Thursday, December 12, 2013

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #39

Cyclops and Wolverine have been at each other’s throats ever since they shared a boner for Jean Grey. And lately, they’ve been taking advantage of every opportunity to be pissed off at one another. For now, the score is still Cyclops 100 and Wolverine 3. Wolverine gets three points for getting away with murdering his son and never having to spend a day in jail for it. Some have argued that this shit has gotten old. I say fuck those people. Cyclops and Wolverine fighting is like masturbation. It never gets old. And as much as they hate each other, they’re fighting the same battle. After Battle of the Atom, they both want to kick SHIELD’s ass for fronting Sentinel tech. And in Wolverine and the X-men #39, they have a chance to do just that. It may lead to them bitching and moaning about issues they’ve bitched and moaned about many times before. But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be as awesome as ever.

To be fair, Wolverine didn’t sneak into the secret facility containing Sentinel technology (which Dazzler/Mystique purposefully leaked to him) expecting to clash with Cyclops. He entered the facility looking only to give Maria Hill a big middle finger for stockpiling Sentinels in the first place. And honestly, what’s wrong with that? This is actually a legitimate issue in the X-books right now that was exposed in Battle of the Atom. SHIELD, who are supposed to be allies, are basically preparing to launch an all-out war on mutants. Wolverine responding with a pissed off attack is entirely understandable, especially if he hasn’t had his morning bottle of whiskey.

But shortly after busting in and roughing up a few nameless guards, he encounters Cyclops, who once again is a few steps ahead of him. They quickly surmise that they stumbled across the same information. Before Schism, they would have helped each other while still resenting one another over who got to see Jean Grey naked more often. Since Schism, just seeing Cyclops turns Wolverine into a snarling brainless dog that just has his favorite chew toy ripped away from him. It’s an expected reaction, but one that really doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Wolverine doesn’t want to focus on Sentinels anymore. He wants to focus on being pissed at Cyclops while Cyclops wants to accomplish the mutually beneficial goal of sticking it to Maria Hill in the least sexual way possible. It makes Cyclops out to be the hero and Wolverine out to be the whiney asshole who never got to bone Jean Grey once more. Again, we’ve seen this before and those of us who don’t smoke a lot of weed don’t need reminders.

This plot is unfolding alongside another plot that also began in the previous issue. Two mutants, the Blackmore twins, joined the Jean Grey Institute as spies for Dazzler/Mystique. Mystique undoubtedly has plans for them to fuck with Wolverine and his school in the most damaging way possible. But before they can unleash Mystique’s unholy hell upon the Jean Grey Institute, they have to maintain their cover and that means fitting in.

So that’s what they do. They sit in on class like any ordinary student surrounded by monsters, aliens, and a teenage version of Apocalypse. Or maybe ordinary in this context is the same as ordinary in a day in the life of Hugh Hefner. But they’re clearly not ready for some of the more unique aspects of the Jean Grey Institute, aside from having a living island as a front lawn. During a lecture with Storm, the students are elated when she announces homework. Let me repeat that so that everyone can be certain that I’m no more drunk than I usually am. These students…are excited…about homework. I need to say it again. These students are excited about homework.

I don’t think I need to explain how fucked up that is to anyone who ever attended a public school. The word “homework” evokes as much dread in high school as the word “amputation” evokes in a hospital. Yet somehow, the Jean Grey Institute has found a way to make this word exciting for students. I could spend the next 1,000 years smoking the most potent weed every waking hour and I still couldn’t wrap my head around that shit.

So why do the students at the Jean Grey Institute treat homework the same way normal people treat a massage from a team of Swedish supermodels? One word: jetpacks. One more word: pool. Two more words: ski slope. Two more words: power nap. Need I continue? Apparently, the Jean Grey Institute realized that student’s don’t learn jack shit from homework other than how much it sucks. Instead, they feel their time is better spent engaging in various hands-on activities that are both fun, practical, and engaging. It shouldn’t be the most novel fucking concept in the history of mankind. Yet it is. And they do such a good job of it that the word homework has the same glorious connotations as bacon.

I try not to get too personal here on this blog when it doesn’t relate to my drinking or masturbation habits, but I need to stand up and applaud the Jean Grey Institute. I know it’s a fictional school in a fiction world. I also know how that real schools in the real world are glorified prisons meant to keep kids in line and turn them into future taxpayers. I just think it’s tragic that the only place where school and homework is made fun and engaging is in a fucking comic book. I weep for my teenage self and for every other kid enrolled in a shitty public school.

The problem this creates for the story is that Joseph Blackmore, apparently the nicer half of the Blackmore twins, enjoyed it a little too much. When he returns to his room to meet up with his twin, Josephine, he finds out that she apparently didn’t get any homework. In every other universe, that would make her the lucky one. Instead, it just makes her the total bitch. She reminds him that they shouldn’t be enjoying themselves. They’re fucking spies working for SHIELD. So they should be doing spy shit.

There’s clearly some tension between the twins. They are not mutants. Their powers are a direct result of mutant growth hormone. It’s also revealed that they were just a couple of orphans taken in by SHIELD and assigned to this mission. That’s almost as big a dick move as stockpiling Sentinels. It makes the Blackmore twins, at least one of them, easy to sympathize with. But I can’t feel too sorry for them because they are still plotting against the institute.

Part of this plot, like any good plot, involves gathering intel about the students. So the twins offer a special report of sorts that describes the fears and characteristics of their classmates. It actually turns into a nice bit of insight into characters like Genesis, Kid Gladiator, Kid Omega, Shark Girl, and Broo. It’s the kind of insight that is usually glossed over, but in the same way the concept of homework is completely different at the Jean Grey Institute, the very concept of who these students are is different. The insight is great and shows that in addition to being more than just the faceless students that they would have been if they went to my school, they have fears and vulnerabilities. Also, Kid Gladiator sucks his thumb. I think that alone shows just how vulnerable many of these kids are.

There’s some obvious tension between the Blackmore twins. Once they finish assessing their fellow students, there’s some disagreement over their mission. Josephine clearly senses that her brother is becoming too fond of this school. She also senses his penis is becoming too find of Idie. She reminds him that they have to make preparations for when Dazzler gives the order. It’s revealed that the innocent Spider-Man lunchbox they’ve been carrying around is basically a demolition kit. The only issue here is getting Joseph to go through with it. The tension here is very nicely done. It’s like Morgan Sporlock in Super Size Me if he ended up finding out that fast food was both delicious and healthy. It can’t possibly end well for either of them and like an episode of Jackass, that’s what makes it awesome.

What isn’t so awesome is the battle against the Sentinels with Cyclops and Wolverine. Don’t get me wrong. Seeing Wolverine and Cyclops blow up a bunch of killer robots has yet to get old and like taking a good shit, it’s necessary for the continued health of the X-men. But beyond the standard action, they continue to blame each other for all their problems. And it really is the same fucking argument we’ve heard since Schism. Wolverine thinks Cyclops is training mutant soldiers while he’s training students. Cyclops thinks Wolverine is a fucking hypocrite and he doesn’t even know that he left his students to take on Dog Logan in the Savage Land.

In some respects, Wolverine avoids being pwned again. He points out that maybe SHIELD is stockpiling these Sentinels because they’re scared shitless about his revolutionary team. It’s not an invalid point to make, but one that still makes no fucking sense considering Cyclops hasn’t tried to impose mutant dominance on anybody. He even encouraged people to not blame the Avengers (who still want to throw his ass in jail). He’s basically protecting mutants who are getting harassed by the police and as we saw in Uncanny X-men #14, he’s actually doing the same thing Wolverine is doing by training them to use their powers. So in the grand scheme of things, this bickering between them means jack shit.

The story involving the Blackmore twins remains the most compelling plot in this issue. And while they’re sneaking around the institute, preparing for the inevitable moment when Mystique orders them to blow it the fuck up, they’re confronted by the very students they’ve been spying on. It’s pretty damn awkward because as they were doing so, they were getting in touch with SHIELD. So like a teenage boy caught in his parents’ bedroom with his dad’s porno stash, he has no excuses. But it’s awkward in the most awesome possible way. It definitely helps make up for yet another reminder of why Cyclops and Wolverine hate each other for reasons that go beyond Jean Grey’s ass.

This issue accomplished many things. It further reinforced my conviction that my old high school sucked donkey balls while the Jean Grey Institute is the single most awesome school ever imagined. It’s a school that actually makes teenagers excited about homework. I know I’ve said that multiple times, but it’s worth restating. Not only that, it was awesome enough to make a spy for Mystique think twice about screwing them over. That’s almost as astounding as making teenagers like homework…almost. In addition, this issue accomplished making Wolverine and Cyclops hate each other even more. But honestly, at this point that story is older and shittier than Betty White’s asshole. They hate each other. We get it. At least come up with some new reasons for them to hate each other. Without those reasons, I give Wolverine and the X-men #39 an 8 out of 10. At some point, Wolverine and Cyclops have to realize their anti-bromance has to end. At least until that point, they should put more effort into it than Homer Simpson on a sobriety test. Nuff said!

1 comment:

  1. Just figured I'd chime in, I've been reading your blogs for a while now but never commenting. I just want to say that I find your narrative voice hilarious and that I agree with you on a number of points. I'm glad that there are others who are fed up with Wolverine's hypocrisy and who think Beast is as big a tool as I do. Keep up the good work!