Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Wolverine and the X-men #15 - Allegiances of Awesome
Ever since Avengers vs. X-men started to unfold, I've had a love/hate relationship with the tie-ins. For many comic events, I see the tie-ins as sub-standard strains of weed that you only smoke if you have to and/or really want to and/or are just bored with the main story. Every event seems to have a few tie-ins that are real gems and those that you wouldn't want to hold near an open flame. Avengers vs. X-men has had plenty of both. Tie-ins such as Avengers, Wolverine and the X-men, and until cat people dongs started showing up, X-men Legacy have gone a long ways towards helping Avengers vs. X-men become a more awesome event. Conversely, tie-ins like Secret Avengers and the X-men Legacy issues that do feature the dongs of cat people is like dipping dirty diapers in diarrhea and squeezing the entrails out over the main event. So when the event itself starts to descend to the level of cat people dongs, what does that mean for the tie-ins?
I've already done enough drunken rants about Avengers vs. X-men #10 to explain why it sucked and why it's sending the whole event further south than Jenna Jameson at a dick sucking contest. But now it's getting to the point where the tie-ins are catching up. That leaves me both worried and hopeful because sometimes the tie-ins can help make up for the shitty entrails in the main event. And if any book can do that, it's Jason Aaron's Wolverine and the X-men. This series has been one of the top quality tie-ins since Avengers vs. X-men began and unlike X-men Legacy, it didn't need to do dick jokes to stay relevant. But it has a lot working against it and like Barry Bonds, it'll need some serious juice to compensate even if it risks shit like shriveled balls.
The big problem with Avengers vs. X-men at this point is that it isn't really Avengers vs. X-men. It's the Avengers and the X-men fighting against a couple of X-men that the Phoenix turned into monsters. There's no more debate over which side is correct. It's just another fucking heroes vs. monsters brawl that we've seen 92859298150 different ways since comics were first invented. How do you make that shit interesting? Especially if it means bringing Charles Xavier back into the mix after he's found so many ways to come off as a raging douche-bag in recent years?
Wolverine and the X-men #15 attempts to distract readers from the painful lack of imagination in Avengers vs. X-men #10 by trying one of Marvel's oldest and most classic tricks: fucking with Jean Grey fans and reminding readers that Wolverine desperately wanted to fuck her. It's easy to forget at one point that Wolverine wanted to gut Hope like a fish before she went mad with Phoenix power. He even flat out betrayed her trust and tried to fork her over to the Avengers when they were still the assholes. Yet here she and Wolverine share a nice moment in the shadow of Jean Grey's memorial. And in an amazing twist of irony, Hope flat out tells Wolverine she's not Jean Grey and Jean's not coming back. Boy is she going to look fucked when Jean Grey returns in All New X-men. It's one instance where Marvel fucking with Jean Grey's death on panel is actually entertaining because we already know she's coming back in some capacity. So all I can say is suck it, Hope! May Wolverine gut you a billion times over you immature little bitch!
Sorry for venting, but I'm running low on weed if you can't already tell. Beast and his Avenger buddies probably need it more anyways because it seems they've grown tired of the kung pao chicken in K'un L'un and have decided to move their operation to the Jean Grey Institute. Because the Phoenix Force would NEVER think of looking for them there. But again, I digress (seriously, blame the weed). They're basically fumbling over how to contain the Phoenix now that they have at least some idea of how to stop it. They take a few shots at everyone who ever lived in Mossori before Broo, the adorable yet blood-thirsty Brood with a head that looks like shit, makes a suggestion that floors everyone in the room. It's like Bart Simpson proving String Theory to a room of physicists. Of course Jason Aaron keeps it vague and doesn't seem to acknowledge the fact that the Phoenix Force is a force of fucking nature, but such an oversight is worth it to see some of the Avengers and X-men look like dipshits.
But this issue doesn't just cover serious issues like how the fuck you contain a cosmic force. It also explores how some of the characters that ditched Cyclops and Utopia adjust to life at the Jean Grey Institute. Now I'm tempted to call them traitors, but since Emma Frost began mind-fucking everybody on Utopia I can't hardly blame them. Hell, it makes for some light-hearted moments like Kid Apocalypse getting flirty with Martha (who is just a brain in a jar) and Karoka flirting with Dust. So mutants or not, a school is still a hot bed of raging hormones.
Speaking of hormones, Aaron pays extra attention to the ongoing drama with Kitty and Bobby. Since Wolverine and the X-men began, the two have been getting extra flirty. After the last issue when Colossus flexed his Phoenix powered nutsack a bit too much for her taste, Kitty seemed to officially decide that she needed to get frisky with someone whose bicep wasn't as big as her entire body. I'm not sure how dating a living popsicle is an upgrade, but Aaron definitely makes it look sweet.
Another new resident of the Jean Grey Institute who thumbed his nose at Cyclops in a far more douch-bag sort of way also makes his presence known. Now I've already gone on a number of rants about how Charles Xavier has been the world's most powerful douche in addition to being the world's most powerful psychic. His bullshit in Avengers #29 and Avengers vs. X-men #7 where he calls Cyclops when he wasn't responsible for the shit others did still stinks like a constipated elephant. But he's still committed to taking down the Phoenix before it claims another student and you can't fault the guy for that.
It also helps that Xavier takes some time out from being a douche to chat with Rachel, who actually expresses some reservation about leaving her father's side. Now this could have turned into a serious issue where she points out that maybe fighting Cyclops when he's trying to create a worldwide utopia isn't very smart. But sadly, we never get that. Instead, we get Xavier confronting the ever egotistical Kid Omega who calls him out on his world's most powerful telepath title. Xavier actually does something noble for once and flat out pwns Kid Omega with a little telepathic trickery. It's not as appropriate as discussing the merits of opposing Cyclops at this point, but it's still humiliating Kid Omega and that's always a plus.
There are some more romantic little moments like a quick field trip with Toad and Husk. As someone who is stuck as the institute janitor, it's nice to see that even Toad has a chance to get his dick wet at the Jean Grey Institute. But like some of the other scenes, it's really just an aside to remind readers that even during a battle against a cosmic force there's still room for raging hormones.
There's also room for family affairs that would make Jerry Springer cringe. A few issues ago, Gladiator returned to Earth with the intention of getting his son out of the Phoenix's path. This proved to be as foolish as it was bloody. Now healed, Gladiator simply avoids admitting that he got his ass kicked by telling his son that they're leaving Earth and never coming back. Kid Gladiator isn't too fond of the idea, but this time he's in no position to slip away like he did before. While he does leave, Warbird is told to stay. Gladiator says she's not fit to be a royal guardian and would probably do better on Earth. It's just a nice way of saying "I don't have the energy to deal with your ass at the moment." But at least it means Warbird will have a chance to get some earthly nookie as well.
At some point you still hope that someone will question whether they're right to keep fighting Cyclops and Emma like this. Rachel lightly touched on it and you would think Bobby would want to come to the aid of one of his oldest friends, but no. Iceman flat out tells Wolverine that he was wrong for supporting Cyclops. Apparently, he has to apologize for supporting a guy who wanted to create a worldwide utopia. Now I've apologized for a lot of crazy shit I may or may not have done (depending on whether or not I blacked out), but supporting your oldest friend when he's trying to make the world a better place ain't something you apologize for. It only reinforces the bullshit notion that Avengers vs. X-men #10 established with the X-men now being villains. It's as if everyone forgot that Cyclops isn't trying to destroy the whole fucking world. He's trying to make Xavier's dream a reality. At the very least Wolverine offers him a drink. It doesn't make up for the fact that he's still an asshole, but there's never a bad reason to have a drink in a crisis.
As the team seems poised to battle once more, they handle one more little aside that seems a little random. They tell Warren, who is still completely mind-wiped from the Dark Angel Saga, that he doesn't need to be a student anymore. He can be the Jean Grey Institute's first graduate. They claim that he's shown that he has a better handle on some of the exotic new powers he's developed (including a preference for flying around naked). I just think Marvel felt it awkward to make this guy who was part of the Original fucking Five a student. It's still random, but it's better they handle it now so they don't have to deal with it later.
All these scenes and random asides help contribute to the sense that the X-men are preparing for a final showdown with the Phoenix. Not every scene really contributed, but it still feels like it came together in the end when the Jean Grey Institute's heavy hitters walk out in their standard Rocky Balboa montage in preparation for battle. They're still not talking about whether or not it's a good idea to fight the Phoenix like this, especially when Cyclops has shown no indication that he wants to destroy the world. It's a question that could have been asked at many points during this issue, but wasn't. It's like going to a strip club and not getting a lap dance. It feels incomplete.
This issue followed a similar theme of previous issues of Wolverine and the X-men where action wasn't emphasized as much as setup. Jason Aaron is as guilty as every other X-men writer of filling issues with mindless action. He did so not long ago when the Phoenix Five attacked Gladiator. Before that, he spent an entire issue that basically boiled down to Wolverine telling Cyclops to go fuck himself when he sought allies against the Avengers. It was an issue where the character moments were actually more compelling than any brawl between a cosmic force and a powerful alien that isn't currently boning Wonder Woman.
However, some of these moments were more compelling as others. Moments like Charles Xavier pwning Kid Omega or Kitty and Iceman sharing a tender moment was as enjoyable as a fresh joint and a blowjob. But other moments like Iceman admitting he was wrong to Wolverine and the bullshit apology between Hope and Wolverine at the beginning was a complete load of horse semen. These scenes felt like missed opportunities to actually expand on the debate that seems to have been thrown away in Avengers vs. X-men #10. Jason Aaron could have actually recaptured it by having characters like Iceman and Rachel argue that Cyclops isn't a complete monster for doing crazy shit like trying to build a worldwide utopia. But like rookie porn star that prematurely blew his load in a girl's ass, Jason Aaron jumped the gun.
Moreover, the lack of an overall plan just makes the issue seem like too much talk. I get what Jason Aaron was trying to do here and I'm totally cool with it. He just didn't do a good job of tying this shit into the bigger picture. All it really showed is that some of the X-men from Utopia have ditched the Phoenix Five and are shacking up in the Jean Grey Institute. I'm not saying that shit isn't important to explore, but it could have been much more.
Compared to other tie ins, Wolverine and the X-men is still the gold standard in terms of maintaining a certain level of awesome. Even though the event itself has gone skinny dipping in a sewage pond, Jason Aaron finds a way to make the story compelling in the pages of this comic. The art, dialog, and premise were all solid. It just left too much potential hanging out to dry. For that, I give Wolverine and the X-men #15 a 3.5 out of 5. With or without that potential, this comic still assured us of a few simple facts. Namely that Xavier is still a douche, Kitty and Iceman need to bone, and Hope Summers is still an insufferable bitch that will never be more than a piss poor Jean Grey ripoff. Nuff said!