Monday, July 12, 2010
X-women #1 - Hot, Sexy, European Awesome
A while back I reviewed a comic called X-Campus, a Marvel descended title that was published only in Europe and obviously so because it had a style that was clearly not that of a typical writer/artist wolfing down New York style pizza while watching Jets games. European comics have always been distinct in their style. If you put one up next to an American comic, it is possible to tell the difference (especially if it involves naked women). On that note, X-Campus wasn't the only European X-book to make it's way to the stands across the pond. Another book written by comic legend Chris Claremont was released back in 2005 with art by Milo Manara, a man who clearly has the European touch in his pen. Only this wasn't some kiddie high school drama. It was a full blown European style sexy piece of work called X-women.
It stars the likes of Kitty Pryde (pre-bullet of course), Storm (pre-marriage), Psylocke (just returned to the pages of Uncanny), Rachel Grey (before being shot into space and forgotten about), Rogue (pre-Legacy) and Emma Frost (basically no difference there). The story is an untold tale of a little holiday these ladies took that turned into a sexy little adventure full of lesbian undertones, violent action, potential rape, and some elements of bondage. So yeah, this is definitely not a product of American puritanical bullshit. And wouldn't you know it? A story about six hot X-women written without American sensibilities turns out to be fucking awesome.
The first few pages jump right into the action. The X-women are fighting a battle in God's pissing hole, Madripoor. Kitty, Storm, Psylocke, and Rogue are going A-team on an entire army that for whatever reason wants to kill them. So overall, it's basically just another day at the office for the X-men (or women since no male X-characters even appear in this book).
Chris Claremont does his classic inner monologue style by throwing all these narration boxes on every panel. Yeah, it's old school, but in a one-shot book that's more appropriate. Granted, he still goes a bit overboard with it. But at the very least he sets the stage for what the X-women are doing and why they're doing it. The task at hand is simple. Rachel has been kidnapped by this strange people who happen to have an army on the payroll. Storm, Psylocke, and Rogue are taking care of the heavy hitting while Kitty Pryde sneaks in to save her Jean-lite (aka Rachel).
As usual, it doesn't exactly plan out. If they were the A-Team there would be no "I love it when a plan comes together moment." In fact Rachel, who is wearing something that is probably illegal in several states in the US, turns on Kitty with a little telepathic attack and she's forced to flee with the rest of her teammates. That plan involves Kitty latching onto Storm in a way that has all sorts of lesbian tones, but there's still a lot more action going on here (of a non-sexual nature unfortunately) and we get a glimpse of the villain behind this shit and wouldn't you know it? She's a woman too? A woman who looks like a pre-Morrison Emma Frost mixed with Baroness from GI-Joe. She shows now sisterly love and sends the X-women packing with another non-sexual bang.
The X-women are essentially blown across the island and fall into the tropical wilderness of Madripoor. It's the kind of survival scene that makes Lost fans break down and cry like babies. This scene isn't glossed over either. It's nicely drawn out and displays the struggles of the characters as they fight their way out of the river, something most American comics would probably handle on one page with a few lightly detailed moments. It's another example of that distinct European style and it helps add a very sister-like feel (again, still non-sexual).
While the X-ladies take a moment to recover, the book goes on a little bit of a flashback to show how they got into this mess to begin with. It started off as a simple vacation with the X-women riding around on jet skies wearing thongs that would make Pat Roberson's head explode. It's a fun scene and a little more European tastes are thrown in when Kitty phases through a cruise ship and passed a couple of men in bed (yes, this time it's sexual). That kind of shit would never make it past the censors in America and it's shame too because the scene is hilarious and awesome.
Cut to a night of partying where the girls are all dressed to impress and looking like a scene right out of a photoshoot from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Betsy and Rogue are dancing, Storm is singing, Kitty is making amends with the two guys she caught in bed earlier, and Rachel is making her dead mother proud by getting into trouble.
Rachel seems to follow in Jean's footsteps in all the wrong ways, going after a guy that she really should leave in the dog pound. But she does it anyways and pays the price. It's enough to make Jean roll over in her White Hot Room channeled grave. The guy paralyzes Rachel and sets off a bomb that blows the villa they were partying in straight up Mephisto's ass. They survive only by the grace of Betsy's telekinetic talents and are now stuck on a raft in the middle of the sea. So much for the party, eh?
End the flashback and return to the present time. The X-women are picked up from the river on a boat and they're left to make sense of what just happened. Kitty says she's got some telepathic imprints from Rachel, but her head is killing her worse than 100 hangovers so she can't work enough brain cells to figure it out. Whatever the pain, Kitty claims to see what Rachel is seeing and what she's seeing is pretty fucked up. She isn't the only one who got abducted. She's strapped to a chair next to Emma Frost...yeah, that Emma Frost. So that's two powerful telepaths that they now have to rescue and it's pretty clear that the Baroness behind this has a pussy boner for psychics in all the wrong, non-sexual ways. She wants to use them to start a war that she, a Baroness, can profit from. It's brilliant, but disappointingly not-hot. You get two hot telepaths tied up and that's all you can come up with? For shame.
They're ready to get back to their rescue operation, but the boat they're on gets attacked by a new threat. Not only that, their powers are down. This is Madripoor, remember? Shit like that happens at least one a week. If that weren't enough this is where the comic takes a turn of fucked-upedness that you would expect in a Japanese comic, but not a European comic. The X-women are abducted by these so-called "Cargo-Cultists" who worship crashed planes as if they were gods. Granted, that's a long ways away from being the most fucked up religion in the world, but they don't take kindly to the X-women and throw a little European style bondage into the mix.
Now if you're expecting a European style orgy to break out, sorry to disappoint but that doesn't happen. If it does, it's not on panel so readers are stuck using their dirty imaginations (as if they don't have plenty to spare). The girls are basically put to work by the Cargo Cult and used as assorted eye-candy. Again, there are probably far more extreme things these guys could do. They could go all Jabba the Hut and dress them up in metal bikinis. But that would be too much of a distraction I suppose because there are still other plots unfolding. However, they do take the time to have an attempted rape scene between Storm and the cult leader. Again, this is something no censor with fear of the FCC would ever allow. But this is European, remember? The only sticks up their asses are the ones that vibrate. But feminazis need not worry. Storm does teach the guy that no means no and he seems to get the message.
While this erotic undertone is unfolding, Rachel and Emma are still at the mercy of Baroness and they're using stolen Cerebra technology to further their plan. It's delightfully tame in some ways, but it's a nice way to remind the readers that this isn't a porno comic. It's X-men where the characters only look like porn stars.
The X-women haven't even gotten around to planning how they're going to escape from this Cargo Cult and save their friends. They're kind of at the mercy of these guys and have to convince them to help and showing their tits isn't going to be enough. The incentive does come though, but in the form of a bunch of attacking soldiers. So the action picks right back up and now the X-women have to defend their captors that include an attempted rapist. How's that for awkward?
They pull off more bad-ass hot women fighting, which as one would expect is more than enough to convince the men of the Cargo Cult to help. At that point they would probably agree to lick the nail polish from their toes for the rest of their lives. So the cult leader gets one of their planes (which they worship if you recall) to fly up and attempt second attack on Baroness. This time they know what they're up against and are ready to finish the job. They won't need anybody with a penis to help them either, which only adds to the awesome.
When they land, more fighting ensues. This time the Baroness, who is probably the women who wears the least attractive attire, is cornered. Rogue and Storm do the heavy hitting while Psylocke and Kitty Pryde fight their way towards Rachel and Emma. It goes south quickly for Baroness, who proves that female criminals can be just as stupid as male criminals (see, there is some feminists messages after all). Also like any cowardly bad guy with or without boobs she tries to make a break for it.
Yes, she uses an escape pod. What did you expect? A rocket powered dildo? Just because this is European doesn't mean every device has to double as a sex toy. Although the Baroness probably would have been smarter to try something a bit more novel because she not only doesn't get away, Kitty Pryde phases her right out of her escape tunnel and she's retrieved by a very angry Storm. What's her response? Of course Storm shows the mercy of any goddess and by mercy I mean she freezes her where she stands. Iceman is officially emasculated.
Also, Emma Frost finally makes her presence known. Even though it's only minor, considering she's so dominant in other X-books it's really not that big a deal. She's already got plenty of exposure and she just needs a few panels to strut her stuff, which includes breaking a nail while she vents her frustrations on the bitch that abducted her. Of course she complains about it. She's Emma Frost. She cares more about her appearance than Paris Hilton and Lady Gaga combined.
So evil is defeated. Baroness is turned over to the authorities. What else is there left to do? Do they just accept that their little vacation is ruined? Fuck no! The X-women don't give in that easily! They pull themselves together, put on their hottest outfits, and go back to partying! That's how real heroes show their strength, regardless of whether or not they have boobs. Although boobs always help.
So that's it. This extra sized one-shot featuring only the hot women of the X-universe comes to an end and a damn good one at that. After reading an issue like this it should make readers wonder "Why the fuck wasn't this brought to the states sooner?! What else are they keeping from us?!" Chris Claremont has always been great at writing strong female characters and this really shows that he hasn't lost his touch even after all these years. It's by far one of his best pieces yet and Milo Manara's art perfectly compliments his style.
Now granted there are some shortcomings. Claremont's excessive narration is still an issue, but it actually does work a little better in a comic that's only a one-shot. Also, some moments like the scene with Storm and the cult leader were kind of pushing it. But overall, there's a lot to love about this comic. It's visually stunning and it's also a compelling story. It's enough to make you think who needs the men in this series anyways? You've got plenty of awesome with six hot mutant women!
Overall, X-women #1 deserves a strong 5 out of 5. It's a true gift from our friends across the Atlantic and Chris Claremont shows he can still dish out the awesome. It's by far one of the best X-comics to come out during this period of gloom, doom, and marketing deception. It's a bunch of beautiful X-women written with quality art and a quality writer. What more do you need? Nuff said!