Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2012
by Paul in x-axis
Late? What do you mean, late?
There’s a podcast as well. It’ll probably be up real soon.
Fortunately, it’s a relatively quiet batch of comics we’ve got here, so let’s bash briskly through these books that came out a week ago…
AvX: Consequences #2 – The vast bulk of this issue is a single scene of Wolverine confronting Cyclops in jail, ostensibly to try and get him to give the Extinction Team the order to come in. Which means that, yes, it’s an issue of thrilling conversation. Fortunately, it’s a Kieron Gillen issue, which means that the “thrilling conversation” bit is not necessarily ironic.
Yes, okay – I’m not entirely sold on the idea that Cyclops is going to achieve a great deal by issuing an instruction for the rest of the Extinction Team to stand down and hand themselves over. Even if you leave aside the question of how he’s going to communicate that instruction, I have great difficulty believing that it would carry much weight with Magneto (headstrong), Danger (own agenda), Magik (stark raving mad) or Namor (monarch). Okay, Colossus might go for it, but Colossus could be lured into captivity with some shiny tinsel.
But that’s just the pretext to get Cyclops and Wolverine in a room, and the resulting conversation has some nice ideas. We’ve got Cyclops claiming that he ultimately got his “ends justify the means” routine from Wolverine, which is perhaps a bit self-serving, but not without a grain of truth. We have him continuing to take the moral high ground by arguing that Wolverine would have doomed the mutant race and insisting that it’s only thanks to him that the mutants are still around. (As usual, Cyclops seems to take it as read that the continued existence of mutants is a desirable end in itself.) And perhaps most interesting, we have him openly trying to get himself martyred – something that the prison guards seem more than happy to help him along with.
A noble and heroic death as a martyr for the mutant race would have been the obvious ending to Avengers vs X-Men proper, and at first, it looked as though Cyclops was being kept out of that role simply to keep him in circulation. But then, that would hardly have been necessary; it’s not like characters don’t come back from the dead all the time. Instead, it seems the idea really is to explore a different angle with Cyclops as a man who feels he’s been denied the martyrdom that should have ended his story. That’s genuinely novel territory for the character, and I’m intrigued to see where it’s heading. (Mind you, after all that, for all I know he’ll be dead by the end of this mini.)
Art on this issue is by Steve Kurth, who does a good job contrasting Wolverine’s (mostly) passive-aggressive attitude with Cyclops’ inscrutability. His prison helmet, aside from playing up his fall from grace by making him look vaguely ridiculous, also serves to obscure most of his expression – Kurth shifts neatly between playing to that, or evading it with camera angles and body language that do allow Cyclops to show some emotion when it’s needed.
Uncanny X-Men #20 – Notionally the “final issue”, though all that really means these days is that a new creative team starts next month. Not that I have a problem with that, actually – there’s a lot to be said for having a fresh start when a new writer comes aboard, and why not send that signal clearly? It’s Marvel’s attempt to have their cake and eat it by trying to hype up “final issues” as having some sort of instrinsic significance that rubs me the wrong way.
Anyway, this is an epilogue to Gillen’s run, and it’s pretty much an exercise in deck-clearing. Some aspects seem more forced than others. Most obviously, Magik helpfully returns in order to bring the Colossus/Juggernaut storyline to an abrupt end, by simply taking him to Limbo and using the Soulsword to free him. Now, this certainly makes sense, in as much as it fits with the established definition of her powers, and her failure to do it earlier is accounted for by her revelation in the previous issue about her motivations. But it does seem like an awfully hasty wrap-up of a storyline that wanted to run for a little bit further before reaching this point.
The Unit subplot is resolved essentially by having him declare his plans on Earth to be completed, and giving Danger a pep talk before leaving and explicitly declining to explain what had in mind all along. Since the focus is kept firmly on Danger’s reaction to him, and the details of Unit’s plans (beyond “probably worrying”) were never really a main feature of the stories, I think this more or less works.
And in jail – before most of what we’re seeing in AvX: Consequences – Mr Sinister drops by to visit Cyclops. That’s a pretty clear case of bookending the volume, which started with a Mr Sinister story. It also kind of clears Kate Kildare out of the way by revealing that Sinister replaced her (though who’s to say the school won’t be in need of a PR officer). As a resolution to the volume, it works rather nicely, with Cyclops realising that he’s still got unfinished business even though he’s now stuck in a cell. I’m not altogether sure how well that fits with his martyrdom angle over in Consequences, but for the purposes of this book, it’s fine.
Wrap-up issues always have a tendency to feel rushed, and this doesn’t entirely escape it, but by picking a few key points it really wants to stress and focussing on them, it does deliver some strong material.
X-Factor #245 – The final part of “Breaking Points” is Havok’s issue, as he rather suddenly decides to leave the team even though his long-time partner has just been horribly traumatised. Inevitably, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that this is not driven by any particular logic of X-Factor‘s own story, so much as the need to free Havok up for use in Uncanny Avengers (though he’d hardly have been the first character to appear in several titles at once).
The result is a bit awkward – Alex’s decision really does seem to come out of nowhere, and Lorna has to be wrenched back to acting more normally in order to give some resolution to them. The dialogue does at least make Alex seem somewhat sympathetic for giving up on his thankless role in the team, where he never really seemed to have a place, though that cuts both ways, as it makes the rest of the group’s “well, screw you” response to his departure seem rather heartless. It’s hard to figure out whether David wants us to secretly feel sorry for Alex or just celebrate the departure of an unwanted millstone.