Thursday, December 27, 2012
Xtreme X-men #8 - Twisted Fantasies of Awesome
I often imagine that trips through multiple universes is like a cross-country road trip to every crack house in the country. Both over the course of the journey and as you reach your destinations, you're bound to find some pretty fucked up things that'll either give you a boner or haunt your dreams forever. Throughout the course of Xtreme X-men, Greg Pak has sent Allison Blair through a number of alternate universes. I don't know how many nightmares or pussy boners she's gotten along the way, but I'm pretty sure they're more than she cares to admit. And that's part of what has made this series so much fun. It isn't just about hopping universes. It's about Dazzler's personal journey along the way.
Before Xtreme X-men, she's was largely a C-list character. She's basically another cute blond with a nice rack, which is about as common in comics as personality disorders on bad reality TV shows (by that I mean ALL reality TV shows). She's probably one of the last characters you would expect to assume a leadership role in a title. Hell, she would be ranked somewhere between Pixie and Doop. Personally, I would like to see Doop lead a comic, but I assume Jason Aaron is saving that for the next big event. But the past few issues of Xtreme X-men have shown that Dazzler can lead her own team and do so while still looking hot as hell. And she doesn't even have to dress like Emma Frost. I think that counts as a blow for feminism.
Xtreme X-men #7.1 marked a new high point for the series. After so many crazy trips through multiple universes with Xavier-in-a-Jar, Dazzler and her team took a pit stop back in her home universe where she caught up on all the shit she missed with Avengers vs. X-men. I get the sense she's probably glad she missed all that shit. This way she has an excuse. It's not her fault she wasn't around to stop the Avengers and X-men from getting into a slap fight while the Phoenix fucked with five X-men. She was stuck in another universe. In terms of excuses, that's one of the few that are actually valid in the comics. But the big moment was at the end when Cyclops gives Dazzler his seal of approval as a leader as she continues her universe-hopping quest to hunt down more evil Charles Xaviers. It's still debatable just how much weight Cyclops's blessing carries when he's a fugitive and not boning Emma Frost anymore, but if nothing else it was a good confidence builder for Dazzler.
The universe-hopping journey continues in Xtreme X-men #8, but first we get a brief flashback to yet another alternate universe. But it’s not as random as you think. At the end of Xtreme X-men #7, we found out that Xavier-in-a-Jar got tired of waiting for Dazzler and her team to come back for him so he recruited a new one. That team included another Dazzler, an alternate Hercules, and a Black Cyclops. Throw in goth version of Jean Grey and you’ve got yourself the next Fox sitcom! But the main point here is to demonstrate how this version of Dazzler is different from her Lady Gaga wannabe other self. She’s no aspiring pop star in her world. She’s a hard-nosed, gun-toting member of X-Force that shoot zombies to pass the time on a Sunday afternoon. Hence, she’s perfect for Xavier’s team and just as hot.
Back with the non-badass Dazzler, she’s getting shit squared away with her team in the 616 universe after the events of Xtreme X-men #7.1. Sage is understandably hesitant to take on any mission that involves helping a disembodied head of Charles Xavier hunt down other Charles Xaviers. But Dazzler, flexing her new leadership, gets Sage to go along for the ride. Because let’s face it, she’s not going to get much more excitement that doesn’t involve interfacing her brain with porn sites. They arrive right back in the crazy jungle-like world they left in Xtreme X-men #7 where they’re greeted with the kind of hostility that X-men should be used to by now. They’re probably the only ones that know how Kristen Stewart feels while walking through a support group of men who are dating hardcore Twilight fans.
Now anyone who has followed Xtreme X-men to this point knows the kind of hostility that Dazzler and her team has faced never ranks less than a 9.5 on the fucked-up-o-meter. They've faced an old west style Charles Xavier, an Xavier-in-a-Jar, and a whale Xavier. How could anything possibly get more fucked up than that? How about a unicorn Xavier? No, that's not a metaphor. That's actually the Xavier that Dazzler and her team encounter. It's a unicorn with pink hair named Charles Xavier. That ranks a good 9.8 on the fucked-up-o-meter. Sorry, but it still doesn't come close to some of the fucked up shit I see in slash fiction.
In addition to being a fucking unicorn, this Xavier doesn't appear to be a sociopath. Because a sociopath unicorn would just be off the scale of the fucked-up-o-meter. But this Xavier is still a psychic and the reason he reacted like a bull that was about to get castrated was because he sensed another team coming to kill him. Dazzler, being too trusting and too cute a hot blond chick, is inclined to believe the unicorn. I can't say I would. If I saw a fucking unicorn, that just means I've taken way too much acid and should not trust my senses at this point.
But that other team does show up and surprise, surprise it includes the badass Dazzler that Xavier-in-a-Jar recruited earlier. She's not as inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to a fucking unicorn and tries to kill it. Dazzler naturally tries to fight back and protect the unicorn Xavier just as a 4-year-old girl would protect her dollhouse from her older brother armed with firecrackers. She also comes along with teammates including a Black Cyclops and Hercules. But unlike the others, Hercules isn't inclined to fight Wolverine. Earlier in the series, Pak dropped a rainbow colored bombshell that the Wolverine in Xtreme X-men was gay and had the hots for Hercules. Well, this is apparently the Hercules he was desperate to bone. It's a nice moment in the midst of the fighting. I know that slash fanfiction writers are already hard at work crafting a very lurid story about what these two men do in the jungle with only unicorns and rainbows at their disposal so I won't go into detail.
However, the gay undertones that One Million Moms will probably be bitching about in the coming weeks also temporarily hides the ongoing mission that Xavier-in-a-Jar has been pursuing since the series began. Dazzler still refuses to believe that a unicorn Xavier could ever be evil. Well, it turns out all those doll houses she used to play with as a girl corrupted her mind. Because it's revealed by the X-Force Dazzler and Xavier-in-a-Jar that this Xavier was just an illusion. The real Xavier looks like something Predator shat out after one too many burritos a Mexican restaurant. So yeah, it is possible for a unicorn to be evil. As of this very moment, the fantasies of a million little girls has been ruined. Thanks Marvel! You're truly doing the Lord's work!
So Dazzler's team has just been hilariously upstaged by Xavier-in-a-Jar's new team. She now knows how Tim Tebow felt after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning and traded his ass to the Jets. It's not completely one-sided though. In killing the fake unicorn Xavier, they found out that this whole fanciful realm was just a figment of his mind. Now that he's vulture chow, that world is falling apart. Dazzler tries to turn to Sage for help, but for some reason she says "Fuck this shit, I'm outta here!" It seems a little random, but I have to believe that a woman with a computer for a brain isn't that irrational. Unless it's that time of the month for her, I'm going to surmise she has a reason for leaving Dazzler and her team behind.
With the world falling apart, Dazzler tries to take charge as Cyclops said she could in the previous issue. However, X-Force Dazzler isn't having that shit. She's a badass zombie hunter whereas this Dazzler is a Lady Gaga wannabe from the disco era. It's like Chuck Norris versus Justin Timberlake. It's not a fair fight. This X-Force Dazzler is willing to ignore the current threat of a world falling apart and attack Dazzler to prove she's the leader. And for her, attacking means fucking stabbing through the chest. I would say it's extreme, but I've had ex-girlfriends do worse. It ends the comic on an ominous yet very exciting note. Dazzler just found out she's got what it takes to be a hero and then she gets stabbed. That may not rank high on the fucked-up-o-meter, but it still is pretty awesome.
So after a brief pit-stop in the main Marvel universe to keep fans from getting too confused, things are back on track in Xtreme X-men so to speak. This issue has Dazzler hopping universes again, hunting down evil Xavier’s and encountering a whole lot of fucked up things along the way. I honestly didn’t think that Greg Pak could top giant Whale Xavier in Xtreme X-men #7.1. I officially now owe a guy at a bar fifty bucks and my sister’s phone number after seeing a unicorn version of Charles Xavier. It sounds so stupid and outrageous, yet it works. That’s what continues to astound me about Xtreme X-men. Greg Pak just keeps finding ways to make this shit work.
Moreover, this comic took the series in a new direction by having it involve more than just Dazzler leading a team against universes of evil Xaviers. Now she has competition to deal with in the form of another Dazzler and another round of alternate universe heroes that are looking to not just test her leadership, but kill her disco-loving ass. It adds a new layer of complication on top of many other fucked up layers that involve Xaviers-in-a-Jar, space whales, and unicorns. I keep comparing shit like this to an awesome acid trip, but I don’t think even the best hallucinogens can conjure the kind of shit Xtreme X-men is using.
Yet as much fun as all these crazy elements are, they don’t fit together as well as they could. I know that sounds like trying to make shit shine, but it’s a fair criticism of the book. The suddenness of this new team feels a bit choppy, mainly in the reunion between Wolverine and Hercules and the Black Cyclops. While I don’t doubt those characters will get more attention in the next issue, it still feels like a few too many issues were left unaddressed. In that sense it made the issue feel a bit rushed, but I guess when you’re dealing with floating heads and unicorns you can only go so slow.
Xtreme X-men continues to be a delightfully fun and entertainingly fucked up saga. The story is now back on track and with plenty of twisted new elements for Greg Pak’s twisted mind to work with. It might be too twisted for some comic fans, but that’s their problem. I’m giving Xtreme X-men #8 a 4.5 out of 5 and there’s nothing they can do about it! We’ve seen Xavier as a whale. We’ve seen Xavier as a unicorn. As of this moment, I’m taking bets! What will Greg Pak have Xavier show up as next? A squirrel? A stunt man? Snookie’s baby daddy? Anything is possible! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some arrangements to make with my bookie. Nuff said!