Thursday, December 1, 2011
Uncanny X-men #2 - Sinister Stylish Awesome
Style is like a vagina. We all admire it on some level, but nobody will ever figure it out. I believe there's a little metrosexual in all of us. It may not be as flamboyant as Lady Gaga's wardrobe, but it's there whether we want to admit it or not. On some levels we're all just stoners stumbling around a 7-11 at two in the morning staring in amazement at how shiney the tin foil they wrap old hot dogs in can be. Style applies to comics as well and I'm not just talking about the horribly impractical attire that most superheroes wear, especially those that can barely contain the breasts of the overly proportioned female characters. Sometimes style is more subtle and that subtlety is what gives a comic a truly unique feel.
Enter Mr. Sinister. He's one of the X-men's most notorious villain. He'll strike fear in his enemies while making them stare in the same way they stare at a midget fucking a donkey. It's so horrendous that you just can't look away. While Sinister has always had a very macabre style, his recent return to the pages of Uncanny have poured a little napalm on that fire. It started in Uncanny X-men #544 where he was literally pooped out of some bio chamber. Then he put on the kind of suit that you only see in Mad Men, but he rocked it in a way not seen since pimps reintroduced the feathered hat. This style made his first act of badassery in Uncanny X-men #1 where he commandeered a sleeping Celestial all the more potent. He presented a daunting first challenge for Cyclops and his new Extinction Team. And like a boss, he created a carnival of horrors that was as awesome as it was theatric.
Uncanny X-men #2 doesn't let up on those theatrics. If anything it kicks it up a notch. Cyclops leads his team right into the twisted new domain that Sinister has carved out within San Francisco. It's as weird as it gets, but the sad thing is it could still probably pass for a tourist attraction. Hell, Nancy Polosi may even take bribes to profit from it. That makes crushing this army of tacky Sinister clones all the more vital. The last thing the X-men need is another reason for San Francisco to sick their army of hippies, gays, and stoners at them.
If Sinister fucking with them with his army of lookalikes and hipster style dress sense wasn't bad enough, Cyclops gets a call during the middle of the battle from Abigale Brand from SWORD. Apparently, the Celestials don't like it when some psychopath hijacks one of their own and uses them to make their personal Disneyland minus the mouse and the subtle antisemitism. So the Dreaming Celestial's buddies, who are space gods capable of ripping the universe several trillion new assholes, are on their way to do a little judging in ways that only republicans can masturbate to.
Now Sinister could just continue to sick his army of Sinisters on the X-men until the Celestials force a global pants-shitting contest, but that just wouldn't be Sinister. At some randomly chosen point in the battle, he calls off the attack and invites the X-men to join him in his newly constructed palace. Now if anyone else did this, I probably would start pissing and moaning about how it's so abrupt and contrived. But this is Sinister. He fucks with people in a way that even Dr. House would find excessive. So he invites them in and the X-men take him up on his offer, despite the fact that Emma Frost lost a fucking arm.
That's something that's worth repeating. In the last issue Emma Frost lost a fucking arm. Now she's able to manage because she's in her diamond form. Apparently, that makes bleeding to death a non-issue. But Cyclops and the others actually make it a point to remind her that she doesn't have an arm and probably is a liability in this fight. But she's Emma Frost. So long as her tits are intact, she can participate in any battle. That's besides the point, but I just think it's nice that Gillen didn't ignore it because it would have been easy for most other writers to do just that.
So the X-men venture into Sinister's domain. Along the way Danger starts making sense of this shit because to this point it has been a little random, although you can't expect much else from Sinister. She describes how all these dupes are basically from the same set of DNA. But they're just expressing themselves in different ways. It sounds like some shit my old art teacher did when he came to work drunk, but it does offer some insight into what Sinister is doing here. All these dupes are actually his DNA and not just your typical clone. They're basically his own kingdom and they all share his flashy style.
Once they're inside, Sinister offers a deeper explanation while coming off even creepier in the process. We actually get a little insight into what makes this raving madman who is crazy enough to clone himself and dress like Dean Martin. Gillen actually cites his past in Victorian England. He talks about how he thought he saw heaven in the White, racist, ethnocentric world of douch-baggery known as 19th century England. I know. That's as fucked up as it sounds. So he makes the same conclusion that the KKK made. Why not impose this entire singular vision on the whole fucking world? But unlike racist rednecks that wave flags with chewing tobacco stains, Sinister is actually capable of it. Remember, he has a fucking Celestial at his disposal and he's used it to make an army of his perfect little clones.
Needless to say, the X-men don't take kindly to a guy so narcissistic that he thinks the world should be made up of his own clones. But keep in mind Sinister invited them into his domain. They suspected it was a trap and guess what? They were right? He used a little creative telepathy to take over their minds and paralyze them. Only Emma could escape because she's immune to telepathy in her diamond form. Now Colossus/Juggernaut has his helmet on so for a moment he was immune too. But Sinister just had Cyclops blow his helmet off. See? Problem solved.
Now this would be very cunning if the X-men hadn't walked right into it. But they did. It's the only real head-scratching moment of the comic. While I'm sure there's some plan at work here, it still feels forced. Like it was just a way to get everyone in a place so Gillen could have Sinister do some flashbacks. I'm glad he's taking the time to flesh out Sinister more, but it would definitely help it if happened in a more organic way.
Emma and Danger, who maintain control of their own minds, try to oppose Sinister while he continues to fuck with Cyclops and the rest of his team. But remember Emma only has one arm. That and Sinister pretty much blows Danger the fuck apart with a fucking cannon. Yeah, it's a very basic way to take her out of the picture, but she's a fucking machine that doesn't have diamond kin and big boobs to protect her. Even Emma understands that she's outmatched. Even when Sinister brings up Jean Grey, she's no match for him. He's so unthreatened by her that he takes this time to explain his little philosophy of genetics. He credits his long study of Cyclops's lineage as having paved the way for the research that made his army of non mini-mes possible. He even goes so far as to say that everything is determined by genetics and free will is just an illusion. It's not every day that comics get existential, but with Sinister it's actually more than appropriate.
This philosophical musing distracts from the fact that he allowed Hope Summers to mimic Emma's diamond powers and escape with Illyana's powers. She's pretty resourceful for a Jean Grey ripoff so she deserves credit in that respect. She earns herself even more credit when she uses her escape to position herself a ways away and fire a sniper bullet that hits Sinister right in the head. That's right. A teenage girl that looks like Jean Grey shoots Sinister in the head. X-men fans, if this isn't enough for you then not even the fucking Phoenix Force can satisfy you.
But shooting one Sinister in the head is like shooting one raindrop in a hurricane. It amounts to jack shit because every Sinister clone is just as viable as Victorian Era Sinister. Even though the shot frees the X-men from their paralysis, they're still the one legged man in the ass kicking contest. They have no shot because Sinister is everywhere and he makes it clear that if they're not part of this perfect yet twisted world of his, they're fucked. It's a somewhat abrupt way to end the comic, but it gets the message across.
I said it at the beginning of this review and I'll say it again. Sinister has style. He's always been an over-the-top, unconventional style villain. This issue takes that concept, sticks a ton of C4 up it's ass, and blows it the fuck up over an entire mural. Sinister has always been a crazy son-of-a-bitch, but Kieron Gillen actually took time to flesh out the method behind the madness. He even got a little philosophical at times. Granted, it got a little wordy in some parts, but it's reassuring to see someone make a concerted effort to add more twist to a guy that's more twisted than a Tim Burton movie. Sinister really steals the show here. The X-men are basically props. Hell, you could have called this issue Sinister and his Uncanny X-Bitches and it would have been more than appropriate.
In many ways this issue took a different path than the second issue of Wolverine and the X-men. It tried to mix the action with a deeper exploration of the characters. Gillen didn't try to overwhelm the reader with epic struggles. He used a solid mix of flash and flare to tell a more complex tale, but it doesn't feel quite as complex. It's very different from Wolverine and the X-men because that series is a lot more basic. The premise of that book is clear, but the premise of Uncanny X-men is still developing. At times it requires the reader to be a bit more active in their approach to the book, but it's not fucking brain surgery. It's just a genuinely deep comic that actually makes you think. Since I've killed so many brain cells over the years, I've come to appreciate shit like that.
Aside from the wordiness in the middle, there's really not much else to say about this issue. It's awesome on so many levels. It succeeds in taking what was set up in the first issue and building something greater on top of it. It didn't build as far as it could have. Most of this issue was spent expanding the scale of Sinister's plot. For some, it may feel like the story drags, but it's still as solid a read you'll get with an X-book. That's why I give Uncanny X-men #2 a 4.5 out of 5. This first arc is poised to blow the minds of every X-fan in a way that would land any partially attractive woman a role in Donald Trump's next reality show. It's not quite there yet, but it's close! And like my ex-girlfriend with her favorite shower head, I'm ready for the climax! Nuff said.