Wednesday, November 28, 2012
All New X-men #2 - Time Twisting Awesome
I once got stuck babysitting a kid who wouldn't stop asking stupid questions like "Why does your beard smell like burnt cigarettes?" and "What were you doing to make my big sister cry last night and why are we out of whipped cream?" There's only so much you can answer without confusing the kid even further or scarring him for life. I imagine the same rules apply to time travel when you're talking to your younger self. They're bound to ask questions that are utterly retarded in the grand scheme of things, but you need to take a deep breath, have a quick bong hit, and stay calm while you deal with the situation in a way that won't fuck up the time stream and/or fuck up your chances with some kid's hot older sister.
All New X-men deals with both time travel and explaining awkward shit to your younger self in a way similar to Back to the Future, minus the incest. But why is time travel necessary in he first place? Why does Beast, a guy who is supposed to be as smart as he is cuddly, come to the conclusion that the only effective way to deal with his problem is to fuck with the space-time continuum? Well both he and the rest of the Jean Grey Institute staff seem to think that a team of X-men going out and beating the shit out of government funded assholes that like to beat up mutants is a bad thing. Because that's exactly what Cyclops has done after breaking out of jail, giving the finger to the Avengers, and saving two innocent mutants from needless harassment. I'm sure he found time to pleasure all my ex-girlfriends and make a mockery out of everyone who claims to make a difference without having connections to Bill Gates. But when you've been screwed over by your friends and your enemies, there's no better way to stick it to them without waving your dick in their faces while singing Twisted Sister songs.
Now I could list no fewer than 50 reasons as to why the X-men's reaction to Cyclops's latest extra-curricular activities that don't involve boning telepaths is fucking stupid. In the previous issue, Shadowcat was calling him a mutant revolutionary. But what the fuck do you call someone who travels all over the world and saves mutants from being harassed by asshole bigots with guns and contacts with corrupt government bigots? You either call them the response to the Tea Party or you call them fucking heroes. Granted, waving your dick in the faces of authority and causing property damage that will give every insurance company a migraine is still a dick move. But how bad is it in the grand scheme of things?
This is what Beast has to explain to his younger self and the Original Five X-men. He claimed that Cyclops was going to cause mass mutant genocide in the future while conveniently ignoring that he helped undo another mass mutant genocide courtesy of Wanda Maximoff (who never went to fucking jail for her crimes mind you). He also took a comment Iceman made about Cyclops's younger self being disgusted with his current self. Because for some reason a teenage boy would be appalled that he would go onto marry his teenage sweetheart and her clone, bone a hot telepath like Emma Frost, and save the mutant race. Sure, he ended up killing Charles Xavier, but it's a matter of degree. But perhaps we simply don't know the full story because not only was All New X-men #1 ridiculously spoiled, but it left a fuckton of unanswered questions. Brian Bendis has never been known for divulging every detail in one issue so All New X-men #2 has the potential to make this shit at least somewhat more coherent.
The issue is pretty smooth in terms of transition. First, it shows that the rest of the X-men know Beast is up to some genius level shenanigan. Shadowcat and Iceman try to figure out what he’s up to, but Beast shows that while he may go to ridiculous lengths to solve problems like time travel, he knows how to cover his tracks. This allows him to absorb all the WTF reactions he gets from the Original Five X-men in the past. They’re understandably confused and skeptical that Cyclops, the pre-Apocalypse/Emma Frost/Madelyne Pyror version, would be the driving force behind mutant genocide. Jean Grey is especially confused when he also reveals that she’ll develop telepathy. Apparently, Beast is smart enough to work a time machine, but not smart enough to know that Jean hasn’t manifested that power at this point. I think that’s right up there along with vultures sizing up your entrails as being a bad sign.
As expected, it's a pretty hard sell. At this point in their lives, they only know Cyclops as the uptight do-gooder who wears a sweater vest in spring and was an eagle scout by age 15. Hell, he's practically Rick Santorum minus the gay bashing and misogyny. Beast seems to understand this so he just flat out tells him that in addition to being the festering thorn in the side of human/mutant peace, he killed Charles Xavier. Granted, he leaves out the part where he was drunk on cosmic power and Xavier was attacking him the way a drunk attacks an angry pit bull with a half-eaten steak. But that's still enough to make the whole team stop and pause for a moment to ponder just how fucked their future is. And Beast is basically asking them to follow him into the future so they could see just how fucked they are. He might as well ask them to go to a bar where they know they fucked the owners daughter and will either be poisoned or beaten up.
The Original Five reluctantly agree to go with Beast, who reveals that he somehow managed to get his hands on a time cube, courtesy of Reed Richards and Dr. Doom. Now it's never revealed how the fuck he got something this exotic, even by Marvel standards, or why the fuck he chose this one point in time rather than more practical moments, like maybe the moment before Cyclops decided that going to war with the Avengers was a bad idea or the moment before he let Emma Frost's pussy encourage his rebellious path. But I guess that would make way too much sense. It would be laughable if Beast wasn't supposed to be a fucking genius.
Armed with this unexplained time cube that he may have gotten from Craigslist for all we know, they travel to the present where the Original Five get their first glimpse of the Jean Grey Institute. For them, it must be like a Mormon entering Rick James's old bedroom. It doesn't look like a mutant apocalypse at first and Jean Grey is obviously confused at why the school is named after her. Apparently, she hasn't come to understand the influence of her pussy on the course of the X-men's history.
As soon as they arrive, the immediately draw Wolverine's attention because let's face it. This guy could smell Jean Grey from ten light years away in the same way Scarlett Johanssen's stalkers can smell her pubic hair from across state lines. Since he can't seem to discern the difference between being pissed and being horny, he attacks the Original Five. Fittingly enough, Jean Grey stops him and the rest of the team roughs him up. If anyone out there has ever had a creepy stalker, this is a very satisfying scene. It's also a scene that draws the attention of the rest of the X-men, who are understandably shocked and pissed at what Beast has done. Sure, it royally fucks up the time stream and the continuity. But I say it's worth it to see Wolverine get his ass kicked and Iceman's reaction.
But while everyone from each time is shitting themselves, Beast's mysterious illness that was revealed in the previous issue kicks in. They stop worrying about the time stream for a moment and rush him to the infirmary. Not much is revealed about his condition, but Beast does manage to reveal that it was Iceman who inspired him to date rape Father Time. Whether he actually thought it was a good idea at the time or he was just too lazy to plan the alternatives, the damage is done. The Original Five X-men are in the present. They've got a lot of catching up to do and will likely need to puke no more than twenty times, especially after they find out how many times Jean Grey has died and how shitty replacement characters like Hope Summers have tried to fill the void.
Wolverine does his best to try and contain Beast's fuck-up and keep his dick from getting too hard around Jean. He moves the Original Five to another room where presumably he gives them a cliff notes version of how they went about fucking themselves in this future. He also talks about sending them back to the past before they rip the space time continuum one too many new assholes. But before he can get too ahead of himself, Jean Grey decides to tap that telekinesis that Beast mentioned earlier. And remarkably, it works. She doesn't just read Wolverine's mind. She gets him to fall asleep and in a position you don't see outside of gay porn no less. All I can say is welcome back Jeannie! We missed you!
Unfortunately, Bendis doesn't spend too much time showing the reactions of the Original Five as they learn about their past. He moves things ahead at a rather rushed pace. The focus isn't on the past as much as it is on the immediate present, namely Cyclops's new gig as a mutant revolutionary. The Original Five all agree that they can't let their future be this fucked and need to do something about it. So when they find out that Cyclops is preparing to do a little more recruiting/Avengers pwnage, they decide to track him down. It's the kind of youthful bravado that made the X-men heroes in the first place and I can't remember being more happy to see it.
While Bendis does move things somewhat quickly, he does take the time to explore some of the emotions the Original Five are feeling. The revelation that Cyclops killed Xavier really impacts them and Jean tapping her telepathy is just the first sign that the time stream is in for a massively fucked up overhaul. Fueled by these emotions, the Original Five ditch Wolverine in his overly gay pose and hop an X-jet to confront this new revolutionary Cyclops. It's a powerful moment and one that Bendis organizes perfectly. It's a moment that was lacking in the previous issue and one that makes this feel like the kind of X-men comic we only thought angels could make while having orgies with demons.
And so it’s official. Beast has already fucked Father Time in ways that make any man a prison bitch and now the Original Five are poised to take a nice steaming piss on his face for good measure. Yet even though Doc Brown himself would have a brain aneurism with how the space time continuum is unraveling like a stripper’s G-string at Kanye West’s birthday party, the Original Five X-men find a way to make it look awesome.
This is what the first issue was lacking that Brian Michael Bendis more than made up for in this issue. He didn’t just bring the Original Five with the kind of hap-hazard planning indicative of a bar bet made at two in the morning. He actually put some effort into fleshing out the emotions while still leaving room for those goofy, oh fuck moments best represented by Iceman. Anyone who has read Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man run (before he killed Peter Parker) knows that Bendis is best when he’s writing about fucked up teenage emotions. Now I don’t want to speculate what kind of fucked up teenage experience he had, but seeing as how he’s already lost all his hair I’ll just assume it equipped him to tell awesome stories like this.
What really makes this issue work is how the Original Five X-men endear themselves to the story. The X-men in the present clearly don’t agree with Beast’s little ploy (even though Wolverine is clearly giddy at the opportunity to shack up with a teenage Jean Grey), but the Original Five X-men refuse to see Xavier’s dream die in the future. They’re willing to give the finger to their older selves and try to fix it with the kind of reckless abandon that only teenagers can manage.
That’s not to say there weren’t flaws. While Bendis did a great job with the emotions, he didn’t really go into detail about how the Original Five reacted when they learned about shit like the Phoenix Force, Jean Grey’s death, the mutant massacre, House of M, or the Messiah trilogy. Hell, who wasn’t looking forward to seeing Jean’s reaction about dying twice and having two men constantly fight over who gets to bone her? But these are details that don’t necessarily need to be addressed immediately. Bendis is known for spreading these details out and not trying Rick Remender’s approach of packing everything into a single, cohesive issue. It may leave some annoying blanks, but they’re blanks that can easily be filled.
There are still some more jarring flaws, like why the fuck Beast chose that one point in the past rather than the infinite possibilities offered by your typical time machine. Unless it’s revealed he’s piss faced drunk, I refused to believe he’s too stupid to contemplate just going back to the beginning of Avengers vs. X-men and telling Captain America that Cyclops was right so they could skip the fighting. But I’m used to Beast being a complete douche-bag by now. That’s why I’m glad his younger, less-douchy self is back along with the rest of the Original Five. And because I’m so glad about this, I give All New X-men #2 a 4.5 out of 5. We’ve got a live Jean Grey, a non-douche Hank McCoy, and a Scott Summers who hasn’t been corrupted by Emma Frost’s pussy. If you want much more out of an X-men comic, then you’re just being greedy. Nuff said!