AVX #11: Suck and Chuck

September 15th, 2012

Not: Night of the Weirwolf

Do you remember that Wolverine story where he goes all edgy and kills some superheroes, and the only ones he in fact murders are disabled or gay? It was written by staunch defender-of-women / rape profiteer Mark Millar. Is this like that? Or is this latest casual extermination of the bald, wheelchair-bound one something different, serious, and maybe even Real this time?

Whatever – it’s clearly a great time to be killing off your disabled characters Marvel.

(Are you actually going to sit there and say ‘Hey smartarse he got his legs back and working again this time? Are you actually going to do that? Are you going to deny that Charles Xavier is disabled? Did he bring a wig back from space with him this time too?)

‘The franchise, [Brian Michael] said, had outgrown the bald telepath who founded the X-Men in 1963, and “all of the characters had moved on to a place where Charles himself wasn’t really needed anymore”’.

wasn’t really needed anymore

In this scheme, if you’re interested, Malcolm X has given up, because all but a few hundred or so of the black people on planet Earth were killed by his insane redheaded stepchild. A lot of white people said this would happen, and are openly relieved.

But what’s all this got to do with Grant Morrison anyway?

Bald – Dapper – Psychic powers? Keep up.

Having built the current proto-template but since the failure of the Seven Soldiers project to provide a solid sustainable model for superhero innovation, the remnant scraps of Morrisonism have been thoroughly eaten up and shat back out the corporate franchise comic’s interior superstructure. Attempts to innovate are unwelcome, bigger forces are at work. Zombies shuffle on. The symbolic, ritualised sacrifice at the close of AVX#11 is a final legal formality, permanent handover of the power of the superhero imaginary to The Mouse.

(Real life is not to be redeemed by contact with the super-fantastic. Cartoon energies are treacherous and slide inevitably towards corruption and collapse: The Mouse. The hand-drawn rodent everyman of dreams and his degradation through the pressure of history and capital is as perfect an example one could need of the threat of supervillainy, made possible we learn only through the taint of the fantastic by reality. Six billion USD and counting from the movie proceeds of recycled product, an entire nothing for anyone bearing the Kirby name today.)

Scott Summers has conspicuously not been killing Professor X for years. Signature baddies Mister Sinister and Apocalypse/En Sabah-Nur have always been minimally disguised transferences of oedipal resentment. Magneto’s war with Xavier was always at a significant remove, with Scott as the medium – always bearing directly the struggle and pain, it was his intimately desiring gaze that repeatedly failed to pierce the electromagnetic bubbles of repression and ideology the bad uncle would drape about himself. Scott’s efforts to form an autonomous and integrated personality for himself were destroyed forever when he witnessed the death of his lover. He became an asshole immediately, abandoning his lookey-likey bad-replacement wife and his own son as soon as the deadhead redhead returned.

mammoth skull – flaming shaft - he wasn’t really a cyclops until Jean died

In this regard his possession of the Dark Phoenix mantle is a calamitous psychodramatic re-enactment of Cyclops’ Whole Fucking Problem. Presumably a deliberate move to dust a patina of sense and symmetry upon the idiot disorder of the zone they currently oversee, the Architects of the Marvel Universe – rather exactly like the DIY-lobotomised, self-soiling demiurge of quasi-Masonic lore they curiously chose to style themselves after – have arranged for the Dark Cyclops event to reach backwards in time and radically reorient the 50-year story of the Universe.  Now that it’s happened, it was always going to happen this way. By mirroring and embodying Dark Phoenix – his greatest personal tragedy – Scott’s twisted and tortuous history reveals a de facto coherence of design.

But there will still be mutant X-Men comics next month, and the month after*, so the temporary elegance this theatrical conceit allows will start to decay almost instantly. The entropic drift of serial narrative abhors such neatness and constantly works to undermine it.

[*Or NOW! as we’re being asked to call it. NOW! does not represent a break from the garbled linearity of the Universe’s evolution, but rather a permanent surrender to / forced imposition of postmodern un-time, the frozen lifeless moment of the advert and the marketing slogan, where the liberating potential of the future may not happen unless through the hostage demands of the existing present, and the past is a shambling, deceitful monster to be shackled, denied, and occasionally milked when needed.]

That the pattern of recapitulation and sensationally attractive drama can be resurrected a further thirty years hence is mathematically and depressingly predictable: Dark Cable Phoenix, Dark Nth Summer’s Brother Phoenix, Dark Hope Phoenix – retroactive and temporary glosses imposed upon the chaos again and again.

And Xavier was always there. His avowedly miraculous psychotherapy techniques were little help with the grief, with the hasty attempts to plaster over the wounds and ‘move on’. Perhaps any honest effort at X-intervention would have been fruitless in any case. The distrust is too deep, too primally affecting: Scott knows he was there in their heads when he and Jean shared their supposedly private moments, furtive and sweating, involuntary and intrusive ménages-a-trois beneath the covers in the dorm rooms.

To give some credence to Scott’s confused feelings on the matter, it’s probably worth pointing out Professor X fucked over his real son too.  Davey Xavier, Legion, is a(nother) planet-killing MPD case whose early rejection by his obsessive, messianic father caused his insanity. A recent reconciliation between the two is a heavily-scripted setup for further pain and disaster, as Legion becomes just a forgotten witness while X-Dad is murdered by the surrogate he always preferred.

Actually I have a great relationship with my dad. He’s a space pirate actually, mad for intergalactic dark matter rum, alien sodomies, the laser lash, the loot, the lot. Actually, whenever we hang out it’s always space chicks, super-crystal treasure, Skrull raids and wormhole escapes to the space disco.  I haven’t heard from him for a while actually. He’ll slingshot by any day now, bet you.


Actually Scotty, your dad was a prick and never gave a shit about you. None of them did. Any of you.

16 Responses to “AVX #11: Suck and Chuck”

  1. Thrills Says:

    There’s a career-best bit from Scott Lobdell (damning with faint praise, perhaps) in one of the immediately pre-Morrison X-Men comics, where cyclops (with is on a camping trip with his dad.

    There’s a campfire all ready to be lit, and Dad Summers says something like “Okay, Scotty! do that thing with your eyebeams!” and Cyclops is all “GOD, it’s not heatvision dad. It’s blasts of CONCUSSIVE FORCE/ You don’t know ANYTHING about ME”


  2. Thrills Says:

    that “(with” shouldn’t be there. Perhaps none of that should be there.

  3. Illogical Volume Says:


    bobsy wins. superheroes lose. the end.

  4. Warren Says:

    Good article – I always thought it was an interesting way to go, when Scott went on the rebound with Maddy Pryor (I think that’s her name). Reviving Jean? Phooey. Having him leave Maddy for this revived Jean – Crap. Professor X is just too good a character to blot out. Thunderbird? OK. Xavier? No. One minor point about your photos: since you talk about Malcom X in the text, don’t you want a pic of him, instead of a young MLK Jr?

  5. amypoodle Says:

    I know. That was embarrassing, Bob. Although it is a VERY funny gag. Properly funny.

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  7. Figserello Says:

    Great article, Mr Bobsy.

    It’s funny you should post this now. After reading this article in the Guardian, about how the Republicans in the US are trying to win by cornering the angry entitled white people vote (and how that strategy has a pretty short shelf-life), I started seeing how it could be applied to the X-Men since Morrison’s run.


    The X-Men used to be a clever way that Marvel put white middle-class readers into the shoes of a despised othered minority. With recent storylines, it reads more like Marvel are using the ‘we used to be numerous, but now we are a dying breed fighting the world’ plots to give voice to resentful white people who think their country is being taken away from them as their numerical advantage ebbs, and they have no other options but anger and violence.

    Marvel’s plotlines have got very fascistic generally, over the last few years and this is another instance of them sleepwalking themselves into alignment with whacko right-wingers.

  8. bobsy Says:

    I don’t think I’m as clever or funny as I’m being given credit for.

    The King pic is there because I wanted to remind everyone what we’re potentially waving goodbye to when Brian Michael states that everyone’s like, totally moved on already from that whole races living together in harmony thing.

    The mention of X (Malcolm, not Professor) directly afterwards was to remind everyone how badly the radical alternative has also been withered within the horizons of the MU.

    I do know that the photo there isn’t of Malcolm X. Though it would be funnier if I didn’t.

  9. igmus Says:

    And they actually just did this a few years ago, at the end of “Messiah Complex” (I think that was its name) when Xavier was killed by Bishop in his most “inexplicably angry black man” pose. Then Xavier came back like two months later, just so they could ignore (and eventually kill) him all over again.

    In the early ’90s they almost did it as well, having Cable (or Stryfe?) nearly assassinate Xavier, and in that instance there were very clear overtones of “This would be like MLK”.

    But I don’t get the impression that Marvel’s current writers even think of real-world parallels anymore. It’s just lost on them.

    Aside from their racial faux pas, I find that Bendis and Millar are particularly insensitive just in terms of portraying all human beings, period. Over the course of their careers most of the characters they write just get stupider and stupider — and what’s more troubling is that they and their audience don’t really even seem to realize this, probably because real-life humanity is being dumbed-down as well. I’ve constantly heard about how Bendis has “good dialogue” and “witty banter” — but there’s nothing witty about it. Almost all of his characters are airheads now. Back in 2000 or whatever, his 14-year-old Peter Parker in Ultimate Spider-Man seemed far more mature than his adult Avengers seem now. Just on the level of dialogue, depth, and apparent sense of self-worth and dignity, all of Bendis’s characters just continue to merrily decline.

    I also think that in general the tenor of Marvel Comics has gotten more fascistic, authoritarian, totalitarian, etc. in the last 5-6 years. Though all of their writers are predictably liberal in that they give lip-service to things like gay marriage, I’m sure many of them would be guilt-tripped into voting for Stalin just so long as the other candidate had an (R) after his name (<-this isn't an endorsement of Republicans on my part; I'm just saying, this is how blind and kneejerk their politics are). But in actual practice the fiction they produce isn't really helping anything. There's no spirit of liberation or human generosity behind any of it. "B-But we showed gay marriage in an X-comic! A-and we have an Ultimate Spider-Man who is black!" Yeah, and those were good comics, but you still inescapably serve deplorable corporate interests and your actual portrayal of human beings show them to have increasingly vapid superficial personalities. So you can vote Democrat all you want, you're still inadvertent enemies of the human spirit, which withers a little more every time you touch your keyboards.

    I would put Bendis in particular on trial for crimes against humanity. He hasn't killed anyone but his poor portrayals of humanity have degraded everyone.

    I appreciate this article, bobsy. As a bald genius-level telepath, it is good to know that others are looking out for how my people are being portrayed in comics.

  10. Cleofis Says:

    Where this idea of Bendis’s dialogue being witty and snappy came from I will never know. I dragged myself through volume one of Powers, and it seems his idea of witty banter is for characters to repeat statements back at each other ad nauseum for like 6 panels or more. It was an infuriating (not to mention repetitive as fuck) reading experience.

    Anyway, as to AvX, I haven’t touched the main book with a ten foot pole, but hats of to Mr. Kieron Gillen for once again spinning 24-karat gold out of pure shit with his Uncanny X-Men tie-ins (which haven’t really tied into anything until the latest and were all the better for it); that Sinister stuff was amazing and amongst my favorite comics read this year. I’ll be sad to see it go, but look forward eagerly to Iron Man.

  11. bobsy Says:

    Yarp. The Scott and Emma chat over dinner thing was very neatly done.

  12. Zidko Says:

    “Not a *Hoax*! Not a *Dream*! Not an *Imaginary Tale*! THIS IS FOR *REAL*!” Read the cover of The X-Men #42. In 1968. Then it turned out to be the Changeling all along.

    These kind of shenanigans are why I lost interest in most of Marvel ever since the Avengers got themselves all disassembled.

  13. mad_arab Says:

    “Mindless Ones: Keeping this Shit Relevant.”

    great piece bobsy, and cheers to the love-hate, which seems to be the only authentic way to care about these things anymore.

  14. Foxy Basra Says:

    I’ve only been reading Uncanny X-Men out of all of this. In my one and only reading of this story, the showdown happens over the table in the latest issue of Uncanny, and the big fight happens in the background because no one cares and what exactly is a fistfight to a story based around omnipotence trapped inside a human head? I was honestly a little miffed that Gillen himself had to spend a few issues showing people beating up gods with fists and lasers, but I will stick to “had to” and Christian charity.

  15. oscillatum Says:

    Really loving this thread, finally my own opinion is being voiced… It’s nice to have a place where the reality of AvX is discussed, and not the corporate suck-cocks of the “mainstream” blogs offering endless ‘exclusives’ from Marvel in return for saying nice things about them.

    I’ve been and X-fan for nearly 20 years, and boy have I sat through some pish in order to get to better stuff. The concept and the characters’ potential has often been way better than the reality of the books – spread thinly across multiple titles, burdened by convoluted chronology, too dedicated to crossover-tastic events.

    But Morrison’s run really got to the heart of the books for me, and I think it’s emblematic of a problem at the heart of Marvel that almost everything that’s happened since has been an awkward battle between keeping that heart alive, or strangling it out of embarrassment.

    I ditched the lot just before Decimation – that was unthinkable for all the reasons mentioned above. It took away everything that made the X-line one of the most pulsating and dangerous when it worked. There was always this dichotomy – mutants were feared because they were our *replacements*. You take that away and you’re left with what amounts to a world of white men laying into the only black kid in town, just because he’s on his own, and different.

    I’d returned to reading them roooouuuund about Nation X, and I could finally see threads drawing together that might repair all that damage. But when I found out that AvX was the apparent “end” of this 6 year long horror show, something in my gut told me it was all going to be very bad indeed.

    They’ve ruined Cyke with this “Shakespearean” cycle, and killing Xavier was a cheap shot. I’m pledging that if, by the end of AvX (and we’ve only one more book…), Hope hasn’t reactivated the mutant gene, I’m off them for life, and that’s not a decision I take lightly.

    I’m truly fed up with Marvel using these books on a whim to get column inches and little, pathetic boosts in readership to try and quicken them a little. The architects appear to have no idea or no interest in the fact that they are building a “universe” out of mud. A heavy rain’s going to wash it all away…

    NOW! is going to do some irreparable damage to Marvel books, and it seems like the X-Men will come out the worst… Damn shame.

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