Wednesday, January 16, 2013
All New X-men #6 - Nightmares Made Awesome
There are some laws that are worth breaking and I say that with the full knowledge that I'm on the shit list of no fewer than three district judges. Quick word of advice though. When arguing a speeding ticket, don't claim to be a registered member of the Tea Party who protests speed limits by breaking them. That shit will only get you a bigger fine and Ann Coulter's phone number, both of which you can do without. But if you live in a state or district that prohibits blow jobs, watching football naked in the privacy of your mother's basement, or sunbathing on top of your car you have a moral obligation to give the finger to the asshole authorities who wipe their ass with the ashes of Benjamin Franklin and George Washington.
However, there are some laws that you really shouldn't break and for good reason. Some of those laws include the laws of physics. Doing so won't just get you fined or arrested with your pants around your ankles while dripping with sun screen. It could very well damage the integrity of the space time continuum. Marty McFly almost learned this the hard way when he literally flirted himself out of existence by getting his teenage mother's panties wet. Now in the pages of All New X-men, the Original Five may have to learn that same lesson.
All New X-men #5 was a major turning point in that it capped off the first big arc of this astonishing new series so to speak. Brian Michael Bendis is taking a touch of nostalgia and mixing it with a perfect blend of pepper, hot sauce, bacon bits, and awesome. He had Beast essentially give Marty McFly and Father Time the middle finger as he went back in time and plucked the Original Five X-men out from the past and took them into the future. In doing so he managed to save his miserable ass thanks to his younger and pre-douche counterpart. But in the process he took big shit on the space time continuum while also giving Jean Grey fans everywhere boners.
While Beast may have kick started this time traveling shit storm, Jean Grey is the one keeping the fan turned on. In the previous issue she got what was essentially a choppy youtube video of her life and how it got horribly fucked up in ways that had her die twice. She emerged both pissed off and determined to set things right. So using the power of her magic ovaries and the kind of personality flare that Hope Summers never came close to matching, Jean Grey decided that the Original Five X-men would stay in the present and fix everything before they went back and had their minds wiped by Professor Xavier. It both ensured that Father Time's asshole will continue to sting for the foreseeable future and that Jean Grey was going to have to content with Wolverine's insatiable desire to fuck her.
But this decision has the potential to fuck up more than just time. Already, Jean Grey has seen how Cyclops becomes an arrogant, revolutionary prick who killed Charles Xavier while under the influence of a cosmic force. Now she's taking that out on O5 Cyclops by giving him the silent treatment, which for a woman is like fifty kicks in the balls. Marvel is playing a dangerous game with their already pot-marked timeline by threatening to One More Day yet another established relationship, but the damage done to the timeline is now a secondary concern. Now that the Original Five are here to stay, a whole new shit storm is set to begin!
All New X-men #6 continues to develop this nightmare future for the Original Five X-men by throwing another nightmare into the mix. As if Jean Grey hasn’t had enough nightmares after learning that Cyclops killed Xavier, she died multiple times, and some creepy Canadian guy wants to bone her, she’s now having nightmares about a naked Wolverine stabbing her to death. I’m not sure if this is some sort of metaphor for the dreams teenage girls have after seeing the Twilight movies too many times, but the point is pretty clear. Jean Grey is pretty fucked up in this future and Kitty Pryde has to show up before she has an even worse nightmare, like Wolverine going down on Cyclops. Or maybe she’ll find that hot. I honestly don’t know because teenage girls are known to have some pretty fucked up dreams and for once Jean Grey is completely justified in having them.
For O5 Cyclops, no nightmares are necessary. He’s already living the worst fucking nightmare he can imagine with his pants still on. He’s now walking around in a school named after his dead future wife that may now hate his cuts. He’s surrounded by other mutants who hate him for shit he hasn’t even done yet. Even in my worst dreams where I’m naked in a field in Afghanistan and a pack of angry goats armed with AK-47s are chasing me, I can’t imagine something that sucks so much. So being an immature teenager and not the competent leader he’s supposed to be, O5 Cyclops takes a page right out of the first X-men movies (before Brett Ranter shit all over them) and stole Wolverine’s motorcycle. Wolverine senses this and is not too happy about it, but considering he spends much of his life trying to bone Cyclops’s future wife I think letting him borrow his bike is the least he can do.
Whereas Cyclops has to deal with all this shit by himself, Jean Grey has an abundance of people willing to help her as she adjusts to her new telepathic powers and the idea of having died twice. Kitty Pryde manages to help her get her telepathy under control before she starts sensing what the teenage boys at the institute think of her while they’re taking a shower. It’s actually a more compelling moment for Kitty than it is Jean because it shows Kitty taking on her new role as the de-facto chaperone for the Original Five while they’re in the future. She doesn’t just look over their shoulders and make sure they don’t fuck up the future more than they already have. She actually channels her inner Charles Xavier (minus the bastard son and mind-wiping students) to teach Jean how to control her powers. It may not sound like a bit deal, but it’s an important step for Jean. No teenage girl is equipped to deal with this sort of shit when her head isn’t straight.
After Jean gets control of her mind, Storm walks in on them as well. Her presence is somewhat random, but she also helps Jean by reminding her that it was her idea to stay in the future in the first place. She’s the one who convinced the others to do it and therefore she has to be the one that leads the team, not Cyclops. It’s a great moment because Jean and Storm were among the best of friends without being stars in lesbian porn. It’s refreshing to see Bendis making those kinds of connections. He even references that other minor detail of Jean Grey’s whole family being slaughtered by the Shi’ar. While I would have liked to see more of Jean’s reaction to a revelation that fucked up, the mere fact that Bendis mentioned it shows an attention to detail that I haven’t seen in Marvel comics in a long time.
By contrast, O5 Cyclops is definitely in need of a guide as he rides Wolverine’s motorcycle through downtown Westchester. We see him looking wide-eyed at how cars have become pussified thanks to hybrids, how maps are now on cell phones, and how water is served in bottles now. To be fair, I find it equally fucked up that bottled water actually sells to people with indoor plumbing, but that’s besides the point. This scene is meant to show that this isn’t the same Cyclops that led the entire mutant race against Bastion in Second Coming. This is a teenager who doesn’t understand the concept of inflation and is appalled that magazines now cost five bucks. It’s an important contrast to make, especially considering the asshat his older self has become.
And unfortunately for him, he’s still recognizable even in his baby faced pre-Xavier murder form. When he tries to buy a map from a convenience store (ignoring that maps are pretty much obsolete in an era where cell phones give us directions in sexy female robot voices), the clerk recognizes him and gets all giddy about how he’s the guy who took on the Avengers, tried to create a global utopia, and still got sent to jail. It would have made for a hell of a conversation had Wolverine not caught up to him before he could pay with what I assume is his beer/hooker money. Now I have a bit of an issue on Cyclops’s ignorance of bottled water and maps because it creates more ambiguity about how old he is and how far back the history of the Original Five X-men actually goes. But given Marvel sort of has to be ambiguous for a team that was formed in the early 60s, I’m willing to take a few bong hits and overlook it.
O5 Cyclops’s ignorance of the future is no excuse for Wolverine. He’s clearly pissed at him for stealing his motorcycle and his beer/hooker money. This is already on top of him being pissed at Cyclops for killing Charles Xavier and keeping him from boning Jean Grey. He demands that O5 Cyclops get his ass back to the institute so he can be further tempted to erase his cock-blocking ass from the present. However, O5 Cyclops shows that he still has one thing in common with his future counterpart and that’s telling Wolverine to fuck off by blasting him with his optic blast. Like masturbation, it’s one of those little things that never gets old.
Now at this point in All New X-men, pretty much every member of the O5 has met their future counterpart (minus Jean Grey with the whole being dead thing being an issue). In addition, nearly every member of the team agreed to stay in the future when Jean Grey forced them to take a vote. The only one who didn’t want to stay was Angel. He even pointed out in the previous issue how nobody had told him anything about what happened to his future self. Well after having a few pages of him worrying about how bad it could be, we finally get to see him confront the man he would later become.
Unfortunately, it’s pretty underwhelming and a little creepy. While on the roof of the Jean Grey Institute, his hippie counterpart confronts him. There’s a rather bland conversation where O5 Angel explains that he’s from the past and Beast brought them to the present. His counterpart’s response is to hug him like that a creepy mall Santa who somehow managed to stay off the sex offender registry. There’s really no drama here other than Angel offering his younger self a chance to go flying. There aren’t any hints about Angel having been mind-wiped or how he ended up with metal wings. It’s basically just O5 Angel shrugging awkwardly and agreeing to go with his older counterpart. After the high drama scenes for Cyclops and Jean Grey, this was akin to a Mormon showing up at a cocaine orgy.
But teen drama isn’t the only element Brian Bendis focuses on in this issue. It’s still a comic so there has to at least be the potential of some shit blowing up. One other lesson the O5 is going to have to learn about the future is that any crazy shit you do will be recorded by some dipshit with a cell phone and posted online. O5 Cyclops’s little encounter at the convenience store that ended with him blasting Wolverine ended up online and it drew the attention of Mystique, who has never been one to pass up an opportunity to fuck with the X-men. She’s immediately intrigued at the prospect of time-displaced X-men and is prepared to find a way to exploit this to the fullest potential. It’s bad news for the O5, but great news for All New X-men as a whole. When Mystique gets involved, shit usually starts blowing up in the most awesome of ways.
In a market where most comics move at a pace that can only be matched by an Olympic sprinter on crystal meth, All New X-men has established a very different pace. Brian Bendis is really taking his time with this series, not trying to do too much too soon with the Original Five X-men now that they’ve decided to stay in the future and continue sodomizing the spade-time continuum. He’s not just throwing the Original Five into their next big battle. He dedicated this entire issue to showing the Original Five adjusting to this twisted future. On paper, it sounds like a boring way to tell a story. But fuck if Brian Bendis doesn’t make it work.
More than anything, this comic flowed seamlessly from the events of the first arc. The Original Five now have their mission to fix the future, but first they have to wrap their heads around how fucked up it is. And for a bunch of inexperienced teenagers, it makes for great and sometimes hilarious drama. Bendis hits all the right emotions with their reactions. Jean Grey was far from the caring, compassionate, cosmically endowed beauty that has been known to stare down Apocalypse and cock-tease Wolverine to no end. She was a confused, traumatized teenage girl. Cyclops was also far from the uptight hardass we’re used to seeing. In this issue, he was a confused kid basically fumbling his way around a world he doesn’t understand. It almost reminds me of my first day of high school, minus being shoved into the girls locker room with tampons duct taped to my head.
But as well as Bendis handled the drama for Cyclops and Jean Grey, the way he handled Warren wasn’t quite as compelling. I’m glad he actually took some time to address Warren’s feelings about staying in the future, especially after he was the only one who voted not to stay. But not a whole lot came from his encounter with his future self. Aside from his metal wings, his older self basically comes off as a guy who went to one too many self-help seminars or did too much LSD with some New Age cult. He didn’t even seem to think it was remotely creepy when his older self believed his story without a moment of hesitation and just wanted to go flying. I’m sure O5 Angel will eventually start shitting himself when he realizes that his mind has been erased and he no longer gets to bone a hot Asian woman. But this was one area in the comic that just seemed too pointless.
While All New X-men might be unfolding slowly, Bendis is definitely building it towards something special. We didn’t just get the pants-shitting reactions of some of the Original Five X-men in this issue. We also got a hint as to the kind of conflicts we can expect. And I’m not just talking about Cyclops having more opportunities to shoot Wolverine, which never gets old. I’m talking about the prospect of Mystique using this opportunity to fuck with both the X-men and the space time continuum. Seeing as how she’s fucked damn near everyone and everything else in the Marvel universe, it makes perfect sense that she would fully exploit this opportunity. And together with the ongoing drama, it creates a perfect environment for pure X-men caliber awesome.
I give All New X-men #6 a 4 out of 5. If you’re a teenager who has dealt with shitty luck, overwhelming emotions, and creepy hairy guys that want to fuck you, then this series should resonate with you. If you’re a sadistic, manipulative shape-shifter who can’t resist an opportunity to fuck with both the past and present versions of your enemies, then keep a box of tissues and a bottle of lube handy! This series should give you plenty to enjoy. Nuff said!