Saturday, March 2, 2013
Xtreme X-men #11 - Counting Down Awesome
It’s no secret that comics and sci-fi regularly abuse the immutable laws of physics, biology, and common sense to tell a good story. It’s no secret that fanfiction writers will abuse those laws even further to tell even more elaborate stories, many of them ending up in homoerotic smut fics. Some stories are more guilty of this abuse than others and unlike the Vatican, they don’t have the luxury of hiding behind holy or diplomatic immunity. It is possible to be a total douche and nitpick these inconsistencies. I’ve been guilty of that in the past. But for a series like Xtreme X-men, I’m willing to take a few extra shots of whiskey and enjoy the twisted tales that ooze from Greg Pak’s imagination.
Let’s not kid ourselves. A series that has Dazzler as team leader, a gay Wolverine, and a black Cyclops in a story that involves traversing alternate universes with an Xavier-in-a-Jar is going to abuse a lot of logic. Hell, it’s the kind of abuse that would make Spock’s head explode. But that doesn’t matter because Greg Pak has found a way to make it incredibly awesome. He doesn’t just rely on the sheer ridiculousness of the series to be the appeal. He actually does maintain a common story that involves hunting down evil Charles Xaviers, being tested on a physical and emotional level, and even a little romance. And even though the story and the series is poised to end while Greg Pak jumps the Marvel ship to write Batman/Superman, it has been an awesome ride that can only be matched by riding a go-kart on an acid trip.
Keeping with the tradition of utterly obscene incarnations of these characters that usually aren’t found outside of fanfiction, Greg Pak took a page out of the Uncanny Avengers playbook and got Nazis involved in the previous issue. Dazzler and her team of X-men have faced some pretty fucked up Charles Xaviers in their quest, including an evil wizard Xavier and a My Little Pony Xavier. I could not make that shit up with all the weed in Amsterdam. But now they’re facing a Nazi Charles Xavier, who happens to be in a spat with a Japanese version of Namor. However, it isn’t as clear cut as your typical Call of Duty mission. Nazi Xavier claims to be the victim of Namor’s aggression and is trying to protect what is left of his people, which happen to reside near a sunken version of London. And as Uncanny Avengers #4 showed us, even Nazis can make valid points for being assholes.
Dazzler and her team are now stuck in between two very powerful forces that have absolutely no problems horribly maiming people and masturbating with their entrails. In Xtreme X-men #11, they end up having to rescue the innocent civilians that Nazi Xavier wasn’t lying about. I know, a Nazi telling the truth is a fucked up concept, but in Xtreme X-men you probably won’t bat an eye. On the same week when the Red Skull correctly points out all the disturbing ways America sucks, it’s pretty distressing to see Nazi’s telling the truth. They’re still assholes so Dazzler doesn’t stop attacking Nazi Xavier, leaving the safety of the civilians to her team. And you know you’ve become a strong leader when you’re willing to take on a Nazi single-handedly. But does anyone else see the irony that the characters that fight Nazi’s the most, Captain America and the unapologetically blond Dazzler, are basically the Aryans that Nazi’s love? Anyone? Or am I still drunk?
Irony aside, Nazi Xavier actually does something the Red Skull didn’t do and reminded readers of why Nazi’s suck in the first place. While Dazzler is attacking him, he gives her a brief synopsis of what happens to a world when Charles Xavier is a Nazi. This time you don’t find anything you can’t find in a Call of Duty game or a History Channel WWII documentary. A charismatic leader, who has the luxury of actually controlling minds, comes to power to save his country from corruption, invasion, and economic collapse. Basically, he’s the kind of guy the Tea Party would fucking love…except, you know, he’s a Nazi. And unlike the Red Skull, he was actually able to beat all his enemies, including Captain America. For a while, he succeeded where Hitler failed miserably. He claimed he was beloved by the free world, although he did mention that he purged his own party of people he thought were threats or just didn’t like. I’m sure it’s the kind of shit that right-wing Republicans only wish they could do so you can easily assume he was still an asshole dictator.
For a brief moment, everything is all peace, love, and Disney cartoons for everyone that isn’t a minority. Everybody had peace and order. Anything that threatened it was either dead or waiting to die in concentration camps. Then Atlantis thought this would be the perfect time to launch an attack and flood the world. Because when better to attack the surface than a time when Nazis are in charge and always looking for an excuse to blow shit up? Maybe they should have waited until hippies ruled the world. It was too late though. Xavier and his Nazi buddies blew the shit out of Atlantis in ways only asshole Nazis would. For some reason, Namor had a problem with that. And that, my friends, is why Namor wants to murder his ass. You don’t usually need an excuse to want to kill a Nazi, but it helps when you’ve got a pretty damn good one, as Namor certainly does.
Dazzler still offers no sympathy to Nazi Xavier. But she is forced to stop trying to kill him when Namor launches another attack that puts the civilians in mortal danger. For most people, saving lives and killing Nazis is a tough choice. But being the leader she’s become, Dazzler chooses to help these petrified civilians, even if they were likely brainwashed by Nazi propaganda for most of their lives. However, it doesn’t take long for them to have yet another reason to want to maim Nazi Xavier. Not surprisingly, he was pro-slavery and had a cell full of African slaves. It may have been more accurate to use Jews or gays, but I guess in this universe Nazis and the KKK have rubbed elbows (and other body parts) to favor a more racist approach. For any number of reasons, black Cyclops had a problem with this and now the race is on to see who channel their inner Captain America the fastest.
Unfortunately, Nazi hunting season is delayed by that pesky Japanese Namor who is still trying to sink the island and drown their asses. He could care less that he’s drowning innocent people as long as he kills himself a Nazi. Given what Nazi Xavier did to Atlantis, this is understandable even if it is a dick move. But Dazzler and her team aren’t in an understanding mood. So as the island is starting to crumble, they converge on Namor. Hercules adds the muscle that probably gives Wolverine a raging boner while Dazzler and Black Cyclops supply the firepower, which helps gives the readers a boner. So even if you’re not into the gay thing or voted for Rick Santorum, your dick and/or clit has no reason to not be happy.
Because of the threat posed by Namor, Dazzler and her team are essentially fighting a two-front battle. This helps add an additional element of complexity to the action, which could have easily been your typical heroes vs. Nazis gimmick. But by forcing Dazzler’s team to fight both foes instead of just one, it adds to the overall epicness of the story. It’s one thing to just fight a superpowered Nazi. It’s quite another to fight him while he’s fighting a pissed off Namor. It essentially rescinds anyone’s right to ever make a blond joke about Dazzler ever again.
But by beating Namor, they’ve effectively committed the ultimate sin in the eyes of America, short of marrying Michael Moore and becoming a spy for Iran. They helped a Nazi. While beating Namor did help keep the island from falling apart, it allowed Nazi Xavier to move in for the kill. He’s not just content with Dazzler’s team beating Namor up. He wants to kill his Japanese ass. He begins to do just that with the help of his telepathy once he’s down. Then Dazzler once again gives the finger to blond stereotypes by using her powers to guard her mind, a power which she hadn’t demonstrated before, and killing Nazi Xavier by stabbing him right in the back. I imagine there are few ways more satisfying to kill a Nazi without choking them with Hitler’s colon.
While helping him may have been necessary for their survival, the mission was still to kill another evil Xavier and Dazzler once again proved to be the antithesis of Paris Hilton by getting the job done. Hell, even Nazi Xavier is impressed, saying she would have been a great asset to an Aryan breeding program. I guess coming from a Nazi, that’s the highest compliment a woman can receive.
While Xavier is dead, Namor is still pretty roughed up. And he clearly hasn’t forgotten that it was Dazzler’s team that roughed him up. But Dazzler takes a careful and diplomatic approach in dealing with the guy who tried to sink the island. She reminds him that it was Nazi Xavier that blew up his country and it was Nazi Xavier that he wanted to kill. While he has a knack for holding a grudge (sinking entire islands definitely qualifies as an overreaction), he opts to take a rain check this time. She even offers to celebrate and/or mourn with them. He declines, indicating that this Japanese Namor may not have the same fetish for blonds that we’re used to. He leaves Dazzler’s team and the survivors. It would have been nice if he at least faked an apology to these people for nearly getting them killed, but this is Namor. Even in alternate universes, he’s not going to humble himself unless it involves a woman he wants to bone.
Later on, the adrenaline wears off and the team finally has a chance to settle with the survivors. Xavier-in-a-Jar tells the team that their mission is finally complete. They were tasked with traversing the multi-verse and killing 10 evil Xaviers and they succeeded. If it sounds anti-climatic, it is. If you think that’s really the end of it, then you must be one of those fans who sends money to Nigerian princes in hopes of recouping a lost lotto prize so this must be a sad moment for you.
Even if it isn’t, Dazzler takes some time to reflect on how far she’s come. When this series started, she was just another pretty blond who occasionally showed up in the X-books to give Emma Frost a breather. Greg Pak has turned her into a kick-ass leader and the thought of just going back to her world and back to being some Lady Gaga wannabe doesn’t sit right. This leads her to having a nice moment with black Cyclops and by nice moment I mean they decide to swap a little spit. It’s an image that would make the KKK or Tony Perkins recoil with disgust, a pretty blond kissing a black man who isn’t a star athlete or rapper. And while I’m all for hot blonds bringing the races closer together, this moment felt a little random and a bit hallow. Granted, Dazzler did admire black Cyclops in the previous issue. But the kiss still feels a bit rushed. There’s no sense of high drama or anything. It could have been much more powerful for the both of them, but it ends up falling a little flat. But still, it’s Dazzler getting a little action and yet more proof that the power of Cyclops’s penis span’s universes.
While the Cyclops/Dazzler kiss was rushed, things get even more contrived at the end. Remember that anti-climatic moment where Xavier-in-a-Jar just says they’ve succeeded and can go home? Well, there’s a reason you shouldn’t have been too shocked, namely because it was total bullshit. For some reason it takes Sage’s supercomputer mind way too fucking long to figure out they’ve killed only 9 evil Xaviers. That leaves one more. Then in a very sudden and very random twist, Xavier-in-a-Jar reveals that Evil Wizard Xavier isn’t dead and Nazi Xavier comes back to live to make a super triple-powered evil Xavier. Even if you read that previous sentence over completely, it’ll still make no sense. Greg Pak has shown a tendency to throw in major twists during his Xtreme X-men run. Hell, this is the guy who made an evil My Little Pony Charles Xavier. Yet he’s usually succeeded in having those twists not feel too forced. This is one that is just thrown out there as if it were a blindfolded baseball pitcher. While it does hint at a very eventful finale for this series, it just doesn’t have the impact of previous twists.
Going back to my point about this series regularly abusing certain laws, I threw common sense in the mix for a reason. Lately, I’ve been trying to place a greater emphasis on comics making at least half a fuck worth of sense. It’s that utter lack of coherence that both ruins stories like Avengers vs. X-men and earns you a DUI if you try driving home from a bar at three in the morning. Greg Pak has had to work harder than most writers to ensure his stories make some level of sense. How else can you get around My Little Pony version of Charles Xavier? For the most part, he has succeeded, but the ending of this issue leaves plenty to be desired.
Now I’m not going to say it was overly shocking to find out that their mission wasn’t over. I knew as soon as Dazzler’s team started relaxing and hooking up for a little post-victory sex, shit was about to go very badly. But aside from Sage's supercomputer of a brain taking so long to surmise that they had only killed 9 Charles Xaviers, the sudden emergence of two more evil Charles Xaviers crosses that incredibly blurred line this series has crafted in the logic department. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I need to read this comic sober a few times. But the ending with Xavier-in-a-Jar just felt too random and even in comics where crazy shit is the only law of the land, that’s just a bit too crazy.
As crazy as it was, it didn’t detract from the well-organized battle between Nazi Xavier and Namor. Pak utilized a solid balance of action and conflict where Dazzler’s team struggled to figure out who they would help. He didn’t have them pick a side so-to-speak, but he didn’t have them twiddling their thumbs like dipshits either. Dazzler once again showed that she’s become a competent leader and led her team in a way that resulted in a successful mission, at least temporarily. They killed the evil Charles Xavier and saved a lot of innocent people in the process. That aspect of this comic was well-done.
Pak even did a good job playing up some of the dramatic elements. He’s taken Dazzler through a lot of character development since this story began. I’m glad that he had her actually step back and reflect on that. It certainly sets the stage for Dazzler to take on a very different role once she returns to 616 (assuming the writers don’t just forget about her like they did with Tessa). But throwing in that kiss with black Cyclops was a bit underdone. Granted, she did check him out in the previous issue. It just felt as though not enough was done to build towards the kiss. You don’t need to build that shit up when you’re doing a porno and since nobody showed their tits in this issue, I think that build-up was necessary.
Overall, this issue was still solid in that it moved the story forward and set the stage for the home stretch for this series. Dazzler’s mission is almost over and even if it didn’t make a lot of sense, Greg Pak made it clear that killing the last Charles Xavier is going to be her greatest challenge yet. In addition, any time a Nazi loses in a story, it’s a great “America! Fuck Yeah!” moment in a week where Uncanny Avengers already gave us our fair share. It was an issue that still left much to be desired and with Xtreme X-men crossing over in to the upcoming X-Terminator event, it has plenty of room to make up for it. So I give Xtreme X-men #11 a 3 out of 5. Another Nazi has fallen, but now we’re back to evil wizards and magic. Which would you rather face? At least with a Nazi, you can shoot them and they won’t turn the bullets into a giant dildo. Nuff said!