Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Avengers Vs. X-Men and KAY-SAR (Issue #9 and #10)


FINALLY, an opening scene which isn't confined to the danger room as the X-Men exposit their way through their superpowers while dodging, I dunno, rockets, rolling cylinders, and robot-hands. THIS opening manages to key the new reader in on all their powers, but in a scene about Cyclops saving the cruise ship they are on from an iceberg, then getting a really bad headache.

My faith in Stan Lee was restored by JUST a bit by this opening scene!

But wait! Let's go back to the cover: This ish promises a showdown of The X-Men vs The Avengers! Is it interesting to note that in the as-of-this-writing present of 2012, where I sit blogging this, the current runs of The Avengers and The X-Men are gearing up to a massive event called ... "Avengers Vs. X-Men". Everything old is new again. (At least I hope, as I have started wearing Skidz again and eating expired foods.) Hopefully, with a clever application of keywords on this post, I can lure some of those comics fans to my blog ... where they will be extremely disappointed and flame me in the comments. Welcome new, disgruntled readers!

And speaking of "events", when do those start happening in The X-Men? So far I've seen loose continuity, a couple of multi-parters, but for the most part they are all "Monster of the Week" episodes. When do things get EPIC? I continue to wait patiently.

Yes, there is an opening scene revolving around a cruise liner about to hit an iceberg. As I write this post (in my present of April, 2012) the world is "celebrating" (SHOULD be "commemorating", but let's be honest, people seem WAY to "into" it for it to be solemn) the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. However, I can't read these opening pages without thinking, "Too soon!"

Luckily, the X-Men are aboard, specifically Cyclops, because: ZAP! One Iceburg becomes ice cubes and another cruise ship doesn't have to have a James Cameron movie made about it. These jokes ''will'' go on, people. Sorry. BUT! Taking out the 'burg has given Cyclops a headache.

Thanks to all the Marvel movies, every time an "extra"
speaks in one of these books, I think it's a Stan Lee cameo.

So, the X-Men are on their way to rendezvous with Professor X who is currently spelunking. Yes. In a cave. In what looks like a battle wheel chair.

You just THINK all the stuff in the Sharper Image
catalog is junk ... until you need it.

Contacting them via his mental powers, Prof X says that he's on the trail of the one called Lucifer, the person who many years ago caused Professor X to lose the use of his legs. My RetCon detector just pinged. I feel like this origins story might not remain true for the next 50 years.

Lucifer, in his underground lair, releases an "artificial dust devil" which captures Xavier and brings him in, encasing him in a glass bubble. Luckily Xavier has the most powerful weapon of all at his disposal: His mind.

And by that I mean a gun.

"Look, mental powers are great, but sometimes you just need to blast a cap." -Xavier

But where are these Avengers you promised us? Well, before they get here, this has to happen:
what?!? A terrible, unavoidable... hole! And I was just about to write about how it finally feels like the writing is all coming together. Sigh

"Unavoidable Holes", the true story of the Chilean miners
And I JUST gave Stan Lee compliments on his how that opening was really showing his growth as a writer!

Then, as if Marvel Girl's near-hole experience wasn't enough edge-of-your-seat excitement, now the Avengers show up! Turns out, they are tracking a mysterious force and are on a mission to kick its ass.

But alas! Xavier has told the X-Men that Lucifer has wired a bomb capable of destroying the world (a doomsday machine, if you would) to his heart! So if they let the Avengers kill Lucifer, everyone dies. Opting out of the "let's talk this through" route, instead, they fight. And it's as epic a confrontation as four whole pages will allow. I hear they are just going to copy and paste these same pages over and over until they have enough for a a trade paperback to sell as the new "event". Marvel secrets revealed!

As the two super crews fight above, down in the caves, Professor X does manage to immobilize Lucifer -- but Xavier's awesome brain was too good at knocking out his foe and now Lucifer's heart is slowing down TOO much. (If this heart beats less than 55bpm, the bus - I mean BOMB will explode!) Lucky for all of us who like living on this planet we call Earth, Cyclops can pin-point his force-beam vision into a small enough ray to diffuse the bomb without it going off. "Great!", you might say, "Now they can kill Lucifer with impunity to prevent him from trying such a thing again!" OR they can let him walk away.

Professor X didn't even want to smash Lucifer's legs, in a revenge-crippling!

Reminder: The Vanisher will never remember hearing his child's laugh for the first time, but Lucifer - a man who held the world hostage AND crippled the leader of the the X-Men - gets to walk away with a slap on the ass and a "Good game, brah! You're one FINE opponent!" ?! Ridiculous.

Despite all this, it still felt like a pretty solid issue. Though maybe that's merely "The Attack Of The Clones" effect speaking (you know, where something is slightly better than what came before, so it feels much much better than it really is?)

ISSUE #10!

I know that last recap was long, but issue 10 is too short to stand on its own, so I'll throw it in here as a bonus for you all. "Hooray?" I hear you ask. Hooray indeed!

RIGHT OFF THE BAT, this happens:

Couldn't come up with something that doesn't require a pronunciation key?
After only two issues, Jack Kirby is back to drawing Marvel Girl in her cowl, rather than in a mask. This news is fascinating to you.

While watching TV, the X-Gang see a report about a strange attack at a base in Antarctica, so they go investigate. As unexplained to you in high school geography class (for political reasons - TEACH THE CONTROVERSY!), there is a hidden zone at the very pole of the Earth which is lush and verdant and inhabited by Ka-Zar and dinosaurs. (Ka-Zar is a cave-man-like human with very rudimentary speech-functions and a pet Sabertooth tiger, 'natch.) This issue is like Tarzan meets Land Of The Lost ... but minus the Sleestaks and Cheetah and Jane and Marshal, Will, and Holly ... and plus a tiger ... and the X-Men. [Worst elevator pitch in Hollywood history?!] OH! And plus lots and lots of "savages"!

Uht oh! The old "savages kidnap the girl" routine!

Marvel Girl forgets, sometimes, that she is a super human and lets regular men man-handle her. Their plan is a simple one: Kidnap the new girl and feed her to a T-Rex. Why? Who cares! It means the team fights a T-Rex and a bunch of stone-age savages.

And the result is awesome. It's like reading an old B-movie, except better, because there isn't an attempt to have a plot and they are not fettered by budget constraints. (Like the T-Rex isn't a gecko with a comb stapled to its head, either, which helps.) So what if it didn't have Magneto or a "story"? It was face-smashingly fun and filled with plenty of kick-ass-ery.

I'd never heard of Ka-Zar before, but it turns out he had quite a long career in the comics. I'll let Wikipedia explain it all to you, if you want (It's DULL!). That fact kinda makes this issue less awesome, because I just assumed that Stan Lee made it all up, just for me, Me, ME! It's like when I found out that everyone is told the story of Santa Claus when they are a kid and I realized that my parents weren't just super-creative weird-os.

If I were a kid again, I'd bet that this sole, solitary, singular issue would have been my favorite of the lot, so far. After all, there were dinosaurs in it! And what kid doesn't like dinosaurs? (A commie kid, that's who! 'Nuff Said!)

Want to read along? This story are covered in X-Men Volume 1 (Marvel Masterworks)