One of the problems with a lot of Marvel events is that they build on the horrible events that came before. Axis started out as the bastard child of Avengers vs. X-Men, which I reviewed here and really didn’t care for. Then came AvX: Consequences, Age of Ultron, Infinity and Original Sin. Some of it I reviewed, some of it I didn’t, none of it was very good IMO. With Marvel’s constant event calendar, it’s just one thing after another and keeping up with it is difficult and usually not worth doing.
So now comes Axis, which just finished up. Does it follow recent history and suck? Or did they actually do something good? Keep your fingers crossed as I take a look at the Axis mini-series.
Honestly, they do a pretty decent job in the first issue bringing readers who haven’t bothered with the constant event format up to speed for the most part. Captain America, who has lost the super soldier formula and is aging rapidly, gave his costume and name to Falcon, who now leads the Avengers. In the aftermath of AvX, the Red Skull came back, stole Professor X’s body, harvested his brain and tried to take over the world. Again. Magneto killed the Red Skull, but in doing so, he joined with Professor X’s considerable telepathic abilities and became Red Onslaught. Yes, that’s a really stupid name. Now Red Onslaught is trying to brainwash mutants to come to his side while he tries to resurrect the Third Reich. Fourth Reich? Fifth? Heck, one of them, I don’t know. However, after defeating Onslaught, something weird happened, all of the good guys started becoming bad and all of the bad guys started becoming good. Oh, and Apocalypse shows up and wants to rid the world of non-mutants. They threw everything but the kitchen sink into this one.
Now unfortunately, most of these events have been very ill-conceived, it’s like someone threw them up on a white board at a Marvel retreat when they were brainstorming. They weren’t well written, they weren’t well plotted, in fact, pretty much everything that I’ve read in Marvel’s eternal event cycle has sucked pretty badly, with very few exceptions. We’re still seeing Scarlet Witch whining about the events of House of M. We’re still seeing Wasp crying over her supposed future child which she lost in Uncanny Avengers. There are call-backs from Civil War too. None of this stuff actually matters to the plot, it’s just emo nonsense, brought up for the sake of bringing it up.
Let’s be honest, the only reason Marvel is doing Axis is as a desperate attempt to get back to the money they made during AvX, which, for all of it’s problems, was actually successful. This just wasn’t the way go do it, there wasn’t really a coherent story, they just piled on a ton of characters, fighting in different places, with different motivations and even the end was a complete cop-out, one they telegraphed almost from the beginning. So much of the mini-series was just filler too, it was just battle after battle for no particular reason, just to fill page space.
Another problem is that every damn character in this thing is a dick, bar none. All of them. I don’t care what their excuse is, if Red Onslaught is mentally confusing them or whatever, they’re all still dicks. Nobody resists sniping at everyone else at every turn.
Also, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, it seems like all of the Avengers and most of the X-Men are taking a page out of Spider-Man’s book and quipping like mad, even if it’s completely out of character for them.
So if the writing is all over the place, what about the art? Honestly, not good. I used to really like Adam Kubert’s art, but what the heck happened? Was he rushed? Did he not care? Did he suffer an embolism and nobody noticed? To say this is less than his best effort would be putting it mildly. There are so many artists in this mess that it’s really hard to tell where one ends and the next begins. Some is pretty decent, a lot of it really isn’t, there is very little consistency here in quality or style.
To be honest, I think Marvel would be best served by jumping off the event train for a while and just getting back to telling intelligent stories about compelling characters in interesting situations. They haven’t done that for a while and since it’s clear that the locomotive is going to blast straight through the station once again, their upcoming Secret Wars event for the spring is coming whether anyone wants it to or not, I’m sure it will be the same kind of rushed mess that we’ve seen in just about every event for the past couple of years. Like so many other events, this one is going to be quickly forgotten, they even wrote it that way so that a big reset button got pushed at the end, almost everything went back to the way it started, they even got the villains to pretend they were responsible for the damage so the heroes could regain the public trust. Come on, why bother reading this crap at all if it has no lasting impact?
So was Axis any good? No. It didn’t just have problems, it sucked. It was a blatant money-grab. The only reason they kept referencing older events was to remind people to go buy trade paperbacks. Rick Remender, who is usually pretty good, ought to be completely ashamed of himself for cranking out this crap. Come on Marvel, the reason your comic division has so many sales problems is because you’ve forgotten what made you popular to begin with, great stories, memorable characters and entertaining comics. Maybe you ought to go looking for that again.