Sunday, October 07, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 26 (Avengers vs. X-Men #12, AVX: VS #6, and Uncanny X-Men #19)

Cyclops was right and Captain America was wrong. Cyclops was the true hero of Avengers vs. X-Men and Captain America was the true villain. Cyclops lost (and won) and Captain America won (and won). Life ain't fair, kiddies. And superhero comics are still the most basic and thoughtless of morality tales, so wrapped up in ideas like "Cyclops killed Professor X" than "Cyclops defended himself against the entirety of the Avengers and X-Men, including Professor X, who was actively trying to shut down Cyclops's brain throughout the fight and, in self-defence, killed Professor X," which is kind of what actually happened. It's like the entire event was one long exercise in pushing the "Captain America is always right" rule that governs the Marvel Universe more than anything else as far as it could go. Just tossing it in the faces of the fans and daring them to go "Say he's wrong! SAY HE'S WRONG!" as everyone just sort of shrugs and mumbles stuff about how Cyclops is a bad guy and Dark Phoenix and Uncanny Avengers...

Is this what heroism is supposed to be? Insisting you're right and being proven wrong (forgetting that you were ever wrong, of course); not trusting one of your longtime allies, but trusting a teenager you've known for two weeks; continually attacking someone and, then, blaming them when, surprise surprise, they eventually say they've had enough and begin lashing out. In many ways, the Cyclops/Captain America relationship of Avengers vs. X-Men is the same as the Captain America/Iron Man one of Civil War, right up to the end, except for some subtle differences. Captain America is wrong here, as was Iron Man there, and both won, but, at least in Civil War, everyone knew Iron Man was wrong. I think I had a "Iron Man is an Asshole" tag for that event and its follow-up, and I could have the same one for Captain America here, too.

Looking back over the series, all I can see when looking Captain America is an aggressor who continually looks for a chance to fight and 'put down' his former allies instead of working with them -- and, then, when those allies are proven to have been right from the beginning, still blames them for everything that went wrong. Oh, he pays a little lip service to the idea that he's partially responsible, but it's Cyclops who's in prison despite the fight that resulted in Xavier's death was the result of Captain America leading about three dozen people in an all-out assault on two people. One of which was a person who continually tried to turn the other cheek, work at making the world better, and hope that Captain America would see that, maybe, violence wasn't the answer.

I guess it's the superhero comic line about killing that gets crossed and, therefore, must result in punishment, despite the circumstances clearly being the sort that 'justifies' killing someone (if any circumstances do). What's a little sad is that, if Captain America and the Avengers had killed Cyclops, he would have made some speech about it being 'necessary,' and everyone would have nodded along.

There's just something downright unfair about how it all played out. I'm amazed that I actually care. But, I genuinely feel a little pissed off at how things played out here. Hell, let's address the Dark Phoenix stuff from issue 12. You might be with me up until then, because Cyclops went out of his way to avoid violence and only responded when attacked, but, then, he went all Dark Phoenix and decided to burn the world down before starting anew (which, come on, might not have been a bad idea all things told...). However, given past experience with Jean Grey and how fragile someone's hold over the Phoenix could be, that makes Captain America's call to use violence even more questionable. You have a god-like being that, if provoked enough, could be subsumed by the cosmic force possessing it, and you continually poke that being with a stick? That's the brilliant strategy one uses instead of talking to it, trying to pacify it, maybe try to work with it and avoid any sort of stress/provocation that might trigger an event like this until you can figure out a way to get the cosmic force out of its host safely and voluntarily?

I'm not saying that Cyclops should be given a gold star, a pat on the back, and sent on his merry way, but, Christ, how much can you blame a guy who was right, was instrumental in making the world MUCH better, went out of his way to avoid violence, and only succumbed to violence through continual provocation from the guy who helped start the initial conflict only to turn around at the end and admit he was actually wrong without ever saying that? Oh, and was under the influence by a cosmic force that kind of leans towards mass destruction during all of that?

I've questioned the standards of heroism in the Marvel Universe throughout this event and, under those standards, Captain America clearly is the true example of heroism in the Marvel Universe. That fallen, tarnished, sad, pathetic little place that probably should have been burnt to the ground if this is how its heroes behave.


Also: bravo on the completely unpredictable final issue, fellas. I mean, I did get it wrong about Hope going into space, still the Phoenix host, so I guess I'm not perfect either.


Match #11: The Fate of the Mutant Race Match - Hope vs. the Scarlet Witch

This is it. The main event match of AVX: VS where the fate of the mutant race is on the line. If Hope wins, we get "more mutants," while, if the Scarlet Witch wins, "No more mutants" stands as the rule of the day. The stakes can't be much higher and given Hope's ability to copy other people's powers, she seems to have the edge. Also, you don't earn the nickname "Mutant Messiah" without having SOME skills. It's actually a fairly lacklustre match, relying more on big, flashy moves that don't really do much than some real technical skills. Hope is more of a brawler than the Scarlet Witch, evidenced by breaking their lock-up with a quick headbut to the face. As with a lot of big main events with longstanding consequences for a promotion, there's never any pretense of delivering a good match and outside interference happens fairly quickly. All we basically get are a few lock-ups and the aforementioned headbut before Captain America and some others jump into the ring to break it up. The post-match sucker punch by Hope seems like an attempt to put over the younger competitor without actually putting her over. Terrible booking that sort of summed up the entire AVX: VS card.

Winner: Cyclops


The 'comedy matches' that filled out AVX: VS #6 were pretty good for the most part. I really enjoyed "Verbal Abuse" by Bendis and Jim Mahfood where Cyclops and Captain America settle their problems with words -- and, of course, the Squirrel Girl/Pixie strip that everyone is talking about and is a wonderful deconstruction of how truly nonsensical and bad AVX: VS was as a series. My favourite comments on the series came after the first issue was released, basically going "Well, it delivers what it said it would" like that's an excuse for being really, really, realllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly fucking bad. Most comics deliver what they say they will and no one gives them a free pass. But, hey, promise nothing but fights and no one will bother to judge if the fights are any good. They weren't. Not a single one. Everyone involved: you suck at this.


Kieron Gillen at least gets it a bit, it seems. Now, he's writing Uncanny X-Men where part of that title's mandate would be showing things from Cyclops's perspective. Still, the end of that issue is great. Cyclops doing everything but going to Beast, "I was fucking right, asshole. All of this fighting was for nothing -- if you'd listened to me, this could have all been avoided. Fuck you." Instead, it's a simple admission that he wouldn't change a thing and a fantastic triumphant final page where he seems to be embracing the next stage of his life as matyr for the cause who can now preach about being right from a jail cell. It gives me hope for the Consequences mini-series.


I focused mostly on the Cyclops/Captain America stuff these past few weeks and I will discuss the event as a whole. I'm just waiting for it to actually end since we've got five weeks of epilogue books to go. Once that's all said and done, I'll do the big summary post where I try to move past Cyclops/Captain America and look at the event in a larger way.

Next week: Avengers vs. X-Men: Consequences #1 and possibly Wolverine and the X-Men #18 (it has an "AVX" suffix on Diamond's list) and Avengers #31 (which carries the "AXFO" suffix, which I assume stands for "Avengers vs. X-Men Fall-Out," but I could be wrong and will decide if it counts after I read it).