Friday, July 13, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 15 (AVX: VS #4, New Avengers #28, and Wolverine and the X-Men #13)

The AVX: VS card continues with two intergender matches. If only Andy Kaufman were alive to see this. He'd be so proud.

Match #7: Daredevil vs Psylocke

Two Japanese-influenced fighters bring a lot of kicks and blocks to the ring. Lots of jumping and stiff, close working. This is meant to play off the Daredevil/Elektra feud, but doesn't have the same energy or personal stakes. More than that, it casts Psylocke in Elektra rip-off territory when she's a lot more. Daredevil countering her telepathic attack was nice and Psylocke playing possum is another bit of evidence towards the X-Men now being heels. Unfortunately, like so many other bouts on this card, this one goes to a non-finish. The comic labels it a 'draw,' but that's clearly not the case. Both people just walk away, so I'm calling it a double countout. Nothing special, honestly.

Result: Double countout [*1/2]

Match #8: Thor vs. Emma Frost

Now, this is more like it. This is how you tell a story to build up a character. Thor and Frost dance around one another for a while, Frost even displaying a little power before Thor just destroys her with a massive hammer hit. That's followed up by more beating until he shatters her. It looks like he's won until Frost no sells being shattered, rains down diamond shards from a low orbit, reassembles herself, and knocks Thor out. We've been told that the Phoenix Five are powerful and this is showing. This is how you make a new faction look like a legitimate threat: take out a main eventer and look unstoppable in the process. Not a great match, but the first time that the Phoenix Five have looked like the threats they've been built up as. Kaare Andrews gets it, folks, and, also, after a card filled with non-finishes, delivers the second clear, decisive victory. You don't build people with cheap wins and countouts.

Winner: Emma Frost [**]


"Do you mutants ever get tired of not thinking for yourself?" is the line of this event.


New Avengers finally told a story about Avengers vs. X-Men that didn't involve K'un L'un and expanded upon the perspectives of the Avengers. The tide is turning, folks. After the first half of the event built up the X-Men, slowly transforming them from crazy cultists to misunderstood underdogs, the approach is shifting back towards the Avengers because, well, the X-Men are proving them right. Kind of. The Phoenix Five, so far, have actually only tried to have a positive effect on the world and have only been revealed as cruel and corrupt when confronted with violent Avengers ready to brind them down, hard. That said, with the power they possess, dealing the Avengers shouldn't be a problem. In fact, the Phoenix Five are powerful enough that they could literally confront the Avengers with non-violent, passive resistance. Let the Avengers attack them and don't respond, just keep talking, just let them wear themselves down until they're left either depleted or ready to assume you're not going to become corrupt. Instead, the Phoenix Five imprison the Avengers they capture in virtual reality machines that play over and over again their imprisonment and escape attempts until they're woken up, told that it was all dream, and sent back in.

This is because the Phoenix Five don't want to just win -- or, convince the Avengers -- they want to punish anyone who disagrees. They want to punish the Avengers for the imagined slight of hating mutants. They are using the same tactics that the real mutant haters used. It's a little obvious (the persecuted become the persecuters), but I'm still shocked at how quickly the shift happened. We've had two issues of Avengers vs. X-Men with the Phoenix Five and in only one of them did they have any real appearance of purity/goodness. There's no real fall here, but they wasn't any rise. They practically began from the position of using Limbo as a prison or making their prisoners replay over and over their imprisonment and escape, knowing that it's not real. Emma Frost quite possibly told Spider-Woman that she's going to execute her.

This is some heavyhanded shit right here.


The first page of Wolverine and the X-Men #13 is a pretty great Watchmen reference.


Despite the X-Men's dominance right now, the entire Avengers vs. X-Men story has been one where all but the top-tier X-Men have looked like absolute jokes compared to the Avengers. The X-Men may have an army, but it's most grunts that can't shoot straight. Hell, do the Phoenix Five really need them anymore?

Next week: Avengers vs. X-Men #8, Uncanny X-Men #16, and Avengers Academy #33.