Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fifty Shades of Jean Grey - Official Trailer (The Sexier Version)

Let's face it, somebody was going to do this sooner or later. I like to think that this was a nice summary of Jean Grey and Wolverine's relationship during their time together in X-men Supreme. Sure, it sucked in the movies and constantly fucks up the comics. But let's face it, it's still pretty fucking hot.

Monday, July 28, 2014

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR - Comic-Con Red Band Trailer

Worthy of Worship: Storm #1

The following is my review of Storm #1, which was posted on PopMatters.com.

Mankind has worshipped a long list of gods, goddesses, spirits, and reality TV stars over the centuries. It can be argued to no end whether such entities are worthy of worship and some of those arguments have turned into all-out holy wars. But it’s not an unreasonable notion to consider, assessing what makes a powerful deity worthy of worship.

There are a great many characters in the Marvel universe that have all the defining characteristics of a deity, along with all the crippling personality flaws of former child stars. There are beings that can blow up buildings, control thoughts, and fly wherever they want without being harassed by the TSA, but not all are worthy of worship. Some are even worthy of the exact opposite because they end up abusing their powers in ways rivaled only by Zeus, minus the numerous illegitimate offspring.

Then, there is Ororo Munroe of the X-men. If ever there were a standard by which gods and goddesses would be deemed worthy of worship, she would be the one to set it. Storm has done a lot to endear herself to many since she was introduced as part of the All-New All-Different X-men. She is a leader, a friend, an ally, and a lover. She was even a queen for a time. She takes on these roles while wielding the power of the elements, something that would warrant worship by default in most eras of human civilization. And Storm #1 helps reveal that she deserves that worship and then some.

Storm has always had a high profile with the X-men and the Marvel Universe as a whole, but there are times when the responsibility of this profile obscure the personality that has become adored by so many. This story has her taking a step back from those responsibilities so she can just be the caring, compassionate woman she is at heart. For her, that involves more than just hugging random strangers, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or buying carbon credits to offset her carbon footprint.

Storm wields the power of the elements. That means she can visit some poor village in a third world country and use her powers to prevent an incoming tsunami that would have otherwise created a humanitarian crisis worthy of a celebrity telethon. She doesn’t do this because it’s part of a mission or because Hydra has somehow hijacked the weather. She does it because it’s the compassionate, moral thing to do. It shouldn’t be such a novel concept, but it is and that’s a big part of what endears her to others. The village cheers and embraces her. They stand ready to worship her for saving them and she doesn’t even demand that they sacrifice an animal in her name. It helps set her apart from far less compassionate gods throughout history.

But it isn’t just the amazing feats that Storm accomplishes that makes her worthy of worship. She’s also capable of far simpler acts that don’t involve manipulating the elements of nature. In addition to saving villages, she’s a teacher at the Jean Grey Institute and that often involves dealing with troubled teenage mutants who are in the process of figuring out that the world isn’t that compassionate. One of these students essentially calls Storm out, arguing that the X-men often blur the lines between training mutants to use their powers and just training them to be X-men. It’s not an unreasonable criticism to make. Not every mutant wants their lives to revolve around Danger Room training, killer robot Sentinels, and evil clones. It’s an issue that isn’t often raised and Storm does something that most worshipped beings don’t do in that she listens.

This helps reveal in Storm another defining quality not common among gods. She has an uncanny sense of humility. She’s not just willing to stop a tsunami using tornados without demanding worship or sacrifice of any kind. She’s willing to walk alongside the very people she protects, helping them clean up the damage done to their village and even taking time to pose for pictures. There are B-list celebrities that aren’t that generous to their fellow man, some of which even charge hefty fees for a photo. Storm earns every bit of adulation she gets, carrying herself both as a goddess and just an ordinary woman with a big heart.

However, all these demonstrations of power and compassion wouldn’t be complete without showing she’s still as tough as the weather she controls. What makes her feats in this village all the more remarkable is that it’s in a part of the world that seeks to do to mutants what Uganda is doing to homosexuals. Storm is beloved by the people, but not by the local government.

This government claims they can take care of their own people and don’t need someone who can control the weather. For some reason, they think that means forcing innocent villagers away from their homes to make room for an overpriced resort for rich people. Storm, despite protests from her fellow X-men, makes it clear that she is not the kind of goddess that takes kindly to such acts. She doesn’t wait for a rapture or a second coming either to make them pay for their actions, showing that even a compassionate goddess can be vengeful when necessary.

Storm has so many qualities, both as a person and as a hero, that make her worthy of worship. Storm #1 serves as a simple, concise story that illuminates these qualities in all the right ways. It provides insight into Storm perceives herself and how she is perceived by others. It effectively conveys all the qualities that make her such a great X-man and a great hero in general. It is a testament to a goddess that doesn’t need temples, worship, prayers, or sacrifice. Her own actions speak to her divine nature and this issue delivered her message loud and clear.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, July 25, 2014

X-men Supreme Issue 100: Prison Break Part 1 PREVIEW!

The X-men Supreme fanfiction series is nearing its biggest milestone to date. I know there have been many over the five-year history of this fanfiction series, but this one is definitely special in its own right. Since comic books began, certain issues were recognized for being significant accomplishments and lasting 100 issues is one of the most notable. Very few series ever make it that far and even fewer make it without having to relaunch or reboot. When I began X-men Supreme, I set out to develop it with a singular, focused vision so that it could reach that milestone so long as I had the passion and support. Well after over five years of developing this fanfiction series, I’m set to reach this very special milestone.

A lot has transpired in X-men Supreme over the course of 100 issues. Magneto has launched his own uprising on Genosha, Senator Robert Kelly became President of the United States, new members have joined the team while others have left, and the X-men have saved the world from the likes of aliens, cosmic forces, and ancient creatures. Along the way, powerful relationships developed. Some blossomed into passionate romances while some ended. Entirely original characters have entered the series, complete with their own history and influences, to go along with more familiar characters that have a very different background. Yet despite all these uncanny developments, there are still so many stories I want to tell with X-men Supreme. And with this milestone, I hope to show just how far this fanfiction series has come.

I’ve already set the tone for X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. The X-men find themselves in a more complicated world, having to maintain a fragile peace that had been forged from the ashes of Magneto’s devious plans. This peace is built on the prosperity offered by the alien technology being exported by Genosha, which is now under the leadership of the Scarlet Witch. But as we saw in Issue 98: Tech Spec Terror, there are those who seek to subvert that peace for their own gain. And in this case, that effort is very personal.

This is where Emma Frost’s story comes in. She revealed to Cyclops and Jean Grey that Shanobi Shaw, son of her former mentor, Sebastian Shaw, has imprisoned two of her cloned daughters. These girls, the Stepford Cuckoos, were cloned from her without her knowledge and used as leverage against her by the Inner Circle, which led to her betrayal of the X-men during the Phoenix Saga. Now she seeks to atone and needs help from her former teammates. However, her desire to save her daughters is only part of a much larger conflict that Shanobi Shaw has been hatching and should he succeed, the fragile peace that has held the world of X-men Supreme together will be shattered. I’ve prepared an extended preview of this looming conflict that I hope will help celebrate this major milestone.

“As you can see, we’ve also refined how we package and ship this hardware,” Havok continued, “This stuff is pretty advanced, but it goes out in its most basic forms. The main components are Shi’ar power cells, quantum computing chips, and a few hunks of exotic metals that I couldn’t begin to describe.”

“We manufacture them at a secure location buried deep within the island. I’m sure you remember that mine where you first saw the alien ship,” said Quicksilver.

“Like I can forget being shot at by some glowing alien jerk-off,” muttered Wolverine.

“Then you’ll love what we’ve done with the place,” said Havok with a wry grin, “We’ve essentially turned that mine into an underground factory using the same Warlock program Magneto tried to control. Our people and a bunch of guys in suits from various countries work to mass produce the baseline components. It’s then carted to the port where we check it, load it, and get justly rewarded.”

“And I’m not talking just about the whole peace deal either,” said Quicksilver, “We don’t give this shit away for free. We sell it at a premium. That means Genosha gets to import all sorts of goodies from the rest of the world. Now we got TVs from Japan, computers from China, beer from Germany, fruit from South America, cars from Britain, and movies from America.”

“I’m sure you punks are thrilled,” muttered Wolverine, “Saves you the trouble of having to steal it.”

“Is there any chance you’re going to say something that’s remotely relative to this mission of yours?” said Havok with growing annoyance.

“That depends,” he said in a more serious tone, “I’m working out how much I’ll need my claws to carry out this mission.”

“We can deal with your claws. We just can’t deal with one more asshole in this very sensitive area during these very sensitive times. If you’re that eager to pick a fight, do humans and mutants a favor and choose another mission.”

Wolverine snarled in response, caring little for how much he annoyed Havok and Quicksilver. Even if they thought he was just here to push their buttons, he was still serious about this mission. Professor Xavier trusted him to be his eyes and ears for this operation. Even with all these safeguards in place, there were way too many ways this treaty could go wrong.

While Quicksilver and Havok simmered with frustration, Wolverine turned his attention towards the eastern portion of the port. In the distance he could make out the imposing military base that still dominated the south side of the island. This base was a result of one of the compromises that Wanda made with the United Nations. After the Cambrian affair, a large body of international troops occupied the island. This was a major source of tension and even with the treaty, a military presence had to remain. So instead of a full on occupation, the military presence on Genosha was concentrated onto a single base and near the chief port no less. Something about that did not sit well with Wolverine.

“That cozy little base part of the tour?” said Wolverine, pointing out towards the base.

“You wish,” scoffed Havok, “That’s where our authority ends and humanity’s begin.”

“That tiny hunk of human filth has been a major source of migraines for Wanda and everyone else on this island,” said Quicksilver, “The humans insist on keeping a military base on the mainland just in case. They say it’s a security measure, but it feels like an invasion force in the waiting.”

“Right, because every human in the whole damn world just loves conspiring against you,” scoffed Wolverine, “That all there is to it?”

“Conspiracy or not, it’s a big part of this operation,” sighed Havok, “The humans process the same data we do. They don’t trust us any more than we trust them so they monitor every piece of tech that gets shipped out. They’re also wired into the mines where we have Warlock so they can make sure we don’t use it to make anything fishy like an H-bomb or something.”

“Wait…so that base you don’t control over is linked right into that alien gizmo that’s the key to the whole damn treaty? And you’re assuming it ain’t a gonna be a problem?”

“We have to. The humans demanded transparency,” muttered Havok, “One wrong move and that base will pick a fight we can’t win. Wanda knows this and promised to hex any Genosha citizen who so much as flips the place off.”

“Heh…lucky for me I ain’t Genosha,” retorted Wolverine, “I’m guessin’ if there’s any funny business goin’ down on this rock, it’s gonna come from that dump.”

With his usual impulsive nature, Wolverine barged past Havok and Quicksilver. He couldn’t conduct a full investigation for Professor Xavier without checking every possible source of trouble. He was risking the wrath of the Scarlet Witch and several major military powers, but it was his job to find every weakness in this operation and his instincts told him that trouble would most likely come from this base.

Quicksilver and Havok were once again annoyed by Wolverine’s brazen attitude. Of all the X-men they could have dealt with, he was by far the most frustrating. However, they did not go after him or even try to dissuade him. Since they were in no position to find out what was going on behind those walls, they might as well leave it to a guy best known for taking foolish risks.

“We’re not going to try and stop him, are we?” said Quicksilver.

“Quick rule of thumb, Speedy. Sometimes the best way to win a fight is to have someone else do the fighting for you,” said Havok wryly.

“If he causes a scene Wanda’s still going to be pissed.”

“If she asks, he overpowered you while I was off taking a piss.”

“Hey! Why am I the one who gets overpowered?” Pietro complained.

“She’s your sister. She’ll believe it,” said the younger mutant as he started walking towards the opposite end of the dock, “So rather than risk any more of your go, what do you say we raid the latest shipment of vodka from Russia? As far as I’m concerned, Wolverine’s tour ended five minutes ago and we lost track of him.”

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working on the X-men Supreme fanfiction series for this long and come this far. Reaching 100 issues in this fanfiction series is truly astounding and I couldn’t have done so without the support and inspiration I’ve had from my readers. I hope this can continue for another 100 issues. But as I’ve stated previously, I am not yet decided on whether I will continue X-men Supreme after X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. That’s why I urge everyone who follows X-men Supreme to submit your reviews and feedback to me. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in each issue. Every bit of feedback helps make this fanfiction series more awesome. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Storm #1

It’s an exciting time to be a minority in America and a shitty time to be a Fox News pundit. Against the wishes of uptight religious zealots and incontinent old white people, minorities are making progress. Some of it has shown in comics recently. Marvel celebrated its first gay wedding a few years ago. It has a black/hispanic Spider-Man and soon, there will be a black Captain America to go along with a female Muslim Ms. Marvel. I can already hear Glenn Beck bitching and moaning about it and it’s a beautiful thing. But with all these new developments, it’s easy to miss that Storm has been pissing off these uptight, racist, misogynistic assholes for decades. She is one of the most prominent characters in all of X-men. She’s a leader, a lover, a friend, and a badass weather goddess that nobody dares piss off. Yet she has rarely had her own solo series to call her own. Meanwhile, Wolverine has had a fuckton of solos where his biggest contributions to minority relations is boning foreign women. Now as Marvel finding out that there is a market for badass women, it has decided to give Storm another shot at a solo series. I want to applaud this move, but then I realize it’s fucking 2014 and this is one of those things that should’ve happened a couple decades ago. But since I was high as fuck for most of the 90s, I’ll look past it and embrace Storm #1 as yet another sign that the Fox News crowd are losing.

It seems everything Storm does is an affront to everything Rush Limbaugh stands for. She casually flies into a poor foreign country wearing clothes that show off her beauty. She does so with a grace and power that would make every man’s balls shrink in shame. And she arrives with the intent to stop a natural disaster that would irreparably harm dozens of innocent people utilizing a special power that only she wields. She couldn’t possibly be more opposed to right-wing assholes without including free birth control. What makes it all the more awesome is that there’s a nice string of inner monologue offering insight into how she wields this power over the elements and how she perceives herself. She acknowledges that she has been a goddess in the eyes of many, but that doesn’t stop her from maintaining her humility. I think that’s her subtle way of saying, “Kiss my ass, Zeus!”

She then proves that she’s capable of utilizing her god-like powers to do more than just seduce mortals and churn out illegitimate demigods. In a display that would probably make Greenpeace cry tears of joy, she single-handedly diverts an incoming tsunami. She doesn’t do it with creative engineering or rapid evacuations either. She does it with fucking tornados. It’s exactly as awesome as it sounds. And the villagers share my sentiment. As they watch her save their village and their lives, one of them even smiles and greets her.

It makes for a beautiful moment with the girl. After the tsunami is diverted and the village is saved, the little girl runs up to Storm and hugs her. But unlike every other god or goddess in the history of the world, she actually responds. She doesn’t even demand that she sacrifice a chicken. She just does this because she has the power and it’s the right thing to do. What a fucking concept, right? The whole village cheers her. I doubt any of the other gods they had ever worshipped ever did something like this and took the time to pose for pictures as well. It shows just how inadequate our gods truly are, but I don’t mind in the slightest because Storm makes it look so damn awesome.

This could have been the most awesome religious moment that Mel Gibson didn’t profit from, but like the Richard Dawkins of the world, a cold dose of reality ruins the moment. This time it comes in the form of some asshole in a uniform with a big gun claiming this place, which is apparently called Santo Marco, has a strict no-mutant policy in the same way that Uganda has a strict no-gays policy. It’s a real dick move to someone who just saved hundreds of lives. It would be like telling a doctor who just performed life-saving surgery on a thousand orphans to piss off, but that’s exactly what he does. Storm could have easily gotten Old Testament on his ass, but she chose not to because she’s not that kind of goddess. For her, fire and brimstone is so 18th century.

Storm returns to the Jean Grey Institute with her head held high and why not? She saved so many innocent lives and did a great thing for the world. It would take a monumental douche to not let her take the time to appreciate that. Unfortunately, the Jean Grey Institute still employs Hank McCoy. He just has to prematurely end her good mood, but not because she was rude to the asshole with the big fucking guns. One of their students is acting up. Considering how many teenagers attend the Jean Grey Institute, that’s like telling her that a skunk’s rotting corpse smells terrible. However, one student in particular is causing trouble and for once it isn’t Kid Omega. And since Wolverine isn’t around to solve the problems with his claws, he needs Storm’s help. I guess if anyone is going to deal with the shit storm of a teenager, it might as well be a goddess like Storm.

The teenager in question is a girl named Creep and she’s as much of a bitch as her name implies. Her powers involve turning everywhere she goes into a swamp, which sounds about as useful as body odor on date. And for some reason, she’s not fitting in at the Jean Grey Institute. I guess making everyone feel like they’re in a fucking swamp isn’t a good way to make friends. Storm tries to go from goddess to counselor, as she often has to do, but this is where it gets a little more personal and not in the ways that would make a good article in Hustler.

Creep goes off on this rant that puts into question the entire premise of the Jean Grey Institute. She claims they just take in mutants and indoctrinate them into this whole X-men ideology the way Rick Santorum wishes schools would do for his fucked up ideology. She calls out Storm for basically just being part of the X-men’s mission and not practicing what Xavier preached with respect to using their powers. She’s not entirely wrong either, although she does sound like she’s just bitching and pissed off. Normally, having a heated argument with Storm is a good way to get a few dozen lightning bolts up the ass, but when that argument has some merit, she will listen. It’s yet another quality that makes her better than any other god or goddess ever worshipped.

She actually takes Creep’s criticisms seriously and in an act that no god or politician ever dreams of doing, she actually decides to change it. So despite running the risk of pissing off some warlord who uses captured prisoners for target practice, Storm returns to Santo Marco and helps them clean up the damage done by the tsunami. Naturally, they’re all overjoyed to see her. And this time, she doesn’t just rely on her powers to make people want to worship her. She actually gets her hands dirty, picking up garbage and helping to rebuild homes. The idea of any god or goddess getting their hands dirty when they can be off starting wars or inspiring suicide bombers sounds so outrageous, but it shouldn’t be. And that’s the biggest impact of this story.

At times, Storm has been a stern leader who will inspire anyone to spit in the devil’s face and oppose any asshole who gets in her way. At times, she has been a loving caretaker that everyone turns to when they need a good hug and a pep talk, assuming Wolverine’s method of applying whisky and profanity to every problem doesn’t work for everyone. For a time, she was even a queen, even though it required a bullshit marriage that couldn’t end fast enough. But this story shows that at her heart, Storm is a just an overall loving, caring person that seeks to do the right thing for the right reasons. Again, that shouldn’t sound so outrageous, but in this age of fallen heroes and pissed off anti-heroes, it might as well be as revolutionary as it is awesome.

As expected, someone eventually comes along to put a stop to all this compassion and charity. For once, it isn’t Hank McCoy. The same asshole from earlier who kicked Storm out of the country because she happened to be a mutant wants her to leave again. And just because he has a death wish, he demands that everyone in the village leave to in order to make room for some fancy resort for rich people. For some reason, Storm has a big problem with that. And instead of respecting shady business deals and bullshit politics, she decides to kick their asses. An army of thugs versus a fucking weather goddess? That sounds about as fair as it needs to be. She already stopped a natural disaster and saved hundreds of lives. She might as well save more lives by beating the shit out of armed thugs in the process, as if she hasn’t proven herself to be awesome enough.

Her deeds should be celebrated. Of course, Beast finds a way to be annoyed by it because he has to deal with the authority figures bitching and moaning about how anyone could have the audacity to protect innocent people. He’s got his work cut out for him, but the rest of the X-men approve of her badass approach to helping the poor and needy. Even Creep, the girl who whined at her earlier is impressed. It’s probably not going to go over well with the Ugandas of the world. They’ll probably use this as an excuse to make even harsher anti-mutant laws and they’ll probably have the full support of the Pat Robertsons of the world, but that won’t stop Storm from being badass on a divine level. And if Beast doesn’t like it, he can kiss her ass.

And she’s still not done being awesome. After returning to the Jean Grey Institute again, she confronts Creep and admits something no god or goddess has ever admitted before: she has a valid point. Creep clearly isn’t fitting in. She doesn’t belong at the Jean Grey Institute. She wants to go back home to her family and Storm gladly escorts her. If at this point the gods anyone else worship don’t seem like assholes by comparison, I don’t know what more Storm can do without ending world hunger or erasing every season of the Jersey Shore from public memory. She’s not just a goddess. She’s a compassionate, badass X-man capable of being awesome on a truly divine level.

There aren’t a lot of people or things in this world I think are worthy of worship that don’t involve efficient means of delivering alcohol and weed into my blood stream, but I would put Storm right up there with Jack Daniels in terms of figures worthy of worship. This whole issue is a testament to why she’s not just one of the greatest X-men of all time, she’s a damn fine human being capable of the kind of compassion that would make Ayan Rand shit herself. She has the power and grace of a goddess, but wields the humility and heart of a thousand Mother Theresas. What other god, fictional or otherwise, warrants that kind of worship? And like some gods that demand a goat sacrifice just to stave off plagues, Storm doesn’t demand worship. She just sees suffering in the world and uses her powers to heal it. On top of it all, she has a great ass. That makes her a true goddess in every sense of the word. Storm #1 gets a divine 10 out of 10. Now I know I’m going to offend a lot of religious people by saying this, but it needs to be said. Compared to Storm, the gods of every other major religion suck. Not because of their power or how many adherents they have, but because Storm actually earns the right to be called a goddess and she does it while looking sexy as hell. Nuff said!