Saturday, October 15, 2011
X-men Regenesis #1 - A New Era of X-Awesome
Whenever someone sets a bomb off in a story or your high school toilet, it's bound to leave a hell of a mess. There's destruction, devastation, and shit everywhere. Cleaning it up is always a bitch, but at the same time it opens the door to all sorts of new potential. Going back to my analogy with the high school toilets, sometimes blowing them up means the powers that be finally replace those toilets with actual working toilets that don't partially flush or overflow after only a marginal shit. Now I'm not comparing the X-books prior to Schism with my high school toilets. I'm just saying there's a comparison to be made. There was shit in both of them and in both cases it had to be cleaned up so that all the fancy fixtures could shine once more.
X-men Schism was a story that met, excited, and beat the living shit out of my expectations to the point where they looked worse than Rocky Balboa's face after twelve rounds with Ivan Drago on meth. It wasn't just an awesome story. It created a fundamental shift in the very nature of the X-books. Marvel didn't try to reinvent the freakin' wheel here. They're not Steve Jobs even if they seem to worship him at times. They created a fundamental divide within the team that couldn't be worked around. This isn't a friendly spat over who gets to fly the X-jet to the Playboy Mansion on weekends. This is a complete overhaul of who the X-men are, what they're fighting for, and how they're going to operate.
I'm sorry if I keep referencing my high school toilets, but they still apply here. After they blew up under "mysterious circumstances" a cleaning crew was called in. Well the equivalent of that cleaning crew is X-men Regenesis. This one-shot issue essentially takes place within that small time frame in X-men Schism #5 where the X-men picked sides. Now if they didn't have something like this, it would be a massive fucking oversight on Marvel's part. Thankfully, they're taking the time to tell stories that don't involve fighting giant robots or snuffing out cosmic entities. The X-men are faced with some tough decisions here. It kind of makes sense to show those decisions. It may not be as exciting as watching Cyclops and Wolverine beat the shit out of each other, but it helps the story. If you can't survive without that much bloodlust in your comics, then up your thorazine dosage and skip the complaining. This is a big moment for X-men and I'm taking time in between drinking binges to give you fine people a full assessment!
X-men Regenesis is built around this crazy backdrop that I'm assuming is some kind of metaphor for the whole contrast between Wolverine and Cyclops. I really don't get why it's necessary. I guess Marvel just want's to symbolize the core struggle between these two characters. That or they just have some kick ass weed that I'll never be able to afford. I'm assuming it's a mix of both because it involves Wolverine and Cyclops dressed as cavemen fighting with sicks and bones. It's a scene that plays out through the whole comic, showing other X-men in caveman garb along the way. It looks badass and all, but it isn't actually happening. It's basically just a visual aid. For guys like me who have killed many a brain cells over the years, it's very helpful even if it really isn't relevant to the story.
Wolverine's first recruit is a guy the Ringo Starr of the X-men, Iceman. He's one of the Original Five. The Original Five have all gone on to have epic stories and dramas of their own. Cyclops and Jean had the Phoenix Saga. Beast had his transformation to man, to ape-man, to cat-man. Angel has his Arcangel transformation. And Iceman had...well, pretty much jack shit. But if you're going to start a new school for mutants, you need credibility. Since Iceman is the last man standing, why shouldn't he play a central role? It's about damn time he get a shot at the big leagues and Wolverine is giving it to him! He threw a beer in for good measure, which for me would be the deal-clincher. Hopefully this means Iceman is slightly more relevant than just being that guy that Havok cock-blocked and had a fling with Mystique.
Recruiting Iceman was easy. Psylocke is a bit more complicated. For one, she's a lot more relevant due to her role in X-Force and her ability to fill out a thong. Wolverine comes to her offering her to join, but surprisingly she refuses. Yet at the same time, she says she'll stay with X-Force. Wait a minute...how the fuck would that work? She stays with X-Force yet resides on Utopia? Isn't that a huge conflict of interest? It would be like hiring that secretary you screwed over a desk to be chair of your ethics department.
If that weren't confusing enough, Cyclops comes in right after Wolverine and offers Psylocke a greater role with his team. At first she thinks he wants to do another X-Force team (never mind he's completely ignorant of Wolverine's team). But he's really looking for a spy that will manage the defenses of the island. It doesn't sound like a suitable role for a woman who runs around in a thong, but then again with so many people leaving why not? I'm still confused by how this shit will work with her and X-Force. Seriously, how is that not going to be a problem? Now I love Psylocke and I love her in as many stories as possible, but logistically speaking this is too fucked up and there isn't much of an effort to clear it up.
It isn't just recruiting that drives who joins which side. There are also relationship troubles that drive characters apart. If you'll recall in Uncanny X-men #543, Kitty was not pleased with Colossus's willingness to shack up with Cytorakk and become the new Juggernaut. That and I don't think her panties are getting wet from that bald head of his. Just when it seemed as though they could start making up for all the time they lost when she was trapped in a bullet, this shit happens. Seriously, Marvel will let relationships like Cyclops and Emma Frost drag on but they won't give these kids a chance? Well to their credit they don't flat out break up here. Kitty says she's going with Wolverine, but tells Colossus she'll be there for him, presumably for booty calls. Although now that Colossus now contains Juggernaut's unstoppable power, I doubt her snatch could take the constant abuse so maybe it's good to put some distance between them.
There's even a few characters getting involved that haven't been in the X-book for a while. Remember Beast? You know, the guy Marvel turned into an oversized cat and had leave the X-men when he couldn't handle Cyclops sending out kill squads? Well he gets a call from Wolverine with an offer to join his new institute, never mind that Wolverine himself put together his own X-Force after Cyclops explicitly disbanded thanks in no part to Beast's bitching. Yet he's more than willing to join Wolverine. It makes me wonder that if Beast finds out about X-Force, will he go running off again? If he doesn't, then he's a fucking hypocrite of the Ted Haggard variety.
Even so, it's nice to see Beast getting involved again. We even get a nice reminder that Beast does have time for a little loving every now and then. He's dating Abigail Brand from SWORD, remember? Wolverine just happened to call him during a booty call. Brand certain seemed demanding. Either she's a closet furry or she was just a huge fan of Thundercats growing up.
Some relationships are just a bit more fucked up if that's even possible. I've made my position on the Rogue/Magneto relationship in my X-men Legacy reviews. I find it as believable as Tom Cruise at a psychiatry convention and more nauseating than a lesbian porno starring the women from the View. So I'm somewhat relieved to see Rogue go with Wolverine while Magneto stays. That way Magneto has less opportunities to play the role of a creepy old man who refuses to put his penis in anyone that isn't a quarter his age. However, they do somewhat joke about it. Like Kitty and Colossus, they don't fully push each other away and that's somewhat distressing I suppose. Rogue deserves better and a creepy old guy with genocidal tendencies is beneath her.
Not every relationship ends up being destroyed though. This event apparently takes place after the current events in X-men Legacy, so I guess this would count as a major spoiler. Havok and Polaris have clearly returned from space, in tact and still in one piece. Being in space clearly hasn't fucked up their relationship too much because they're having a nice dinner when Wolverine approaches them. Now this is another scene that was really condensed because Lorna is Magneto's daughter and Havok is Cyclops's brother. So why would they go against their own families to join Wolverine? That isn't explored. We don't even know what their reaction was when they found out how fucked up everything was after they got back from space. Yet they decide they're going to side with Wolverine and join X-Factor. Seriously, what gives here? I get that there's a lot of ground to cover with this comic, but this seems like some pretty important shit. It's just like the scene with Psylocke. A lot of implications take place here, but we don't know any of the details and they're probably juicy details! That's like dangling a stake in front of hungry fans and pulling it away. Even if there's a valid excuse, it's still kind of a dick move.
If you're sick of the couples focus at this point, you're in luck because this issue dedicates a lot of ink to the one that started it all in a sense. That's right, I'm talking about Jean Gr-I mean Hope Summers (it's still tough to tell the difference with stories like this). In recent issues of Generation Hope, the Lights are getting wind of the idea that their mutant messiah is controlling them in the same way Charles Manson controlled his followers minus the use of LSD. Well Laurie isn't cool with that, especially after what happened with Idie. Hope makes it clear to Cyclops that she still wants control of her team, but Laurie isn't having it. So she pulls a fucking gun on Hope. Now I already have a thing for blue-skinned naked women thanks to Mystique, but Laurie is doing a lot to endear herself to me with moments like this.
Unfortunately, not much comes of it. Hope gets her to put the gun down by playing the "my daddy's dead" card and reminding Laurie that she's the mutant messiah. If she doesn't play that role and play it well, then Cable died for nothing. Yet she doesn't know Cable's coming back in an event called X-Sanction that's scheduled to hit this December, but that's her problem. At least she doesn't come off as a complete brat this time so I'll give her that. She needs a scene like this and I'm glad she didn't waste it.
In addition to not sounding like a brat for once, Hope makes a decision that both Cyclops and Wolverine seem to agree on. Idie shouldn't stay on Utopia. She should go with Wolverine. This one is a no brainer because the events of Schism traumatized her the most. She became a mutant and struggled to adapt. Then she became a killer and that set this whole crazy divide into motion. She's the only light to leave. It's not easy for Hope, but she does it anyways. She's able to channel her inner Jean Grey and do something honorable. It also shows that her hold on the Lights isn't without condition. It's a potentially larger conflict that should play out in the pages of Generation Hope. So long as Hope does not revert back to her bratty bitch ways, I'm all for it.
In addition to the lights, the New Mutants are also left with a tough decision. Now you would expect that since they're new that they would side with Wolverine. Shouldn't being in a classroom be slightly less dangerous than going on missions that involve the occasional trips to Limbo? Then again, maybe they went to my high school and were equally traumatized because both Cannonball and Mirage decide to stay on Utopia. Why not? They're learning by doing. They're like the advanced class that went to some prep school that the other young mutants either couldn't afford or simply weren't desperate enough to blow somebody to get their shot. So they're sticking around. Mirage even decides to slap a big wet kiss on Cannonball. As if he doesn't need more reasons to say, the pussy is just that much better I suppose.
Otehr young mutants have a different approach. This one takes rules out of the kind of logic you would only find with Red Sox fans. They settle it on a baseball field. They argue a bit about what they should choose and why they should choose it. Rockslide, being the guy that thinks outside the box, says they should listen to the one of them with pre-cognition powers. It's sort of a lazy way to argue what they decide. It's like a Presidential candidate responding to a difficult question by saying "I'll have to have my secretary get back to you on that." Since they're not Mitt Romney, they're left with little way around Rockslide's logic. The pre-cog says they're joining Wolverine and if not they're working against fate. Even if it is lazy, it's still perfectly valid. Fate's a bitch, isn't it?
The next few scenes are essentially more compressed moments of other characters making their decision. Characters like Namor, Gambit, and the Cuckoos get into the act. They make their decision without much of a debate. Even others like Rachel decide to go with Wolverine, never mind that like Havok and Polaris we don't know why she's suddenly going against her own father who made such a big deal of finding her. Was she really that disgusted with everything that changed? Then there's Toad, who practically begged Wolverine to let him join. He even offered to be the janitor of the school! Right, a guy with the personal hygiene of a toad is responsible for keeping the place clean. That's like employing Homer Simpson in a doughnut factory. But bless Wolverine's heart, he gives the little snot a chance. Don't know if it's compassion or stupidity so I'll just say it's both.
Again, I get what they're trying to do here. There's a lot of ground to cover with who decides to go with who, but some of this just feels rushed. I mean can it really be resolved in a single panel for some characters? It doesn't feel like it flows completely well with the issue because they're essentially squeezed into the plot. It's disappointing and it feels like we're missing out on more drama. Now I'm not saying that Marvel should have made this book 80 pages long, but a little extra ink would have gone a long ways here. This is a big divide for the team. It can't and shouldn't be glossed over.
For some scenes, however, there is plenty of ink devoted and for good reason. Storm, a character that commands respect by all sides, could easily side with Wolverine or Cyclops. She probably has more reason to side with Wolverine because I can't imagine that she would be happy with him ordering Idie to kill. She's also really good with young mutants and a new institute would give her a chance to work with them. Yet Cyclops goes out of his way to practically beg her to stay. And it isn't because Utopia needs her. It's because he needs her. That's right, he as a person needs her. He's on an island with Magneto, Namor, Emma Frost, and a Juggernaut fueled Colossus. That's not very good company to say the least and he needs someone who doesn't have that kind of baggage and she's someone that could command the necessary respect. It's a powerful moment and one that really puts a new twist on Storm's role with the X-men. It also puts a new twist on her relationship with Cyclops, which for anyone who has seen the cover to Astonishing X-men #44 knows what I mean by that.
So Storm decides to stay. She will be the second in command in the field. It's a questionable decision in many ways, but this is Storm we're talking about here. More than any other character, she goes where she can do the most good. Plus, Cyclops's team definitely needs her balance. For if Namor, Magneto, or Emma go evil again then she's one of the few who can stand in their way and make them shit their pants. For this, my respect for Storm is that much greater and my pants are that much more soiled.
So Storm is now the second alpha dog in the X-men. Where does that leave Emma? Bearing in mind that she's the kind of woman who deems anything other than top authority akin to losing a kidney, she's not just going to keel over for Cyclops and put on a Catwoman costume so she can play hump the superhero on the roof. This is actually a significant change because to this point, Emma Frost has been pretty much nothing more than arm candy for Cyclops. It's absolutely fucked that something like Schism has to happen to assert herself, but better late than never I suppose. She makes it clear that she has plenty of reasons to NOT join Cyclops. She wants to teach and seeing so many young students go with Wolverine is difficult to turn away from. But the power of Cyclops's penis is just too great. She teased Cyclops that she considered joining Wolverine, but still sided with Cyclops in the end. To do so she had to liquidate her vast wealth, which means her pussy will come attached with purse strings. She also makes clear that Cyclops better know what the fuck she's doing because lover or not, she's not just going to pour her hard earned (and probably dirty) money into a venture that will fail.
This is another powerful scene because it puts a new twist on the Cyclops/Emma relationship, which to this point has become so bland and inane that it really has done more harm than good for the characters, especially Emma. In this scene Emma shows that her relationship with Cyclops doesn't completely dictate her character. She's still her own person and while she trusts him, she's not about to play second fiddle or be disrespected.
So the lines have been drawn. Everyone has taken their side. This comic, condensed it may be, does it's best to show how so many characters react in just a single issue. It's here where that crazy caveman battle doesn't seem so crazy anymore. Throughout this issue, it has shown the battle between Wolverine and Cyclops play out with characters joining each side along the way. In the end this battle helps symbolize who goes with who and how they part ways. It's not so much a metaphor as it is a visualization of what is taking place here. This is a true schism here. We're not talking Israeli's and Palestinian's here. We're talking a fundamental ideological divide and despite the shortcomings in this issue, it still works.
The lines have been drawn. The sides have been chosen. This was an extra long issue that involved a lot of characters. There was really no way it could touch on everyone, but it did the best with what it had. In the end X-men Regenesis #1 succeeded in what it set out to do. It showed the major players within Wolverine and Cyclops's factions making their decision. For some it was more complicated than others. For some it was somewhat rushed. Reading this comic, you get the sense that it could have been twice as long. You can tell that it was condensed to cover as much ground as possible. Even if it did succeed, there was so much more it could have done. Hell, this could have been designed like the Prelude to Schism crap that was way longer and really didn't add much to the story. That more than anything is the primary shortcoming of this issue. It simply tries to do too much in one comic.
There's still a lot of great material here. The moment with Hope and Laurie was among the main highlights. It ties directly into the conflict that has been simmering within Generation Hope for a while now. This is the freakin' mutant messiah and now even her own followers are starting to get weary with her. Laurie resorted to pulling a gun on Hope, which definitely helps add to her street cred. Hope does a little sulking, which also helps the bitch factor that has made her so unlikable in recent times. Then there are scenes like Psylocke, who seems to be playing both sides and not in the lesbian porno kind of sense. There's Hank joining Wolverine despite the fact that Wolverine runs a secret kill squad. These scenes could have been much longer in dealing with these conflicts. They get the job done, but only at the bare minimum.
Whatever X-men Regenesis lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. There's no denying that this issue is awesome at setting the stage for the post-Schism world. It's the kind of comic you can give to someone who hasn't been following the X-books for a while or is just getting into X-men and they could pick up what was happening with relative ease. Sure, they would still need to do a few Google searches to fill in the blanks and they would need a very long explanation for why the fuck Hope Summers looks so much like Jean Grey. But they would still have a solid understanding of the whole X-men universe in the end. Not many books can do that. For this, I give X-men Regenesis #1 a 4.5 out of 5. If it was a bit longer and more detailed, it would be perfect. It's still an awesome comic and one I liken to the icing on the back of a strippers ass after a great lap dance. Nuff said!