Posted by : Wendy B Thursday, 9 August 2012

I’m just going to assume that these epic Marvel crossover events start with boardroom conversations like this: “Who would win in a fight: Cyclops or Wolverine?” BAM. Schism. “Oh oh how about Iron Man vs. Cap?” BAM. Civil War. “I bet Cyke would kick Cap’s ass….” And the meeting would progress from here as ideas are thrown around. Mostly ideas involving resurrection and random dice throws over which heroes should fight each other in epic panels. “And also, we should Phoenix!” BAM. AVENGERS VS. X-MEN,

 where the Phoenix comes back for the first time since Jean killed herself on the moon (shhh we just won’t talk about Phoenix: Endsong, no matter how good it was. And apparently, despite calling upon her several times, we won't acknowledge Rachel Summers' time with the Phoenix, either). Phoenix apparently wants Hope Summers, which means everyone wants Hope Summers. The Avengers are determined to detain her and try to destroy the Phoenix threat by throwing some superheroes into space on a suicide mission (more on this later in my Complete WTF SRSLY? List). Cyclops decides this is a sign of rebirth for his people and determines that Hope must be protected at all costs to allow the Phoenix to usher in a new era for mutantkind. I half expected a panel where Scott first sings slave laments, then rubs his hands together and laughs maniacally, but I had to settle for Magneto pointing out that Scott sounded like him. 

Then Captain America arrives at Utopia by himself to quietly discuss the pending problem. Scott refuses to listen to reason, until Storm, backed by Emma, finally puts her foot down and tells Scott that he has long since lost his way and that his madness is going to destroy everyone and that she is not going to follow the orders of an obsessed mad man and makes him sit the fuck down until he sees reason again or else Emma will force reason upon him.

Well, that’s how it would have happened if this story and these characters had been written in a sensible, manner. Instead, we have Cap arriving with the hellicarrier and a full Avengers contingent, Scott saying a resounding NO with his optic blasts, Storm strongly disagreeing with Scott and fighting as commanded anyway, everyone else finally realizing that Cyclops is crazy and Hope being forced to stay indoors, which only serves to make her upset. Because upsetting the Phoenix host is always a good idea.

There is nothing good that can come of this entire concept, save perhaps some rants and lulz. And I haz them:

Storm. Storm Storm Storm. Who is writing this woman? Halle Berry? Where is the Storm that leads the X-Men and who stayed with Scott after Schism specifically to provide balance to the team and deal with Scott’s crazy? Where is the woman who will stand up for what she believes in, rather than voice her disagreement, but follow the questionable orders anyway? Where is the woman who could have ended this battle with a bolt of SFTU? Oh. She’s busy having marital arguments with her husband on the battlefield. When I heard she had married Black Panther, I assumed I’d been out of X-Men lore for so long that I’d missed their relationship development entirely. Turns out, I hadn’t. It was just a great BET moment that, coincidentally occurred at the start of Civil War. I suppose it then is fitting that their split should happen during AvX. Because that’s how poorly written marriages work.
Geez, BP. Couldn’t you have just sent her a text or
updated your Facebook relationship status to let her know?
“The most expensive punch in history.” This is my favourite line from the series of poetic pairings the writers came up with in their excuse to have the heroes fight each other. Then we proceed through various other cheesy one liners and random battle pairings. In case you doubted my theory on how AvX’s concept came to be, there actually are “VERSUS” books in this series featuring expanded versions of these battles.

Suicide Mission. If we’ve learned anything from Mass Effect, it’s that everyone is supposed to survive suicide missions. In the Avengers, when a cosmic entity is approaching, the best course of action is to throw a bunch of heroes into space in their space suits and see what they can do. Hint: Nothing. Unless you read the surrounding books that make their “suicide mission” make sense. Turns out Beast has designed a containment unit – just like he did in Endsong…. The “suicide” part comes in when the Phoenix force is used to resurrect an old teammate. Then kill him again. Never change, Marvel. Never change. If you don’t read the not-so Secret Avengers, then the story seems to go more like this: Tony has managed to put together a god machine based on the weapon Jean used to originally destroy the Phoenix. Good thing we had it handy, right Tony! Otherwise, we’d have to send some poor suckers into space to fight the Phoenix with rocks and paperclips. Or we could do both. Because DRAMA! And then we can have Tony yell “YOLO” and giggle at the shiny.

The Phoenix Five, by poizonazn
Phoekinis. This is now a word. I use it to describe the new Phoenix Force Five <strikes pose> outfits. Note the colour of these outfits (other than Emma’s, of course). We are on to you, Phoenix. Don’t try to pretend you’re here to heal the world. We cry shenanigans! But we do love your fashion sense – especially the way you make Namor and Emma share an outfit.

Crazy old Cyclops. Joss Whedon made me actually like Cyclops in the first time ever. Schism wiped that all away and since then, Cyclops has been sinking further and further into insanity and bordering on supervillainry. Be brave, Marvel. Just let him step right over the edge. You’ve got former supervillains, friends, allies and rivals telling Scott he’s acting like a punk and everyone talking about how crazy he is. Just take the plunge and make Cyclops a real villain that everyone will have to fight. This could well be where the PF5 is leading, but I don’t hold out hope. Even if they do go this route, there is the cheap way out for Scott by allowing him to blame this all on the Phoenix. And then, when the dust settles, just like with all the other Marvel stories, we can go back to our houses and pretend like nothing happened anyway. Hell, if we’re really lucky, we can actually erase our memories!

Wanda’s Blog: The Scarlet Witch is the key to stopping the PF5 and the target of Scott’s wrath, since she’s the one who decimated mutantkind in the first place. And she’s writing it all down in her diary and drawing pictures. Remember what happened last time some lady started keeping a diary foretelling the end of all things …?

First aid: When your resident British ninja is suffering from psionic backlash and could swallow her tongue, the best course of action is to put her sword in her mouth (sideways, of course). Not only will this prevent her from swallowing said tongue, but it will also give her a lovely new smile. Oh and it gives Mags, Betsy and Storm something else to think about, instead of whining in some dark sewer about not being able to go to the moon and play with everyone else. I bet Mags would have looked lovely in a Phoekini.

Consistency: So you know how, in the core books, Hope somehow finds a vehicle and magically gets herself and Logan to the moon and how during the trip, Logan calls Cap while Hope is sleeping? Well apparently, no one told the staff members working on the corresponding sidestory where Hope steals a whole freakin’ Blackbird (exactly what does she keep in that armband?), which then has a massive hole punched through it by the Death Commandoes. And, after they are defeated, Hope walks off and Logan hangs back to call Cap on his cellphone. Well, at least the two books were consistent on one thing: Blackbird or no, how the hell did Hope and Logan get to the moon?

Conclusion: While there are still three books to go, I am not holding out any hope for this story to improve my opinion of Marvel's long failed storytelling when it comes to the X-Men. The Phoenix Force has now come down to just two people, Scott and Emma. Perhaps they will get their Very Special Versus issue out of it. Who will win, true believers? Does this mean they are breaking up? Is this Emma's chance for a heroic death and subsequent resurrection? Will she finally be free of Jean's shadow? Shall we just assume there will be some sort of epic plot twist that will make even M. Night Shaymalan proud....?

2 Responses so far.

  1. Again I would say I'm curious to what exactly has been going on but not enough. There must be someplace I can find these and read them and then take the exact same attitude of either indifference or slight upset-tiness because the characters are being used to further extend the issues of a maxi-series and not acting consistently with ways they have been written before.

  2. U just saved me tons of money. Will be back here to read what happened in the last 3 issues.

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This is my mindspill. Mostly about comics, books, video games, movies of the science fiction and fantasy leanings. Sometimes recipes and parenting stuff will sneak in, along with a real world rant or two.

I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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