(after reviewing what i've written I notice that this kind of ended up kind of long and slightly rant-y, so apologies in advance for anyone who wants to read this...)
OK as I have no access to this particular story arc, all I know is from previews and snippets online,
and feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but this is what I've gleaned so far:
Apparently during it's pan-dimensional, galaxy-spanning tour of the universe the giant fiery cosmic Tweety-bird known as the Phoenix Force is heading for Earth, snacking on (and regenerating) planets as it goes, causing a massive death-toll and copious gambling on who is next in intergalactic casinos (and don't even get me started on the calorie content of planets - oye!).
The Phoenix is headed for Earth as it has heard of a new redhead, (collect the whole set!) namely Deus Ex Machina Girl and wants to see what the latest model is like as she's already tried Classic Redhead and Future-Angsty-Tattooed Redhead.
Now for the difficult part *puts on Rhinestone-encrusted labcoat and t-shirt with the word Science!
Unfortunately now that it is headed for Earth, the inhabitants are suffering from side-effects of the impending approach, as the Phoenix has had so much to do with psi-brain powers it seems to be feeding on the intelligence of the natives of inhabited worlds from quite a long distance away, resulting in the stupidification of the population of the planets it encounters. (Ie: giant hungry space budgie headed your way - what do you do? Run perhaps, or go get help or try to find its weakness to divert or destroy it or even try to dig up a space mcguffin to move the planet to another system away
from the giant cosmic hungry birdie? Nope, you fight
the thing! and get obliterated in the process - I call it the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Syndrome).
In the case of the heroes of Earth the stupidification effect makes all the heroes act foolishly and fight each other, trying to grab/kill/lie about Deus Ex Machina girl who decides she's had enough and runs away. And all the heroic types take a time-out from fighting villains and decide to go to different and interesting locations to fight each other in really mismatched and sometimes silly ways (ie: Magneto Vs Iron Man and Colossus-naut Vs Spider-man).
Meanwhile Wanda Maximoff is watching the whole thing on TV and eating popcorn *crickets chirping.* Believe it or not, this becomes significant later.
I did like the whole thing where Wolverine tries to keep the kids out of the fighting (thanks Starfish! i'd forgotten that bit) but we all know that the school will be involved sooner or later, so lets move on to the symptoms and effects of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot syndrome.
The first to my mind is the total character change of the phoenix itself, this started out as a part of the primal force of creation, a creature of great passion and cosmic level awareness. When it first bonded with/replaced Jean Grey, it was intentionally
a force for good, regenerating the multiverse by restoring the M'Krann crystal. During the Dark Phoenix saga, after subsequent manipulation from the Hellfire Club and Jason Wyngarde, Jean/Phoenix was driven insane, her human dark side was released and, after attacking the people that Jean loved the most, the Phoenix zipped off planet and "ate" the sun of an inhabited world, causing it to go nova, feeding off the energies released for the "thrill" of it, while the world of the Dbarii** was subsequently destroyed. The resulting supernova then became a black hole (Is that how they are made? I forget) and as far as I know it is still there in space today.
This is kind of important though, please note this little factoid: a *sun* was destroyed, not a *world* and not only was there no regeneration but rather the opposite effect: where there was a sun there is now a black hole. Furthermore this only happened after Phoenix became Dark Phoenix, the person the entity had imprinted upon, going crazy and seeking out more and more intense sensations irrespective of the consequences of action. Additionally when "Jean" regained her faculties and realised what she had done, she knew that the only way for the universe to be safe was to take herself out of the equation, to destroy herself in order to preserve life in the universe.
Somehow over the years that has now metamorphosed into "giant hungry redhead-seeking feathered Galactus equivalent" roaring through space eating worlds.
The second symptom is the stupidity of the heroes themselves, now I don't really know the Avengers as well as the X-men (I mean enough to know they are not acting in character, but not enough to be specific) So I'll be focusing on the X-types instead; specifically one or two characters in particular: Cyclops.
For reasons inexplicable to me (I mean there are bits explained via previews and stuff but I still don't get it) Cyke actually wants
Galactus-budgie to come and visit his home planet because it worked so well in the past, which in all fairness, aside from .... stealing his girlfriend, attacking his team and killing an alien star-system, and spaceship thus ticking off an intergalactic empire - causing them to later kill off his ex-in-law's entire family out of fear it might resurface and introducing *years* of extra angst into his life ...
has worked out really well so far.
Cyclops wants the Phoenix back on Earth with the X-men because he sincerely believes that Deus Ex Machina girl's symbiotic mutant-kickstarting powers would have that extra-added awesome factor if they were cosmically empowered and would somehow regenerate the mutants as a species. Thus making her into Deus-Ex-Machina-Mcguffin girl - how? Science!!
OK even if we completely
ignore the fact that planet Earth seems to be a clearing-house for random lost mystic civilisations with the wisdom and secrets of the ages stuffed into their collective mattresses and reality-altering doodads abound (cosmic cube anyone? OK how about the reality gem? y'know the one which is part of the freakin' Infinity Gauntlet?) any of which could restore the mutant species (and resurrect deceased characters but that's an entirely different reanimated equine) .... Provided we are completely ignoring that, we have to face up to the fact that even if McGuffin-girl manages to host the Phoenix without snacking on siginificant parts of Terra Firma, then that makes Cyclops, the X-men and the girl in question complicit in and even giving tacit approval to the genocide of several alien worlds (OK Earth will be fine but still...) and their respective peoples, an idea which is morally and ethically repugnant, and definitely goes beyond the whole "flawed heroes with feet of clay" thing.
(Also: what will the heroes even do
with a cosmic thingy in their midst? how will the writers write their way around that? will they have to subsequently de-power Hope or what?)
As a side note to the X-Men thing I'd like to briefly take a look at Wolverine, and it goes a little like this:
"To save the kids I will Join the Avengers side and capture the redhead"
"To save the world I'll kill the redhead"
Me: "But we have a previous host who could talk to the phoenix with her brain powers! Maybe we could find another solution?"
*thinks for a moment* "mmmmnope, still gonna be growlmcstabbity"
Captain America: "How completely unexpected! If it's alright with you I shall now throw you out of a plane now m'kay?"
"No more avengers" ... because apparently ... that's a thing now? http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page ... e&id=38582
Maybe Wanda just had a craving for alphabet soup?
Diagnosis: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot I don't even
*takes a deep breath*
IMO while it looks like it has some nice moments and even fun bits, it still seems like a rather silly story arc that seriously messes around with characters and continuity in ways that I am not keen on.
And with all the Schisms and Civil Wars and stuff it makes you wander whose side everyone is on? Team Growl-Mc-stabbity? team snark-itty or team sitting-in-the-audience-throwing-popcorn-at-the-players?
(also, would it be strange for Chester A Bum to do a review of this arc? or perhaps Lester B Bum of Linkara-dom? (only for him to shout "Chaaaange!") Am I the only one who would find this hilarious? Also: Linkara - what would he make of this? What do you guys make of it? now that things have progressed a little more? I wanna know!!)
** The scary thing that I don't think anyone has ever really explored or touched on AFAIK (which I reckon they should) is this: Jean Grey-Summers is a telepath
and as Phoenix her psionic ability was much stronger; as Dark Phoenix that sensitivity was exponentially increased, limitless to the point where nothing was secret or sacred anymore. An inhabited world dies through her action - a memory that Jean would have inherited after the Phoenix's suicide - and the Phoenix would have noticed/felt it/picked up on it through her telepathy. Jean was traumatised into catatonia when a friend died and her powers picked up on her dying mind, what kind of consequence would it have to feel a whole world die through your mind?