Cooks, Cocktails, and Comics Reviews: Baked Phoenix, X-Men Legacy # 269, and Wolverine and the X-Men # 12

June 28, 2012 4:34 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
Baked Phoenix
Baked Phoenix to go with this half-baked Marvel story arc. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

In the spirit of Anthony Bourdain's "Get Jiro!" we're going to be celebrating every middle-of-the-week with a recipe for good eats and cocktails inspired by the new comics we love, hate, hate-to-love, and love-to-hate. This week, in celebration of the bombastically idiotic and undeniably fun Avengers vs. X-Men Marvel Crossover, we'll be cooking up some Baked Phoenix and reading X-Men Legacy #269 and Wolverine and the X-Men #12.

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Baked "Phoenix"

A juicy, baked chicken to go with a story line baked half as much. Sure, you'll get the pages of your comic greasy, but this week it doesn't matter too much. It doesn't look like Jean Grey is going to be coming back any time soon to scold you, so you can just about get away with it.

The secret to good chicken of any kind is starting with the perfect brine. And the secret to our brine is the Dr. Pepper.

Boil two quarts of water, one cup of salt, one cup of dark brown sugar, one-fourth a cup of lemon juice, and three thai bird chiles for ten minutes. Afterwards, add a two-liter bottle of ice-cold Dr. Pepper. Last, add your chicken. Put it in the fridge and let it sit there overnight.

The next day, rub the chicken with some salt and pepper. Put it in the oven and bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165.  

And there you have it: a tender, sweet, and spicy treat-- low-brow cooking brought just to the middle with those Thai peppers-- to go with this week's comics.

Wolverine and the X-Men #12

With a script by Jason Aaron and pencils by Chris Bacchalo, this issue sees the uneven, unruly, exuberant, and Jhonen Vasquezy take on the X-Men franchise (the freshest and most bombastic in years, even if it doesn't always satisfy) doing what it does best: missing compelling, smaller moments in the service of a kinetic, usually satisfying bigger picture.

This week's story opens in the middle of the heart-stopping, brain-dead Avengers vs. X-Men conflict. If you're not versed in the subject, The Avengers are Bush Doctrining the heck out of the X-Men by preemptively forcing them to surrender one of their strongest members-- their last hope as a species-- because of what may happen when the power of the Phoenix, a cosmic entity governing death and rebirth, allows her to come into her full potential. Rachel Grey, former brain-washed mutant-hunter and current teacher at the Jean Grey School for Gifted Children, finds herself in the first notes of a duet with former teacher and perennial bad boy Wolverine.

That's terribly compelling for long-time fans of the series. These two big personalities famously squared off decades ago, when Wolverine badly wounded the young girl to prevent her from killing one of the X-Men's nemeses. In 2012, they've traded ideologies. Wolverine has attempted twice now to kill seventeen-year old Hope for what she may do; Rachel Grey wants to give her the chance to prove everyone wrong.

Not one mention is made of this switch. Much of what is happening in this current arc happens with little regard for what came before it. The issue devolves into your average beat-em up, with Chris Bacchalo's art making it lovely to look at it. In a heart-breaking moment, Rachel Grey asks one of the current hosts of the Phoenix if the cosmic entity ever talks about her. It's a heart-breaking moment, but it also calls attention to the fact that Marvel's architects are breaking the compelling rules that have been so painstakingly established since the first time the Phoenix appears. This force currently possessing The Phoenix Five has about as much intelligence as one of the four power-ups in Pacman. We hope the more compelling ghosts get their color back soon.

Grade: C+/B-

X-Men Legacy #269

After the well-meaning but racist Legacy #268 that saw a black character going to Africa to deepen and develop her bad-ass street cred, we're happy to see that writer Christos Gage is back to doing what he does best, so far: telling stories about Rogue.

In a story about the Avengers fighting the X-Men, we're surprised that Rogue's story hasn't been giving higher billing. Her character was introduced in the 80s in an arc where she defeats the Avengers and kills Ms. Marvel by absorbing her psyche and powers into her body semi-permanently. Of course, no one stays dead in comics, and Ms. Marvel has long since come back, exacted a kind of revenge against Rogue, and now enjoys a spot on the Avengers where writer Brian Michael Bendis doesn't have her thinking about her former arch-nemesis too much.

For no reason at all, Ms. Marvel decides that the only one in the X-Men that she can speak to is Rogue, in spite of the fact that Rogue is the one who'd probably attack her on sight. It's exactly what happens.

Not much happens-- the two fight each other and there's some good dialogue. In a disturbing moment, Rogue tries to absorb Ms. Marvel's powers again, which of course makes Ms. Marvel freak out. It's fun to watch, but it's terribly unlikely that Rogue would hulk out after this title's aim since expert-writer Mike Carey helmed it has been the grounding of this Southern hothead.

The ending, concerning a dark play from Phoenix-possesed Magik, is terrific, and entirely worth the sticker-price of this comic. We're excited to see what happens next.

Grade: B


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