Monday, April 1, 2013
Wolverine and the X-men #27 - Classes in Awesome
There are some things you're just better off not remembering. If you go to a frat party in college, get blackout level drunk, and wake up in another zip code with a fat transvestite prostitute in your bed and a dead goat on your floor then you're probably better off going to your grave not knowing the details. The same logic applies to comics, albeit with less shame and strange bite-marks on your balls. Sometimes you have a great story and a great arc, but there's one particular issue that is best left completely ignored. You could just make up a story at how the editors got drunk or dealt some bad blow and just skipped an issue by mistake. It's probably for the best.
I think this is the best way to approach Wolverine and the X-men #26. It was basically the late-term aborted love-child of an otherwise great arc that was developing in the pages of Wolverine and the X-men. There's so much awesome potential for a story about Wolverine taking the Jean Grey students to give them a memorable lesson in survival. Because if you can survive an unforgiving jungle full of dinosaurs, raptors, and assorted Jurassic Park rejects, then handling killer robots should be a breeze. It was off to a great start, but then Jason Aaron had to completely ditch that story and go off on a completely unnecessary tangent from the pages of Wolverine Origins and tell us the story about Dog Logan. It's like a sequel to Battlefield Earth. It's completely unnecessary and ruins what was otherwise a fine concept, minus the corruptive influence of the Church of Scientology.
Now I'm all for stories about Wolverine's sordid past. It's been the basis for so many great X-men stories in the past. But like masturbation, there's a time and a place for it. You don't tell a Wolverine story in the middle of an arc that has little to do with it in the same way you don't masturbate in a crowded subway car. It's best to just hold your dick, be patient, and wait for a more appropriate time and/or a strip club.
But as disappointing as the Dog Logan interlude was, there's still a worthwhile story to follow and damn it I'm going to try and enjoy it! So with help from a case of whiskey, a fresh batch of weed I got from some shady guy named Fabio, and a little paint thinner I've done my best to kill the brain cells associated with Wolverine and the X-men #26 so I can enjoy Wolverine and the X-men #27 without it's influence. I'm not sure how well it worked, but I've been peeing blood for three days and for some reasons there are semen stains on my neighbors cat. I'm not going to speculate how it got there, but I will use what brain cells I have left to assess Wolverine and the X-men #27.
There's no needless flashback this time to get things going. Instead, we get something we probably should have gotten in the first issue of this arc, which was a quick glimpse of the rest of the Jean Grey Institute staff. Like any ordinary school, they get together in the teacher's lounge and presumably bitch about which students they would like to throw out the nearest window. At least, that's what the teachers did in my school. But they're basically just lofting about, wondering why Wolverine hasn't checked in. They all make the shit-brained assumption that he's okay and has everything under control. Because taking a bunch of teenagers to the Savage Land with a guy who has poor impulse control and a knack for drawing trouble can't possibly end in disaster, can it? Perhaps they have more in common with the teachers at my old school in that they smoke all the confiscated weed they get. Even if it's fucking stupid, at least Jason Aaron takes the time to acknowledge that the rest of the staff is aware of Wolverine's activities, as blissfully ignorant it may be.
All readers really need to know about the previous issue is that Dog Logan blames everything on Wolverine the same way the Nazis blame the Jews and managed to tie him up in adamantium restraints while he goes off to torment his students. This doesn't seem like too fair a fight because when we last saw them (and they were completely ignored in the previous issue, mind you) they were basically handling themselves as you would expect of a bunch of teenagers, namely without maturity or efficacy of any kind. But while they completely rejected Kid Omega's attempt to be a leader (and who could blame them?), they aren't fucking up as much as you would expect a normal group of teenagers. After all, they do have the benefits of superpowers.
It also helps that some of them received pep talks from Wolverine prior to their arrival in the Savage Land. In the same way Wolverine chatted with some of the mutants a couple issues ago, he did the same with the likes of Genesis and the new girl, Sprite (the mutant not the drink). He basically did a little motivating or at least tried to get Genesis to ignore the fact that Fantomex basically liked about his life from the beginning. But that didn't stop Genesis for taking on a hoard of angry Neanderthals or getting some playful flirtation from Sprite. He may be the incarnation of a mutant tyrant, but he's still a teenager and a teenagers urge to bone is just as strong as their urge to survive.
Other students are managing as best they can without a leader or the typical common sense that usually comes along with being an adult. Kid Omega may have failed at being a leader, but he's still an omega level psychic. That makes him a pretty capable, albeit reckless force for survival. But in the spirit of making shit even harder for teenagers without forcing them to take standardized tests, they have to face even more than just dinosaurs. They also happen to encounter an army of killer robots looking to dissect them and measure their genitals. No, that's not a joke. They actually say that shit. See? I'm not the only one that makes dick jokes about comics! Suck it, One Million Moms!
As fun as dick jokes may be, this shit is pretty random. Jason Aaron is known for throwing those kinds of things in his comics, but he usually has limits. I admit this confused me after I finished laughing at the dick joke, but he does at least try to explain where these robots came form. Apparently, they were sent at the guidance of a guy named Iron Mask. He's exactly what you think he is. And if you think he's some deranged Clint Eastwood wannabe with a bunch of cos-players who happen to have robots at their disposal, then congratulations you're both right and we have the same pot dealer!
It's fun, but fucked up. I make a strong distinction between comics you can read drunk and comics you have to read sober. Some comics have a twisted theme and that's fine, but if shit is random then just can't read it drunk even if it is awesome. Now Iron Mask seems way more appealing than Dog Logan ever did, but it is still pretty damn random. At the very least, we get to see Shark Girl take the pep talk she got from Wolverine and put it to good use. Because when you're a hot Brazilian chick that is part shark, you have no excuse not to be awesome.
Whether Iron Mask was just a convenient ploy or part of a greater scheme, Dog Logan takes full advantage of it by stepping into the fight and offering to help the students. It's not enough to just hurt and torment them. He doesn't just need to piss Wolverine off. He has to one-up his ass. And if he can show that he's a more capable teacher, then that will both piss him off and humiliate him. It may sound needlessly elaborate, but speaking as someone who knows how cunning bullies can be I can attest to this tactic. Armed with his weapons from the future, Dog Logan leads the way with the Jean Grey Institute students and even helps further discredit Wolverine's credentials as a teacher by revealing that he killed their father. He left the part out where he said his father was a complete asshole, but I guess lying to teenagers is a vital skill for any teacher.
Dog Logan's lesson appears to be going well and setting the stage for more Wolverine humiliation, but Iron Mask and his Clint Eastwood cos-players aren't too thrilled about Dog using them to act out his sibling rivalry. He's just an honest thug looking to make a living poaching dinosaurs. I'm not sure what kind of black market there are for dinosaurs, but I guess in the Marvel universe some people want to make burgers out of them. So to turn the tide, he decides to team up with the neanderthals that the students were beating up on earlier. They figure that a random partnership between Wolverine's wayward brother and his dip-shit students requires an equally random partnership. It's twisted logic, but in a Jason Aaron comic it's perfectly reasonable.
And it works too. Dog Logan's Wolverine pwnage takes a very bad turn when he and the Jean Grey students start getting bitch-slapped by a bunch of cavemen and wild west wannabes. I'm pretty sure that if Wolverine was there to see it, he would laugh his ass off and say "Not so easy teaching teenagers, is it motherfucker?" I admit I would probably do the same. It's not good for Dog's revenge and it's certainly not good for the students, who are basically caught in the crossfire. This was just supposed to be a simple lesson in survival in an unforgiving dinosaur-laden wasteland. I mean who aside from a six-year-old with common sense could have figured out that it could have gone this horribly wrong?
At the very least, it results in Kid Omega getting punched in the face. This alone makes the comic worth buying because who doesn't enjoy seeing a doughe-bag get punched in the face? That doesn't solve the problem of him putting these kids in the crossfire of these wild west assholes or make prove that he's better than Wolverine in the slightest. All it does is piss him off enough to say, "Fuck it! I'm just gonna kill you all and hope that'll solve my problems!" It makes for a rather unsatisfying ending, even if it does result in Kid Omega being punched in the face. But compared to how little this arc has done to make anyone give three fifteenths of a shit about Dog Logan, it's still servicable.
When you purposefully kill brain cells, it usually helps to have a damn good reason. An open bar at a private party in Mardi Gras is right up there with a good reason. And making up for a piss poor comic in an arc is another. And I think this issue, while still leaving a few things to be desired, constitutes a pretty good reason. After reading this issue, I think those brain cells I destroyed to forget about the previous issue didn't die in vain. The quality of this issue and the fun it brought to the table epitomizes what makes Wolverine and the X-men such a quality X-book. It's not a book for telling more stories about Wolverine's fucked up past. It's a book to tell stories about young mutants at a school where surviving life-or-death situations in a dinosaur-infested jungle is as typical as a game of dodge ball in gym class, but with fewer emotional scars. And this issue told that story very well.
By focusing on the students rather than Dog Logan, we get a much more compelling story. These kids were tripping over their own ass just trying to handle the dinosaurs. Now they have to pull their shit together and face a Dog Logan that's equipped with kick-ass weapons from the future. And since it usually takes the promise of survival, money, or pussy to motivate teenagers, it made for a much more satisfying helping of action. Wolverine and his petty feud with his asshole brother was secondary. The focus was on the students, as it damn well should have been from the beginning.
It was still a bit chaotic at times. The action and the power Dog Logan wields made for scenes that were hard to follow at times and a bit choppy. And the ending left much to be desired since it was just Dog Logan whining like a little bitch at how Wolverine is responsible for all his problems. He's basically no more compelling a character than the Christian nutbags that claim homosexuals are the cause of all things unholy. I'm not saying Wolverine isn't somewhat responsible for Dog being an asshole, but he takes it way too fucking far and doesn't do it in a way that's makes him a worthy villain.
For comics that show a certain level of consistency, I'm willing to give them a mulligan whenever an issue comes along that sucks Bangkok crack whore. Wolverine and the X-men #26 was bad, but Wolverine and the X-men #27 got shit back on track. And any comics that can pull itself out a shit pile without stinking too much deserves plenty of extra credit. This issue had all the necessary elements to make it a solid Wolverine and the X-men book, even though it was chaotic by Jason Aaron standards. I give this issue a 4 out of 5. Overall, the message of this book and this arc is pretty simple. Less bland, generic, I-hate-Wolverine characters and more irresponsible, irrational teenagers make for better comic and/or a better porno. Nuff said!