Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #3

When I was a kid, I remember crying when I saw the part in the Lion King when Mufasa died. Then my teacher slipped me some Ritalin and I calmed the fuck down real fast. But minus the influence of powerful prescription drugs, I do get emotional and not just after downing a 12-pack of beer. And emotions have been running pretty high in Amazing X-men. Nightcrawler has returned and now he’s fighting to save every soul in heaven from his asshole of a father. And the members of the Jean Grey Institute have been drawn into this battle, meaning he’s about to reunite with the friends he gave his life to save. It has all the makings of something that should be read with caution, especially for women on their periods. For me, I’m just trying not to review Amazing X-men #3 while too drunk. I don’t need to be getting that emotional unless I’m trying to nail a stripper in Las Vegas.

There’s not much depth to Azazel’s emotions in this story. He makes his agenda in this story as clear as the fires of Hell, if that’s not too wrong a metaphor. He’s a pirate, plain and simple. Like any other pirate, his agenda revolves around hijacking other peoples’ shit and getting anyone who enjoys that sort of thing to join him. And there are a lot of those people rotting in Hell, Heaven, and Purgatory apparently. He even takes time to share a toast, reminding them that he delivers on his promises to help them sail the seas of Hell and plunder whatever heavenly booty they can find. Makes me wonder how valuable Marilyn Munroe’s booty is in this place, but I’m sure that’s on their list of plunder.

This swashbuckling toast is rudely interrupted by an X-man who has built a strong reputation for being a rude douche-bag. That’s right. Beast is the lucky X-man to get his first swing at Azazel. And for once, he doesn’t do or say anything to make me hate him more than I already do. Aside from his addiction to coffee, he takes on Azazel and his demon pirates with the kind of poise and swag that almost make me forget about all the bullshit he’s piled on in various other books…almost. He is also the first to identify Azazel as the main source of the threat. There’s a nice exchange that reminds readers that Azazel is Nightcrawler’s father. It’s probably the only reminder of the Chuck Austin run in Uncanny X-men that needs to be brought up without inducing heavy bouts of vomiting.

In the process of battling Azazel, Beast finds the time to have a nice conversation with his deceased friend’s father. I’m just assuming that all nice conversations in Hell involve sword fights by the way. Azazel basically acts like a typical Bond villain in that he divulges his plans outright, as if somehow this time it won’t end with him being humiliated and Bond getting laid. But all he’s doing is stealing souls because in the grand scheme of things, souls are better than gold. In the Marvel Universe, souls allow whoever has them to basically become their own God or their own Devil or their own Loki, whichever they prefer. That makes them way better than gold, dollars, or blow. And Azazel basically wants to be to souls what Goldman Sachs is to money. It’s simple, but still ambitious in a way that doesn’t involve sharks with lasers on their heads.

Beast is still not impressed. Being a man of science, he looks at Azazel’s conquest of the afterlife in the same way Richard Dawkins looks at exorcists. I get the sense he’s taking a few jabs at organized religion in the process, calling himself an agnostic. But a word like agnostic is basically like the word, non-white. It’s just a watered down version of another world that would get him beat up in certain circles. So religious folks have even more reason to be pissed at this issue. They’ll probably be even more pissed when they see Beast take Azazel’s sword and redecorate his ship in ways that couldn’t be matched without a chainsaw. And he does it all with math. Fuck, if I knew I could do that shit with math, I wouldn’t have used my old text book to roll joints.

Now I know I give Beast a hard time on this blog. And while some of it could be attributed to booze and blow, I do think he’s earned every bit of my intoxicated rants. He’s a whiney, self-righteous son-of-a-bitch who can’t see the big picture without trying to photoshop his dick into it. But I will give credit where credit is due. This guy just took on Azazel in a pretty fucking epic battle that couldn’t be more enjoyable without Johnny Depp being involved. He used his wit, skills, and charisma to pwn Azazel. And for that, I’ll gladly buy him a beer.

That said, I wasn’t too saddened when Azazel eventually got the better of Beast. After fucking up his ship, Azazel is almost as sick of Beast as I am. So he manages to do a little creative teleporting to kick Beast overboard. It’s a somewhat inglorious way for him to go down. But seeing as how he was going up against Azazel and an entire ship of his minions, I think he held his own nicely. And he’s clearly not dead, although he probably wishes he was. So Beast may get another shot at fucking up Azazel.

Being pwned by Beast doesn’t just piss Azazel off. It lets him know that the rest of his son’s friends have now been thrown into the mix. Since they fucked up his plans last time, he knows he’s got to fuck them up first. So he leaves someone else in charge of his ship and goes after his son and his friends. I guess at some point it had to become a fucked up family affair. Makes me wish Mystique would enter the mix at some point. Then it would be a full blown family reunion and if there were ten cases of beer, some of my family members would fit right in.

On another ship in these hellish seas, Storm is still captive with another group of pirates. These also happen to be pirates she roughed up in the previous issue. And she did it without her powers too so that makes it even more humiliating. They look at her the same way a bunch of drunken sailors looks at a baby seal. She’s alive with a fresh soul and she’s got a great rack. I imagine in Hell she would be like a former Playboy model, Olympic gymnast, and master chef. She’s basically a prime cut of meat to these demons and at one point, it looks like they’re ready to fire up the grill.

Then it happens. Nightcrawler finally confronts one of his friends again. He shows up just in time to prevent the demons from tearing into Storm like a hungry wolf into a pile of bacon. He shows off his trademark swashbuckling badass, beating up the demons and getting a little cozy with Storm. She’s understandably shocked and overwhelmed. This is where the emotions of the story finally start to escalate. The last time Storm saw Nightcrawler, it was at his funeral. And seeing him again strikes more than a few chords.

For a moment, it looks like it would get too emotional. But there’s still the matter of the army of demons attacking them. It’s somewhat of a relief, but not by much. There are some pretty intense emotions at work and it really wouldn’t take much to turn this into a Nightcrawler/Storm/Wolverine love triangle. Given that Storm is already in a relationship with Wolverine where foreplay in the shower is a requirement, it opens the door to plenty of possibilities. And given how poorly love triangles have affected Wolverine in the past, I hope we don’t have to go through that shit again.

But the emotions in this moment offer more than just the prospect of another bullshit love triangle. As Nightcrawler and Storm fight off the demon pirates, we get a nice little flashback that shows the two of them in the early days of the X-men, specifically the All New, All Different era before all these bullshit retcons about Storm and Black Panther. Storm wasn’t sure she fit in with the X-men. She was homesick and didn’t feel like she belonged. Then Nightcrawler convinced her to stay by giving her a new garden to tend. It was a beautiful gesture that both convinced Storm to stay and endeared her to Nightcrawler. It’s a beautiful moment and one that helps highlight the emotions of the moment. I actually had to stop drinking when I read this part of the story because it was getting to the fragile point between crying and dry heaving.

Those emotions are thankfully tempered by more demon pirate ass-kicking. Storm and Nightcrawler are much better equipped to take them on than Beast. They manage to make it look easy, fun, and entertaining. In that sense it’s like a skilled stripper, but not as expensive. It seems to be going well, but then their ship is unexpectedly rammed by another ship. Storm and Nightcrawler certainly don’t seem too concerned because this means more pirates to fight. And in the same way nobody wants a lap dance to end too quickly, they don’t want to right out of pirates.

But this ship didn’t just bring pirates with it. Remember how Beast got knocked back into the water by Azazel? Well that’s a big fucking deal because the waters in Hell tend to have a way of fucking people up worse than a dip in a pond in a frozen lake in January. It fucked Beast up so much that now he’s in full kill-everything-that-looks-like-meat mode. Whereas the reunion with Storm was very emotional, this one is lacking in that area and adds a rather fucked up complication to the mix. I’m sure Nightcawler and Storm would rather be fighting demon pirates.

So I guess only one of the two reunions went over well. That’s okay, but somewhat limited. This issue was very focused in that respect, but it was so focused that those who aren’t sober in reading this part may forget that Wolverine, Northstar, Firestar, and Iceman are caught up in this shit too. They weren’t even mentioned. That wouldn’t be a big deal if the first few issues didn’t make an effort to include them as well. I know they’ll show up in future issues, but it gives the tone in this issue a lesser impact in terms of scope. But it does compensate to some extent with all the emotional upheaval.

The emotions in this issue weren’t quite as strong as I thought. I was able to read through the whole thing drunk without sobbing in between shots. But they did resonate. While I’m not fond of the idea of there being a Nightcrawler/Storm/Wolverine love triangle, I don’t deny that Storm and Nightcrawler shared a special bond. And being reminded of that bond was refreshing and satisfying. It was almost as satisfying as seeing Beast lose his fucking mind, but let’s face it. He lost his fucking mind long ago when he became the consummate whining Cyclops-hating bitch. There was a lot of action, but it was somewhat narrow and drawn out. The scope of the story was a lot smaller here compared to previous issues. It didn’t detract from the plot, but it does make it necessary to take a few extra bong hits to make it feel as epic as it was set up to be. I give Amazing X-men #3 a 7 out of 10. Now if only Beast’s mind would stay lost. If it means he bitches less about Cyclops, then I say it’s worth it. Nuff said!

1 comment:

  1. i hate to be the one to say it but this is probably the weakest book with the word x-men in the title.