Thursday, September 13, 2012
Uncanny X-men #18 - Last Ditch Awesome
Every great story is usually built around either an epically awesome or epically fucked up relationship. Usually, one side of that relationship has big tits. In recent times we've already seen how relationship drama can get readers excited, soaking panties and making dicks hard in comic shops all over the world. The bonerific reveal with Superman and Wonder Woman made national fucking news. When Marvel broke up Spider-Man and Mary Jane's marriage with a fucking deal with the devil, fans everywhere threw an epic fit that probably ensured that Joe Quesada's coffee will always have a certain amount of urine in it. The point is readers care about who their favorite characters are boning. That's why the Cyclops/Emma Frost relationship has always been a delightful/nauseating topic of conversation.
I've brought this relationship up on many different occasions with this blog. Some of the time it's to point out how Marvel knows that a good chunk of their audience jerks off to these comics because they constantly put Cyclops and Emma in scenes you don't find in good relationships, but you do find in nearly every porno ever made. Most of the time it's also to point out how Marvel has fucked this relationship up in ways no porno could ever adequately depict. This relationship was not billed as the epic love story between Cyclops and Jean Grey. It was supposed to be different. But different is not just bed scenes and witty remarks ripped off from episodes of Two and a Half Men.
Moreover, Marvel has shown time and again that they will not do anything whatsoever to inject any drama into this relationship. They've officially become the same sacred cow that fans used to bitch and moan about with Cyclops and Jean. They're two characters that are just together for the sake of it. Cyclops and Emma don't act romantic. They don't get married. They don't raise a family. They just fuck and pose so that fans can jerk off to them more easily. And even when Namor showed that he may be snaking his way into Emma's panties, Marvel did absolutely jack shit with it. Now I roll my eyes and take a shot of whiskey every time Marvel pretends they're going to rough things up between them. As you would expect, it leaves me very skeptical and very drunk. So it's not a total loss.
Well Avengers vs. X-men promised to mix things up with them. There have been some signs in the story with Cyclops focusing on finding Hope when Emma is clearly getting drunk off Phoenix power. Then there are the covers like Avengers vs. X-men #11 that shows them fighting. Well, covers of this nature often reek of bullshit with Marvel. So I took my obligatory shots ahead of time. But for Uncanny X-men #18, the story promises to focus on the conflict between Cyclops and Emma. Usually when there's conflict, that just means Marvel is trying to find another way for them to have makeup sex. So going into this story, I had the whiskey and the bottle of lube ready and waiting.
Uncanny X-men #18 starts with Cyclops channeling his inner Charlie Sheen when Magneto says this shit may be going to far. Again, I can't help but wonder what "too far" means in this context. He's creating a worldwide utopia. How can that be going to far? That's like having sex with a beautiful women and having too many orgasms. You might as well warn someone that they're being too good. But Cyclops flat out tells Magneto off, reminding him that there's one key difference between them. Cyclops is actually winning. He created a worldwide utopia while the best Magneto could do was have his daughter go crazy and warp reality to his whim. That's not winning. That's cheating.
But it isn't all about Cyclops, Charlie Sheen, and winning. One plot that's been lost in the shit storm that is Avengers vs. X-men is the fate of the Phoenix Five that lost their share of the Phoenix Force. We still haven't seen what Namor has been up to since he lost his share. He's presumably drowning his sorrows in a three-way with two hot blondes that Hugh Hefner got tired off. But for Colossus and Magik, it's a bit less lurid. After having been tricked into beating the Phoenix (among other things) out of one another, they're left to ponder how much it sucks not to have cosmic power anymore. Magik appears as indifferent as any girl who watched too much MTV in the early 90s, but Colossus is lamenting at how crazy he got while hopped up on the Phoenix Force. It's like Rick James saying cocaine is a hell of a drug, but with less bravado. If he's this torn up over how guilty he feels for just flaunting his cosmic power to impress his ex-girlfriend, it's hard to imagine how fucked up Cyclops will be when he comes to. But that's for another issue and another drunken review.
But in Colossus's pained musings, Magik does what annoying siblings are supposed to do and pour sulfuric acid in fresh wounds. It actually looks like she gets a pussy boner seeing Colossus lament over what he's done. She then uses this opportunity to let her know that she intended for him to become the new Juggernaut. Back during the Fear Itself tie-in, she never expected that she would have to be the one that gets more hulked out than Barry Bonds on a bad day. She actually wanted her brother to sacrifice himself to become Juggernaut. Why, you ask? Can it just be for the same reasons that normal sisters tell you that they poked holes in your condoms before your prom night? Actually, it's not quite that cruel. She just wanted him to understand that she was not his snowflake anymore. She was utterly damned and he should've accepted it. And he finally does if by accept you mean get extremely pissed and attack her with his full Juggernaut power.
This moment may seem out of place for an Avengers vs. X-men tie in. Perhaps it would be better suited for this story to play out in the pages of Avengers vs. X-men Consequences, which is set to come out after this shit has finally been pinched off and flushed. But it does add some compelling insight to the overall event in that it shows how the Phoenix Force fucked with its hosts. It showed how Colossus couldn't stop himself and how few fucks Magik gave in the end. And like Sinister, it tied into some of the earlier plots Kieron Gillen established in his Uncanny X-men run. Even in an event that has been shot to shit, those connections help make it a little extra awesome.
While two siblings are finally at each others' throats like they should have been long ago, two lovers are in a similar position. Cyclops and Emma are enjoying a nice, fancy feast in the midst of a looming battle with the Avengers. Actually, they're not really having a feast of any kind. All this shit is happening in their minds. Seeing as how their entire relationship was built on fooling around with their thoughts to fulfill deviant sexual fetishes, it seems appropriate. Then Emma reveals that their steak dinner was dipped in human blood and Cyclops loses his appetite. You know you're dating a crazy psycho-bitch when she starts making light of cannibalism.
We also find out that while this may be happening in their minds, the battle with the Avengers and X-men is still going on. In fact, all this shit seems to be happening within the panels of Avengers vs. X-men #11. It's a little confusing and it certainly doesn't match up precisely if you read both issues together (which isn't recommended since Avengers vs. X-men #11 sucked donkey ass). But this is one instance where it's probably best for a tie-in not to match up with the main event book. Since the event book sucks, it can only make the tie-in suck worse.
But Kieron Gillen doesn't really emphasize the battle going on outside their minds. The focus is mostly on the conversation between Cyclops and Emma. They discuss how pretty much everyone in the X-men has turned on them. Again, they don't really explain why. They went through the trouble of creating a worldwide utopia. Apparently, that's too evil for them. And they're now fighting with the Avengers, the same assholes to started this fight and kept making shit worse with their attacks on the Phoenix. So it's actually understandable when Emma suggests that they don't deserve a utopia and they should just torch the planet and start from scratch. It's a very Emma Frost thing to say, probably because it would mean she's less likely to break a nail. But Cyclops says otherwise.
This leads a conversation that probably would have made Avengers vs. X-men #11 a lot less shitty. First, Emma flat out admits that she mind-humped Namor during the Wakanda attack. She doesn't even show a shred of remorse for it and Cyclops barely cringes. She claims that she still loves Cyclops, but how much weight does that love carry when you admit you want to fuck another guy? It's another instance of Gillen tying in some of the other plots he's explored in the pages of Uncanny X-men and this time it's not just brushed aside. It seems to rub more salt in the open wound that has become the Cyclops/Emma relationship. For so long, Marvel has pretty much ignored any potential drama between these two because apparently they derive every aspect of their relationship from bad pornos. This time they're being a bit more direct and it's long overdue.
It all culminates in the big climactic scene that also ended Avengers vs. X-men #11. After hearing that his girlfriend wants to torch the planet and fuck other men, Cyclops essentially gives her a Phoenix powered bitch slap. He makes clear that he doesn't see eye-to-eye with her anymore and proceeds to blast her in the midst of the battle, which did happen in Avengers vs. X-men #11. He then proceeded to take her portion of the Phoenix, but Gillen was a bit more poetic about it. Rather than rip it out of her, he drank it in the form of a fine glass of wine. There's a certain level of subtle awesome in that gesture and one that I think sends a much greater message than what was sent in the regular comic. The end basically shows Cyclops just before he goes Dark Phoenix, but seeing as how Avengers vs. X-men #11 was such a piss poor book you're probably better off just using your imagination.
Now this could end up being the end of Cyclops and Emma's relationship. When one character rips their share of cosmic power out of another, that tends to be the kind of shit that couples therapy doesn't help. But at the same time, Marvel could just as easily brush this off by having Cyclops say "The Phoenix made me do it!" and they can go back to fucking in bed so that the Marvel editors can jerk off on their lunch break. I personally hope that this is the end of it, but when has Marvel ever catered to the whims of a drunk?
I've always had a soft spot for comics that focus more on relationships than just having a couple heroes beat the shit out of a monster. Avengers vs. X-men #11 took care of that shit and did a really lousy job of it. But that didn't stop Kieron Gillen from adding a personal touch with this comic. If anything, I wish that the events in this comic actually played out in Avengers vs. X-men #11. It would have made that issue a billion times more awesome. But I'm content with Gillen to sprinkle a little cold on the shit pile that is Avengers vs. X-men. He ensures that while the rest of Marvel may be fumbling around like a bunch of drunk monkeys with their nuts stapled to the side of their legs, he still has a talent for digging deep with the characters.
Gillen did something here that was only hinted at in Avengers vs. X-men #11. He had Cyclops and Emma clash over how to use the Phoenix Force to save the world. Emma wanted to destroy it and start from scratch. Cyclops wanted a less destructive route. Emma clearly showed signs that the Phoenix Force was fucking with her mind in the same way a bad strain of weed fucks with your ability to keep your balance. Cyclops showed signs that he was still focused on keeping control of the Phoenix. It wasn't until the Avengers and Xavier pushed him over the edge that he lost it. And for once, Cyclops actually responds to Emma's bullshit in a way that may be harder to work around than a quick bed scene. Now I fully expect Marvel to do something ridiculously contrived to keep these two together because I'm sure every writer at Marvel jerks off to the bed scenes with these two. But at least Gillen made it seem like the power of love won't be enough for these two.
Avengers vs. X-men may be neck deep in bullshit right now, but that doesn't mean the tie-in issues can't be entertaining. Kieron Gillen has maintained a consistent level of awesome since the beginning of Uncanny X-men. And even though this series is ending to make way for All New X-men, Gillen is certainly making the most of what's left in his run. This issue wasn't quite as good as the Sinister arc and the stench from Avengers vs. X-men #11 is hard to escape when the events happen right in the middle of that story. It's also hard to be viable when the sibling battle between Colossus and Magik is ended without much resolution. Even so, this was still an enjoyable issue to read. I give it a 3.5 out of 5.
At the beginning of the issue, it encourages readers to check out Avengers vs. X-men #11 before reading this issue. Seeing as how that issue sucked the balls of several diseased rhinos, it's probably best you ignore that warning. If possible, just throw some white out over that warning and enjoy this issue for what it's worth. Or do what I do and take a few shrooms to destroy any brain cells you may have left of Avengers vs. X-men #11. Either way works, but the shoorms are more fun. Nuff said!