Wednesday, February 6, 2013
All New X-men #7 - Manipulative Awesome
What do you when you discover that you’ll grow up to be an insufferable douche-bag revolutionary, a mentally unstable package of emotions that attracts cosmic forces, a hippie amnesiac that has no memory of what Psylocke’s breasts feel like, or just your typical registered Republican? Most of us would be pretty pissed off with ourselves, but Brian Michael Bendis has given the Original Five X-men a chance to actually do something about it and hopefully not fuck up the space time continuum in the process. The whole premise of All New X-men is based on using the past to fix the present without making the same mistakes as Marty McFly in Back to the Future. There’s an incest joke in there as well, but seeing as how Wolverine probably still has boners about Jean Grey I’ll skip that to avoid more disturbing images than are necessary.
I admit I was among those who was skeptical that All New X-men would be anything more than bad physics lesson and another excuse to avoid bringing adult Jean Grey back. I was prepared to stick my dick in a blender with expired anchovies and milk and make it part of a bullshit sandwich. Thankfully, I didn’t have to. Bendis has proven that this series can not only be awesome. It can bring Jean Grey back into the fold in a far more significant way than just putting her in that sexy Phoenix costume again (although I admit that would help). As her young, wide-eyed cocktail of teenage hormones, Jean Grey reminds readers that she’s awesome in ways that go beyond her red hair, green eyes, and awesome rack. She’s taken charge of the Original Five, convincing them that they need to stay in this future and fix this shit. She actually managed to motivate an entire group of teenage boys while keeping her top on. In other words, score one for the feminists, motherfuckers!
But if Jean Grey is now leading this mission to unfuck the future, where does this leave Cyclops? He was given the first class screw-job in Avengers vs. X-men and rendered Dr. Doom’s prison bitch by the Avengers, the X-men, and everyone else who didn’t scrutinize the details of the conflict. Nobody in the Jean Grey Institute trusts him, his own team hates him, the girl he loves is one used tampon away from putting a restraining order on him, and Wolverine is just itching for an excuse to kill him that doesn’t revolve around boning Jean Grey. In the previous issue, O5 Cyclops dealt with that in a way not at all dissimilar from his older counterpart. When Wolverine started acting like an asshole, he blasted his ass with an optic blast. Score one for the guys who the guys who aren’t obsessively creepy about a woman to the point of naming a school after her, motherfuckers!
While shooting Wolverine is always good for solving little problems, it still doesn’t solve the bigger problem that Cyclops and the Original Five face. They’re in a world where mutants are on the rise again and Cyclops has little reservation about rubbing elbows with Magneto and blowing shit up to protect them. It’s hard enough in a world where magazines cost five bucks a pop, but at some point they have to actually confront the sordid details of how this future got so fucked up. And there are going to be plenty of people along the way that will try and make sure that the future fucks them up before the unfucking can begin. Since this is still the early stages of this series, the actual details of the O5’s mission and the obstacles surrounding it are unclear. But Bendis is steadily bringing it into focus.
All New X-men #7 builds on the drama and awkward moments from the previous issue. O5 Cyclops took Jean Grey’s order to stay the fuck away from her pretty damn seriously and ran off from the Jean Grey Institute. After his failed attempt to get a map and shooting Wolverine for getting in his way (or for just being a douche), he finds himself at a bank where he hopes his older self kept his safe deposit box before drowning his sorrows in Emma Frost’s breasts. He tries to access it and to his luck, the cute girl working there is a huge X-men supporter and recognizes him.
She also must have read Avengers vs. X-men because she clearly doesn’t buy into the bullshit notion that the Avengers constantly pestering a cosmic force didn’t play a part in shit going horribly wrong. She goes onto say that she wishes she were a mutant because it beats the shit out of working a dead end job and having a life more boring than a speech by Henry Kissinger. This is actually the first time the population in the Marvel universe have shown some support for mutants in the post-Avengers vs. X-men world. It not only gets Cyclops access to his box and possibly a shot at some office-style pussy, but it shows that not everyone is overly eager to suck the dick of Avengers propaganda.
Once the kind bank associate who may or may not want to bone him shows him his box, Cyclops opens it to see that his future self did keep it stocked. It included some fairly pragmatic shit like money, passports, and a spare pair of ruby-quartz glasses. Since he’s only had his visor to this point, it makes for a far less conspicuous fashion sense. Because unless you’re a hipster douche in Seattle, you don’t get away with wearing glasses like that.
But while Cyclops is sifting through his safe box, another female bank clerk who probably doesn’t want to bone him confronts the clerk who let him in. She apparently doesn’t feel comfortable letting a wanted fugitive into a bank and giving him access to the vault. That’s like giving Michael Bay access to a shipping crate of plastic explosives. So she decides to call the police, blissfully unaware that this Cyclops isn’t the same Cyclops that got drunk on the Phoenix Force. Then again, working in a bank requires that you tell the difference between the guy looking to cash in his welfare check and the guy looking to steal a role of twenties for a strip club. I’ll forgive her for not being able to tell the difference between Cyclops and a time-displaced Cyclops, but it still counts as a dick move.
The cops show up, but not before Wolverine shows up first. Despite taking yet another optic blast in the previous issue, he just can’t resist harassing Cyclops no matter what era he’s from. He attempts to drag him out of the bank like a mother dragging her kid out of a candy store for trying to stuff his pockets with fudge. The cops threaten to shoot, but Wolverine threatens to chop their arms off while casually reminding him that he just took a fucking optic blast point blank. A bullet wound for him is only a mild rectal itch. With that in mind, the cops wisely let him drag O5 Cyclops out. As he leaves, the nice clerk who let him in looks worried, indicating that despite the spectacle she probably still wants to bone him.
Now this sounds like a perfect setting for Wolverine to get yet another optic blast from Cyclops. I know I make a big deal out of it, but like masturbation and fart jokes some things just never get old. However, as soon as they’re clear of the bank, Cyclops finds out the Wolverine who dragged him out of the bank isn’t the same Wolverine he blasted so gleefully in the last issue. Once away from public sight, he reveals that he’s actually got boobs and is named Mystique. I’ll take a moment to slam back some imported vodka and squeal like a school girl because Mystique has always had a special place in my heart and my penis. Unlike Wolverine, she doesn’t seek to kill him, piss him off, or bone his girlfriend. She just wants to talk. I know all her recent history is perfectly in line with an unapologetic sociopath, but she still comes off as more honest and trustworthy than Wolverine. What the fuck does that say about him?
Once the shock wears off of talking to a hot chick with blue skin, Mystique takes on the form of a younger, less jaded Rihanna so she can talk to O5 Cyclops in the open. The conversation here is very well-done, even if it tells the readers many things they already know. But the core of it revolves around Mystique actually admiring O5 Cyclops (or at least pretending to). She says his younger, more idealistic persona is a considerable upgrade compared to the more current version that used to bone Emma Frost in his spare time. She also doesn’t blame him for killing Charles Xavier, pointing out that he was under the influence of a fucking cosmic bird. To date, nobody has really explained to him just how fucked up the circumstances were in Avengers vs. X-men. While Mystique may not be the most trustworthy source, it’s pretty damn important to have someone point that shit out.
Moreover, Mystique actually encourages O5 Cyclops to re-inflate the balls that Beast and Wolverine busted and fight back against his future self. Not only that, she encourages him to fight back against Wolverine’s approach to training X-men. Because let’s face it, she’ll never pass up a chance to fuck with Wolverine. She doesn’t need to convince him more than anyone else already has that this isn’t the future he fought for. But she does convince him that he should be the one that fixes this. Despite there being so many other mutants to deal with this shit, he’s still fucking Cyclops. It doesn’t matter how few hairs are on his balls right now. He should be the one that makes shit right and damn it she has a point! And I’m not just saying that because I find her blue skin and her rack so damn sexy.
Eventually, they have to cut their conversation short before Mystique can get to the part where she seduces him. Wolverine may not have gotten to him first, but he did eventually track him down. Mystique knows this and leaves O5 Cyclops with an indelible impression. He puts that impression to good use when he flat out asks Wolverine why he doesn’t just kill him, solve all their problems, and help himself to all the sweet Jean Grey pussy he could ever want. He finally stops acting like a fucking asshat for once and admits that killing someone is easy and saving someone is hard. And unfortunately, Charles Xavier taught him the value of not being lazy. It’s one of the few times Wolverine actually comes off as somewhat redeemable. But it’s still clear that he would be a lot happier if Cyclops just dropped dead.
Oddly enough, Mystique came off as unusually decent and not just because of what she is or isn’t wearing for once. But she’s still Mystique. Marvel has gone to great lengths to make her a complete and utter sociopath in recent years and while I vehemently disagree with that path, they’re not about to go back on it now. Once clear, Mystique rejoins whatever mysterious associate she has pussy-whipped at the moment and lets him know that she’s succeeded. Beast brought the O5 to the present and she just inspired one of them to stir up some shit between Cyclops and the Jean Grey Institute. It doesn’t just make for better comics. It makes her job, whatever it may be, that much easier. And for some reason, that kind of cunning from Mystique still gives me a boner.
After all this drama with O5 Cyclops, it’s easy to forget the rest of the Original Five X-men are still cleaning the shit out of their pants and trying to adjust to their new lives in the future. This includes getting started on their training with Kitty Pryde, who volunteered to be their de-facto guide during their stay in the era of Apple and hipsters. Out in the basketball court, she starts the day with Beast, Iceman, and Jean Grey by ordering they do push-ups. Because somehow that is supposed to prepare them for fixing the fucking future. It leads to Iceman being the rebellious teenager he is at heart and questioning her authority. This promptly earns him an ass-kicking from a woman that isn’t much bigger than he is and boning his older self. I’m pretty sure that’s almost akin to having your balls thrown into a black hole.
It’s a much more light-hearted scene compared to the O5/Mystique confrontation, but it feels both out-of-place and out-of-context. In the previous issue, Kitty Pryde was consoling Jean Grey when she was having nightmares and couldn’t control her powers. Now they’re all in uniform and ready to train? Now maybe this is because I’m not a morning person, but this scene is like waking up with a dead donkey and a hooker in your bed and shrugging your shoulders while you get dressed and go to work. I get that the O5 are going to train under Kitty Pryde, but this scene just didn’t feel like it flowed well from the previous issue even if it did serve a valid purpose.
While O5 Iceman is left to ponder the collapse of his scrotum, O5 Cyclops returns with Wolverine. Not much is said other than Wolverine demonstrating that he’s capable of surviving a 2-hour drive with Cyclops and not killing him. But O5 Cyclops does confront Jean Grey, who told him a couple issues ago to stay the fuck away from him in the kind of tone only an emotional teenage girl can manage. Rather than argue with her as every overconfident teenage boy is inclined to do when his ego is shaken, he just gives her one of the other little relics he found in his safe deposit box. It happens to be an invitation to his and Jean’s future wedding, which he apparently kept. I’m not sure what sort of symbolism Bendis is trying to convey here, but fuck if it isn’t powerful. The emotions surrounding the Cyclops/Jean relationship have been more fucked up than the Korean instructions for supercomputer. Yet this scene seems to remind both Jean and the readers that it was a big fucking deal. In a comic that already has Mystique stirring up emotions while being deceptively seductive, this is like a bonus icing of additional emotion. It’s like a good kind of PMS and it makes for an awesomely fitting conclusion to the issue.
What can you say about a comic that centers mostly around certain characters just casually chit-chatting and whose only real action involves an undersized woman kicking the ass of a teenage boy? On paper, that sounds like something Ann Coulter might write if she overdosed on Ritalin. It shouldn’t work or even feel remotely exciting. But damn it, Brian Michael Bendis couldn’t have made this shit more compelling without having Morgan Freeman narrate it while Johnny Depp acted each part.
All New X-men has not been heavy on action and Brian Bendis has not billed it as something Michael Bay would turn into a movie. This is a series that draws its awesome from drama. Whereas a typical Avengers/Wolverine/X-Force comic is expected to have a certain number of broken bones, concussions, and lacerations, this series has built a reputation on putting emotions into a blender and throwing in some nitroglycerine before hitting frappe. It may not have the same spectacle as watching Cyclops shoot Wolverine with his optic blasts and granted, Bendis has found a way to give us that on more than one occasion. But that emotional upheaval resonates on so many levels. Hell, anyone who ever went through their teenage years thinking their future was fucked and they didn’t have any control over it (spoiler alert: it’s not and you do) should get something from this issue and this series as a whole.
Given all the praise I’ve heaped on All New X-men, I’ve been accused of bias at times. I admit that this issue did tickle my fancy in ways that only well-paid Russian strippers could match and part of that may stem from my adolescent longing to bone Mystique. But I’m not so blinded by Mystique’s tits or O5 Cyclops’s self-loathing that I’m willing to overlook every possible flaw. While Bendis dedicated plenty of energy towards the Cyclops/Mystique conversation, the whole training scene with Kitty and O5 seemed a little off. After Kitty and Storm had a heart-to-heart with Jean Grey in the previous issue, this scene carried on as if that shit didn’t even happen or had no effect. They say Jean needs to lead the team, but now Kitty Pryde is channeling her inner “Full Metal Jacket” and barking orders? As I’ve pointed out in many Uncanny X-Force reviews, the ability for a series to remain cohesive from issue to issue sets the awesome comics apart from the shit you use when you’re low on toilet paper. The scene was fun, but it was more of an SNL skit than an actual part of the story.
There’s also the issue of the Angel/O5 Angel story only being briefly mentioned by Kitty, but we’ve already learned from future previews that we’ll catch up with this story soon enough so I’m not going to waste precious alcohol and dwell on it. The awesome Bendis has brought forth in this issue far exceeds any petty flaws. More than anything, he motivated (through the deception of a devious yet sexy woman no less) the Original Five X-men to clash with Cyclops and the Jean Grey Institute. For Cyclops, Jean Grey, and the rest of the Original Five, every issue to this point has made one thing clear. This is NOT the future they fought for and if they’re going to fix the future, they need to wade through multiple pools of shit. Moreover, the emotions surrounding Cyclops and Jean Grey’s relationship was further explored and NOT glossed over for once, which can only help this issue and the future of this series.
I know I shouldn’t like Mystique or admire women like her. It’s not healthy and it has already led me to hook up with women who would prefer to exercise their inner psycho-bitch, but I wouldn’t risk the additional restraining orders if a part of me didn’t enjoy it. Mystique has once again made the X-men comics a better place for X-men fans and my penis. Her role in this issue and the emotional focus on Cyclops made it as compelling an issue of All New X-men as you could hope for. I give All New X-men #7 a 4.5 out of 5. This is Brian Michael Bendis exercising his greatest strength like Ron Jeremy at a dick-measuring contest. To that, I say whip that shit out and measure away! Nuff said!