Saturday, June 23, 2012
Uncanny X-men #14 - Sinister Connections (of Awesome)
There's a certain charm to comic book villains who know they're assholes, but don't apologize for it. Guys like Lex Luthor are just assholes by design. They're mean, they're spiteful, and they have no sense of subtlety. They're just guys you want to punch in the face, kick in the balls, and shit on their grave. Then there are villains like Mr. Sinister. Throughout the X-men's history, he's been among the most twisted yet intriguing villains that Marvel has conjured. You still want to punch him in the face and all that shit, but his charisma is enough to make you stop and admire his twisted persona. He's the kind of guy who would fuck over the world with a cosmic dick and recite Shakespeare while he's at it. You just don't get that kind of charm now that House is off the air.
When Uncanny X-men relaunched, the first villain Kieron Gillen used was Mr. Sinister. He was MIA for a while after Messiah Complex. Hell, for a while he had big boobs and went by the name Miss Sinister. Why he gave those boobs up is beyond me, but he came back none-the-less and gave the X-men's new Extinction Team their first major test by hot-wiring a Celestial. He then proceeded to fuck with the X-men by creating an army of Sinister clones, each sharing his same love of devious wit and cloned redheads. During that conflict, he was also the first one to drop a hint to Hope Summers that she was about to get a visit from a fiery cosmic parrot and it wasn't a metaphor to let her know she was going to have her first period. Now Avengers vs. X-men has taken hold and the Phoenix Force has arrived. Does anyone really expect Sinister to just sit back on a beach in Brazil while doing jello shots off topless sunbathers? Okay, that's what I would do, but Sinister has a different approach.
Uncanny X-men #14 deals with this latest twisted approach to fucking over the world that Sinister has conjured. Not content with just creating an army of look-alikes, Sinister has set up shop in a subterranean world in a cavern once occupied by Moloids. Apparently, he's had so much free time on his hands and so much extra manpower that he used it to create an entire recreation of London. I know some people are nostalgic and really get into Renaissance Fairs, but there is such a thing as overkill. Some people just need to be content with a beer and a porno. Now you would think an entire city of Sinisters would get alone nicely, but as devious as Sinister may be he's not without his flaws. This comic is told from the perspective of a flawed clone. He has Sinister's dashing looks that would strip the paint off a Buick, but he's apparently not comfortable in a hidden world buried deep underground composed of nothing by clones. Some folks are weird like that, although with Sinister weird really doesn't apply.
This Sinister beta if you will narrates a good portion of the comic. He's not a terribly interesting guy. He lacks Sinister's twisted charisma with his whole whining about how something about this world seems off. He sees himself and everyone else as just pieces in a game. Seriously, you expected something different from Sinister? If the clone factories, the various waves of Sinister as boys and old men, and Victorian style ambiance that looks like it was pulled from an over-budgeted Shakespeare play wasn't telling enough then I don't know what this Sinister beta is smoking, but I want some.
Because this world is so fucked up, this beta Sinister seeks to have a chat with Sinister Prime if you will. Together, they have a nice stroll through the elaborate psuedo-London that Sinister has created. He explains how he pushed out (by that he means slaughtered) the Moloid's living in the caverns to make this city. One even shows up, which Sinister promptly takes care of (again, through slaughter). His reason for doing this is simple. He's biding his time in a place where the X-men would rather not pursue him. Because who wants to confront an army of Sinister's in a deep underground cave? That's like challenging Mike Tyson to a Yo' Mama's So Fat contest in a windowless basement.
Through these narrations, the beta Sinister continues to muse over how this so-called civilization is affecting them. While Sinister Prime argues it's making man less an asshole, beta Sinister believes it's only making man's shit smell even worse. There's a very twisted unabomber-like feel to him, seeing all the wonders of civilization and believing them to be evil. It may be cliched, but Kieron Gillen once again flaunts his talent for twisted inner narration. As they continue to tour this psuedo-London, the beta Sinister makes it increasingly apparent that he despises this world Sinister has created. He believes it has to end. So also like the unabomber, he plots an attack on this wondrously twisted world that Sinister has created. It might have just been easier to ask him for an internet connection and no porn filters.
The beta Sinister continues to follow Sinister Prime on their little tour. He acts as though he's a scholar looking to appropriately catalog the wonders of this world Sinister created and the intent behind it. That kind of fluff should raise red flags for anyone with a history of narcissism and sociopathic tendencies. Seeing as how Sinister was smart enough to make an entire army of himself and recreate his old hometown to an exceedingly creepy degree, it's really not too surprising to find out that he's smart enough to detect this beta Sinister's bullshit. Beta Sinister manages to get Sinister in a position where he can shoot him and hopefully destroy the prime Sinister of this twisted world. In probably the least surprising turn of events since Lindsey Lohan's last traffic accident, it backfires horribly.
As expected, Sinister Prime doesn't take kindly to flawed clones that try to fuck with him. Also as expected, he's smart enough to keep tabs on his clones when they don't cooperate. So he's not stupid enough to send his prime self into an enclosed room with the guy. That Sinister the beta blasted was just another clone. That clone tricked the beta Sinister and was in turn transported into a Victorian style dungeon basement. It's only slightly less appealing than being transported inside George W. Bush's asshole. Moreover, the prime Sinister reveals that the so-called beta Sinister that thought he was flawed was actually working perfectly fine. Sinister made this clone specifically to rebel. Why? To test the system he created and presumably for shits and giggles.
This kind of devious plotting is one of Sinister's finer qualities. It's a quality that Gillen writes extremely well. It helped make the first arc after the Uncanny relaunch so memorable. However, as skillful as Gillen is at handling Sinister's character, it's a bit overly predictable here. The whole notion of making a clone specifically to rebel is novel, but rather bland because it implies that Sinister neither makes mistakes and just enjoys fucking around. While admirable qualities in any successful comic villain, making it predictable just makes it difficult to enjoy.
This revelation also makes it difficult to feel disappointed when this so-called beta Sinister gets fed to a pack of angry Sabretooth-like wolves. The whole revelation about him just being designed to rebel made it difficult to really connect with this character. Granted, it's difficult to connect with any character associated with Sinister, but it would have been nice to actually feel something for this character when his true purpose is revealed. Gillen has been good about doing that in the past. Here, it just makes the whole first part of the comic feel unneeded. It's like watching the IT guy test your PC after he's purged it of your porn. There's nothing exciting to look forward to.
However, the successful test so to speak helps set the stage for a much more engaging event. With the beta Sinister now in the process of becoming wolf shit, Sinister prepares for the next little test of his. Along the way, more plot holes from the first arc are filled in. He reveals that he used the Dreaming Celestial as merely a way to kick start his little Sinister world. He intends to use the Phoenix to sustain it. He sees the Phoenix as a force of nature and the point of civilization is to contain nature. It's not a completely fucked up premise and it shows that Gillen is capable of giving a sort of refinement to a character. He rightly predicted that the Avengers wouldn't let Hope gain the Phoenix and that it would seek other hosts. Having had experience with the Phoenix before, it's not too much of a stretch to believe that he anticipated the events of Avengers vs. X-men as they unfolded. Now he's poised to do what he does best and exploit the fuck out of it.
That leads to revelation that is far less predictable. In his throne room, he reveals that he has with him an army of other hosts for the Phoenix in the form of more Madelyne Pryor clones. Because that's just what the Marvel universe needs, more Jean Grey replacement characters. At least Madelyne can say she was the first and wasn't intended to be the bullshit rip-off character that Hope Summers turned out to be. That and she looks much hotter in a corset. Sinister muses about how he's preparing to take on the Phoenix Five and take the Phoenix Force for his own use. It's the kind of devious plan that would bring a tear to the eyes of Kim Jong Ill himself, may he rest in torment.
This issue of Uncanny X-men was a charming departure from previous tie-ins that only really touched on the perspectives of others actively involved in the events of Avengers vs. X-men. It also had the added benefit of tying in the events of first arc that transpired after the relaunch where Sinister hot-wired a Celestial. While this issue does a nice job of filling in the blanks as to what Sinister has been up to since that first arc, it still feels like only half an issue. The whole plot with the renegade clone really seemed unnecessary. So Sinister doesn't like it when one of this clones is defiant and prefers to feed his ass to wolves. That's understandable, but there's really no need to make a major story out of it. While it was well told as Kieron Gillen's solo perspectives often are, it really didn't contribute much to this story. It wasn't until the end where the promise of a Sinister influence in Avengers vs. X-men really heated up. It was good enough to make the issue worth buying, but not enough to pay full price. And unless you're willing to suck the dick of the guy at the comic shop for a discount, you're shit out of luck.
Kieron Gillen has done a great job of giving Sinister a devious and engaging new persona. This is by far the most interesting Sinister has been in a decade. No longer content to just fuck with the Summers/Grey bloodline on his own, he has enlisted an army and a new sense of charm to further enhance his ability to frustrate the X-men. This twisted plan of his that began in the final issue of Uncanny X-men flowed nicely into this issue. Even though half of it was unnecessary, it succeeded in filling in the blanks between Sinister's last ploy and how he's been preparing for his next ploy. The promise of Sinister taking on the Phoenix Five with an army of Madelyne Pryors is very enticing and knowing Sinister, he'll find a way to be deviously charming in a way that even Charlie Sheen would envy.
When a comic starts strong, but fizzles at the end I tend to be a bit harsher than I would if it started slow and got stronger in the end. I'm a firm believer in making up for slow starts. I have much more respect for the stripper that falls flat on her face and breaks her nose in the middle of a lap dance yet still earns an extra $50 tip than I do the stripper that really gets into it only to pass out drunk on your shoulder when she's fondling your balls. Uncanny X-men may not have strippers, but it contains women like Madelyne Pryor who dress like them. For that with the forgettable first part in mind, I give Uncanny X-men #14 a 3 out of 5. If you're okay with half a sandwich and half a chocolate bar, you'll probably enjoy this issue. If you can't be satisfied without stuffing your face, then get some exercise before picking up this book. Your cardiologist will thank me. Nuff said!