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.
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.