Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wolverine and the X-men #6 - Gambling on Awesome

Certain themes work well in every story. Fun, booze, tits, and weed come to mind. No matter how mindless or poorly told, it's hard to make that shit unappealing. Wolverine and the X-men has managed to work in plenty of those themes. Between Wolverine's drinking, pretty girls in school uniforms, and and overall fun environment full of homicidal kids and living islands, Jason Aaron has set this series apart. It has taken a creative, cartoonish type approach that usually only comes after a few hits of LSD. However, Jason Aaron has managed to do it without the risk of brain damage. So what else could he possibly add to make this series more awesome? How about gambling and casinos?

Ah yes, I could start a whole new blog about why casinos and gambling is awesome. I could start another blog describing all the crazy shit you can do in Las Vegas with a few hundred bucks, a pound of blow, and a kid from MIT who can count cards in blackjack. But sometimes people don't gamble just to have fun, make money, and hang out around loose women (although that does constitute a healthy portion of it). Sometimes people have more noble reasons for gambling. The reason as it pertains to Wolverine and the X-men begins in the last issue.

Yeah, there was some crazy shit going around with Kitty's unexpected pregnancy turning into a Species II remake. That was all well and good, but another issue that doesn't revolve around shit that would get Catholic bishops riled up involves money. As in, the Jean Grey Institute for Higher Learning is running out of it. The Hellfire Kids made sure that they don't have access to Warren Worthington III's money since he lost his fucking mind in the Dark Angel Saga. Now Wolverine needs to find another way to get it and in order to do that, he has to enlist help from Kid Omega. This kid is more unpleasant to be around than a hung over crack addict in withdrawal. Yet he has to be the one that saves the school. It's not so much an odd couple situation as a fuck-it-we're-screwed-either-way situation.

Wolverine and the X-men #6 takes that gambling element I mentioned earlier and turns it into the Jean Grey Institute's best hope for survival. Armed with a space ship and a couple of tuxedos, Wolverine flies Kid Omega to the Planet Sin. It's a planet that is basically one big Las Vegas. It's laden with casinos, money, and loose alien females that have no problem with inter-species mating. It's basically heaven is what I'm saying. Armed with Kid Omega's telepathy and intellect, Wolverine wants to win enough money to keep the school open. Kid Omega, being the self-centered prick he is, will do it just for kicks and the possibility of alien poon.

From the streets of an intergalactic Las Vegas to the insides of a young, vulnerable woman...okay, when you put it like that it doesn't sound very far, but bear with me here. In the previous issue, it was revealed that Kitty Pryde's unexpected pregnancy wasn't exactly a pregnancy. Somehow she came across some Brood style germs or she bought condoms from the Catholic church, which in turn made her body a battleground with the mini-Brood laying waste to her insides. It's not unlike eating twenty extra hot buffalo wings after six beers on a Sunday night. Kid Gladiator already began whipping out his dick to prove his doucheiness when he shrank himself and ventured into Kitty's body to combat the invasion. Beast, Marvel Girl, Lockheed, Iceman, and Warbird followed. They're doing their best to hold off the invasion while Kitty deals with the resulting indigestion. I imagine it's pretty uncomfortable, but I'm still not convinced it compares to the pain of taking a shit hung over the next morning after those 20 buffalo wings I mentioned earlier.

This alien mini-assault, which resulted in a lockdown of the school in the last issue, keeps the X-men occupied so that a very special alien that showed up at the end of the previous issue can casually waltz inside. By casually, I mean he has four angry Brood on a leash that he orders to attack the institute like my neighbor at 2 in the morning does with his dog when I'm taking a piss on his tomato garden. We don't know where this guy came from, but in the last issue he destroyed an entire alien freighter and killed some hard-working SWORD agents as well. So we can assume he's a douche-bag. Since he's using Broods as pets, I'm just going to call him the Brood whisperer.

Once these pitbull Brood enter the institute, they start busting up shit in a way that's probably going to require even more money from Wolverine and Kid Omega's casino venture. They're able to hunt down Kitty in the infirmary, who was told outright to stay still so she doesn't cause them to get tossed into her intestines and shat out later with whatever she ate three days ago. Being the hardass young woman she is, Kitty doesn't listen. That and Broo, the only lovable yet still butt-ugly Brood in the Marvel Universe, warns her so she takes her faux pregnant ass and starts running. I imagine it's like trying to run a marathon when you really need to take a shit. I only hope that Kitty isn't wearing her favorite pair of underwear.

Are my jokes about shit and other bodily functions starting to make you queasy? Well, don't worry. We finally catch up with Wolverine and Kid Omega. In Las Vegas world, they're doing as well as you would expect anyone who has a powerful psychic on their side. Kid Omega is like Rain Man if Rain Man was an insufferable douche-bag. Wolverine is able to win at whatever alien blackjack this planet has, but not content to just hang back and crunch numbers he decides to shoot some alien craps. Along the way he starts winning as well and he manages to get the attention of two hot alien babes. He also gets the attention of casino security, but I'm pretty sure the hot alien babes are more pressing.

For some, a scene like this could come off as too cartoony. I mean an alien world that's one big casino? Where the fuck did that come from and why the fuck is Aaron pulling it out of his ass? Well, it's not terribly outrageous when you consider the scope of the Marvel Universe. They have introduced countless alien races over the years and most of those aliens have very human-like traits, primarily the propensity to be an asshole. And since places like Las Vegas are often founded by assholes (namely mafia), it's perfectly within the realm of Spock caliber reason that a world like Sin would emerge where aliens can go to gamble, drink, and get laid. I know it sounds fucked up. I also know I tend to bitch about shit being contrived in comics, but there is something called context and it's not exotic type of insurance fraud.

The aliens on Sin now have to summon their inner Joe Pecsi to handle Wolverine and Kid Omega. Back on Earth, Kitty Pryde has to channel her inner Samuel L. Jackson to take on the raging Brood that want to rip apart from the outside before her insides are shredded. Hey, nobody can fault the Brood for not being thorough. By the same token, nobody can fault Wolverine for stashing some guns around the institute. After leaving Broo behind in a containment field, she retrieves one of those guns and uses them to take out the attacking Brood gangster style. It should be a moment for her to catch her breath and check to make sure her snatch is still intact. Instead, that Brood Whisperer I mentioned earlier finally catches up. Apparently, he didn't care much for his pets. He just used them to soften Kitty and her friends up while he got the drop on her. Is it overly elaborate? Yes, it is. Is it effective? Fuck yes.

Since Kitty has her friends floating around within her insides, she can't phase away from the attack. So she gets tossed around like an Afghani teenage bride. That Brood Whisperer I mentioned earlier doesn't care for her condition. He doesn't even seem to care that she turned his pets into blood stains. But he does reveal that he was the one that sent those mini-Brood up into her lady parts and didn't even bother to buy her a drink. He's almost as bad Charlie Sheen minus the child support. But despite these elaborate lengths to knock her up with his broodlings, the Brood Whisperer reveals that this wasn't about her at all. Instead, he sets his sight on Broo, who Kitty trapped in a containment field earlier. Seeing as how not much has been revealed about Broo thus far, it's an intriguing and nicely timed twist.

There's no mystery involved with Wolverine and Kid Omega. No matter what planet you're on, there's a simple law to every major casino. If you win big and win consistently, casinos don't like you. And if they feel you've won too much, they'll send as many of their friendly associates (usually armed with baseball bats and brass knuckles) to introduce themselves and make you wish that you weren't so lucky. Given the scene that Kid Omega had been making earlier, it's amazing their limbs aren't already broken.

Wolverine handles this threat the same way he handles most threats. He starts beating the shit out of anyone in his way. Since he's been so lucky in this world, why not push it further? I personally wouldn't do it because even with some liquor in me, I can only break so many bones. Now he and Kid Omega have to find a way out with their winnings so they can fund the school. They may not have much of a school left though because not only does the Brood Whisperer have everyone neutralized, but the rest of the X-men are thrown yet another complication. Remember Kid Gladiator? The egotistical douche-bag who ran into the battle inside Kitty's body leading with his oversized balls? Well apparently, he ran in too quickly because he ended up turning into a Brood. So it's either alien Brood ranchers or alien casino security. I'm honestly torn as to which I would rather handle.

I know I keep beating this point home like my dick at a Jessica Alba movie, but Wolverine and the X-men is just a plain fun comic. It's not overly serious despite dealing with serious issues. Things like money shortages and aliens invading the bodies of young women could easily become a slasher flick and/or a bad porno. But Jason Aaron finds a way to make it feel light-hearted. He effectively balances the two plots with the Brood and Wolverine's quest for funds, moving them both forward and setting them both up for some heavy action that promises to extend to the next issue. You've got an alien casino world and alien invaders that are setting up shop in Kitty Pryde's lady parts. What other comic has this kind of shit? Tell me and don't say you saw it while high on shrooms because that shit doesn't count!

While the plots were nicely balanced, the plot with Wolverine and Kid Omega felt like it made more progress than the plot with the Brood. In fact, we really didn't get too many answers with respect to what the Brood is up to and what that Brood Whisperer guy was after. It was mostly just the rest of school staff fighting off the invasion inside Kitty's body while Kitty tried to avoid being the appetizer to a Brood buffet. However, it's hard to really call this a flaw because there was so much action here and there were a few twists as well with Kid Gladiator turning into a Brood. While we didn't get answers, we still got plenty of intrigue and along with a casino plot that would make Robert de Nero proud, there's just too much awesome in this book to nit-pick.

Wolverine and the X-men has gone a long ways in a short span of time. Even with Avengers vs. X-men looming over the horizon like more Rick Santorum's attack ads that compare Obama to Hitler, this series manages to maintain a solid and unique tone. It feels different from the other X-men books while still feeling like it fits into the larger scheme of things. I don't know what Jason Aaron was smoking when he came up for the idea of having an alien casino, but I want to know where I can get some! Even if I can't, I'm content to give Wolverine and the X-men #6 a 5 out of 5. You've got casinos. You've got aliens. You've got monsters. You've got a faux-pregnant lady running for her life while her friends use her innards as a battleground. You won't find something this entertaining or this unique without having to pay off a few shady figures in Tijuana. Since the price of doing business with said shady figures is getting risky and not all of us can donate our organs for the necessary funds, we'll have to settle for this comic. Nuff said!


  1. It may be about as far away from what the X-Men are supposedly supposed to be about, but I'm frankly glad there's some lighthearted cartoonish hijinks to counter balance Scott and the rest of the "woe is me" crowd. I'm just waiting for a Clint Eastwood-esque "I'm too old for this shit." From someone now.

    Plus it's fun to see them deal with some grounded problems like being broke. I always thought it was a little boring how the X-Men knew so many rich mutants.

  2. Agreed! Why can't there be some light-heartedness in comics these days? Does everything have to be a pale reflection of how dark and evil the world is? Fuck, I don't need comics for that. The evening news is more than sufficient. I actually think Wolverine and the X-men is closer to what the X-men should be than anything else. Who hasn't worried about going broke in this economy? It's entertaining AND relevant!


  3. I'm good with the whole Brood story line going on at the mansion, but the whole Wolverine gambling story line...I just found it ridiculously unoriginal. I really just find him flying to another planet to gamble completely ridiculous. Especially if they're running out of money...take an x-jet to friggin Vegas or something. Maybe even sell an x-jet for God's sake! Someone at marvel clearly wasn't thinking this one through.

  4. You're right. Wolverine could find other less fanciful ways to make money for the institute. But a trip to an alien Las Vegas is much more wildly entertaining and more awesome! I mean how else can you get alien babes into the mix?