Thursday, September 22, 2011
X-men Schism #4 - Clash of Awesome
There are three constants in X-men. One is that Jean Grey never stays dead. Two is Deadpool never shuts up. And three is Cyclops and Wolverine never see eye-to-eye. That third constant had manifested in many forms over the years, but somehow Cyclops and Wolverine have always been able to work through it. They respect each other to a point, but if one of them was on fire the other probably wouldn't piss on them if it meant saving their life. They've lusted for the same woman. They've disagreed on tactics, politics, and probably vote for different singers on American Idol. In that sense a story like Schism was inevitable. I'm just amazed it didn't happen sooner.
This big event that's supposed to shake up the X-men more than a sushi chef with carpel tunnel syndrome has been awesome in nearly every meaningful way. Sure, along the way Jason Aaron through a bunch of homicidal kids into the mix, but nobody's perfect. The WTF is far exceeded by the ball-busting awesome that has put Cyclops and Wolverine onto a path of no return. X-men Schism #3 was the big issue where we found out what besides Jean Grey's pussy would drive these men apart. What Aaron assembled was something so deep and so profound that it would be impossible for everyone to agree who was right and who was wrong.
It happened when Cyclops gave Idie, a 13-year-old girl who just started filling out a bra, the order to kill so that they could stop the Hellfire Club. She succeeded, but Wolverine had a big problem with turning a kid into a killer. I imagine most people (Texas not withstanding) would also have a problem with that. It's the kind of shit that even a degenerate like can't overlook. Sure he's killed so many people that Ted Bundy would ask for his autograph, but he doesn't do it without reason. He has principles and honor, something that Cyclops completely compromised. I finished that book feeling as though I could follow either X-man. That's what made it so awesome. Now X-men Schism #4 deals with where they go from here.
Cyclops, in an effort to come off as less a douche-bag, confronts Idie when they return to Utopia and consoles her. But wait a sec...didn't the last issue end with Wolverine and Cyclops staring down some freaky new sentinel that was building a body for itself out of scrap metal and broken dildos? When did they get back to Utopia? Did the sentinel just let them go? Did they call timeout or fake an injury like the New York Giants did on Monday Night Football? It's not as egregious as it sounds. The point of this first scene is to show Cyclops realizing that what he did was crossing a line. It also shows how tough it is for Idie. This girl just killed people and that shit takes time to sink in. It's like seeing your first bukkake video. It's difficult to process.
The kids are shell shocked. But Wolverine? Well he's just shocked in the "Don't taze me bro!" tradition. That sentinel that started growing in the last issue is still growing now. Wolverine decided to stay behind like the ballsy son-of-a-bitch he is and recklessly threw himself at it trying to stop it. He might as well be trying to throw himself off a cliff to attack the horizon. Madison Jefferies and Dr. Nemesis are there, who can't seem to resist something that spits in the face of Albert Einstein and fucks Stephen Hawkings. It's basically an energy core with no machine. It takes the metal it needs from around it to build a badass body. Trying to destroy that body is like trying to shovel sand against the tide. It's basically way more badass than that shitty sentinel Iran tried to use.
This ain't your grandmother's sentinel. It's not something Wolverine can just decapitate and then go out and get drunk afterwards. After this thing does some serious damage to San Francisco for which they probably aren't insured, it blows Wolverine clear across the bay. Then it sets it's sights on Utopia. Why is this a big deal? Well remember what happened with those Hellfire kids? How they were able to neutralize all of the X-men's heavy hitters included Magneto, Namor, and Emma Frost? Yeah, it's fucked up as it sounds, but they're still out of it. They can't help Cyclops take this thing on. Most of the other X-men are off fighting abroad, trying to clean up all the sentinels that the rest of the world tried to sic on them. So Utopia is basically a cute Japanese girl in anime porn. It's pretty much fucked.
Cyclops does what he's been trained to do since he was still sneaking Jean Grey's panties from her laundry. He leads. With no heavy hitters to help him take on this sentinel, he once again calls upon the X-men youth. This includes some of the New Mutants and Generation Hope, including Idie. Now it seems like a dick move, asking Idie to fight again after she's just killed. But she and pretty much anyone else for that matter wouldn't have nearly as big a problem with destroying a killer robot. Plus, it's attacking their home. Why shouldn't they blow it up? None of the young X-men speak up. They follow Cyclops the same way sluts follow Tommy Lee. It's irresistible to them.
Once again, Wolverine has a big fucking problem with this. For him, throwing kids into the line of fire is just too much. There's being a dick, which Cyclops is mores often than not, and just being a total asshole. Throwing kids into the line of fire is just not what the X-men is about to him. He's okay with running and leaving Utopia behind. He would rather seem these kids run and have their home destroyed rather than see them fight and turn into killers. It's a valid point, but then Cyclops argues that with the way humanity is throwing sentinels at them where could they possibly run?
At this point I had to stop reading the comic and smoke a few joints to clear my head. Once again, Jason Aaron sets up an amazing dynamic. You really can't pin down who is right and who is wrong here. Both Cyclops and Wolverine make valid points. Cyclops believes in fighting to preserve their home. Wolverine believes in fighting to preserve the innocence of a younger generation. While I was watching purple unicorns hump before my very eye, I could see myself following both characters. It's a profound divide, one that's not about good or evil, right or wrong, or any of that crap the Christian Right won't shut up about. This is a dilemma with no true solution and that's what makes it so compelling.
Cyclops, being the stubborn asshole he is, doesn't listen to Wolverine. He stays put. He basically tells all the young X-men that if they want to leave, he won't stop them. But if they want to fight, they're welcome to join him. Seeing as how this is the guy that boned by Jean Grey and Emma Frost, there's no turning their back on him. He just has too much credibility to go along with his adamantium laced balls. Wolverine, being the spoiled sport that he is, storms off. In a sense it symbolizes him completely turning his back on Cyclops. As far as he's concerned, their epic bromance is over.
Not one to take this shit lying down, Wolverine decides to cross a few lines of his own. So while Cyclops is preparing the X-men for a battle that may get them killed, Wolverine goes back to his room where he meets up with our old friend Quentin Quire. Yeah, he's still a douche, but when he sees what Wolverine has in a little safe of his, even he's impressed. What's in that safe you may ask? More of Jean Grey's hair? A pair of her panties? Nope! But close! It's a detonator. When he returns to Cyclops and his army of scared mutant children, he says he's just armed 2000 pounds of plastic explosives. He plans to use it to blow up both the sentinel and a good chunk of Utopia. Now a giant robot is pretty damn dangerous, but an explosion? The kids won't stick around for that shit. They run, leaving Cyclops and Wolverine in an epic duel that looks like the build-up to a heavy-weight title fight in Vegas (minus the strippers).
What follows next are some epic exchanges. In this scene the lines are drawn. Wolverine lays out his side of the argument. Cyclops lays out his. Wolverine makes it clear that this has gone far enough. They've crossed a line and they have to pull back. Cyclops argues that they need to cross these lines in order to protect these kids and the only home they have in a hostile world where any asshole with deep pockets can buy a sentinel. They stare each other down and not like that awkward moment in a gay porno. These two have had so many reasons to hate one another. Now they get one more that's just too much.
Then if that weren't nasty enough, Cyclops drops the J-word. That's right. He references Jean Grey. It's quite possibly the best, most efficient way to get under Wolverine's skin. Remind him that he never got to bone Jean. Cyclops got to bone her all he wanted when she was alive. Not only that, he reminds her that she didn't love him. She didn't marry him. But then Wolverine turns that around and says that if she was alive, she would be more pissed at him. So once again, Jean Grey effects the X-books despite being dead. She's essentially the spark that turns Schism from just a fancy title into the kind of brawl that would give Don King a heart attack.
The next several pages have no words. Because fuck words! Who wants to see these two talk anymore? After years of petty disagreements and acting tough, it finally happens. They start beating the shit out of one another. One is firepower. One is raw strength. It's as even a match you'll get without pitting an unstoppable force with an immovable object. In a ways it's beautiful. These two characters have had so many reasons to fight one another. Now it's finally coming out and it can't be done in just one page. You need to show all the rage and frustration that goes along with it. In many respects these powerful scenes help symbolize Schism. It's not just the beginning of a divide. It's the violent destruction of the unity that was once the X-men's greatest strength.
I admit I was drooling like a dog in a butcher shop at these scenes. This was a series that promised so much as every X-men event does to some extent. But these scenes ensured that the promise was fulfilled. Even with one issue left, this scene really brings Schism together. Yet in all the heightened emotions that fume between Cyclops and Wolverine, they forget that there's still a killer robot that's about to burn their flesh off. Now you would think that this would be hard to overlook. It's like walking into your room and not realizing there's a fat hooker taking a shit in your bed. But these two are so caught up in their dick-measuring feud that they don't realize it. If they don't zip up their pants soon, they'll both be dead! Thus we have all the elements we need for a ball-shriveling climax.
There's no WTF to report from this issue. The last few pages left me with my jaw on the floor, my dick in my hands, and some mysterious white powder lining my nose. This is the kind of shit you think Cyclops and Wolverine often contemplate. But here they are acting it out, beating the shit out of one another over the very future of the X-men. Again, they both make valid points. Wolverine wants to preserve whatever innocence these young mutants have left. Cyclops wants them to stand and fight so that they have a future where innocence can be preserved. Cyclops crossed a line in the last issue. Now Wolverine is crossing the line in this issue. I would say 2000 pounds of plastic explosives crosses and blows up most lines. Now in the shadow of a sentinel, they beating the everloving shit out of each other. It doesn't just make for awesome visual. The story and the circumstances that led up to it give it extra meaning. It's that meaning which makes this comic truly awesome.
I thought X-men Schism #3 would be very difficult to top. I expected this issue to go easier on the drama and take full advantage of the giant killer robot that was introduced in the previous issue. Because historically speaking, whenever Marvel introduces a killer robot they can't resist using it. Well Jason Aaron showed a little restraint. The sentinel didn't do much other than just rough up Wolverine and wade through the San Francisco Bay. The giantkiller robot was actually secondary to once. The real action was the fight between Wolverine and Cyclops. That cover wasn't a tease for once. Not like that stupid Astonishing cover where Wolverine and Emma Frost were sucking face. This comic takes what Schism #3 set up and uses it to inject awesome right into the cerebellum of your brain. It's been a long time since an X-men event was this hard-hitting any X-men fan of any level would liable for treason for not checking this book out.
Aside from the rough transition in the beginning, this issue is nearly flawless. Jason Aaron has outdone himself with the past two issues. The absence of those lame ass Hellfire kids only helped this issue. It got to a point where I really didn't care that something that fucked up caused that sentinel in the first place. It led to Cyclops and Wolverine's big fight and I consider that fair compensation! The exchange between these two men really strike deep at what is happening to the X-men. With one issue left, it is already epic. It just needs to blow a few more things up to be complete. For that reason I give X-men Schism #4 a 5 out of 5 and my highest recommendation! You heard it here folks! With a bottle of vodka in one hand and a lit joint in the other, I salute Marvel for making an X-men comic so awesome! Nuff said.