Saturday, March 31, 2012

X-men Legacy #264 - Ticking Time Bomb (of Awesome)

Consistency is a beautiful thing. Whether it's the purity of a fresh line of blow or the smoothness of a strippers ass, it's one of those rare natural phenomenon that is beautiful wherever it manifests. It very rarely manifests in comics. Consistently awesome comic series are about as rare as child stars that become well-adjusted adults. But every so often there's a fluke like Neil Patrick Harris that bucks the trend. X-men Legacy has been one of those consistently awesome X-books that you can always rely on to have a certain level of awesome. It has it's hiccups, but it's always quick to balance itself out. Mike Carey began that legacy and Christos Gage has since taken over and run with it.

X-men Legacy has a unique charm amongst the X-books. It doesn't directly follow Cyclops's team or Wolverine's team after the events of Schism. It doesn't get involved in the lingering bitterness or dick-measuring contest that drives so many of the other plots. It's unique unto itself. The fact it takes place at the Jean Grey Institute is a happy coincidence. You could easily see these kinds of stories unfolding on Utopia and unfolding nicely. Gage is able to make the most of the situation, mixing in equal parts action and character development. You can't get much more balanced without being a Korean gymnast.

The previous arc of X-men Legacy was an emotional brawl between the Legacy crew and Exodus. For reasons that can only be justified through the use of very powerful drugs, Exodus sought to undo the schism and reunite the X-men even if they kicked and screamed the whole way. While the X-men was able to subdue them with the help of Generation Hope, it put a real dent in their morale because the battle essentially made Cyclops's dick seem just a little bit bigger in that dick-measuring contest I mentioned earlier. Not only that, Rogue got demoted from her leadership position for getting Utopia involved after Wolverine told her not to. Even if it spared them additional destruction, he can take a lot of shit. He can take being burnt to the bone and sent to hell. He just can't take insubordination when it leads to making Cyclops look good.

X-men Legacy #264 picks up shortly after that rather demoralizing moment for Rogue. She's hanging out with Cannonball at the Jean Grey Institute, blowing off steam by flying around at high speeds and having a casual chat. It sounds like a fucked up way to have a conversation, but it works. Rogue actually has some emotional moments here and they don't involve Magneto's wrinkly ball sack for once. She laments over how she misses Nightcrawler and how she doesn't have a family to fall back on (at least one that doesn't want to kill her). It's a really genuine sentiment that you can't find in too many places besides X-men Legacy.

This casual, emotional moment of reflection is interrupted as is so often the case in comics. Last time it was Exodus, who ranks about a 8.0 on the fucked-up-o-meter. This time it's a threat not quite as dangerous. It's Weapon Omega and Mimic, who literally come crashing in like a drunk driver that stole a drag racer. It doesn't cause too much damage, but it does get Rogue and Cannonball's attention. Beast and Iceman join in as well, knowing when shit impacts around the Jean Grey Institute it's usually a bad sign. And Weapon Omega and Mimic aren't exactly friends. Most recently, they were still on the payroll for Norman Osborn and when Norman Osborn is signing your paychecks you have about as much credibility as Rush Limbaugh on women's rights.

Unlike Exodus, though, Mimic and Weapon Omega didn't come looking for a fight. Mimic actually arrived looking for help. Both Mimic and Weapon Omega have similar powers in the sense that they feed off the mutant abilities of others. For Mimic it just makes him a walking copyright lawsuit. For Weapon Omega, however, it makes him walking time bomb that need only be poked and prodded enough to go off. Some like Iceman are skeptical over the prospects of helping the same people who help Norman Osborn get his coffee. Rogue and Beast are a bit more understanding. Unfortunately, Weapon Omega quickly shows he's past the point of nausea and throwing up. He's officially on a PCP trip, thinking as coherently as a brain dead grizzly with the aggression of a hungry tiger.

Once again, the Jean Grey Institute is subjected to some undue damage. Weapon Omega goes on a roid rage style rampage that includes interrupting a class Chamber was teaching that included loving one's self and sex. And he does it without resorting to the same bawdy displays as Lady Gaga. It's a nice class and one you actually feel bad about Weapon Omega disrupting. It's one of those little details that help make good stories awesome because if they were just learning algebra, you probably wouldn't give a shit if someone came crashing through the wall. Hell, you may wish for that on a daily basis in high school. But I digress.

Chamber helps contribute to the battle against Weapon Omega by firing off a few blasts of his own. This helps soften him up a bit more so Rogue and Cannonball can lure him away from the students. Gambit, Frenzy, and Rachel eventually catch up as well and with a little telepathic nudge they're able to wrestle him away from his power trip. It completes a very well-organized battle, which wasn't quite as volatile as the battle against Exodus but it made up for it in other ways. That's another aspect about X-men Legacy that has made it such a consistent book lately. Not every battle involves two sides simply slugging it out. There's purpose behind that battle, at least more purpose than a mere dick-measuring contest. The pants stay up in this battle. They're not trying to subdue someone. They're trying to help him and unfortunately that requires roughing him up a bit. Reminds me somewhat of gym class in grade school, only slightly less horrific.

When shit finally settles down, the X-men are able to contain Weapon Omega in an isolation chamber. It allows Beast to channel his inner Dr. House and run a few tests. He discovers that Weapon Omega's problem is not unlike what happens when you feed a room full of New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles fans large helpings of baked beans. The energy builds up, getting to a point where it cannot be held in and should the full power be unleashed it would cause mass death and destruction. If you don't think a fart can be that dangerous, then clearly you haven't gotten drunk in a Philadelphia bar during Monday Night Football when the chef had a surplus of refried beans. Weapon Omega absorbs the energy from mutants not unlike Mimic, except he stores the more explosive kind of energy. He's absorbed so much of it that it not only sends him into fits of homicidal rage. It has primed him to explode. There's another analogy for raging football fans, but I think I've gone into enough details.

So they have a mutant with explosive potential locked in a school meant to keep mutants safe. I have to imagine that somewhere in the Marvel Universe Cyclops is laughing his ass off while he's boning Emma Frost. The initial plan is to evacuate the school, get Weapon Omega as far away as possible, and let him blow up in peace. Remarkably, Weapon Omega is okay with this plan. He seems to understand that there's only so much hope for a guy that packs enough energy to blow up an entire school of mutant children. But Mimic and Rogue aren't as eager to let him blow himself up. They come up with a plan to use their absorption powers to siphon off the energy he's absorbed so he's not so explosive. It sounds like a perfectly reasonable plan by most comic standards. The physics are fucked up enough to make Einstein roll over in his grave, but it's better than nothing.

This is where another one of those special X-men Legacy twists come in. They don't happen in every issue. Hell, they don't happen in every arc. When a twist comes along that you don't see coming, it's a beautiful thing when done right. If the writer is good, it'll put a smile on your face and a boner in your pants. If it's done wrong, it'll confuse you more than the last two season of Lost. This time, Christos Gage does it right. Usually, when a couple of characters attempt to give the finger to physics it works out in comics to a certain extent. It's one of those random assumptions that are so rarely question. However, that doesn't happen here.

While Beast makes it clear that he's not convinced of this theory in the same way Rick Santorum isn't convinced of evolution, Rogue and Mimic decide to try it anyways. They coordinate their efforts to drain Weapon Omega's energy, but rather than help him they only triple the crisis. By that I mean they make it so they're now also walking time bombs just like Weapon Omega. See what happens when you try to fuck with physics? Physics will fuck back and she's not gentle either!

The conflicts and enemies the X-men face in Legacy are often as colorful as they are diverse. Exodus was a very basic kind of threat. He was just an overpowered psycho with the reasoning capacity of a horny gorilla. But the threat in this issue is very different. It's not a simple good guys have to stop a bad guy who didn't take his meds. It involves a threat where there's no overt enemy, just a couple of guys badly in need of help and less options than this year's flock of republican primary candidates. It makes for very different stakes and a very different kind of conflict. Weapon Omega comes off as someone who had a few too many hits of a crack pipe and is in serious danger of frying what's left of his brain cells. Now I'm tempted to call him a pussy for not being able to hold his rock, but I'll concede it's a genuine conflict that Gage does extremely well.

Going back to my point about balance, this issue has everything that makes X-men Legacy so enjoyable. It hasn't been caught in the web of Avengers vs. X-men yet. It's further distanced from the events of Schism than the other books, giving it a unique feel that you can enjoy without having to jam ice picks in your brain out of frustration from having to tie in all the other stories from other comics. It's a basic X-men story with all the right intricacies. It has personal moments with Rogue and Weapon Omega. It has a few surprises along the way as well. The ending just brought it all together and you couldn't get much more satisfied without a box of tissues and a fresh bottle of lube.

The more Christos Gage impresses with this series, the more comfortable I am saying he's met the high standards set by Mike Carey. I admit I was really skeptical that he could measure up to what Carey did with this. Usually when I get humbled, it involves me waking up somewhere in my underwear with a phone number pinned to my ass. This is a much better kind of humbling and my pants actually stay on! For this, I'm grateful to Mr. Gage and I'm grateful that this comic has continued the high standards that make X-men Legacy so enjoyable. That's why I give X-men Legacy #264 a 5 out of 5. There are a few basic assumptions we can make about life. We can assume Rick Santorum will say something ridiculously asinine and bigoted. We can assume Rush Limbauh will say something that will offend minorities everywhere. And we can assume X-men Legacy will have a high standard for awesome that will often be met. I'm perfectly comfortable with at least one those assumptions. Nuff said!

Friday, March 30, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 50: Proposals and Principles is LIVE!

The X-men Supreme fanfiction series has reached a truly momentous event! In the comics industry, a series that lasts for 50 issues is deemed a success by most measures. I know X-men Supreme can't be put into the same category as other Marvel comics, but I've treated this fanfiction series with the same level of scrutiny that I would any comic. I sincerely want X-men Supreme to be every bit as awesome as the mainline comics while also being unique. When I started this fanfiction series two years ago, I had no idea how far it would go. I can say without hesitation that writing X-men Supreme has been a great joy and I'm glad I could make it to 50 issues. And it's an important issue, no less! The events of The Good, The Bad, The Sinister have left their mark. The events preceding it have also left a number of issues unresolved. Well this issue promises to set the tone for the next conflict! With Senator Robert Kelly making his push for the presidency and Professor Charles Xavier looking to forge a new partnership with Lilandara Neramani (a bio should be coming from her soon by the way), there's much at stake for the X-men. You'll see what I mean when you read the new issue!

Issue 50: Proposals and Principles

One aside I was hoping to mention earlier involved comments. I know I make a big deal about asking for comments on each issue of X-men Supreme, but recently I discovered that the comments function I included in each issue has been abused by spammers. I do not appreciate this. I built this site for X-men fans and fans of Marvel comics. Not for spammers to post their coded spam. Anyone who tries to post spam in the comments section will have their IP addresses blocked and their comments will be deleted. If anyone sees such a message in the comments section, please contact me so I can take care of it.

While spammers are not welcome, other comments or feedback for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is always welcome! Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any feedback or criticism. I'm always willing to make X-men Supreme better so make sure you make your feelings known about this fanfiction series! Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Avengers vs. X-men #0 - An Awesome (Yet Unnecessary) Reminder

Ever been so giddy about something that all the heroin in Kurt Cobain's secret stash wouldn't calm you down? I've been that way on a handful of occasions, mostly when I get a fresh batch of blow or when I'm about to get a lap dance at a strip club. I get excited about comics as much as the next drunken fanboy, but few have gotten me more riled up than Avengers vs. X-men. It isn't just the notion that Marvel is going to dedicate 12 issues and Odin knows how many tie-ins to a story that revolves around the X-men and the Avengers beating the everloving shit out of each other. It isn't just that Marvel is finally bringing the Phoenix Force back into the fray after beating around the bush more than a 70s era orgy. It's mostly the sheer size and scale Marvel has undertaken with this event. They're throwing everything and their mothers' tampons into this event. They've spent a hell of a lot of time building it up with X-Sanction, Children's Crusade, and Generation Hope. Yet they aren't quite done with the prelude portion of this event. Hell, at this point the prelude is almost as long as most events and even the most excited fans will get annoyed with that shit.

Despite the endless teasing, it really is here. Avengers vs. X-men is set to shove an atomic powered jackhammer of awesome right up into your cranium. But despite all these preludes and build-ups, there are a few loose ends that deserve to be addressed before the two sides start throwing punches, fists, shields, optic blasts, etc. It has to do with the events of Children's Crusade and X-Sanction. In Children's Crusade, Wanda Maximoff returned after a long absence. She one-upped Michelle Bauchman, going bat-shit insane and treating her fellow Avengers the same way Sarah Palin treats wolves. Her complete mental fuck-up is what led to M-Day, which is what made Hope Summers necessary in the first place. Speaking of which, the events of X-Sanction more or less reinforced the notion that she is the Phoenix. She is that juicy steak and the Phoenix Force is that hungry grizzly. These two characters, who haven't even met yet mind you, are the focal point to Avengers vs. X-men and it's because of them that asses will have to be kicked and Obama's health care plan will be put under further strain.

So as part of a final prelude to help Wanda and Hope catch up to the shit storm they're about to unleash, Marvel has released Avengers vs. X-men #0. Now I've always had a problem numbering an issue 0. That's like listing abstinence as a sex position. It makes no fucking sense. But I'm willing to take a few extra hits of LSD and have an open mind about this. Whatever the number, this issue is still a vital link in the growing chain that is Avengers vs. X-men and it may or may not be an important link to the story. That or the guys at Marvel and Disney just need some extra cash for strippers and blow. If they're really that desperate, they could have just called me and I could have hooked them up. I know some people who know some people who shoot some people and have damn good shit. But I digress.

Avengers vs. X-men #0 is divided into two stories. The first story is about Wanda Maximoff, fresh off her return from Children's Crusade. The second story is about Hope, presumably still a little fucked up after the events of X-Sanction and Generation Hope. Neither story really ties into one another, but they show both characters kicking ass and I'm always in favor of that. Since Wanda's been MIA for a while, she's got some catching up to do. She gets her chance when our old friend MODOK, a giant head who probably misses his penis more than he missed Wanda Maximoff, decided it was a good day to abduct a Wakandan scientist visiting DC. It's a bit basic, but MODOK has never been too elaborate with his schemes. When you're all head and no balls (literally) you're kind of limited I guess.

I have to assume a guy as smart as MODOK (assuming again that he's smart with that big ass head of his) that he expected one of the Avengers to jump in and fuck his shit up. I've been to Washington DC. You can't smoke a cigarette indoors without a cop or the Secret Service giving you shit. But I think even he was surprised to see Wanda as the one who gets in his way. She's fresh off the events of Children's Crusade and she didn't exactly ingratiate herself to her friends nor did she make her enemies want to kill her any less. MODOK actually points that out, offering a narrative of sorts of just how much she fucked up and how much smarter she would be to just go back into hiding. I am tempted to say he's full of shit, but with a head that big and ugly it's hard to argue his point.

Wanda's rustiness shows. She's not quite able to subdue MODOK or his AIM buddies. Lucky for her, not everyone hates her guts for channeling her inner Ted Bundy in the past. Spider-Woman and Miss Marvel show up to finish the job. Now this is somewhat baffling because Wanda was powerful enough to to anally rape reality itself and depower nearly all mutants. Yet she can't handle a simple carjacking from MODOK? She's either lost her touch or she's not even trying that hard. It may be a little of both, but Miss Marvel and Spider-Woman don't hold it against her. In fact, they're as supportive as any girlfriends would be if one of their own went on a bat-shit killing spree. If only my ex-girlfriend's were so forgiving. I might still have a couple molars.

Wanda is grateful for their help, but even she admits she's pretty rusty. Miss Marvel and Spider-Woman sense this and invite her back to the Avengers mansion where she can possibly get some much needed support. Granted, these are the same people she nearly killed back during Decimation, but they can't hold that big a grudge can they? So what if she's Magneto's daughter? So what if she fucked up reality? So what if know what, I'm just going to stop right there. I'd rather not try and figure out why Miss Marvel and Spider-Woman want to overlook her past transgressions. All you need to know is she takes them up on their offer. It ends up being as wise as Kobe Bryant's decision to bang a pretty white girl in a hotel.

When they arrive, Wanda doesn't even get in the door before she's confronted by Vision (aka her ex-husband). Setting aside for a moment all the legitimate reasons Vision has for hating Wanda after she did to him what the ipod did to the Zune, he doesn't even try to play nice. He flat out says that she had all the power and the opportunity to do things better than she did. Yet she chose to go crazy and attack her friends. For that, he can't forgive her. No matter how much super-hot robot-sex she can offer him. It's a powerful moment and Wanda doesn't go crazy again as ex-wives or ex-lovers tend to do when you throw the cold hard truth at them. She accepts it, walks away, and leaves the Avengers to contemplate how fucked up they've left her. It's an emotional moment and one that has been building since Children's Crusade ended. Bendis, who wrote this section, handled it brilliantly and it is by far the emotional high-point of the issue.

The problem, however, is that high-point drops off quickly. Nothing else is done with Wanda besides this. She's never told about Hope, she never discusses the state of mutants, and she doesn't even try to get involved with the crap she herself started with the X-men. It's not just a missed opportunity or a plot hole. You could irrigate all of north Texas with the space separating these incredibly important plots. The title of this book is Avengers vs. X-men yet neither the Avengers nor the X-men are in the same fucking zip code as one another.

When the time comes for Jason Aaron to tell his X-men story, it really doesn't seem all that important. With no Avengers in the area, it's just another entry in the struggle for Cyclops to reason with a teenage mutant messiah who looks strikingly similar to his dead wife. As if reasoning with teenagers wasn't on part with quantum mechanics to begin with, Hope has discovered a new past time that involves listening to police scanners and flying off with Cyclops's jet back (yes he has a jet pack AND he's boning Emma Frost) to rough up petty criminals. Granted, it's healthier than watching the Jersey Shore, but she's the mutant messiah. Cyclops tries to explain to her that she's important. Being the irrational teenager she is, she questions just how important she is and asks Cyclops about that city in Arizona that he's so secretive about. This is usually a sign that a teenager needs a better therapist. For Hope, she needs that and all the drugs in Michael Jackson's medicine cabinet.

When she doesn't get the answer she wants, Hope does what every teenage girl wishes they could do when an authority figure tells them they can't go out with a guy who has a neck tattoo and blasts his sorry ass. Now I admit Cyclops has been a douche as of late and seeing him get blasted is strangely satisfying, but in this instance he has a good reason to be a douche. That's because Hope is such an annoying brat who doesn't understand the importance of protecting the best hope for the future of an entire race. As she heads off to bust up a bank robbery, she muses how she has no fucking clue on what a messiah is supposed to do. I'm sure even Jesus had questions about his role, but at least he wasn't an asshole about it.

Hope arrives at what she thinks is just another bank robbery. She forgets that in the Marvel Universe there's no such thing as a normal bank robbery. If the perps don't have some high tech weapons of mass death or aren't dressed like floats in a gay pride parade, then they're not trying. When she arrives at the bank, she finds that the Serpent Society is the one behind this. Apparently, they got bored or ran out of weed so they decided to rob a bank. They probably also expected someone with superpowers to fuck them up just like MODOK. I'm sure they were equally perplexed with a teenage girl that looks strikingly like Jean Grey showed up instead. As expected, they don't take her seriously. For all we know they're just disappointed she didn't show up in a Sailor Moon costume. It's too bad because that would have made the rest of the battle much more entertaining.

The battle that ensues is the same battle we've seen countless times before in other recent X-men comics. Hope packs the kind of power that's akin to the infinite health and infinite ammo cheat code in a video game. First she demonstrates the value of head-butting. Then she uses her mimicry abilities to Hulk out for a bit so she can make them take back all those cute little girl comments. She was raised by Cable, damn it! She busts balls. She doesn't stimulate them. It's basic. It's generic. It's over really quickly and she's still a real bitch about it. I almost found myself rooting for the Serpent Society if for no other reason than to have them shut her ass up. There's only so much of a Jean Grey knock-off with Cable's personality that I can take.

She begins using the kind of excessive force that even Jack Bauer would not approve of. Then Cyclops and Emma show up, not yet willing to leave their messiah to her own devices. It's not quite as tense as it should be. Usually when you find your teenage messiah with blood on her hands, it's sort of akin to seeing your teenage daughter making out with Tommy Lee. You have many reasons to worry. But she still insists on being a bitch and tells them she can handle herself. She even goes so far as to actually mention Jean Grey, the girl she looks just like by some bullshit fluke, saying she can handle the Phoenix. Right, because teenage girls who reply to problems by shooting them are mature enough to handle a cosmic force. Jean Grey was a mature, passionate adult when she took on the Phoenix Force and it fucked her up in ways that Wolverine can only masturbate to. There's being courageous and then there's just being stupid. Hope doesn't even try to strike a balance. She kicks stupidity in the balls and let's it shit all over her.

There really isn't much point to this story other than to establish that Hope is ready for the Phoenix. As if the end of Generation Hope or X-Sanction didn't make that painfully apparent enough. At least in those stories she didn't come off as a complete brat. After reading this story, I sincerely hope the Phoenix fucks her messianic ass up in ways that Jesus himself couldn't heal from. She's not just a rebellious teenager. She's just a complete brat. To Cyclops's credit, he still trusts in her. But Hope doesn't seem to give a shit anymore and how can any messiah succeed if they don't give a shit when a cosmic force is coming their way?

I was extremely excited about this comic. It had the title Avengers vs. X-men on it and promised to get the ball rolling on this big ass event that Marvel is building up like the debt incurred by the John Carter movie. If I wasn't so excited, I probably would have enjoyed it more. There are a couple of nice stories here. It was a powerful moment between Wanda and Vision, one that was definitely overdue. Who doesn't love a story that involves a bat-shit crazy ex confronting her former hubby? Granted, she didn't have a shotgun or a lawyer with her, but it was still entertaining. The moment with Hope wasn't nearly as powerful. If anything, it was a big fucking waste of time. We know Hope is the Phoenix. We know she's a brat, a bitch, and an annoying replacement character that looks and dresses like Jean Grey. We didn't need another story reminding us of that shit that didn't even have the slightest impact on other ongoing events in the Marvel universe.

I may be capable of fucking my mind up with any number of exotic substances, but I can't separate the excitement from the hype surrounding this issue with utter failure to deliver with these stories. If Wanda's story had been an issue of Avengers or of Hope's story had been another issue of Generation Hope, I would have had no problems with these stories. I probably would have given them good scores. But in this comic, it was just too underwhelming or too unnecessary. There's nothing in this comic that couldn't have been dealt with more effectively or already was dealt with in another comic. Hope still came off as a bitch and Wanda came off as timid. There was too little depth and not enough connection. We don't even know if this shit will link up in the next issue and even if it does, there's no reason it has to be so fucking repetitive. Marvel has already done a damn good job of informing readers what's going on with this event. They don't need to use a comic like this to repeat themselves.

I'm still completely stoked about the Avengers vs. X-men event. I think it has the potential to supercharge Marvel comics with all the meth in Nebraska and bitch slap DC's new 52 from the top of the sales charts for the next decade. But Avengers vs. X-men #0 did nothing to contribute to that potential. It had some decent elements that made it worth reading, but for the most part it was unnecessary and poorly written. I certainly hope this isn't a sign of things to come like when you run out of blow and teeth start itching. I'm going to try and do some extra drinking so I can stay optimistic, but for now Avengers vs. X-men #0 gets this event off to a lukewarm start. I give it a 2 out of 5. So on behalf of all fanboys, I have a message for you, Marvel. Enough with the fucking preludes! We get it! Phoenix is coming! Hope is a bratty bitch that looks like Jean Grey! You don't need to keep reminding us! Just take our fucking money and get this big ass event going! Nuff said.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Generation Hope #17 - A Generation of Awesome

Reviewing comics can a real test of your sanity and sobriety. Sometimes the very premise of a comic requires that you be a little bit high to effectively review it. For most inherently awesome comics, the need for getting wasted is minimal (even if the want is more than sufficient). For comics like Generation Hope, it can be hit or miss. Sometimes you have to have a bag of weed on hand just to make sure you're in the right state of mind for a thorough assessment. I've reviewed pretty much every issue of Generation Hope since it came out. It seems so long go that I was constantly referring to this series as Generation Jean Rip-Off. I still think of it that way, but I try to avoid using it in my reviews so I can make room for more boner jokes. Whatever twisted assessment I use, I've come to look upon this series as an anomaly of sorts. It's one of the most inconsistent yet important X-books in recent memory. So when it gets canceled prematurely, I'm left more conflicted than Rush Limbaugh at a feminist rally.

It was announced only recently. Generation Hope was ending with issue 17. It wasn't by choice (at least that's what Marvel claims). The sales for this book just weren't soaking enough panties and that's not terribly surprising. Books with entirely new characters rarely outshine their established counterparts. Readers just aren't going to give as much of a shit about some fish girl as they are about who Wolverine is boning. It also doesn't help when certain characters are clearly blatant ripoffs of others, Hope being Jean Grey and Kenji being Akira. I've spent nearly every issue of this series struggling to tell Hope and Jean apart. For this review, I've stayed sober enough to make that distinction. It's only proper since this will be the last issue and it will be an important milestone both for this group of mutants and for Hope before she goes nuclear.

The other notable rip-off, Kenji, has been by far the least stable new mutant since the series began. Hell, the guy went on a rampage in downtown Tokyo in the first arc. He's never been all that mentally sound, as eccentric artists tend to be. For crying out loud, the kid got a boner from a brain in a jar! So it's only fitting that Kenji is the one that closes out this series by finally losing his shit and attacking Hope. He's made his resentment very clear over the past few issues. He's among those who really don't like the influence Hope is exerting over the Lights and over mutants in general. He doesn't see her as a messiah and he spent much of last issue setting her up for a very public crucifixion, but not after using that fucked up body of his to rally others to his madness.

Now Hope is in Kenji's deranged and perverse clutches. What about the other Lights that haven't turned on her? Well in the last issue, Gabriel once again started thinking too much with his penis and got frisky with Pixie (who I guess is just thinking with various other parts of her body that don't involve her brain). Teon, never one to be bothered from his never-ending quest to eat, fight, and mate was subdued by the Cuckoos when he couldn't keep it in his pants. Generation Hope #17 starts out with Teon living in this fantasy world that the Cuckoos created for him so that he would stop trying to hump their legs (amongst other things). But while in this fantasy, the usually lovable oaf starts having some coherent thoughts. It's somewhat unusual for him, but he's done it before and it shows that he has more intellect than a horny pit bull. This is especially important because Hope has to use that special leash of hers to call for help and also like a horny pit bull when a female in heat calls, he springs into action.

We then go from every primal male's fantasy to a nightmare only made possible with exotic blends of mushrooms. Except this isn't so much a nightmare as it is a theatrical production where the director is an angry drunk. Kenji reveals he went to elaborate lengths to keep some occupied while using that Akira rip-off form of his to psychically influence others. He doesn't actually call it influence. He calls it simple nudging and with some like Emma Frost, he really didn't need much. So taking a page out of a certain 2000-year-old holy book from the Middle East, Kenji is prepared to crucify Hope. In his artistic mind, she's not the messiah. She's saving those who didn't want to be saved in the first place and her influence on people is too disturbing even for an eccentric Japanese artist. The sad truth is, he's not entirely wrong.

Kenji is fully prepared to destroy the savior who once saved his life. For him, she didn't save him. She corrupted him. And no one seems inclined to help Hope. However, there are a few holdovers. The first few pages showed that Teon in his lovable simple-mindedness is not easily influenced by Kenji's bullshit. He springs into action like any good un-nuetered pet and seeks to help the pretty girl that gives him so many boners. He quickly recruits Sebastian Shaw, who now looks less like a Black King and more like someone's prison bitch. But he doesn't remember who he is and Hope did vouch for him. So he has plenty of reason to repay her. However, the biggest ally that Teon doesn't get help from is the same ally that Kenji clearly went out of his way to bone in the last arc.

Martha Johanssen was once a brain in a jar. No really. She was. In the annuls of Marvel comics, that's hardly the most fucked up premise for a character. She's a powerful telepath that Kenji created a body for using that same Akira rip-off form of his that he's using to fuck with everybody's minds. Except Martha's mind is a bit more coherent. She and Kenji are able to chat because her body is basically his body and not in the traditional Taliban sort of way either. She senses he's up to some crazy shit and even if he did give her a body again, she isn't cool with it.

She's not the only one either. Kenji's flirtation with Sweet Lady Insanity is too much for even Laurie to take anymore. In the previous issue, she and Kenji had a heart-to-heart where they debated the control Hope had on them. It wasn't a debate she won because not long ago during X-men Regenesis, she pulled a fucking gun on Hope. She doesn't like her influence over him either, but she doesn't like Kenji trying to reenact the crucifixion in the Mel Gibson tradition either. Kenji tries to coax her into going along with this gruesome ritual, but she has enough sense to be repulsed by human sacrifice. Kenji doesn't take kindly to that and decides to throw her to the mind-controlled (pardon, subtly nudged) X-men that are just itching to give Hope one more thing in common with Jean Grey.

Laurie may be overmatched, but she ends up getting some backup. Teon was not only able to enlist Shaw's help, he was able to tear Gabriel and Pixie away from one another before they swapped too many bodily fluids. Sharing Laurie's aversion to human sacrifice, they attack Kenji. He's hardly worried though. He's already corrupted a good chunk of the X-men so he has plenty of defenses. The Lights and Shaw are just as overmatched as Laurie, but they're able to at least somewhat fuck Kenji's shit up. At the very least, they stop him from getting too much of a boner for having so many X-men under his control and their mutant messiah ready to slaughter like a deer on Ted Nugant's kitchen table.

Kenji still maintains control over Hope, which is somewhat appropriate given that she's been controlling the Lights in such an uncomfortable manner. He's able to rough her up in ways that would soak Emma Frost's panties if she weren't already satiated by Cyclops's penis. That doesn't stop her from getting her shot at Hope. Now it's not entirely clear here how much of this is Kenji's influence and how much of this is all Emma. In recent issues, Emma hasn't needed any nudging to hate Hope. She never needs any nudging when it comes to hating a redhead with a fiery personality. It's never fully explained, which is disappointing because once again it ensures that Emma will come out of this conflict untainted and uncorrupted. While that's bullshit, she at least gets the shit punched out of her by Sebastian Shaw. Now I'm not a misogynist and I won't make any Rush Limbaugh style remarks here, but given Emma and Shaw's history it's quite fitting if not timely that Shaw comes through to give her the Rick James treatment. Shaw is still a douche even if he doesn't remember how big of a douche he is, but at least there's a bit more balance in such douche-baggery.

But fighting off Emma's attempt at another mind-rape is only the fifth most pressing issue confronting Hope. Kenji is still number one and using the same creative dreamscapes he used in the first arc, he takes Hope to another dreamworld where they debate on the merits of manipulating people and training teenagers like soldiers. It shouldn't come as too great a surprise that Hope loses that argument. For Kenji, not knowing what the fuck you're doing and fucking up along the way isn't an excuse. So he's prepared to end her shit so he can be free of her influence. He's not entirely misguided with his anger. That's the most fucked up part without citing Japanese anime porn.

There's just one problem. Kenji was stupid enough to get a boner for a brain in a jar. Remember Martha? The girl who he created a creepy yet oddly alluring body in the last arc? Well she also has a problem with human sacrifice and creating mind-controlled mobs that aren't sanctioned by Rick Santorum's campaign manager. So using her telepathic talents, she attacks Kenji both in his mind and in the real world. It results in a clash that ends with a hell of a bang. By that I mean Kenji fucking explodes. It's every bit as messy as it sounds. Kenji explodes and all that Akira rip-off shit goes with him. That's right. The final issue of Generation Hope ends with one of the lights suffering a death by explosion. It may be a rough way to go, but as an artist I doubt Kenji can call it inglorious.

Now the death of a character is always a tricky thing to handle. It's almost as tricky as tying up loose ends in a series that's been prematurely canned. Seeing as how Kenji was the one that went crazy in the first arc, I think it's actually fitting that he's the one that dies in this final issue. It gives the series a sense of finality. However, that's the only finality we end up getting. After Kenji blows up, the influence he held on everyone fades. We don't see everyone looking around in confusion. We don't see Emma trying to explain to Cyclops that she knocked him out because of Kenji and not because she just wanted an excuse to fuck up Hope. And Martha is back to being a fucking brain in a jar. That fucked up yet functional body of hers is gone again. And all the Lights really do about it is sit around and listen to Hope apologize for screwing up.

This is by far the best indication that this book was canceled before it's time. All these lingering issues are glossed over. The tension between Cyclops and Emma is once again completely overlooked. Martha is right back where she started. All we're really left with is a scene where Hope tries to save a little face with the mutants she herself helped create. I get the importance of having a nice dramatic moment with Hope and her lights at the end, but it lacks closure because so little of the aftermath from Kenji's attack is addressed. It's underwhelming when it should be emotional. I was ready to get all misty eyed knowing this series would end like Michael Bay's credibility after he announced his retcon for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sadly, it never came. That or I was just too drunk.

In the end, the remaining lights give Hope the old "No hard feelings. You just almost got us killed" speech. It's more than a little lame, but James Asmus does throw in a few cherries on top of what has otherwise been a messy yet tasty cake. Within the Sebastian Shaw file that Hope was looking at in the beginning of the arc is a familiar face. Actually, she's so familiar you might mistake her for Hope or vice versa. It's Jean Grey, or at least a picture of her in her Dark Phoenix glory. If the hint in X-Sanction #4 wasn't blatant enough, here's yet another reminder that Hope is poised to go nuclear on the Marvel universe. I know my memory has been shot to shit by drugs, booze, and Fox News. But seriously, Marvel. I don't need another reminder!

And so my presumably sober friends, Generation Hope has come to an end. Someone had to die, someone had to become a brain in a jar again, Emma had to get smacked around a bit, and someone had to throw in yet another Jean Grey reference. What can we make of this? Do we have to be sufficiently high to assess a series that has clearly been canceled before it's time? Well no, but it certainly helps. As one of the most vocal critics of this series I think I can reasonably draw a few conclusions, at least as reasonably as any admitted drunk.

This issue and this series as a whole was about conflicted youth finding out they were mutants. It harkened back to the very early days of the X-men and that's part of what made it appealing. Like all teenagers going through that incredibly awkward stage where hormones launch tactical nuclear strikes on your senses, there were plenty of mishaps and hiccups along the way. Some were done better than others. Overall, Kieron Gillen and James Asmus did a good job of capturing that struggle. It just wasn't very consistent at times. Some stories just didn't have a good enough impact and some were just poorly organized. The past few arcs have been somewhat stronger, but they only help balance what has otherwise been a pretty unbalanced series.

Generation Hope #17 does a nice job of carrying itself as the final issue. The biggest problem is that it's painfully apparent that this ending is premature. It may be the second worse instance for something to be premature (you know what the first is if you lost your virginity to a drunken prom queen) because certain parts of the issue felt rushed. We never saw what happened with the mutants Kenji influenced. We never saw Emma explain to Cyclops why she knocked him so he missed all the messianic blasphemy. And Kenji's death left Martha right back where she started. So any potential she had in this new body of hers is officially shot to shit. We didn't even get to see Namor's reaction to Shaw being alive (if he even knows). There's so much left dangling that it's like free seniors day at a nude beach. Even if Generation Hope #17 makes itself a solid ending issue, it feels abrupt and incomplete.

I still have mixed feelings about Generation Hope. Overall, I really liked this issue. I thought it was a decent ending, even with so much left unexplored. The series as a whole had a lot of shortcomings, but the intent of the series was pure and Marvel clearly put a great deal of effort into making it work. For that, I commend them. I also commend James Asmus for finishing this series off on a painfully short run. He did a nice job with the characters, the dialog, and the action. I can't help but wonder what else he would have done if he had a few more issues to work with. Sadly, we'll never know. I give Generation Hope #17 a 3 out of 5. So much lost potential and not enough sales to justify realizing it all. It may not even matter since Hope is poised to rub elbows with Dark Phoenix soon enough. We may not know until the end of AvX what the true value of this series has been. For now, it's akin to a lap dance that had all the potential to be hot, but only left you semi-hard in the end. Nuff said!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Uncanny X-men #9 - Sub-Orbital Awesome

My old high school gym teacher imparted two life-long lessons on me. The first one was "If I catch you masturbating in the girl's locker room again I'm calling the cops!" The second was "When you take on the whirlwind of shit that is life, you'll come out less smelly if you work with a team." I often found the latter more useful than the former. Teaming up is part of what has allowed human civilization to accomplish such wonderful feats like the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, and internet porn. In comics, team-ups are as common as yeast infections in hot tubs on the set of the Jersey Shore. While Marvel may be building towards an event that involves two teams that usually get along beating the everloving shit out of each other, there's still a place for team-based stories. The shit hasn't hit the fan yet so why not enjoy what precious time they have left before their sense of smell is permanently destroyed?

Uncanny X-men isn't billed as a book for team-ups. It's billed as a book where Kieron Gillen tells stories about how Cyclops's Extinction Team waves their dick in the face of humanity to let them know they'll still save their asses, but they won't be bullied. This team of heavy hitters is billed as a team with the kind of strength and firepower to take on threats that could wipe their ass with the entrails of the human race. They've already taken on the likes of Sinister and explored an entirely new world in Tabula Rasa. With Avengers vs. X-men just on the horizon, the Extinction team doesn't have much more time to reinforce the notion that power of their dick is not to be fucked with. Well Gillen has a fresh new arc for them to prove that and fanboys have plenty of lube and tissues should they need to mop up from the excessive waving of said dick.

This arc has been billed as the last amicable team-up between the X-men and Avengers before they start beating the shit out of each other. It's sort of like the good-natured handshake between teams in a football game before they begin placing bounties on the heads of opposing players (too soon, New Orleans?). It's an intriguing prospect for a story, but one that has a purpose beyond giving readers one last friendly team-up before a very unfriendly conflict begins. This is the Extinction Team's chance to show that their dick is just as big if not more so than the dick the Avengers have been waving for years. It's a good old fashioned dick-measuring contest with superpowers! What's not to be excited about?

Uncanny X-men #9 gets the ball rolling with a few little plots, which are fairly typical of a Kieron Gillen story. We get a chance to see Colossus standing in front of the prison cell where his sister, Magik, is held when she's not in the field aiding the Extinction Team. Danger, the de facto warden of the brig with boobs, offers a brief explanation to readers who smoke too much weed as to why Magik is locked up and why she's dangerous. Even if the reason is entirely valid (and if you read New X-men then you know it is), Colossus is still not happy with it and since he's now the fucking Juggernaut he has no reason to be polite about it.

Someone else who has no need for manners is Emma Frost. Between her plastic surgery, money, mutant powers, and attitude she doesn't really have much incentive to be kind to anyone. However, in the first arc of the Uncanny relaunch she did get humbled somewhat when she had her fucking arm blown off. It forced her to sit out the Tabula Rasa arc, leaving Psylocke to fill in the obligatory sex appeal that Marvel needs to cater to the testicle-bearing portion of their readership. But Emma had her arm re-attached in the last issue and she's already exercising it by taking on a scenario of Sinister her underwear. Why? Because she's Emma fucking Frost! If she wants to do something half-naked, then by the ass hairs of Zeus she's going to do it! However, getting your arm blown off can have an impact even on the most egocentric of blondes. So it's no surprise that Namor seeks her out to console her/attempt to get an Atlantian snorkel from her (which I assume is their euphemism for blow job). He only partially succeeds, but what's more telling is that Cyclops isn't the one aiding his half-naked girlfriend. You would think he would have problems with his sexually liberated lady friend rubbing shoulders (and possibly other organs) with a real king, but he's so distracted that not even a half-naked Emma Frost can stop him. If this doesn't show Cyclops is becoming unhinged, nothing short of him cutting off his own balls will.

Now normally, I use scenes like this to go on a rant about how Marvel never does anything to drive a wedge between Cyclops and Emma. Well, maybe I'm not drunk enough, but I can't really rant about it this time. The Cyclops/Emma relationship hasn't been too prominent lately and Cyclops's increasing obsession with protecting Hope Summers seems to have gotten in the way of the usual bedroom antics that Matt Fraction loved to describe. I'm not complaining and I'm not getting my hopes up that Marvel will actually allow something to happen with Namor and Emma. I'm just saying it's not as overt as it once was and I think that's a good thing.

These dramatic elements are typical of Kieron Gillen's style and set an interesting tone for the rest of the arc. However, drama alone can't make a story awesome. Gillen knows this and introduces the Extinction Team's newest threat, which is actually not so new. Some may be too high to remember, but Kieron Gillen did have another gig before he got involved with Uncanny X-men. He wrote the brief, but memorable series SWORD. Before Marvel decided to act like assholes and cancel the series, he introduced a character named Unit. Now skipping all the dick jokes I could make about that, this is a being that's part sentinel and part Silver Surfer. That earned him a place in the most secure area of SWORD's sub-orbital prison. Not content with just jerking off to images he can scratch on a well, he hatches an escape that if his inner narration is any indication puts him on the same exotic level as the Scarlet Witch in terms of beating the odds. It's one of Gillen's best talents, narrating a character that may or may not be less than stable. But you know what isn't stable? SWORD's defenses, causing their entire sub-orbital brig to break off and crash into the Earth.

When something that catastrophic happens, it turns Abigail Brand from the coldest bitch this side of Ann Colter's taint to a graveling child begging her mommy for a sippy cup. She interrupts Cyclops and Emma as they're discussing Magik's less-than-favorable status. It's probably for the best because if the conversation went for too long, Colossus would probably go Juggernaut and attack Cyclops in a way that could not be defended by Emma Frost's boobs. It effectively silences Colossus before he can make his case, but since an outbreak of alien prisoners usually means the Extinction Team needs to be at full capacity that means Magik can get some fresh air and maybe vent some of that demonic influence of hers. It's like letting your sister out of her room to attack the mailman when she's PMSing. You just gotta let her vent.

With help from Magik's quick teleportation powers, the X-men arrive at at site where some of the alien prisoners from SWORD decide to treat a small town diner like the toilet in a gas station bathroom. Being cooped up in a sub-orbital brig leaves them with little regard for Earthly property and they don't give a damn if they destroy one more place where a red-blooded American can get drunk. As a functioning booze hound, I take a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the X-men show up and kick their ass. It's a spectacle like pretty much every fight with the Extinction Team. They're even nice enough to rescue the civilians, presumably after telling them to inform everyone they meet from here on out that their dick is really that big and really not to be questioned.

But what about Unit? Why would he just cut all these prisoners loose? Well, it's a damn good distraction, that's for sure. When a dangerous figure with more power in it's pinkie finger than Tommy Lee has in is penis breaks free, that usually draws a lot of attention. This allows Unit to carry out it's mission, which isn't quite clear. But for some reason it involves plopping itself down in the middle of a snowy wilderness and scaring the piss out of a couple of hunters. Like anyone in the woods armed with a gun, when they see something that looks inhuman they usually shoot. For Unit, it's akin to a mosquito bite. He's remarkably casual in the way he narrates his actions as he strikes fear into these two unfortunate humans. He also paralyzes one of them before forming what looks like the world's worst circumcision blade. He claims an interest in seeing what makes humans tick. Unfortunately, that involves taking them apart and observing the innards. Like my old biology class when the teacher leaves us unattended with dead frogs and crazy glue, it's bound to get messy.

As a result of this mess, the Extinction Team has to enlist some help in dealing with this alien riot that's on par with a 100 LA riots. Well they don't enlist as they so much cross paths. After the Extinction Team effectively exacts justice on behalf of alcoholics everywhere that like to get shit faced at diners, the Avengers show up in their jet. It's every bit as random as it sounds. Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, and even Storm and Wolverine show up. Not much is said other than the world is getting shat upon and they need to team up. That and the Avengers lack a teleporter like Magik. Even though these teams are destined to beat the shit out of each other very soon, they don't say much and not much is made of Wolverine teaming up with Cyclops again either. They just team up and start spanning the world, looking for escapees to beat up. It makes for some nice action scenes, but the basis is still a bit underwhelming.

Now I know this arc was billed as an Avengers and X-men team-up, but given how much detail Gillen gives to other dramatic elements in this issue this team-up just falls a bit flat. The X-men finish their first battle against the SWORD prisoners and the Avengers just show up. Usually, Gillen is pretty good about meshing the plot elements so that they flow naturally (the last issue notwithstanding). This just seems a bit abrupt even if it does make sense that a prison break would require both the X-men and the Avengers and possibly the Texas National Guard as it exists in Rick Perry's head. It's not sloppy by any stretch, but it could have been done better.

So the X-men and Avengers are completely occupied, leaving Unit to finish his extensive probing of the unfortunate human rednecks he came across. It's implied that the probing was pretty gruesome, more so than any Jenna Jameson porno could ever get away with. The man looks like he wishes that this alien-looking creature stuck only to rectal probing. The art isn't too graphic here, but if you're imagination is half-way as sick as mine you can probably infer that the man suffered quite a bit. As for his hunting buddy, he doesn't get away with much either. He has his fucking head blown up and I'm not talking about the kind of blowing up that happens with a good bong hit. Now as gruesome as this is, Unit does continue to narrate that there's a purpose behind it. He wanted to dissect humans and he wanted to see what made them tick. If it means cutting them open Ted Bundy style, that's perfectly alright. But dissecting a human just doesn't give it the boner it wants. It now set it's sight on a mutant.

And what better mutant to probe than a pretty teenage redhead that happens to be the mutant messiah? Using the same deceptive tricks he used to trigger the prison break, Unit creates a false new mutant signal that the Cuckoos detect. With the battle against the SWORD prisoners still going on, Hope breaks off and gathers her (canceled) Generation Hope team. But when she arrives, Unit is ready for them. Like the two hunters that tried to attack him with antiquated boom sticks, the Lights make a pretty vain effort at attacking him. Rather than give them a good probing, he just teleports them away before taking the mutant messiah in his grasp. It means that not only could Unit be poised to cut up the most powerful mutant on the planet at the moment. He could be poised to cut up mutant kind's last hope before she can go Dark Phoenix. In this sense, I'm not quite sure if I should be rooting against the guy.

So the final team-up between the X-men and the Avengers has begun. This issue got things started in a very basic manner. Kieron Gillen demonstrated his usual sophistication in progressing plots from the point of view of certain characters. Both Danger and Unit helped establish a mindset for the story. It's one of Gillen's most defining talents aside from having a British accent to lure female readers into comics. While the conflict itself is set up nicely, the action it incurs is a bit overly basic. You get the sense that the Avengers really didn't need to just show up and ask the X-men for assistance. They probably could have just started fighting the escaped prisoners and rubbed elbows along the way. It makes the crossover seem a bit forced even if it is logistically a sound. It would have been nice to make the team-up a bit more seamless, but it still works.

Every other element in the issue is as awesome as one should expect from Kieron Gillen's work. While the previous issue was a disappointment, this issue returns to form in a scrotum crushingly awesome way. There are dramatic elements with Colossus and his sister. There are romantic elements with Emma Frost and Namor. There's a sense of mystery with Unit and why he's doing what he's doing. The presence of the Avengers as well as an appearance from the Generation Hope cast make for a story that's on a scale almost as big as Donald Trump's inferiority complex. It's an entertaining issue that should get anyone excited about this last friendly adventure before the animosity and feuding steps in.

Uncanny X-men returned to prominence under Matt Fraction thanks in large part to the large-scale stories he told. Kieron Gillen added some much needed balance to the series and since the relaunch, it has become one of the most consistently awesome X-books on the market. While the last issue was a rare anomaly of sorts, this issue recaptures everything that we've come to love from Uncanny X-men. It has all the right elements of an awesome X-men comic and Emma Frost in her underwear. There's room for improvement, but not by much. I give Uncanny X-men #9 a 4 out of 5. It's Avengers, X-men, and escaped alien prisoners. It's simple, it's fun, and it's entertaining. And unlike masturbation, it's not nearly as messy. Nuff said!

Friday, March 23, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 50: Proposals and Principles PREVIEW

The big 50th issue of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is almost upon us! I'm working hard to make sure this new issue is worthy of such a milestone. After the events of The Good, The Bad, The Sinister I'm looking forward to developing this fanfiction series further. I've brought in some family drama with the introduction of Gabriel Summers and Madelyne Pryor. Well coming up next, I'll be introducing drama that isn't so familial so to speak! Before Sinister injected himself into the X-men's affairs, the political situation surrounding humans and mutants was taking a turn for the worse. Senator Robert Kelly is making a hard push to bring his anti-mutant agenda to the White House. Well in the course of opposing this agenda, the X-men met up with a mysterious woman named Lilandra Neramani who seems to have an interest in peace. She also appears to have a keen interest in Charles Xavier. That interest will take center stage in this latest issue along with a few other lingering dramas. I've prepared an extended preview here to offer a brief taste of what you can expect.

“You got two minutes! Go!” barked Logan.

The four X-men did as they were told, pushing through their fatigue and attacking their respective targets with a fury of well-aimed punches and kicks. The targets lit up as they struck them, adding to their score. Logan went along with it, only his bag was specially made to accommodate his metal bones and deadly claws. He growled angrily as he attacked each target, sounding as though he was getting dangerously close to another berserker rage. It was enough to worry the others, even as they tried to concentrate.

“He’s going to lose it on us!” grunted Kitty as she tried to focus.

“He better not! I’m not calling Xavier back from his date to put him under!” said Bobby.

“Just be ready to run!” grunted Remy as he struck several targets in sequence, “It may get uglier than a corcs ass at any second!”

Bobby, Kitty, Remy, and Kurt kept going until time expired. But even after they were done, Logan kept going. He snarled as he relentlessly pounded the bag, not even aiming for the targets. He wasn’t really training anymore. He was letting out some pent up rage that was fueled by echoes from the past.

In an uncontrolled outburst, Logan drew his claws and relentlessly thrashed the punching bag. With a mere several slashes of his claws, he reduced it to bits of leather and foam. He even trashed the high tech sensors, something Hank worked long and hard to create. Even after there was nothing left, he was still raging. All throughout this angry state, that name kept echoing in his mind.

‘James Howlett.’

He was just a half-step behind another berserker rage. But before he crossed that fragile line, he felt the eyes of his students on him. Bobby, Kitty, Remy, and Kurt were all looking at him nervously, taking a defensive posture in case he attacked them. It was then he realized how far he had gone and quickly pulled himself back.

‘Damn it! I did it again!’

Panting heavily, Logan took deep calming breaths as Jean and the Professor had taught him. The rage was still burning, but he shut it out. Once he collected himself, he withdrew his claws and turned to his teammates. They were still looking at him suspiciously, uncertain if he was going to lash out again.

“You done, homme?” asked Remy, standing defensively ahead of Kurt, Kitty, and Bobby.

Logan’s expression hardened, but he was in control now. This time it was going to stay that way.

“We’re done,” was all he said in response.

While the four X-men let out a sight of relief, Logan stormed off. He hated that he had this rage burning inside him over this one name. He hated even more that he was taking it out on his teammates, the only ones who really gave a damn about him in this world. They didn’t deserve to deal with this. They had enough problems with angry humans, corrupt politicians, and secret aliens. If he couldn’t get it together, then he didn’t belong here.

Watching Logan storm off, the rest of the team took a moment to catch their breath. Logan worked them pretty hard, but it wasn’t just for his amusement. He was dealing with a lot of issues to say the least. Sinister just made it worse.

“Wow, I actually thought he was going to make us do it again,” said Bobby.

“Good thing he didn’t. I don’t think I could have lasted another round,” said Kitty, leaning against the punching bag for support.

“He seems to be getting vorse,” said Kurt in a more concerned tone, “I zhink it’s time ve start vorrying.”

“You mean you ain’t started yet? That homme got more issues than a toothless croc,” scoffed Remy, who was rubbing a very sore shoulder.

“Zhese are issues of a very different kind, Remy,” said Kurt more seriously, “Sinister really left his mark on him. Vhatever he told him, it’s not just affecting him. It’s hurting him. And I don’t know if he can handle it.”

“He just needs some time to cool off. No pun intended,” said Bobby as he wiped the sweat from his face with a towel, “If it gets reakkt bad, someone like Jean or the Professor will help him.”

“If they have time,” said Kurt, “Jean’s been in and out of action vith migraines and zhe Professor has his own priorities vith zhat Lilandra woman.”

“And a beautiful femme always takes priority over a moody Wolverine, non?” commented Remy.

“It’s nothing to joke about! Logan is our friend! Or have you forgotten already, Remy?” said Kurt with a touch of scorn.

The Cajun mutant shifted. Kurt knew how to put him on the spot. He figured he liked to single him out because he was so close to Rogue. But he made a point. Logan was a teammate and Remy was not about to turn his back on a fellow X-man as he once did his fellow thieves.

“He needs zhe support of his friends,” Kurt went on, “Even if it means doing more of zhese drills.”

“If you’re going to go after him, you have our blessings, Kurt,” said Kitty, “But I’m not sure we should start reaching out to him just yet. Bobby’s right. It sounds like he needs to cool off.”

“Wow, you actually admit I’m right,” grinned Bobby, “You feeling okay, Kitty? Maybe you’re the one we should worry about.”

“Don’t let it go to your head,” she chided as she maintained a serious tone, “Seriously, this is Logan we’re talking about. We really don’t understand the first thing about what he’s going through.”

Kurt sighed to himself. Kitty was right. As much as they cared for their teammate, there was no getting around the truth. He was a tormented soul who didn’t even remember where much of that torment came from. No matter how much they worried, there was no working around the overwhelming burden of Logan’s past.

Also, I threw in another extensive update for the pics section. I updated the pics for Goblin Queen, Kitty Pryde, Mystique, Rogue, Storm, Jean Grey, the Scarlet Witch, Cyclops and Jean Grey, and Wolverine and Jean Grey. I know I've put off certain sections while I gather images. Please note that if ever you have any artwork you would like to submit to this website, please contact me and I'll be happy to post it and give you full credit.

As the X-men Supreme fanfiction series approaches the 50th issue, it's more important than ever that I get appropriate feedback for this and other issues that have led up to this point in the series. I've worked long and hard, carrying myself as if Marvel was looking over my shoulder every step of the way. I sincerely want to make this series as awesome as it can be! So please help me boost traffic for this site, which has been stagnant for months now. Please provide feedback so that I can make X-men Supreme the awesome fanfiction series it deserves to be. Until next time, take care and best wishes! Excelsior!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

X-Sanction #4 - Making Way for Awesome

I know I usually start all my reviews with some witty anecdote that links the comic I'm about to review to some of my drunken philosophies on life or to some fucked up shit I did the last time I blacked out, depending on how high I am. Well my intoxication aside, I'd like to skip that shit this time because the book I'm about to review simply has no parallel with anything I've done on a weekend with a stolen credit card and a shoe box full of blow. It isn't just because this comic is the final issue of a four-part mini-series that has helped partially rebuild my respect for Jeph Loeb (sorry, but it just can't be whole again after the elephant shit he dumped on Ultimate). It's because this comic, X-Sanction, is the great calm before the storm. It's akin to foreplay before you fuck a really hot chick. That hot chick is Avengers vs. X-men and Marvel has been doing their darndest to give us a boner so hard that we could cut diamonds with it. Well X-Sanction has done a damn good job thus far. I haven't had to mix ground up bits of viagra in my blow for months, but it goes much deeper than boner jokes if you can believe that.

X-Sanction was billed as the return of Cable, who like so many other Marvel characters not named Gwen Stacy was shaking off his latest bout with death. The details at first were vague. We just knew he was back from the future and wanted to beat the shit out of the Avengers. That in and of itself is a pretty decent selling point for any comic, but fuck if it's not enough. Once Avengers vs. X-men was announced, X-Sanction took on a much greater importance that went beyond merely watching Cable kick ass as he's so prone to do in his spare time. It became a pre-cursor to Avengers vs. X-men, a means of giving both teams more reasons to beat each other up in case the threat of the Phoenix Force isn't enough. So far, Jeph Loeb has done a damn good job making both this series and the upcoming Avengers vs. X-men event all the brain-meltingly awesome. But he's still gotta finish or like the guy who cums prematurely in a porno, he leaves a mess and mortally wounds his manhood.

X-Sanction #4 begins just before X-Sanction #3 ended. At the end of X-Sanction #3, Cable was still battling Cyclops and Hope who were trying to calmly explain to him that fighting the Avengers was not a good idea. Before Cable could tell them to sufficiently fuck off, Wolverine and Spider-Man showed up. But where the fuck did they come from and where were they earlier? Making another deal with Mephisto to make people forget that the new Spider-Man movie is basically another origins movie? Nope, they were busy cleaning up that prison break that was hatched in issue one and promptly forgotten about. So Jeph Loeb didn't leave that plot threat dangling, for which I give him credit. Yeah, it happened off panel and it required Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Thing to step in as reinforcements. But this comic is about Cable, not about the Avengers playing dog catcher.

Catch up to the present and Wolverine doesn't waste time welcoming Cable back from the dead with his claws. For him, it doesn't matter that he fought alongside the X-men and gave his life to save Hope. He kidnapped the Avengers, hooked them up to a ship wired to blow, and was prepared to kill them. Wolverine rarely needs many reasons to kill someone, but the shit Cable's pulled is more than sufficient. Some may piss and moan about how Wolverine was too aggressive. I say he's just aggressive enough by his standards. It's like he and Cable were ever best buddies anyways. Hell, he's the son of the guy who boned Jean Grey. That in and of itself is enough reason to hate him.

But the battle is more than just Wolverine and Cable slugging it out, which admittedly is pretty damn awesome in it's own right. Hope and Cyclops's arrival in the last issue threw Cable off his game worse than Tiger Woods trying to play golf at a tournament run by all the porn stars he boned. He never got a chance to explain that the future he came from was nuked like a hot-pocket. So when the fighting starts, Hope and Cyclops are reluctant to aid either side. Hope tries to fire some warning shots at Spider-Man, who is basically just serving as a comic relief. His humor is off-beat, but he's getting shot at by a teenage girl. Given the disrespect he made to redheads everywhere when he sold his marriage to the devil, I think Hope is sending him a message that all the comic relief in the world doesn't make him any less a douche.

The battle progresses quickly and effectively by Jeph Loeb standards. Cyclops is wounded by Hope's shooting. Spider-Man is knocked off the ship by Cyclops, also delivering a blow on behalf of redheaded women everywhere. However, Wolverine is still clawing at Cable, who at this point looks like the Terminator's prison bitch after the techno-organic virus finally got the best of him. The ship is also wired to blow. Oh yeah, did I forget to remind you? Sorry, weed will do that. Cable revealed that he wired the ship to blow in issue 1 in case some bullshit like this happened and he couldn't take down the Avengers in time. Well that plan is more fucked than the couch cushion of a 38-year-old porn addict. So in an effort to make the situation slightly less volatile, Blaquesmith (who was never too keen on Cable's plan to begin with) instructs Hope to take the bomb apart. It seems like a lot to ask for a teenage girl, but then again Cable raised her. He probably told her about defusing bombs before he told her about tampons.

Hope successfully defuses the bomb, but this has the unexpected effect of freeing Falcon from his stasis. Having been knocked out or beat up since issue one, it's about damn time he get involved in the action if for no other reason than to keep Al Sharpton from complaining. He along with the injured Cyclops free Captain America and Iron Man while Red Hulk pisses himself off enough to burn away the techno-organic virus that Cable infected him with. At the same time, Cable is getting weaker while Wolverine is still venting his anger over the last two Terminator movies on Cable. The man is clearly in no condition to fight and his elaborate plan has been shot to shit. He still maintains that he's not the bad guy and he's doing this for a reason. The remarkable thing is he doesn't come off as having lost his fucking mind, which could have easily happened here. Thankfully, Loeb was able to resist the temptation far better than I was when I stumbled in drunk to a massage parlor in Thailand.

The fight quickly becomes lopsided. The Avengers subdue Cable in a few panels of action with minimum effort. With his body more ravaged than Mike Tyson's face, he eventually subdues. Even if it was lopsided, Cable still showed some heart and given all the flashbacks and drama that show his journey over the past few issues it's hard not to feel bad for the guy. Usually, when someone is beat up by the Avengers it just makes you giddy like a baby at a topless bar. This isn't quite like that and Jeph Loeb does a good job of not only fleshing out the struggle, but showing Cable's inner thoughts as he struggles and ultimately fails.

When all is said and done, Cable is still alive but not in a very lively way to say the least. He's ravaged by the techno-organic virus and his ass has been spoon fed to him. So in another emotional moment, Cyclops and Hope commit to taking him back to Utopia. The Avengers agree, but under one condition. They get to keep all the fancy goodies Cable brought with him from the future. That's a pretty fucked up condition seeing as how these same goodies may only empower them if they end up proving Cable right in their endeavor to fuck up the world. But without much argument or even animosity for his wayward son's actions, Cyclops agrees. That's pretty much how they part ways. Hope and Cyclops get Cable. The Avengers get everything else. Fair trade? Fuck, only if you're Bill Belichek.

This scene presents a serious problem, the first in a series that has otherwise been problem free. Since the announcement of Avengers vs. X-men, this series has been billed as the prelude. For the most part, it has delivered. However, this scene seems to do nothing to add any tension between the X-men or the Avengers. That or it's just so damn subtle that even ten hits of acid couldn't heighten your senses enough to see it. These two teams are going to be fighting each other and this issue was poised to give them plenty of reasons. However, those reasons were unrealized and they somewhat diminish the impact of what could have been a very powerful scene.

Flaw or no flaw, Loeb does plenty to make up for it in the next scene. With Cable back on Utopia, Hope and Blaquesmith (who has basically been jerking off in the corner while everyone else fights it out) stand over Cable in a special infirmary chamber. He's still out of it and not coming out anytime soon because of the techno-organic virus. For Hope, that shit just isn't going to work. So in an act similar to many she's made in other recent comics (see Generation Hope and Uncanny X-men), she taps the power of a certain cosmic parrot to rid him of the virus. That's right, we get yet another Phoenix Force flare up from someone not named Jean Grey. It's a beautiful display and one that only further reinforces the notion that Hope is going to be to the Phoenix Force what Pamela Anderson is to silicone. Their fates are inseparably entwined.

Cable is okay and no longer looking like he was jerked off on by the Terminator. But rather than enjoy this moment with his adopted daughter, he telepathically reaches out to Cyclops (which he couldn't do earlier because of the techno-organic virus) to show him the shitty future he came from. This way he can explain to his father what he was doing and why he was doing it. Since Cyclops actually watched Hope manifest the Phoenix, he sees first hand the kind of shit they're dealing with. As someone who has been royally fucked by the Phoenix Force in ways I can't make enough dick or sodomy jokes about, he has more incentive than anyone to do something about it. So in the end Cable succeeds in his mission on some levels. However, the onus is now on Cyclops to protect Hope and if shit goes as Cable says and the Avengers decide to fuck their shit up, Cyclops will make sure he's on the front line.

The impact of this series and the implications are pretty fucking awesome. Cable is back. He didn't die again, which is somewhat surprising because so much of this series seemed to indicate that he was returning just for a quick reunion with Hope before biting it again. Instead, he underwent a major transformation. The techno-organic virus that has been part of his character since Regan was president is now gone. While he didn't exactly succeed in his mission, he did convey a very important message to Cyclops. He showed him what will happen if Hope doesn't play her role as messiah or if someone like the Avengers come along and fuck it up. This shows just what's at steak for the X-men during the Avengers vs. X-men conflict. Yeah, we all kind of knew it's a big deal when the Phoenix Force comes to take a shit on your world, but the X-men didn't know that. They're just finding out and if the Avengers oppose them, they know they can't afford to be friendly.

There's a lot of potential here. Cable is back. Hope has her father back. She's also using the Phoenix more liberally than Snooki at a tanning beds. Loeb has effectively succeeded in bringing Cable back into Marvel comics and doing it in a way that makes him different than he was before. However, if part of his goal was to draw some of the battle lines for Avengers vs. X-men, he wasn't so successful. There was a chance to add a little more tension between the X-men and the Avengers so that they would be more comfortable beating each other up. That chance wasn't realized. Cyclops saved the Avengers, who in turn neutralized Cable and took all the tech on his ship in the process. Aside from Wolverine being a douche, not much else was made of it. Maybe some tension was implied, but Loeb's poor sense of subtlety made it feel like an underwhelming resolution at least in that context.

Now I loved this issue. I loved this series. Jeph Loeb has officially done something awesome again. I thought I would never live to see the day. Granted, I never think I'm going to see next weekend at times so I guess that's not saying much. But it's still an accomplishment. X-Sanction is a damn good series. The action is as solid as you would expect in a Jeph Loeb comic. There's heart and drama with the flashbacks and Cable's reflections on his daughter. There's connection between the events in this series and what's to come with Avengers vs. X-men. The only shortcoming is that those connections were underwhelming in some areas. It wasn't too egregious. If I was going to score X-Sanction #4 on an overly precise level, I would give it a 4.75 out of 5. But I think that brings up too many nightmares of 8th grade math. So I give this comic a 4.5 out of 5. It had all the right elements, but the ending just didn't go far enough in terms of playing up the tension between the Avengers and the X-men. Since this was billed as a prelude, I can't ignore that shortcoming and give it a perfect score. But if that shit doesn't bother you and you just like seeing Cable beat up the avengers and Hope doing yet another Jean Grey impression, you'll love everything about this book.

So that's it, Marvel. You've got your prelude shit done. Now bring on X-men vs. Avengers! Hurry like Rick James on a crack binge! On behalf of all Marvel fans and functioning drunks, we're ready! Nuff said.