Sunday, February 10, 2013

Villain Spotlight: Onslaught

It's kinda hard to talk about the character of Onslaught without talking about the plot device of Onslaught. Onslaught was the central villain of a crossover event of the mid 90's that started in the X-men but would have the biggest impact on the Avengers and the Fantastic Four.

For those of you who don't know Onslaught is the sorta bastard son of Magneto and Professor X. During the Fatal Attractions X-men story Professor X used his telepathy to give Magneto a sort of psychic lobotomy taking all his rage and aggression from him. Unfortunately that rage festered in the back of Xavier's mind until it split off of him becoming an entity of psionic power. He took control of a bunch of Sentinels and used them to attack New York and was eventually confronted by the X-men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, and Dr. Doom in Central Park. In the battle the Avengers, the FF, and Doom all seemingly perished, although they were actually sent to a pocket universe where they would be written by Jim Lee and drawn by Rob Liefeld, which is arguably a fate far worse than death.

I'll always have a soft spot for Onslaught as it was the first universe wide crossover event I read in Marvel. I absolutely love the two Spider-man issues where Ben Reilly was fighting the Sentinels. They're probably the best of Ben's short career as Spider-man (although that's not saying much).
The Avengers and the Fantastic Four started their new lives in the Heroes Reborn universe with no memories of their previous lives. This was done so that when the characters returned to the regular universe some of the more unpopular recent changes to them could be undone. No more bug monster Wasp and alternate reality teenage Iron Man.

The Onslaught saga certainly had it's flaws, chief among them how poorly defined Onslaughts powers and even motivation was. Onslaught was so mad about the injustices against mutants he wanted to kill all humans AND mutants because, well....fuck it that's why. Despite it's flaws I think more events should flow like Onslaught. There was a slow build up then when it hit it hit in a big way and was over in a month with major effects on the Marvel Universe. So many events now suffer from delays and dragging on.

But that's all talk about the Onslaught story, what about Onslaught himself. Well, there's not much to say, he's just an entity of rage. He's sorta just a dick. Also he suffers from what I like to call "the Doomsday problem". Like Doomsday Onslaught's whole appeal is how bad ass and threatening he is. But that kind of appeal is lessened every time he shows up. He recently fought the Secret Avengers and Young Allies. The being that fought Dr. Doom, the X-men, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four is now going up against a covert group of Avengers and the poor man's New Warriors?

So is there anything that can be done with Onslaught? Sadly I don't think so. It's probably too late to define his powers better or give him a better motivation, and it seems like every time he shows up he seems less threatening. Perhaps, like the Sentry, Onslaught is better left in comic book limbo.

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