Thursday, August 18, 2011
X-men Schism #3 - New Divide (of Awesome)
Pop quiz, fanboys! What book has homicidal kids, killer robots, and women dressed as hookers? If you're into anime porn, you're atomically disqualified. If you masturbate to only slightly more to slightly less disgusting porn, you probably answered X-men Schism. It's the big X-men event billed as the end of the epic Cyclops/Wolverine bromance that has graced X-men comics and slash fanfiction websites for years. It's one of those events that will force yet another cataclysmic change that seems to run through the X-books every other Thursday. In that sense it's like a Presidential race in America, but slightly less obscene, a lot less boring, and Bill O'Riley doesn't bitch about it.
But as hyped up as this series has been, it hasn't really gotten to the...you know, the actual Schism. The first two issues were great, but they could have easily been issues of Uncanny X-men. What happens is pretty basic. Logan comes back hung over. Cyclops ropes him into some good-will mission to appease bullshit politicians. Giant robots and a psychic sociopath intervene. So essentially, it's your basic X-men story. No biggie. But the basic shit ends when you add psychotic kids into the mix. Somehow, Marvel has so exhausted every conceivable idea for villains that they resort to the kind of psychos that nobody would suspect, per-pubescent children. It's the kind of shit that would only terrify a Catholic Priest. But somehow, these kids have graduated from whining about their parents not letting them play Mortal Kombat and become the new Hellfire Club. Now I took issue with this, but I was willing to overlook it in hopes that it would go somewhere. Now the third issue is here and we can move this shit along.
The last issue of Schism ended with junior Hellfire Club storming in a mutant history museum just as the X-men were doing a little PR. Now that giant robots are attacking them all over the world, they have to do something to show the Fox News crowd that they're not assholes. The explosions haven't begun. The team is still smiling for the cameras while Cyclops is monitoring the situation with three blond triplet psychics. Seriously, what is it about this guy's penis that makes him so fucking lucky? But they don't know that the Hellfire Club's Little Rascal division is getting ready to fuck with them. They only get a clear sign shit just got heavy when someone jams their psychic communications. Fearing that he'll never see Emma Frost naked again, Cyclops springs into action. No, that's not a dick joke.
So sentinels are off ravaging the planet in ways that Ted Bundy could possibly understanding. The X-men are trying to save some face by showing up and looking sexy at a mutant history museum. And what's Wolverine doing? He's getting shit faced. Right, that's real proactive of him. Then again, he's never been known for being on the ball. That's part of what makes him Wolverine. It also makes him a bit of a dick, but that's besides the point. As soon as he sees a news report in the bar that some shit is going down at the mutant history museum, he puts down the beer (presumably after chugging it whole) and rushes over to get his claws bloody.
So the X-men have their communications cut off and there's no Wolverine to stab the problem away. Yet Emma, Colossus, Namor, and Magneto aren't all that threaten. Why would they be? They're facing fucking kids. Again, that's worth restating. These Hellfire goons are kids. I don't know what kind of statement Marvel is making about today's youth, but I'm fairly certain it involves alcohol and a lack of birth control. Namor makes it a point to say that he's hit kids before. Way to make yourself more of a douche, Namor! You do the seas proud!
The battle starts off as you would expect. It's like Mike Tyson versus Richard Simmons. The X-men show a little flash and flare against these kids, most of who probably have just discovered internet porn and still laugh when somebody farts. I already did a rant about this on the last issue. It's worth restating. These are kids running the fucking Hellfire Club. The WTF factor is hard to overstate. It couldn't be more messed up if it had talking animals. The X-men still treat it as a regular fight. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but still the villains here are kids. I know our population is aging, but beating up kids is still taboo. Then again, those crazy sociopath kids eventually start playing dirty as kids that age tend to do.
This is where WTF takes yet another twist. The X-men do okay for themselves in terms of halting the attack. But then the kids start pulling the kind of tricks that fanfiction writers use when they try to write fight scenes drunk (or maybe that's just me). They start pulling out these strange weapons that just happen perfectly counter the X-men. One creates these little holes that dry out Namor and render him weaker than Glenn Beck's credibility. Another shoots a tiny magnetar super blast to down Magneto. Another just shoots Emma in the head while in her diamond form and that's enough to knock her out. When something other than roofies knocks out Emma Frost, it's time to call bullshit.
Now I get the threat these Hellfire kids pose. Jason Aaron treats them like real villains and they walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. The problem is it's hard to take them that seriously because they're kids. Not only are they devious enough to hatch a plot like this, but they're competent enough to use these super-weapons that are specifically made to stop the X-men. I know comic books are fantasy, but there's fantasy and then there's just pushing it. This book walks that fine line and doesn't walk it very well. It's not enough to completely bring down the book, but the WTF factor is still pretty apparent.
So all the X-men are taken down and incapacitated. The human crowd are taken hostages and will likely be used as plaster in kid Hellfire's new tree house. But one mutant managed to avoid the whole attack. It was Idie, one of the Five Lights. Now she's not a heavyweight. She's a teenage girl who barely started growing into her bra. She's not a trained fighter. She's not a killer. Yet she's the only one that can do something about this. Psychic communication was reestablished so Cyclops can talk to Idie and so can Wolverine. She tells them that she sees the Hellfire Club corralling the hostages and preparing a suitcase that anyone who ever watched 24 would understand is a fucking bomb. Wolverine wants Idie to get out and wait for backup. Cyclops wants to save those hostages and the woman who lets him see her naked. Thus the stage is set for the books most powerful moment.
Over a psychic communication line, Wolverine and Cyclops argue incessantly. Remember, it was only one issue ago that Wolverine sat down with Idie and encouraged her to be a kid and not a killer. Now in order to save the X-men and the hostages, she'll have to become a killer. That may be okay with Cyclops, but that's a line Wolverine isn't willing to cross. Having been down that road before, he knows it sucks donkey balls. It's not something he would wish on many, especially an innocent girl like Idie who just got roped into this mutant shit. But Cyclops is all about cold, calculating decisions. That's been his hallmarks since he became the grand poobah of mutants. So in the end, he doesn't listen to Wolverine. He tells Idie to do what needs to be done. That means impersonating a scene right out Scarface and pretty much taking a shit on her innocence.
What happens next is a graphic yet powerful scene. Idie emerges from the shadows and takes on the Hellfire guards. She doesn't hesitate either. She channels her inner Iceman and Firestar and attacks. It's a hell of a spectacle that results in a pile of dead Hellfire bodies. There's no censorship here. This is shit the Comic Code authority would throw up over if they still had any kind of relevance. A young African girl slaughters a group of armed men wearing white masks. Somewhere, Jesse Jackson is smiling like an idiot. But the message sent is clear. A line has been crossed.
This is a profound moment because you can tell that this is where the series gains it's title, Schism. Wolverine and Cyclops have disagreed on shit before. They've fought over boning the same woman before. But this is beyond that. Cyclops has finally crossed a line that he wouldn't have been able to cross if he weren't the undisputed leader of the X-men. Wolverine, despite having crossed many lines himself, won't stand for that sort of shit. It's not something they can settle over beer and a bong hit. Of all the ways Marvel could have driven these two men apart, this is by far one of the most profound.
Needless to say, when the two men meet up they're quite pissed. Cyclops is more concerned with logistics. Having Idie cross that line saved the hostages and the X-men. Sure, it caused the building to blow up. But that's an acceptable lost. But to Logan, the loss of Idie's innocence is far worse. He's so pissed at Cyclops that he doesn't realize that Idie never killed those kid Hellfire goons. They snuck out because they're kids. Nobody's going to suspect that they caused shit like this. Even if they were topless playboy models looking to score some blow, Wolverine and Cyclops wouldn't have noticed. They stare each other down the same way a hungry grizzly stares at a fat kid covered in bacon grease. They're ready to rip each other apart.
Well if they're going to at one point, that'll have to wait. There are still two issues left and as it just so happens, that bomb those kids brought wasn't a bomb. It was some kind of super sentinel, one that starts off as a glowing ball of light and then becomes a killer robot. It's not unlike an acid trip at the planetarium. So despite having wounded X-men and another PR disaster on their hands, these two guys have to work together to take down this flashy excuse for a sentinel. Somehow, you get the sense that this is going to be the last time for a while when we see Cyclops and Wolverine kicking ass together. Excuse me while I wipe the tears from my eyes and the semen stains from my shorts.
So unlike me in my forth grade math class, Marvel has done a successful divide. The seeds are planted. The cow shit his been thrust into the soil and already they're starting to bloom. For months, it's been speculated what could be so profound that it drives an adamantium laced wedge between Cyclops and Wolverine? Is it another hot redhead they want to bone? Is it Cyclops hiding Wolverine's liquor stash? No, it's a fateful decision involving a young mutant who didn't even exist before this year. Wolverine watched Cyclops make Idie a killer. That shit doesn't fly with him. He'll accept Cyclops getting to bone hotter women, but he can't accept him giving orders like this. It's such a profound divide it almost makes up for the sheer insanity of using fucking kids for the Hellfire Club.
This was the issue I have been waiting for. It took two issues to set it up, which I feel was one issue too long. But now that it's here, I'm more satisfied than Tiger Woods at a Bankok massage parlor. This isn't some bullshit argument between Cyclops and Wolverine. This isn't something that could easily be resolved, retconned, and glossed over. A serious fucking line has been crossed here. In some ways it speaks to Cyclops's ascent to power over the past few years. It's gotten to a point where he's the only game in town. He gives the orders and people follow him. It was only a matter of time before he gave an order that Wolverine would take issue with. In the end, the formation of that uber-sentinel seems to signify the last battle of a united X-men. It's like the cloud of smoke billowing out of Snoop Dogg's living room, clouding your vision before you see the orgy. It's an ominous yet clear divide and one that has more potential to explode than Mel Gibson at an Israel rally.
Now I still have a hard time getting over the fact that the Hellfire Club is now run by a bunch of fucking kids. Not only are they kids, but they somehow have access to weapons that can take down Namor and Magneto. These kids aren't even old enough to fucking drive, yet they can wield weapons like that? I'm hoping there's something else at work here because if these really were just kids, that would be too fucked up to wave your dick at no matter how many fetish porn sites you have a subscription to. Even if they are kids, they put the X-men into a position that will tear them apart. So for that, I have to give it up to them. They're almost as nasty as the assholes I dealt with in 5th grade. Almost.
X-men Schism #3 is a landmark issue. It gives a clear and concise reason for this schism between Wolverine and Cyclops to begin. It sets the stage for this whole fucking relaunch of the X-books and does it in an awesome way. I want to give it a perfect score just for that, but I still can't overlook the Hellfire kids. That's just too fucked up, even for a comic book. So for a final score, I give X-men Schism #3 a 4.5 out of 5. This event has the potential to be more awesome than any X-men event since Second Coming. If they could just do something about those fucking kids, it would be perfect. And if that makes me sound like a cantankerous old drunk, so be it! Nuff said!