Wednesday, June 5, 2013
All New X-men #12 - Awesome With Oversights
Some ideas sound great on paper. Rocket skates, hover boards, and bacon flavored condoms come to mind. But they don't always work out in real life. I would know because I still have bite marks on my dick. You could say that about time travel stories as well. The concept of bringing the Original Five X-men back from the past sounds awesome on paper, if not for those precious moments before the blow wears off. But making a whole comic series about it? That sounds a bit tougher, even on paper. Yet sometimes even the shit that doesn't sound like it could work on paper turns out to be awesome. Rocket skates may be dangerous, but if you're willing to brave some burn marks on your ass and some busted ear drums they're a metric fuck ton of fun, especially when drunk.
Brian Michael Bendis has proven with nearly a dozen issues of All New X-men that the concept of bringing the Original Five X-men back from the past can work as more than just a simple crossover arc that consists mostly of Jean Grey looking deadpanned after finding out she died multiple times and some creepy hairy Canadian is trying to bone her. He's turned it into a genuinely compelling story full of teen drama, personal growth, and heart. It's one of the few books I have to read with a box of tissues that I don't exclusively use for mopping up semen. Moments like Jean Grey hugging Kitty Pryde or Angel leaving the Original Five has genuine heart. It has made All New X-men the top tier X-book week in and week out. It doesn't come with rocket skates, but I guess that would be asking for too much.
Among this book's many strengths is its sense of progression. Bendis has managed to avoid some of the mistakes many writers have made in the past, namely starting up side-plots and not giving enough fucks to build from them (I'm looking at you Stan Humprhies's Uncanny X-Force). All New X-men juggles many different plots, but Bendis has done a great job of keeping it concise. The past few issues have focused primarily on Cyclops's new Revolutionary team visiting the Jean Grey Institute, doing some recruiting, and generally pissing off Wolverine.
While they succeeded at all three, another plot has been unfolding behind the scenes. This one involves Mystique, the woman who will give you a boner and kill you in your sleep but you don't give a damn because she's so fucking hot. She made her presence known a while back when she played with O5 Cyclops's hormones and encouraged him to piss Wolverine off even more. All the while, she has been formulating her own little plan that involves freeing Lady Mastermind, robbing banks, and using the O5 X-men as scapegoats. In terms of evil plans, she's the only one who can succeed and be damn sexy while doing it. I guess it's her way of saying "Suck it, Emma Frost!" And she might actually mean that in more than one way.
But this kind of bullshit can't go unnoticed forever. So now that Angel's defection from the team has been finalized, the team is ready to deal with Mystique. Unfortunately, her using the O5's image to fuck with people has drawn the attention of Havok and the Uncanny Avengers. They're already pissed that Beast is date raping the space time continuum. They can't be too thrilled when the O5 seems to be robbing banks.
The previous issue ended with the O5 confronting the Uncanny Avengers, but Havok didn't get a chance to be a bigger douche yet. All New X-men #12 gives him that chance, but amazingly he doesn’t take advantage of it. Despite having just reviewed Cyclops’s speech from Australia in the previous page, he actually avoids being a massive tool when he sees his time displaced brother. And rather than bitch and moan at what a dick he’s grown up to be, he actually hugs him in a nice moment that you don’t get between siblings when Christmas presents or weed aren’t involved. It’s still a tense confrontation between the Uncanny Avengers and the O5 X-men, but Havok manages to keep them from attacking one another. That may be the nicest thing he’s done since the last time he went down on Polaris.
While the two teams star each other down like a crack head at a fresh line of blow, O5 Cyclops and Havok step aside to have a nice moment. The Uncanny Avengers even let Havok have this moment so he can reconnect with his brother as he was before he became a wanted fugitive for being in the wrong place when Tony Stark shot a big fucking gun against a cosmic force. Once again, Bendis flaunts his knack for dramatic scenes the way a stripper flaunts a new boob job. There are still some disconnects between them. O5 Cyclops still carries on as if he didn’t kill Charles Xavier, but Havok isn’t having it. He makes clear that he still blames Cyclops. Does it make him a douche-bag? Maybe on some levels, but he doesn’t belabor the issue so I give him credit for that.
But that’s not the point of the conversation. Havok, like a number of others who are concerned about the integrity of the space time continuum and not named Hank McCoy, urge O5 Cyclops that he and his team have to go back to the past. We’ve seen this argument before, but O5 Cyclops adds some extra drama to the mix when he claims there’s nothing for him to go back to. And he’s right. If he goes back to the past, he’ll just end up a guy who loses the love of his life, kills Charles Xavier, and becomes a wanted fugitive for some bullshit reasons. I think given the circumstances, he has every right to tell Father Time to go fuck himself.
It’s a tense moment for the two brothers that could easily turn into an argument that even a Mario Kart tournament couldn’t solve. But they probably haven’t taken into account that the rest of the team and the Uncanny Avengers are still in a bit of a standoff. And as we’ve seen in recent clashes between the Avengers and the X-men, it doesn’t take much for shit to go south.
And once again the trigger is a teenage girl with red hair and green eyes who is not named Hope fucking Summers. O5 Jean Grey, who has already gotten into trouble for sensing thoughts she shouldn’t sense, picks up on some stray thoughts from the Scarlet Witch. Now it’s worth noting here that in the time the O5 come from, the Scarlet Witch is still a member of the Brotherhood of Mutants. Now she’s a fucking Avenger? That alone is confusing enough. But what makes O5 Jean Grey (and anyone else with marginal critical thinking skills) lose her fucking shit is when she senses that this woman is guilty of fucking mutant genocide.
Yes, she was under the influence of Dr. Doom. But Cyclops was under the influence of the Phoenix Force and that didn’t stop the entire Marvel universe from condemning his ass. I guess it’s different for the Scarlet Witch because…actually, I have no fucking clue. I also have no fucking clue how O5 Jean Grey didn’t pick up on this from Beast’s memories, but I guess if she only got the memories of her adult life that didn’t include the events of House of M. And I have to believe that if Jean Grey’s adult self was there, she would probably react the same just because Cyclops ended up in jail while the Scarlet Witch got to be a fucking Avenger.
And as we’ve seen in previous issues of All New X-men, O5 Jean Grey throws a hell of a temper tantrum and she doesn’t even need PMS as an excuse. Rather than try to understand what she just sensed from the Scarlet Witch’s thoughts like a reasonable adult, she overacts like the teenager she is and attacks both her and the Avengers. And she’s not subtle about it either. She’s fucking Jean Grey. Fighting the Avengers and an army of sentinels is basically a picnic activity for her.
But not everything about her teenage reaction is completely irrational if you can believe that. As she’s attacking, she asks the Avengers how the fuck they could possibly let the Scarlet Witch be an Avenger. I mean they threw Cyclops in jail for killing one guy and making the world into a utopia. The Scarlet Witch killed multiple Avengers and nearly wiped out an entire fucking species. Yet they just shrug their shoulders? I know I’ve pointed this out in my drunken rants over Avengers vs. X-men, but I think it’s worth harping on. The Avengers don’t even try to explain it. They just work on settling O5 Jean Grey from her hissy fit and remind them that they came for reasons beyond just how their presence is making Albert Einstein roll over in his grave and making Stephen Hawking sicker than he already is.
That reason is actually something that has been unfolding in multiple issues of All New X-men lately. It involves Mystique, the shape-shifting deviant that makes up a good 62 percent of my masturbation fantasies, and her devious plan to steal a fuckton of money and have everyone blame the X-men. While the Uncanny Avengers are wasting their time getting answers from the O5 and getting their ass kicked by Jean Grey, she and her deadly team of Sabretooth and Lady Mastermind are pulling another heist in London. Tea time is being interrupted. Monocles are being shattered. It seems like a similar scene to what we saw in previous issues.
But Bendis throws a new twist into the mix. While Mystique and her team succeed in this latest heist, Lady Mastermind points out that she doesn’t think her plan consists entirely of just stealing enough money to buy their way out of their bullshit. She thinks she has a bigger plan. But even more shocking, she thinks Mystique actually cares about mutant affairs. Now given that Mystique has been turned into this total fucking sociopath in recent years, that’s a welcome shift. It makes me feel less guilty about jerking off to her. It also hints that maybe she wasn’t being completely dishonest when she was toying with O5 Cyclops in a previous issue. That means there might actually be some layers to Mystique’s plot and I’m all for that, especially my penis.
Back with the Uncanny Avengers and O5 X-men, they finally manage to calm O5 Jean down long enough to show them the shit they’ve been accused of. Captain America plays some news feeds of people claiming the O5 X-men attacked, robbed a bank, and killed people. Wolverine makes it clear that it’s total bullshit and after finding out that Mystique has been fucking with them lately, they know who to blame. I’m not sure if blaming a shape-shifter is a legal defense in the Marvel universe, but I would be shocked if it wasn’t more popular than the insanity defense. O5 Cyclops doesn’t want to believe it at first, but I think that’s his penis talking more than his common sense. Naturally, it doesn’t take much convincing from Wolverine that the O5 are innocent. But Captain America makes it clear that they can’t have this kind of shitty PR, especially when they’re trying to make a joint Avengers/X-men team. And considering the shitty job they’ve been doing in Uncanny Avengers, it’s a valid concern.
Now with a threat like Mystique and the potential PR backlash, you would think the Uncanny Avengers would actually stick around to help them deal with this shit. It would make sense and fall under the purview of working together with mutants. Rogue even goes on a little rant at how there are no mutant or human problems. There are just problems. Yet after just hearing from Wolverine that Mystique is involved, the Uncanny Avengers just up and leave. They don’t offer any help. They just trust Wolverine and his school to fix it.
Maybe I smoked one too many joints before reading this (which is a remote possibility at best), but doesn’t that just completely defeat the purpose of the Uncanny Avengers? This is a mutant issue involving a dangerous mutant foe who has done some pretty fucked up shit to hurt mutants. Yet the Uncanny Avengers don’t help? I know Mystique isn’t the Red Skull, but she’s as dangerous as she is sexy. Brian Michael Bendis has done a great job since this story began of avoiding the pitfalls of Avengers vs. X-men, namely actually trying to do shit that makes sense. Well this doesn’t make any fucking sense. While we do get one last nice moment between O5 Cyclops and Havok, the whole premise of the Uncanny Avengers showing up just to leave is a big fucking plot hole in a series that hasn’t had many.
However, that isn’t the only gaping oversight. After the Uncanny Avengers leave, the O5, Kitty Pryde, and Wolverine get back to the original mission they began in the last issue, which was to find Mystique. But along the way, O5 Jean Grey reiterates how fucked up it is that the Scarlett Witch is allowed to be an Avenger after the shit she did. And Wolverine gives the same answer that every adult gives to teenagers when they make a perfectly valid point, “It’s complicated.” No, quantum physics is complicated. Letting the Scarlet Witch stay on the Avengers after the shit she did is simply fucked up.
But the big oversight here is how neither O5 Jean Grey or O5 Cyclops point out the utter hypocrisy of letting the Scarlet Witch stay on the Avengers while Cyclops is a fugitive. It has been pointed out before that the Scarlet Witch is guilty of way more death and destruction than Cyclops was. He killed one guy after trying to create a global utopia. The Scarlet Witch nearly wiped out a species while killing multiple Avengers. Yet they want to throw Cyclops in jail? After he gave a speech in the last issue at how he was not in a clear state of mind? There are oversights like forgetting to draw Superman’s red underwear and then there are oversights like this. And in a series that sets the bar so high, this is pretty egregious.
Maybe at some point someone will point out the hypocrisy surrounding the treatment of Cyclops compared to the Scarlet Witch. After their previous encounter with Cyclops, I have a feeling that won’t happen. The story is already moving to more immediate concerns, namely Mystique. At the rate she’s going, she’ll have enough money to buy the Avengers. The last page shows just how much money she’s amassed while the X-men are neck deep in all this dramatic shit. She could basically give every stripper in the world an Ivy League education now. And I expect she’s not going to give it up easily, especially if it means fucking with Wolverine and the O5 X-men.
This issue accomplished something that I didn’t think was possible anymore. It went an entire issue without Havok coming off as a colossal douche-bag. I know. I’m just as shocked as everyone else. But Brian Michael Bendis pulled it off and instead made the Scarlet Witch a total fucking douche-bag. Even though the Scarlet Witch is hotter and Marvel generally avoids making beautiful woman look bad, I still say this is a win. It added to Bendis’s ongoing streak of focusing on more personal, dramatic plots rather than just have the X-men fight giant robots. If you want that shit, there are only a trillion other X-men stories that follow that premise. This issue and All New X-men gives readers something different and more personal without it becoming a Twilight rip-off.
This issue succeeded in all the usual ways that All New X-men has succeed in previous issues. It continued the unfolding drama surrounding the Original Five that began in the previous issue. It also added some new twists to the ongoing side-plot with Mystique. The idea of her actually giving a damn about mutant affairs makes her much more compelling (and sexier for that matter) than just some sociopath who wants to bath in money like one of Donald Trump’s trophy wives. But unlike previous issues, this issue fell short in a number of areas.
I don’t want to belabor the Scarlet Witch issue, but I think this is one instance where an already emotional teenage girl actually underreacted. O5 Jean Grey clearly points out that it was the Scarlet Witch who nearly wiped out the mutant race. And if she did a quick scan of Wikipedia on the events of Avengers vs. X-men, she would know that it was her bullshit that led to Charles Xavier getting killed in the first place. So what if she was under the influence of Dr. Doom. Cyclops was under the influence of Dark Phoenix and they threw his ass in a fucking jail cell and dedicate a good chunk of their energy to bitching about him. Some here might want to whine about circumstances, but I think O5 Jean Grey’s reaction as perfectly valid. And for once, Bendis made a massive oversight in nobody pointing out that the treatment of the Scarlett Witch and the treatment of Cyclops was completely fucked. I was waiting for someone to point that shit out, but they never did. And that is like a big ass piss stain on your pants just before you’re about to give a speech. It can’t be ignored.
Another point that I feel requires less belaboring is how the Uncanny Avengers just showed up and fucking left. They didn’t stick around to deal with the Mystique issue. All they did was show up, get their asses kicked by O5 Jean Grey, and up and leave once they were assured that these whole robberies were just Mystique fucking around. I get that Captain America puts up with Wolverine’s bullshit. But it was stated outright that the point of the Uncanny Avengers was to address both human and mutant problems. And the way they handled this problem amounted to “Fuck it, let Wolverine’s people deal with it.”
While these holes are difficult to overlook, the dramatic moment between O5 Cyclops and Havok was still a nice touch. We know we won’t be getting a moment like that with revolutionary Cyclops anytime soon. It’s a nice reminder that at one point, Cyclops and Havok actually got along as brothers. In the Marvel universe where we get whole fucking movies devoted to siblings being at each other’s throats, that’s saying something. So between the holes and the drama, I give All New X-men #12 a 3.5 out of 5. I wish I could give it a higher score, but I don’t give much leeway when it comes to oversight. Unless you’re a police officer willing to overlook the bag of weed under my seat during a traffic stop, I have strict standards. I owe it to the fine readers of this blog for which I get so drunk to craft these reviews. Nuff said!