The NFL's replacement referees are the perfect scapegoats for, well, everything.
When a labor dispute broke out earlier this year between Marvel Comics and its team of highly trained officials, no would could have predicted how much trouble it would cause. Instead of settling the dispute, however, Marvel simply hired new referees that lacked the experience to officiate comics on the highest level. Now that readers have seen the results of the Avengers Vs. X-Men event, which is nearing its conclusion, many are wondering if Marvel's refusal to simply pay the officials more money has permanently damaged the reputation of the comics giant.
"The refs are really to blame for all of my problems," said Cyclops, a Marvel villain. "They've made all the wrong calls since the start of the Avengers vs. X-Men season. The whole event kicked off with Captain America invading my sovereign country and attempting to forcibly imprison my underage granddaughter. The Avengers clearly should have been called on Unnecessary Fascist Kidnapping of a Minor, but instead the officials called The X-Men on Unwillingness to Discuss Things Rationally Due to Religious Fanaticism. It changed the whole game."
Indeed, the bad calls have continued throughout the event, often making things worse and creating an unsafe environment for the heroes. Calls were blown during several important plays. At one point in the third quarter, the Avengers took all of the teenage X-Men from Utopia to the headquarters of the Avengers Academy and held them there against their will, despite the X-Men, many of whom were students and uninvolved in the conflict, having committed no crimes. It was a clear violation of the league's rules against Nazi bastardism, but the refs totally blew it.
"My career may have permanently suffered because of these guys," said Velocidad, a teen X-Man who suffered a debilitating injury during the event. "I mean, I was playing X-Box 360, minding my own business. I wasn't even in the game. I was on the bench. Thor came out of nowhere and punched me in the gut. The guy's a Greek god, or something. I haven't been able to poop since. He should be fined by the league, but they're in awe of this guy."
This is clearly an issue that is affecting the ability of the replacement referees to make calls. The Avengers movie, which was in theaters earlier this year, was one of the highest grossing movies of all time. "The refs were watching these guys - Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Hulk - on the big screen just a few months ago. How can you expect them to call things fairly when they look up to them?" said Cyclops, clearly agitated. "When was the last time most of the X-Men were on screen? First Class had an odd lineup, and it was kind of artsy, so most of these guys are probably going all the way back to X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Nobody liked that movie. It's coloring the officiating."
Many believe that the inexperience of the replacement officials has created an atmosphere where heroes and villains alike are able to get away with offenses that the regular officials would never allow, such as accepting the power of an angry cosmic bird god and using it to reshape the entire world in your image or killing an elderly paraplegic with optic blasts. "Look, if the regular refs were here, Scott would never have murdered the professor in cold blood," said Iceman, a prominent gay member of the X-Men. "Murdering your disabled mentor is a huge penalty here at Marvel, but hey, if these guys aren't gonna call it, why not try to get away with as much as you can?"
This crisis clearly isn't going to end until Marvel admits that it's wrong and brings back the real referees, but does Marvel even care? Sales in the comic book industry overall are higher than they've been in a decade, and Avengers Vs. X-Men has been on top of the charts. Does it matter if the reputation of some of comics' greatest heroes is being irreparably damaged when the company can just use time travel to bring previous versions of the characters into the future for their Marvel NOW! relaunch?
We asked Marvel editor in chief Axel Alonso for comment on the issue. "What the fuck are you talking about?" asked Alonso, clearly trying to cover up the issue. What the fuck indeed.