Dickpunch: Avengers Vs. X-Men #10 Reviewon August 20, 2012 at 8:28 am
Even if Avengers Vs. X-Men goes the way of such other luminary comics crossover events as Contest of Champions, Atlantis Attacks, or Heroes Reborn, meaning in order to remember it one needs to find it on Wikipedia, it will have accomplished one thing that no other event in Marvel Comics history has accomplished, and which is long, long overdue.
In issue ten, it showed Cyclops getting the everfucking shit kicked out of him while a baldheaded nerd points and laughs, and the he goes running for his Mommy. Well, not exactly, but close enough to make me giggle myself into a halfway decent erection.
Yes, I hate Cyclops just that much.
Avengers Vs. X-Men #10, which occurs concurrently with the events of issue #9, finally gets Cyclops to The Avengers’ front door in their K’un Lun hideout to begin wreaking Phoenix-style. And, as the man said, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, which means that Cyclops is wandering around being an absolute douche. Alternating between shouting “Fools! I will destroy you!”-style super villain speeches and shitty 80s-era Schwarzenegger gag lines, Cyclops stalks around K’un Lun looking for Hope and taking on all comers. In the meantime, Emma Frost is out in Utopia, proving that she’s seen The Twilight Zone by forcing the other X-Men to think good thoughts… and between the naked dominance and Emma’s fetish wear, it feels like we’re a camcorder and a ball-gag away from a German scheiss porn. Things begin to turn around when Hope gets in touch with her inner Iron Fist… which is an unfortunate sentence to have to write right after the whole “scheiss porn” image, but there’s nothing to be done about that now.
From one viewpoint, there’s not a hell of a lot negative I can say about this comic book. Writer Ed Brubaker effectively demonstrates the kind of power levels that The Avengers are dealing with now that Cyclops and Emma are splitting the entirety of the Phoenix Force by minimizing the amount of actual violence shown when Cyclops engages them. Iron Man is taken out with his armor breached entirely off camera, and The Thing and Thor are put down simultaneously in a single-panel show of force. Yes, Hawkeye is also part of that melee, but considering he’s a dude with a bow and arrow, it’s not that impressive. Cyclops doesn’t need the powers to the Phoenix to take Hawkeye down; he really only needs the power of Tick ally Hand Grenade Man. But the point is that it shows exactly what The Avengers are up against in an economical fashion that works.
In addition, God damn, that was one satisfying conclusion. Where Brubaker has Cyclops whacking out The Avengers in short, sometimes unseen, order, he give us Hope getting in touch with the power she’s learned from Iron Fist and The Thunderer slowly, over a few series of panels where her power increases. Brubaker is effective in showing Hope’s fear and confusion over the power she’s beginning to display, before giving us a truly satisfying climax of Hope beating Cyclops like a rented mule. I have been waiting for someone, anyone, to bitchsmack Cyclops until he screams almost since I first saw him in Marvel Treasury Edition #18 when I was seven years old. And artist Adam Kubert shows it to us in a spectacular double-page splash that shows Hope punching into Cyclops, as if she’s not just punching his neck, but into his very fucking soul. The only way it could have been more satisfying for me if if Kubert included a follow-up panel where Hope punches into Cyclops’s very fucking balls.
Which brings us to the only real negative about this issue, which is in fact a negative about the back half of this entire event: this is no longer a story about The Avengers vs. The X-Men, if it in fact ever was one. This is The Avengers vs. Phoenix While The X-Men Whimper Impotently Off-Camera Under Emma Frost’s Stiletto Heeled Boot. Any ambiguity over whether the Phoenix Five are actually improving the world is long-since chucked by the wayside, in favor of making Cyclops and Emma standard comic book villains, exercising power because they like to exercise power. And I am not so naive as to not understand that the corruption of absolute power isn’t part of the overall theme of this story, but we are at the point where it is not Avengers Vs. X-Men, it’s comic book good guys against comic book bad guys. Which is fine, and it means that I now have a valid and demonstrable reason to want to see Cyclops beaten about the head, neck and soul… but it’s not exactly groundbreaking storytelling, you know what I mean?
Kubert’s art on the issue is solid, and probably my favorite of the miniseries so far. He works with a thin line, and draws detailed figures and faces. In this issue, Kubert’s called upon to draw things from superheroes to Asian architecture to Goddamned dragons, and does yeoman’s work on each of them. His panels placement is clear – he has a couple double-page payouts here that, thanks to vertical layout and / or giant, page fold-crossing panels, are easy to decipher without slowing the reader down. If I have any complaint, it is that Kubert and inker John Dell fall into the trap that so many thin line artists fall into: they add “detail” lines to faces that simply don’t need to be there. I don’t know what it is, whether that kind of thin line detail has become something expected, or of they get paid by the pen stroke, but I just find it distracting. Luckily, so many of the characters in this issue wear full face hoods or cowls that the trope isn’t found on every page, but it’s there, and I wish artists would just stop doing it.
There is a lot to like in this issue, particularly if you’re like me and harbor a decades-long hatred of Cyclops. We are approaching the endgame of Avengers Vs. X-Men, which means we’re beginning to see less one-sided fighting and more honest action, which is exciting. And while it is a well-executed issue, let’s stop pretending that this is a story about The Avengers fighting The X-Men – from here on out, this is the good guys versus the bad guys. Which is a good story, but not a legendary one for the ages… but then again, neither is Independence Day, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying watching shit explode real good.
Frankly, regardless of the larger story, this is worth the price of admission for seeing Cyclops finally get his. So screw the larger story; they could call this issue The Avengers Vs. Cyclops’s Balls and I’d buy it. If that appeals to you in any way, you should check this out.