Avengers vs. X-Men
Nevs Coleman — 24-May-12
“Movies ought to be punishment for those seeking entertainment.” - Dennis Hopper The comic reader’s sense of entitlement makes me laugh. If you want to read something that congratulates you for buying another thing that rewards Marvel for their treatment of comic creators, you’re in the wrong place, True Believer. “In fact let’s not mince words… This is plain fact. The management is terrible! We’ve had a string of embezzlers, frauds, liars and lunatics making a string of catastrophic decisions. But who elected them?” - Alan Moore, V For Vendetta I’m going to be honest with you, I don’t blame Marvel for this. All they’re doing is what they’ve always done, which is follow market forces and trends in popular culture. All the way back to the beginning of the Marvel Universe, Fantastic Four 1, which was a direct reaction to the success of DC’s Justice League of America, through to feminism birthing Ms Marvel and Blaxploitation giving the world Luke Cage, and ever onwards.
And it was all going fine. While Marvel just got on with what they did, so did everyone else. until the Great Saviour Of Comics came about, the Direct Market. Very soon after, the diversity of the comics field begin to contract. Other genres such as Westerns, Romance, Horror and suchlike soon vanished as the guys running and buying from the comics shops decided all they really wanted was superhero comics. Lots of ‘em. I’ll be honest with you, guys. Most of what I say in the various sites/mags I write for isn’t much different from what gets said in the pub by the staff of your local shop after hours. (Although I’m looking forward to the denials…) Mainly, we’re looking at you, with your stack of comics that cost up to £40-£50 (depends how many variants were released this week) and… We’re kind of incredulous. Somewhere along the line, Civil Warbecame the model for Marvel Crossovers for the last… six years. And wow, didn’t you guys like that format?
We’re pretty grateful, because you buying all the Avengers stuff at $3.99 a pop allows us to stock… well, the good stuff, to be honest. I was kind of hoping at some point that eventually everyone would say: “You know what, the whole nature of episodic corporate superhero comics is totally antithetical to the concept of finite narrative and significant character development. It’s time to put the toys back in the toy box and start moving onto material that isn’t just designed to stimulate the arrested adolescent in us.” Boy, was I the moron waiting for that to happen. Hilariously, the superhero comic decided it would grow up to accommodate the interests of its aging audience. And hey, did you guys take to that idea. Message boards were filled with rage as characters acted off-brand, as though it matters what you think after you’ve bought the comic. As though every comic was written to fit in with your perspective. That if you just blog hard enough, then finally, those big bad editors will see the wisdom of your words because eventually, everyone will agree with your worldview!
I get it. really. You’ve had a hard week at work, you drop by the shop to see what’s happening with your favourite comic characters, you just wanna sit back and relax. Understood. But why did you get into these characters, this genre in the first place? Was it really just that you wanted to indulge in a very costly soap opera with no resolution? Or was it that when you were a kid, maybe lonely, helpless, powerless against forces that controlled your life, you saw the chance in these brightly coloured heroes a chance to do some real good? To take up the example of Captain America, or Spider-Man, or even the X-Men and to fight the apathy to allows evil to flourish? Then just… stop. Stop writing your indignation about the Mary Jane Statue or whether Tony Stark would really throw those guys into the negative zone or that it’s, like, so lame that Bucky Barnes and Johnny Storm only stayed dead for six months. You wanna get angry? Two fucking words: Steve. Ditko. Two more? Jack Kirby! You wanna make a real difference? Really? Then be a Hero. Stop indulging your habit. (Yeah, it is. You are a junkie for this stuff. We are your dealers. Am I wrong? Sure. That’s why you get so edgy when the comics are a day late due to Bank Holidays or suchlike. Nothing to do with withdrawal. At All.) Because your buying this stuff is the only encouragement necessary for them to carry on screwing over creators. Not just the guys who knocked around in the 60s whose creations make up the cast of this crossover, but y’know, the people who might have vanished from various social comics gathering in the last couple of years. Because they can’t afford to show up anymore. But anyway…Avengers/X-Men. Everyone celebrate! You already know what this is. It’s a bunch of talented people wasting their time on this year’s manipulations. (Except Mike Deodato, who seems determined to be the poster boy for the fantastic blog Boobsdontworkthatway.com.)
The Big Bad this time is the Ultimate Evil of The Marvel Universe, the Phoenix Force. Destroys things. Cities, Planets, Star Systems, that kind of thing. It’s coming for Hope, the first Mutant born after the Scarlet Witch proclaimed “No More Mutants” – although apparently Hex Magic has some hearing issues as well, there are still, you know, Mutants. Quite a lot. The Avengers are concerned that this thing which wipes out things is heading for Earth, Cyclops… is mental, in the fine Marvel tradition of characters suddenly acting like a nutcase in times of crisis. (See also Iron Man in Civil War, Odin in Fear Itself, the Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Disassembled.) Basically, the Avengers want to take Hope into their custody for her safety, and fear that the Phoenix Force will possess her, leading to Jean Grey all over again. Cyclops thinks Hope is the Mutant Messiah and… therefore… I really don’t know what his line of thought was, but he doesn’t want the Avengers taking Hope away, so he hits Cap in the face with optic blasts. Er, and then fightyfightyfightfight, basically. Apparently all The X-Men are quite all right with Cyke risking the planet for whatever the hell reason he’s hitting the Avengers for and you know, yadda yadda. Spins out across all the X-books and the Avengers titles, plus an extra mini-series which is fights that couldn’t be slotted into the main title. Somebody’ll die for another “special” funeral issue. A new title will spring up out of this. I’m guessing the Phoenix Force doesn’t actually wipe out the Marvel Universe at the end. Or maybe it will. Tell you what, if the last issue of Avengers/X-Men is actually the end of the Marvel Universe (and not leading to the reboot I keep hearing about), the very last Marvel comic, I’ll shave my hair, sell it and post the cash to Marvel. If not. I’ll see you same time next year. Same Shit. Different day. Another Day Older. Deeper In Debt…