Thursday, June 28, 2012
Wolverine and the X-men #12 - Rachel Grey's Overdue Awesome
Wolverine is often proclaimed as being one of the greatest comic book characters of all times. He's the kind of character guys wish they could be and the kind of guys girl's have the insatiable urge to bone. However, the appeal of Wolverine also reveals an inherent flaw in the mechanisms that make up the human condition. If Wolverine were a real guy, most men would hate his guts. He's hard drinking, impulsive, asshole with anger management issues that likes to lust after married women and get into bar fights for no good reason. Hell, if he were real most guys would probably fantasize about a tiger ripping his nuts. For women, he's about the worst guy you could bone. He'll try to fuck you when you're in a committed relationship and get you killed if you try to have one with him. It's one of those things about women that I think is destroying the human race. Stand the founders of Google and Facebook next to a guy with a neck tattoo, a motorcycle, and a long rap sheet and women are still conflicted about who makes a better life partner.
But regardless of how people would see Wolverine if he were a real person, he's still a compelling character in the comics. However, compelling doesn't make him any less of an asshole. He seemed to actually take the moral high ground for once in Schism, wanting to take kids away from the carnage that Utopia was attracting like herpes to a Mexican whore house. But then Avengers vs. X-men came along and he's had about as much moral high ground as Ted Haggard on snorting meth from a gay prostitute's ass. He favored actually killing the mutant messiah that the X-men fought so hard to save. He fought Captain freakin' America and got his ass thrown out of a jet, only to come crawling back later when he figured out that stabbing Hope Summers wasn't going to cut it. I know most people want to bitch about how Cyclops and the Phoenix Five have become these cosmic tyrants, but at least they're trying to make the world a better place. Wolverine is just being a douche.
The pages of Wolverine and the X-men have often shown Wolverine as his least douchy persona. Even during the AvX tie-ins, he's been ten times more likable than he has in other books. He's still the kind of guy that men would want to castrate if he came to take their daughter out on a date, but at least he was attempting to protect the school he founded from the conflict erupting around AvX. Well now that the Phoenix Five are on the loose and he was on the losing side, he's in a hell of a position. He might as well be Muslim in Rush Limbaugh's house because he's got powerful forces looking to screw him over.
Wolverine and the X-men #12 has Wolverine doing exactly what I would do if the world was after me, sitting in a bar getting shit-faced. And the Phoenix Five have tasked Rachel, who was among those that ditched the Jean Grey Institute and fought alongside the X-men before the cosmic parrot was on the business end of Tony Stark's latest gizmo (that could be a new dick joke). So after the events of Avengers vs. X-men #6 where Hope ran off with the Avengers, she's tasked with using those hound instincts honed in a future that's been butt-fucked by sentinels to track him down. She finds him trying to drink away his problems in a bar. That may work for a shitty day at the office or rear ending some douche-bag's Porsche, but not with the Phoenix Force. Rachel tries to reason with him and maintains that the Phoenix Force is doing good, but Wolverine isn't having it. He's an extra large, overly engorged, clear-the-room-I'm-ready-to-paint-the-walls dick about it and sparks the mother of all bar fights (outside of Spring Break in Tijuana that is).
While most bar fights need no prelude and can be triggered by simply looking at the wrong person cross-eyed, this fight and Rachel's role in it does have some precedent. As the Avengers and Rachel's team of X-men make life for a poor bar owner miserable, we get a quick flashback to one of her psychic lessons at the Jean Grey Institute. She's giving some pointers on psychic shielding to her students, presumably so they can guard their thoughts while they're thinking of her naked in the shower. Quentin decides to use the lesson as yet another chance to be a massive douche by having her recall her time as a Hound in the shitty future she came from. Rachel responded to that with the psychic equivalent of a 2x4 to the face. It makes for a satisfying scene for Quentin and a nice reminder that despite her undersized appearance, Rachel Grey has a history as a badass.
Back int he present, Rachel makes that badassery known as she leads the charge against the Avengers. She goes so far as to tell Captain America not to call her Marvel Girl because let's face it, Marvel Girl just doesn't say "I can drive a telekinetic spike up your urethra and rip out your intestines." She definitely steals the show, but she's not the only one. Phoenix Namor is present and more than ready to give Thor a worthy ass-kicking. So is Kid Gladiator, who in the previous issue ditched the chance to go home and wait out this conflict in the cozy luxury of the Shi'ar Imperial palace. However, some are memorable for all the wrong reasons.
In Avengers vs. X-men #6, I praised Beast for the first time since George W. Bush still had credibility. He finally showed that he wasn't just a fury blue asshole that liked to shit all over Cyclops's agenda for petty reasons. He even walked away from the Avengers when they started making plans to attack the X-men. Now for reasons that are completely unexplained, he's back with the Avengers and fighting alongside them to keep the Phoenix Five from Hope. If that wasn't enough reason for him to renew his douche-bag frequent flier miles card, he attacks Iceman by shooting him in the fucking face. This is his oldest friend from the days of the Original Five and now he's just shooting him in the face for going along with Cyclops. I get that you don't like Cyclops, but shooting your friend in the face is still a dick move of cosmic proportions.
Every scene with Beast in this issue makes you grit your teeth and want to throw his ass in a vat of hungry tics. But whatever frustration Beast may bring, it's more than made up for with Rachel Grey flexing the psychic muscle Marvel hasn't let her flex since before we had a black president. She doesn't just take on the likes of Captain America and tell her to kiss her ass. She even goes up against Thor as he's trying to regain whatever portion of his balls he can salvage after getting laid out by Phoenix Namor. She takes a few shots, but she takes them like Rocky Balboa against a coked up Ivan Drago. Given how Rachel has been so marginalized and left taking on jobs akin to the guy who cleans up Charlie Sheen's hotel room, it's a welcome sight to see her take center stage in a book that has Wolverine in the fucking title.
While Rachel holds her own, Kid Gladiator finds ways to contribute as well. He demonstrates that bravado that doesn't even try to walk the line between being tough and being an asshole by punching Giant Man in the fucking eye. He also tries to act out the fantasy of every high school student that was singled out by the principal during a drug sweep. After failing to pick up Thor's hammer, Kid Gladiator takes his frustrations out on Wolverine. He's able to get in a few hits. I find that if you imagine your old principal's face on to of Wolverine's, it helps make the nightmares about high school go away for at least a few minutes. Wolverine still ends up schooling his ass because even though Wolverine's an asshole, he's not an egotistical asshole and Marvel just can't let arrogant kids like Kid Gladiator win.
The chaos surrounding this glorified bar fight helps mask underlying purpose, which revolves around another red-haired, green eyed mutant that's nowhere nearly as awesome as Rachel Grey. This is where another fucked up inconsistency shows. In Avengers vs. X-men #6, Hope Summers left with the Scarlet Witch. So what the fuck are the Avengers doing guarding her in fucking bar? Did they suddenly want to get her drunk before she got to know Wanda Maximoff too well? Did they hope doing so would make for awesome lesbian porn? Even if they had a good reason, it makes for shitty organization int he story. She's just standing out in the midst of this fight being guarded by Black Widow, who might as well be trying to protect her with a feather duster. Because when Rachel Grey catches up to her, she lays her out like Vladimir Putin lays out dissidents in an election year.
This brings about a scene that's been more overdue than Sarah Palin's hysterectomy. Going all the way back to Messiah Complex and the events that brought Rachel back to Earth after Kingbreaker, she's never been in a panel with Hope Summers. This is a character that has a connection to the Phoenix Force just like she once did and who happens to look like her dead mother. You would think she would be fucked up about that, but Marvel hasn't had Rachel so much as mention Hope. So when they stand face-to-face, it's a big moment. Rachel narrates on how she prepares to attack her and reaches into her mind. Then in a scene that Jason Aaron left vague, but telling she lets her go. Rachel let's Hope escape.
This is a pretty big moment because it leaves the reader to wonder what she sensed in her mind. Does she have a clue as to what's coming? Does she now know something that even the Phoenix Five don't know? If she does, she keeps it to herself when she's later confronted by her Phoenix powered father. Cyclops is pretty pissed when Rachel reports (or flat out lies) that Hope was never even with the Avengers. It's probably the most bold-faced lie since the prom queen at my old high school claimed she was a virgin. You definitely get the sense that Cyclops isn't going to accept that kind of bullshit now that he has Phoenix powers. Any father that could find out every one of his daughter's secrets right down to the guys she blew for fancy new shoes would do the same.
Unfortunately, he never gets the chance. Just as Cyclops and his daughter are sharing a very tense moment, Kid Gladiator's old man shows up. He obviously noticed when his son ditched his transport and made his way back to Earth. He also probably noticed that the Phoenix Force has set up shop in a few juicy human targets. So while Kid Gladiator shits himself as to how much he'll be grounded, the big Gladiator descends towards Cyclops with every intention of purging the universe of a certain cosmic parrot. I've been on the bad side of many fathers of teenagers, but this is one that even I wouldn't want to fuck with.
This series may be called Wolverine and the X-men, but for this issue it was the Rachel Summers show. She started off by giving the finger to Wolverine and ended by giving the finger to a Phoenix-powered Cyclops. You don't do that unless you have planetary sized balls and the attitude to hold them. Rachel Grey has not been overly involved with major X-men affairs since she returned from space. She hasn't even been in the same panel as Hope Summers. It's been one of those massive glaring commissions akin to a 900-pound gorilla jerking off in the middle of an intersection during rush hour. Yet finally, we get a scene. It's not much. Jason Aaron left plenty to the imagination. However, there's definitely an impact here and one that has far-reaching ramifications for the Avengers vs. X-men saga.
Rachel may have shined most, but various other characters found time to kick ass as well. Iceman, Namor, Thor, and Kid Gladiator all provided an entertaining bar brawl that could only have been made more awesome by the offer of free shots to anyone with a concussion. The lone anal wart in the bunch was Beast. I can't tell you how frustrated I've been with this particular brand of dick-cheese. Avengers vs. X-men #6 showed him doing the first decent thing I've seen him do since he hit on Emma Frost back in the New X-men days. This comic has him back to his old, douche-bag self and offers no explanation. It may be explained in another tie-in, but if it there's no connection or explanation to not make you want to punch that furry faced asshole in the balls. The son-of-a-bitch bit into his best friend from the Original Five days. I've stooped to a lot of lows in my life, but that's right up there with stealing your grandfather's Viagra and replacing it with jelly beans.
Beast was really the only frustrating part of this comic. The end was only somewhat annoying because part of me wanted to see Cyclops grill Rachel for flat out lying to him about Hope. He has the Phoenix now. He should be able to call her out on her bullshit to the point where he knows when she's claiming period pains to get out of washing the dishes. But Gladiator just had to fly in at the end and tell the Phoenix he's pissed. I still think Beast is a bigger douche-bag, but the prospect of seeing him take on the Phoenix Five in the next issue still has plenty of appeal. No matter what he does, however, Rachel will still be more awesome than him after this issue.
Jason Aaron continues to be one of the most consistent writers when it comes to tie-ins with Avengers vs. X-men. Wolverine and the X-men is good enough to be ranked right up there with the main series, both in terms of how it links up with the events and the awesome with which the stories are told. This only had a few glaring issues, but overall this was a quality comic that X-men fans should love and Rachel Grey fans should be masturbating to for ages. I give Wolverine and the X-men #12 a 4.5 out of 5. In a series that has one redhead being a whiny little bitch, it's nice to know another is there to pick up the slack. Her mama would be so proud if Marvel didn't insist on shitting all over everything that made her awesome. Nuff said!