A + X 6

a+x 6

Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing A + X 6, originally released March 27th, 2013.

Shelby: I love playing card games; they’re the perfect blend of luck and strategy, as you try to think your way out of the crappy hand you got dealt. I’ll play gin, cribbage, Monopoly Deal, Dutch Blitz anytime, anywhere. The one game I’m terrible at, though, is poker. I can never keep the winning hands and all the rules straight in my head. Plus, with my Scandinavian fair skin, I blush at the drop of a hat, which means I don’t have any sort of poker face; I try to bluff my way through a bad hand, my face goes red as a whole fucking beet farm. Seriously, I’m blushing now just thinking about it. Poker may not be my game, but apparently it’s how all the Avengers and X-Men pass the time between beating up bad guys and occasionally each other. As far as your standard A + X  plot goes, that’s actually pretty solid.

Captain Marvel + Woverine

Shelby: Wolverine and Captain Marvel are hanging out in the Avengers Tower breakroom playing poker and discussing the classic question: cavemen vs. astronauts, who wins? Things get heated, naturally, and the two are about to punch each other when a giant man/robot/thing bursts in, proclaiming he is “The End.” So, naturally, Carol poses the cavemen vs. astronauts question, and The End replies with astronauts, because Charlton Heston’s character in Planet of the Apes got in a fight with the apes and won. At that, Wolverine and Capt. Marvel deal him in for another hand.

captain marvel, wolverine, and the end

This is exactly the sort of jolly nonsense I expect from this title. The straight-forward setup of two heroes playing cards, the inane discussion, inevitable fight and ridiculous villain, all tied up with a perfect punchline makes for a fun little read. Even with the frivolity of the story,though, writer Peter David still pays attention to the details that really drive these characters. The only things I know about Captain Marvel are a.) super-powered lady badass and b.)…she got a new costume recently? I do, however, know Wolverine, so for him to take the side of the cavemen makes perfect sense. Of COURSE he would choose raw, primitive power. Of COURSE Carol would opt for the astronaut’s ability to out-think his enemy. And of COURSE the giant invading robot would provide a “real” world logical answer. So now, Ethan, I have to ask you the most important question of all: cavemen or astronauts?

Ethan: Wolverine has it right. You know how cavemen are closer to chimps than we are in that omnipresent chart showing the evolution of humans? And you know how chimps can literally tear adult humans apart? Pretty sure the astronaut is on the ground and bleeding in a second or so. Unless the astronaut has energy beams or adamantium claws, in which case all bets are off.

Speaking of bets, I love Logan’s style of poker. 1) Raise. 2) Ask your opponent “you gonna fold or what.” 3) Repeat. My favorite few panels were the two showing Wolverine staring at Captain Marvel staring at her cards, followed by him saying “Thank god I’m pretty much immortal.” We often see Wolverine being badass, and we often see him being direct to the point of entertainment, but this issue gave us the chance to see him being a few shades closer to hamming it up than usual, and David, Camuncoli & Benevento (great law firm name) knock it out of the park. Carol’s maternal, “be PATIENT, dear” tone is a great response, and clearly just encourages Logan to keep pushing. Where he would have long since slugged and/or sliced a man who said the same sorts of things to him that Carol does, she seems to be able to get away with a lot more, very fun to watch.

The Thing + Gambit

Ethan: According to Ben Grimm, poker is “a game of wits… a game of subtlety.” Which are two traits that no one in their right mind attributes to the giant, rock-skinned guy who’s speaking the words. The Thing is getting all set to part the members of the Yancy Street Gang from their money in a game of stud when they turn the tables by introducing their secret weapon: Gambit. The New Orleans X-Man uses cards as weapons in combat, and he has a reputation for being familiar with the recreational/commercial uses of them, too. The two begin bantering about a past altercation, which quickly gives rise to a fresh one, and they take the fight outside. As the minutes stretch on while the members of Yancy Street wait, the youths realize that the money is gone and that they’ve been conned: Gambit was working with The Thing the whole time.

This short story does a great job of compressing the con into its essence: first we have the perfect stranger wander into the game – Tony only met Gambit a few days ago out of the blue. Then we have the animosity between The Thing and Gambit to serve as the distraction. Thanks to the Power of Comics, we even get a great desaturated flashback of the last time they met:

AX_runin

Finally, the scammers double-down on the misdirection, with The Thing accusing Gambit and the Gang of cheating. The stage is set, the money is on the table, and all that’s left is for the players to make their exit with the cash.

Another nice touch is The Thing’s gradual slide towards losing, best characterized by the off-screen addition of his hat into the pot, summarized by the panel in which Gambit dons the shabby fedora.

AX_ante2

All in all, this issue is easily my favorite A+X so far. It’s tough to cram so much fun and style into so few panels, but this issue shows how it’s done. So, how about it Shelby? Feel like catching a flight up to New York to fleece some marks? I think I have a fedora like that somewhere in my closet.

Shelby: Only if I get to be the “dumb one.” I have to agree with you Ethan, this is absolutely my favorite issue of this title as well. I never expected Gambit and Ben were in on the con. It makes complete sense for these two characters to be at odds, so it didn’t occur to me at all that they were fleecing the Yancy Street Gang. I also appreciate that Mike Costa didn’t go overboard with Remy’s Cajun accent. We all know what he sounds like; a few mon ami‘s are enough, we don’t need his accent spelled out phonetically.

This issue is a great example of what this title can be. Most issues have been exactly hit and miss, with a strong story and one that, at best, I don’t care about. Here we’ve got two very strong, very fun stories tied together with the poker theme. The story telling is tight and to the point, and just goofy enough for me to really enjoy it. As much as I love Geoff John’s grand-standing, or Brian Azzarello’s slow-burn style, sometimes all I want is a little, bite-sized dessert of a book, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

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6 comments on “A + X 6

  1. Please, astronauts in a walk. They might not have to have focused on survival every day of their lives, but they are amazingly better fed and exercised. Plus, astronauts are like the most-prepared group of people in the world, if they are encountering cavemen that need fighting, they’ve been fully briefed and have multiple scenarios on how to deal with them along with tons of equipment with which to do so.

  2. I have never never understood, so someone please clue me in to what the fuck the Yancy Street Gang is. Are they friends of the Thing? Just casual acquaintances? Enemies? Sometimes he seems like their mentor, but there’s still a adversarial nature their relationship…

    • I’m honestly not 100% sure what their relationship is either, but this I know for a fact: the more adversarial The Thing’s relationship is with someone, the more fond of them he truly is…

    • The Yancy Street Gang are people from the Thing’s old neighborhood of Yancy Street. They pull pranks on him for fun, but they’re also kind of his fan club on account of him being a local boy made good.

  3. It is weird that A+X is already starting to double-dip? This is the second time we’ve seen Wolverine in these things and the second time for Gambit as well. Plus next week (a.k.a. TODAY) we’re getting a story with Beast again.

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