falls somewhat flat within the context of their history. The Scarlet Witch is still upset that she can’t save Simon, which is understandable since she recently boned him in the previous Uncanny Avengers series. But it just leads to the kind of reassuring, friend-zone moment that seemed to happen in every other episode of Saved by the Bell. It was nice in that it showed there’s still a connection between these two characters, but not much beyond that.
Overall, Uncanny Avengers #5 offers something akin to light beer. It’s watered down. The taste isn’t going to soak anyone’s panties. But drink enough of them and it’ll get the job done. This story had the right ingredients. It just never mixed them together in a cohesive way. This issue finally brought the team back together to battle the High Evolutionary. And while the battle had its moment, it still lacked impact. It didn’t leave everything on the field and glossed over too much to feel really satisfying. That said, it didn’t just piss everything away. Something did come of it in terms of character development, but in a very limited manner.
Don’t get the wrong idea. This arc is not going to make everybody love Quicksilver. He still comes off as a raging douche whose entire life has been fueled by shitty excuses. He couldn’t be less likable without being one of the spoiled Hilton kids. But at the very least, he has a moment of clarity in this story that makes it feel like something came of this. But beyond that, there’s not much else to get anyone’s heart racing. The High Evolutionary is still an asshole who is on the loose. The Maximoff twins now have no family ties to Magneto. There’s not much else that can be said other than their accents in Age of Ultron still sucked. I give Uncanny Avengers #5 a 5 out of 10. In the same way light beer can only be so refreshing, this issue can only feel so complete. But on a hot summer day and in an era where it’s easy to gloss over certain details, it gets the job done. Nuff said!