Saturday, August 18, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 20 (Avengers vs. X-Men #10 and Avengers #29)

What does Scott Summers want?

I've been pondering that question and I'm not sure I know the answer. I don't think there is one, because he doesn't know what he wants. I've argued that he was the only 'pure' one of the Phoenix hosts; that his belief in his cause and in Hope kept him above the pettiness of the others. He was never corrupted by the Phoenix and still hasn't been. It's not power that has driven Cyclops to his actions in Avengers vs. X-Men #10, despite all appearances. It's all Hope's 'fault.'

She didn't ask for Summers's belief in her. She almost always bristled against, not considering herself the saviour of anything, but that didn't stop Scott from believing more and more, becoming an extremist and zealot for the mutant cause with her at the centre of his belief. Avengers vs. X-Men, in a sense, has been a story about Scott's faith being proven right. The Phoenix arrived and, theoretically, has been an instrument for good as the 'Phoenix Five' worked to make the world a better place, let down only by their own weaknesses. They succumbed to corruption because they weren't strong enough to stick to the path. Scott never had that problem. When his fellow hosts wanted to simply kill the Avengers, he stood firm in the knowledge that their cause was just and, eventually, that would win out. There's only so long that you can stare utopia in the face and decry it.

What's driven Scott into similar territory as the rest is the rejection of the saviour he put so much faith in. Hope chose to turn her back on the mutants, on the X-Men, on the cause -- on him. He never thought that he was going to be a permanent host for the Phoenix. He, and the others, were placeholders until the true host, the saviour, would take her rightful place, assume the mantle of the Phoenix, and save mutantkind from extinction. Except, of course, Hope didn't want that. She never saw herself as the saviour and wasn't comfortable with that role. More than that, she shared the Avengers' view on the Phoenix hosts and their descent in corruption and weakness. So, she ran away with the non-believers -- the heretics -- and turned her back on Scott, denying his faith.

Reading Avengers vs. X-Men #10, it's obvious that Scott isn't like the others. He's angry and grows angrier as the issue progresses, not at the Avengers, but at Hope and her refusal to accept his set of beliefs. It's a little surprising how much of this story is based around religion. When Hope chooses the Scarlet Witch and the beliefs of K'un L'un, it's basically Jesus succumbing to temptation in the desert in Scott's mind. After all, the Scarlet Witch (red witch -- definite satanic imagery) is the person responsible for the destruction of mutantkind, while K'un L'un's beliefs are based around a dragon (a lizard -- a FLYING SNAKE!). She is the fallen saviour is his eyes... maybe the false saviour? Is Hope the Anti-Christ of the mutants? The false prophet that everyone is fooled by and brings ruination...

It's easy to write off Scott's actions as further proof of power corrupting, but that feels wrong to me. Especially when you look at the cover to issue 11 where he is fighting Emma Frost on the cover. It could be a similar situation to the Colussus/Magik 'fight' from issue nine; or, it could be Scott embracing the idea that is sure to be growing in his mind: if he's the only 'true believer,' if he's the one that's kept the mutant race alive for so long, if he's the one who has resisted the corruption of the Phoenix... maybe he is the true saviour. Maybe he was the answer all along and all false prophets and those who stray from the cause, who use it for selfish reasons and wallow in corruption, must be eliminated.

And, yet, oddly, I laugh at the idea that Scott is anything but the picture of sanity.


In all of the contradictions in Avengers vs. X-Men, Avengers #29 is not one of them. It shows an alternate version of the events from Wolverine and the X-Men #12 -- drastically different, even. But, it also ends with Charles Xavier wiping everyone's memories and letting them believe it played out how it would if he weren't involved. What we saw in Wolverine and the X-Men #12 was the version of events as the participants remembered it. I like that idea.

Next week: Uncanny X-Men #17.