Posted on Sunday, September 29, 2013
by Paul in x-axis
Shall we cover this one quickly? Why not?
A+X‘s format is being tinkered with in the not too distant future, with an actual serial set to run in the lead slot – presumably on the logic that this will seem like a bigger deal. There’s actually something perversely admirable about the book’s ostentatious dismissal of continuity, and its open willingness to sell its stories purely on their intrinsic entertainment value rather than their big-picture importance. For me, the bigger problem with this book is that its content tends to be throwaway in more senses than one; a parade of generic team-up stories many of which barely gesture at being anything more than a fight scene with some squabbling between two characters whose names were drawn out of a hat.
But this is one of the better issues. Which is ironic, as Christos Gage and David Williams’ lead story reunites Wonder Man and the Beast for a night out catching up with one another. That’s basically the entire story.
Somewhere along the line “continuity” has taken on a weirdly specific meaning in comics, and one of its senses is “direct interrelation with other things that are coming out right now”. It is presumably in this spirit that Marvel feel able to offer, in the continuity-free anthology title, a reprise of the much-loved friendship from 1970s Avengers, in a story where the characters discuss how much they’ve changed since then by citing stories in which they’ve appeared and the way in which their respective titles have changed. (Incidentally, this requires the story to engage – at least in passing – with the hilariously and inexplicably poor Revengers storyline from a few years ago. It chalks the whole thing up to a bout of mental illness, if you’re wondering.)
But then again, this is self-contained, and largely free of the usual vices of comic book continuity. It’s a story about two old friends who’ve changed rekindling their friendship for a night, which draws on continuity principally as the characters’ back story. Obviously it’s meant to work on a nostalgic level too, for those people who remember the original stories, but it doesn’t make the mistake of letting that become central. It’s a sweet little character piece of the sort I’d like to see more of in this book.
The back-up, by Justin Jordan and Angel Unzueta, is a rather more conventional team-up – Captain America and Jubilee versus Nazi vampires who’ve been stuck in a sunken U-boat since World War II. But it’s at the better end of the spectrum since at least it’s got some ideas for how to use the characters together; the suggestion that Cap is trying to use Jubilee as a way of inspiring the vampires into aiming higher in (un)life is a wonderfully Captain America idea, and all the better for being totally ineffective. And Jubilee, being undead, gets reminded that she’ll end up as a woman out of time, much like Cap (and the baddies). Minor things, but it adds something worthwhile to what would otherwise have been merely serviceable.