Monday, March 28, 2011
Wolverine and Jubilee #3 - Recovering But Not Fully
I don't take too much pride in being bitter. That's like taking pride in body odor. No matter how proud you are, it still stinks. I've tried to get past my bitterness towards Marvel over the past few weeks. I've tried to not let it effect my reviews. I don't claim to be unbias, but I try to be honest even when it fucks up the message. However, there are times when being embittered or bias doesn't mean dick.
A few weeks ago, I reviewed Wolverine and Jubilee #2. I had high hopes for this comic in the same way America had high hopes that a black President would make everything better. Well the country is still fat, lazy, and governed by health care lobbyists. In the same way, my hopes for this comic crashed quicker than Dick Cheny's approval rating. After setting up a great story in the first issue, Wolverine and Jubilee #2 was about as entertaining as watching reruns of Ronald Reagan's funeral. The pacing was off, the characterization was off, and the overall organization of the story was more chaotic than a hotel floor rented out by Guns N' Roses (before Axel got fat). It was an abysmal book that took a steaming dump over the potential this series once had.
Despite that pile of shit still stinking up the series, I'm giving Wolverine and Jubilee #3 a chance. As bad as the last issue was, it didn't ruin the series like an Ultimatum or One More Day. It just fell flat on it's face into a pile of elephant shit and needs a quick shower along with a few shots of anti-biotics to get going again. The last issue ended with Jubilee meeting up with the mysterious vampire who dumped her in a crate full of dead bodies back in Oakland (or maybe it was where the Raiders practice, it really wasn't clear). She looks a bit like Segorney Weaver after a botched botox treatment, but she dresses like Emma Frost so that balances things out. After taking down an army of undead, you would think Jubilee would be emboldened. But no. This woman shows up and is dragging her around like a freshly neutered dog. When she confronts Wolverine, he's understandably pissed even though he was a total asshole to Jubilee in the last issue.
It doesn't turn into a bloody battle as one might expect in a comic with Wolverine. This can be a good or bad thing depending on how much violence gives you a boner. Instead, the woman taunts her and uses Jubilee to get to him. Jubilee actually asks Wolverine to kill her. It's actually a pretty powerful moment. It reflects on how Jubilee has been dependent on everybody around her to remain in control. First she was locked up in the brig on Utopia. Then she had to rely on Wolverine's blood to prevent herself from acting like a pervert in a panty factory. She has no control and that's no way to live. She claims this woman helped her and Wolverine claims she's better off with her head severed. Wolverine doesn't buy it and in response, the woman does something to Jubilee.
I wish I could be more descriptive, but there's no poop or dick joke to make of it. The woman takes this glowing ring and shoves it into Jubilee. It sounds like the premise of a lesbian porno flick, but that's what happens. Then Jubilee completely disappears and there's not much clue as to what happened. Jubilee is still alive according to the vampire, but she's basically stuck in some dark realm where Pat Robertson and Ted Haggard probably keep their gay porno stash.
Wolverine is five kinds of pissed now. He's aching to kill this woman in the same way Kim Jong Ill aches to bathe in the tears of American babies. She's able to save her head amongst other things by revealing that she was never after Jubilee. She was merely bait. She wanted to use her to get to Wolverine. So that means this Wolverine and Jubilee comic is becoming another Wolverine story. Gee, you would think a guy with two solo series would have enough ink for a plot involving a crazy vampire chick. It's nothing too elaborate. She wants him to retrieve a package that's surrounded in an area with enough radiation to kill an army of cockroaches. It's basically the kind of shit Wolverine does between benders and hangovers.
While this is unfolding, there's a new development with X-men that don't have claws coming out of their hands or get turned into vampires when their powers are taken away. Rockslide, Pixie, and Armor are all watching TV (Jeopardy from the looks of it). So it's an oversized monster and two under-aged girls. That's the premise of one too many Japanese anime pornos. There's no tentacle monster here unfortunately. What happens here stems from what happened between Rockslide and Jubilee in the first issue. Rockslide seemed to want to bone (or stone in his case) Jubilee, but she wasn't in the mood. Then Wolverine asked him to crush the necklace that was around Jubilee's neck when he found her in a crate of dead bodies. That necklace left a mark on his hand and now he's curious. Maybe he thinks it'll give him a way to hook up with Jubilee, but it's the first time in this series that there's some sense of coherence between this and the previous issues. It's more than a little overdue, but it helps make it seem as though this series never fell of a cliff like it did with the last issue.
Back with Wolverine, who can't help but hog 9/10ths of the spotlight in every X-men comic, he's descending into a radiation filled cavern in the ashes of Chernobyl. Now I'm not going to make a joke about Japan here, but am I the only one that finds it a little ominous that this comic is using a plot involving a nuclear disaster when one has been unfolding overseas for the past few weeks? The story for this series was laid out months ago as most comics are. Could it be that Marvel has real psychics working for them? If so they would be better off employing their talents in Vegas than telling stories about subjects that still make people more queasy than a vegetarian in a slaughter house.
In the cavern, Wolverine discovers that there's enough radiation to sterilize Courtney Love's vibrator. He also discovers that the crazy vampire chick who still hasn't been given a name yet had sent normal humans into this cavern. As expected, they dropped dead faster than Larry King's sex appeal. It leaves readers to wonder why the hell anyone, human or vampire, would think sending a bunch of humans into a place like Chernobyl would be anything but a waste of time. Either she slept through physics class or just got her kicks watching men go into a cave and never coming back. It sounds like another gay metaphor, but mixed with radiation I can't make a very funny joke about that.
Back with Rockslide, his little side-task brings him back to the port of Oakland. Except this time, there's a dry cleaners. It's as confusing as it sounds. It could be an illusion. It could be misdirection. Or Rockslide could be high. Or it could be a combination of all three. He's understandably confused and starts complaining to the woman at the counter, who has the charm of a Nigerian salesman. It's really not clear what's going on, but at least there's a sense of mystery as opposed to the utter randomness of the previous issue. Plus, it's the first time Rockslide has had any meaningful story according to the part of my brain that hasn't been destroyed with hallucinogens yet. So Rockslide fans (all six of you) should be happy.
Then we finally revisit Jubilee. Her name is on the title of the comic after all. She's been falling for half the book in some dark hole (again, no room for a gay joke) and finally she hits the ground. Now falling for that long usually means she would end up as a gooey splat, but keep in mind she's a vampire. She's more durable than your average teenager now, at least physically. She would probably still go on a rampage if she went back to high school and someone made a snide comment about her hair.
Once she lands, she's able to call Wolverine on her cell phone. Seriously, what service does she have? My cell phone goes dark when I pass over a large tree. And how did her cell phone survive the fall? I've seen iphones shatter after being dropped onto a feather pillow. It's a little contrived for anyone who has ever had a shitty cell phone, but if that weren't disturbing enough Jubilee finds out she's in a strange doll-house like setting. For a girl that outgrew doll houses a few bra sizes ago, it's either a nightmare or a cruel joke orchestrated by Ashton Kutcher.
Her finally reaching solid ground coincides with Wolverine reaching his so-called package. It happens to be guarded by an old man who chewed off his arm. He looks like a mix between Christopher Walken and the corpse of Dennis Karadine. His dialog makes about as much sense as the last two Matrix movies. I don't know if this was poor planning on the part of the writers, but this guy makes no sense. He seems to be someone else that's indebted to the crazy vampire chick who still doesn't have a name. If that weren't confusing enough, said crazy vampire chick is in debt as well. It's not clear whose collecting all this debt. It sounds like the IRS, but there's no way even this guy would be able to hide from them. Towards the end he doesn't offer too many answers. He just tries to eat Wolverine. No, that's not a joke. That's what he does. It would be disturbing if the scene wasn't so damn confusing.
Back with Rockslide, his visit to the dry cleaners takes a disturbing turn. When it becomes clear that Rockslide isn't going to let it go, the crazy woman at the front desk does what uptight Korean grocers can only dream of doing. She turns into a dragon and attacks Rockslide. It looks like a great setting for a fight, but sadly nothing comes of it. It's likely we'll have to wait for the next issue, but seeing as how Rockslide seems to have a bedrock level boner for Jubilee he's likely to fight his way through. That's the power of vampire pussy.
The fight with Wolverine and the would-be cannibal is a little more graphic, but not epic in the slightest. Without even going into a berserker rage, Wolverine decapitates the crazy old man as if he was opening a jar of peanut butter. It's not very exciting, but it's as badass as you would expect from someone like Wolverine. Now he can open the package that the crazy vampire chick sent him to retrieve in the first place, hopefully adding a bit more clarify after that last scene left my head spinning more than my last three hangovers.
The package reveals more Inception-like insanity. It's full of those same strange necklaces that Jubilee was wearing in the first issue. Again, it's a nice way to connect the series. However, the mojo behind them is still not clear. Somehow these floating jewels allow Wolverine to talk to Jubilee, this time without the super-cell phone mentioned earlier. Instead she sounds like a disembodied voice from a Poltergeist movie, which would still give better reception than AT&T.
As for Jubilee herself, she discovers that she's not in a typical prison. She's in a mysterious realm that looks like a cross between the Negative Zone and a six-year-old's brain. If you weren't confused by the cannibal or the nameless vampire chick earlier, you'll definitely be seeking psychiatric help after this one or you'll try re-reading the book after a few hits of pot and see if that helps. I already tried that and I can assure you it's still confusing as hell. At least it's still an interesting kind of confusing. It's not the bland, eye-rolling bullshit that made the ending of the last issue such a downer. Between these bizarre perceptions of reality and a more coherent plot that has Rockslide involved, this issue actually ends on a high note.
The final impression of this book is a bit of a mixed bag. It's definitely an upgrade from the previous issue, but let's face it. That's not saying much. That's like saying it's slightly less ugly than Gilbert Gottfried's face. It leaves the reader feeling less disappointed. There is a bit more of a coherent plot and the characterization is somewhat improved. It also ties together the events of the previous issues and adds a few novel twists. It's nothing too extreme, but it's not underwhelming either. It's just enough to make readers want to pick up the next issue and see what happens.
There were still plenty of flaws to list. Certain scenes were confusing as hell to follow. That crazy cannibal didn't make a lick of sense in anything he said. That crazy vampire chick is still a mystery and not a very interesting one either. The dialog still needs work and for a while it seemed this book was becoming just another Wolverine story. The twists at the end were all well and good, but a twist can't be much of a twist if it's confusing as hell. Is Jubilee in a dream world or did she stumble into a dimension where the laws of reality were written by an eight-year-old? It's not clear and it doesn't leave readers with as much wonder as it should. Confusion may work for the Matrix and Inception, but not in a comic book about a teenage girl that becomes a vampire. Even Stephanie Meyer has her limits.
If you're a Jubilee fan, this book is still worth picking up. It's nice to have Jubilee back in the fray again, but this series hasn't really done her much justice. It's not clear what role she's going to have with the X-men. From the looks of it, Vampire Jubilee is here to stay and that's not a bad thing. When scoring this book, I couldn't give it too much of an upgrade because there's still so much it needs to improve. That's why I give Wolverine and Jubilee #3 a 2.5 out of 5. It's better than the last issue, but not as much as it could have been. There's still room for the next issue to bring everything together. If it succeeds, then Jubilee fans everywhere can stop holding their breath and rejoice! Nuff said.