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Sep 23

The X-Axis – 23 September 2012

Posted on Sunday, September 23, 2012 by Paul in x-axis

It’s a podcast weekend (though I’m told the sound quality is a bit dodgy on this one), so check it out one post down.

Otherwise… I’m horribly busy right now, but thankfully, Marvel have considerately obliged me by releasing virtually nothing this week.  Which, come to think of it, kind of begs the question of what possessed them to put out so many X-Men titles last week instead of shunting a few of them into this week.  But whatever.  We’ve got one X-book and one AvX tie-in – if only barely – so let’s take a look at those…

Avengers #30 – One for the “outrageously tenuous tie-ins” file, if ever I saw one.

The plot of this issue is that Mr Negative and his men break into a warehouse in order to steal some of the equipment that was taken into custody after Fear Itself, but Hawkeye and Spider-Woman have been tipped off and are waiting for them.  A fight scene ensues, while the aforementioned Avengers bicker about their romance.

And what, I hear you ask, does that have to do with the Avengers vs X-Men crossover?  Ah well, it’s a tie-in because Mr Negative thinks it’s a good time to break into the warehouse because the Avengers are busy fighting the X-Men.

No, seriously.

That’s it.

He’s not even sodding right.  The Avengers are all sitting around back at home.  They’re not busy at all.  By all appearances, the crossover is finished and they’re back in New York.

Now, look, I’ve got no problem with Bendis trying to work his own stories into the crossover framework.  That’s fine.  And if you’re interested in the Hawkeye/Spider-Woman relationship he’s been trying to set up, then yes, this issue advances that plot kind of a bit.  In that sense, it’s perfectly unobjectionable as an issue of Avengers.  But billing it as an Avengers vs X-Men tie-in issue is just taking the piss.

Nor is it particularly good on its own terms, to be honest.  Bendis isn’t really interested in the fighting stuff, except as a backdrop to his character banter – which is fine up to a point, but when that fight is also notionally the entire plot of the issue and the fight fills about seven pages, you’d really hope for something a bit more inspired than this.  It’s drawn by Walt Simonson, so there’s some energy to the visuals, but it’s not what you’d call an inventively choreographed fight scene.  It’s just people hitting one another until the pages are filled.

If you’re very excited about the Hawkeye/Spider-Woman subplot and you particularly enjoy reading the characters squabble irrespective of what’s actually happening at the time, you might like it.  As a crossover issue, though, it’s a complete waste of your time.

New Mutants #49 – Much as I’ve enjoyed Abnett and Lanning’s run on this book, the concluding chapter of “Fight the Future” (and the penultimate issue of the series) is a bit of a mess.

To recap: the New Mutants have found out that in a possible future, team member Cypher will become evil and take over the world.  Cypher is considering killing himself now in order to stop that happening.  Cypher-from-the-future has reanimated the Hellions to stop him.  That’s where this issue begins, and unfortunately, it all becomes a bit garbled.  There’s quite a nice starting idea that Dani, who is still technically a Valkyrie, can free the Hellions’ souls and lay them to rest.  But then we get into Cypher-from-the-future swapping various characters with their future selves, and Dani ending up in Cypher’s future world, and a bit about future Cypher “overwriting” the past to try and establish his own history.

This is where, frankly, I get lost.  Time travel stories have a tendency to degenerate into paradoxes that have to be quietly overlooked, and that’s par for the course.  The trouble with this one is that even the plot mechanics of what’s meant to be happening are virtually unintelligible.  The bit about future Cypher trying to write his own past sounds like a vaguely promising high concept, but what does it actually mean?  Doesn’t he have a past already?  Where did he come from?  And the big climax is apparently that Cypher has buried an idea in his own mind to make sure that his future self does things that will put Dani in a position to…

No, I’m completely lost, I’m afraid.  The good guys win, I got that.  But I have no idea how.  I assume Abnett and Lanning were going for a deliberately head-spinning piece of reality warping, but they’ve overshot the mark and produced an issue of such incomprehensible gibberish that there’s nothing to anchor the character moments, so that they all fall flat.  This is a story where people say things like “You’ve killed the future to save the past”, and “You saved the now, Doug, by giving everything in the then,” and I have no clue what that’s supposed to mean.  (And even allowing for that, the epilogue still seems weirdly abrupt.)

Felix Ruiz’ art has strong moments reminiscent of the Sienkiewicz issues in the 1980s, though a dearth of backgrounds and some rather basic panels also make me wonder whether the deadlines have been catching up with him.  Still, he does a reasonable job with what he’s been given; it’s the plot mechanics that cause the trouble here.

Bring on the comments

  1. NorwegianRockCat says:

    No review of X-Factor 244? Though if you are busy I’m going to cry foul quite softly. It only succeeded in clearing the deck a bit more…

  2. Taibak says:

    You know, with all of these tie-ins being so tenuous, just once, I’d like to see a colorist start to rebel and give the book red skies.

  3. maxwell's hammer says:

    X-Factor may have felt a little like a deck-clearing exercise, but I always have massive appreciation for PAD for always finding character-based reasons to alter the status quo and move the plot forward.

  4. Paul says:

    Haven’t had time to read it yet, and to be honest, I forgot it was in this week’s pile.

  5. Kenny says:

    I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on X-Factor #244. It confused me just a tiny bit.

  6. Michael says:

    I enjoyed X-Factor – always do – but if I didn’t know better, I would say that editorial had told PAD that the book was being cancelled, so wrap it up. That’s what it feels like – all of a sudden, at one time, everyone is being shuffled off canvas for one reason or the other, just as it happens when books get somewhat unexpectedly cancelled. Makes me wonder what the new status quo will be and where its all going.

  7. Suzene says:

    @Micheal – I don’t think it’s cancelled, but I’ve heard the roster is being slimmed down considerably for a Marvel NOW! relaunch – even Ric and ‘Star are rumored to be taking off. Take this with a grain of salt, of course.

  8. Si says:

    I thought the same about New Mutants. I haven’t liked the current story at all, and if I didn’t know the title was being cancelled at issue 50 I wouldn’t have bothered buying this issue. As is I figured I might as well see it out. I adore the cover art though. Here’s what I think was going on, but what wasn’t really said clearly, (or at all). Think of future Cypher (lets call future Cypher “Selffriend” and current Cypher “Doug”, to avoid confusion) as a hacker, and time as a computer system. Selffriend is rewriting the code of the computer by dropping in chunks of his own code, bit by bit. Doug, however, has set up a Trojan in Selffriend’s system, allowing him to crash Selffriend’s system and from there to restore his own system to its factory settings.

    The Trojan, to mix the metaphor a bit, was a Power of Love ending. Selffriend couldn’t kill Dani because he loved her. Since he couldn’t kill her, but she was part of the system he was hacking, the rewrite couldn’t be completed, and so the whole thing fell on its ear and everything turned back to normal.
    Exactly how Selffriend was rewriting reality, or how Doug set up the Trojan, I have no idea. The magic of polyglottomy I suppose. But I believe Selffriend was from an alternate dimensional future, and was going around rewriting all timelines to converge on his singular time.

  9. Andy Walsh says:

    PAD has stated repeatedly, and as recently as this past week, that X-Factor is not being cancelled, for whatever that’s worth.

    I agree that the current arc of X-Factor feels a bit off, and not at all what I was expecting from how it was promoted. It sounded like it would be the story that everything has been building to for the past year or two, but instead it just seems to be yet more setup.

    Yes, some characters are allegedly leaving the team, but aside from Havok none appear to be going elsewhere. And so there’s no reason to suspect that they won’t remain in the book’s cast in some capacity or another. The story of Wolfsbane and Tier in particular doesn’t feel any more resolved than it was before this arc.

  10. ZZZ says:

    Okay, so here’s my problem in Avengers 30: The X-Men get the Phoenix Force and “outlaw war,” then go around disarming governments and destroying nukes and we even see Namor dismantling warships. They even get around to removing guns from small-scale conflicts in Africa, which implies that they finished all the “global” things and moved on to the more “local” ones. So … it never occured to them, before the started disarming legitimate governments, to go after crime lords and supervillains (other than Mr. Sinister) or freaking Hydra or the massive stockpile of advanced Nazi battlearmor left over from Fear Itself? So they weren’t so much “ending war” as “removing society’s ability to defend itself and leaving it to the wolves,” were they?

    On New Mutants: I could be completely wrong here – when a story’s that confusing, everyone’s going to have their own interpretation of it – but my take on it was that Future-Sam and Future-Shan sucessfully prevented their own past, but Future-Doug still existed in the same way that multiple contradictory alternate futures have always continued to exist as parallel timelines in X-Men books, and he was trying to modify the timeline his “real” past self was in so that he could still exist in that timeline. It all falls apart when you start to wonder what was so special about the timeline the present New Mutants were in (which was pretty explicitly NOT Earth-616) and what makes them the “real” New Mutants, but I think that’s what the writing was going for.

    All I know is, I’ve had more than enough stories where the good guys win because the writer’s (or writers’) favorite character is just that special and amazing.

  11. wwk5d says:

    With regards to Avengers 30: Either it’s an example of the short-sightedness of the heroes in this case to solve the world’s problems, and shows us just how they wrong they were in what they set out to do in a badly written way by the writers…or, it’s just Avengers vs. X-men, so expect it not to make sense or follow any form of logic.

    As for New Mutants…I have been enjoying the revival quite a bit, and it’s a shame the series will be ending with one of it’s weaker storylines. I hope it’s not back to Comic Book Limbo for these characters…

    As for X-Factor, I wouldn’t mind the team membership being trimmed a little…

  12. Si says:

    ZZZ, without having read it, I’d assume Hydra etc. lost their guns too, it just wasn’t shown. It should have been. But you know somebody’s going to hit reset shortly anyway. I wonder if Kieron Gillen’s going to write a scene in that aftermath special where villagers in former warzones around the world celebrate as the old landmines reappear in their fields.

  13. ZZZ says:

    @Si

    SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS 30

    The last page of the comic is Hydra looting the SHIELD base where the remnants of Secret Invasion are stored, having tipped Mister Negative off to the base where the remnants of Fear Itself are stored (and then tipped off Spider-Woman to Mr. Negative) to distract the Avengers. They are fully armed.

  14. Si says:

    Oh, I see. In other words it’s up to the standard we’ve come to expect, then.

  15. kingderella says:

    yeah, new mutants is confusing as hell. incomprehensible plot aside, it also raises the question why danis valkyrie powers didnt manifest during the necrosha crossover. but at least i like the art, and i enjoy abnett & lanning’s obvious fondness for dani. its really her book, the way careys x-men was “rogues book”, or whedons x-men was “kittys book”

    as for x-factor, im not sure about what davids doing with terry. maybe this is just going to be temporary, but if its long term… i can see it working, but im always skeptical about developments that clutter up characters, and besides, didnt he do something very similar with darwin already?

    xfactors been running almost exclusively mystical stories for a very long time now. its obviously something that inspires david, but i wonder whether xfactor is the best place for this kind of thing. its a little like x-men in outer space: it can work in small doses, but its not really a natural fit.

    as for xfactors cast, im sure david can make any character work (well, except darwin), but i want the team to include madrox & layla, shatterstar & rictor, monet & guido.

  16. Andy Walsh says:

    @kingderella – Yeah, it’d be nice for X-Factor to get away from the supernatural stuff for a while. We’re about due for a shift in direction/focus like we got between issues #50 and #200.

  17. Ash says:

    @ZZZ: “it never occured to them, before the started disarming legitimate governments, to go after crime lords and supervillains (other than Mr. Sinister) or freaking Hydra or the massive stockpile of advanced Nazi battlearmor left over from Fear Itself?”

    Just blame it on bad writing, which is what the entire AvX was about–it was bad writing with equally bad coordination among editors and their books.

    With all that power, the Phoenix Five could’ve easily gotten rid of the Purifiers and those fucking annoying Hellfire Club kids (easily one of the worst new villains ever created), but instead they didn’t do anything–we see the Purifiers fully armed and going toe-to-toe with the Avengers and a depowered Emma Frost in a recent New Avengers issue, and the Hellfire Club brats getting away in Wolverine and the X-Men, which is fast turning into a freaking cartoon book.

  18. NB says:

    @Ash That’s pretty much how it had to be done I think.

    They wanted to show how a group of people getting power trying to improve the world (at first), and to keep it relatable they had to show a world close to ours, where super-villains really aren’t much of a concern. Governments and such OTOH often are.

    Besides, they had to leave the super-villains be, otherwise, who would they fight after AvX was over? Same reason why Superman does not clean up Gotham etc.

  19. Niall says:

    PAD, I love you, but your Irish accents are offensive to all of the senses. As a people, we do not all suffer from brain damage and we are not all horrible cliches. For all of PAD’s efforts to write non-stereotypical gay/Latino/Islamic characters, he seems unable to escape the tendency to write non-American white people as anything other than stereptypical rejects from 1950s Hollywood.

    Marvel, It’s time to grow up and cop the fuck on. Europeans buy your comics. Stop taking the piss out of us for cheap laughs.

  20. Ben says:

    Haha! And the depiction of Australians is just as bad, ‘mate’!

  21. Si says:

    I call people “mate” all the time. Sometimes, I even say “crikey” (though it’s usually “by crikey”). Never surfed in my life though, I can’t throw a boomerang, and I don’t have any ancient Dreamtime powers, so there’s me disassociated from every Australian comic character ever.

  22. The original Matt says:

    You don’t have ancient dream time powers? Crikey, I got mine down the shops just last week. It was a BOGOF sale and all. Where you been mate, putting shrimp on the barbie, I suppose.

    Fuck, hang on, dingo got me baby…

  23. Ben says:

    Keep your ugg boots on guys.
    We need the Australian X-Men again. That was when I first started reading Uncanny.

  24. wwk5d says:

    Hey, speaking as an Arab, your stereotypes aren’t all that bad lol I’ll take dingo eating babies over the latest attempt at AbdulKareemAhmedallahHusseinFarookistan….

  25. wwk5d says:

    Er, I meant dingos that eat babies. Babies that eat dingos sounds like something Warren Ellis might come up…

  26. Si says:

    wwk5d: That’s the difference between ignorant but good-natured and ignorant jingoism I suppose. The Irish would still be getting the tail end of that, but luckily for me everyone loves Aussies. Except New Zealanders of course, but who cares about them?

    (That said, as a father I cringe slightly inside every time people make dingo jokes. It was a real eight week old baby that was torn apart by dogs. Not cool.)

  27. ZZZ says:

    @Ben – I think you mean we need the X-Men IN Australia again. The Australian X-Men would be Lifeguard, Sliptstream, and Bishop, and I don’t think anyone needs them back any time soon. Unless you meant that Wolverine needs to be Australian again like he was in cartoons in the 80s, which I have no problem with.

    Speaking of which: On the one hand, phonetically written accents are embarassing, hard to read, and are often incomprehensible to anyone who doesn’t have the same accent as the comic’s writer.

    On the other hand, without them, we end up with things like someone recognizing Bishop as Australian “by his accent” after the character had been around for over 10 years without any mention of him being Australian or having a non-American accent.

  28. Niall says:

    Writing accents phonetically isn’t a bad thing in itself, It’s just that few can do it well. Some of the best modern English, Irish and Scottish fiction I’ve read uses the technique. The problem with most comics is that the accents are written by people who are familiar enough with a place to write them well.

    Not to pick on PAD, but his Irish accents tend to be bizzare amalgamations of several Irish and Scottish dialects. In the case of Teresa, the words and phrases she uses are the kind of things that a twenty-something year old would never use. Actually, most of them are the kind of thing you don’t find anyone of any age use outside of Derby O’Gill.

    Some day, I plan to take my revenge by becoming a writer for Marvel and writing a Spiderman/Captain America crossover where both (suddenly obese) characters discuss invading foreign countries for oil while eating Big Macs in a McDonalds and speaking in the style of 1930s gangsters as interpreted by an Irishman.

  29. Si says:

    “Lifeguard, Sliptstream, and Bishop”

    And Gateway. And you could bring Pyro back to life. Oh, and there was a bad guy called Kangaroo or Kangaroo Man who got the powers of a kangaroo by living with kangaroos. Never saw him in action but the OHOTMU says he was probably a mutant with a screw loose rather than the key to super leaping being eating spinifex and headbutting oncoming cars at night.

    Let’s face it, it would be an awful team but with a writer who got the joke it could be quite possibly the best comic ever.

  30. Worst attempt at writing an accent I’ve ever seen was in a Union Jack short in Marvel Comics Presents by Fabian Nicieza. I think it was attempting cockney, but I couldn’t say for certain. I could barely comprehend most of it. Actually, it’s close at hand, so here’s a quote.
    “Wot you’re foitin’ for is roit an’ true — an’ you should foit for your stake in loife.”
    A rare instance of “you’re” instead of “yoor” there. He says “Oy’m” a lot. Oh and “Run. An’ I wanta ‘ear yoor lungs suckin’ air.”

    When it comes to accents, less is more. In Iron Man: Armor Wars, some of the Californian characters say “fer shure” in amongst otherwise normal dialogue and it’s enough to indicate the accent.

  31. Jacob says:

    Wouldn’t the best revenge be to (somehow) become a Marvel comics writer with enough sway to start writing all the American Marvel characters with phoenetic American accents?

    Spider-man in a thick Noo Yawk drawl might help kill the character faster than Dan Slott

  32. anya says:

    They’ve already done that. Try wading through some of the bad examples of rogue and gambit (even worse gambit’s family) ‘dialect.’ As someone who has lived in the south, it can be quite painful. :P I’ve seen some bad Guido dialogue to. I think it was attempting a ‘bowery boys’ new york accent.

    (BTW, hi all! I’ve lurked here before but never posted.)

  33. Taibak says:

    Makes me very glad nobody at Marvel has yet realized that Carol Danvers and Dane Whitman should sound like Bostonians. :-)

  34. The original Matt says:

    wwk5d says:
    September 28, 2012 at 10:54 AM
    Hey, speaking as an Arab, your stereotypes aren’t all that bad lol I’ll take dingo eating babies over the latest attempt at AbdulKareemAhmedallahHusseinFarookistan….

    This makes me want to read Paul’s review on those captain America comics. To the way back machine.

    And seriously, why isn’t there a link on the front page yet?

  35. wwk5d says:

    Not really a stereotype, but one of my favorite mistake about people who aren’t white was during Morrison’s New X-men, when he had one the characters say something along the lines of speaking “Pakistani”. Good to know that for all his supposed worldliness, Grant can sometimes be as informed as George Bush.

  36. anya says:

    He also called Dust’s outfit a ‘burka’. :P

  37. kelvingreen says:

    “Wot you’re foitin’ for is roit an’ true — an’ you should foit for your stake in loife.”

    Captain Midlands?

  38. Jacob says:

    Captain Midlands should say ‘yow’ instead of ‘you’re’ :-)

    Sounds more like Captain Portsmouth, but from the newer generations influenced by a heavy London influence being shifted into the council estates.

    God help anyone who ever tries a phoenetic take on a traditional Channel Isabds accent…though should I ever become a famous comic writer *snort chuckle* I will endeavour to try and do a Captain America helps Captain Crapaud repel the Nazi occupation :-p

  39. Jung Doman says:

    Such a talented group! It was so fun to participate, it really got me motivated. I just finished another project from Pinterest that I will be posting about soon…I like the idea of being challenged! I am going to try to challenge myself to do 1-2 projects a month. Think of how many new awesome projects you could have done in a year if you did that!

  40. Elsy Chevas says:

    I really enjoyed reading this after our chat about your course a few weeks ago, Sania. As for the exhibition? I say: GO FOR IT! I’m right behind you

  41. Gudrun Conterras says:

    These are all amazing! Thank you for featuring my water fountain Kate, I’m so honored.

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