Saturday, December 24, 2011
Wolverine and the X-men #3 - Legally Binding Awesome
Everyone has a different definition of fun. For some people, fun is having a bottle of whiskey in one hand and a joint in the other while your collection of your Japanese anime porn collection is playing on your TV. For other more demented people, fun is what you do to small animals when your school counselor tells you that the spankings your mother gave you were out of love and not because she was a demon sent from hell to turn your ass into the fucking Gobi desert. My point is that fun is something that's underrated and overlooked, especially in comics. Everything has to be groundbreaking and serious these days. There's no room for fun. Everything has to be a political statement that Glenn Beck can bitch about or Michelle Bachmann use in her campaign.
For this reason, Wolverine and the X-men has been special. It's the first comic book I've come across in a long time that's just plain fun. It's not overly fancy. It's back to basics without it feeling too basic. Wolverine wants to create a new institute and name it after the woman he desperately wanted to bone, but never got a chance to. It's simple and could easily become the same, bland crap that always takes place when the X-men's home is blown to shit. However, Jason Aaron proves that rebuilding doesn't have to be the same old crap. It can be new, refreshing, and fun. Throw in a living island monster and homicidal kids and you've got the essence of Wolverine and the X-men.
The first arc depicts the beginning of the Jean Grey Institute and without restating the first two reviews I've done, it's been a fucking disaster. Not only has Wolverine made a really shitty impression on the humorless bureaucrats that are supposed to sanction his school. Those pesky Hellfire kids that came out of thin air during Schism showed up again and unleashed an attack on the institute because it was bad for business. That or it was getting in the way of them watching Spongebob. It could be either for all I know. But it's made for some amazing action and some very fun moments.
Wolverine and the X-men #3 looks to continue that fun. Like the previous issue, it uses a quick flashback to fill in some of the blanks as to how Wolverine put together a school like this. One issue that's hard to escape is Kid Omega. Remember him? He's the omega level psychic that kicked Schism into high gear when he barged in on the UN and compelled all the politicians to actually tell the truth. Now instead of getting the metal of fucking honor, he's become a fugitive that every country wants dead. They only truth they trust is from Fox News so that means Quentin Quere has to go. So how does Wolverine hide him? Well keep in mind he's still an Avenger. That means he knows Captain fucking America and Wolverine is able to convince him that locking Kid Omega up would just create another supervillain. So why not take a chance at his institute? Unlike Congress, Captain America is reasonable and competent so he gives it a chance.
So far, the Kid Omega experiment isn't going too well. He's still an intolerable douche. In the last issue it was revealed that while the institute was under attack by the living island, Karoka, he was just sitting back and watching via video feed presumably laughing his ass off in between jerking off. There's even some inner narration for him (which I think is a first) that hammers home the notion that he's a complete douche. But unfortunately for him, being a douche doesn't protect him from the attack. While he's watching, he gets attacked by a Windigo (the result of those humorless bureaucrats turning into monsters in the last issue). So he can't just it back and laugh. He actually has to put his ass on the line in a non-Catholic sort of way.
Kid Omega's ass is saved (again, in a non-Catholic way) by Idie and Broo, quite possibly the cutest and most disturbing little couple since Mike Meyers and Verne Troyer. Kid Omega naturally shows no gratitude for their assistance. He shows even less when Kid Gladiator, who joined the institute from the Shi'ar, takes down the other humorless bureaucrat that was in the form of Sauron. He takes over, stealing Kid Omega's thunder as he takes on these two transformed monsters that are hard to distinguish from their government stooge counterparts. And this pisses Kid Omega off. Not because his life is in danger, but because they don't know who he is. He's the one that triggered schism, damn it! And his ego demands that he be recognized.
Now it would have been totally out of character for Kid Omega to just step up and play hero as a means to redeem himself for ending the Wolverine/Cyclops bromance in Schism. This kid is a douche and an egotist. He needs another more practical reason to save the day. When his own classmates don't even recognize what an awesome guy he is, he has to do something to impress them. That something just happens to be stopping this attack and saving the day. It's still ridiculously egotistical, but it's perfectly in character for Kid Omega. That's what has been the hallmark of Jason Aaron's work thus far. The book isn't just fun. Every character fits their role and in this case, Kid Omega takes on Karoka and uses those vast powers of his for something other than convincing pretty blondes that he's Brad Pitt's younger brother.
What Kid Omega does has a major impact on all the shit that's going on outside. If you'll recall, Wolverine and his team were getting their asses handed to them by the snotty Hellfire kids that had recruited Karoka to destroy their school before it had even been certified. It was an uphill battle. Then as a result of Kid Omega's ego and douche-baggery, Rachel Grey makes a breakthrough. She's able to sense Karoka's mind and it tells her that the Hellfire kids were controlling it and for reasons it doesn't explain, that really sucks. So it says it wants to join Wolverine's school. This surprises the X-men in an understandable way and shows that even a douche-bag can contribute to the greater good.
Now this may not be the most surprising twist, but it's the kind of twist that really complements the story in all the right ways. The theme of this initial arc was to show how the Jean Grey Institute was a new kind of institute for mutants to flourish. Karoka may not be your typical big-breasted mutant that makes for good slash fanfiction. But making it another victim in need of a place to learn fits nicely with what Jason Aaron is doing here and he doesn't need to make some elaborate scene laced with social commentary either. It's simple, fun, and satisfying. Not unlike masturbation, but not as messy.
The Hellfire kids know they're screwed. So they pack up and leave. The X-men don't go after them, at least not directly. Later on Wolverine sends Matt Murdock after them (who is just as much a lawyer as he is a hero, making it the most twisted combination in all of comics). Wolverine may be an asshole, but he's smart enough to know that the best way to hit rich douche-bags is with lawyers. It's their kryptonite. Some may argue it's fighting evil with evil, but let's face it. Compromise is necessary at times. Besides, how else are they going to pay for repairing their school?
Flash forward past the rubble and the awkward explanation that a bunch of kids attacked them and things are back to the usual fucked up brand of normal that the X-men are used to. Karoka shows that it (they couldn't decide of calling it he or she was appropriate) can be a contributor to the institute by providing shade for students while their school is repaired. All the while it's not entirely clear that Kid Omega helped them, but the mere fact he's lounging around in one of the most disturbing speedos ever created pretty much gives it away.
Now what about those humorless bureaucrats that had been turned into monsters and were threatening to shut the school down? Well this is where homicidal kids and living islands become the least fucked up part of a comic book. They don't remember shit. They're just back to normal, they have no memory of what happened, and they're laughing it up with Beast. So all that bullshit they went through in the last issue was really for nothing. That's not the only thing that was glossed over. In the last issue Iceman made a conscious effort to dispel those gay rumors on message boards and stole a kiss from Kitty Pryde. But when he confronted her about it, she just shrugged it off and that was it.
I can't help but groan a bit here because as great as Jason Aaron is on this series, he does have a tendency to gloss over shit. I get that comics only have so many pages to work with, but these people get paid to be creative. There has to be enough weed at the Marvel offices to help them come up with sufficient ideas on how to tie these plots together or at least hint at where they're going. But they don't and that's disappointing for a comic that is so awesome in so many other ways.
While overall it's a happy ending for Wolverine and the Jean Grey Institute, you can't expect a homicidal kid to give up that easily. Kids are immature. They don't let shit go. Take away their sippy cup and they hold it against you for weeks. So take a kid with way too much money and free time that isn't old enough to masturbate and you've got a dangerous combination. Kilgore wants to destroy Wolverine's school and he needs to find someone who wants it just as bad. In that case he need look no further than Sabretooth. That's right. The guy who had his fucking head chopped off is alive, making him yet another dead character that Marvel has no problem bringing back before Jean Grey. However fucked up it may be, it sets the stage for Wolverine having a much bigger target on his ass moving forward.
And so it begins. The first arc of Wolverine and the X-men is over. It wasn't overly elaborate like the first arc of Uncanny X-Force. It simply told a fun story about how Wolverine gets his school off the ground and how he deals with threats that try to fuck with him. The result is the most fun you'll have with an X-men comic that doesn't involve an Emma Frost blow-up doll. Jason Aaron doesn't just make this an epic struggle that pits the X-men up against Karoka. He actually throws in a few twists and puts a new spin on Karoka, the likes of which is more overdue than the last Duke Nukem game. He even sets up Wolverine's next challenge at the end, which was already revealed at the New York Comic Con earlier this year. Yet it still has an impact because who else besides Sabretooth has a greater incentive to fuck with Wolverine's new endeavor.
Wolverine and the X-men has a very unique style and for some, that style may not jive. This comic doesn't take itself too seriously. In some ways it undercuts the very serious goal it has for Wolverine and the group of X-men that followed him. While the resolution to this first arc was solid, some things were glossed over. The kiss between Kitty and Iceman was pretty much forgotten. Those two humorless bureaucrats were made a non-factor in the end. They're very minor details and the funny bit at the end more than makes up for it. But more than anything else, this arc cements the tone of what Wolverine and the X-men will entail. And you know what? It's awesome. It's one of the strongest new X-books since Uncanny X-Force and Jason Aaron has plenty to work with moving forward.
So how can we gauge this first arc? Well it's awesome. That much is beyond dispute. There were only a few minor hicccups here and there, mostly in this issue. Overall, the arc itself is a 5 out of 5. But this particular issue is a 4.5 out of 5 because of the minor details that were overlooked. Now there's no reason why these details can't be resolved in the next issue. But as it stands, this comic set it's own bar pretty damn high and there's only so high you can go before the thin air kills one too many brain cells. Jason Aaron has done something special here. If you want a comic that's not going to make you think too much about the state of mankind and has Wolverine chasing after bottles of liquor, then this is your book. My family reunions are only slightly less chaotic so since I can't invite everybody, you'll have to settle for this comic. Nuff said!