Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Apparently I Don't Trust Anyone In The Marvel U Anymore

A few months back, I was complaining about how, in the pages of Avengers Undercover, Constrictor part of Zemo's little cabal, seemingly get to stand on the same level with what I see as much higher-quality villains. And then I noted that all four of the main villains - Constrictor, Zemo, Madame Masque, Hellstrom - have been heroes or helped heroes in the past. And since then, I haven't been able to shake the feeling that something about the whole situation feels off.

Both sides are trying to run scams, of course. The kids have their plan to go along with the baddies until they can find a way to bring Zemo down and rehabilitate their images. The villains are trying to snooker the kids by presenting being part of the gang as really cool and awesome. And Hellstrom's lying through his teeth when he tells Nico he hasn't done anything to Cullen. We know that's nonsense, because we saw Zemo asking if Hellstrom had Cullen under control at the end of the first issue.

Also, the whole situation with Arcade screamed "Set-Up!" The bad guy's plan to get Cullen his shot at Arcade just so happened to be ready to go right when the others came looking for Cullen. But at the same time, there was no opportunity to check if all the kids were on board with it. Nope, just chuck them into the middle of it. Then, there's how convenient it is that SHIELD just so happens to find Arcade's secret lair - which has presumably been up and running for awhile - right as the kids are trying to bail. This one could be explained as Deathlocket disabled whatever jamming or scrambling devices Murderworld had when she shut down Arcade's powers, but it seems questionable those systems were shut down (even though they're hardly related to Arcade's powers), but not the recording or transmitting equipment that would broadcast Hazmat killing him across the globe. And wasn't it convenient that SHIELD brought along some mages who could block Nico and Cullen's abilities, even though Arcade's never demonstrated mystical abilities? And rescuing them from lock-up makes it look like the kids pulled a jailbreak.

It's pretty obvious the whole thing with Arcade was Zemo's way of boxing them in, so his offer looks that much better, so maybe it's the only option, really. But I can't shake the feeling there's more to it than that. That conversation Zemo had with someone over the phone. The smart money is it's Techno/the Fixer, but what if it's Tony Stark or Hank Pym? I have this feeling the kids are being tested by the Avengers (or SHIELD) as part of some psychological evaluation. What's their decision-making process like, what direction does their moral compass point, how deeply affected are they by their time in Murderworld, how much of a potential threat are they, stuff like that.  It would be really messed up, but a lot of alleged good guys seem to be operating under a vague umbrella of the ends justifying some really awful means, so I could see it.

Now you say, why would these bad guys help with that? Who says they are? Constrictor and Hellstrom have both done the good guy thing before, they could easily be in one of their good phases, or else they're being paid well (or Constrictor could just be a dupe). Zemo and Madame Masque not as much, but by the nature of their outfits, there's no guarantee those are the real Zemo and Masque. We haven't seen their faces, it could be Winter Soldier and the Black Widow for all we know. If Kate Bishop can pretend to be Madame Masque through an auction, I'm pretty sure Natasha could pull it off in her sleep.

Maybe, instead of letting the bad guys infiltrate their peacekeeping organizations, the heroes decided to infiltrate the bad guys, take control, and try to limit the damage. What have we seen the bad guys do so far, besides beat each other up? The kids killed Arcade with an assist from Hellstrom, and a bunch of them attacked an A.I.M. installation. And only Captain America shows up to get involved? With roughly 5 million heroes as part of the Avengers these days? Uh-huh. Sure, the villains could theoretically use AIM stuff to cause all sorts of trouble, but given the structure of the organization they're in, it'll only happen if the top dogs tell them to. And in this scenario I've constructed, that won't happen because the head honchos are really good guys. There was the attack on a SHIELD base at the end of the first issue, but that could be a put-on, just to maintain appearances

I'd say the chance I'm right is 10% or less, that I'm jumping at shadows because the writers these days seem so inclined to have heroes do shitty things and try to justify it somehow. I'm not even sure I'd want to be right, because it would such a lousy trick for the good guys to pull on the kids, but it's an idea I've been mulling over for some time, so there you have it.

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