Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Welcome back to two of your favorite Comics Should be Good bloggers geeking out over alternate reality X-Men fun! “The Age of X Dialogues” where Kelly Thompson and I discuss every issue of the “Age of X” storyline. We conclude the Dialogues this week with New Mutants #24 and Age of X Universe #2…
Chad Nevett: Well, it’s the big finale. It all ended here with two comics… something that hasn’t happened since the first two parts of the story shipped. The big question, the one I know everyone wants answered, is this: which comic did you read first, Kelly?
Kelly Thompson: I read Age of X Universe #2 first, but only because I assumed that it made more sense to do so. I really had to force myself, because I found I had even less interest in Age of X Universe for this second installment, after disliking the first one, and the let down of the last installment of the arc, yeah, my expectations were pretty low, which can sometimes help…it didn’t.
We’re calling this “the big finale”, and I don’t know about you, but I almost feel like we need an “Age of X Dialogues Aftermath” because this ending really let me down, so if there’s anything to redeem it, it better be in the damn aftermath.
CN: HA! Fuck that. I’m done.
I also read Age of X Universe #2 first and found it to be a little bit of a chore. It wasn’t bad really, it just didn’t feel necessary in any way. The Avengers turn against their mission and die. I love how it basically explains how the mutants figured out to use force fields. Really? They needed Sue Richards to point out that, hey, force fields keep people out? Maybe these mutants deserved to be wiped out if that’s their level of survival instinct. I did enjoy the Dazzler story. It was a fairly forgettable one, but had some awesome art. Is there anything else worth saying about this comic before we actually address the final chapter of the story?
KT: Ha. Yeah, no, I wasn’t actually suggesting we continue (I’m exhausted) but just passive aggressively noting that in the end this arc really failed me, and short of some interesting aftermath stuff, I’m going to have to mark this down as pretty underwhelming overall. You gotta start strong and end strong in my book, and this, actually did neither considering our reactions to Age of X Alpha. The center was great though. The center was awesome…but without that powerful end…it underwhelms.
Yeah, I have nothing to say about Age of X Universe #2. I intensely disliked it. Okay, wait, that’s not fair. I intensely disliked the first story, which as you said was totally unnecessary, and devoid of any emotional resonance. I also by the way, did not find them turning against their mission remotely believable the way it was executed here. Sue, sure, she was halfway there anyway, but the rest of them? It was not convincing. The thing with Iron Man, with the machine taking over was good, but otherwise it was pretty much a total waste for me. The Dazzler story…oh god, don’t get me started on the Dazzler story. It’s so random…for a story like that to just be tacked on? What purpose did it serve? If there were a lot of these and they were shown throughout as little bits fleshing out this world, rather than tacked on and dead at the end, it might have been really fun to see those smaller stories, but as executed it was just seemed like a random silly after thought. Also, while the Dr. Strange thing was a cool concept, it wasn’t enough to hang the whole story on…especially not starring Dazzler, who is just as lame and narcissistic in this universe as in ours. At least in this universe she has a fantastic haircut and doesn’t have the worst costume in all of Marveldom (a vagina sunburst guys? really?!). I know there are Dazzler fans out there, and I apologize in advance people, but if I have to read one more writer pen her as bitching about/bragging about her pop star career and dropping “super hip pop culture references” (like Lady Gaga, ugh) in order to make her seem more relevant than she is, I am going to have to gouge my goddamn eyes out. Be a hero and shut up already about something as comparatively insignificant as being a pop star, or GO BE A POP STAR and stop pretending you’re a hero.
Ugh. Sorry. Just had to get that out of my system. It’s totally true that I have bias against Dazzler from my teenage years, since I was a Rogue fan and they were kind of “frenemies” or whatever back then. But I’m an adult, I don’t hold onto that stuff arbitrarily and I keep trying to give her a chance, but people write her just…terribly and I’m so weary of it.
So yeah, that’s all I’ve got on Age of X Universe #2…which was really just an excuse to write 250 words on why everyone writes Dazzler like an asshat.
CN: Is this the part where I’m supposed to defend Dazzler to entertain the readers? Sorry, people, not happening. I don’t hate the character, but I don’t really like her. The extent of my total time thinking about the character was noting when Brian Michael Bendis introduced the Ultimate version of the character as a punk rocker that there’s no way she would use the name ‘Dazzler.’
It is funny that all it took to turn stone cold killer Spider-Woman against the mission was some scared kids. I expected the comic to end with Captain America and her quitting and going off to have babies or something as they both realized that their biological clocks are ticking and it’s better to make love than dead children.
As for New Mutants #24… my first thought was ‘What is the point of the big fight with the humans?’ They’re not real! Why should I care? Logan having his big moment of popping his claws is so inane. Everyone knows that this reality isn’t real and that their enemies are mental constructs. That part of the comic seemed so forced. Nothing was at stake other than revealing that these characters are idiots who actually fell for the distraction ‘Moira’ thought up. Well done, X-Men. Dumbasses.
KT: Agreed 100%. It was exactly what we predicted last week – a big battle of sorts to get us back to status quo. And really, it was the worst kind of battle, because as you say, they just fought the fake out mental soldiers, nobody even had to fight David, or push him mentally or whatever. He just had his revelations and then re-absorbed “Moira”. So weak. Carey had so many interesting things up his sleeve for so long…only for it all to fall completely apart here for me. The only interesting thing we were left with as far as I’m concerned is that characters that weren’t on the playing field before (Phoenix, Chamber, Frenzy, etc.) are now standing around. So I guess that’s what I mean by the aftermath potential still being there. Carey’s a great writer, and I like to think he very specifically brought those players in and left them on the board, so that interests me. But otherwise this was a total let down for me. In fact, the thing I was most interested in – once I realized the conceit was just David’s mind again and was just going to be a big mind battle and reset to status quo – were the relationships. But all we got on that front was painted with a very broad brush in one panel with some narration captions: “Reunions. Repairs. Revisions. And Anomalies. There are always anomalies.” Except for Scott and Emma, we of course got to see Scott and Emma have it out, which seems frustratingly arbitrary to me, especially considering what a minor character Scott ended up getting to be in the story overall.
CN: Scott Summers is awesome and nothing bad will be said about him!
The ending wasn’t much more than a tease at some fallout, which is typical for this sort of story. Things end, we get a token ‘everyone reacts’ scene and leave it for the next storyarc, except most of the characters will never mention this again. It’s something I hate about these types of stories. Love the alternate reality stuff, hate the follow-up.
I… I don’t know what to say about, honestly. It doesn’t show up for the readers, but more than a day has passed since you wrote your last point and that’s because I’ve been struggling with SOMETHING to say. I’ve got nothing. This ending has just killed all of my interest.
KT: Yeah, unfortunately there’s not a lot to say I think, because not much was said in the issues we read. So what is there to react to? It was all really predictable and expected.
But you said something above: “most of the characters will never mention this again”…do you think that’s true? I may just be buying into the hype of an idea of an “aftermath”. There better be some damn aftermath…otherwise I’m feeling kind of ripped off.
And that’s kind of a shame, because for about two months I enjoyed this story (and these books) so much, but what’s the point if ultimately the end is such a let down? I was thinking about that earlier today and found myself thinking that at least I enjoyed a few issues and that that was something…but to take it out of comics for some perspective…would I feel that way about something else? I can enjoy the first 250 pages of a novel, but if the last 50 pages completely drop the ball…I mean, all I am is pissed. I don’t look back and go “boy I sure did love those first 250 pages!” instead it’s probably a string of expletives and some crazy ranting about wasted opportunities and wasted time. The same thing with a movie. If three-quarters of a movie is good and the last quarter is crap…you’re just pissed, not busy talking about how much you enjoyed what you did enjoy, you know? Does comics get a pass for coming in small individual pieces…? Does it not have to honor the whole as much as a novel or film would? Hmm…maybe I’ve gone off the rails here…
We are in agreement in many things about this series, but none more so than “Scott Summers is awesome and nothing bad will be said about him!”
Agreed. And he got ripped off here. I’m always going to be pissy about that Logan/Scott story we didn’t get to see.
CN: I was just thinking that. Was that the peak of the story? Part three ended with the two of them looking badass, ready to figure things out, and, then, we were both disappointed with part four after it didn’t follow up on that. Now, we’ve seen the entire story and that scene was never really followed up on except, I suppose, for Basilisk being the one to walk off the Line. And, that’s a pretty lame follow-up.
Endings are important. We enjoyed the beginning, not simply because of the quality of the material, but because of the potential it created. Those opening chapters were suggestive and presented a lot of interesting possibilities. When the story got locked into one, it just happened to be one of the more uninteresting ones, one that pushed the story into a very narrow place. I mean, we both didn’t like the battle in this issue, but what else could Carey do? I’m not saying that excuses him, just that he wrote himself into a corner by revealing that everything was in everyone’s heads. The story he created was designed in a manner that ultimately reaches the point where everyone just sort of shrugs and goes “Um, yeah… this doesn’t actually matter, does it?” That’s not exactly interesting or dynamic.
But, that’s the story Carey wrote, so fuck ‘im. Anyone want to buy the complete “Age of X?”
KT: Yeah, that send off with the suggestion of Scott and Logan about to do some detective work and ass kicking was so promising, but it just went nowhere. I don’t know if it was definitely the peak, but when we didn’t come back to it right away I was terribly disappointed.
So from what you said, you feel there won’t be significant or lasting ramifications to the story? How can Phoenix (Revenant) being suddenly “alive” in our world again not be significant? You think this stuff won’t be dealt with? Or are you just so burned on the arc that you kind of don’t care?
I am a big fan of Carey’s work, and I think he did some amazing things here. But in the end, I agree that he wrote himself into the most uninteresting corner, and the result is ultimate fail for me. Thanks to the ending, this isn’t a story that I would pull out and read over again the way I have with Age of Apocalypse, because I know regardless of liking some elements, ultimately I’ll feel unfulfilled. Also, I don’t suppose I need to sling another arrow, but the art in this issue was the worst art we’ve seen in the series (apart from some of the really bad art in Age of X Alpha). Overall just a really poor note to end on.
*le sigh* massive LE SIGH.
CN: There will be limited ramifications. X-Men Legacy will obviously follow up on this since Carey writes that book, but, I imagine, that will be it. Most of the characters will continue on in the other books without much thought for all of this despite literally having an entire other set of memories. It would be one thing if no one remembered except for the odd person, but everyone remembers! This should have huge ramifications as everyone struggles to return to their lives, mixing up memories, and generally not knowing what to do. Wolverine should be fine since he’s had experience with this sort of thing. But, most of them, especially the younger mutants? This should be a moment of significant mental trauma. I doubt it will be. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. I doubt I will be.
The art… it’s bad. Steve Kurth just falls apart in this issue. I can’t believe it’s the same artist, honestly.
Oh, and I don’t care what happens next in Carey’s corner of the X-verse. Maybe that “Age of Apocalypse” stuff in Uncanny X-Force will be awesome…? And I’m checking out Schism since Jason Aaron is writing it. If either of those things picks up on what happened here, I will be shocked.
KT: Yeah, I hate to end on such a down note for this little series of ours…but I really have nothing else to say. I feel cloaked in disappointment (dramatic!). I will be happy if we see some ramifications throughout (and beyond just Legacy) and I will be further disappointed if it turns into a whole lot of nothing. I’m also going to check out Schism thanks to Jason Aaron being involved, but I confess now to a certain trepidation.
CN: So ends the Age of X Dialogues… stay tuned for the Schism Dialogues…?
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.