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Oct 24

The X-Axis – 21 October 2012

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.

Bring on the comments

  1. Si says:

    I was mildly curious about AvX: Consequences #2 to look at the preview on Comixology. What I got was something that showcases the shortcomings of Marvel’s current approach to digital comics. The preview typically gives you three pages. It can be any three pages. With Marvel, it is pretty much always the first three. So what I got when I looked at the preview of AvX: Consequences #2 was three pages of Wolverine drinking beer, ending on a single word.

    How much effort would it have taken for somebody to find the most interesting (but not spoilery) bit of the comic? Something that ended on a hook, that would have the curious browser wanting to buy the comic to see what happened next? I can see how Wolverine having to drink a lot of beer before he can face Cyclops could be an important part of the story, but it’s not even close to interesting on its own. Needless to say, the temptation to buy the comic was not there.

    I can see a time when comics have three pages of relatively dense action, no splash pages, always ending on a powerful hook or cliffhanger. And not just for Comixology’s sake. It would be a godsend to the comic review sites as well.

  2. Niall says:

    X-Factor has earned some good will from me, so I’m willing to tag along and see where PAD is going with this. If it were another book and another writer, I’d probably have lost interest by now.

    Uncanny X-Men is a pretty good ending to an excellent run. I’m not sure that Unit needed to explain his motivations again – we really got his story back when he informed the Generation Hope kids of his plans.

    Consequences reads well. I like this take on Cyclops (especially in issue 3). That said, it’s hard to see how it works with the Uncanny finale. Gillen is responsible for two books that read well in themselves but which fail to link up.

    The Cyclops we see in the Uncanny finale seems pretty different to the one we meet in consequences. I’m begining to suspect that Consequences was only ordered after Gillen had finished up his Uncanny run and there had been no plans to explore Scott’s time in prison.

  3. kingderella says:

    my reading of x-factors last page was the exact opposite of ‘heartless’ – they care, and thats the way they show it.

    agree that its not the greatest issue, tho.

  4. Billy says:

    The Scott Summers jail visit that I’d like to see Marvel cover is this one:

  5. Al says:

    I think Kate Kildare is pretty definitively dead by the end of UXM 20, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing her in WATXM. Shame, the character had some potential.

  6. Somebody says:

    Well, they could hardly use her in W&XM. A “Kate Kildare” and a “Kade Kilgore” in the one comic?

  7. odessasteps says:

    Whos to say sinister really killed her and isnt just trying to rile up scott?

    Sinister has proven to be quite the unreliable narrator.

  8. ZZZ says:

    When I read Consequences and Uncanny, my first thought was “AvX ends how it began: differently in different books,” but then I realized both books were written by the same person which actually did a lot to assuage my concerns; they may not synch up intuitively (yet) but we don’t have to worry about the writer of one not knowing what happened in the other. Gillen’s a good enough writer that he’s not likely to disregard his own work (even if, as Niall suggests, one of them was written before the other was conceived).

    And I was really unsure about the last page of X-Factor; I read it as Havok resigning himself to the thought that no one even noticed he was leaving and his erstwhile teammates about to prove otherwise with a well-intentioned prank, but it’s certainly possible to read it as them about to tell him that they would prefer he not allow the door to hit him in the butt on the way out.

    @ odessasteps – I think the fact that they showed Kate’s dead body was intended (emphasis on “intended”) to reinforce that it’s something that actually happened and not just something Sinister’s making up (granted it was in a flashback that could just as easily be Cyclops imagining it as Sinister remembering it, but they could easily have not shown it at all if her fate’s supposed to be uncertain), but that certainly wouldn’t prevent them from changing their minds on that later (and there’s no reason Sinister couldn’t have cloned her).

  9. Rich Larson says:

    With the advantage of having read Consequences 3, I think we have Cyclops faking out Wolverine. Scott has a long history of pushing Logan to the edge but knowing not to take it too far. Logan’s convinced Scott has a death wish and wants to be a martyr. It seems he’s going to stay away from him and have the Avengers do the same. Sohis actions in Uncanny are accurate and seem to show he intends to stay alive and has plans as a person and as a symbol of mutant oppression. He’s looking to be Nelson Mandela not Steven Biko.

    And in Uncanny, I like Unit’s meta-fictional sign-off that we’ll never know what his plans were. I would have liked to see Kieron Gillen’s next chapter where we found out and it’s a cheeky message to the reader (and although I’m sure Mr. Gillen will deny it, perhaps to the editors, too!)

  10. sam says:

    “Colossus could be lured into captivity with some shiny tinsel” made me laugh out loud.

  11. Paul says:

    I think what I had in mind was that *Sinister* would still be out there running a PR firm. Though I suppose we can probably take it that Cyclops would have bothered mentioning that to somebody who dropped by to see him.

  12. The original Matt says:

    sam says:
    October 25, 2012 at 5:54 PM
    “Colossus could be lured into captivity with some shiny tinsel” made me laugh out loud.

    That line was surely gold. Colossus is an idiot.

  13. Master Mahan says:

    I truly have no idea how “Colossus: Fugitive” could last more than a few days. Namor rules an undersea kingdom that tends to attack the surface world at the drop of a hat. Magik can teleport across the world with a thought and owns her own demon dimension. Danger is a shapeshifting, illusion-projection, indestructible robot. Magneto has done the outlaw thing so often he probably keeps a few satellite bases as summer homes. And Colossus… well, he’s strong, fairly slow in every sense of the word, and was very recognizable even before the everyone knew him as a world-conquering deity with questionable tastes in loincloths.

    The odds are kind of stacked against Piotr, is what I’m saying here.

  14. Matt C. says:

    Uncanny #20 was painfully obvious as a deck-clearer, but at least it worked pretty well in wrapping up storylines – something I can’t stay for every run. I also chuckled at Unit’s refusal to reveal his plans… Gillen making a bit of a raspberry at Marvel for cutting off his run, methinks.

    Loving AvX Consequences so far. Though a lot of people dislike Cyclops as “evil”; I think instead he’s being handled in a very nuanced manner. I really like it, and I think it’s pushed Scott into being my favorite X-Man (though I admit he had a big boost ever since Morrison’s take). It also works because, as Billy’s linked comic points out, in most ways Cyclops is completely in the right – as opposed to, say, how Iron Man looked in House of M. (Though, as Paul mentions, Cyclops’ position entirely depends on the mutant race’s existence being a worthy thing – as my LCS employee pointed out to me the other day, this isn’t really true in 616 where mutants are just a Celestial science experiment).

    Also liked the bit at the end of AvX:C #3 with Magneto off-screen. Reminiscent of the first few episodes of the 1992 animated series, where Magneto tries to break Beast out of jail only to be rebuffed because Beast wants his day in court.

  15. Paul Q. says:

    AvX: Consequences #2 — At the time of me writing this I’ve already read issue #3 and I have to admit that after a two-issue meh-fest, I’m starting to enjoy this limited series.

    Uncanny X-Men #20 — The end (again) of Uncanny X-Men. I wasn’t reading comics when vol. 1 ended last year (a regret of mine since this was my favorite title during my childhood) but I was around through much of this volume’s run. It was ok… certainly better than X-Men (vol. 3) and X-Men Legacy has been. I suppose All-New X-Men will sort of pick off from where this title ends however I wish then chose a different name. How long can this next run be “all-new” X-Men. Perhaps I should save that rant for a review of THAT title. In conclusion (forcing myself to end this blerp), I am glad that X-Men/Marvel is getting a revamp. It needs it, particularly in comparison to the New 52 which I am enjoying more.

    X-Factor #245 — No, don’t go Havok!! He’s my favorite and I was really enjoying how David was writing him. Characters can be in two teams, God knows Wolverine is in like twenty! Oh well. The only reasons I am going to follow Uncanny Avengers are two: 1.) to keep up with Havok (although that new headmask is terrible; so so awful) and 2.) the return of APOCALYPSE (either Evan or En Sabah Nur I don’t care)!

  16. Geoman says:

    I’m not sure how some are taking the last page of X-Factor so negatively. It immediately jumped out as a surprise going away party more than anything. Sure its more prankish than party, but this is far from a team so I don’t see a standard party working well.

  17. Geoman says:

    *from a normal team

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