Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Uncanny X-men #2 - Heart-To-Heart Awesome
I imagine having to work closely with your ex is more awkward than having your prostate exam filmed in IMAX and showed in 3D in front of your whole family on your wedding day. There's a good reason why God gave human beings the ability to feel bitter and scorned. When two people have loved, boned, and lost their capacity to coordinate is complicated to a point where you would have a better chance teaching a cricket advanced calculus than finding a way to make it work. Bitterness is nature's way of telling us shit isn't working out and you'll only make it worse by trying.
Unfortunately, Cyclops and Emma Frost don't have the luxury of moving to different hemispheres and expunging all memories of one another through bitterness, alcohol, and revenge sex. After the events of Avengers vs. X-men, their long-standing relationship that had Marvel had been pimping like a hooker with fresh breast implants for nearly a decade came to an end. There's just no coming back from lashing out at one another while high on cosmic force. I also imagine that Emma mind-humping Namor while he laid waste to Wakanda didn't help either. Brian Michael Bendis said outright when his relaunch of Uncanny X-men was first announced that Cyclops and Emma Frost would no longer be romantically involved. Yet they would be stuck on the same team because when you're a fugitive and your powers are fucked up, you don't have the luxury of not teaming up with your ex.
I admit I never thought Marvel would do this because for so long they seemed hopelessly intent on making Cyclops/Emma the number one fuck buddies in the Marvel universe. I wouldn't have had a problem with this if they actually did what they did for other famous comic book couples and built up their relationship. Instead, they decided to make it one long re-run of Two and a Half Men, consisting mostly of bed scenes ripped off from old pornos and one-liners that essentially robbed both characters of their romantic credibility. Now I'm all for tits, asses, dicks, and butts in my comic books. But if the intent was to make Cyclops and Emma's love more mature and powerful than Cyclops and Jean, then that's not the way to go about it. That would be like trying to make Jessica Alba hotter by rubbing shit on her face. I made many rants on this blog about how unwilling Marvel was to create any tension with this couple. Yet here I am, my jaw open and my dick hard at their decision to break them up. And for that, I applaud them.
But as surprised I was to see Cyclops and Emma break up, I was equally surprised to see them remain on the same team. All New X-men and Uncanny X-men #1 show that they are taking part in a new mutant revolution. In addition to ending their relationship, Avengers vs. X-men kick started the mutant race again. And Cyclops isn't dicking around. He's taking a far more revolutionary approach because he doesn't think the human race is going to react in a calm, rational manner in dealing with the sudden re-emergence of the mutant race after having gotten so used to dealing with them as an endangered species. He's not wrong, but he's still being a dick about it. That was the main reason why Magneto visited SHIELD in Uncanny X-men #1 with the intent of helping Cyclops lose more than his access to Emma Frost's pussy. So in a team with a bitter ex-girlfriend and a bitter teammate, Cyclops's revolution is already on shaky ground.
Uncanny X-men #2 takes plenty of time to explore these shaky grounds on which Cyclops is building his revolution. We first explore the inner musings of a pissed off ex-girlfriend. While I’m sure my ex-girlfriends probably thought more about where they would hide the dead bodies, Emma Frost dwells on how utterly broken she is. And Bendis doesn’t skimp on the details either. She reflects on how she fucked her powers up and how she fucked her relationship with Cyclops up by listening to the wet spot in her panties when she was around Namor. She really is broken in that the life she had before Avengers vs. X-men is in complete ruin.
But as dramatic as this musing is, a more striking musing is that she actually takes the time to blame Tony Stark for the shit that happened with the Phoenix Force. This is the first time any character has actually noted that it was Mr. I-Shoot-Shit-With-Big-Guns-And-I’m-Not-Referring-To-My-Penis who fucked the Phoenix up. And it comes from someone better known for her bra size than her brain. For that, I applaud Emma Frost for crafting the most rational musings of an ex-girlfriend in the history of humanity. That and she still has a nice rack.
Eventually, Cyclops confronts her before those thoughts of hiding dead bodies can enter her mind. From here, she and Cyclops have a true heart-to-heart. It’s a conversation that was long overdue and one that was building since the end of Avengers vs. X-men. They essentially clear the air in that they make clear that they’re not going to be seeing each other naked anymore, but they will make an effort to work together for the sake of these new mutants. Bendis doesn’t leave any Matt Fraction-style ambiguity here in that he has Cyclops and Emma make clear that they can’t get back together after the shit that happened in Avengers vs. X-men. And it makes perfect sense too. You just can’t go back from ripping cosmic forces out of one another and boning other people in your mind while they lay waste to a country. But having been together and exchanged an untold amount of bodily fluids, they trust each other and know they can help one another.
Reading this conversation gave me a tingly feeling I usually don’t get without a blowjob and a bag of premium Mexican weed. Having gone on so many drunken rants about the flaws in the Cyclops/Emma relationship that have emerged over the past few years, it’s actually a great relief to see them part ways in such a clean, amicable way. None of my post-breakup conversations with ex’s have ever gone this well. Hell, most didn’t end without some kind of property damage. But even though Bendis already made it clear that the relationship is over, there’s a certain power in seeing it truly end on-panel. While I know the Cyclops/Emma fanboys may be bawling like someone shoved a peeled onion up their ass, it is a historic moment. Cyclops and Emma as a couple are no more. Excuse me while I raise my bottle of Jack Daniels to commemorate this moment.
Like many powerful moments in comics, there’s an inevitable buzzkill and it’s not uncommon for a very disturbed teenager to be involved. This is certainly no exception. After Cyclops and Emma have their moment, Magik shows up to let them know their new students are ready for a little orientation. Unlike the others, her powers weren’t fucked up by the Phoenix Force and somehow she ended up becoming even more creepy. Even Cyclops and Emma concede she’s more fucked up than any teenage girl who hasn’t caught her boyfriend making out with her father. She too agrees that it’s good that Cyclops and Emma aren’t together anymore, but I’m not sure how much weight I would give the opinion of a pretty blond who rubs elbows with demons. I’ll overlook a lot of flaws in pretty girls, but Magik is one of the few that is more likely to make a man cringe rather than give him a boner.
We then shift from a dramatic and heart-felt conversation to something more pragmatic and less gay. Going all the way back to All New X-men, Cyclops and his team have recruited a number of new mutants such as Eva, Christopher, Benjamin, and the latest being Fabio (a Mexican teenager not to be confused with the hot guy women of the 90s wanted to bone). Having gone through the trouble of turning an old Weapon X Facility into a brank spankin’ new Xavier Institute, they give these new mutants a hint at what they’re in for.
They start by reminding them of the Sentinel attack in the previous issue, which offers a nice sense of continuity in the story. Then they point out that they’re not alone. They’re the first of a new generation of mutants that is poised to populate the world like Evander Holyfield’s illegitimate kids. It offers a nice overview of what these kids are now caught up in. Since this is still only the second issue of this latest forced relaunch, it’s a nice touch in terms of setting the stage for this series.
And beyond the bigger picture of mutant relations, Cyclops even gives them a brief overview of their new home away from home. We already know they’ve been constructing a new Xavier Institute since the beginning of All New X-men. We don’t know how the fuck they manage that when they’re powers are broken and they’re wanted fugitives. I guess when you’ve got Magneto, demon-loving teenage girl, a rich ex-girlfriend with big tits you can pull strings. But given how quickly Wolverine slapped his Jean Grey Institute together, I won’t belabor the how and just marvel at the finished product. It may seem like needless exposition, taking the time to depict the layout of the new base when most readers could give a milliliter of wolf piss about such details. But I think that kind of attention to detail is what separates good comics from awesome comics. You can accuse Brian Bendis of a lot of things like being way too bald for a white guy, but you can’t accuse him of not paying attention to details in a story.
But as nice as their new digs are, the new mutants express concern about their families and the lives they’re leaving behind. Some are all too eager to get the fuck away from their boring ass lives. Fabio mentioned he was selling corndogs on a stick before his powers kicked in. Who would want to go back to that? But others, like Eva, still have a family and want to stay in touch with them. Cyclops makes it clear they’re not prisoners and can leave whenever they want. And unlike the cult leaders that demand all the cute young girls sleep in his bed to find God, he actually means it. So with Magik’s help, they create a few portals so they can check in with some of the insanely worried families. Again, it’s the kind of detail you don’t usually see in an X-men comic. Usually, when someone becomes a mutant, it’s all “fuck the family and let’s kill giant robots!” It adds yet another nice personal touch that really helps give this comic a unique feel.
While visiting a family may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, Magneto is in a position to fuck it up. At the end of the previous issue, Bendis revealed in one of the least surprising twists of all time that Magneto was secretly coordinating with SHIELD to bring about Cyclops’s downfall. And for some reason Cyclops wasn’t suspicious in the slightest when Magneto shaved his head and opted to stay behind while they left. While it’s reasonable to assume that his conversation with SHIELD took place before the sentinel attack in the first issue, we still don’t get any clarification on the sequence of events that led to him shaving his head. But it is another instance of Bendis not skimping on the details and taking advantage of an established plot, as unsurprising as it may be.
The team arrives in Australia and they manage to avoid being bitten by one of the many poisonous snakes that inhabit the County that God clearly wanted to keep uninhabited. The newbies are still getting over the novelty of teleporting through Limbo. One of the students, Benjamin, actually seems turned on by it and seems to indicate that he wants to be the pitchfork to Magik’s devil-loving fetish. That’s a very poor dick joke, but you get what I mean. Magik does tell him to keep it in his pants because the point of the visit is to talk to Eva’s family. It makes for another nice moment where Eva reunites with her mother. It looks like she may even invite Cyclops’s team in for tea. It’s as pleasant a visit as they could have hoped for.
But we all know where this shit is going. Anyone who has followed the X-men in any capacity knows they don’t have pleasant visits anywhere. At some point they’re going to be attacked by giant robots, evil geneticists, or religious bigots. They might as well a deer in Ted Nugant’s back yard. However, this time they’re confronted by a very different threat. Before they left, Magneto informed SHIELD of where they were going and before they could even get sun-burned by the Australian sun the fucking Avengers show up. It’s another stern reminder that Cyclops is still a wanted fugitive because nobody wants to blame Tony fucking Stark for shooting big guns and waving his dick in the face of a cosmic force. Now I could argue in several blog posts why the Avengers are total assholes for wanting to throw Cyclops in a jail cell while Wolverine and Wanda run free, but I’ll save that for another case of whiskey. I would much rather just entertain thoughts at how fucked up this battle is going to be in the next issue.
If the first issue of this ridiculously forced re-launch of Uncanny X-men was intended to offer a general taste of Uncanny X-men, this second issue dug deep into the shit-stained bowels of the personalities behind this book. And remarkably, what emerges smells less like shit and more like scented rose petals carefully placed on Jennifer Lawrence’s tits. Whereas the previous issue gave you giant robots and a pseudo-twist that was less surprising than the number of people Seth MacFarlane pissed off with his Oscar jokes, this issue addressed those smaller issues that usually get overlooked in between battles with giant robots.
The conversation with Cyclops and Emma was the highlight and taking the time to visit the families of their new recruits perfectly complemented the theme of adding a personal touch. In some ways it got a bit too personal, almost to the point that it feels like it belonged in a gynecology office. But Bendis made this issue awesome by presenting the characters in a profoundly raw manner. These aren’t just X-men. They’re people with issues too fucked up for Dr. Phil, Jerry Springer, and most (but not all) reality TV shows.
Beyond the personal elements, this issue was wonderfully concise in how it followed the events of the previous issue. In addition to recruiting new mutants, Cyclops’s new team has to go through the fun of teaching a bunch of hormonal teenagers how to manage their powers. When one of them seems to be fantasizing about boning a demon-loving blond, you know you’ve got an uphill battle. But as Cyclops pointed out himself, Emma Frost is a very good and very competent teacher. Her ability to reach young minds is only equaled by her ability to cause boners. In addition, Bendis even took the time to give readers a layout of the new Xavier Institute. Unlike Wolverine’s Jean Grey Institute, it doesn’t have the architecture or style of a Lady Gaga concert nor does it reinforce his obscenely unhealthy obsession with a woman he never got to bone. It may seem trivial, but it’s these little details that make good comics great and great comics ball-bustingly awesome.
I get that some readers will probably be bored senseless or not appreciate the decompressed, detail-oriented story-telling Brian Bendis is using here. I’m sure many of those readers will read this issue and say “To hell with all this talking shit! Either show us your boobs or fight more giant robots!” Look, if you want that kind of Michael Bay-inspired action, go drop some LSD and watch the Matrix. But it’s not inaccurate to say that this issue was a setup issue in some sense that it just set the stage for Magneto’s betrayal to lead the Avengers right to Cyclops. It just completely ignores all those special personal moments that actually make readers give a damn about what happens to these characters. But if some people can ignore laws, facts, and birth certificates I guess some people can ignore those special little things that make comics awesome.
At this point, I’m still of the opinion that All New X-men is superior to Uncanny X-men, but not by much. Uncanny X-men is still behind in terms of awesome, but so close that it could smell a wet fart. I still have some reservations about little details like Magneto being bald, where the new uniforms came from, and how Magneto got back from SHIELD custody. But those are not the kind of details that are necessary to keep this book from earning my highest praise. I give Uncanny X-men #2 a 5 out of 5. If nothing else about this comic appeals to you, at least celebrate that Emma Frost and Cyclops are now single and ready to mingle! The race is on. Who will they bone next? I’m sure Bendis has plans and I’m equally sure fanfiction writers will have something horribly depraved. Either way, it’s a great time to be an X-man fan and/or to have a boner. Nuff said!