Sunday, June 3, 2012
X-men #29 - Alien Clusterfuck (of Awesome)
In a world where Lou Dobbs is still given credibility, stories involving alien agenda still sends shivers up our spines. That or some people just have a shitty coke dealer. There has always been a place for these stories in comics, especially in the X-books. They aren't always as well done as they are with the Avengers, but we can always count on an equal amount of human/alien sex (see Miss Marvel or Xavier shacking up with Lilandra). But not every alien story involves writers finding ways to have humans fuck exotic aliens sadly. Some involve deception, trechery, and teenage girls whose frontal lobes are clearly not fully wired yet. This is the story that Victor Gischler has decided to tell for his final arc in adjectiveless X-men. It doesn't involve any alien nookie, but I suppose we'll have to stick with late not softcore porn on Cinemax for our xenophillic fix.
A story involving aliens and teenage girls with poor judgment is a somewhat fitting way for such a run to end. Gischler began his adjectiveless series with a teenage girl turning into a vampire and proceeding fuck it up every step of the way. Now he's ending it with another teenage girl fucking up an alien plot involving the Skrulls to a level that involves both poor judgment and killer robots. You can't get more basic in an X-book without doing an entire arc on the merits of spandex uniforms. Now I know I've had mixed reviews of Gischler's work, sometimes depending on how much I've had to drink before reading it. It hasn't been as top notch or influential as the work done by Kieron Gillen or Jason Aaron, but it has established an important theme of this series. It ties the X-men to conflicts involving the rest of the Marvel universe without having to do a shitty crossover mini. It's both simple and pragmatic, not unlike Paris Hilton minus the lousy sex tape. If this is truly the end of Gischler's run, then I think we can say that he's ending it with some of his best material because X-men Regenesis has provided a massive enema of awesome to this series. Here's hoping that he doesn't pull a Brett Favre and start flip-flopping on his return.
X-men #27 put Pixie in the middle of a Skrull conspiracy to steal a piece of tech from the FF. At first it seemed as though they were thwarted, but in true Skrull fashion they pulled a fast one that kept Pixie in the middle of the conflict and put her in a position to fuck it up even more. There may be few constents in this universe, but like the law of conservation you can usually rely on the law of bone-headed teenagers. When she found out the Skrulls were AWOL soldiers from Secret Invasion, she showed a bit of sympathy and tried to help them. This only ended up leading to a killer alien robot being awakened. The sad part is that's not even the worst damage that a teenager with poor judgment can incur. In X-men #28, the Skrull that screwed over both Pixie and his Skrull fellow cowards, Nazum, isn't content with being a cosmic level douche-bag. He has to take it a step further by taking a little boy hostage while he sicks the risen alien killer robots on his fellow Skrull, boasting how he'll be hailed as a hero and given all the sweet Skrull pussy he could want for returning home after having killed deserters. Even if it is a dick move, it is a pretty slick plan.
Pixie, who to this point has done nothing more than a glorified enabler for the Skrulls, claims to have a plan and needs Spider-Man's help to do it. Because who better to help than a guy who solves big problems by making deals with the devil? She teleports herself and Spider-Man into the risen ship while the X-men and the FF are left to take on the killer robots rampaging through downtown New York. It may seem like a lopsided plan, but given how Pixie has screwed up at this point it's probably best that the killer robot part of the plan be handled by adults not prone to the poor wiring of a teenager's brain. The only victims here are the innocent motorists of New York City traffic. But given that New Yorkers should be used to this shit by now, they should probably just treat it as an impromtu parade.
Inside the ship, Pixie and the AWOL Skrulls attempt to regain control. At one point the ship is on a crash course with the Statue of Liberty, but narrowly misses it before Glenn Beck can die from uncontrolled sobbing. The Skrulls discover that the main controls of the ship are locked and being guided from another area of the ship. Care to guess which part? In comics, it's usually safe to assume it's the same part of the ship that controls all the gizmos that go boom.Again, Nazum shows that despite being a complete douche-bag, he does have a pretty slick plan. He hopes to use the remaining missiles of the ship to deliver a royal fuck you to the planet Earth before returning home. This way he can improve his status as a deserter and possibly earn a trip to whatever the Skrull equivalent of Hawaii may be.
Nazum is in many ways the perfect example of the kind of villains that Gischler has employed in this series. Rather than use more famous baddies like Apocalypse or Sinister, he favors the kind of villains that are not established and more pragmatic. Going back to the vampire arc, Xarus wasn't just trying to crush the X-men because he was bored on a Saturday night with no weed. He thought he could unite mutants and vampires in a powerful partnership. Nazum is similar in that he's not just trying to get home. He wants to get home with some street cred rather than being identified as the deserter he truly is. It's still a dick move, but it's an overly pragmatic dick move given how Secret Invasion panned out.
Nazum has plenty going for him as well. With an alien weapons system at his fingertips, he also makes sure that the X-men and FF stay occupied. He's smart enough to know that killer robots are just a synonym for scrap in the Marvel universe. So it's no surprise when they successfully take down said robots and do it without breaking too much sweat to stain their ridiculously tight-fitting uniforms. So to keep them occupied, Nazum has them release an army of robot ants to swarm both teams. They're not as flashy as giant robot humanoids, but for anyone who has ever been bitten by an army of fire ants that your drunken buddies poured on you when you were passed out it's has the potential to sting like a bitch.
However, Nazum did make a critical mistake in this carefully thought out dick move of his. Aside from forgetting that the girl he tricked could teleport, he also took a hostage in the form of a little boy who probably spends his time either playing Angry Birds on his iphone or corrupting his innocence with Call of Duty co-op missions. So when Spider-Man shows up to rough him up, the boy ends up getting a hold of the fancy gizmo that the Skrulls went to such lengths to steal in the previous issue. Like any boy that sees a fancy gizmo with lots of buttons, he starts pressing them. He could be setting the ship to self destruct or he could be flushing the toilets. The point is that kids can fuck up your plans and any woman who has experienced a broken condom knows this all too well.
Pixie, still in need of making up for her faux pas thus far, steps in and tears the gizmo from the kid like any teenage girl would tear her vibrator out of the hands of a kid that found it while rummaging through her purse. Once Spider-Man webs up Nazum, she teleports both him and the kid back to the bridge where she hands the gizmo over to the Skrulls who didn't plan this elaborate dick move. She tells them to guide the main ship to the river while using the escape pods to get home. Unlike Nazum, they're not assholes so they do as their told and crash the ship into the river. Let's face it, it's probably not the weirdest thing to be dumped into a New York City river. If anything, it'll help cover up the dead bodies, used condoms, and crack pipes that are probably floating around.
The Skrull deserters successfully leave with Nazum tied up and ready to be fed to the Skrull equivalent of Guantanamo Bay, minus the free health care. It leaves at least some hope for alien/human relations in that some aliens are not total douche-bags that will screw humanity over the first chance they get. More importantly, Pixie's attempt to help the Skrulls actually paid off. That's right, in the end her bone-headed teenage judgment served her well and she was able to mitigate a fucked up situation that she herself fucked. It could definitely have gone a lot smoother and it's incurred a healthy bit of damage that New York City taxpayers will have to handle, but fuck the taxpayers. She beat a Skrull! That's all Storm needs to offer her a job with the X-men's security team. Since Jubilee left to shack up with her vampire buddies, they need a new teenage member with poor judgment to lead the team into new adventures. Because when you don't have someone who will fuck up several times before they succeed, shit just gets too boring.
So we've reached the end of another era of X-men. It may not be the most flashy or the most historic, but Victor Gischler definitely accomplished some quality shit with this series. He helped establish an X-books that really made it feel like the X-men were a part of the larger Marvel universe. It wasn't always the most epic and it didn't always play out as well as it could have. In some ways this book is a victim of the overall growth of the X-books. As the quality has improved, the bar has been raised and while this series did reach it a few times it didn't do so on a consistent basis. This book just had too many mediocre moments early on, but Gischler definitely pulled things together towards the end and arcs like this show just how great this series can be.
What makes this issue and this arc good is they Gischler keeps the story focused. It doesn't try to juggle too many different plot threads. This is a story about Pixie getting caught up in a Skrull affair and trying to right some of the bone-headed mistakes she made. For the most part she succeeded, more than any other teenager that I've seen in real life. Moreover, she does it while the X-men, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four all play a part as well. Granted, that part is not extremely deep. They're largely extras in this struggle, but given the nature of this book it works out nicely. Gischler's dialog is very easy to follow and the resolution feels satisfying. What it lacked was the major twist that the previous issue had, which I guess is hard to match in an issue dominated by killer robots and hostage situations. But in the end there is still a sense of progression. Now that Jubilee has left and Generation Hope has been canned, Pixie is in need of a new gig and why not the X-men's security team? She proved herself here and she deserves it. And unlike other cute teenage girls, she didn't have to suck any dicks to get it.
The end of this arc and the end of Gischler's run keeps me optimistic about the future of this series. That or maybe I had a few extra shots of tequila, but the logic is still valid. The adjectiveless X-men may not be the most hyped X-book, but it offers something unique and this issue as well as this arc epitomize what it can do. It wasn't the best arc Gischler's done, but it's definitely up to the standards that he managed to rise during the latter part of his run. For his last issue, I give X-men #29 a 4 out of 5. Thank you, Mr. Gischler! You gave us vampires, mutants, aliens, and killer robots. I think that counts as a success for any comic writer. Nuff said!