Sunday, May 27, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 08 (Avengers #26 and Secret Avengers #27)

When Avengers vs. X-Men ends, I plan to look through all of the comics related to it and try to put them in a decent reading order like I did with Secret Invasion. One of the biggest problems with large events like this is that the comics, as released, don't work necessarily. The story doesn't flow, because each tie-in is presented from a different perspective and time period. In Secret Invasion, the comics that I rearranged most were the issues of New Avengers and Mighty Avengers where Brian Michael Bendis showed the past of the Skrulls (taking the place of people, preparing to attack Earth, etc) because they were released, seemingly, at random. They may have tied into the most recent issue of Secret Invasion, or they may not have. There was no way of telling until the new issue came out.

Avengers #26 and Secret Avengers #27 came out in successive weeks and, yet, the events of Avengers #26 take place after Secret Avengers #28 (which hasn't come out yet). Worse, reading Avengers #26, it seems like the events of the three-issue story in Secret Avengers means nothing. Absolutely nothing. Where we find the Avengers Space Team in Avengers #26 is very much the same place we found them at the beginning of Secret Avengers #26 minus a confrontation or two with the Phoenix Force.

Now, I'm not one of those people who get hung up on stories that 'matter.' I'm enjoying the story in Secret Avengers just fine and whether or not it changes the direction of Avengers vs. X-Men in any way doesn't really factor into that. It's doing what a good tie-in series does: tell an interesting story that relates to the main narrative, but can also stand on its own, creating an experience that enhances the overall narrative without being so entrenched in it that readers of that title aren't getting something out of it alone. (If that makes sense...) I do find the scheduling of the arcs and issue odd, though.

For one thing, Secret Avengers #27 was the only Avengers vs. X-Men released this week, while five comics related to the event came out last week. As well, Avengers #26 beginning a story that takes place after the current Secret Avengers story is a little offputting. At the time of its release, one issue of the Secret Avengers story had been released and, already, Marvel was skipping past it to allow Bendis to finally attempt to do something with Noh-Varr despite Secret Avengers being a Kree-heavy story? It's a less obvious case of conflicting events over different series than we've seen so far in this event, but it's still a conflict -- and one, that like the others, readers will just have to gloss over and pretend doesn't exist.

What bothers me the most about these conflicts is that I've never heard an explanation for them. Why the disparities over the comics relating to this event? I understand the challenges in crafting a narrative over nine different titles, but doing so was also Marvel's idea. We didn't demand that Avengers vs. X-Men take place over those titles, nor did we demand that it happen on a specific schedule or demand anything that should have prevented editorial from making certain that everything lined up. Hell, it's not even a 'continuity vs. consistency' problem, because it's not consistent to have different comics released in the same month show conflicting events. What's laughable is these events are designed to be one large story when you put all of the issues together and, yet, these problems crop up early and often. How exactly did the fight at Utopia start once the Avengers arrived? Because, I've seen two or three different versions of that event, and they don't match up at all. Which is right? More importantly, why did they need to be presented differently?

Then, there's Avengers and Secret Avengers where, I guess, we're shown that, after the Avengers Space Team solves the problem on the Kree homeworld where a resurrected Mar-Vell is leading a cult of brainwashing Kree fanatics in an effort to have the Phoenix Force go there (and Ms. Marvel and Noh-Varr have been 'brainwashed' along with the Kree because of their ties to the Kree), Noh-Varr then betrays the Avengers Space Team... because the Supreme Intelligence (who was in on the Mar-Vell/Phoenix-Force-come-to-the-Kree plot) told him to? Or, are these meant to be two different versions of the same story? We see both Noh-Varr and Ms. Marvel turn on the Avengers in Secret Avengers #27 and it's nothing like the end of Avengers #26 -- especially Ms. Marvel's disappointed/pleading "Noh... how could you do this?" Didn't they both already betray the team? And wasn't there already an attempt to bring the Phoenix Force to the Kree homeworld, which Noh-Varr says his mission is?

How can you reconcile these comics? Especially when they share the same editor, associate editor, and assistant editor? What happened?

When this is all over, I'll try to put these comics in an order that makes sense, but I'm not sure that's possible.

Next week: Wolverine and the X-Men #11 and X-Men: Legacy #267.