Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Scanned Thoughts: All New X-men #20
Let's not kid ourselves. Teenage hormones scare the shit out of us. Everyone at some point remembers a time when they were at the mercy of hormones and instincts that overwrote every logical portion of the brain. Every repressive culture on the planet tries their hardest to contain teenage passions. That's why they're forcibly locked up in public schools like prisoners and segregated on the grounds that some mystical desert god will torture them mercilessly if they give into these desires. Because the only thing more terrifying to grumpy old fucks than change is the thought of teenagers having sex and enjoying it. The horror. Many teenagers have hooked up over the history of the X-men. Some have led to epic love stories. Some have been so casual they might as well have been ordering a pizza. All New X-men #20 got a lot of people talking, including yours truly, when it revealed O5 Cyclops and X-23 swapping spit on the cover. Well now we finally get to see if that cover was just another bullshit ruse. Given the power of teenage hormones, I'm sure those old fucks I mentioned earlier are absolutely terrified.
As for most regular fucks, they would be more terrified by the notion that they now have a clone of Wolverine in their midst and they took her to a former Weapon X base. That's like taking Jason Voorhees to a camp counselor convention. No good can possibly come of it. Kitty Pryde and the rest of the O5 X-men don't seem to realize that until after she wakes up and looks at them the same way I look at a plate of freshly cooked bacon. They try to talk to her in a calm, caring manner. They also don't seem to realize that she's a fucking teenage girl who happens to be related to Wolverine. She might as well be Charlie Sheen in a Tijuana whore house. There's no calming her down. At the very least, she healed from that horrible Sinead O'Conner look in the previous issue. She also says outright that she knows who she is so we don't have to deal with any of that amnesia shit. Lord knows Wolverine already milked that cow to death and wiped his ass with the udders.
It's only at this point that Kitty and the O5 X-men figure out that bringing X-23 to a former Weapon X facility was a shittier idea than mixing laxatives with sleeping pills. She storms out, wearing only a pair of shorts and a tank top. But it's too late for them to apologize for being more short-sighted than George W. Bush on a relapse. And to X-23's credit, she doesn't make them feel any dumber by trying to carve their lungs out and shove them up their asses. She just bolts, not even taking the time to change into something more appropriate than a pair of shorts and a tank top. By Miley Cyrus standards, she's still overdressed.
But Kitty Pryde and O5 X-men aren't about to let their short-sighted stupidity piss off another temperamental mutant with adamantium claws. O5 Jean reveals that she picked up on a few thoughts that showed X-23 picking up pretty quickly that she was in a Weapon X facility, as if her threatening them and running off wasn't a clear enough sign. The reaction of the rest of the O5 is actually pretty funny. They can't imagine why the fuck anyone would want to clone Wolverines. Obviously, they don't work for Marvel's marketing department or Fox because clone Wolverines to them is basically like having their own printing press for money. But regardless of why anyone would want more Wolverines running around in the Marvel universe, O5 Cyclops takes it upon himself to go talk to her. If anyone is going to get through to X-23, it might as well be the guy whose penis one day satisfies Jean Grey and Emma Frost.
But even before he reaches her, O5 Jean picks up that he "fancies" X-23. I'm not sure if that means he just likes how her tits look or if he wants to be her personal gigolo. But she doesn't seem overly upset about it, which is somewhat strange considering she freaked the fuck out when she sensed O5 Cyclops and O5 Beast entertaining thoughts of hooking up with other women. It doesn't seem to fit the ongoing narrative of O5 Jean being very sensitive to other women that draw the attention of her other teammates. Did she just suddenly stop giving a shit? When did that happen? It's a strange inconsistency and one I hope doesn't get forgotten along with Wesley Snipe's tax returns.
O5 Cyclops let's his teammates speculate on just what "fancies" might imply and goes after X-23. He catches up with her when she apparently figures out that she's horribly under-dressed for this weather, although she could probably still be a cheerleader for the Green Bay Packers. O5 Cyclops tries to talk to her in a calm, understanding tone again. Naturally, X-23 isn't buying it. She just got done battling Arcade's nightmares in Murderworld. She's not exactly going to trust someone who looks like a teenage version of a guy she didn't really care much for the last time she was with the X-men. But she sniffs him to confirm that this is actually a teenage Cyclops. I also imagine that she's glad it's so cold out because it effectively conceals her panties, which would probably be soaked if they were still in Florida.
X-23 hasn't apparently been keeping up with the X-men's Twitter feed. She doesn't know that the O5 X-men have traveled from the past and are stuck in the present for a while. She's understandably confused, as were so many other fans when it was first announced. I know where she's coming from and she doesn't have the luxury of knowing where to get awesome weed. She also has to contend with the notion of having two Cyclops's to deal with. I imagine that's too much for any girl's panties to contain. But beyond the novelty of dealing with another Cyclops, there's still the issue of what the fuck happened to her in Florida that made her an amnesic Patrick Stewart cos-player.
The conversation that follows is pretty well-done despite having some very disturbing topics. It's still a bit inconsistent though. At one point they're talking about her being chased by religious zealots that gave way too much money to Rick Santorum in the last presidential election and the next X-23 is floored by the notion of being around Jean Grey, who she never got to meet before she joined the X-men. It's like a conversation between a couple of teenagers with ADD and damaged short term memory, but they still manage to stay on track for the most part.
And once again, O5 Jean cheats a little by reading more of X-23's thoughts. She, O5 Beast, and Kitty Pryde happen to be evesdropping, probably because they're curious to see if X-23 is going to jump O5 Cyclops's bone. However, O5 Jean's voyeur fetish is effectively killed when she senses just what happened to X-23 in Florida. But before she can probe deeper, Kitty Pryde scolds her. She still hasn't quite learned why it's not polite to read someone's thoughts without permission. She's proving to be a slower learner than Lindsey Lohan at rehab. But seeing that she's more disturbed by X-23's thoughts than she is at the notion of O5 Cyclops wanting to bone her says a lot.
After the novelty of talking to a time-displaced X-man wears off, X-23 finally starts filling in some blanks. Apparently, she just happened to be visiting Florida at the worst possible time. She was a mutant and the Purifiers were looking for mutants. They found her and tortured her in ways that would probably make the Spanish Inquisition vomit uncontrollably. She was so wounded that it took her a while to heal and her memories didn't exactly heal fast enough. It's as good an explanation as anyone could have hoped for. She was just really fucked up by the Purifiers and like Wolverine after an orgy with an army of Lady Deathstrikes, it took a while for her to recover.
But it doesn't just stop with a concise yet disturbing explanation. Despite them taking her to a fucking Weapon X facility, X-23 shows some gratitude for the O5 coming to her rescue. She and O5 Cyclops even have a nice little moment. However, there's no kissing or copping a feel, despite what the cover shows. The most that happens is that O5 Cyclops tries to hug X-23. It sounds creepy, but honestly, who doesn't needs a hug more than X-23 at this point? It's a perfectly innocent gesture and I don't usually get to say that about a couple of teenagers. And X-23 finds it a little awkward, but not because she doesn't appreciate it. She points out that Kitty, O5 Beast, and O5 Jean are still watching, which leads me to believe that if they were in private, she might be more receptive to more than just a hug.
That's pretty much as close to sexy cover we're going to get with this issue. I still won't put it on the same levels as the cover for Astonishing X-men #44, but at least a connection has been established between X-23 and O5 Cyclops. And that connection is more important than just whether or not they'll swap spit because now X-23 is inclined to help the O5 hunt down the Purifiers. And that's what the rest of this issue focuses on.
They return to Florida and track down the Purifers to what looks like an old carnival. I'm pretty sure the Joker could sue them if he wanted because it looks like the same exact place where the Killing Joke took place. I think somewhere out there Alan Moore getting more cantankerous than he already is. They track them down just as the son of William Styker is giving one of his Ted Haggard style speeches, condemning mutants and Cyclops's newfound celebrity. He even touches on the presence of the O5 X-men, criticizing them for giving the finger to the laws of nature. It may be the most reasonable criticism ever offered by a religious zealot, but I still have a hard time taking seriously anyone that uses a scientific argument who thinks the Earth is only 6,000 years old and the sound of a condom opening makes Jesus cry.
Kitty Pryde, X-23, and the O5 can't bust up this sermon fast enough. O5 Jean even fucks with it a bit, tweaking the mind of Stryker Jr. to order that his men take their clothes off rather than prepare to fight mutants. I'm sure it gave them the disturbing impression that they had joined the Catholic church by mistake. But before it turns into something that will give the Vatican more migraines, the X-men bust into their church and start kicking their asses. As satisfying as it is to see them beat up religious zealots, I'm somewhat disappointed that they didn't wait a little longer to see if Stryker Jr.'s men would actually get naked and start doing the kind of shit that would make Elton John blush. Then again, maybe they didn't feel comfortable fighting a bunch of naked religious men. I'm sure plenty of ex-Catholics would feel the same way.
The battle that follows is pretty standard, yet still nicely detailed. It's very similar to the action we saw in the previous issue. The O5 show that they're not just time displaced X-men who still haven't figured out how to destroy an army of Sentinels with one hand tied behind their back. Plus, they now have X-23 on their side. That's like bringing an army of pitbulls to a fight against a pack of hungry squirrels. It seems to be going so well. They're beating up a bunch of religious zealots, they're helping X-23 get a little sweet vengeance on the people that fucked her up, and they get to go to a carnival. That's like the perfect Friday night for Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher.
But of course it can't be that easy. Like debating with creationists, religious zealots always find a way to keep fucking with people. Despite Stryker Jr.'s rant against mutants, he reveals that he has a little mutant mojo of his own. Now it's not clear if this is a mutant power, a product of the recent shit involving the Inhumans, or something he stoke from Tony Stark's dumpster. But he unleashes some big bright light and since LSD is not involved, that's a bad thing because it knocks out almost the entire team. So now it's not just X-23 who is at the mercy of the Purifier's torture. Now it's the whole team. It's like dropping a dozen tied up supermodels into Ted Bundy's basement. It's going to get disturbingly messy.
Well once again, we are the victims of a deceptive cover. If only All New X-men #15 had been so deceptive. My penis was somewhat saddened by how the story played out, but it wasn't discouraged. The main purpose of this issue was to bring X-23 into the mix and it fucking succeeded. And thankfully, there was no amnesia involved and that's a huge relief. Because let's face it, O5 Cyclops hooking up with an amnesiac girl would just be too creepy even for a guy that makes a living pwning Wolverine. And whereas the last issue was just mostly fighting, there was much more talking with this issue. And while X-23 and O5 Cyclops didn't kiss, they did seem to form a connection of sorts. That connection helped fill in some vital blanks and given all the loose ends we had with X-men Battle of the Atom, that's more refreshing than a cold beer at a hot wings eating contest. And all that talking was nicely balanced with some visceral action at the end. Sure, it ended with the whole team getting captured and they're likely to be tortured horribly. But seeing as how the enemies involved are religious zealots that actually take Pat Robertson seriously, is anyone really more disturbed than they would have been after listening to one of Ted Haggard's old sermons? I say thee nay. All New X-men #20 gets an 8 out of 10. It's not epic and it's not going to soak anybody's panties, but it'll encourage everyone to keep a bottle of lube and a box of tissues handy for the next few issues. Nuff said!