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ComicsAlliance Vs. AvX Round Ten: Dragon And On And On

This is the tenth installment of ComicsAlliance Vs. AvX, our unofficial scorecard for Marvel’s big summer publishing event, Avengers Vs. X-Men. The tenth issue! When all this started there were barely any parodies of Somebody That I Used To Know on YouTube. That’s how long we’ve been doing this! This issue, Ed Brubaker collects his records and Adam Kubert changes his number.

The story so far: Rachel got up, had a shower, brushed her hair. She had Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast even though she didn’t feel like she’d earned it. She listened to an NPR podcast while she went for a jog and tried to remember to look up that thing they said about that thing when she got back, but she forgot. She updated her Pinterest boards with a Zooborn post about sand kittens. She caught up on So You Think You Can Dance. She wondered why the house was so quiet. She checked Twitter and saw there was a crossover event involving the Phoenix Force and wondered why she didn’t know more about it. She went to the movie theater and watched Step Up: Revolution and tried not to think about it too much. She went out for Korean tacos with Kitty, and when she checked her messages she realized that she never seemed to play Words With Friends any more.

Round ten! And I don’t even need your love, but you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough.

Avengers Vs. X-Men #10
Story: Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman and Matt Fraction
Script: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Adam Kubert, John Dell, Laura Martin, Larry Molinar

Opening Score: Avengers 200 / X-Men 200

At San Diego Comic-Con most of Marvel’s editors and writers seemed to be partisans for the X-Men, but the roster page for this issue tips the company’s hand in a different direction, as it places both Professor X and Storm on the Avengers side of the board, albeit in yellow X-Men boxes. The implication seems to be that anyone who doesn’t like throwing people into volcanos is an Avenger, and anyone who does like throwing people into volcanoes is an X-Man. I’ve been reading Marvel comics for a while now, and I have to say that’s not how those teams have typically been defined.

In fact the X-Men’s thing was “protecting a world that hates and fears them,” and what Cyclops and Emma Frost seem to be doing is alienating and terrifying a world that cowers under their heels, and that’s sort of the opposite of the X-Men mission statement. So I might go so far as to say that perhaps Charles Xavier is still an X-Man and Cyclops is… not. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’d really like to see the X-Men half of this Avengers Vs X-Men book some day.

This issue opens with Cyclops trying to shoot his adoptive granddaughter without provocation, which is one of those subtle ways that writers let you know which character is the villain. Hope Summers is late for thundering class with Lei Kung the Thunderer (it’s all about projecting your voice; breathe from the diaphragm), so Cyclops is left to take a bit of fist and a whole lot of man. Iron, that is. Gray gold. Texas teacake.

I’m going to give the Avengers one whole point for each team member they ineffectually throw at Cyclops this issue, so that’s one point for Iron Fist and one point for Iron Man. Well done, Avengers.

Current Score: Avengers 202 / X-Men 200

Some of the other Avengers are at the top of a snowy mountain in Russia, where Captain America offers Professor X a ride home from the top of a snowy mountain in Russia and Professor X says no, he’s fine at the top of a snowy mountain in Russia. Charles Xavier has been a little overconfident about this walking thing since he got his legs back.

Still, credit where it’s due, Chuckles is staying behind to look after his X-Men. He’s taking responsibility for this whole mess, even though it’s really not his fault in any plausible way. If I ever go crazy and try to oppress the world, I’m not going to blame my old headmaster. Though he did also teach me religious studies, so…

Anyway, I’m giving Chuck ten points for mutanting up about all this. And the Avengers are going to try to steal those points by claiming him as an Avenger, so I’m going to deduct five points from the Avengers for cheating.

Current Score: Avengers 197 / X-Men 210

And over on Utopia, Emma is making people bow before her and is telepathically policing their thoughts. This is another of those subtle ways writers let us know that someone is not technically a good guy. It’s necessary, because that bit where Emma helped save the world sent a mixed message.

Quite how we got to the point where X-Men are kneeling in obeisance to Emma Frost I’m not sure. I feel like having all these characters kneel before Emma Frost is a story that might best have been told with some insight into the minds of the characters kneeling before Emma Frost, somewhere in the pages of the comic I’m actually reading.

None of the X-Men stand up to Emma, but two of them almost think about it. Well, one of them. Cannonball accidentally considers being unhappy. That’s pretty heroic, right? And Magneto goes so far as to actually disapprove. So Magneto is the voice of reason here. Well, not voice. Thought. And not reason. Irritation. He’s the thought of irritation.

The X-Men lose 15 points, not because of Emma’s behavior but because of the other X-Men being pathetic. At least the Avengers are ineffectually throwing people at their Phoenix. The X-Men aren’t even trying. I’d have deducted 20 points, but Cannonball and Magneto get a reprieve for their constipation faces.

Current Score: Avengers 197 / X-Men 195

Next up to be ineffectually thrown at Cyclops: Thor, the Thing and Hawkeye. Cyclops takes them all out with a single optic blast. Yes, it’s a Phoenix-powered optic blast strong enough to take down Thor and the Thing. So look forward to Matt Fraction and David Aja’s new ongoing series, “Bucket Full of Hawkeye.” So excited to see what those guys are going to do with that.

Current Score: Avengers 200 / X-Men 195

And then there’s a dragon.

It’s an awesome looking dragon.

Now, if you’re familiar with narrative theory you’ll have heard of the literary technique called Chekhov’s Dragon, which dictates that if you’re going to use a dragon in your third act, for heaven’s sake do as little as possible to establish its existence in the first or second act. It’s a technique popularized by George R.R. Martin, but perfected here. As Robert McKee always says, good story structure should resemble as closely as possible a game of Mad Libs and also dragon.

The dragon thing is so silly that I’m only giving the Avengers 30 points. With proper set-up, a dragon should be worth at least 50 points. Unless it’s alchemically-animated android supervillain Dragon Man, who is always worth 100 points.

Current Score: Avengers 230 / X-Men 195

The dragon thing doesn’t work because it’s only a baby dragon, which you’ll know if you read Avengers Vs X-Men: Frontline, in which respected news schmuck Sally Floyd valiantly wagged her finger at the dragon for being too young to remember such passe ephemera as American Idol and MySpace.

So the Avengers ineffectually throw Scarlet Witch at Cyclops, which is worth one point.

You’ll remember there was a point in this story where Iron Fist and Scarlet Witch were being set up as having something to offer in the fight against the Phoenix. I’m hoping that still plays out, but I suspect they’re just there to be Hope’s celebrity mentors. “You’ve got great personality, Hope, but that five finger death punch was a little pitchy.”

Hope doesn’t use her five finger death punch; she uses her one-finger teleport poke, which sends Cyclops to the moon. And, OK, that’s not a bad special move. That’s worth ten points.

Current Score: Avengers 241 / X-Men 195

The golden rule of Marvel events is that you only really know it’s serious when the Watcher shows up. However, on this occasion the Watcher doesn’t so much show up as have Cyclops crash out in his backyard, and I’m not sure that counts. If the President of the United States attends your ballet recital, you’re probably a big deal. If you just stand on the front lawn of the White House and do the Dougie, you’re probably a weirdo. I think that’s why the Watcher makes this face:


Which is the same expression the Queen had when she was watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. And making the Watcher make that face is easily worth 20 points to the X-Men.

Current Score: Avengers 241 / X-Men 215

The issue ends with the Avengers feeling very smug and self-satisfied because they spent all issue trying to do something the Shi’ar once achieved with a well-placed gun. Meanwhile Magneto decides to phone a friend. Reaching out to a telepath when you’re plotting against a telepath doesn’t seem overly bright to me, but hey, it’s the thought that counts! Zing! Five points to Magneto.

Current Score: Avengers 241 / X-Men 220

And that’s the end of the issue, so you know what happens now. The Cyclops Thong Penalty.

But this is the last time I’m deducting 50 points for the thong, not because I’ve decided to forgive it, but because we’ve reached the point where I really can’t count Cyclops and Emma as X-Men. This is a superhero event, and they’re the only villains on the board. They don’t get to be on a side any more. If the X-Men want to score any more points in this contest, they better behave like X-Men.

Final Score: Avengers 241 / X-Men 170

MVP: You. Yes, you. We’re ten issues in. I think you’ve earned it. First you got Time’s Person of the Year in 2006, and now you’re AvX’s Most Valuable Player for issue #10. You’re having a pretty good run. If it wasn’t for you, they wouldn’t be publishing this comic at all! Which is something we all need to think about.

Analysis: At this this very moment, Rachel is updating her Netflix queue and thinking about ordering pizza.

The next issue won’t be out for four weeks, because the artists need extra time to draw Iron Fist riding a bunyip.

Graphics by Dylan Todd.

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