Wednesday, May 1, 2013
All New X-men #11 - Harsh Lessons In Awesome
There are few things more painful than a breakup. For some, a breakup is right up there with getting a prostate exam from Freddy Kruger or being forced to watch every Twilight movie sober in terms of sheer agony. And it’s not just romantic relationships either. Yeah, it sucks that your heart may be in pieces and your dick/pussy now hates your guts, but it can be just as bad as when friends, teams, or bands break up. I’m sure if the internet existed back in the 60s and 70s, it would have exploded over when the Beatles broke up. Ironically, Iceman once compared the Original Five X-men to the Beatles in Uncanny X-men #544. Yet in the pages of All New X-men they’re breaking up and there’s no Yoko Ono to blame.
Now to be fair, team unity only goes so far. When the Original Five X-men came to the future, they were basically lied to by Beast. He told them that a mutant genocide was imminent. Well not only was that total bullshit, but there’s a mutant school that’s still intact. There are mutants and humans who both stand up to those who bully young mutants. And the internet still hasn’t been cut off and reality TV shows still haven’t been canceled. In other words, the world is still as fucked up as it always was. The only difference is that Cyclops killed Charles Xavier. Unfortunately, he left out that one minor detail of Cyclops being overwhelmed by a cosmic force and not being able to control himself. For anyone who doesn’t like to be lied to by someone who isn’t a priest or holy man, that’ just a dick move.
In addition, not everyone agreed that it was a good idea to stay in the future. While O5 Jean Grey convinced three of her fellow teammates that they should stay in the future to make it somewhat less nauseating, O5 Angel voted to forget about it and live blissfully in ignorance. And once he found out that his future self is a mind-fucked, creepy, Mr. Rogers persona he decided to give the middle finger to the future and go back home. The solution? O5 Jean Grey mind-fucked him. That’s like treating cocaine addiction with heroin. It sort of defeats the purpose.
All that bullshit is now catching up to Beast, the X-men, and the Original Five. In All New X-men #10, Cyclops showed up at the Jean Grey Institute to make a pitch and recruit new mutants to his team and piss Wolverine off again. It really came as no surprise to anyone that the Stepford Cuckoos joined his team because for some reason hot blonds can no longer resist Cyclops’s allure. But it actually was a surprise when another attractive blond decided to join, but this one didn’t have breasts. As we learned in Uncanny X-men #4, O5 Angel decided to join Cyclops. I figure after O5 Jean Grey mind-fucked him and he found out that Beast was bullshitting them, that was a deal-breaker. So while it was surprising to the team, it was probably the least surprising choice for the readers. Yet Bendis still found a way to make it compelling and dramatic.
The drama continues as the reactions unfold in All New X-men #11. Even though Bendis takes a whole page to show everyone in the O5 reacting as though someone just took a shit in their cereal, the revelation that O5 Angel is ditching the team still has impact. Granted, it probably would have made more assholes clench if it hadn’t been spoiled, but that doesn’t stop O5 Angel from essentially telling his teammates and the rest of the X-men to piss off. I imagine for him it’s like walking into your boss’s office, standing up on his desk, and do the Harlem Shake while screaming “I quit!” While it may be more bittersweet for him, I imagine it’s still pretty satisfying.
Even if it is satisfying, the reactions from the rest of the team continue to escalate like a bar fight after a Raiders game. Everybody from Wolverine to Cyclops bickers about the merits of letting a time-displaced X-men quit the team, which creates a rather hostile string of thoughts amongst the team. And for an inexperienced and often unethical telepath like O5 Jean Grey, that’s a bad combination. She reacts to this fighting the same way a bull reacts to someone accidentally kicking it in the balls. She starts throwing around her telekinesis like a blindfolded drunk wielding a baseball bat. It’s destructive and shocking, yet perfectly in line with reactions from overly emotional teenagers. Hell, it’s not even the most damaging. If O5 Jean Grey had been at my junior prom, then a case could be made. But I digress.
There’s some angry bitch-slapping in the midst of this chaos, but the blow that hits hardest doesn’t happen when Magneto fucks with Wolverine’s metal bones (again). The biggest moment comes when O5 Jean Grey once again unleashes her powers, this time in a completely intentional way, by trying to mind-fuck O5 Angel. This isn’t the first time she has done this either. A few issues ago, she mind-fucked O5 Angel when he wanted to go back to the past. Now she’s desperate to keep the team together and while her intentions may not be entirely bad, her methods of mind-fucking someone who is supposed to be her friend goes way too fucking far.
As a result, Emma Frost instructs the Stepford Cuckoos to give Jean Grey a harsh lesson in the responsible use of telepathy. By that I mean they mind-fuck her as well. We already found out in Uncanny X-men #5 that the Stepford Cuckoos had been rummaging around in Jean Grey’s mind like a crack head gathering loose change from a fountain. That makes easy for them to dig right in and give her the psychic equivalent of a Catholic School education run by defrocked priests. It’s a brutal battle and you don’t want to root against Jean Grey, but you don’t want to root against three hot blonds in school girl uniforms either. It’s a true conflict between the heart and the penis, but it’s a conflict that is well overdue.
I say this conflict is overdue because to this point, O5 Jean Grey has been about as responsible with her powers as Amanda Bynes with her Twitter feed. She’s mind-fucked her friends. She’s knocked Wolverine out cold so that he ends up in a pose best left to gay porn stars. And she’s generally scared the shit out of everyone around her. My point is she’s due for a lesson in humility and since there’s no Charles Xavier, she has to get it from Emma Frost’s daughters. That’s like getting a prostate exam from Mike Tyson. It can’t end well.
But it makes for a powerful moment in that Emma Frost rightly points out how this behavior deeply conflicts with the legend that is Jean Grey. She’s supposed to be the upstanding, loving telepath that embodies all things Xavier and who men have the insatiable urge to bone. She’s not supposed to be pwned by three blond teens in school girl uniforms or using her powers to mind-fuck her best friends. She ends up getting knocked out and humiliated in front of the entire student body of a school named after her. That’s like waking up naked with a giant dick drawn on your face on the 50-yard line during the kickoff at the Superbowl. It’s not just a lesson in humility. It utterly sodomized her ego in ways that would be taboo even at a gay bar in Amsterdam.
With O5 Jean Grey knocked out, humiliated, and demoralized the decision is sealed. O5 Angel leaves and the rest of the X-men are left to ponder the collapse of their collective scrotums and/or tits. He even rubs a little salt in the wound by saying he actually likes what Cyclops has become. Considering how so many other characters treat him like he strangled a puppy, that’s a welcome shift. He leaves a team that is definitely wounded and a little disturbed. It couldn’t have been more humiliating if Cyclops forced Wolverine to re-watch video from his wedding with Jean Grey and the pornos they probably made on their honeymoon. Not only that, the O5 is now split up. Beast already fucked up the time stream just by bringing them to the future. How is this going to fuck things up? That’s not yet clear, but Father Time’s asshole is probably already bleeding profusely.
There is a lot of pwnage and space-time ramifications to process, but that’s not the only thing attempting to screw over the X-men. As we’ve seen in the past few issues, Mystique has been operating behind the scenes while the X-men bicker. She’s been stealing a fuckton of money, using Lady Mastermind to make it look as though the O5 X-men are responsible, and probably pleasuring herself in the process. She continues to utilize that tactic in the same way any teenage boy would continue to utilize new and more masturbation techniques.
This time she grows bolder, shifting into the form of Pepper Potts and stealing from Tony Stark. Now that’s both ballsy and foolish, considering Tony Stark is a fucking Avenger who isn’t afraid to shoot cosmic forces with a giant gun. But Mystique, like the honey badger, simply gives too few fucks. And once she tricks some hapless guy into opening Stark’s accounts, she uses yet another illusion of the O5 X-men to fuck with his mind. She even encourages him to call the Avengers. Now this could be a mistake or it could buy her more time if she thinks the X-men are onto her. It’s a high risk/high reward scenario and when you’ve got a rack like Mystique, you can get away with it.
After so much pwnage, this issue is overdue for something a little more uplifting. Later on after Jean Grey recovers from her harsh lesson in responsible telepathy usage, she meets up with Kitty Pryde. She’s in an emotional state while Kitty is just pissed. And why shouldn’t she be? She’s supposed to be teaching the O5 and Jean Grey refuses to listen when she warns her against mind-fucking people. But this time Jean feels genuine sorrow for what she did. She’s both sad and angry with herself that the O5, which in her memories has always stuck together, is now broken up. It’s a wide range of emotions that Bendis captured perfectly. It actually killed my buzz from a bong hit, but for once I didn’t mind. This was one instance where the emotions really resonated because this was a lesson Jean Grey needed to learn. Yet now it’s finally sinking in and it feels so good.
O5 Jean and Kitty have a heart-to-heart. Kitty makes it clear to her that she’s frustrated and that shit is not going to be the same now. This is the kind of shit they have to deal with if they’re going to stay in the future. And Jean, despite her wounded ego, offers her sincere apology. Kitty accepts it and makes it clear that she has to apologize to the rest of the team as well. It’s a punishment that most teenage girls would whine about, but Jean finally shows some of the maturity that she’s known for showing and agrees. She even gives Kitty a nice hug. It couldn’t have been more emotional if there were surrounded by baby kittens.
I may come off as overly crass on this comic, but anyone who has ever gone drinking with me knows that I can be an emotional drunk at times. Even in the era of big blockbuster movies, some people refuse to believe that comic books can be anything more than big muscular men and big-breasted women dressing in spandex and fighting evil aliens/robots. But there is a place for stories that play on emotions and this is definitely one of the best moments in All New X-men to date. If you read this scene and don’t feel even a little bit emotional, go back to torturing puppies and preparing for your future parole hearing because this is one of those moments that will make us all channel our inner PMS.
After the emotions have died down, the team reorganizes and focuses back on Mystique. A few issues ago, they found out she paid O5 Cyclops a visit. And were it not for the impromptu visit by his older, Xavier-killing counterpart, they would have gone after her. Well now they’ve finally caught up with it, showing that Bendis isn’t inclined to shrug off side-plots. However, they quickly hit a nasty snag. Apparently, that guy Mystique and Lady Mastermind mind-fucked earlier did call the Avengers. And now that they think the O5 attacked Tony Stark’s toys, they show up to beat some answers out of them. Somewhere out there Mystique is laughing her ass off and probably pleasuring herself.
Certain life lessons are like hangovers. They’re painful. They damage your mind, body, and soul. And they sometimes end with you throwing up chunks of meals from the past three weeks in a toilet that you can never use again. After reading this issue, I get the sense that Jean Grey experienced one of those life lessons. She may still have an intact liver, but she’s done a lot of damage to herself, her friends, her teammates, and her legend. At least she can say she hasn’t ruined a perfectly good toilet.
While the mystery over who joins Cyclops’s revolution was already spoiled by Uncanny X-men #5, this issue still had the impact fans were hoping for. And true to the themes that Brian Michael Bendis has established since the beginning of this book, he spends a fair amount of time exploring the drama and high emotions that come along with that impact. More than anything, this issue established what an angry Jean Grey with no Charles Xavier influence is capable of doing. She’s willing to forcibly manipulate the mind and free will of her friends. She did it once before with O5 Angel. She tried to do it again, but this time she got a harsh lesson in responsible use of powers. And it came courtesy of the Stepford Cuckoos rather than the benevolent Charles Xavier. Then again, there are worse ways to get a harsh lesson from three hot blonds. And Jean didn’t even have to pay extra.
In addition to the sheer emotional impact, this issue helped move the story forward both in a pragmatic and dramatic sort of way. Jean Grey learned her lesson, but that wasn’t the only looming crisis unfolding. Mystique has continued her rampage and for some reasons, it still gives me a boner. And by using illusions featuring the O5 X-men, she’s given the O5 even more distractions. The jury is still out as to whether this is smart or akin to waving your dick in the face of a hungry shark. But given the sheer lack of fucks Mystique has been shown to give in recent times, it’s perfectly in-character for her and sets the stage for a pretty awkward conversation that is sure to become violent.
Now I’ve praised Bendis numerous times on this series for taking his time with this story. His method of storytelling is very drawn out. He’s basically the anti-Jeph Loeb of comics. While that has done wonders with this series, at times it does leave the story feeling incomplete. We’re 11 issues into All New X-men now and there are a lot of issues that haven’t really been touched on. O5 Jean Grey hasn’t met up with Rachel. O5 Cyclops hasn’t met up with Cable. Cyclops hasn’t had a chance to sit down with his younger self to explain how he ended up on the Avengers’ shit list. Emma Frost hasn’t had a chance to gloat about how she kissed Cyclops over Jean Grey’s grave. So many juicy moments are just dangling like exposed breasts at a Las Vegas strip club and Bendis is only focusing on their feet. While some of those moments may not have worked in this issue, it is starting to get to a point where it feels as though these moments are being overlooked.
Even if I’m overly impatient while I’m sober, this doesn’t take away from the quality of this issue. A lot of things fit together nicely in All New X-men #11. O5 Angel left. O5 Jean Grey learned her lesson. And Mystique using the O5 in illusions has finally pissed enough people off that the Avengers have taken notice. It’s starting to converge. Nothing felt too out-of-place in this issue and with all the drama surrounding O5 Jean Grey, the prospect of an Avengers smack-down only adds to this issue’s appeal. For that, I give All New X-men #11 a 5 out of 5. It deserves the highest possible score in that it effectively moves the story forward while throwing in some awesome drama. It’s makes this comic one of those rare issues that you could read with a girl and you could both get emotional. And if the girl is the overly emotional type, it might even get you laid! And any comic capable of that deserves the highest possible praise. Nuff said!