Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Paradoxical Obscurity: All New X-men #25

The following is my review of All New X-men #25, which was posted on PopMatters.com.

We learn as kids that showing has more impact than telling. Human beings are visual creatures by nature. Nobody is ever going to be more enthralled by hearing Michael Bay tell audiences about all the explosions in his movies compared to seeing it on a movie screen. It doesn’t matter of Shakespeare himself is the one telling the story. Seeing the story is what will create the greatest impact. This is especially important when trying to make a point to someone that’s too stubborn and pig-headed to realize how badly they screwed up. Like a cantankerous old man who can never be convinced that Vietnam was a bad idea with words alone, they will find any excuse if it’s only words they have to deal with.

For the last several years, Hank McCoy has become the Bill O’Riley of the X-men. He complains, argues, and bloviates against those he doesn’t agree with while contributing absolutely nothing to improve the situation. He’s all talk and no substance. It started with his disagreement on how Cyclops was leading the X-men. There was initial substance to his argument, but it eventually devolved into whining. After the events of Schism and Avengers vs. X-men, that whining finally manifested into actions. But instead of actually confronting the issues, he decided to risk another Age of Ultron style upheaval when he brought the O5 X-men to the present. Since then, he has made plenty of excuses for taking this risk. Nobody has ever convinced him that he has to apologize for it. That finally changes in All New X-men #25.

It’s way too late and it’s almost as overdue as a Wonder Woman movie, but Beast finally confronts the consequences of his actions. And it isn’t just told to him either. It’s actually shown to him in the form of visions of various futures that could take place because of his actions. These many diverse futures help justify the long list of guest artists and the extra dollar to the cost of the comic. It doesn’t just create what amounts to the more horrifying show-and-tell of Beast’s life. It helps provide a context for the impact of the O5 X-men being in the future.

That impact has been a central theme since All New X-men began. It has already led to some pretty destructive complications with events like X-men: Battle of the Atom and The Trial of Jean Grey. The impacts of these complications are clear, but the reason behind it has been glossed over. And without that reason, Beast can continue to justify his actions in the same way Dick Cheney keeps justifying torture. These visions finally give him a reason and it’s also a reason that helps put events like X-men: Battle of the Atom and The Trial of Jean Grey into perspective.

Most of the visions, regardless of the artist drawing them, have a central theme. In a future where the Original X-men never received guidance from Professor Charles Xavier, they lose touch with their humanity. It helps explain why Jean Grey became the sinister Xorna and why Iceman began creating ice monsters in X-men: Battle of the Atom. But it doesn’t stop there. These dark futures show the X-men failing without this guidance that keeps them linked to their humanity. Some go insane, some become heartless killers, and some actually get crucified. That’s how important this guidance is and that’s what Beast undermined when he tampered with the timeline.

Beast has shown that he can take being chastised for his actions. But seeing these consequences with his own eyes is too much for him because he can no longer make excuses. Even a creationist couldn’t deny the weight of the evidence before him. Beyond the impact, it’s consistent with a powerful theme that encompasses all the X-men comics. Whenever someone, be they human or mutant, loses touch with their humanity, they end up walking a dark path. That path might not always be an apocalyptic future where mutants are crucified in public streets, but it’s a path that doesn’t lead to the peace and understanding that the X-men are supposed to fight for.

But it isn’t just the apocalyptic futures that reinforce this point. In his last desperate gasp to cling to even a partial excuse for his actions, he demands to see a few non-apocalyptic futures. Never mind that non-apocalyptic futures in the Marvel universe are the real-world equivalent to unicorns, but he gets to see them anyway. And this is where the narrative gets comparably weaker. There are a few rosy pictures painted that depict mutants being celebrated and the X-men being hailed as heroes. But then there are a few non-sequiter pieces that look like comic strips and pin-art taken from Tumblr. That’s not to say that some of them aren’t entertaining, but it neither gets the point across nor does it help justify the extra dollar in price.

Even though these visions are comparably weaker and make the narrative exceedingly choppy, they do help make one final point in the end. After seeing all these visions of non-apocalyptic futures, Beast finds out that his actions have made it so the possibility of realizing these futures is more remote than satisfying Ghostbusters sequel. This is what effectively shatters any of his remaining excuses. It finally gets Beast to acknowledge that his actions have badly damaged the timeline and he’s now ready to start fixing it. Again, it’s exceedingly late.

But it’s an important realization in the context of All New X-men. There may not be much of a plot to All New X-men #25 and despite the additional length and long list of guest artists, it doesn’t feel all that epic. It was a serious story with a serious impact that tried to get too cute along the line. While it may have failed at being cute, it does succeed at following the themes that make up the foundation of All New X-men’s appeal. It just isn’t worth paying an extra dollar.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine #4

While it pains me to say it, I'm old enough to remember a time when getting lost was a fact of life. If I went on a road trip and got lost, I either had to ask for directions or retrace my steps. These days, nobody has an excuse for being lost. Every fucking smartphone on the planet has a maps feature. Sure, it makes it much harder to get out of an appointment or a court-ordered AA meeting. But it beats having to blow a trucker for directions back to the highway. The first three issues of the latest relaunched Wolverine series are dangerously close to having to blow more than one trucker. It began with Wolverine sporting a new suit, working on a new team, and ditching Storm and the Jean Grey Institute. To say it has been confusing would be an insult to any self-respecting stoner. But this series isn't so off-track that its speeding head-first into a brick wall. There are plenty of compelling elements in this series. They just haven't come together. And Wolverine #4 is supposed to make this shit less confusing. So long as it means I don't have to read this issue sober, I'm all for it.

One of the few details that has been clearly articulated in this new Wolverine series is how he's coping with his newfound lack of durability. If he can't heal when he's had over 79 percent of his flesh blown off, he might as well find a way to not get it blown off in the first place. That's where his fancy new uniform comes in, courtesy of the Superior Spider-Man. He was a major douche, but he made a damn good uniform. It shows when Wolverine tests it out in the Danger Room with Beast guiding him along. But since Beast is a major douche as well, it only succeeds in pissing Wolverine off even more.

This is one of the many details that hasn't been clearly shown. Wolverine has an awesome new uniform that still allows him to be the best he is at what he does. But he hasn't exactly been all that comfortable in it. I know if I had a uniform like that, I would pay a visit to some old high school football players who made my freshmen year a living Hell. But here he finally puts it into words. He points out how he froze in the battle at the previous issue. And Wolverine isn't supposed to fucking freeze. It gives him a valid reason to be pissed off for once and it doesn't involve Cyclops. Excuse me while I document this moment for world history.

This overdue explanation helps make Wolverine's departure, which was already revealed in earlier issues, make sense. It still took too damn long, but there's still a nice emotional scene with him and Storm before he leaves. It's a scene that has happened plenty of times before in some form or another, Wolverine getting pissed off and leaving. Hell, it was the premise of at least half the episodes of the old 90s animated X-men cartoon. But this actually has some decent emotional depth. That's something I haven't been able to say about this book s far.

It still doesn't provide clarity on the status of Wolverine and Storm's relationship. There's still clearly some drama. There's even a hint that there might have been a little going away sex, but then again I see that in every kissing scene to some extent. Beyond the drama, Wolverine says he has a mission to take care of. It's the mission that has been unfolding for the past three issues that has been confusing as hell. But now it makes half a lick of sense. It's kind of like only half a blowjob, but it's better than nothing.

It's not nearly as dramatic when Wolverine rides off on his motorcycle, offering no clue as to when he'll be back. Some of the students are there to say goodbye. They don't say much and it comes off as bland. But it gives Wolverine another opportunity to be pissed off. Sure, it makes him act like a douche to these students that he's supposed to be responsible for. But that's actually consistent with his character, which is something Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner just couldn't seem to get right despite several decades of source material. It adds more overdue details. More would have been helpful, but at this point my standards are just that low. That's what two shitty Wolverine movies will do to me.

Flash forward to Wolverine being part of this renegade new team of his that to date has been about as interesting as a 50s sitcom. This is another part of the story that's badly in need of some details. We don't get much here. We just get a reminder from Wolverine's new Kingpin wannabe boss, The Offer. It still sounds like the name of a gay porn star, but he's giving Wolverine a full wardrobe of fancy new uniforms. He's also giving him a plan to draw out Sabretooth. It's not a very cunning or devious plan. It amounts mostly to pissing Sabretooth off and hoping he'll slip up. This would be a dumb plan with any other villain. But for Sabretooth, it's actually pretty viable. How pathetic is that?

Rather than get some badly needed details on the present, we go back to the past and get yet another instance of Wolverine being a massive douche. This time he doesn't restrict himself to the Jean Grey Institute and his own staff. This time he pays a visit to the New Xavier School where Cyclops is holding up to meet up with Kitty Pryde. But what a minute? How the fuck does he even know where it is? If he knew, wouldn't he have already tracked it down and beaten the shit out of Cyclops on a weekly basis? Just when it seemed shit was starting to make sense, this kicks up a fresh shit storm of confusion.

To make it even worse, Wolverine confronts Kitty Pryde and it gets pretty damn ugly. She points out how he fucked up during the Killable arc by walking right into Sabretooth's trap. And she's right. He did fuck up. His reaction? He fucking pulls his claws on her and threatens her. Now I know Wolverine is supposed to be an asshole to some extent, but there are lines he usually doesn't cross. This is a line that puts him into Hank McCoy level douche-baggery. All it really accomplishes is reminding Wolverine how badly he failed and how vulnerable he is. It's a powerful scene, but one that only makes Wolverine come off as pathetic. And if I want to see Wolverine look that pathetic, I'll watch Wolverine Origins.

Flash forward again and this time we get some more useful information. One of the most defining moments of this new batch of Wolverine stories was how he shot a man dead with a gun. He didn't gut him with his claws or decapitate him like he just killed Jean Grey. He shot him like Samuel L. Jackson did in Pulp Fiction, minus the badass bible quotes. It marked a very different tone for Wolverine's character and that tone is only becoming more relevant. However, that scene wasn't quite as badass as initially seemed.

In this jumbled journey through the timeline, Wolverine actually meets up with his victim before they even meet. The victim isn't even much of a victim. He's some sort of SHIELD meat puppet whose sole purpose is to get shot and die. That way he can endear himself to Offer and be in position to piss off Sabretooth. It seems needlessly elaborate and it sort of takes away from the power of that moment in the first issue. At the same time, it adds more context to why Wolverine is going through this transition. He wants to be in a position to fuck with Sabretooth. That's perfectly in line with his character and it requires him to work smarter, harder, and with a bit more brutality. And that, my friends, is why Wolverine is awesome.

Flash forward again. Wolverine has run out on his friends and ditched both the Jean Grey Institute and their hated rival at the New Xavier School. After getting pissed off at Kitty Pryde, he can expect about as much sympathy as Bernie Madoff. He starts bumming it out, sleeping on park benches like drunks who forgot where they parked. Having done that myself on more than a few occasions, I'm in no position to judge. Eventually, the Offer does show up just as Wolverine hoped. He still looks like a Kingpin wannabe. He seems better suited to be one of the before pictures in a weight loss infomercial. But he gives Wolverine the opportunity he needs and that helps makes yet another overdue connection. As strange as it seems, the story is now starting to feel coherent. And it only took until the forth issue. Not the worst offender, but still worth pointing out.

Flash forward a little again and Wolverine is cocking his gun and for once, that's not a dick joke. The story is finally catching up to the events in the first issue. Wolverine is meeting up with his new team and he's getting ready to prove his loyalty to the Offer. It's not much of a cliffhanger because this shit was already spoiled back in the first issue. But that's part of what makes it work. The dramatic shift in Wolverine's character over the past few issues finally makes sense. There are still some details lacking, but it gives some badly needed weight to the overall story. The time jumping is still confusing as hell. At least now it's coherent. And that kind of coherence can mean the difference between passing a sobriety test and spending a night in jail.

I don't claim to have the best attention span. I freely admit I can barely watch the first 10 minutes of Inception before I go back to watching Michael Bay's latest bit of disaster porn. I really had to push that attention span to bring myself to enjoy this series, but with this issue it finally felt like I didn't need an extra bong hit to enjoy it. This issue essentially explains the circumstances of the previous three issues and does a pretty respectable job of it. I found myself looking back on the previous issues and getting more enjoyment out of them now that I knew what the hell was actually happening. It's refreshing, but overdue. It also has the effect of not moving the story forward that much. In some respects, this issue should have been the first issue. If I want my perception of time fucked up, I'll take a hit of LSD. That's why I give Wolverine #4 a 7 out of 10. It's solid and concise on its own. But in the context of the series, it's like that guy who keeps making shitty cookies until Gordon Ramsey yells at him to a point where he remembers to add the chocolate chips. Damn I'm hungry now. Nuff said!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: X-men #13

In all my experience with comic books, alcohol, and life in general, I've learned time and again that the best intentions are the easiest to fuck up. Think about the guy who invented ski masks. I'm sure he was just a nice guy who wanted to find a better way for people to keep their heads warm in the winter. Did he honestly believe that thieves and muggers wouldn't use it to commit crimes and become the bad guys in every cop movie ever made? I doubt it, but that wasn't his intention. The X-men, and every superhero team for that matter, usually has noble intentions. Even the anti-heroes aren't complete assholes with their intentions. But I wouldn't put Jubilee in the category of an anti-hero. She's too lovable and fun. But earlier in the latest adjectiveless X-men series, she willingly adopted an infant baby who Arkea used to try and wipe out all life on the planet. It's an act that should make her a hero among the pro-life crowd. Sure, she's a vampire and a fun-loving teenager, two things that I'm sure piss off that same crowd. But there's no denying her noble intentions. They haven't screwed her over yet, but that's what's supposed to happen in X-men #13. I almost dread seeing how something so noble can become so shitty. But like major accident involving a Hummer and a truck full of dildos, I can't look away.
Also like accidents involving Hummers, this comic sets the tone by introducing the kind of asshole who would willingly crash into a truck full of cancer medicine. He has no name and he looks like he belongs on a sex offender's list. But he's not just some random guy. He's a random guy who happens to be one of those prisoners that's so dangerous that he has to be transferred from undisclosed locations by armed soldiers and drugged. They must have shitty drug dealers because this same random guy shows that he can beat the shit out of trained soldiers and make it look easy. So he's also the dangerous kind of random guy who probably drives multiple Hummers. But what makes him relevant to this story is that he's Shogo's father. And for reasons I can only assume have to do with not paying child support, he wants to get his kid back.

This random guy is choosing a shitty time to attack the Jean Grey Institute. They just got done beating Arkea and the Sisterhood of Mutants. That makes them considerably more tough than a bunch of soldiers. On top of that, they're all badass women. So they can kill most random guys and look damn sexy while doing it.

Monet is no exception. She recently joined the team and showed that she can kick a fair amount of ass. Yet being the obsessive perfectionist usually reserved for an honor student at a Korean Prep School, she keeps on training and she uses Rockslide as a punching bag. That's right, she considers rocks punching bags. She has to use something tough because the Sisterhood of Mutants are still out there. Arkea may be dead, but Selene and the Goblin Queen are still out there. That means she needs to be prepared to hit hard and break shit. I want to feel sorry for Rockslide, but getting beat up by a beautiful woman isn't the worst thing in the world. Hell, it's one of the ways I hope to die.

There's no question that the X-women are going to be well-trained for any asshole that thinks they can bust into the Jean Grey Institute and take Jubilee's adopted kid. However, the Arkea battle also revealed a bit of a schism in the leadership of the X-women. It's nowhere near as hostile as the schism with Wolverine and Cyclops, but it is a concern.

The divide comes from Rachel and Storm. In order to beat Arkea, they had to let Selene and the Goblin Queen go. Rachel had a problem with that and it's not unreasonable. Sure, they beat Arkea. But that's like killing Hitler, but letting Mussolini go. It was a tough decision and it has the team questioning Storm's leadership. And Storm doesn't like that. She's not hardheaded and stubborn like Cyclops, willing to just suck it up and move forward. Then again, she doesn't have Cyclops's Galactus-sized balls. Psylocke encourages her to take charge and stop being so reserved about her leadership style. It's not bad advice. And if Storm is lucky, maybe she can also make Maria Hill want to bone her.

But it's not all bitterness and division with the X-women. With Arkea gone, Jubilee is basically out of danger and free to rebuild her life as a teen vampire mother of an infant. I sure hope Stephanie Meyer isn't reading this because that might give her some ideas. In previous issues, she already went through the process of officially adopting Shogo. Beast is even nice enough to take a break from being a massive furry douche who fucks up the timeline and gives him a checkup. Shogo is declared perfectly healthy. Jubilee still isn't sure about her role with the X-men at this point. But she's getting free health care, a free room, and all the food Doop can cook. Most single mothers would agree that's a pretty sweet deal.

If only Rachel Grey could share Jubilee's upbeat mood. I honestly wish Rachel Grey could share something because she has basically been an afterthought since she came back from space with Havok and Polaris. She didn't really do dick in Avengers vs. X-men. She has had only a few awkward moments with the O5 X-men. And for some fucked up reason, there was this romantic sub-plot between her and John Sublime that was so subtle that it might as well have been a ninja. For someone of her history and heritage, that's just fucking wrong. But I digress.

Rachel is still a recluse, basically hanging out in the darkest hole of the Jean Grey Institute that isn't related to Beast's ass. She doesn't do much other than add a little closure to the Arkea story, showing how John Sublime left. And this time, there was no romantic subplot. John Sublime just left on a bitter note, becoming an asshole again and Rachel Grey gave him the proverbial finger. If only she could do that more often. The X-men can never have enough badass redheads.

The X-women all have their share of issues. They're all still recovering from the Arkea battle. However, they have no fucking clue that someone is coming for Shogo. And given how Arkea only partially succeeded in attacking the Jean Grey Institute, what are the odds that this new asshole will do any better?

Well he does get their attention in the most graphic way possible. During a seemingly innocent game of mutant baseball, Primal is shot. There's no sound of a gunshot. There's no warning. And none of the omega level telepaths pick it up. Primal just hits the ground wounded. Either the shooter is really fucking good or they're on the kinds of drugs that Barry Bonds would kill for. While I have a soft spot for Primal and I consider this a dick move, it does send the necessary message.

Naturally, Primal gets rushed to the infirmary and the Jean Grey Institute goes into lock down, which seems to happen at least twice a week. Makes me wonder if they ever even bother with fire drills. But Beast and the institute staff are able to save him. They even find out that the shot wasn't meant to kill Primal at all. It was just supposed to wound him. Like I said, it sent the right message. I guess sending a horse head just wasn't enough.

But Primal isn't the only target. Late at night with the Jean Grey Institute still presumably on lockdown, Roxy comes out for a little stroll. I don't know why a teenage girl is out walking the halls late at night. I gave up trying to understand teenage girls in high school when I found out that one had a picture of Mark Whalberg lodged in her vagina. But Roxy is just out walking until she gets a quick drink. Then she collapses faster than an ex-Mormon doing their first bong hit. It's not as bloody as what happened to Primal, but it sends another powerful message. It's really not clear what that message is or how this shit is happening, but it clearly shows that this is one resourceful motherfucker.

The only one who gets a clear message in the end is Jubilee. She comes in her room, rocking out to her iPod like any teenage mother would, minus the regret and self-esteem issues. Then she gets a scary message on her phone from Shogo's father. This time the message is pretty fucking clear. He wants Shogo back or he'll kill everyone in the Jean Grey Institute. And after what he has shown with Primal and Roxy, he's already proven he's capable of doing just that. The nature of this guy's power isn't clear. It's a bit overly subtle, sort of like some of the other details in recent issues of X-(Wo)men. But it's not terribly ambiguous this time. Nobody needs to use their imagination to know what the threat is. To me, that means I don't have to be sober to enjoy it and that's a big win for me.

It would have been fine to end the comic here, even if it was short. But for reasons that I can only attribute to excessive cocaine use, recent issues of X-men have been truncated to make room for these other side-stories that don't do jack shit for the main plot. In the previous issues, it involved a battle against a bunch of rusted Sentinels. It was essentially like watching a fight between Optimus Prime and a Roomba. It wasn't all that compelling. All it did was give a few C and D-list characters some face time.

Well that must have not been enough because now we're getting another side-plot with a bunch of D-listers that include Hellion, Rockslide, Broo, and Anole. They haven't contributed shit to this story and they give the impression that one of their classmates getting shot is no big deal. That shows they have shitty school pride and they're shitty friends as well. So instead of fighting a Sentinel, they choose to do the second most generic thing that X-men do and that's play around in the Danger room. It's as exciting as it sounds.

They just load some random program they found. It happened to be a program that involves fighting a medieval army, most likely ripped from a Sid Meier game. They try to fight the incoming army. The action is predicable and standard. Then Psylocke shows up. She might not actually be there. She might be part of the simulation or a failsafe. It really doesn't matter because it generates about as much intrigue as cat shitting in the desert. So once again, more material that could be used to make the awesome main plot even more awesome is pissed away.

I honestly don't understand the format of this book. This series was billed as a book about at team of female X-men kicking ass and not constantly bitching about men. Isn't that appealing enough? Were the feminazis out there really that hostile? Like the previous issue, this issue had two stories. One was awesome and compelling while the other was unnecessary and shitty. Do we really need to see some of the dipshit students at the Jean Grey Institute fool around in the Danger Room? If someone at Marvel wants to tell a story about these C-list characters, then make another New Mutants or Young X-men series. Don't have it cut into an issue that had such an awesome setup. I want to see what happens with Shogo's deadbeat dad, damn it. But instead, I see some dumb ass teenagers looking for ways to get in trouble. If I want that, I'll go to a frat party. X-men #13 gets a 7 out of 10. I would love to give it a much higher score, but I don't like great stories being cut off almost as much as I don't like having my beer cut off. I can go out and buy more beer. But I can't buy the next part of the story for a fucking month. Nuff said!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #3

As any self-respecting drunk will admit, there are many things done wasted that are never done sober. Some acts are just so stupid that it requires hindering the function of certain areas of the brain to carry out. What sober mind would ever smear themselves in chocolate sauce, break into a sorority house, and ask if any of the girls is in the mood for an oversized candy bar? I’m not saying it’s a terrible idea. I’m just saying it’s easier to see how things will backfire when sober. It takes an astonishing level of weapons grade stupidity for someone in a sober mind to do something as crazy as lure a pissed off Wolverine and Storm into a trap. That’s like inviting a pyromaniac into a fireworks factory. But that’s exactly what the Phoenix Corporation did in the pages of Wolverine and the X-men when they abducted Kid Omega. Now in Wolverine and the X-men #3, they have to give Storm and Wolverine a reason not to horribly maim them. And they don’t have the luxury of blaming alcohol. In other words, it sucks to be them.

And the list of reasons to give the Phoenix Corporation the Enron treatment only keeps growing. The Odin wannabe who attacked Wolverine and Storm in the previous issue keeps on mind-fucking them. For some reason, this involves having he recall an essay that Genesis presented about differences. I guess it’s intended to provide context about the difference between individuals of a species. But it fails miserably. Spread some white out on it and nothing is lost. It really adds nothing to the story or the drama. I doubt it even succeeds at pissing off storm. But what does piss her off is reminding her that she’s claustrophobic. So perhaps the old man could have skipped a step. I can’t remember I ever found some kid reading a science essay engaging that didn’t involve sex ed.

Once Storm is sufficiently pissed off, she shakes off the telepathic mind-fucking in the same way most people shake off hangnails. It’s a beautiful thing and Wolverine even acknowledges it with a little monologue. I’m pretty sure he has a raging boner too, but he wouldn’t be the only one. She hits him hard with some lightning and makes it clear that she doesn’t appreciate being mind-fucked and she appreciates it even less when some creepy old guy threatens her students, which is why I’m pretty sure the Vatican has never paid a visit to the Jean Grey Institute. I agree with Wolverine that watching Storm unleash her badassery is a beautiful thing. It’s just really hard to hide a boner.

The old man wisely figures out that he has very little chance against a pissed off Storm. He already revealed his plan. He needs to take down Genesis to prevent a future where a clash between him and a Phoenix-powered Kid Omega turns the planet into burnt toast. So he goes back to playing on easy mode, mind-fucking some of the bamfs that tagged along to lend support. He has them transport him back to the Jean Grey Institute where he would then have to face an army of teenage mutants. That’s still better than facing a pissed off Storm, but not by much.

But the mind-fucking doesn’t end there. Not by a longshot. The Phoenix Corporation abducted Kid Omega and the only way to really get through to him is either through mind-fucking or beautiful naked women. I guess the Phoenix Corporation doesn’t have enough beautiful naked women so the CEO, Eden Young, goes with the mind-fucking route. I still say that’s almost as foolish as pissing off Storm and Wolverine, but Entron and Worldcom have already shown that successful corporations don’t have to be smart. They just have to be brazen.

The inside of Kid Omega’s mind is one part planetarium and two parts Steven King. Kid Omega acts like his usual teenage self with his typical teenage arrogance, not taking Young or the Phoenix Corporation very seriously. Then Young leads him through his mind, showing him mental doors that he claims nobody ever dares open. However, not much is behind those doors. There’s no mental pictures of Janet Reno in a thong or Chris Farley getting a prostate exam. For some reason seeing Kid Omega give Wolverine a haircut is terrifying. I honestly don’t know why this is part of Kid Omega’s psyche. With hair like his, how could the barber be that terrifying? It’s just as confusing and ineffective as Genesis’s essay.

The only one who seems to be accomplishing anything and working with equal parts bravado and cunning is the old man. Having decided to quit before Storm could shove a tornado up his ass, he appears at the Jean Grey Institute where all he has opposing him is Doop, a living island, and a bunch of inexperienced teenagers who know more about Facebook than they do about combat. It’s a short yet satisfying fight. Doop doesn’t do much, as is his nature. And Karoka only provides a welcome bit of muscle to what has been a mostly psychic battle. But in the end, the old man still wins out and he does it without plagerizing Magneto, Dr. Doom, or Sinister. He’s kind of becoming awesome is what I’m saying here and I usually don’t say that about creepy old guys that aren’t named George Carlin.

It’s not terribly creepy inside Kid Omega’s mind, which I have a hard time believing. Eden Young takes him into a few more doors that lead him to a Temple of Doom type setting where he basically gives Kid Omega a quick lecture on the Phoenix. But like Genesis’s essay, it doesn’t really contribute much. He says nothing that can’t also be found on Wikipedia. The Phoenix is a primordial cosmic force. It was there at the very beginning of creation. It seeks out those capable of wielding its flame. Blah fucking blah. Kid Omega takes it about as seriously John Goodman takes his health. I still think Young would have been better off resorting to beautiful naked women. Kid Omega is a fucking kid for crying out loud. Does he really think that these boring lectures are going to be that effective? He strikes me as the kind of guy who might think abstinence only sex education is a good idea.

The only point Eden Young is trying to make here is that Kid Omega is the next vessel for the Phoenix. But Kid Omega already knows this. He saw his older self from the future for crying out loud. He doesn’t need a fucking lecture to remind him. Even teenagers aren’t that absent-minded. Then Eden Young claims that the teachers at the Jean Grey Institute are holding him back. He thinks he can somehow take his Phoenix potential and help him realize it. Still, Kid Omega isn’t buying it. At this point, the pitch could be tattooed on the back of Emma Stone’s ass and he still wouldn’t give a shit. It gives the impression that the Phoenix Corporation just wasted their time and over half the issue.

That’s why it’s such a relief to see Wolverine and Storm put a stop to the mind-fucking and take their frustrations out on Eden Young. He might as well have been talking to a brick wall. At least a brick wall doesn’t have the annoying attitude of someone like Kid Omega. They’re both ready to put a stop to his shit. He didn’t just abduct one of their students. He took a big shit on Jean Grey’s name. That’s a big no-no for the X-men. It gives the impression that the Phoenix Corporation risked an awful lot by pissing off the X-men and getting jack shit in return. If they really thought they could convince a renegade teenager like Kid Omega to join their little club, then they’re even worse than Enron.

That doesn’t mean it’s a completely uneven fight. It just starts out that way. Once again, Storm and Wolverine get mind-fucked. But this time, it’s not from Eden Young. It comes from Kid Omega. It’s very unclear why or how. Young claims that he just opened more doors in his mind that reveals the terrible shit he’s going to have to do in the future with Apocalypse. But the battle doesn’t stay even for long. Kid Omega is easy to piss off as well. And the quickest way to piss of a teenager is to try to force them on a particular fate. Any failed catholic school girl is proof of this. He doesn’t just turn on Eden Young. He reveals that the man isn’t all that young and good looking either. He’s a creepy old guy running a corporation that has a bunch of cult-like minions. Maybe he should’ve stuck to Scientology.

The old man from earlier still proves himself to be the most effective fighter of the bunch. After he subdues Karoka, he pays his respects to the grave of Jean Grey like any skilled psychic ought to. He even reveals his name as Faithful John Break-Sky, which I’m now thinking of naming my penis. Faithful John gives the impression that he’s on a mission and that he knows both Jean Grey and the students. Since Wolverine: Days of Futures Past (with the X-men as guest stars) is coming out in a few weeks, he could certainly be a time traveler. And he’s by far the most likable time traveler to come along since Marty McFly. This still doesn’t stop the students of the Jean Grey Institute to confront him, led by Idie. For a guy who just took on Storm and Wolverine as warm up, it’s not a fair fight. But again, the man isn’t Freddy Kruger. He’s on a different kind of mission and that mission doesn’t involve tormenting kids and laughing in the most annoyingly sadistic way possible.

Once again, the battle turns into a mind-fuck. Unlike Eden Young’s failed efforts, Faithful John finds a better way to get the job done. But enough about my penis. The old man shows Idie and all the students the dark future that he’s trying to prevent. This includes revealing to Genesis the apocalyptic asshole that he’s destined to become. While I know it’s a dick move to try and lay out a teenager’s future, this is one instance where a little foresight is probably a good idea. I still don’t think it’ll be all that effective. These are still teenagers. But it has a much more potent impact than anything the rest of the Phoenix Corporation has done. If nothing else, it should cement Faithful John as employee of the year.

I think it says a lot about this book when Faithful John Break-Sky is the most interesting character in the issue. That’s not to say that others don’t contribute. But he’s really the driving force of the story. The Phoenix Corporation reminds me too much of a Mitt Romney speech. It has a lot of words, but says jack shit. They don’t end up doing that much with Kid Omega. He’s still destined to become the Phoenix. Why the fuck did the Phoenix Corporation have to make a big deal about it? All they did was piss off Wolverine and Storm while mind-fucking Kid Omega. Maybe there will be a payoff, but the impact is painfully light. I can only give Wolverine and the X-men #3 a 6 out of 10. The success of future issues are now entirely contingent by how much Faithful John is involved. He’s the only one that seems to be doing anything remotely interesting. And when a pissed off Wolverine and Storm cease to be interesting, that’s cause for concern. Nuff said!

Friday, April 18, 2014

X-men Supreme Reflections Volume 4: Elizabeth Braddock is LIVE!

Today is a great day to be a Psylocke fans. The X-men’s resident ninja/psychic is ready for her turn in X-men Supreme Reflections. She will be the first in a five-issue mini-series that will dig deeper into the characters that had some of the greatest influence on X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. Of all the famous X-men characters I’ve introduced in this fanfiction series, Psylocke holds a special place in my heart. And I hope to show that in this thorough examination of what makes Elizabeth Braddock who she is in the world of X-men Supreme.

I’ve always felt that Psylocke’s origin was a bit too rushed. She was a British woman with blond hair and powerful telepathy who ended up in the body of a female Japanese ninja. That’s a pretty severe transition for anybody to endure. And I don’t think the nature of that transition was sufficiently explored in the comics. But it’s that transition that came to define Psylocke as a character and as a major player with the X-men. However, at times that transition is forgotten. Reading the comics today, who would guess that Psylocke ever switched bodies? That’s why I made her body swap such a big part of The Lotus and the Warrior. I wanted it to have an impact. And in this entry of X-men Supreme Reflections, I’ll be thoroughly exploring that impact.

A core theme of the X-men has to do with identity. Most of the time, the struggles with identity revolve around being a mutant. But for Psylocke, that struggle is a lot more complicated, especially given the circumstances in X-men Supreme. How does someone deal with having their mind transferred into a new body? What does that do to her identity? That’s something that I made sure she struggled with in X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. It was a major driving force in the drama that developed between her and Gambit. I have big plans for her character in X-men Supreme Volume 5 and beyond if this fanfiction series continues. That’s why this is a very important issue to read for Psylocke fans because it’ll set the tone for her struggles as she moves forward in X-men Supreme.

X-men Supreme Reflections: Elizabeth Braddock

I have a feeling that Psylocke fans are going to enjoy this. I consider myself among those fans. That’ll give me all the more incentive to make her story awesome in future issues of X-men Supreme. But I can never have enough incentive to make this fanfiction series and all the characters it contains more awesome. So please take the time to leave a review for this issue, especially if you’re a die-hard Psylocke fan. Either post it directly in the issue or contact me directly with your feedback. I’ll be more than happy to respond to any questions or concerns. I hope Psylocke fans and X-men fans as a whole continue to enjoy this fanfiction series. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!