Wednesday, May 29, 2013
X-men #1 - Girl Powered Awesome
Between Marvel NOW and DC’s New 52, I think I speak for most fans when I say I’m getting burned out by all these relaunches and not in a good way. I don’t mind being burned out on tequila or weed. At least when you’re blacked out on that shit you either have a chance at getting laid or becoming famous on the internet. Just ask David Hasselhoff. Marvel has overhauled so many of their books, relaunching nearly every major title to the point where there’s only one book numbering in the triple digits (X-Factor) and that book is ending as well. So what could possibly make yet another relaunched title appealing?
Four words: all female X-men team. That’s right, Marvel. When in doubt, throw a bunch of tits into a series. Yes, it’s shallow. Yes, it will piss off the feminists out there. But if you’re honest about your love of tits or the fact that women in comics have them, you’ll see the appeal. Because that’s what Brian Wood is giving us in a relaunched adjectiveless X-men title. He already showed some potential when he wrote towards the latter end of the previous adjectiveless series. But at that point there were too few fucks left to give on the part of fanboys and the series ended.
Now some of you may be sober enough to remember that we already had a reluanched ajectiveless X-men a few years ago when Victor Gischler tried to cash in on the vampire craze with Curse of the Mutants. I’m not sure if I have enough brain cells to recall, but it did have its moments. The most lasting impression this series did in my drunken opinion was turn Jubilee into a vampire and do it in a way so that she didn’t become Bella fucking Swan.
But along the way, Jubilee faded into the background once more and hasn’t been active in recent X-men events. Well now Brian Wood is promising to bring her back into the fold with a team of X-women that include Rogue, Rachel Grey, Kitty Pryde, Storm, and Psylocke. It’s a premise that is the basis for no fewer than thirty percent of the masturbation fantasies among male X-men fans and gay female X-men fans. There are enough books involving characters with dicks. So why not give the ladies a shot at captivating readers in ways beyond mere boners?
This new series promises to give Brain Wood a fresh start with the X-men and his “no dicks allowed” policy already gives it a unique backdrop to work with. It's a little vague at first in that it gives a brief lesson in the history of life that would make a creationist's head explode. We don't know who is narrating yet (but it is revealed later on), but he basically explains how there were two siblings of primordial goop in the early days of the planet. And one of those siblings was an asshole in that it cast the other one out so that it could be the Darwinian life seed of the planet. It proves once again that fighting with your siblings isn't just natural. It's a biological imperative.
Skip the rest of the biology lesson and give creationists a moment to clean their brains off the floor and we meet up with our old gal pal, Jubilee. Last we saw her, she joined a team of vampires to learn how to be Twilight style hippies that don't kill other humans, minus the fucking sparkling. Well someone must have had some kick ass blow since then because now Jubilee is on her own, on the run, and caring for an infant. Where did this infant come from and why is it so adorable? That's not clear, but what is clear is that someone is after her and it isn't MTV looking to make another reality show. Or maybe it is and if that's the case, both the X-men and the Avengers need to beat the shit out of whoever is running MTV these days.
I've often noted the parallels between the Jean Grey Institute and my old high school. And at times I admit those comparisons may be a little extreme, but one thing I do credit Marvel with doing since they introduced the Jean Grey Institute is including some bits of realism. It is a school and as such, it has all the crazy shit you would expect to find in a school. That includes teenagers beating each other up for no reason aside from looking at each other cross-eyed. That's what happens with Mercury and Bling, which Rachel Grey has to come in and break up. Two teenagers beating each other up in the pages of an X-men comic may seem trivial, but for anyone who has survived high school, it's as real as last Thursday.
In addition to evoking painful memories of high school, this scene introduces us to the core cast of X-women that will be making up this estrogen-laden team. They're not giddy school girls talking about how hot Robert Pattinson looked in the last Twilight movie. They're teachers and administrators trying to run a school. Teenage mutants make that difficult in the same way quantum mechanics makes physics a pain in the ass. Then they get a call from Jubilee and they have an entirely new pain in the ass to deal with.
After arriving via plane from Europe, Jubilee hops a train. And some creepy R. Kelly motherfucker is following her every step of the way. So rather than just wait at the train station like reasonable adults, the X-women say "fuck it!" and hop the train themselves. Why? Because they fucking can, that's why. Rogue, Kitty Pryde, and Storm use their powers in simple yet effective ways to board the train, all while ensuring none of the passengers so much as spills their coffee. Kitty is the first one to meet Jubilee and reacts as most would expect to react when they see a teenage girl with a baby.
Once Rogue and Storm catch up, Jubilee offers an explanation that's only slightly more believable than a teenage girl that says the condom broke and the abortion clinic was closed for nine months. Apparently, this baby is an orphan like her. She rescued her from an orphanage that was the site of some terror bombing and/or a meteorite and/or Dr. Doom being too bored with internet porn. Now she's on the run because that creepy R. Kelly motherfucker earlier is after her and she believes the only way to protect the baby is at the Jean Grey Institute.
It's a welcome touch of novelty because usually when a story involves a teenage girl and a baby, it's either a reality show or some anti-sex bullshit from the religious right that is trying to control women's vaginas. But what makes it more compelling is that Jubilee is an orphan as well. She has a connection with this baby and it shows in how she treats it. Wood and Oliver Coipel's art conveys that sense of drama nicely and that sort of shit is rare in an X-book not written by Brian Michael Bendis. But as is often the case with babies and teenage girls, there is often more to the story than it seems. And it shows in the way the baby seems to fuck with the train's electronics.
As adorable as the baby may be, she managed to fuck up the whole train just by touching the speaker system. It finally forces a little action into this issue in the form of a train going out of control like a drunk Jeff Gordon on the New Jersey Turnpike. It allows Rogue to finally do more than just bitch at the Scarlet Witch like she has been doing in Uncanny Avengers and stop the train in a nicely drawn out action sequence. Yes, it's somewhat basic. Stopping a renegade train in the Marvel universe is akin to a cop citing a drunk for public urination. But given that this time the train was derailed by a fucking baby, I think that adds a little more intrigue. As if we didn't need enough reasons to not want to sit near a baby on a train.
While some of the all-female cast is busy meeting up Jubilee, the R. Kelly motherfucker that has been stalking her does something completely unexpected. He flies to the Jean Grey Institute and surrenders. They don't even try to tear his balls off or threaten to throw his brain in a blender. He just up and surrenders. In the process, we find out that said motherfucker is John Sublime. For those of you who missed the pop quiz last week, John Sublime isn't exactly a man or a mutant. He's a glorified pack of primordial goo that occasionally takes the form of a guy who looks like he should be a registered sex offender. But beyond his creep factor, he does offer an explanation that ties in nicely with that creationist-killing prologue from earlier.
Once Rachel and Psylocke contain him in a completely non-pornographic way, he explains that his sister has returned. And his sister happens to be that other blob of protoplasmic goo that he kicked out a billion years ago. And anyone who has ever had a sibling knows that no amount of time heals the vindictive wounds of an angry sibling. Now she's back and he's probably shitting whatever primordial goo shits. He also mentions that she can possess machines the way he possesses people. So that little trick with the train is now even more distressing.
But as Rachel and Psylocke are interrogating Sublime, Jubilee arrives at the institute with the baby in hand and doesn't seem to know that this baby just derailed a train. She gets a warm welcome from her fellow X-men and a nice clean room. The baby, however, wasn't content with just derailing a train. Sublime also makes clear that his sister is dangerous and he's not equipped to handle her, which I'm guessing is code for him being too lazy as well. And the baby shows that by using Jubilee's cell phone to pull off more mischief. Because kids just can't be satisfied with a little destruction. They have to go all out to satisfy their ADHD mentality.
Sublime makes clear that the X-men are making a big fucking mistake by not locking that baby in a cell next to Loki. And the baby ends up proving him right by using Jubilee's cell phone to access Hank's lab. And from there, Sublime's sister with a billion-year grudge emerges in the body of Omega Sentinel. That body also takes a female form, which is entirely appropriate given the context of this story. It's a form that might or might not give you boner, but it makes clear that Sublime isn't entirely bullshitting the X-men when he says that this is a dangerous new threat and they're royally fucked if they don't do something about it. And isn't that key in any new comic series? Setting up a situation that threatens that one or many will be utterly fucked?
Usually when women are at main characters of a story, the plot either revolves around men they want to bone/marry, clothes, looks, or the Spice Girls. Feminazis have been pointing it out for years and there is some kernel of truth to it. A lot of these stories basically portray women as a walking ball of hormones obsessively seeking their own version of Ryan Gosling to make babies with when they're not shopping for a new dress that they may or may not wear more than once. Even as someone with a working penis, I find that pretty fucking bland. So reading X-men #1 with its all-female X-men cast was refreshing in that it gave the X-men's most prominent female characters an awesome story that gave the finger to typical stereotypes while also giving me a raging boner.
Brian Wood's work on the X-books always showed potential, but being able to start fresh with a new team on a book with a very different premise has finally realized that potential. He didn't just bring Jubilee back into the fold. He added some genuine emotion into the story along with a touch of dry humor about the frustrations that come along with running a school of teenage mutants and time displaced X-men. I may come off as an unfeeling drunk at times, but get a few beers in me or a few good joints and I'm capable of genuine feeling. Other than All New X-men and Uncanny X-men, not many X-books give me that feeling that Donald Trump probably gets when someone writes him a check for eight figures. I found myself actually caring about this mystery baby and Jubilee's struggles to take care of a child. And she didn't even need a fucking reality show on MTV to make it compelling. That along makes X-men #1 a win.
This issue was a solid first issue in that it didn't just establish a new cast. It established a new threat with John Sublime and his sister that the X-women are now caught up in. It's the kind of threat that is different from what they face in the other X-books, yet you don't get the sense that it's trying to capitalize on a fad like the last X-men #1 kept trying to capitalize on the vampire craze. Well Twilight is over, Kristen Stewart's career is in the shitter, and fans are hungry for something different. And this book delivers that something that provides a new avenue for awesome.
It would be too easy for a book featuring only X-women to become nothing more than a poor man's Playboy or jerk off material for teenage boys with no internet connection and no underwear magazines. But Wood made the story compelling and that has elevated this book in ways that make it a worthy relaunch for a series with a concept that should keep the National Organization for Woman from bitching at Marvel for more than once a month. The only thing keeping this issue from being perfect is the lack of explanations on what Jubilee has been up to since she joined her vampire crew. It's not even clear in this issue that she is still a vampire. I'm not sure if Brain Wood is going to explore that in future issues, but for now he's set up a foundation as hard as my dick. And for that, I give X-men #1 a 4.5 out of 5. Ladies and effeminate men, this is the book you've been waiting for. It's an all-female crew dealing with more than just all-female problems. More than anything else, this comic proves that unless you're Cyclops, you don't need a penis to get the job done. Nuff said!