Thursday, November 28, 2013
Scanned Thoughts: All New X-men #19
Back in high school, I once had to do a group project with a guy whose older sister I boned and in his room no less. He knew it happened. I certainly knew it happened because I kept fighting the urge to yell out "I boned your sister!" the whole time. But it was still an awkward situation and one that made the project all the more difficult. And I fucking hate group projects to begin with. I imagine it's just as awkward for the O5 right now in All New X-men. Not only have they joined Cyclops, the guy they thought murdered the Professor and would cause a full blown mutant genocide. But O5 Cyclops has found out that the love of his life has been swapping spit with other teammates. That's a blow to the heart and a kick to the balls, yet he still has to function on the team while pretending that his brain and penis aren't kicking his ass. So as I review All New X-men #19, I expect it to get awkward, but I don't expect anyone to bone someone's older sister again.
A trip to Miami is one of those trips that can go either way. Someone can either get boned in the best possible way or the worst possible way. There’s a huge difference between banging a couple of European supermodels on South Beach and being beat up by LeBron James in a nightclub. And for one exceedingly unlucky mutant, they might as well be stealing one of LeBron’s championship trophies because they’re being chased by the Purifiers. These people are like the Taliban mixed with creationists mixed with Ted Nugant. They make it so they think God blesses them whenever they kill or horribly maim a mutant. It’s so disgusting it almost makes me think that churches demanding money from their followers, despite not having to pay any taxes, isn’t so bad…almost.
Kitty Pryde and the O5 X-men can’t arrive to kick their asses fast enough. They just got some kick-ass new uniforms so why not break them in a little? They’ve never faced the Purifiers before so they’re probably somewhat surprised when they shoot first and plan to jack off with their entrails later. It forces Kitty Pryde to phase them through the bullets, allowing them to be appropriately shell shocked by what they’re experiencing. But they’re not quite as shell shocked as they probably should be and not just because they know they’ve got Kitty Pryde to protect them from the bullets. They look at these religious nut jobs as if they’re just a bunch of Gears of War cos-players who take their role way too seriously and got into a fight with Halo fans. While I’m willing to attribute this to the O5’s unfamiliarity with the many threats the X-men have faced over the years, the dialog here is weak and somewhat dry.
Actions still speak louder than words and the O5 show once again that despite their youth, they’re pretty damn good in a fight. They took on Hydra, Mystique, and Sabretooth. Taking on the Purifiers should be no more problematic than beating up a bunch of drunken Storm Troopers. Their tactics aren’t too fancy, but they don’t just take Wolverine’s approach and charge head-first into a hail of bullets. They don’t have a healing factor or that much whiskey in their system (that we know of). They manage to occupy the Purifiers while Kitty Pryde goes after the mutant they were harassing. It has the makings of a perfectly choreographed ballet, minus the excessive anorexia.
But while the O5 are competent fighters, they are inexperienced. This shows when O5 Beast manages to get himself hit in a way that will not hurt him anywhere as much as he deserves for his recent bullshit. It’s basically a way of making sure that shit doesn’t come too easy for the O5 X-men. It only works in the sense that it pisses off O5 Jean Grey and when O5 Jean Grey is pissed off, it’s not a fair fight. The Purifiers might as well be baby seals on Dick Cheney’s front lawn. The dialog is still weak, but again the actions speak much louder than words.
While the O5 X-men are handling themselves admirably, Kitty Pryde catches up with the mysterious mutant girl that the Purifiers were using for target practice. Then she makes a startling revelation that really shouldn’t be so startling to anyone who reads comics sober (ie not me). That girl is actually X-23 and for some reason, she claims she’s not a mutant and doesn’t recognize Kitty Pryde. Having not read the final issue of Avengers Arena, I’m left to assume the Purifiers did some really horrific shit to her. It wouldn’t be the first time someone with a healing factor and claws had their memory wiped, but it’s hard to tell from either the situation or the dialog. It’s just clear that X-23 is going to make this shit more difficult than it already is, but she’s a teenage girl. That’s almost a given.
It doesn’t get much more difficult for the O5 X-men though. They continue to handle themselves with a fair amount of competence as they take on the Purifiers. But it isn’t just optic blasts and ice beams. At some point they actually do make an effort to try and learn about these guys and why they think hunting a mutant in the streets of Miami is more important than trying to score tickets to the next Miami Heat game. O5 Angel even points out that their theology is kind of fucked up when he looks like an actual angel and they think he’s an abomination. That would be like calling Scarlett Johansen fat. But in the same way pointing out facts to a creationist does jack shit, O5 Angel can’t convince these guys that God was kind of serious when he gave that “Thoust Shalt Not Kill” commandment. So he does the next best thing and drops his sorry ass. If only someone could do that with Kirk Cameron.
Despite a few hiccups, the O5 X-men are able to subdue the Purifiers. Now the O5 X-men are in a much better position to learn more about these assholes and hopefully teach them why it’s a bad idea to shoot innocent mutants in a crowded city. O5 Cyclops tries at first to play good cop and asks the politely without shooting them with his optic blasts. But since they think God is on their side and he’ll send them to Hell where they’ll have to clean Hitler’s toilet for eternity if they talk, they have a pretty strong incentive to keep their mouth shut. So they go right to O5 Jean Grey, who plays bad cop by peeking into their minds. While she has had a nasty tendency to probe minds without permission, I don’t anybody will have much sympathy for any Purifier who gets mind-fucked.
What O5 Jean Grey sees is really no surprise to any X-men fan or anyone with a Wikipedia app on their smartphone. The Purifiers are just a bunch of religious zealots who use religion to justify violence against mutants in the same way Pat Robertson uses religion to justify his senility. But for O5 Jean, it’s a pretty shocking and pretty disturbing revelation. It’s easy to forget for anyone who has damaged their short-term memory as much as I have that the O5 X-men are still new to this superhero gig, even before they traveled through time. They’ve never faced a threat like the Purifiers. At least the Sentinels didn’t obsessively preach how much God hates them like a Catholic priest with OCD. It’s a jarring yet important discovery for O5 Jean and the O5 X-men, although I suspect O5 Jean is the only one with the urge to throw up.
It would have been easy for O5 Jean to throw another one of her psychic temper tantrums. But by this point, all the shooting and street preaching has attracted the police. They’re a little late to the party so they can be forgiven for not knowing what the fuck is going on. For all they know, this is just a costume party at a nightclub that went horribly wrong. Magik tells them this is their cue to get the fuck out of here. However, O5 Cyclops attempts to placate the situation. He thinks it may be helpful if they tried to help the police in a peaceful, respectable fashion. Apparently, he has never been busted for hiding pot in a bottle of lube at airport security.
It’s actually a pretty interesting moment in that it sets O5 Cyclops apart from his older counterpart, who actually attacked a police station earlier in the series. He still doesn’t quite understand that he’s technically an outlaw and the police aren’t exactly reacting to a surge in the mutant population with donuts and coffee. He’s still trying to handle a situation peacefully, which in this day and age is a pretty novel concept. It’s respectable, even if it is a little stupid. Nobody should be surprised in the slightest when one of the cops tries to shoot him and doesn’t even have the courtesy to claim he has a gun. Magik teleports them out before they could defuse the situation, but it’s still an important distinction between what the O5 are doing and what Cyclops is doing.
Once back at the New Xavier School, they finally have a moment to process what they just encountered. It’s another interesting and important moment. Now they finally allow themselves to be a little shell shocked. And Magik allows herself to be a little pissed at O5 Cyclops when he didn’t understand the simple concept of getting the fuck away when the cops show up packing guns. But what resonates with them even more was the threat posed by the Purifiers. These are not like the Sentinels they faced or even their evil future selves in X-men Battle of the Atom. These are zealous assholes who have no problem snapping the neck of innocent mutants and shitting on their corpses. It’s a lot to take in for a bunch of teenage X-men, especially when they’re trying to keep Charles Xavier’s dream alive.
The impact is definitely greater on O5 Jean Grey, who actually had to read the thoughts of one of these assholes. I imagine it would be like sleeping in Jerry Sandusky’s basement for a night during a full moon on Friday the 13th. She has already had her share of emotional upheavals, but those upheavals aren’t really touched on that much. This is more about her and the rest of the O5 realizing that there are more psychic mutant-hating assholes in the world than they ever expected. It’s like any other teenager learning that sex is much more complicated and messy than porn had led them to believe.
While the O5 X-men are dealing with these very uncomfortable realizations, Kitty Pryde has her own encounter with the cops. To their credit, they don’t just threaten to shoot first and honor the 5th amendment later. Kitty Pryde tries to reason with them as well, but it’s X-23 who ends up being difficult. To get her out of an already stressful situation, she phases her into the sewer. She’s already in a pretty shitty state of mind so Kitty probably figures she won’t mind being in another shitty environment. But it’s here where the extent of the damage done to her becomes more apparent. In addition to not wanting to be touched, she reveals that something fucked her up so bad that she went bald and her face now looks like Hugh Hefner’s nutsack. It’s disturbing, but provides further justification for her attitude. There’s still no clue as to what happened to her, but since she’s shown swapping spit with O5 Cyclops on the cover of the next issue, it’s a given that she’ll get over it pretty damn quickly.
At the very least, I can say that nobody became more or less inclined to bone anyone. After all the melodrama and relationship fodder in the previous issue, this issue took a more simplistic approach. It had a bunch of teenage superheroes in skin-tight outfits beat the shit out of a bunch of heavily armed religious zealots. It’s the kind of shit that brings tears of joy to Richard Dawkins’ eyes. It also effectively introduced X-23 into the pages of All New X-men. While it isn’t clear how the fuck she ended up bald and with no memory, it’ll ensure she’ll be pretty fucked up once she joins the All New X-men. And I guess being fucked up is all that’s necessary to kiss Cyclops. His penis is just that powerful, even as a teenager.
There’s a lot to like about this issue, but it fell flat and was a bit disorganized at times. So I give All New X-men #19 a 7 out of 10. It’s like a burger without bacon, relish, and hot sauce. It’s good, but not awesome. I’m hoping that X-23 can provide the extra bacon needed to make All New X-men as awesome as it deserves to be. Nuff said!