Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Avengers Academy Issue 35

This issue started off with a bang.  Picking up from the cliffhanger last issue, it gave us insights into how these characters work as a team without their powers.  Part 2 of Final Exam really hits home with much of the story with maintaining human moments in what's an otherwise caped adventure.

A few things caught my attention that really stood out.

Clean Slate's Dispersal
This gets a passing mention as the issue opens.  It explains away the initial problematic spot of last issue suggesting that X-23 did notice the dispersal and popped her claws once aware of what it was.  While it still hindered her healing factor, by her popping all her claws she still has access to them and lessened the exposure to adamantium poison from inside her body.  The airborne dispersal seems to have a slower effect than the aerosol Hazmat dosed herself with.

Heat of the Moment Planning
Immediately as the issue unfolds, the seperated students have to put a plan into action to stop the Clean Slate dispersal to the world.  Finesse seems to really take the lead here with nods to their lessons from Giant-man on how to take down a size shifter.  Of note is X-23's role in this as she handles the blow that hinders Big Zero and allows Finesse to knock Big Zero down for the rest of the team to handle.  It seems much of the training Finesse has done with X-23 comes forward here overall.  Finesse has a strong emphasis on infiltration and deception without any knowledge on the mystic arts to put into practice.  This is something similar to X-23's training and mirrors it quite well.  This immediately explains why X-23 seems more quiet during the planning and explaining.  With Finesse taking point and how much they've trained together, X-23 is well aware of her capabilities and has nothing to add as Finesse pretty much explains it all for those who wouldn't know, the audience included.  All that would be left for X-23 is to nod, agree, and plan ahead for what she's going to do to this madman.  If anything, this relates a form of trust from X-23 towards Finesse that was seemingly foreshadowed previously with their travels together as mentioned last issue.

X-23 Hindered by her Lack of Abilities
While this isn't new per se, as X-23 has dealt with hindrances to her powers before.  It is interesting to note that this is the first time it's to such an extent that her own body is betraying her.  She doesn't take the forefront like previously shown, but she's also conserving her strength for when needed to take down this madman who reminds her of her past.  Even in taking high amounts of damage, she's still holding on and fighting forward.  She still displays aspects of precision and her other situational awareness, but it's also tempered with the blinding pain she's in and her anger.  This is an even more emotional X-23 than we've seen before, and I'm not sure if her fellow students are prepared to see this side of her when she gets her hands on him.  It also evokes the X-23 we've seen before where she puts the safety of others above herself.  She's not fighting for revenge.  She's fighting to stop this madman from harming others and her fellow students.  She's fighting to prevent such abuse from happening to others.

Hazmat and Striker
Okay I have to admit it.  Both of these characters at one time or another were my least favorites, often competing for that slot.  They have had moments where I've wanted to cheer for them and despised them outright.  This issue really marks a turning point in that.  Both of them have displayed qualities that again make you want to cheer for them.  The creative team on this comic has really made both of them quite human in this respect with the tough choices they've had to make.  Striker it seems as if they'll be going right for his pride and vanity in the next part, but Hazmat?  Hazmat this issue really makes me feel for her.  That lingering kiss of a moment you can never share again.  A moment that's going to last a lifetime because of how things will change.  A moment that just exhudes sadness but also solidarity and hope.  It perfectly culminates into a moment of her being able to let her powers go wild.  A burning passion and anger that will not be stopped as it melts everything in her path to this madman.  A complete and utter total meltdown that will. Burn. Everything. The symbolism is rich here, and it amazes me how well handled it was to the point I'm cheering for Hazmat once again while also empathizing for the moments lost and the times remembered.  She's a character that is using what once made her insecure to stop those who hurt her friends and save their future at the risk of her own.

This issue makes me excited for what's to come.  Outright this comic has to be one of the best team books coming out of Marvel right now.  With characters like these, it makes one wonder where they may land later.  With so many stories still begging to be told, what will the future hold for these baptized-by-fire Avengers-in-training.


  1. Gage is great at writing the emotional and (most) character moments but he still has a problem with the logistic/tactical situations.

    They weren't too smart with their plans. X-23 should have taken the lead since she has the most experience with these kinds of situations and she was equipped with the best weapons. Someone else should have played possum while X-23 went for either a killing blow against Big Zero or tried to blind her with her claws. Plus she should have been fast enough to dodge that punch.

    X-23's musings didn't really make much sense either. This isn't exactly the first time she's come close to death. Heck, this isn't even the first time when her healing factor stopped working. She had similar experiences after she was blasted by Nimrod and when she was in the future with X-Force to save Hope. And why would she think that the people she killed felt the way she does? She's always been quick with her kills, most people she killed didn't even see it coming.

    It also didn't make any sense for them to just charge in to get the cure, especially considering how both X-23 and Finesse are masters of stealth and espionage. They should have been smart enough to scout the place out for traps and security measures.

    1. Speed was also a need at hand though as X-23 herself pointed out she's dieing. No amount of subterfuge would have worked though as none of the characters on hand have any strengths in mystical knowledge or even what to expect in how they were tracked.

      Having X-23 take the killing blow could have backfired without a credible backup plan as well. What they did with knocking big zero off balance to allow a rockslide worked perfectly to incapacitate her and allowed for ease of adaption instead of pure dependancy on one team member who is already injured and not sure of her full capabilities under these injuries(unlike previous instances of her healing factor being gone, we do not know the exact extent of her broken ribs or other joints/cartiledge damage).

      With X-Force she was backsliding, so no musings there, nor had she really adjusted to emotions as yet.
      As for New X-Men with nimrod, she was outcold/unconcious/could barely speak so again not likely there either. There's also an inconsistency there as she's hit the side of molten metal before and healed, but a laser blast was too much(same authors as the Nimrod blast). The same question could be asked in her origin mini "Target X" where she literally blew herself up in the basement with Kimura. A moment which means Kimura would have recuperated faster and caught her as they would both be trapped in the same area and only one of them wouldn't take any damage at all.
      As for the time hop, they never did answer how she managed to heal from that, which suggests she wasn't really dieing. Only needed time for her body to recuperate(again same authors, and no Elixir rationalizing like the molten metal could have, in fact, she went straight from that to her arm being chopped off by a chainsaw).

      As for quick with her kills, we've yet to see how this will end for the madman. We also haven't seen directly that Big Zero was killed either. X-23's beef is with the big boss, not the underlings/henchmen as the musings point out. Those children may be just as led astray like she's seen many others and could still potentially be saved. X-23 is not one to murder children(yes, teenagers are still kids) if it can be helped, and the one time she did it caused her to backslide back into self-mutilation.

    2. Something to also keep in mind.
      The plan so far has been:
      1. Take down Big Zero using adaptable plan and teamwork. *Check*
      2. disable cameras to make the villians think they are on floors the team isn't. *Check*
      3. Recover mystic artifacts to gain some abilities for team members while they figure out how to acquire the cure and where it's located. *Busted*
      4. Get the cure and stop the plan to release clean slate to the public.
      5. Stop this from ever happening again.

      Time is of the essence due to injuries sustained, and the villian plan to release clean slate by that night or sooner. The team's plan was interrupted because none of the team present have any magic artifact knowledge so they couldn't anticipate that they could be tracked that way. There was also no pre-planning phase as X-23 is used to for infiltration missions with knowing building layouts from blueprints. So air ducts and such aren't an option nor is her taking the lead. Also with her lack of abilities she couldn't navigate the maze those would entail or the traps they would have without her animal senses as she is used to and has become dependant on. She's been without her healing factor before, but this is the first time she's been cut off from all her abilities completely except her claws. She's also fallen several stories, been covered by falling rubble, and been decked by 40 foot+ proportionately strong and fast attacker.
      Under the created situation and circumstances, Gage and crew nailed it perfectly. Going from the logic and tactics perspective at least.

  2. Also on the musings about others she has killed.
    Dr. Sutter saw it coming in his home. His child that she saved thought it was coming. The man Wilson Fisk hired her to kill saw it coming. All the people in the convention center besides the politician target saw it coming. That's just within her origin miniseries by Yost/Kyle. The list is also extended by the missions they didn't show like Alex's parents during the Marjorie Liu run, or the man in the black suit she killed in Liu's run. The list goes on and on for victims that did see it coming but still couldn't stop her. Including pretty much every security person at the Facility itself besides Kimura(who even taunted them as such during X-Force's Not Forgotten arc).

    1. There's also the allusion to people she's tortured and then killed while under the Facility within the Target X mini by Yost/Kyle. The french classroom scene lists off all the techniques of information gathering that can be involved in any given mission where preying on fear is an asset. Fear instigators like kidnapping family members of those that she needs information from to use their life as bargaining chips that would always end in all loose ends being killed anyway. It also lists all the techniques for various poisons that can be used during her biology class. Another factor to consider is that not all kills are instantaneous death either. Like the pedophile thrown out the window in Innocence Lost or any number of other targets that didn't get an instant kill blow, but a fatal blow nonetheless. Again, all this is just the 2 origin minis and are not accounting for additional info from other comics like the Afghanistan missions alluded to in Academy X: New X-Men.

  3. Does anybody want to go through all known appearances of X-23 and count actual body counts? I would venture that it is a lot! That is just what is shown. Potential totals based on what is speculated is in the hundreds. Like the video game says, "I may not be the best there is; but I am pretty close." or something like that.

    1. Roughly 200+ between missions shown in the 2 origin miniseries(roughly 100 at the convention center by itself, then roughly 20 from missions shown, and at least 80+ on security between returning to the Facility, escaping, and assault on the Kinney household, probably more).
      An additional 50-100+ from X-Force: Not Forgotten. And another 50-100+ between Hydra and Purifiers. Counting what's been thrown in via retcons, I'd personally put the number somewhere from 400-600+.

    2. I'm going to have to say minimum 700. Adding in NYX, Collision, and some other bits I'm probably forgetting, the total is probably well above 700.