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!

18 comments:

  1. I've always been kind of indifferent to Rachel. Never hated her; and at times really wanted to like her, but it never really clicked. This issue went a long way towards making me a fan. Kudos to the writers who were able to bring up her crazy history, from being a hound to a former phoenix avatar, in a natural way without making it an emo fest. And that Rachel vs. Quentin smack down. I need more of this in my life.

    This issue made me hope for an eventual team up of Rachel and Cable in this event, maybe even going toe to toe with dear ol' dad. There'd be a family reunion I'd want to attend.

    Speaking of Cable: when's he going to get on with the show? I know the writers are waiting for "the right time" to bring him in, but you think one phoenix powered X-Men would have been able to wake him up by now.

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  2. I loved Rachel in this issue. Jason Aaron has just been flat fantastic since this series started. My beef with this comic and Marvel in general are the editors.

    Marvel has some fantastic writers and incredibly talented artists (Bachalo makes this series fun), but I'll be darned if any of the editors even speak to one another, much less coordinate.

    AVX has had so many ridiculous editorial oversights. Beast just suddenly being back fighting with the Avengers was big, but the fact that Hope left with Wanda can't be overlooked as it was positioned as this big moment of "Oooo, the Scarlet Witch is in on the action now. What does that mean?!?" Apparently, it means that Hope is in a bar later for no apparent reason.

    Can't the editors make a big board and put some sticky notes on there??! I'm not asking for much, just some simple "C" grade coordination. AVX so far hasn't gotten an F in the editorial dept.

    Rant over. Sorry about that. I love your reviews. I didn't mean to go all "Marvel editors suck" on your blog, but I feel like I've been taking crazy pills.

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  3. I always hated rachel. Mostly because ANYTIME she's been shown she's crying and bitching for Jean, but this time she's shown to be a bit MORE like Jean. It's funny that marvel had Hope, Rachel, and Blackwidow all in one panel..all red heads and STILl can't figure out that we want Jean grey back. I agree with clave that this crossover is a big editorial mess.

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    1. Agreed! Although acting more like her mother may be a bad thing because it gives Marvel another excuse to keep Jean Grey dead, as if they didn't need any more bullshit excuses. But overall, I think it's still good for Rachel to be more badass.

      Jack

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  4. she is nothing like Jean you idiot. rachel is awesome.

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    1. She's Jean Grey's daughter, you idiot. She's wielded the Phoenix Force and kicked ass with it. That's a whole fuckton a lot like Jean Grey.

      Jack

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    2. Jean never kicked ass wih the Phoenix, she just dies all the time

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    3. Dude, she separated Cyclops from Apocalypse. She took on Onslaught. How much more ass can you kick?

      Jack

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  5. You're brave enough to speak to me like that, but not brave enough to come out of being "anonymous." Think before you post little speck. Rachel is the original Jean Grey knock off. Even Madelyne Pryor was her own character despite being a clone. Rachel's always been portrayed as if she's had a close relationship with Jean, but from Jean's perspective she's hardly known this girl. This is the first time in a long time that Rachel HASN'T been crying over Jean. She was portrayed as strong, smart, and dangerous (without the Phoenix!) It's like how Jean was in the 1990s. The question to marvel is: If you can have Hope & Rachel playing around in the books, why not Jean?

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    1. Good response to a bullshit question, my friend. But unfortunately, her being this way means Marvel can keep Jean dead because they just don't like having characters that are too much alike (the Stepford Cuckoos and X-23 notwithstanding). It's not a good reason, but that's the kind of bullshit reason they'll use.

      Jack

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  6. My personal theory of why Marvel won't bring the real Jean back rather than have all the "alternatives" running around: at this point she's really hard to write well. She has a very unique and important presence in the X-Men mythos and it's hard for the writers to write a believable version of her character and still go in the direction they want the franchise to go without completely shaking her up or turning her into a total Mary Sue. Jean complicates pretty much everything. Scott and Emmma may have been able to be together after Morrison's run with Jean still alive (and that's what I wished would have happened), but would Emma have risen to queen of the X-Men with Jean still in the picture? Not unless Jean had allowed it. And what about Schism? The other X-Ladies may have towed the line during that event to let Logan and Scott duke it out, but Jean wouldn't have stood for that and she probably wouldn't have sided with either one. Her perspective would have changed everything. It's because Jean is so closely tied with this franchise as a whole and these characters that she adds weight to just about every story she's in. But for the writers it's a lot easier for them to have her as a legacy character who's presence is felt but isn't actually walking around. So this is what we're stuck with: the writers can continue on with their vision and Jean becomes some sort of Christ figure for the X-Men to remind them of "a more innocent time".

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    1. Interesting theory, but I don't buy it. Jean Grey being hard to write? Fuck that, I say Wolverine's much harder to write given how crazy his background story is. And writers have shown they can write her well, namely Grant Morrison, Greg Pak, and Chris Yost. Two of those three writers still work at Marvel last I checked. And if Jean was alive, I can definitely see her making things less complicated by actually adding some fucking story to Cyclops and Emma's bullshit relationship. And her perspective changing is really not a problem. Everyone's perspective has changed to some degree in X-men. Keeping Jean dead just retards her character and Marvel has no excuse to keep it that way. None.

      Jack

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    2. IceColdEmmaFrostJune 30, 2012 at 5:36 PM

      As far as the emma/scott thing. I think Jean coming back would be perfect timing. It's been a good two years now that marvel has shown Emma has an alternative in Namor. If scott/emma break up neither one of them is going to be single. I also think with New Mutants/Hellions it'd be a perfect time to focus on Emma with those two teams and get her out of the main heart of the xmen. I don't see her and Namor having some great love affair and a wedding. I see them occasionally hooking up and casually dating. Doing whatever the fuck they want to do, but having each other's back. As for Scott/Jean...I don't see them getting back together. After everything he's done: the murderous Xforce, schism, utopia, this...he's not the same man Jean fell in love with. If she came back I can see her rejecting him. It would be a good fresh start. No Scott, No Phoenix. Just this awesome telepathic telekinetic who wants peace between her people and humans. I can see her being Xavier's dream, but Scott leading the "heroes vs. villains" gig. Let Jean be the ideology/morality and scott handle the war.

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    3. First off, I love your blog Jack. Second, if they were to bring Jean back now would be an interesting time. Scott/Emma's relationship has gotten stale. Do I think Jean would take Scott back? No, for the reasons that IceColdEmmaFrost stated. Would it create some necessary drama for the post-Morrison couple? Yes. Also, Emma has become Scott's bitch for the last few years. I miss Emma being the most narcissistic and bitchiest character Marvel had. Now she's become domesticated. I know she stuck with Scott after Schism, but she really should be at the school.
      Back to Jean, though. I honestly want to keep her dead. Not because I don't like her character, but because I think her legacy and her connection to the Phoenix mythos makes her more impactful dead. Where would her place be if she came back? Would she be a teacher again? Probably, but the Wolvie/Jean romance would become predictable. Plus, Wolvie's emotional journey has sorta been resolved since The Dark Angel Saga (to which I cried to when Wolvie met AoA Jean). BTW, I'm a huge Nightcrawler (AoA version is great, too) and Banshee (I enjoyed his Gen X days), but I really think their deaths should stay permanent. Both their deaths were huge (especially Kurt's) and reviving them seems cheap. I understand that Jean will return one day, but I'm so glad they've been making us wait. Cable returned waaaaaaaay too quickly (and never should have) and that took away from his sacrifice. Hope became a real character to me, BECAUSE of his death. The same goes for Scott. Jean's death made Scott step up. Emma has even mentioned that she still, in a way, lives in her shadow. Despite Emma's confidence, Jean was nearly perfect. It's only made Emma strive to be a better person. Jean was the real inspiration for the X-men, not Xavier.
      Just my 2-cents.

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  7. IceColdEmmaFrostJune 29, 2012 at 4:15 PM

    I never figured Jean to be the "Queen of the Xmen" to me that always went to Storm. Emma's shown more especially in a leadership role, but she's in no way Jean's replacement. Jean very rarely lead any Xteams. which is a shame because I think she could've been a great leader. Schism would actually have been better as Jean vs. Scott than Wolverine. And even the Scott/Xavier schism a few years ago would have been better with Jean/Xavier because as much as Scott may have been Xavier's "foster son" Jean was much more his protege. The frustrating thing is that some people at marvel think there's nothing to do with Jean other than the Phoenix, but there have been decades where the bird never appeared. Another thing is that they keep making reference to Jean, but since it's been a decade there are readers who have no idea who she is. Practically every other fucking character is alive.

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  8. Oh I'd agree that Storm was easily the most popular/recognizable X-Woman back in the day and maybe even the top Marvel Woman as far as public view goes. That may even still be true now. But in the actual universe while Storm was a valued member and leader Jean still weighed very heavily in the tone and morale of the team. But really to clarify back in the day I don't think there really was an official "Queen of the X-Men" as the spotlight seemed to be shared fairly equally. Storm and Jean were focal points and others like Rogue had clear input as well. So I don't think there was a queen back then who everyone else revolved around. There sure is now though. ;)

    And I 100% agree that Schism and even the fallout with Xavier would have been MUCH more interesting if Jean had been on the other side of the dividing line. Scott and Logan butting heads, while never that extreme until now, is old hat for the franchise. Everyone expects Logan to be a scruffy little upstart when he chooses. The drama potential of Jean vs. Scott/Xavier is unparallelled.

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  9. in x-men:the end jean only came back because it was a end of the world type thing.....avx is a end of world type thing too but not that big.....avx 11 and 12 the pictures show emma forst and scott fighting with emma frost winning...i think she goes dark phoenix thus making a new reality age of ULTRON <--- like it was hinted about

    in new avengers 27 hope had to be trained by spiderman, i wonder where that leads to0

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    1. IceColdEmmaFrostJuly 1, 2012 at 9:28 AM

      There's an alternate cover with Scott strangling Emma and her crying. I think it'll happen like I said (in the Rogue/ms. marvel review). There will be a schism among the Phoenix 5 because of Scott. I don't think Emma will go Dark Phoenix...out of all of them she's actually had experience with the Phoenix, but Emma's really been regulated in this crossover. She hasn't done very much. She's been in a few panels. It's odd even for Emma. I don't see any of them dying. I can see something happening to Scott. Either him going Dark Cyclops or the Phoenix being too much for him and becoming overwhelmed. The funny thing is that whole thing was supposed to be about Hope and it's like Marvel's moved into a different direction. This has been going on since Messiah Complex, hell even "no more mutants/House of M," and we're all left thinking "umm hello are you going to wrap up this mess?"

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