Thursday, October 25, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 28 (AVX: Consequences #3 and A-Babies vs. X-Babies #1)

Never has the title of this series of posts seemed more appropriate than on a week where Marvel released a comic based upon a variant cover. A-Babies vs. X-Babies isn't a good comic. It's got some cute pictures, one or two gags that work, and a whole lot of pandering to adults that mistake empty buzzwords like 'fun' for 'good.' What the fuck does 'fun' even mean? If it means something like this, shouldn't I have had fun reading it? No, really. I didn't. And not because I wanted to dislike it or am a cynical person. It's just not good. It's a trite concept poorly executed. They somehow took a ridiculous and inane concept like Avengers vs. X-Men and made it even more so. And slapped some cutesy art on top to sell the idea that it SHOULD be stupid and poorly written, because that's how things like this are. It's so thin and forced -- mostly because the only idea at play here is "Let's draw the Avengers and X-Men as babies and have them fight like in that event book we did." It was a variant cover expanded to a full-length comic because... well, shit, people will buy it. I did. I paid my three bucks, because I'm a fool and a completist and got on this train months ago. So, bravo, Marvel. You couldn't get me to buy any variant covers, but you got me to buy this piece of shit. You win...

That doesn't mean I won't try to squeeze what I can out of this, though.

In a lot of ways, A-Babies vs. X-Babies reminds me of AVX: VS. A 'bullet proof' concept seemingly aimed at disarming any criticism by honing the idea into such a small, direct thing that calling it a piece of shit would suggest 'not getting it' or it 'not being for you.' Never mind that the fights in it were laughably bad in all respects, it was KICKSPLODE FIGHTING ACTION and if I wasn't on board, well, that's my fault. (For the record, I never heard that, but read those 'recap/credits' pages and see if that isn't heavily implied right there at the beginning of the fucking comics.) I assume that's the case here as well. It's an oddly defensive way to approach things. Maybe that's in my head. I don't think it is. Seeing how different people at Marvel respond to criticism (well, comic industry employees in general, actually), it's not a big leap to assume that there's a similar "It's your fault" attitude at play here if you think this piece of shit is a piece of shit. It's both surprising and not to see that attitude extend beyond trolling comments sections and message boards into the realm of actual comics.

I keep coming back to the intro text page for this comic:
The book you're about to read doesn't really have anything to do with the AvX event, but it does have baby versions of the Avengers and X-Men fighting each other. So, yeah, you're buying a book where babies fight babies. What does that say about you?

That question could be read in more than one way. Maybe because I've read the comic in question, my immediate reading is one of mocking disdain for anyone who spent three dollars on this. Why in the world would someone do that? What is wrong with someone's brain that they would do such a thing? This is about as stupid as comics get: baby versions of heroes fighting. Of course, reading the question in that way implies something about a company that would produce such a thing. Do they similarly have awful taste? Are they merely taking advantage of people? But, you can also read it as them asking the question in a way that suggests "That you are awesome!" as an answer. Like this is some little secret in-joke between friends. Because, when they're not telling you you're Wrong, they're trying to convince you that we're all in a cool club together called comics and that's special and wonderful and it's us versus them out there in the 'real world.' Those people who don't get it? Fuck 'em. Because we're special, you and I. Marvel is your friend and you love your friend, right?

I don't know which reading disturbs me more...


If I tried hard enough, I could probably make this comic seem 'worthwhile.' Hell, I seem to have impressed some people with how I've done that already for parts of Avengers vs. X-Men. It's not that hard, really. You just simply read the comics 'wrong.' Like how A-Babies vs. X-Babies continues the undercurrent that I found not only in Avengers vs. X-Men, but also The X-Men vs. the Avengers: the X-Men/Babies will put all sense of morality behind sticking together with fellow mutants. In A-Babies vs. X-Babies, the fight starts because Cyclops steals Captain America's teddy bear. In no way is that justifiable from the perspective of a hero. Cyclops is clearly wrong -- there's no ambiguity here. Yet, the X-Babies immediately fight against the A-Babies. Iceman even continues the game of 'keep away' from Captain America, showing a complicity in the theft. Ostensibily, these X-Babies are meant to be heroic babies in this world, so why stand behind a leader who steals for no reason other than because he wants something? Because they're all mutants and they stick together no matter what. This also continues the idea that Cyclops is the bad guy by casting him in a villainous light -- unarguably so. He's a thief and is wrong. The best thing I can say about this comic is that A-Babies vs. X-Babies at least manages to stick to the story of what Avengers vs. X-Men was supposed to be better than any of the actual comics that make up that event.


The only thing in AVX: Consequences #3 that stuck with me was the opening two pages with Iron Man and Lei Kung in K'un L'un (called "K'un-Lun" in the comic...) as a further example of how egotistical Tony Stark really is. He spends a few weeks trying to figure out the connection between the Phoenix, the Scarlet Witch, and the Iron Fist and, because he couldn't, he's somehow lost. Lei Kung gets it without saying it: just because the science is beyond you, doesn't mean it's not science. Stark somehow thinks that because he's not smart enough to make the math work that that means that math is useless in this whole thing. It sticks with me, because it's so easy and boring and simple that it's brought up and tossed aside in two pages. It's an open mockery of the character by the guy whose first issue writing said character's ongoing title hits the stands in 13 days.

Next week: AVX: Consequences #4.