Monday, November 05, 2012

Riding the Gravy Train 29 (AVX: Consequences #4)

If it wasn't clear already, AVX: Consequences seems to be Uncanny X-Men #21-25 under a different title, almost. It has skewed towards Cyclops heavily the entire time, but this was the issue that made it clear that this series is a bit more expansive, focusing on the Extinction Team itself. The series picks up where Uncanny X-Men #20 left off in many ways and, so far, suggests a progression of the Extinction Team from the reigning 'Uncanny X-Men' to becoming the new 'Brotherhood' under the charge of Cyclops. He's tried playing at the Professor X of mutants and the role didn't suit him, so, now, he'll be the Magneto?

Now, it's not quite so cut and dry, obviously. In ruling over Utopia, he was already more 'Magneto and Genosha' than Professor X. But, that Magneto was also more of a hero than villain. It's like it's always been a sliding scale for Cyclops, leading to this point. He went from Professor X to Genosha Magneto and, now, to Brotherhood Magneto. It's an interesting arc, but I wonder if there's anything more to it than that. Not just from the perspective of Kieron Gillen and Marvel -- from the character's perspective as well.

Part of it revolves around Wolverine, I think. When circumstances dictated that Cyclops take a harder stance, Wolverine stepped up and softened, positioning himself as Xavier's successor. He took off and opened a school for gifted youngsters, while Cyclops created his 'Extinction Team,' a group of powerful mutants that would act not only a superheroes but also as a threat to the world that mutants were not to be fucked with. The beginning of his Brotherhood, as it were, under the guise of another roster of the X-Men. They engaged in traditional X-Men adventures until the Phoenix came and they became the villains of the story. Never mind that they were right and, ultimately, restored mutantkind, they were all villified as a result of their encounter with the Phoenix. The Extinction Team went on the run (save Hope, Psylocke, and Storm), while Cyclops and Emma Frost were imprisoned. The former looking to become a figurehead for mutantkind, possibly a martyr; the latter, a bitter and angry woman. This issue ends with Cyclops using metal filings to send Magneto a message: "NOW" and Magneto, flanked by Magik and Danger saying "Well, ladies... / Villains it is."

After seeing one of the new mutants he helped bring about turn from a scared man into a proud one before being killed, Cyclops seems ready to accept his required role as the new Magneto. In prison, he's silenced, shut off, stuffed into a corner. In many ways, it's Wolverine's visit that is the catalyst for this turn. Logan visits Scott to talk him out of seeking revenge on the inmates that killed the mutant. It's the second time Logan has visited him and it's reminiscent of scenes from the movies where Xavier would visit Magneto. Two former friends and allies that suffered an ideological split, but still tied together through mutual respect and a broad, common goal. If Wolverine is the new Xavier, then Cyclops needs to be the new Magneto. Not because that's the 'interesting' story to tell in comics; because the binary positioning of Xavier and Magneto helped the mutant race thrive. The conflict pushed them all forward, made the human race both fear and respect them. The X-Men slowly gained respect and proved that mutants were not a universal threat through their willingness to protect humanity from the Brotherhood. At the same time, the Brotherhood inspired fear and awe, acted as a reminder that mutants are more advanced, more threatening and capable, than humanity. It's an odd sort of give and take where mutants wind up gaining through every encounter. For all of the talk that Magneto and the Brotherhood made mutants look bad, their presence made the X-Men look that much better.

AVX: Consequences seems less about wrapping up loose ends from Avengers vs. X-Men than concluding the story of the Extinction Team from Uncanny X-Men. Which suits me just fine. Also, it's not surprising that Iron Man keeps showing up given that that's Gillen's next big assignment at Marvel. Most people assume the teased Bendis/Bachalo "Uncanny" book will be Uncanny X-Men, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's something like "Uncanny Brotherhood." That could prove interesting.

Next week: AVX: Consequences #5 aka the final Riding the Gravy Train comic. There will be a wrap-up post and, of course, an Avengers vs. X-Men reading order post at some point after that. So, it's not quite the end for us just yet.