Friday, October 05, 2012

Avengers vs X-Men #12 (of 12) or Cyclops as Jean Grey

Avengers vs X-Men #12 (of 12), so what did I think?

As far as the book goes it did allow Marvel to clear the decks a little and set up a slightly new status quo. Captain America will combine the X-Men and Avengers, Hope has reversed the status quo change of the Scarlet Witch and new mutants are popping up like weeds in a garden.

The problem I have is with the whole thing is the destruction of yet another Marvel character, Cyclops has been tarnished pretty badly. See my big problem with Marvel is that everything, I mean everything is about the illusion of change. No change last forever, no character ever dies, the sliding scale of continuity says everything happened in the last ten years, but everything in the character’s history actually happened. By the way that sliding scale has caused almost every Marvel origin to be constantly retro-conned. If we don’t get involved in another war in the next decade or so Iron Man will have to have been created because Tony was kidnapped by gangsters or something.

Cyclops is the perfect example of why this often creates more problems then it solves. In this series they needed a villain. It needed to be shocking and it needed to be a player, so they fished around and cast Cyclops for the part. I understand that Thor read for the part also as did Magneto, Iron Man and  Havok. It was felt that the power should fall in mutant hands since the Phoenix force was cast as the world ending menace Cyclops seemed to fit the bill nicely. Not that he has given us any true predilection for acting like this before; it was just good for the story.

So the Phoenix force attacks and gets split by Iron Man into five X-Men who of course go mad with power and Cyclops is the maddest of all of them and he almost destroys the world and manages to kill Professor X (who I believe died for the fifth time now). The problem is that Cyclops acted totally out of character, but that never stops Marvel because organic stories take way too long to actually develop. Also to be fair, you have had some many writers over so many years that the core elements of the characters often get lost in the shuffle.

Remember in the sliding scale of continuity Scott Summers went from being an orphan, to having a father who is a space pirate and has two super powered brothers (what ever happened to Vulcan?). He was with Jean Grey, she died, she came back as the Phoenix, she died, Scott married her clone, Jean came back, the clone became the Goblin Queen, she died, Scott moved on to Emma Frost, Scott has now become the Phoenix and been defeated. With that history no wonder he is perhaps crazy.

Of course I loved at the end of the story Captain America is berating Scott for all the things he did and at the same time, says I know it was the Phoenix force. Is Scott guilty or is he not guilty? Is he the megalomaniacal villain who thought what he was doing was right or he just a person gone mad with power. 

This is the crux of it, Scott has been so overused and has such a convoluted history, that Marvel feels they can do anything with him. Take any Marvel character and the same is true. Now Cyclops is at a minimal the agent for killing his mentor and considered an enemy of the state. Why is never fully explained by Captain America, but it is clear everyone is mad at Scott because he did not listen to Captain America. What is interesting is Scott wanted the Phoenix force to be taken by Hope and when she took it in this issue she was able to handle it and even expel it and fix Wanda’s “no more mutant” thing, so wasn’t Scott right.

A rather rambling rant that is all over the place, but that is the way I feel about Marvel at this point in time. Who are these characters? What drives them? Who are heroes? Who are villains? The ongoing illusion of change makes the Marvel characters have less enduring qualities and leave them a little soul less. DC with the New 52 has created a different set of problems, but the “disconnect” from knowing the characters is the same.

In the end I will still buy Marvel and DC books, because good creators still tell some good stories, I just have nothing vested in the characters anymore. I can wish forever (and have) that they would actually advance a character (see my giddiness over Dick Grayson being Batman for a year or two), but ultimately the powers that be have too much money invested and the idea that Batman is not Bruce Wayne or Daredevil is not Matt Murdock is ingrained too deeply. So it goes and it leaves me free to follow the creators more then the characters. As with any good collaboration it has to be the right writer, art team and character to make it shine. Let’s hope Marvel Now has some of those formulas as this book while a sales success was a critical flop and a poor read. It wasted a lot of excellent talent. 

1 comment:

  1. Once upon a time back in the Claremont/Byrne years, Cyclops was my favorite X-Man. At least in back issues he still can be.