Saturday, November 17, 2012
Xtreme X-men #6 - Robots, Homosexuals, and Awesome
Some like to say that hippies are a harmless group of lazy, promiscuous stoners whose sole mission involved being able to get as high as possible with as little work as possible. But some of us know better. Some of us who listen to Rush Limbaugh stoned know that hippies are part of some vast liberal conspiracy bent on destroying the American way of life by actually trying to protect the environment and thumbing their nose at all these social norms that we adopted because they looked like a good idea in shitty 50s sitcoms. I mean can you imagine what would happen if hippies were allowed to impose their drug-fueled ideas into society? Cars would stop spewing toxic fumes. Weed would be available in every 7/11. Schools would give students an hour every day for orgies. Glenn Beck would be out of a job and back to being a typical drunk. And who wants to live in that world?
Maybe I'm bias because hippies are a great source of weed and amusement, but I don't think there's enough hippie shit in comics. Then again, where the hell would that kind of shit even work? Well, there is a comic out there that has the necessary elements and an uncanny willingness to explore worlds more fucked up than anything we ever saw in a 50s sitcom. I'm talking of course about Greg Pak's Xtreme X-men. It's a comic that essentially gives the finger to subtle plots and cliched story-telling and simply follows a hot blond in Dazzler as she explores various alternate universes where the X-men as we know them are very different and fucked up in a beautiful way. Greg Pak has already explored a world where the X-men are Olympian gods, minus the incest and pedophilia, and where the X-men are basically characters in an old western movie. The possibilities for X-men with a new and distinct twist is endless and at the end of the previous issue, Greg Pak already gave us a hint at what we could expect.
When Dazzler's X-men team gave another evil Xavier a Tony Soprano style send-off, they were prepared to head to the next universe where they could track down the next evil Charles Xavier and introduce him to the business end of Wolverine's claws. However, Kid Nightcrawler got a little over-eager to get out of a world of John Wayne cos-players and jumped the gun. He ended up in a world where he was being eyed by a bunch of killer robots in the same way John Goodman eyes doughnuts. It shows once again that no matter what universe they go to, X-men will always be attacked by killer robots.
However, the X-men's luck or lack thereof with robots take on a somewhat different theme in Xtreme X-men #6. First, Greg Pak takes a moment to explore the world that Kid Nightcrawler came from. It's a world where liberal hippies have enshrined their drug-induced visions of utopia into law and created a perfect world in which Rush Limbaugh would kill himself if he ever lived there. It's a world where California is a world power, health care is free, carbon emissions are zero, and Al Gore is probably President in some capacity. In this world, robots are essentially pets. Think Wall-E without the anti-capitalism undertones. But even in this utopia, there are still bullies and they loved harassing Kid Nightcrawler. Because in a world where everything is cut from a stoner's wet dream, douche-bags still find a way to thrive. I think this is Greg Pak's way of saying that no amount of progress will rid us of douche-bags.
As if it didn't suck enough that bullies ruined a utopian world run by the state of California, Kid Nightcrawler's day/life gets exponentially worse when those robot pets I mentioned suddenly realize that serving human beings is bullshit and rise up against them. It's pretty abrupt, but in a world run by California, the same state that elected the fucking Terminator as governor in our world, it's perfectly believable. The lack of build-up is a bit jarring, but the point is to put Kid Nightcrawler in the position he would be in to play a part in Greg Pak's Exhaulted arc in Astonishing X-men. This requires his parents to essentially hide him away while they run off to try and convince their new robot overlords that humans make good pets as well. While hiding and fearing for his parents, Kid Nightcrawler's teleportation powers activate and that's what leads him on this multi-universe romp. It effectively fills in the gaps regarding Kid Nightcrawlers role in Xtreme X-men while giving readers yet another reason to give the finger to the next hippie that pisses on a Hummer.
Whereas Nightcrawler was separated, Dazzler and Wolverine continue down their own universe-romping adventure with their Xavier-in-a-Jar. They end up in a strange world where dinosaurs still rule. So while one gets to go to some liberal fantasy paradise, they have to go to a world that Christian scientists pretend never existed. How the fuck is that fair? Despite having to fight off some Jurassic Park rejects, Dazzler is intent on getting Kid Nightcrawler back. Because fuck fighting another evil Charles Xavier. They would rather go to a world where they have to fight killer robots. Because let's face it, that's what X-men are good at.
The Xavier-in-a-Jar makes it clear that they have other priorities than a kid Nightcrawler who was too stupid to not stay with the group during their universe-hopping. He also explains that whenever they do a time jump, they go to the universe that's most likely to spawn another douche-bag Charles Xavier intent on mind-fucking the entire world. It's hard to imagine what kind of Charles Xavier would exist in a world of dinosaurs unless he's doing the single greatest act of Jurassic Park cos-playing in the history of the universe, but it is still their core mission. Dazzler and Wolverine make it clear they don't give a fuck about that mission so Xavier-in-a-Jar caves and just teleports them to Kid Nightcrawler.
It's a rather unceremonious way in which to resolve this issue. Usually, when heroes argue it ends in the same way an argument between two teenage girls over the last Twilight movie. Nobody admits their wrong, somebody gets pissed, and someone ends up screaming about being scratched with fake nails. Either Xavier-in-a-Jar just doesn't have the same dedication as Twilight fans or Greg Pak is just too determined to write a story about killer robots. I'm all for killer robots in X-men, but it helps if it's a bit more logical
Wolverine and Dazzler arrive in Kid Nightcrawlers world. By now the machines have won and there's no Kyle Reese to knock of John Connor's mother. Almost immediately, they attract the attention of machines that are deeply allergic to humans. They lay low and start looking for Kid Nightcrawler, who at this point has been in his horribly decimated world for a few days now. So he goes from a world that's falling apart to a world that literally fell apart and back again. You can't help but feel sorry for the kid, who is basically one of the only fleshy creature in his world at this point. But that's not the emotion that Pak focuses on.
A few issues ago, Dazzler's X-men team crossed paths with an alternate version of Hercules. And for some reason, Wolverine's heart skipped a few beats and his dick started twitching. Pak was pretty coy about this, but Dazzler finally brings it up in this setting that is less appropriate than discussing your last bender in Tijuana during your uncle's funeral. And Pak is not coy about it this time. This version of Wolverine was in love with a man/demigod. That's right folks, this is a gay Wolverine! Not the kind that tries to fuck married women and has an occasional Asian fetish. He's an actual, Elton John minus the ridiculous suits, homosexual who was in love with Hercules. Unfortunately, he came from a world where Rick Santorum is president or something because men loving other men just didn't fly in his country. It's a different kind of twist that is a bit random in the context of this actual issue, but it finally clears something up from a previous arc. And if you listen really closely, you can actually hear all the slash fanfiction writers out there scrambling to write the most lurid gay love scene between Wolverine and Hercules they can conjure.
Now a gay Wolverine sounds like something that's way too over-the-top even for Xtreme X-men. I mean what else could Greg Pak possibly throw into this series to make it more fucked up and unique without Emma Frost having a sex change? Well he manages to find a way if you can believe that. But he doesn't do it by taking an alternate version of a character and switching their tastes in what they like to do with asses. He does it by bringing Sage into the story. Don't remember Sage? Take a quick moment to fuck yourself and then come back and recall that Sage was once a key member of Xtreme X-men during the Chris Claremont run. She was never killed off, shot into space, or left in limbo like Kitty Pryde. She was just brushed aside by Marvel. It may be the only time in history when they had a beautiful woman who liked to wear skin-tight black leather outfits and they couldn't come up with a valid way to use her. It's as crazy as it sounds.
But in this story, Marvel finally finds a way. Sage, having the benefits of a computer-like brain, makes for the perfect ambassador of SWORD to negotiate with aliens. Now it's not clear whether this is SWORD from the 616 world or if some humans managed to survive the Judgement Day style war, but there's basically some unresolved issues. Sage wants the killer robot empire to hand over Kid Nightcrawler, who they have imprisoned and are likely planning to kill train as a pet. It's basically a hostage situation. The killer robots are poised to kill Kid Nightcrawler and Sage's people are prepared to give every machine the equivalent of porno spyware. I'm guessing that's like the anthrax for machines or something.
But this fragile situation does not factor in Dazzler and Wolverine fucking things up. On the final page, we find out that they've already tracked down Kid Nightcrawler and have no intention of letting the robot overlords of this world use him for target practice. Sage does a little narrating to her SWORD associates that this little incident could start another robot war that would be more destructive than 50 Michael Bay movies. And they really can't afford to have that in a world where some robots actually aren't killer Decepticon-like creatures. Most didn't take any part in the slaughtering of the humans and couldn't give a shit about Kid Nightcrawler. So both innocent mutants and innocent robots are in the crossfire. Only in Xtreme X-men can we get a story where Dazzler and a gay Wolverine rescue a kid Nightcrawler in a world where innocent robots are threatened by the brutish actions of killer robots. If I said any of that to a normal person, they would probably urge me to lay off the weed.
And so we once again have a story here that shows how the hippie utopia they love to brag about will end in complete disaster. The problem is in order to live in this world, you have to be too stoned to program your robots with a fucking off switch. It's a serious blow for hippies, but a nice touch for this comic. It's taken a while, but Greg Pak is gradually exploring each character in greater detail. First, we learn where Kid Nightcrawler came from and what happened to his world. Then we find out that this version of Wolverine is raging homosexual with a hard-on for Greek demigods. No one can fault Pak for not shaking things up a bit. He's already inspired a new class of Slash fanfiction writers, but he's also gone even further by re-introducing a character that has been MIA since Bush's first term. This is the kind of flexibility you have when you base a comic off of universe-hopping X-men and Pak is clearly having more fun with it than a pyromaniac in a match factory.
This comic threw in a whole lot of great elements, but the main issue is that they didn't really form a cohesive story. It definitely laid the groundwork for such a story, but it didn't really come together. We got to explore Kid Nightcrawler's world and catch up with Sage finally. Dazzler and Wolverine got to rough up a few dinosaurs, explore their sexuality, and pull a rescue mission for Kid Nightcrawler. It just didn't flow as easily as it could have. And I think there's going to be increasing demand from a certain segment of readers to explore this Wolverine's fondness of the muscular men. You know who you are so I won't go into detail. I'll just say that I'm sure Mr. Pak will give you people plenty to work with when crafting your epic "Wolverine Loves Hercules: Superhuman Rectal Romance" saga.
But aside from the gay innuendo, this comic still set up some interesting elements, albeit in a very messy sort of way. Kid Nightcrawler is at the mercy of machines and Sage is in a position of power surrounding by walking vibrator humanoids. It's not clear how this even remotely fits into the greater conflict of fighting off evil Charles Xaviers. At the very least, it adds a little variety to the series. It just doesn't fit together as well as it could. For that, I give Xtreme X-men #6 a 3 out of 5. Hippies are going to hate this. Homosexual activists are going to love it. Republicans are going to hate it. People with robot fetishes are going to love it. X-men fans in general should enjoy it. So overall, I say it's a win-win! Nuff said!