Thursday, March 24, 2011
Uncanny X-men Annual #3 - Negative Zone With A Mix of Awesome
Well I made it through my review of Generation Jean ripoff. After finishing it I passed out and woke up in an alley with my underwear on my head and a note pinned to my scrotum with a phone number on it. I haven't called the number just yet, but I figured I would review one more comic before go about hiring a lawyer and a new proctologist.
One comic that I always look forward to are the annuals. These comics are like Christmas. They come out only once a year and they're usually special in the sense that they justify their outrageous $4.99 price tag. These comics are often like sex with Heather Locklier. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty damn good. You can tell the writers and artists put more effort into these things because they only have one shot at it. It's like that last roll in a game of craps. You try extra hard, praying to whatever inane gods you worship to help you go that extra distance. Sometimes like a lousy Christmas where you only get books, socks, and a vibrator that was meant for your sister it doesn't pan out. At least you know someone put some effort into this shit.
Well the X-books almost always have an annual and this year is no exception. Uncanny X-men Annual #3 by James Asmus (who I haven't seen on an X-book yet) takes on the challenge this year. Granted, it's not a big name by the likes of Chris Claremont, Grant Morrison, or Mark Millar. But given the rut these guys have been in, it's high time Marvel get a pinch hitter at the plate. This book takes place at some point after the first arc in Generation Jean ripoff and possibly after issue #5. It's not clear if it takes place after Quarantine, but it really doesn't matter at this point because it involves all the heavy hitters such as Cyclops, Emma Frost, Namor, and Jean ripoff. Wolverine is nowhere in sight, but the man already has several books under his name so he can afford to take a break. So I'm going to assume he spends this issue getting drunk or banging Domino or both.
Now if you read my review of Generation Jean ripoff #5 you know I'm about as fond of Hope Summers as I am rectal warts. She's a farce of a character more annoying than an army of Andy Dick clones. So imagine my disgust when I open this book to see Jean ripoff being a total brat on the first page. And I'm not talking about your typical teenage girl brat who will scream her lungs out because her mother won't let her wear a thong to a rave at a club called "Rufie Rave." She storms in calling Cyclops a total jerk because he won't let her team, the Five Lights, go on missions. You know, that same team that consists of a bunch of teenage mutants who to this point have only gotten into major fights on message boards? And somehow Cyclops is a jerk for not sending them out on dangerous missions? Seriously, this scene made me want Bishop to show up and unload six clips of a Glock 9 mm into Jean ripoff's lower spine.
While she's pitching a hissy fit and making readers want to crucify her like the messiah she is, Namor storms in and starts calling Cyclops a jerk as well. Unlike Jean ripoff, he has a good reason. Someone borrowed a high tech gizmo called a cyclotron from Atlantis. They borrowed it in the same way your roommate borrows your copy of Jenna Jameson's greatest cumshots DVD and never returns it. Except it's not Cyclops that's responsible this time so Cyclops haters have to hold their wad. It's Madison Jefferies who took the device and has since been experimenting with it. His reason has to do with the events of Second Coming when they created a bridge to Limbo, which they used to rescue Magik. As is often the case with the X-men, that mission got ugly and the bridge was destroyed. Now Madison is trying to rebuild it.
This doesn't stop Namor from arguing with Cyclops. It also doesn't stop Jean ripoff from being a total brat sadly. Yet while they're all busting Cyclops's balls, Madison Jefferies is the one banging on this high tech Atlantean hardware with a wrench. That may help fix shit in the former Soviet Union, but in the world of sci fi you might as well be smoking a cigarette in a nitro-glycerine factory. So it's not too much of a surprise when the whole thing explodes in a beautifully drawn scene that should give X-fans a semi-boner. It's only semi because Emma Frost's clothes aren't blown off.
When the sparkling dust settles, Emma Frost and Madison Jefferies are still in one piece. Actually, Madison is pretty fucked up in that he looks like he went fifteen rounds with Mike Tyson on crystal meth. Emma Frost, because she's diamond, doesn't get a scratch on her. This is understandable since Marvel knows they can't wound a character they know their fans jerk off to more than monkey in a Viagra factory. Yet somehow her clothes stay intact. Again, it's a missed opportunity to get Emma Frost naked. Shame on you, Marvel! For shame!
As for Cyclops, Namor, Jean ripoff, and Dr. Nemesis they all wake up in what looks like a dream-scape from Gary Busey's unmedicated mind. It's actually the Negative Zone, but Busey would still be right at home in it. Again, Jean ripoff uses this opportunity to be a shit-stain of a brat by basically cursing off Cyclops while he's trying to make sure she's okay. It seems with every panel, Jean ripoff gives readers all the more reason to hate her unless they also have a grudge against Cyclops. I'm all for having grudges against characters in case you haven't figured that out, but it helps to have good reasons and right now Jean ripoff's reasons have been about as well-thought out as Billy Ray Cyrus's parenting skills.
Now being in a dimension reality with no map really doesn't bode well and seeing as how everyone is trying to push Cyclops's buttons, they agree to split up. It's a tactic straight out of Scooby Doo. Jean ripoff tries to avoid being with Cyclops, but gets overruled. She's a teenage girl and you're just not going to leave her with a guy as creepy as Dr. Nemesis or as pig-headed as Namor. Jean ripoff doesn't like it, but that's what you get for being a brat! If only Cyclops could put a shock collar on her then this story would be extra satisfying.
Namor and Nemesis head off in their own direction and get along about as well as two men who are trying to fuck the same hot chick at a party. Oh wait, that's Namor and Cyclops. I'll think of something else for these two, but their exploration doesn't lead them anywhere exciting. Not that they realize it anyways. Just as they're wondering if life could ever survive, they're standing on the back of a creature that looks like it got rejected from the Empire Strikes Back. Anyone who believes George Lucas is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ should know where this is going.
As ominous as this may be, the excitement is once again spoiled by Jean ripoff's bratty bullshit. Cyclops keeps trying to be reasonable with her. He says and does nothing this entire comic that isn't completely justified. Usually there are two sides to every story, but sometimes one side is so ridiculously inane you want to reach into the book and slap them across the face like the entire Jewish population of New York wants to do to Glenn Beck. She continues to be a complete brat and Cyclops to his credit keeps his cool. Even if you hate Cyclops, you have to respect him for being able to deal with a brat that looks like his dead wife.
Back in the world outside of Gary Busey's mind, the X-men are trying to repair Madison's science experiment. They have Magneto, Prodigy, Cypher, and Warlock all join in to pick up the pieces and put it back together. They make about as much progress as they would if they argued with Bill O'Reily. Cypher colorfully explains that Cyclops and the others disappeared into the unknown and they have no way of tracking them. The only sliver of hope comes from Pixie of all people, who Emma asks if she's up for a trip to New York. For someone whose fuck buddy is in trouble, she doesn't seem that worried. Then again this is a woman with a heart colder than a polar bear's nutsack so you can't expect anything less.
Back in fantasy land, also known as the Negative Zone, Jean ripoff continues her bratty streak by belittling Cyclops for explaining the merits of survival. She points out that she was raised by Cable. Cyclops then points out that he raised Cable. He's not smug about it, but Jean ripoff finds a way to get pissy about it. I can't help but wonder if she's dealing with PMS this whole issue or if she's just that much of a bitch.
Despite the blatant disrespect she shows him, Cyclops is still quick to defend Jean ripoff when they encounter some of the ugly thugs that inhabit the Negative Zone. He tries to be friendly. He finds out that this is an alien concept in this realm. It's not unlike visiting the Alabama with your gay friends and an NWA cover band.
It gets ugly and to further make her case for being the most unlikable character in X-men, she attacks. She uses her fists the way Cable taught her who in turn learned it from Cyclops. So in that sense she's basically proving Cyclops right without knowing it. Yet I still find myself hoping that these creatures beat her because she deserves more than just a good spanking. She deserves to be locked in a room with rabid dogs while wearing Lady Gaga's meat suit. It's an awesome scene, but you just can't root for Jean ripoff given what a horrendous bitch she has been this entire issue.
They aren't the only ones fighting monsters. Remember that monster Namor and Dr. Nemesis were walking over without realizing it? Well they realized it and the creature attacked them. Well it attacked Namor anyways. Dr. Nemesis didn't do much of anything aside from sit back and watch Namor do all the dirty work. It was a nice fight and one that shows Namor can hold is own, making readers wonder why the hell Emma Frost hasn't surgically attached herself to his dick yet. He does eventually beat the creature, but not without Dr. Nemesis making a snide Aquaman reference. I'm wondering if that's Marvel speaking in code to DC. If so I'm pretty sure the message is Namor can kick Aquaman's ass any day of the week. That or it's a covert message for a party at Axel Alonso's house.
The fight with Cyclops and Jean ripoff is not nearly as satisfying. Miss I-Have-A-Right-To-Be-A-Brat-Because-I'm-The-Fucking-Messiah's insatiable desire to pick a fight has caused the Negative Zone's version of the NYPD to call for backup. She goes onto say that being in the X-men sucks, never mind the fact that she was the one that told Cable she wanted to go back in Second Coming. So that's yet another reason for readers to want to strangle her Homer Simpson style. I'm sure Cyclops feels that way because they end up getting surrounded and are basically in an unwinnable fight at this point.
Namor and Dr. Nemesis continue to do better. Finally Dr. Nemesis starts to contribute instead of letting Namor do all the fighting. He takes out an odd-looking weapon, which really makes you wonder if he was just saving that so he can make Namor's balls feel a few sizes smaller. That's not a very smart thing to do to the king of Atlantis, but he does it anyways. At the very least it does beat back the creature so it's not a total loss. It once again shows that Dr. Nemesis has the social skills of an neutered autistic attack dog.
Naturally, Namor doesn't take kindly to that shit. He goes through the trouble of fighting this creature and Nemesis has the gall to just sit back and wait until the amusement wears off before he helps him. For once Namor's arrogant attitude is completely justified. He doesn't just call him every discernible insult in the Atlantean language. He leaves Nemesis's sorry ass behind. I know the X-men books are supposed to be team books, but so far the team has gotten along about as well as Sunnis and Shiites. It's an unusual yet entertaining display of dysfunction.
It still isn't quite as dysfunctional as Cyclops and Jean ripoff. For once all the survival skills imparted by Cable didn't do her any good. They both end up captured by the Negative Zone's resident meter maids and are imprisoned. Even though Cyclops is bloodied and showing concern for the mutant messiah, she still finds a way to belittle him. Seriously, is it at all possible that she say something that doesn't make readers want to strangle her?
Well they're in a tight spot now and all the bratiness in the world isn't going to save them. They're now at the mercy of a creature that looks like Bigfoot fucked Robin Williams. He states that he doesn't plan to torture them or make them participate in some bloody gladiatorial games for their freedom. That would make too much sense. Instead, he's going to use them as bait. That's the last message they hear before the issue ends and is set to be continued in Steve Rogers: Super Soldier Annual #1.
Wait what? That's the end? We have to wait for another issue that isn't even a fucking X-book to see how this shit plays out? That isn't how annuals are supposed to work! Part of the charm of an annual is that it's a single story in an oversized book that's better than average and more packed with quality awesome. Now they're breaking up even the annuals so readers have to wait a fucking month to see what happens? That's okay for arcs in individual series, but not annuals. You don't pay $4.99 plus a tax to read a book that only leaves you waiting at the end. That's like paying a hooker to only partially suck your dick.
It's a disappointing ending even if the content that led to it was fairly entertaining. Even if it didn't end like an annual, you still got the sense that it was written like an annual. There was more care and concern put into the content. The art was different, looking like a cross between the Super Hero Squad and a Teen Titans cartoon. The action, the dialog, and the overall dysfunction between the characters was an enjoyable read. The underlying plot of the X-men getting trapped in the Negative Zone is a good one. It just should have been resolved within an issue rather than stretching it out over other issues that aren't even part of the same series. That sort of defeats the purpose of an annual.
There's also the Jean ripoff factor. I know you're all probably tired of hearing me rant about this, but every time I see this little bitch in a comic I want to pull my hair out and stick my head in a microwave. She's been a bratty little shit stain before. This comic took her to new heights. There wasn't one scene where Jean ripoff was likable in the slightest respect. She had no reason for being such a bitch other than she simply didn't get her way. There's a word for people who simply bitch for not getting their way. We call them narcissistic assholes. This girl is supposed to be the mutant messiah. If she's the hope for all mutant kind then Cyclops might as well organize a Jim Jones style mass suicide because they're fucked.
I'll need to get wasted again and hope my pants stay on this time to recover from Jean ripoff's bullshit. As for the comic itself, it's a decent enough read even if it's incomplete. That's why I give it a 3 out of 5. It's not going to measure up to most annuals by a long shot, but it is somewhat better than the mediocre bullshit that dominates the racks. I'll only consider giving the concept a higher score if Jean ripoff gets her ass kicked and Cyclops gets to smack her four times with a brass knuckle. If not, this is not the best annual X-fans could hope for. This issue needs to fall under the seems-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time category and stay there. Nuff said!