Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Uncanny X-men #4 - From One (Awesome) Cliffhanger To Another
What is it about hot blonds that causes a man's brain and penis to wage a war for which there is never a victory, yet still a mess that sometimes equal parts blood and semen? Even the men who have more exotic tastes in women have to admit blonds get a lot of attention. How else could a talentless bimbo like Paris Hilton whose only claim to fame was coming out of the twat of a rich man’s wife and a sub-par sex tape ever gain any sort of notoriety? For that reason, I don’t think anyone should be shocked when comic characters that happen to be hot blonds also gain notoriety.
As part of the beautiful convergence that Brian Michael Bendis has crafted between All New X-men and Uncanny X-men, he has approached Cyclops’s pitch to the students of the Jean Grey Institute from many different angles. The stage was set in Uncanny X-men #3 with an equally beautiful act of pwnage when one of Cyclops’s newest recruits, Tempest, turned over her Captain America fan membership and froze him and the Avengers in time. This is what allowed for all those amazing moments in All New X-men #10, which I gave a perfect 5 out of 5. But Bendis is not done with this yet! The man is like farm boy on crystal meth milking a cow. He’ll squeeze that succulent tit until he’s extracted every bit of awesome from it. And why shouldn't he? When has anything bad ever come from squeezing tits that weren't part of sexual harassment lawsuits?
All New X-men #10 focused on Cyclops and the reactions of the Original Five, as well as the Jean Grey Institute staff. By and large, most were pretty pissed off that Cyclops would dare to start a new school named after Charles Xavier or do anything to try and help the world after he tried to turn it into a utopia with the Phoenix. Because for some reason it’s okay for Jean Grey to blow up a planet with 5 billion innocent aliens while drunk on Dark Phoenix, but it’s not okay for him to kill Charles Xavier when he’s blaming him for shit he didn’t even do. I don’t get it either, but their bullshit reaction was only part of the story.
We didn’t really get to see how the rest of the revolutionary team’s reaction to confronting the Jean Grey Institute. They all know the importance of adding to their manpower and pwning their former teammates that have ditched them, but was that all that happened behind the scenes? Are we left to fill in the blanks with imagination, acid trips, and fanfiction? Marvel should know by now that most fans that try to do that will inevitably come up with something that would make Jack Kirby throw up in his grave. So with that in mind, Uncanny X-men #4 takes on this already powerful scene from a new angle.
It begins by replaying that fateful scene of Cyclops’s first confrontation of the Jean Grey Institute, but instead focuses on the activities of the hot blonds, as if fanboys ever needed help focusing on hot blonds. The hot blonds in question are the Stepford Cuckoos and Emma Frost. And for reasons that some readers will already know is a shitty reason, the Cuckoos are pissed off at her for not responding to them when they tried to reach out to her telepathically (which if you read All New X-men #6 sober, you should see). There’s a dumb blond joke in here somewhere, but I’ll save those for my high school reunion. But they don’t express their outrage in a hormonal hissy fit like you would expect some women to do. They do it in a more subtle way, using their telepathy to have this painfully awkward conversation. This allows the debate with Cyclops and the Jean Grey Institute to go on without the high-pitched bitching of three teenage girls. It both ensures the coherence of the scene and won’t bring back any painful memories of certain ex-girlfriends.
The Cuckoos take their bitching to the telepathic plane where they use a trick that Emma herself taught them to fuck with her. And unlike before, Emma isn’t in a position to defend herself because her powers are on the fritz. But she manages to still humble her student/daughters/clones. She allows them to peer into her memories and relive the moment in Avengers vs. X-men when Cyclops attacked her, ripped the Phoenix Force out of her, and left her for dead. And this leaves a hell of an impression to say the least.
Now for some reason, the Cuckoos didn’t know about this or didn’t give enough of a damn to confront her when she was a prisoner in the Jean Grey Institute. They just assumed she ditched them for no reason like some asshole parents/teachers/mentors are prone to do. It’s not an unreasonable assumption if you went to my high school, but by revealing to the Cuckoos what happened it both humbled them and added some context to her actions. It helps to both give context to their decision to join the Jean Grey institute in All New X-men #10 and humiliates them in a way that only Emma Frost could manage. It may give you a boner as well, but that’s just a bonus.
But this comic doesn’t just focus on the events we already saw unfold in All New X-men #10. There was other shit going on behind the scenes that still tied right into it. When Cyclops’s team left to visit the Jean Grey Institute, they also left behind a bunch of teenage mutants without any supervision. Anyone who has ever been to a house party knows that very little good can come of that. These young mutants from different backgrounds and countries are still fighting the urge to not throw up after all the head-spinning ways their lives have changed. But now that they’re in a new school, the focus quickly shifts from understanding their mutant powers to calling dibs on dorms. It’s somewhat basic, but it’s very well-done and shows that even with mutant powers, teenagers will still be teenagers. In other words, be afraid. Be very afraid!
Back with the battle of the blonds, Emma and the Cuckoos get more serious. Emma starts talking about the Original Five X-men and why the hell they’re not in their own time. The Stepford Cuckoos give her the quickest explanation possible while also revealing that they’ve been secretly reading their thoughts without them noticing. It’s a dick move, but something you would totally expect from the daughters of Emma Frost. And as you would expect, the conversation quickly turns to Jean Grey because who wouldn’t want to talk about the woman whose widower you boned?
However, this reveals some interesting tidbits. Apparently, the Cuckoos have been reading her mind as well without her knowing. And they point out that as a 16-year-old girl, she’s hardly the same Jean Grey that regularly clashed with Emma over who had access to Cyclops’s penis. That’s to be expected and is a major theme of the O5 coming to the future in the first place. Moreover, they reveal that a lot of her thoughts are based on how she fell in love with Cyclops when he grew up to kill Charles Xavier. It’s an interesting perspective, that this is what she’s thinking about and not Wolverine fantasizing about her in deeply pornographic ways. But what’s more remarkable is that Emma urges them NOT to fuck with her. For some reason, she doesn’t want her down daughters to fuck with this woman who she hates when she’s young, vulnerable, and fucked up. That’s not something I would expect of Emma Frost, which makes me all the more curious as to what will happen if she and O5 Jean ever have a chat! (Mr. Bendis, if you’re reading this, I swear I will wax your head and shine your shoes with the sweat of Swedish supermodels if you make this happen!)
It’s a very appealing thought, Emma Frost confronting O5 Jean Grey. But you know what is also appealing? Watching teenagers make fools of themselves. That whole lack-of-supervision thing that flies in the face of the immutable laws of the universe caught up with them. One of the students, Fabio, tried looking for a phone and found the Danger Room. I want to say that’s a bit of a stretch, but for a teenage boy I think he’s lucky he didn’t set off a bomb. Cyclops and his team are somewhat annoyed, but visibly entertained when they come back to see them freaking the fuck out as they fight dinosaurs, dragons, and aliens. All they need is a beer and a bag of weed and they could be entertained for the weekend.
Since they were clearly out of beer, Cyclops does stop the Danger Room simulation and calmly explains to them that what they experienced wasn’t real and just running around pushing buttons is a bad idea. They’re still teenagers. It’s probably going to take a few more rounds with a T-Rex to get the message across. He also explains that they kind of have to maintain a low profile because they’re kind of still fugitives. He’s very tactful with his words, but again they’re teenagers. They were probably too distracted by Emma Frost’s breasts to care.
But in addition to this perfectly valid explanation, we get something a bit random, which has been rare for a Brian Michael Bendis comic. Magik suddenly erupts in a mix of hellfire and PMS. It’s not entirely clear what happens here, but given how her powers have undergone some fucked up changes like the rest of the Phoenix Five it’s not completely unreasonable to see something fucked up come of it. It’s still somewhat random though and really doesn’t add much to the ongoing plot.
Thankfully, the plot doesn’t stay too random. While Cyclops contemplates how to deal with Magik, some of the students take a moment to contemplate their new place in this school (and presumably change their underwear after their first bout in the Danger Room). We get a nice moment with Tempest and Benjamin, who wonder just how much trust they should put in a guy like Cyclops. The man is a fugitive and he may or may not have killed the guy he named the school after, but he’s still giving them a chance to make something of themselves. I know I give a lot of shit to teenagers, but I don’t deny they are emotional creatures. They do have their moments and this is definitely one of them.
Later on, Cyclops and his revolutionary team return from the Jean Grey Institute again. And this time, they bring with them some new students. Now at the end of All New X-men #10, we had an infuriatingly awesome cliffhanger about who from the O5 was joining him. Well now we know to it is.
It’s O5 Angel! The guy who Jean Grey mind-wiped and who didn’t even want to be in the future to begin with has joined Cyclops’s revolutionary team. The possibilities are as endless as they are awesome. It makes perfect sense that he would be the one to join, but the way Bendis set it up still makes it surprising. For that, I bow to the brilliance within Marvel’s brightest and baldest head. The only thing that sort of ruins the moment is yet another random outburst from Magik. It’s not quite as bad as that moment when your mom walks in on you with her Victoria’s Secret catalog and a bottle of lube, but it does sort of fuck up the flow of the story. That doesn’t make it any less awesome though.
Going back to my question about hot blonds, I think Brian Michael Bendis provided a response that only Hugh Hefner could have done better. Cyclops’s team now has not one, but four new blonds on a team with a Mexican, an Australian, a black guy, and a shape shifter. So rest easy, Fox News! The demographics have once again been adjusted to something you’re more comfortable with and now you don’t have to claim this is another part of Saul Alinsky’s next plot. And for those not affiliated or on the payroll of Fox News, we have an expanded roster featuring some familiar characters that we expected to join and one I’m sure will make Wolverine castrate himself in frustration. In other words, it’s a win-win!
Once again, Bendis does a masterful job of making sure Uncanny X-men sync’s up perfectly with All New X-men. And he did it in a way that didn’t involve basically retelling the same story in a different comic. That’s like walking out of an economics lecture at a Christian university feeling like you just got a lap dance in a Miami strip club. That shit is hard to do, but it’s the kind of quality that has helped make Uncanny X-men and All New X-men awesome in a perfectly coordinated way.
Part of what gave this comic an appeal that was not present in All New X-men #10 was the side-plot following the new mutants. They proved once again that leaving a group of teenagers alone for any extended period of time is bound to cause trouble and it can be pretty fucking hilarious when you throw in lots of pretty buttons, no booze, and no common sense. But beyond just seeing teenagers act foolish, we also got to see some of these new characters actually adjust to their new surroundings. Their lives have been turned inside out, upside down, and shat all over after becoming mutants. They’re still trying to wrap their head around it all, but they’re already starting to develop a sense of identity in this new school. And having three hot blond triplets and a member of the O5 X-men can only help and/or put them in a situation where teenagers act like idiots again. Whatever the outcome, it’s bound to be very entertaining.
And like All New X-men #10, this issue ended on a juicy cliffhanger. But unlike All New X-men #10, it didn’t have quite the impact. It was a given that sooner or later, Magik’s demon-loving persona would catch up with her. It had already been teased a few times in earlier issues, like when Emma Frost of all people pointed out that Magik scared the shit out of her. That’s like the leader of North Korea calling you a crazy motherfucker. It’s bound to blow up in a way that is either nuclear and/or related to the fires of hell. However, these flare-ups or whatever the fuck they were didn’t have the impact because it was just too random. It’s like giving a lecture on physics and then teaching the class how to make pot brownies. It’s fun, but it’s a bit random and doesn’t make for very coherent storytelling. But I guess with the aid of pot brownies you’ll still laugh and be shocked on some levels.
Without the aid of pot brownies, however, you may just be confused by the ending. Even if you didn’t see it coming, it just feels like it was cut and pasted into the story. But it doesn’t take away from all the other entertaining aspects of this issue. We got a nice dramatic moment with the Stepford Cuckoos and Emma Frost. We learned who joined Cyclops’s revolution. And we got to see teenagers make themselves look foolish. If it were a Friday night, it would have been the same as getting drunk at your favorite bar, getting laid by the hottest woman in that bar, and watching the asshole who threw dog shit at you in high school get arrested and piss himself. In that sense I give Uncanny X-men #4 a 4.5 out of 5. It’s beautifully crafted and flows like Scarlett Johannsen’s hair, but the small random bits may keep you from getting a full boner. But if you have pot brownies on hand, I guess that’s not an issue. Damn I’m hungry now. Nuff said!