Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wolverine and the X-men #5 - Birthing True Awesome

There are very few comics that are awesome enough to enjoy both drunk and sober. There are even fewer comics are awesome enough to read with your kids/nephew/kid whose mother you're trying to bang. Granted, most modern comics are about as kid-friendly as a webcam in Snooki's bedroom. The women are grossly proportioned. The men are perfectly sculpted. No woman ever seems to bitch about having her period or complains about wearing skin-tight outfits. No man farts uncontrollably and makes hissing noises to let people know how much it stinks. I get that comics are a fantasy world because reality sucks elephant cock. But for kids, it does send a pretty fucked up impression. That's why I find Wolverine and the X-men to be such a breath of fresh air. Is it mature? Of course it is. It deals with homicidal kids and aliens and school uniforms where the skirts are several inches too high. But at least it's fun in a way that you can bullshit around with a kid. It might even get you lucky with said kid's mother or a restraining order (whichever comes first).

Wolverine and the X-men has become awesome under Jason Aaron because of his ability to create a unique tone for this comic. What sets it apart from the gritty and brooding world of Uncanny X-men that Kieron Gillen already does so masterfully is the different circumstances. Wolverine is not trying to create an army of mutant superheroes at the Jean Grey Institute for Higher Learning. He's just trying to educate mutant children so they don't have to fight. That and be able to get hammered without the fear of being called up by Cyclops to fight a sentinel. So far, it's been as disastrous as one would expect. The Kid Hellfire Club showed up. Karoka attacked. And Angel, who is amnesic after his Dark Angel Saga experience, has gone batshit crazy. Oh, and Kitty Pryde is pregnant. Yeah, you know your school is done fucked up when your headmistress is knocked up shortly after you open your doors. That shit may work in Texas public schools where sex education consists of the bible and prayers to Rick Perry, but it shouldn't work in comics!

All these problems need to be fixed. But to fix them, Wolverine needs more than just his charisma and willingness to stab people. He needs money. Yes, even in comics shit can't get done without money. This was touched on in the last issue. Iceman, the institute's resident accountant, was warning Wolverine that they were burning through cash like MC Hammer in a parachute pants outlet store. They were able to keep things going by using Angel's fortune. Since he went nuts in the last issue, he didn't seem to mind. Well Wolverine and the X-men #5 begins by revisiting that issue. The kid Hellfire Club may be a ridiculous excuse for an enemy, but they have something more powerful than all the sentinels in the world...lawyers. With those lawyers, they effectively freeze Warren's accounts and cut of Wolverine's funds. It's a dick move and the Hellfire Club makes no bones about it. It doesn't help that Warren is still acting like an eight-year-old boy at Disney land in front of the board of his family company and press folk with video cameras.

While Wolverine is dealing with the severe rectal itch that is financial problems, class at the Jean Grey Institute continue as normal. Normal being more skewed than accounts of Gary Busey's therapy sessions. Quick, what do you remember about biology class? If you answered masturbating to the pictures depicting female reproductive systems, then obviously you never went to the Jean Grey Institute. And you may have left those stains on my textbook. While they don't have the kind of money to keep the school going, they somehow have the technology for Beast to shrink his students down Ant Man style and explore the mutant body up close and more intimate than a prostate exam.

It's actually a pretty meaningful lecture on some levels. Yeah, Kid Omega uses it as a way to flirt with Idie and Broo acts like he's a tourist at Disneyland. But others like Genesis take a moment to reflect on how a simple mutation on so small a level is causing all the crap he's now dealing with. In the last issue, a good deal of time was spent showing that Genesis was new to this world of conflict. He's still taking it in and Aaron takes some time to show that he's still processing everything. He does throw in some humor with Kid Gladiator acting like a douche in saying Shi'ar DNA is so much better, but it gets the point across.

The lesson ends with a not-so-startling reveal that they were inside Toad, the resident janitor. You get the sense that Aaron is just setting him up to go on a shooting rampage at one point, but for now the school has more pressing concerns. At the end of the previous issue, Kitty Pryde started puking uncontrollably and it wasn't because she saw that birth scene in the last Twilight movie. She found out she was pregnant Aliens style. Her womb swelled up and now she's understandably freaking out. It's like a new TLC show "Fuck, how did I get this pregnant?" She tried calling up Colossus, but never said a word to him. That's too bad because if the kid is his, that opens the door to all sorts of baby daddy drama. Admit it, "The Father of my Baby  is the Juggernaut" sounds like the perfect title for an episode of Jerry Springer. But a cameo is all we get. She eventually confronts Beast and Rachel, who are also understandably freaked out. At least they don't have to worry about their snatch being permanently ruined.

Now a sudden pregnancy like this is pretty serious shit, but Jason Aaron doesn't let the tone of the book get too serious. We get to see some of the students who got to explore Toad's innards in a completely non-sexual way hanging out and reflecting on their lesson. Then Wolverine comes barging in acting like he hasn't had his daily bottle of whiskey and demands that Kid Omega come with him. He doesn't explain why. He just leads him down into the "teachers only" area of the school and tells him that he's about to have a chance to prove that his dick and his brain are both as big as he boasts. For some reason in order to do that, he has to use the institute space ship and fly off into space.

Wait a sec, the Jean Grey Institute has a space ship and a shrink device? Why the fuck do they have money problems! There's a solution right there! Paid trips into space and adventures inside the human body. If they could somehow find a way to allow people to explore the insides of Natalie Portman that would pay for the institute for 20 years easy!

But before we can go off and have a space adventure, there's still a little matter of Kitty's pregnancy. There's a lot of questions to answer, like who the hell did she bone and what kind of miracle grow was in his jizz? She laments a bit how she'll be a crappy mother, as I'm sure most women who don't remember how they got pregnant may think at some point. Again, it's somewhat glossed over. But there's a reason for this. Once she gets an exam from Beast, he makes a rather disturbing discovery that makes that Alien joke I mentioned earlier all the more relevant. She's not pregnant. She's under attack by a swarm of aliens inside her body. Why do they happen to gather inside her baby maker? Maybe they just like vaginas as much as humans. Admit it, if given the choice I can see how some men would be okay with living in a vagina.

These aren't the same Aliens that Segorney Weaver fought. These are the Brood, also known as those horrific looking aliens whose idea of a good time is brutally slaughtering innocent creatures and dining on their bone marrow. They're usually large enough for you to shoot with a shotgun, but the ones inside Kitty are small enough to dine on her cells. In many ways that's infinitely more terrifying. For that reason, Beast locks down the school and everyone has to start checking every molecule they breathe to make sure they don't get eaten alive as well. But it's fucked up with a twist if you can believe that. These mini-Brood aren't up to infect everybody. They're tailored for Kitty. He calls it an assassination attempt. It's the kind that the CIA would kill for, but it only complicates the situation. Lucky for Kitty, Kid Gladiator needs to prove that his dick and his ego are of equal size. So he uses the same shrink technology demonstrated earlier to fly into her body and start fighting off the Brood. It's a losing fight, but given how Kid Gladiator has been such a douche it's hard to really care about him as much as Kitty's safety.

Now this unusual attack on Kitty begs a pretty important question. Where the fuck did it come from? Well Jason Aaron doesn't answer that question too quickly. But he does set things up. While Wolverine and Kid Omega are flying off into space in a way that's going to somehow save the school (the methods how can only be explained by Aaron's twisted imagination), an incident aboard your typical alien ship that flew too close to Earth is unfolding. The good folks at SWORD show up like a galactic boarder patrol minus the right-wing bumper stickers. They treat them the same way Arizona treats undocumented Mexicans. Somewhere there's a political ad for Rick Santorum, but I'll leave that for whichever asshole wrote his stance on birth control.

Like any pissed off wannabe immigrant, one of the aliens lashes out and rips the SWORD agents to pieces like popcorn shrimp at a summer cookout in Baltimore. Said alien looks like a Brood that pumped one too many meds from Sylvester Stallone's pharmacist. It has a bunch of normal Brood chained to it and it may not be of their own volition either. It's hard to tell. That may be a Brood mating ritual for all I know. But it's not enough to just kill the SWORD agents and presumably all the other aliens on the ship just looking for a place to shack up or some anuses to probe. It then blows open the ship and enters the vacuum of space, but looks about as comfortable doing so as a college co-ed in Ben Rothlesburger's swimming pool.

With no pesky ship to worry about, the creature and his Brood pets start drifting to Earth. As they do so, he narrates that he's tracing a signal from a virus. Any guess as to where that virus may be? If you guessed the inside of Kitty's lady parts, then you've managed to connect the dots in this story or you masturbate to some pretty fucked up fantasies. Or both, but who am I to judge? It only offers a hint as to who may be responsible for Kitty's sudden baby bump that isn't a baby. It's worth noting that not long ago, Kitty Pryde was trapped in a giant bullet that flew through space and encountered who knows how many alien germs? Will Aaron make that connection? We'll find out in the next issue. I just hope he's nice enough to offer a warning label if we'll have to watch a violent alien birth the likes of which would only be acceptable in another shitty Species movie.

Jason Aaron has set up some pretty disturbing plots with this issue. Kitty Pryde being eaten alive by cellular Brood creatures has the potential to be more fucked up than the birthing scene from Species II. And the prospect of the Jean Grey Institute being short on cash is nothing to laugh at. Anyone who has ever had the IRS or a bank come busting in your door for not keeping up with taxes or mortgage payments will get night sweats from shit like this. Yet somehow Aaron manages to keep the same fun tone with this issue. Maybe it's just because my notion of fun is so fucked up that it has to involve hookers and no fewer than three joints of Jamaican weed. Or maybe this comic is just well-written enough to put a smile on your face even though it deals with these disturbing plots.

This issue did a few things different compared to previous issues. It took on some more dramatic elements with Kitty lamenting over what she thought was a pregnancy. However, that drama wasn't really played up as much as it could have been. Kitty being pregnant is something that had the potential to really cause some added drama with Colossus. It could have even opened the door for him to get involved. But even before we found out that it was an attack by vagina loving Broodlings, it was glossed over. Kitty was like "I'm pregnant. Fuck." That's about it. I'm not saying Aaron mishandled it, but the impact felt a bit weak. That and Angel's character has become wildly erratic. I get that he's amnesic, but even he has to understand that fucking up the school's bank account is not something to take lightly.

Overall, this book is still high quality on all the levels that Jason Aaron has done such a good job of refining. He continues to have a nice sense of flow with this book, taking conflicts like financial troubles from previous issues and working them into future issues. And the mere fact that he's using finance as an issue adds an element of realism that had never been touched on in previous X-men comics. How they deal with this and how the team deals with the Brood threat with Kitty has the potential to be unlike any story that has come before it. That sense of novelty mixed with light-hearted humor helps make this issue awesome. That's why I give Wolverine and the X-men #5 a 4.5 out of 5. It's not quite perfect because the dramatic element hasn't been developed yet. But there's more than enough potential to fix that with future issues. Until then, feel free to share this issue with a kid and explain to him why aliens that try to eat a woman inside out are a perfect metaphor for mood swings. Nuff said!


  1. Thanks! I always appreciate feedback and a good beer, whichever comes first.