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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Avengers vs. X-Men #1 Thoughts: The I Hate Cyclops Fanclub


I honestly wasn't expecting this comic to be as good as it was, especially with Marvel clearly marketing it towards the battle boards types who don't care about plot, character, theme, style, draughtsmanship, design, or anything else but living vicariously through their favorite character being successfully violent. Thankfully, there was all of the above stuff in this first issue by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr. And the conflict started with a bang, strong enough to make me want to read more.

The most interesting part of the book is the fact that it's actually pushed Scott Summers to the point where all the previous books have only alluded; that he is actually a villain, the kind of crackpot megalomaniac to fill the void that the semi-reformed Magneto has left. His "training" of Hope represents the exact kind of cruel behavior that caused Wolverine to take half the team to the East Coast. In that scene both Magneto and Emma are dismayed by Cyclops' ruthlessness, as he's deliberately inflicting as much pain upon Hope as possible without causing any impairing injury. He claims that this was how Professor Xavier trained him, but nothing could be further from the truth. Xavier may have trained the young X-Men to fight, but he didn't make them suffer to get his point across.

In the argument between Cyclops and Captain America, Scott tells Steve Rogers that they've never done anything for the mutant species. He may have a point, but Scott's also made clear that he doesn't want anything to do with the human race, either. He's segregated all those willing to follow him on a banana republic floating away from humanity, and he's kept the X-Men out of most of the recent events in the superhero community; the X-Men didn't lift a finger to help during the Civil War or the World War Hulk stories, and they only defended their own borders during Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, and Fear Itself. Now he plans to doom all of human and mutant kind by trying to use the Phoenix, reborn in Hope, to revive the mutant species. Maybe he actually believes he can control the Phoenix, but more likely he's so obsessed with his goals that he doesn't even care about who dies.

All of which would still make him a sympathetic antagonist if he at least cared about the individuals who make up the species he'll do anything to protect. But Cyclops is now no better than Joseph Kony, treating anyone in his army-- no matter how young-- as an expendable weapon. His final line, that Hope no longer has any say over what happens to her, is very telling. Hopefully now that he's crossed the moral event horizon, he'll finally get what he deserves.

7 comments:

  1. Oddly, JRJR's art took me out of this issue. Perhaps it was reading Immonen's issue 0 beforehand, but yeah, strangely-- I just wasn't into Romita's art.
    Strange, considering I usually like it-- but everything just felt flat to me (art wise)--

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  2. "types who don't care about plot, character, theme, style, draughtsmanship, design, or anything else but living vicariously through their favorite character being successfully violent."

    It's funny because it's true.

    And really, all the truly great comics battles, or moments of violence, tend to be ones attached to stories and characters that give us some level of emotional connection, something that we can care about.

    And it's really sad how far Cyclops has fallen over the years, and it's a rare case of a character being so completely changed as to have alienated his old fanbase, and gained a whole new one, as so many people who never got or cared about him as he was, who disdained him as "the boring middle-management-X-Man who tries to stop Wolverine from clawing dudes up" have embraced the "edgy" Cyclops who has telepathic affairs and went on to become the poor man's Magneto (and whatever we may think of the things Magneto's done, he at least tends to want to keep the blood on his own hands, and gets annoyed when others kill for him, and I can respect that, while we had Scott getting Logie to run a death-squad for him while he kept his hands clean). So many writers in succession have been so enthusiastic about taking him down this road, and playing him as some kind of tactical genius leader that everyone falls in line behind, while the X-Men continue to win more by luck, or the self-defeating idiocy of their villains (all villains may be hamstrung by the fact that they can't actually win the big battles, but that doesn't mean they have to keep shooting themselves in the foot. Why, in 'Second Coming' are so many Nimrod Sentinels so ineffectual? Why do all the members of Team Bastion, few of whom are of any real combat value, get sent onto the frontlines besides "because the plot demands they all get killed off here"?), that, as with poor Bishop, I've long since made the leap past "they've got to fix this eventually, right?" to "Well, self, you can't stand this guy anymore". And I've never understood the logic behind "anyone who disagrees with Cyclops just leaves the island", as if there can be no dissent in the book and all of the mutants are obedient drones.

    I hope Marvel works Cap's "Goliath Super-Tank" from the Avengers movie toyline into the comics so this crossover can end with Steve using it to run Scott over.

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  3. Yeah, not even Cyclops' dumb-ass jetpack could stand against Cap-Tank.

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  4. I suspect that, at the end of all this, we'll be treated to an Author's Saving Throw that will redeem Cyclops' character, at least to some extent. It can probably be achieved with two magic words:

    Shadow. King.

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  5. That would be the only viable fix for Cyclops as a hero, after this point. It would also give us the opportunity to have Faroukh indulge his earthly appetites and make Scott Summers disgustingly fat.

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  6. My goodness! Clearly I need to get up to speed on this Cyclops-turns-into-a-villain thing; what would you say the crucial story arcs/issues are?

    (Of recent stuff, I've got all the Whedon-authored Astonishing X-Men, Civil War and Utopia.) I have to say, I found Cyclops's relationship with Emma - in Morrison and Whedon; haven't seen much of it by other authors, besides a few Claremont-penned "New Age"-era Uncanny X-Men - to be interesting, and not necessarily a violation of character. I also do not feel that separatism is necessarily bad ... what made Magneto evil was that he didn't just want separatism, he wanted to destroy/enslave Homo sapiens. As far as I could tell at the end of Utopia, all Cyke wanted was to sit on his island and be left alone. From what limited view I have, this seems like a logical progression from where he was in Astonishing, confronting Fury about SHIELD's non-intervention in Genosha.

    I was quite frankly mystified by Scott's and Emma's double-fake-out plan in Utopia: other than getting themselves, and all surviving mutantkind, onto that island, what were they trying to do? Because all I saw was a whole lot of violence for not much of a reason. Scott says he's not going to fight Osborn, but then he goes out and does just that? And has Emma join the clearly morally compromised Dark X-Men, and wage war against Scott's own people?

    Yeah, I didn't quite get why that was such a grand master plan.

    But, anyway, it sounds from your description like he does move beyond mere, what I think is morally ambiguous and perhaps even justifiable, separatism and into full-on villain mode?

    I like Jared's Shadow King idea, too --- or perhaps Apocalypse, who has been in Cyclops's head before, and even been blamed for his character acting squirrelly before!

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  7. Good to see you back blogging, Lindsay! And yes, Cyclops has gone far beyond moral ambiguity into outright villain territory. He's trying to use the Phoenix Force as his personal WMD to save the mutant race. I think we all know that such a plan isn't going to go well. What sucks is that so many of the X-Men are being written to agree with Cyclops' ludicrous plan!

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