Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Scanned Thoughts: All New X-men #18
The three most traumatic events anyone can face are divorce, their first DUI, and the first day of school. And personally, I would take multiple divorces and 12 DUIs before I would take another first day of school. It's bad enough enduring it to a school that's familiar and full of friends. It's quite another when it happens at a school that's run by someone who a lot of people want to throw in jail. It would be like transferring to a school run by Edward Snowden. Yet that's exactly when Kitty Pryde and the O5 X-men face after the events of X-men Battle of the Atom. They've ditched the Jean Grey Institute. Now they're setting up shop with Cyclops at the New Xavier School. Just how awkwardly fucked up can it possibly be? Well that's the point of this review for All New X-men #18 and I would advise that if I have any traumatic flashbacks of my first day of school, I'll try not to let it show.
Unlike the first day of school, there’s no opportunity to get stoned in the parking lot. All New X-men #18 literally picks up immediately after the end of X-men Battle of the Atom #2. One moment they’re at the Jean Grey Institute, seeing Cyclops give the smuggest grin in the history of smugness to Wolverine. The next they’re at the New Xavier School for Mutants. Even with horribly damaged short-term memory from one too many bong hits, I can appreciate such a smooth transition. That doesn’t mean the first day at a new school isn’t traumatic.
While Cyclops welcomes Kitty and the O5 into their new school, he gives them a brief lecture in future history. He tells them that Weapon X is basically the kind of shit that would give Charles Xavier nightmares until he met a Phoenix-powered Cyclops and a schizophrenic son. It’s a lot to lay on five teenagers, humans using mutants as weapons. But I imagine it still isn’t as traumatic as learning that Kim Kardashian is famous for some reason and the New Orleans Saints actually won a Superbowl. Yet the most surprising part of this little lecture is that the O5 seem remarkably comfortable around Cyclops, a guy who they flat out hated earlier in this series. It’s not clear if they’re coming around or if O5 Jean has recognized the power of his penis yet. But since this is literally right after the events of Battle of the Atom, I’ll assume they’re too tired.
It’s not an unreasonable assumption either. After Cyclops’s little lecture on how awesome he is at hiding from Wolverine, the O5 are shown to their quarters by some of the other New Xavier students. They’re all understandably exhausted, having fought an army of Sentinels and discovered that some of them turn into even bigger assholes in the future. O5 Iceman was one of the lucky ones. He got to be a hulk and an ice wizard. And for once he actually contemplates how fucked up their futures are without making it a joke. Since O5 Iceman’s role has been more limited than Paris Hilton’s grade-point average since All New X-men began, it’s refreshing to see him actually take the future seriously. That alone puts him ahead of pretty much every high school freshman who ever lived.
It’s much less sentimental with O5 Jean Grey, who apparently gets shown to her new room by the Stepford Cuckoos. I have no idea how the fuck anyone let that happen. That would be like letting O.J. Simpson give a private lecture on domestic abuse. And in the same way Michael Vick isn’t welcome at a PETA rally, O5 Jean Grey isn’t welcome with the Stepford Cuckoos. Things get hostile really fast since for some reason, the Cuckoos hate O5 Jean more than Emma Frost right now. That may or may not having something to do with them getting their pretty little asses handed to them by Xorna in Battle of the Atom, but I would rather not assume.
And once again, Jean Grey gets the ultimate pwnage. She tries to be polite at first. She really does, but one of the Cuckoos just has to be a total bitch. I’ll bet Emma Frost would have been so proud of her had O5 Jean Grey ditched the manners and outright pwned her back. She may be a traumatized, emotionally confused teenage version of the Jean Grey we all know and love. But she’s still more than capable of being awesome and this proves it. Blondes may have more fun, but redheads will be more awesome.
O5 Jean’s conversation with the Stepford Cuckoos ends up being way more intense than a conversation between O5 Beast and Magneto. Even for professional stoners like myself, it’s not easy to forget that at some point, Magneto was a weapons grade asshole who would gladly slit the throats of the X-men and dance to old disco music in pools of their blood. Now he’s calm, sane, and helpful. O5 Beast is even impressed with his ability to create a communications system that allows the New Xavier School to monitor mutant activity while not making themselves targets for Wolverine, SHIELD, and the Avengers.
There are a lot of crazy, irrational things that could be said in a situation like this. Magneto even acknowledges that. So in a sense it’s the most productive conversation anyone has in this issue. Magneto understands that he was an asshole at one point and for the O5 X-men, that shit might as well have been last Tuesday. And he’s not going to make a big deal of it if he won’t. It’s way more reasonable than any of the understandings I ever had with my teachers, most of which involved excuses for why my homework was so damn late and covered in semen stains.
The conversation that follows with O5 Beast and O5 Jean Grey is far more awkward, but in a good way. In many respects, this conversation should have happened during X-men Battle of the Atom. O5 Jean pleaded with O5 Beast early on that something was very wrong with the future X-men and they should leave. He didn’t listen. He was too fascinated to realize that they were basically assholes looking to screw them over. So she pleated with O5 Cyclops instead, who listened to her. And for reasons that don’t take a fucking genius to figure out, he had a problem with that and they flat out argue about it.
This argument doesn’t quite undo the disgusting events that took place in All New X-men #15, but it does add some much needed context. That kiss wasn’t exactly a declaration of love. O5 Beast asked outright what the fuck it was about. Then it turns into an argument about O5 Jean deciding to run off with O5 Cyclops. All the while, she keeps reminding him that she was fucking right all along and that doesn’t resonate with O5 Beast’s genius IQ for some reason. All the while, Benjamin Deeds is watching the whole thing and probably thinking, “This shit is Jerry Springer’s wet dream!” That doesn’t bother O5 Jean and O5 Beast. But what does bother them is when O5 Cyclops shows up and reveals that he has been listening the whole time.
And this, my friends, is how he finds out about what happened in All New X-men #15. To his credit, he doesn’t lose his shit. He just tells them that they’re supposed to meet with Kitty Pryde and walks off. Most teenagers would be more inclined to scream and go on a murderous rampage worthy of Jason Vorhees when they find out the girl they love is already trying to shove him into the Friend Zone. He just shrugs it off. That makes him by far the most mature member of the O5 X-men at the moment and he’s the one that grows up to kill Charles Xavier. How fucked up is that?
I guess it’s only slightly less fucked up than Kitty Pryde and Magik sharing a moment that would make an awesome start to a lesbian porno movie. After finding out that the O5 X-men are way too fucking tired to meet about anything, they have a nice moment together that will probably get certain fanfiction writers horny as hell. Magik reflects on how badly she fucked things up with Colossus and Kitty Pryde remembers that at some point, she loved him enough to phase through the floor during sex (see Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-men run because I swear I’m not making that up).
It leads to a rather awkward hug that would only be a slightly less awesome start to a lesbian porno. However, it still is striking that Magik has gone from an unapologetic demon seed to just another messed up teenage girl who realized way too fucking late that she was a total bitch. This may be a result of the Dormammu arc from Uncanny X-men, but it is still poorly explained and remains very poorly explained, making this moment both awkward with a touch of bullshit. My penis still loves it though so I’m not going to make a big deal about it.
The next day after a good long rest, the O5 finally meet with Kitty and Magik where they discuss their plans now that they know they grow up to be total assholes if they stay in the present. That discussion once again turns into a case study of how hard it is to make teenagers listen to anything that doesn’t involve sex, drugs, Facebook, or Miley Cyrus. It’s cute, but frustrating for Kitty Pryde. So rather than get their attention with fancy rhetoric and inspirational lectures, she has Magik treat them all to a nice little surprise.
And that surprise, my friends, is brand spanking new uniforms. Granted, Marvel already spoiled this shit at New York Comic Con. At least now we know how they get them. They don’t go on a shopping spree or raid Elton John’s closet. Magik just does a little real magic and poof, they get new uniforms with an awesome color scheme and all. So once again, Marvel shows that magic is basically their version of a cheat code in a video game. It can both undo a marriage and 20 years of continuity or it can create awesome new uniforms. Compared to what Magik could have done, this seems pretty tame.
This definitely gets the attention of the O5 X-men. Now they’re much more inclined to listen to Kitty Pryde as she tells them their plan. It’s not a very refined plan. She basically tells them they’re going to train and make the world a better place, providing a good example for mutants and humans. So basically, they’re doing to do exactly the same shit they’ve always been doing, just with Cyclops’s help, who happens to be a wanted fugitive. I guess she thinks the O5 will learn better if they play the game on hard mode.
But again, the problem is that teenagers suck at listening. During Kitty’s Braveheart-style speech, O5 Jean picks up on the thoughts for both O5 Cyclops and O5 Beast. They’re basically fawning over how pissed they are that she’s fucking with their emotions. O5 Cyclops laments at why she’s disgusted at the idea of them getting married while O5 Beast laments at how she won’t be with him unless he agrees with everything she says. For a guy who prides himself on reason, that’s a deal-breaker if ever there was one. It basically exposes to O5 Jean that she’s fucked with them to the point where they’re not even sure it’s worth it.
The problem with these fucked up thoughts is they change too quickly. I get that teenagers change their mind every other second about some shit, but it felt like this scene was cut way too short. One moment O5 Cyclops is dwelling on how he and Jean end up having kids. The next he’s contemplating on other pretty girls that might not fuck with him quite as much. Clearly, both he and O5 Beast have a lot to learn about women. No matter what age they are or how they look, they’re going to fuck with the hearts of others. Apparently, this is too much for O5 Jean Grey and she has another episode of psychic PMS. Although I think it could be argued that she deserves it for once.
It’s not her worst reaction. It’s not even top 5. She just ends up hovering high in the air and unable to steady her mind enough to come down gently. So O5 Angel has to finally do something useful for once and catch her. This, of course, leads to another moment that will probably have certain fanfiction writers giddy and confused. I get that in the early X-men comics, Jean and Angel had a brief fling. But in All New X-men, O5 Jean Grey fucking mind-raped him a few issues ago. That should kill a boner faster than a sex tape featuring Janet Reno and Larry Flint. Yet it’s still telling enough for both O5 Cyclops and O5 Beast to get that look on their face that’s akin to a constipated tiger. I know All New X-men was built on teenage melodrama, but this just doesn’t fucking work and after the shit in All New X-men #15, that’s saying something.
They don’t get much of a chance to make it work because that little communication network that O5 Beast and Magneto were discussing goes off. There’s some crazy shit going on somewhere in the world and despite still being traumatized by the events of Battle of the Atom, Kitty Pryde orders them to get ready for another fight. They need a distraction that doesn’t involve teen melodrama and a crisis might be just what they need. It sounds more exciting than arguing over who is best qualified to handle Jean Grey’s panties, but not by much.
So the first day at a new school isn’t quite as traumatic as my first day of high school. Then again, my old high school might as well have been an active Weapon X facility. All New X-men #18 was a solid transition from Battle of the Atom. It wasn’t all that exciting. Some of this shit probably should have happened in Battle of the Atom. But I guess this is one of those instances where “better late than never” applies. And so long as it doesn’t apply to an ex-girlfriend’s menstrual cycle, it’s an enjoyable follow-up. The tension in this issue is as awesome as any Sentinel battle. It’s just not quite as well-done as what Bendis has done in the past. I get that teenagers are irrational creatures, but this issue pushed it at times. And since I cut teenagers so little slack for being hormonal time bombs, I won’t gloss over it. All New X-men #18 gets a 7 out of 10. It’s a solid issue, but one that makes it too easy to despise all teenage girls that exploit the boners of horny teenage boys. That shit already too easy as it stands. It doesn’t need to be prominently displayed in a comic. Nuff said!