Sunday, April 29, 2012

X-men #27 - Awesome Lost In The Fodder

My Uncle Longrod Ironcock once told me this profound nugget of wisdom: "You could be fucking the hottest girl in the world next to a guy fucking a horse and everyone will still pay more attention to the horse." Now it's worth noting that my Uncle is senile from years of prescription drug abuse, but I like to think there's a small bit of wisdom in that drugged up musing. I think the point he was trying to get across is you could have the best damn comic in the world, but if it's being released during a series of big ass comic events it's going to be no different than being the guy with six fingers trying to draw attention at a freak show with two midgets gangbanging a goat. You're not going to make enough noise to make people forget about the much bigger event going on. How does this relate to comics or the latest issue of Victor Gischler's adjectiveless? Or is this just me writing reviews while still hopped up on pain killers from my surgery? Well if you're willing to accept that it's a little of both, please bear with me.

It seems so long ago, but Victor Gischler had renewed my faith in his adjectiveless X-men run. After X-men Regenesis took over the X-books, his book benefited in more ways than any other X-book. Finally, the series had developed a sense of coherence and feel. Jubilee was coming into her own. Storm's new security team was kicking ten different kinds of ass. It was a beautiful thing. Then the events surrounding Avengers vs. X-men came along and fans forgot about this series faster than the city of Denver forgot about Tim Tebow after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning. It doesn't help that X-men was in the middle of an arc before it started getting delayed. I honestly had to stop smoking weed for a few days to remember that Gischler had been telling an awesome story about the X-men coming to rescue Jubilee from the Forgiven, but ending up in a brawl with an army of mercenaries that were strapped for cash and looking to deliver Razio's (the Forgiven's leader) head for quick payday. It hasn't been a bad arc, but fuck if this series has a shitty sense of timing.

Now I want to be fair here. Victor Gischler's adjectiveless X-men really hasn't played a role in Avengers vs. X-men or anything leading up to it. None of the events in this series involve characters that are key players in the main event. Marvel hasn't gone out of their way to hype this series up like they have with other books so of course fanboys with nanosecond attentions are going to forget that...ooh, look at the kitty. Even if the suspense of this series has been lost, the arc is still unfinished and an unfinished comic arc like only half a boob-job. It's as incomplete as it is tragic.

Now once you jar your memory enough to remember what was going on in this series, you'll know that Jubilee was caught in the middle of a battle between an army of masked assassins that were bearing down on the Unforgiven's lair. Warpath, Domino, and some of the Unforgiven's heavy hitters went outside to fight back the onslaught. Storm and Razio stayed inside to take on the rest while trying to protect Jubilee. This worked about as well as OJ's defense team after he thought pulling off a robbery in Las Vegas was as easy as pulling off a murder in LA. Storm and Razio were hurt, leaving Jubilee to defend herself. While she's facing down a still unknown enemy, the rest of the team is turning the tide against the onslaught. that's easy when you're Deadpool, you're nutty as a sack of squirrel turds, and you hijack a tank. If only one part of that was a euphemism. Even when you're outnumbered, insanity plus a tank always gives your side the edge! I think Sun Tzu said that or maybe it was my Uncle Ironcock again.

We then go from sanity to a messed up teenage girl overcome with bloodlust. Okay, so maybe it's not that big a stretch. But in the previous issue way back when, a nicely dressed figure with a sword that also happened to be wearing a John Wayne Gayce style mask was able to take down Storm and Razio. Now that's not to be taken lightly. That's akin to knocking out Mike Tyson and Oscar de la Hoya in two quick punches. It left Jubilee as the only one to take on this strange yet crafty villain that is smart enough to get an army of mercs to do the dirty work. It seems like a mismatch until you remember that despite being a walking Twilight cliche, Jubilee is a trained X-man that learned to fight under Wolverine. That means she's okay with wielding a sword and using it to perform adult circumcisions. Even though she gets roughed up a bit, she shows plenty of skill that makes her worthy of that yellow coat and trademark pink glasses.

Outside the base, the rest of the X-men are just finishing off the elaborate diversion. That means Warpath has a scene where he's excessively violent with a Hydra thug. In the same way an episode is South Park is not complete without Cartman making a wildly anti-Semitic remark, it's not a complete X-men comic for Warpath unless he does something needlessly violent. At the same time the rest of the Forgiven meet up with the X-men and determine that they're probably not doing themselves any favors by playing into the hands of whoever summoned this elaborate beach party minus the bikinis and booze. As if it already wasn't apparent by Deadpool's presence, this attack was clearly an elaborate ruse and they played right into it.

Now I have a problem with this scene and it's not that it wasn't sufficiently awesome. A few issues ago, the incoming attack by an army of money grubbing mercenaries looked pretty daunting. Yet over the past few issues this seemingly daunting force seemed to be no more threatening than Ron Paul's poll numbers. I get that the X-men and the Forgiven are the heroes and they're supposed to win, but unlike the previous arc there was little sense of a struggle or an elaborate fight. They just took the incoming threat down despite being outnumbered without any sense of strategy or plan. This in addition to it being a clear ruse only makes it seem too much like fodder and that's something Gischler had been good at avoiding since Regenesis.

But if Gischler faltered in some areas, he more than made up for it with others. I mentioned earlier how Jubilee fought the neatly dressed masked mastermind with admirable badassery. However, when it's clear she's overmatched by this foe, she takes it to the kind of extreme levels that would make Wolverine gush with pride and possibly give him a boner (he does like Asian women last I checked). Knowing she's a vampire and shit that kills humans don't really apply to her anymore, she takes her enemy's sword right through the fucking gut. Now I've seen teenage girls do much crazier shit than this, but I'm still impressed because it shows that she not only has the kind of pain tolerance only matched by fetish porn actors. It shows she can pull off some pretty badass shit as a vampire, more so than she ever could have as a mutant.

Despite having a fucking sword in her torso, Jubilee fights on. She headbutts her nemesis, probably implying that wearing something that gay to a fight doesn't help. She then decks his ass (the sword still in her gut mind you) and effectively lays this asshole out in a way Razio and Storm couldn't. But that's not enough for Jubilee. Badass or not, there's something else she has to contend with now. That's the insatiable appetite a vampire works up by beating someone to a bloody pulp. She goes from looking like a cute Twilight ripoff to looking like something Buffy would throw into a meat grinder. She's poised to not just beat this guy but drink his blood as well. After throwing all this shit at the Forgiven, he more than deserves it.

However, Jubilee isn't quite ready to join the Eric Northman ranks of vampires just yet. Both Razio and Storm talk her down before she gives into her urges the same way ditzy cheerleaders give into their urges in the back seats of cars. She's able to fight off the transformation into a more traditional bloodsucker and returns to her cute yet still jailbait style appearance. For whatever reason, the masked adversary is grateful and gives her a respectful bow. Then like all good villains armed with writers who prefer quick and easy escapes, he disappears without saying a word by running through a wall. I'm not sure if that's a mark of respect or just another way of giving someone the finger, but it effectively ends the conflict.

The rest of the X-men and the Forgiven catch up with their buddies, but as expected they're too late to make a difference. It's another one of those cliched instances of bad timing that Gischler was able to avoid in previous arcs. If he just mentioned they were busy staring at Domino's boobs, I would have found that to be acceptable. But alas, we're left with the same shitty excuses. Deadpool's quips help make up for it, but there's one last issue to deal with. The whole reason for being involved in this clusterfuck was because the X-men wanted Jubilee to come back with them. Well the Forgiven have since proven they can be trusted with a fucked up teenage girl going through a vampire transition. And since forcing a teenage girl to do something against her will is always asking for trouble, they allow her to choose where she goes.

Now if you paid any attention to the tone of the comic and this arc, her decision shouldn't be that surprising. Despite a nice reunion with her fellow X-men, Jubilee decides to stay with the Forgiven. Her decision is understandable. The X-men have their own shit going on and she's not a mutant anymore. She's a vampire. It makes sense that she would best learn to master her vampire abilities with other vampires. However, this doesn't change the slightly shitty stench surrounding this situation.

Once again, Jubilee leaves the X-men. She came back for just a few glorious arcs and now she's gone again. Can this girl ever get a fucking break? Yeah, it makes sense that she should stick around with other vampires. Problem is, it makes too much fucking sense in this instance. Victor Gischler did something great with Jubilee's character when he made her a vampire. In this issue alone, she made her more badass than she's ever been in her history. Now she's leaving again and pretty much brushed to the wayside like she always is. There was so much potential for her as a vampire working with the X-men. She could have offered something different to the mix, but now the best part of Gischler's adjectiveless X-men series has been tossed aside and it's just plain disappointing.

At the very least, the final scene does attempt to tie together the events in this arc with events from the first arc. We find out there are more nefarious vampire plots that may or may not suing Stephanie Meyer. They were the ones behind the attack and they have connections to Xarus, the vampire with serious daddy issues that made Jubilee a vampire in the first place. It doesn't clear up all the loose ends, but it's a nice scene to connect the major events in this series. It's just unfortunate that the vampire angle and the mutant angle is pretty much shot to shit now that Jubilee left. Guess we can write off the next big X-men event where they team up with vampires and storm the stage of True Blood demanding that Anna Paquin get naked more frequently.

In terms of endings, this arc was solid. It's not the kind of ending that will have your jaw on your floor and your dick touching the ceiling, but it won't leave you disappointed either. Now it's impossible to ignore the timing of this issue unless you can selectively kill the right brain cells to make you forget about Avengers vs. X-men (if you succeed in this, please tell me who your pot dealer is). So it's impossible to assess this issue on a curve. If you're able to go back and read all the issues that led up to this one, you'll see that the story flows quite nicely. The end of this arc fits well with how the events have played out. It makes sense that Jubilee would stick with the Forgiven while the X-men leave her to her choice. It makes sense that there are still other vampire forces out there from Curse of the Mutants that want to fuck Jubilee's shit up. Yet just because it makes sense doesn't mean it's satisfying.

My biggest problem with this issue if you can call it that is how it effectively isolates itself from the other X-books. Part of what made X-men Regenesis such a great boon for this series was that it finally felt like it had a role with the other X-books. Since Avengers vs. X-men got going, that role has fallen to the wayside. And while having Jubilee join the Forgiven makes sense, it essentially writes her out of the X-men yet again after Gischler did such a great job of writing her back in. While Jubilee did look like a badass in the end, it's still not clear what she proved or what the other Vampire Illuminati think they proved by just throwing random crap at Razio. It would make for interesting future arc, but with Avengers vs. X-men going on it really doesn't seem like it's relevant anymore.

That's not to say that Avengers vs. X-men renders this comic poor. But the ending just seemed to clash with everything Gischler did to make Jubilee a more interesting facet to the X-men once more. I had really come to enjoy Vampire Jubilee and her role with the team. She had a lot of potential to be an interesting change of pace. Now that she's with the Forgiven, the X-men's security team isn't all that interesting aside from Domino's cleavage. It just seems like this book sacrificed too much in the end. It would have been more of a twist if Jubilee chose to stay with the X-men. I'm still glad that Gischler went out of his way to make Jubilee look badass, but the predictability makes it difficult to give this comic the same score that I've been giving other quality X-books lately. I give X-men #27 a 3.5 out of 5. It's clear that Marvel isn't done milking the vampire angle yet and they'll probably do so until Stephanie Mayer starts pulling her hair out. I guess until the new season of True Blood begins and we have Anna Paquin's breasts to look forward to, it's the best we can hope for. Nuff said.

1 comment:

  1. To me, it seemed a major problem with this arc was the "undercard fights", by which I mean the Warpath vs Bruiser, and RPG stock vampire characters vs other mercs. There was no build up or tension. Everything was done in a page or two.

    I think that mostly came from putting an entire team of guest stars in, then having all of them all (as well as the X-Men) get involved in solo or duo fights. That ment there was literally only room for a couple of pages on each, which is too little to show anything compelling. It'd probably have been better to group them all together and have one or at most two big fights. That way you have enough page space to tell a story and get some team dynamics thrown in as well.

    I thought the Jubilee vs Lord Deathstrike main event was handled much better - to be honest I found it more interesting than most of the fighting in the main A vs X comic.

    It's also pretty lame they've gotten rid of Jubilee. She was probably the only character in the entirity of Gischler's adjectiveless run that got any lasting development. I suspect, the way marvel's kicked Gischler off adjectiveless and apparently not given him any new series, that they may be going to mothball the vampires and everything related to them. Marjorie Liu showed Vampire Jubilee could be used to great effect with other X-Characters, and I'd rather see more of that than her in a vampire only team.