A Comic Book Entry – Comic Book or Video Game

Good grief the A vs X storyline is still dragging on.  Yes, I’m picking a scab here.  I don’t read the comics, but I do have Wikipedia, and Wikipedia has people who read the comics.  Now the whole Phoenix thing has degenerated into a Dark Phoenix thing.  I cannot even begin to express how awful and lame this all is.

But, it got me thinking, especially as I read some of the Wikipedia’s comments from the “creative team” behind this fiasco.  Sadly, I can’t blame this lousy storyline on a lack of talent.  The writers are good, but the new editor-in-chief has a lot to learn and the old editor-in-chief (who is now the “chief creative officer” or something stupid and totally wrong) needs to stay the hell out of the creative process.  Anyway, apparently this terrible thing got started when the X-men team met with the higher ups and decided they thought an Avengers vs X-men storyline would be cool.  That right there, dear readers, is a warning sign.  Remember, Rule 8 as Tyrant-in-chief is that storylines will not be green-lighted because of “wouldn’t it be cool if” syndrome (see “A Comic Book Entry: Tyrant-in-Chief Part 2“).  I believe I also said that the whole Avengers fighting X-men thing would be a lot better as a video game, because in fighting games, you don’t care how contrived the plot is to get your two teams to meet, you only care how awesome Wolverine is.

A word on history – this has been done before.  It was called, I believe, “The Trial of Magneto,” and concerned the time period Magneto was running the school.  The Avengers figured out where he was and went to arrest him for being a terrorist.  Because he was.  The New Mutants at first defended him because he was their teacher, and then the X-men stepped in because they felt Magneto wouldn’t get a fair trial because he was a mutant.  This may be true, but he was also incredibly, obviously, and totally guilty of being a terrorist.  In the end, he went to trial, and I honestly don’t remember what happened after that.  So, to be fair, a bunch of writers already got together and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and played out this storyline.  But was it cool?  However you feel about it, at least the story made some sense in context and was much less convoluted than A vs X.  But it may also have been better as a video game.  Magneto is a cool player character.

A word on the fiasco – in case you missed it, and thus my rant on why this should be a video game, here is the summation.  Both the X-men and Avengers got word the Phoenix was returning to Earth and was likely to possess Hope Summers, the latest in a line of mutant Messiahs and oddly enough not Rachel Grey/Summers who has actually been Phoenix before.  Go figure that. Cyclops, who is being played by pre-Trial Magneto these days, pretty much told Hope he was going to use her to restore mutantkind once she became Phoenix, whatever that means.  The Avengers decided they were going to a) kill the Phoenix Force because it’s totally possible to kill the embodiment of LIFE in the universe, or b) failing that (duh), kill Hope Summers.  And in case the history of the Phoenix wasn’t convoluted enough, they threw in Fongji, a red-headed girl from ancient Kun’lun who apparently became the Iron Fist of the time to tame the Phoenix, and of course no one had ever heard of this before because it didn’t matter until the Phoenix returned to Earth and apparently the entire history of the Phoenix on Earth prior to this storyline doesn’t count.  I’ll pause a moment for you to process that bit of twisted logic.  Well, Hope was mad at the X-men and the whole killing of the embodiment of LIFE in the universe didn’t work (shocking!) but because Hope didn’t want it, it broke apart and possessed the nearest X-men: Colossus, Magik, Namor (don’t even get me started on that), Emma Frost, and Cyclops.  Sure, why the hell not?  Gradually the Avengers whittled down the hosts to just Emma and Cyclops, and Emma was going around taking over everyone’s minds because she’s a villain like that.  Oh, wait, sorry, I forgot she was a hero.  Anyway, Cyclops took the Phoenix from her to not get killed by the Avengers thus leading into what appears to be a new Dark Phoenix Saga.  Hope is in hiding in Kun’lun learning to grow the hell up and deal with the lousy hand of fate she’s been dealt for being in any way associated with the Summers/Grey line.  Everyone got that?  Good.

Back to why this would be soooo much better as a video game.  It’s not as though there haven’t been crazy video game crossovers.  There’s Marvel vs Capcom, for example, and Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe.  The plot, such as it was, behind Mortal Kombat vs DCU was that Shao Kahn and Darkseid tried to take over their respective universes, and in a freak accident during a fight with Superman and Raiden, Shao Kahn and Darkseid merged into Dark Kahn, which started merging the universes.  Fight!  Oh, sure, you could play through story mode, but really, who cares?  It’s all about Batman beating on Shang Tsung.  Or Batman beating up on anyone, really.  Marvel vs Capcom as far as I know didn’t even bother with a contrived plot to get the characters fighting.  It doesn’t even have to be a fighting game as such.  The Marvel Ultimate Alliance games weren’t direct fighting games, but they mixed and matched characters and they sure were fun.  While they did have storylines, I think they were far better suited to the game instead of some actual in-universe crossover event.  Also, playing Johnny Storm was really fun (fire? Yes!).

Many a standard Marvel/DC crossover may have been better realized as a video game instead of an actual storyline.  Who doesn’t want the ability to actually play Batman against Captain America in a fighting game?  I know I totally would love to do that.  But the corporate universes won’t play nice so we can’t play at all.  Still, even within universe are crossovers that would probably be better suited to a video game.  I know there were good points and bad points about the whole Marvel Civil War, and maybe the debacle could have been settled with a Marvel fighting game.  Right, wrong, who cares as long as you can play Iron Man against Captain America.  There is an X-men fighting game that I know of, which isn’t too bad.  So why not A vs X?  Let Wolverine fight Captain America properly.  Or let Wolverine fight anyone, really.

There are several reasons why I believe the video game format (specifically a fighting game) would be so much more suitable than an actual storyline.
1) A contrived plot isn’t a problem.  No one cares for a fighting game (a RPG is different).
2) Nerfing characters so they that don’t utterly annihilate other characters is not a problem.  But when Magik takes out the former Sorcerer Supreme in pretty much one shot, it’s really obvious and stupid Strange got nerfed (although, to be fair, Strange has been dealing with some serious nerfing issues since he lost the Sorcerer Supremehood).   But nerfing Superman so he doesn’t just wipe the floor with Liu Kang in a game is no big deal.
3) Writers don’t have to deal with the logical consequences of the fall-out.  So Captain America beat up Wolverine?  So Superman beat up Green Lantern?  It doesn’t matter and spares the writers the gymnastics necessary to keep the continuity up and running.
4) Fight scenes are the focus.  Let’s be honest, the only reason to do a crossover is for the fight scenes.  While comic book art can be awesome, seeing one’s favorite character actually moving and punching is awesomer still (assuming the game’s [or movie’s] production values are high enough).
5) Less nasty fan mail.  See, in a comic book crossover if Wolverine doesn’t win, legions of fanboys/girls will write in about it.  But in a video game crossover if Wolverine doesn’t win, it means you need more practice.  As long as the game is balanced, fans will probably forgive the inevitable nerfing.  They don’t tend to so much in a comic book.

And yes, I would totally play an Avengers vs X-men video game.  And to the “creative team” who all got together and thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if the Avengers and X-men fought each other?” and who also seemed to think they were the only ones who ever thought of this (ignoring the company’s history and the fact probably 99% of Marvel fans have thought of this), I have an answer to your question.  Yes, it would be cool if the Avengers and the X-men fought each other, but in a video game.  In a your comic book(s), it’s just lame and stupid.


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S. J. Drew is an aspiring writer who finally entered the blogosphere to shamelessly promote that writing (as evidenced by the title of the blog). Whether or not this works remains to be seen, but S. J. hopes you are at least entertained. And if you're actually reading this, that's probably a good sign.

One thought on “A Comic Book Entry – Comic Book or Video Game”

  1. I have to take issue with a few things here.

    First, “wouldn’t it be cool” isn’t bad or wrong. A lot of stories are based on a writer saying, “Hey, that would be cool.” Obviously, an idea like that needs to be fleshed out so it makes sense. But starting off by thinking it would be cool to do something isn’t a bad way to start it.

    Second, there’s something incredibly silly about criticizing comics you’re not even reading. I could take pretty much any comic ever published, and explain it in a way that makes it seem stupid and pointless. Superhero comics are an inherently absurd genre, so the key isn’t really in the plot, but in how it’s written, and how the characters are handled. I’ve had problems with AvX, but overall, I’ve found it be a fairly decent event.

    Third, the Avengers never planned on killing Hope. Never. Wolverine was the only one who wanted to do that, and he later changed his mind. They wanted to take her away from Earth, to somewhere safe. They never said what Step 2 was, but they weren’t going to kill her. They didn’t actually want to kill the Phoenix Force, either – they wanted to contain it. Still an insane idea, but it does make a difference.

    Fourth, a video game wouldn’t allow for the story the writers wanted to tell. That story may be good or it may be bad, but it’s still a story the writers felt deserved to be told, and they simply could not tell it in a video game. And it’s sold well, and has boosted the sales of some books that had tie-ins to it, so it’s been successful as a comic story.

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