Thursday, April 12, 2012

Uncanny X-men #10 - Casually Charming Awesome


Selling awesome comics is a lot like selling awesome drugs. The more you get your customers hooked, the more willing they are to buy your shit and/or suck your dick. Marvel hasn't demanded the latter just yet, but I'm sure it's in the back of their minds. Uncanny X-men has been among the few comics that has been consistently awesome since the relaunch, so much so that every week it isn't released is akin to going into heroin withdrawal but with only slightly less vomiting. I liken the quality to a guy who sold some of the best weed on the East Coast. He didn't look the part, but he was such an amazing smooth talker that he could talk an old man out of his retirement money and a young woman out of her panties. He had great shit, but he had the right words to properly convey the awesome. Kieron Gillen is a lot like that dealer, minus the arrest record I imagine. His talent for words, story, and action have made Uncanny X-men the best it's been since Chris Claremont still had a full head of hair.

This series has been awesome despite being somewhat lagging. The events in the current arc take place before the events of Avengers vs. X-men. They sort of have to because in the previous issue Cyclops's Extinction Team teamed up with the Avengers to help contain a prison break from SWORD. It's sort of like the last blowjob you get from your ex-girlfriend before she kicks you out of her apartment and throws your TV out the window. It's bittersweet, but you can't help but enjoy it. We already know from Avengers vs. X-men #1 that both teams are poised to beat the living piss out of one another. We might as well take a look back and see how shit went so horribly, horribly wrong.

The key to this alien prison break plot is a character named Unit. Oddly enough, this is the same name some guys have for their penis so it's appropriate that this thing is fucking a lot of shit up. But he only looks like a large humanoid dildo. This Silver Surfer wannabe is a smooth talker with some pretty fucked up powers that led to a couple of hunters getting butchered. That came after it apparently instigated the prison break. But it wasn't content to just hack up a couple of rednecks. It wanted to study the bloody entrails of a human so it lured Hope Summers, the fucking mutant messiah/Jean Grey ripoff, to dissect. Needless to say, this raises the stakes to absurd levels.

Uncanny X-men #10 logically continues the absurdity when Agent Brand tells the X-men they found Unit (the robot not the penis). She sends the information to Cyclops, who immediately ditches the Avengers upon finding out Hope is in danger. I know she's the mutant messiah and all and she happens to look like his dead wife, but it's still a dick move to just leave the Avengers to take on the rest of these alien criminals. You would think that superheroes would have a sense of common courtesy. Guess Cyclops makes an exception when pretty redheads are in danger. Go figure.


So they gladly ignore the army of escaped alien prisoners terrorizing the world and converge on Hope's location. Magik does the easy part first by teleporting Hope away. Then the Extinction team does the rest and attempt to subdue Unit without listening to Agent Brand's little warning about not knowing what they're up against. It turns out that they probably should have at least listened to the kind of power this thing has. Like a large and flexible penis, Unit has so many different was with which to fuck them. Like his phallic connotations entail, Unit is capable of fucking up the laws of physics. So when Colossus goes into full Juggernaut mode, Unit has no problem changing his impact site so that the X-men's ears are ringing louder than Rocky Balboa after ten rounds with Ivan Drago.


If you thought others like Storm or Magneto would have better luck, you may be the kind of person that would still entrust their retirement to Bernie Madoff. Greg Land's art once again offers some nice visuals that help convey just how powerful Unit is. Not only can he turn Magneto's attacks against him and make Storm wish she was still making peasants rub her feet in Wakanda, Gillen does a nice job of giving him that sly and smooth voice that reminds me of my old drug dealer and makes me really wish I had some of his weed left over. Like Sinister and the Phallanx before, Gillen has a knack for giving inhuman creatures a very unique voice that's compelling and even a little arousing. Sorry, that may have been horniness again. I've been watching True Blood reruns and Anna Paquin's breasts will do that to me.


But Unit doesn't just rely on sheer force to fuck with the X-men. When Emma Frost looks to play her usual mind games, Unit is ready for her. But rather than smack her surgically enhanced ass to the polar caps of Mars, he tries another stunt. He hits her and Namor with a burst of pheromones and seeing as how they already have an insatiable desire to swap body fluids, they start going at it like a couple of teenagers in the back alley of an abstinence only rally in Texas. It's very hot and it effectively takes them both out of the fight while pissing off Cyclops to epic proportions. Even Unit expresses surprise by how well it works, which may or may not be a hint. If it is, it's too damn subtle and that's a problem I've pointed out before.

Now every time the Namor/Emma plot has been revisited, I've taken the opportunity to point out how fucked Marvel has made the Cyclops/Emma relationship and how chicken shit they are when it comes to actually doing something with it. The Namor/Emma plot has been the first real signs of drama between a relationship that has all the depth of an episode of Two and a Half Men (before Charlie Sheen got replaced by Ashton Kutcher). Yet no one going back to Matt Fraction has done anything with it because nobody seems to want to taint the precious Cyclops/Emma relationship. Never mind that they never hesitated to fuck shit up between Cyclops and Jean Grey and they billed Cyclops/Emma as the opposite of that. I'm tempted to call hypocrisy here, but I've beaten and pissed on that horse too much. At least this time Cyclops is actually there to see it and gets pissed. But seeing as how this essentially renders that teaser that was shown in the first issue of Uncanny X-men as a ruse, it still qualifies as disappointing because once again Marvel has avoided throwing excessive drama into a relationship they've done nothing to make interesting.


It's not enough that Unit made Cyclops's girlfriend jump Namor's bone. He also has to pretty much humiliate him by shutting down his powers and making him bow in the same way Howard Stern makes censors bow. It's probably the most humble Cyclops has looked in years, but the real impact is the way in which Unit talks to him. Usually when someone subdues a guy like Cyclops, they get the same attitude a high school student gets when they know they're about to get laid. But Unit is different. He's very suave, calling himself a diplomat of sorts. It sounds confusing, but don't hit the crack pipe just yet. Gillen is usually good at explaining this shit later on.

You know who else is good at explaining shit? Danger. She's a fucking machine and not subject to the same biological tweaking as her fleshy counterparts. So when she enters the battle, she hits hard and is able to subdue Unit. Dare I say, she actually looks sexy doing it. What? Don't tell me you've never jerked off to a hot robot chick! But even after Unit is subdued, some interesting twists emerge. Hope returns courtesy of Magik and explains to them that fighting Unit is kind of what's causing all this bullshit. It's like punching your dick after you've accidental downed six viagra. It's only going to make it worse. She explains that Unit didn't want to butcher her like he did the hunters. He wanted to talk and they had a nice conversation. The X-men then discover that when they stop fighting, Unit is actually willing to go back to jail. Okay hippies, you win this round. But you still need to take a fucking shower.


Unit is contained and the X-men are able to go back to helping the Avengers. We don't get to see the awkward moment between Cyclops, Emma, and Namor. I imagine Emma would need a fresh pair of panties, but I guess some things just are more urgent. Although in any logical universe, Emma's panties would take top priority. They return to find that the Avengers were able to handle the rest of the prison outbreak. It lets to a rather ominous moment between Cyclops and Captain America. Cap rightly points out that the Extinction Team is very powerful, but their priorities are not the same as the Avengers. As soon as Hope was in danger, they ditched them. It's a very clear sign of the divide that would later turn into an all out brawl in Avengers vs. X-men #1. It's subtle, but if you've read that issue (I'd be shocked if someone missed it with all the hype Marvel was throwing around) you know just how important this difference between the X-men and Avengers ends up being.


Back on Utopia, we actually do get some fallout from the Emma/Namor dry humping. I know. I was just as shocked. It's not much. Emma does show some rare humility and apologizes, but Cyclops is overly eager to accept it. He says it doesn't bother him that she tried to snorkel Namor's royal scepter. And Emma has a problem with that. He cares that little that the woman he's boning just tried to bone another guy right in front of him. There's being forgiving and then there's just being fucking dense. Now it's possible if not likely that this actually does cause a little drama between the two. Usually, they just kiss, make up, and fuck as if it never happened. This time, there's some animosity. It would be great if it actually lead to something more, but like a straight Tom Cruise I'll believe that shit when I see it.


In addition to having an angry girlfriend, Cyclops also has to deal with a pissed off Agent Brand. She explains that Unit is like a robot diplomat that has the power of a nuclear holocaust in his pinkie finger. It's job is to forge peace diplomatically and not let shit stand in it's way. It was so diplomatic that it was a problem for the aliens that created it. In terms of crazy alien shit that Marvel comics deals with, this ranks about a 9.5 behind Mojovison. Yet like many of Gillen's creation, it makes a twisted bit of sense. Agent Brand explains that they shouldn't have Unit in the same way Iran shouldn't have an H-bomb. So with some rather tense diplomacy of her own, she demands that the X-men house some of the SWORD prisoners on Utopia (including Unit). Cyclops isn't okay with this, but then she reminds him that she knows some of his secrets, namely X-Force. So through mutual blackmail, she forces him to deal with her mess. It's probably the most realistic depiction of politics in all of comics.

But Unit won't be the only prisoner they end up storing. In the previous issue, Colossus came to Cyclops with concern about his sister being locked up in a cell when she wasn't in action. Well he brings that up again, but this time he turns it around. He says he needs to be in a cell as well. After his Juggernaut powers fucked them up in the battle against Unit, he feels it's best if he imprisons himself with Magik. It's another powerful moment that helps tie up a dramatic loose end that Gillen has been building for the past few issues now. You can't say the man isn't attentive to detail. Either he has awesome LSD or he's just that brilliant.


So Unit is the latest prisoner to set up shop on Utopia. It remains docile now that no one is fighting it again, but it isn't done being diplomatic. It never quite finished that conversation with Hope that the Extinction Team so rudely interrupted. So once he's safely in his cell, he calls Hope down to have a little chat. What do they talk about? The weather? Emma Frost's tits? How about the fucking Phoenix Force. Nobody really has really given her much information to this point and she seemed to know about it during Avengers vs. X-men #0 and #1. So how did she find out enough to warrant shooting Cyclops with his own blasts? Well this answers it. Unit told her and it fits so nicely it might even give you an orgasm if you read it just right. Now excuse me while I go get a clean towel.


Thus, the connection is made. Kieron Gillen has capped off his final arc before he's obligated to play a part in this monumental crossover that Marvel is spewing into the comic world like a constipated elephant that just took a hit of weapons grade laxatives. Yet once again, he finds a way to channel that charming wit of his into the story and the characters. What he did with Unit here is by far the highlight of the issue. Unit was the one that set the arc into motion and he's the one that connects this arc with Avengers vs. X-men by giving Hope a few pointers on the Phoenix. It makes for a harmonious, if not sensual completion to this story. That or I'm just horny. I can never tell when I'm reading Uncanny X-men. Unit proved to be another one of those crafty enemies with a very different kind of motivation, one that goes beyond the usual "Let's kill all mutants and try to bone the redhead." It fits Kieron Gillen's style perfectly and sets the stage for a Vulcan-like mind-meld to Avengers vs. X-men.

The central theme here was Unit. He made this arc work and like Sinister in the first arc, his intentions were not what they seemed from the beginning. It wasn't completely unexpected, but at times it did seem to overly dominate the issue. It feels like there wasn't enough time given to Cyclops's conversation with Captain America or the Emma/Namor issue. I don't want to belabor the issue, but every time there has been a Namor/Emma moment Kieron Gillen or whoever else may be writing the issue finds a way to make it so it doesn't cause any real shift. At least this time there were signs that it had an impact, however minute it may be. The Cyclops/Emma relationship hasn't really been touched or tampered with for years and now probably isn't a good time anyways with Avengers vs. X-men looming ahead. I'm still left wishing that Gillen or someone with some stones in their scrotum would find a way to amp up the drama between these two. For now, I'm content with simply sewing the seeds of discontent in the most subtle manner possible.

This issue was one of those arcs that just left me wanting more at the end. It felt like there was more story to tell, but Kieron Gillen still made the story feel complete in the end. He didn't leave anything glossed over and he threw in a few twists that promise to stir up quite a bit of shit down the line. Like a Russian contortionist turned prostitute, twists can be a good thing. The added wit, dialog, and tension that permeated much of the issue was just the icing on the cake. So while I'm left wanting more, I can't fault Gillen or Uncanny X-men for not having more pages than it was designated to have. It was amazingly awesome on more than enough levels for me to give Uncanny X-men #10 a 5 out of 5. Emma Frost and Namor did some dry humping. Hope got an education in Phoenix 101. Cyclops and Agent Brand established a new love/hate relationship. And an alien robot with phallic connotations kicked major ass. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Uncanny X-men at its best. Nuff said!

8 comments:

  1. Is it just me, or did the X-Men come off as looking like massive douches here?

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  2. I dunno, the fact that he oneshotted the Juggernaut, Magneto, Emma Frost and Namor proves that this guy required their undivided attention. I dunno why Cap is being such a whiner because they didn't help them with the smallfry. The only that actually did something wrong was Brand, she shoulda just called in the Avengers and told them how miniscule a threat their opponents wee compared to Unit and have them send Vision and some guys to help.

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  3. Thanks for the comments guys. I don't think the X-men were douches. They ran to save their mutant messiah. That's not being a douche. That's having different priorities as Cap so nicely articulated. I think that was his point, even though the Avengers were able to handle the rest of the riot. When the fate of the world is at stake, the X-men have different priorities. It's a clear divide and one that played out nicely in AvX #1. So in that sense, I think Gillen handled this nicely.

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  4. The Avengers can handle themselves and the Xmen went to rescue one of their own from one of the escapees that no one was paying attention to, so they did the right thing. However the Bullshit about "just wanting to talk" no Unit made a deal with Hope to feed the Xmen some bullshit about peace in exchange to tell her about the Parrot. I like how this team each has a dieux ex machina in a given story. It is a severely powerful team and it's about damn time. This is what the Xmen used to be (Jean, cyke, Iceman, Beast, Archangel, Rogue, Storm, Gambit, Psylocke) in the 90s. They were powerful, their enemies were powerful and it made for more interesting stories. After Morrison there's been a quota to add more drama and Gillen delivers a balance of both. In a few lines we get the weight of Emma/Scott/Namor. Scott hasn't been paying attention and when she messes up she doesn't want to be forgiven, she wants Scott to be jealous..but instead he's cold. It's an interesting parallel to Jean. When Emma joined the team Jean was distant, cold, and indifferent to Scott and he needed comfort, warmth, and someone to react when he did something wrong. Now Scott's the same way with Emma and Namor is playing Emma's role. It's subtle, but interesting.

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  5. That's actually a compelling point. If Unit was just bullshitting the X-men so he could get close to Hope, that would be brilliant. I didn't consider that. I must have snorted way too much coke. It's a great way to work around all that power the X-men's Extinction Team has. It doesn't always need to meet power with power. Sometimes outsmarting someone who is as human and dense as Cyclops works just as well. lol

    As for Cyclops and Emma, I think him being the cold one is a nice little twist because it's usually the other way around. His obsession with Hope is finally getting to him. I hope it eventually comes to a head with Namor swooping in. lol Thanks for the comment!

    Jack

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  6. One small correction: Land wasn't the penciler in this issue. It was Carlos Pacheco (I think Paco Diaz helped). I only know that because I detest Greg Land.

    @IceCold I really like your connection on the relationship with Scott and Emma. You're right: subtle, but interesting.

    I thought this was a great comic. I couldn't be happier with Gillen.

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  7. The best person to ask about the phoenix is rachel grey, not unit

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  8. Rachel only had an echo of the Phoenix Force. She never had a really in depth knowledge. So I don't think Unit is entirely inappropriate.

    Jack

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