Saturday, December 10, 2011

X-men #22 - Robot Politics Should Be This Awesome

The most I know about politics comes from when I watch Fox News while high. I can't watch it sober without vomiting uncontrollably so that means my understanding is going to be skewed. Since I read comics sober from time to time, some of that knowledge has to seep through so I can follow just what the hell is going on. Thankfully, Marvel doesn't get too convoluted whenever they do politically driven stories. It all comes down to what George Carlin described as a dick-measuring contest. One country or society questions the size of another country or society's dick. An argument ensues. Sometimes they have to whip out their gear to prove their point except in most instances that gear includes bombs and bullets. In Marvel comics, that often involves giant robots.

Robots are the proverbial dick metaphor in the latest arc of Victor Gischler's adjectiveless X-men. This series has been in need of an awesome enema for quite some time and it finally fells as though that vacant rectal cavity has been successfully filled. As part of the Regenesis relaunch, the X-men now have a new security team that consists of Storm, Warpath, Domino, Colossus, and vampire Jubilee. This new team's first mission involves rescuing Domino, who was in the process of spying on a black market sentinel deal for the fictional country of Puternicstan as it is in the midst of a dick measuring contest with Symkaria. Seeing as how Vladimir Putin is still rigging elections in Russia, that may be a prophecy of sorts.

Since this story is politically charged, War Machine has been involved. He spent much of the last issue warning Storm's team to get the fuck out of this conflict so that the competent governments of the world can handle this. I assume they needed superhuman powers to prevent themselves from laughing at that remark. By the end of the issue, War Machine found himself in the grip of a sentinel that had been reprogrammed to see anyone the governor of Puternicstan deemed an enemy. Well diplomacy pretty much goes out the window when you're facing the business end of a killer robot. X-men #22 begins by having the X-men save his ungrateful ass. And like the handsome douche-bag in every slasher movie, the sentinel gets shredded easily and War Machine stays in one piece.

War Machine does manage to salvage some dignity and helps the X-men finish off the sentinel. Meanwhile, Psylocke, Warpath, and Jubilee are still inside the main sentinel facility beating up some random masked guards, which would make them the slutty blond in slasher movies who usually gets killed second. They report to Storm that they have an army of killer robots ready to start fucking with them. They're dormant at the moment, but the X-men have slain enough sentinels to know that it's just a matter of time before they turn on and start shooting. Like Jason Vorhees and Michael Meyers, they can't be stopped and they only have a slightly less creepy face.

Watching this whole brawl unfold is the Hillary Clinton-esque governor of Puternicstan that was revealed to be the mastermind behind this whole plot in the last issue. While I would still say Clinton has bigger balls (and I'm still talking about Hillary here), she's proven to be as devious as any politician that Glenn Beck complains about. But she shows the same arrogance and pig-headedness as any world leader, comics or real life. She expected that one sentinel to fail. Even a bureaucrat isn't stupid enough to think a killer robot can stop a team of X-men that has been slaying killer robots since Herman Cain was just beginning to have affairs. Her focus is on Symkaria, the country that still claims a larger dick than theirs. She reasons that launching a full scale attack rather than politely telling them not to fuck with them anymore is a better move. It would also lure the X-men away. It's not without merit, but even watching Fox News while high makes you smart enough to understand why that's a shitty tactic.

Now at this point the story is starting to get predictable. We've seen sentinel plots before. They usually follow a formula that may or may not have been copied by Michael Bay. Crazy people get a hold of sentinels. Crazy people think sentinels are more powerful than they really are. Crazy people get their asses served to them on a platter at the end of the story. At the moment, the fine leaders of Puternicstan are falling right into that trap. There's still time to throw in a twist, but as it stands most experienced X-men readers can probably figure out where this is going.

There are already signs of a shift. Remember how Domino was about to become an extra in an alien autopsy porn parody? Well she woke up and decided that she doesn't like men in lab coats who think it's fun to dissect mutants. So armed with a scalpel at first and then again, she takes one of them hostage and in a few polite words asks him to show her just what the fuck is going on with a small country that thinks having an army of sentinels is a good idea. The man in the lab coat proceeds to wet himself. No, that's not a metaphor. He actually says that on panel. It's a nice bonus to show that just like in real life, arrogant rulers can still employ total pussies.

Once the X-men and War Machine are done beating up on the hapless sentinel that the Puternicstan governor threw to the wolves, they get a quick lesson on the effect that giant robots can have on geopolitics. On top of having an army of sentinels to deal with, War Machine reveals that this little skirmish has made other regional powers question the size of their own crotch bulge. Some of them also have nuclear weapons and they don't much appreciate some upstart tiny country showing that their bulge is as big as everyone else's. That means they may attempt the Dick Cheney solution and nuke this problem away, which in both comics and real life is just overkill.

Inside the sentinel army factory, Domino meets up with Warpath, Psylocke, and Jubilee. She brings with her the hapless scientist who pissed himself earlier. The plan is simple. Get this guy to relieve his bladder again while he tells them who is controlling the army of giant robots that are about to incur a nuclear nightmare. It's slightly unsimplified when said hapless scientist is bleeding and one of the X-men happens to be a vampire. This is the first time Jubilee's vampire status is highlighted and that's a nice touch in many ways. Gischler was the one who made Jubilee a vampire. She also happens to be a teenager so she's not going to be completely mature about it at times. Show me a teenage girl that can handle her biology and I'll show you a complete misunderstanding of every Stephanie Meyer novel ever written.

Jubilee doesn't get much chance to succumb to her vampire urges. The Hillary Clinton wannabe governor orders that every sentinel be activated and the attack on Symkaria begin. So now that poor scientist that Domino was holding at gunpoint probably lost control of both his bowels and his bladder. Jubilee and the others try to take out a few sentinels, but the stubborn laws of mathematics are working against them. This is exactly why I skipped algebra class in high school. Now the X-men don't even get a chance to confront the one pulling the strings. They're pretty much left on damage control yet again. It's another instance of the issue getting predictable, but given how nicely it's played out it's really hard to give too many damns about it.

Now an army of sentinels is on the loose. War Machine and the X-men were on their way to meet up with the others with the sole intent of stopping shit like this. Needless to day, that plan is deader than John Huntsman's presidential campaign. Now these sentinels are in the air, giving surrounding countries with nuclear warheads all the more reason to push the fancy red button. It puts the X-men and War Machine in a pretty tough position, but not as tough as you might think.

Keep in mind, Storm is part of this team. She's not just a competent leader who commands respect without having to bone Jean Grey or Emma Frost (although that would probably help). She's a badass weather witch that can sitck a typhoon up the collective asses of anyone stupid enough to launch an attack of killer robots. Robots are made of metal last I checked. Metal doesn't do well when it's hit by lightning and Storm is in a position to give the fine folk at Puternicstan a lesson in physics. It makes for a stunning moment that hints at the sheer level of ass-kicking that Storm is prepared to inflict in the next issue. If that doesn't provide enough incentive for X-men fans to follow along this arc, then Victor Gischler has a legal right to punch those fans in the stomach for being too demanding.

If you've been waiting a while to see Storm steal the show and hoard it like a hypochondriac hoards Lysol wipes, then this is your comic. After how nicely the previous issue turned out, I was a little nervous about reading this issue because this series has been so inconsistent since it began. It's had it's share of good issues, but those were usually followed by not-so-good issues that weren't terrible enough to make you drop the series yet not awesome enough to make you want to inject it into your vein along with your meth. Two usually doesn't qualify as a pattern, but in this case X-men #22 feels like the beginning of an overdue trend for this series. The issue and the overall arc is awesome and between the politics and the contribution of War Machine, there's a lot to love here.

The only shortcoming if you can call it that is the overly basic idea of using an army of sentinels. It's been done before, but not like this. It seems like it should have been done sooner, some rogue country taking some sentinels and reprogramming them to pay back the other countries that have made them their bitch. If these things were real, Poland would have an army of them in storage just in case. But the way in which the fine minds of Puternicstan go about formulating this plan seems a bit predictable. We know how this is going to end. An army of sentinels vs. a pissed off Storm? That's just not a fair fight. Not for any number of killer robots.

Even if it is predictable, it's still an enjoyable issue. It's not quite as flawless as the last issue since the arc is not finished yet, but Gischler is well on his way to making this issue the best arc he's done in this series to date. I certainly hope he builds on it. He kind of has to because there are so many other quality X-books on the racks at the moment. Since Marvel has become so liberal with it's cancellation policy lately, it's not a good idea to fall behind. So with the spirit of staying within spitting distance of other X-books, I give X-men #22 a 4.5 out of 5. Storm fans are probably foaming at the mouth as we speak. This is her moment to remind us why she's a force of nature not to be fucked with and I eagerly await the scars that painful reminder is sure to leave. Nuff said!


  1. "That's why all the missiles are shaped like dicks."
    -R.I.P. George Carlin
    The art is really kind of tragic on this book, it seems. It lost me around issue 10, which sucks, because I feel that Gischler had a strong start.

  2. I miss him too. The world needs George Carlin more than ever now.

    I didn't see a problem with the art. I think it was serviceable. I agree that Gischler's run fizzled at some areas, but he's proving that he can make this title work and I'm glad for it. The more awesome X-books, the better!