Sunday, October 14, 2012

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #11

Avengers vs. X-men #11 is written Brian Michael Bendis. The art team consists of Oliver Coipel on pencils, Mark Morales on inks, and Laura Martin on colors. Previous reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

There’s not much to say in today’s intro. Instead of talking about the comic I want to briefly talk about Cyclops. When I was a kid, in the single digits, I was a big fan of the pilot X-Men cartoon “Pryde of the X-Men” which is my earliest recollection of comic book superheroes and Stan Lee (who narrated the thing). I’d watch that thing over and over. Of all the characters I found myself relating to Cyclops the most. Stiff, uptight Cyclops who no one else seemed to like. So responsible, so smart and yet he was always depressed because of his powers, the very thing that made him special. That was me; I was lonely, I always tried to do the responsible thing, no one seemed to like me for it and I was always depressed from childhood pretty much until today. I didn’t relate to badass Wolverine or even Storm, the first black superhero I ever saw; it was always Scott Summers. As I got older my love of the character only grew and I began seeing as representing everything I thought superheroes should be, even though his comic wasn’t really conducive to proper super heroic actions. I love Cyclops.
Why is Cyclops always trying to blast the sky in these pictures?
But being a Cyclops fan is tough. It seems like the whole world dislikes him. His appearances in the live action films were pathetic. He’s constantly playing second banana to Wolverine in ALL the cartoons. And worst of all it feels like the writers have been purposely writing him terribly for the last twelve years or so, ever since he merged with Apocalypse in The Twelve storyline. Since then he’s been a cold, distant outsider, a cheater, a militant, a dictator, and now in this series, a mad god. The only time he has been written well these past twelve years seemingly was during Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, because Whedon got what the character was all about. But even in the years since that run ended things have been awful. I’m mentioning all this because this is the issue where Scott Summers both doesn’t die like I was afraid he might but also dies in the worst possible way.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: Full spoilers ahead.]


Professor X's Master Plan:
Step 1 -Piss off Super Cyclops   Step 2 - ??  Step 3 - Profit
Following Cyclops’ defeat at the hands of Hope Summers the remaining X-Men seek out the Avengers and Professor Xavier in the hope that their combined might will be enough to stop the Phoenix Five Minus Three once and for all. Meanwhile Cyclops is pondering his darkest deed; forcefully remove Emma Frost’s portion of the Phoenix Force and utilize it himself in order to defeat all his enemies and save the world at last.

So. Hm. Where to begin? Well Oliver Coipel is back in the driver’s seat as artist which brings both the good and bad I’ve brought up before. Hope again looks twelve. But I love how some of the effects with the Phoenix look. The last page of the comic looks really bade ass. I also LOVE the first two pages of the book where Captain America is begging an off screen character to help the Avengers beat back the X-Men. Then you turn the page and BAM; it’s the goddamn Hulk, who has not been in this entire series at all so far save from some very misleading covers, and he simply says in a calm voice “Yes. Hulk will smash for you.”

F**k. Yes.

'Bout damn time!
Except this should have happened a long time ago and it should have been a huge deal. Instead it happens here and I think Hulk does one thing in the book and it doesn’t do all that much. Probably because by this point the enemy are far more powerful than even the Hulk can handle. So it kind of sucks since that intro got me really excited but the payoff was pretty weak. Similarly Rogue shows up. And has lines! Awesome! But then she doesn’t do much for the rest of the issue. Weak.

Anyway as I alluded to my biggest issue with the comic is Cyclops’ characterization, although I was very weirded out by the way a few other characters were acting. Professor X is saying some pretty cult leader-like stuff to the X-Men, Captain America is completely in “Kill This Bastard” mode, which is really unnerving, and even Iceman seems strangely blood thirsty in regards to his supposedly close friend. It’s really strange. This has actually been a problem with the book in that some characters don’t seem to be all there. Captain America is a great example as he has had exactly ZERO tolerance for Cyclops even before the Phoenix arrived and has been demanding his blood ever since.

But yeah, Cyclops suffers the most. It’s not that I think it’s a poorly written turn exactly but it does make me pretty sad to see Cyclops doing what he does. Really what he does isn’t that bad at first; he’s gone insane with power but in theory it’s not that he’s evil per se. Doesn’t matter; he’s beyond the point of reason and does the unthinkable: straight murders Professor X. Which is dumb and cliché to begin with because Professor X gets killed all the goddamn time, most recently being just four years ago after being shot in the head by Bishop. But even so there’s no Cyclops is getting off scott (Ha!) free when this is all over. All his character development has been leading to him to become this unstoppable villain. Even if he survives this he’s going to prison, he’ll be disgraced and Wolverine will be sitting there saying “I told you he was no good.” This reminds me of the fall of Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern during the 90s. An interesting story led Hal to essentially go insane, murder the entire Green Lantern Corp. (i.e. thousands of innocent dudes) and repeatedly try to destroy reality as the cosmically powered super villain known as Parallax, a role he kept FOR YEARS. If you weren’t a Hal Jordan fan you may or may not have had an opinion but if you were a fan this was a horrifying time for you. With Hal DC Comics ended up retconing the whole thing years later so perhaps that will happen with Cyclops at some point in the future. But right now it really sucks to see one of my favorite characters portrayed as a villain that must be taken down. It doesn’t help that Cyclops had the moral high ground the entire series until about issue eight when Namor broke rank and tried to kill everyone.

This is what we call a "One Winged Angel" scarnario
Wow, I’m shocked I kept that spiel as short as I did. Another problem I had with this was yet another example of Jean Grey being described as being Phoenix/Dark Phoenix. Does anyone know if the original retcon that said she 100% was not Phoenix back then was re-retconed since then? Because I’m not sure how I’m supposed to view this: was Jean Grey just a victim of the Phoenix’s identity thievery or was she in fact the person who MURDERED BILLIONS OF ALIENS/PEOPLE. And if she was the Phoenix it’s weird that no superhero has called her on it all these years.

So this comic as kind of dumb. Between the portrayal of Cyclops and other characters to the extremely overused plot device of “Professor X Got Killed” I’m not feeling very cheery about the writing here. Not to mention the phenomenal let down of seeing the Hulk in that intro and seeing Rogue early on and thinking “Wow, these guys will play a huge role in this issue”. NOPE! All in all this was a weak issue and it took a lot of shortcuts.

Avengers vs. X-Men # 11 gets 2 Adorable Pandas out of 5.


Pros 

-The intro is awesome

-The last page is also awesome

Cons 

-Everything in-between is pretty stupid

-The book uses the overused cliché of the death of Professor X just to get some cheap heat on Cyclops

-Also Cyclops is kind of ruined here


Cyclops' Dignity R.I.P.
1963-2012
Anyone want to bet that when they bring Xavier back to life (and they will eventually I’m certain, possibly just in time for X-Men: First Class 2) he’ll have to use a wheelchair again? The next AvX review will be the LAST one, thank God. As I’m posting this I have not read issue 12, even though I’ve owned it for a while now, so next time I may either take back a lot of what I said today or come back angrier than ever.

2 comments:

  1. My thoughts EXACTLY...AvX was complete crap and just an excuse to fully make Wolverine the franchise. This event has totally turned me off of Marvel except for the constantly well done Daredevil series by Mark Waid. But yeah in the hands of someone like Whedon, Cyke's fall from grace could have been epic and a perfect close to this era and generation of X-Men and the Marvel U, but sadly fans of X-Men and Cyclops specifically are left with this donkey punch of a characterization.


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    1. I agree with everything you just said except that I don't think this was done to benefit Wolverine, at least not directly. Hell, he literally doesn't do anything important, let alone cool, after issue #4. If anything it was meant to basically turn the X-Men and the Avengers into one big superhero team, which is lame anyway, but still using Cyclops as the sacrificial lamb to achieve it.

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