A + X 8

a+x 8

Today, Scott and Mikyzptlk are discussing A + X 8, originally released May 22nd, 2013.

Scott: Some would describe A + X as “fluff”, but that’s not entirely fair. These ten-page stories featuring one Avenger and one X-Man teaming up have no choice but to get to the very root of what the characters are all about. It’s fun for comic nerds because it shows how these characters, who wouldn’t normally be paired together, are able to compliment each other. It’s also great for new readers, looking for a quick way to familiarize themselves with several characters and decide whether they want to pick up their titles. Sure, A + X is just for fun and has no bearing on any other stories, but it provides a surprisingly good summary of Marvel’s characters.

Spider-Woman + Kitty Pryde

Scott: The Russian mob is auctioning a piece of scientifically-unclassified space metal, and Spider-Woman, working for S.W.O.R.D., recruits Kitty Pryde and Lockheed to help her track it down. They locate the metal in the subway tunnels, only to find that HYDRA, A.I.M. and Creel, the Absorbing Man, are already fighting over it. Kitty Pryde gets to it first, but ultimately lets Creel absorb it, giving him scientifically-unclassified powers. Kitty screws with the blood vessels in Creels head, knocking him out and taking away his powers. With the metal in their possession, Spider-Woman and Kitty let A.I.M. and HYDRA clean up the mess in the subway.

Spider-Woman actually needs Lockheed’s help, but I guess it would be rude to ask to borrow Lockheed without also inviting Kitty Pryde along. As it turns out, Kitty Pryde’s powers come in handy, too- even if her decisions don’t make perfect sense. After she gets her hands on the metal, she is able to keep it out of Creel’s grasp, but for some reason she lets Creel absorb the metal anyway. It makes her keep-away game feel like a waste of time, and also takes the unnecessary and potentially dangerous risk of allowing Creel to obtain the powers of the mysterious substance.

Ugh, he's so self-absorbed

The story was written by Deadpool co-writer Gerry Duggan. While some elements of the plot were a bit puzzling, Duggan is great with the little details that make the story feel rich and entertaining. He even manages to turn a homeless man on the subway into an amusing character- something most writers wouldn’t think to do.

Oh, and Spider-Woman is there too! This is a particularly lopsided A + X, in which Kitty Pryde gets to do all the cool stuff and Spider-Woman is featured so little she could have been replaced by just about anyone. I liked it as a Kitty Pryde story; it’s funny, entertaining, and shows Kitty  kicking ass in a creative and Kitty Pryde-specific way. I just wish Spider-Woman had more to do. What do you think, Mikyzptlk, is it right to call something A + X when it’s 90 percent about the X?

Mikyzptlk: Hmm…I suppose one can still consider it A + X, even though the A only represents 10% of the first story. Scott, you are totally right in saying that this is a Kitty Pryde story, which is funny when you consider that Spider-Woman didn’t even want her along. I was a bit disappointed that this story didn’t really showcase much of Spider-Woman. I mean, it’s entertaining enough, but the A + Xer’s split up as soon as the fighting begins. Spider-Woman doesn’t even know what Shadowcat is up to during most of the battle. I would have enjoyed this tale a bit more if we got to see them, I don’t know, do something together.

That’s just a minor complaint though as, like you mention Scott, Kitty makes a decision that’s a bit…wonky. Why exactly does she allow Creel, the ever-shirtless Absorbing Man, to get his hands on that hunk o’ rock? She actually says she doesn’t care if he touches the thing. What? Absorbing Man could have killed her for all that Kitty knew at that moment. She even makes an Abercrombie joke immediately afterwards. Earlier in the issue, she touches the rock too, casually asking if it’s irradiated. It’s almost as if she had a deathwish throughout the issue. Either way, she saves the day with impressive, though fairly minimal, effort. Go team! Team Kitty that is.

Deadpool + Hawkeye

Mikyzptlk: Alright, that first story was decent, but this next one is worth the price of admission alone. Truth be told, I never used to care too much about either Deadpool or Hawkeye. Recently though, their books have become two of the funniest on Marvel’s shelves. While each book features completely unique tones from one another, each character within those books have proven just how funny they are. With that in mind, I suppose it’s only natural that the two characters have teamed up for a wacky adventure.

Deadpool and Hawkeye are on a mission of some kind, high-speed-chasing their way through busy city blocks. They end up underground, in pursuit of what ends up being a pirate-infested submarine! The duo bow-and-arrow their way through the sub to find the culprit behind it all. It turns out, Captain Barracuda (a completely legit villain) has kidnapped a famous taco chef in order to score free meals off the guy while out on the open sea. Hilarity ensues, the battle is won, and everyone eats chimichangas.

It doesn’t matter why Deadpool and Hawkeye are working together. It doesn’t even matter what they are working to accomplish.  All that matters is that Deadpool and Hawkeye are together, and it’s fucking hilarious.

Purple Arrow and Ninja Spider-Man

This is not the first joke of this 10-issue tale, nor is it the last. The whole story is a joke, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Christopher Hastings plays Deadpool and Hawkeye off of each other as if the two have been working side by side for years. The jokes are hilarious, the action is exciting, and Hastings provides the perfect example of how an A + X story is supposed to work. How about you Scott, does this make you want to read more Deadpool/Hawkeye adventures, or do you think this tale is -ahem- dead in the water?

Scott: Shiver me timbers, I think the Deadpool/Hawkeye pairing is awesome. In fact, just about everything in this half of the issue is awesome. One thing I like about the two-story format of A + X is how little time it allows for set up- they get to the meat of the story almost immediately. Here, we’re dropped right into the action, with Deadpool and Hawkeye in the midst of a high-speed pursuit, and the energy is sustained throughout the issue. Like you said Mik, it doesn’t matter why they’re together, their personalities are what make this story go. Toss Deadpool and Hawkeye into any high-stakes scenario, and they’d find a way to make it fun.

Fist flies like an arrow

The best joke of the issue is actually the premise itself. Deadpool and Hawkeye are totally the kind of guys who would risk their lives to rescue their favorite taco chef. I’ve got to hand it to Hastings, the reveal that Herrera is a chef hits especially hard after the sense of urgency he created with the high-speed chase and bow and arrow battle. It’s perfect- these guys would care about saving the man who makes great chimichangas the same way other heroes would care about some Senator or other generically important public figure.

I really enjoyed seeing Deadpool take on the role of “the responsible one”. Usually, he’s such a goof that it’s easy to forget he’s actually quite competent. While Hawkeye is the Avenger- and the one who gets all of the credit for saving Herrera- Deadpool is the one who has to remind him that they should stop the pirates from carrying out their schemes. All in all, this issue brought out the best in both characters, and if they’d ever consider it, I’d love to see A + X do a Hawkeye + Deadpool reprise.

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?

10 comments on “A + X 8

  1. Oh man, that “Hulk hand” arrow is simply amazing. I’d pay anything to see more out of these two. Forgive my ignorance, but I don’t believe I’ve read anything from Hastings before. It’s time for some serious Googling.

    Also, am I the only one that constantly forgets that Deadpool is an X-Man?

    • No, I’m with you on that. Deadpool is such his own thing, he barely fits within the Marvel Universe, let alone the X-Men. I suppose the X-Men have a nigh-infinite cast of extremely colorful characters, but the fourth wall breaking that defines Deadpool in my mind really doesn’t fit. Sure, he’s a mutant and a good guy, but I’ll always struggle to think of him as an X-Man.

    • The Hulk Hand arrows were such a great gag.

      I also loved when Wade was trying to think of an archery nickname for Clint but they were all already old hat.

      He should have just called him Hawkguy.

  2. So I feel like I see Spider-Woman everywhere–A+X, Avengers, Hawkeye–yet I have NO idea what her personality is. It seems like she’s just “there” in each of these books, and it’s frustrating. I can’t get a read on her at all.

    • Agreed. I’ve never understood the character. Now, I completely blame myself on this as I’ve never even tried to understand her. I just don’t feel I’ve ever been given a reason to dig into her past. Like you said, she’s just “there.”

      • Kelly Sue DeConnick writes a great Spider-Woman, in Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble. Check those books out.

        • Oh, yeah. She has cropped up in Captain Marvel. I haven’t seen any of DeConnick’s run on Avengers Assemble, but given how much I love Captain Marvel, I’m sure it’s great. We’re gonna start covering Captain Marvel one of these days…

  3. Pingback: Avengers Assemble 19 | Retcon Punch

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