Thursday, January 23, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #40
Every now and then I wonder if I could ever forgive my high school guidance counselor for feeding me all these lies and bullshit about how my future would pan out. I never have to wonder for very long. Once I sober up, I always end up saying fuck that asshole. If he wants forgiveness, he should find religion. But I’m a petty drunk who reviews comics on a blog. I’m not a superhero like Wolverine or Cyclops. And those two have almost as much reason to hate each other as I have reason to hate my guidance counselor. Ever since Schism, they’ve been looking for reasons to beat each other to a pulp. At times they’ve found some pretty damn good reasons. But in the pages of Wolverine and the X-men, they’ve had to resist those urges and work together to stop a Sentinel plot that has been unfolding in multiple titles. And they have to do this while Mystique is planning a secret attack on the Jean Grey Institute. It’s beautifully awkward and that’s why I’m so excited about Wolverine and the X-men #40. Maybe if Cyclops and Wolverine became buddies again, I could learn to forgive my guidance counselor. Sorry, I just can’t say that with a straight face.
I’m pretty sure the Bricklemoore twins can’t say with a straight face that their on the same page either. The last issue ended with Joseph and Josephine confronting a contingent of pissed off Jean Grey Institute students that include Kid Omega, Kid Gladiator, Idie, Shark Girl, Eye Guy, Kid Apocalypse, and Broo. But unlike his twin sister, Joseph actually came to enjoy his infiltration of the Jean Grey Institute so much that he now has a new appreciation for homework. I feel like I need to say that again. The Jean Grey Institute made homework awesome. That sort of shit isn’t easy to overlook and when Josephine prepares to get all Maria Hill on the students, Joseph holds her back long enough for the students to trick them with help from a bamf. It officially turns the Bricklemoore twins against each other in a way that couldn’t be more satisfying if they were a couple of Playboy playmates oil wrestling in a pool of caramel.
While their battle is just beginning, the battle with Wolverine and Cyclops is already over. The finally had to put off their dick-measuring contest and work together in the previous issue to destroy a secret army of Sentinels. And they succeeded, but not without incurring more wounds than a night alone with a drunk Chris Brown. They beat the Sentinels and are incredibly sore, so much so that they actually help each other drag their asses and inflated egos off the floor. It’s not exactly akin to the bromance version of make-up sex, but it is a nice change of pace from the seething hatred that seems to follow them every time their paths cross.
There’s still the matter of the assholes that run this Sentinel factor and SHIELD, who currently have a hard-on for throwing Cyclops in jail and infiltrating the Jean Grey Institute. But after the events of X-men Battle of the Atom, I imagine both Wolverine and Cyclops have stopped giving a shit about how much they upset Maria Hill. They also surmise that whoever let them find this place was hoping that they would kill each other. It’s not an unreasonable plan. It might have helped if they attached posters of Jean Grey to every wall because that would certainly piss them off enough to want to maim each other.
After stumbling out of the wreckage from the Sentinels, they find themselves in a storage closet where they’re badly in need of medical supplies. In the process Cyclops makes clear that he’s not in the mood for fighting Wolverine anymore, no matter how satisfying it may be to pwn him again. With this in mind, Cyclops and Wolverine decide a very different course that gives the biggest possible middle finger to SHIELD and Maria Hill. Instead of just leaving in one piece, Wolverine sniffs out a secret cache of beer. It’s not only the best possible medicine after getting their asses kicked by Sentinels. It further proves my long-held theory that beer can bring people together…to a point.
For the Bricklemoore twins, I’m sure they’ll wish they had that much beer because the bamf they grabbed ended up taking them on a few extra homework assignments and not the awesome kind either. They end up getting involved in a Danger Room session that begins in the girl’s bathroom of all places, which is actually somewhat fitting if it takes place during a certain time of the month. Then the bamf drags them to various other parts of the Jean Grey Institute that ranges from Karoka’s mouth to a bamf den in the basement. It’s basically like a roller coaster ride if it were designed by a schizophrenic on a bad LSD trip.
It’s not just to terrify the piss out of them either. The Jean Grey Institute students want them to get the full experience of what it is like to be a student at the institute. That means cramming all the crazy shit they go through in one semester into a single nasty trip. It’s devious, yet it gets the point across. I’m pretty sure the Bricklemoore twins will need more than beer to process all this shit. But I bet a full twelve pack of imported German beer that it’s still way more stimulating than any class they ever got at an underfunded public school.
They eventually make it back to Jean Grey Institute students, who have just been casually playing cards and waiting them to finish their ride through the horrors of a school that actually makes homework awesome. It definitely gets their point across about just how much the school has to offer. However, it doesn’t make Josephine any less determined to shoot anyone that gets in the way of her mission. It also doesn’t make Joseph any less hesitant to attack this school that he accidentally became so fond of.
But the students of the Jean Grey Institute don’t wait for them to hug it out. They’re ready to expel their asses from their school and let them remember those lessons fondly when they go back to much shittier schools with homework that actually sucks. Josephine is willing to fight back, despite being horribly outnumbered on top of being a vindictive bitch. But Joseph is more hesitant, at least at first. It gives the impression that it’s going to be tough around the holidays for these two for the foreseeable future.
It’s actually pretty sad that Wolverine and Cyclops are now getting along better than the Bricklemoore twins. At this point they’ve treated their wounds and gotten very drunk, a win-win if ever there was such a thing. Cyclops and Wolverine haven’t been drinking buddies very often, but when they do decide to get plastered together, it makes for some great moments and not the kind that turns into gay fanfiction either. Although I imagine this scene will inspire plenty.
As is often the case with booze, the alcohol loosens them up a bit. Cyclops asks Wolverine why he still hates him so much. He then goes onto say how much he misses Professor Xavier and how he never would have killed him if he had been in control of himself. It’s the kind of shit that has been discussed before, but adding alcohol to the mix adds a special bit of sincerity. It helps both men open up in ways they probably wouldn’t do unless Emma Frost’s tits were involved. They even get practical about it, which is something that doesn’t usually happen with alcohol. Cyclops points out how they all rallied behind Jean after she killed five billion aliens, yet they want to throw his ass in jail. It’s one of those things that usually only gets debated on message boards and never within the actual comic. And Jason Aaron does a way better job of keeping it civil here than any message board. And the characters here are drunk. That’s saying a lot.
Wolverine points out how Jean knew what she had done while he doesn’t think Cyclops knows. I don’t really agree with that notion because it sounds way too much like an excuse, especially considering how Cyclops was willing to let Wolverine kill him at one point if he thought he honestly thought he would kill the Professor willingly. But Wolverine does make some valid points about how Cyclops has become too headstrong, too arrogant, and too much like him. It’s the first time Wolverine hasn’t sounded so damn petty about his hatred for Cyclops. While some of it still comes off as a shitty excuse, it hits all the right chords. The beer is just a bonus.
Cyclops makes his case as well. He points out that he’s not a terrorist and he’s not going to stop fighting just because Professor Xavier is gone. He can’t do shit from a jail cell to help the mutant race and Wolverine knows that. But at the same time, he also knows what he did and he beats himself up over it all the time. Wolverine just argues he doesn’t beat himself up enough. That is debatable, but it’s not something I can just smoke a joint and disagree with. Again, it actually isn’t petty for once and that’s pretty fucking remarkable given how he’s reacted around Cyclops lately. It makes me wonder if this is one of those conversations neither of them will remember. But as someone who has gotten blackout drunk and had many heart-to-heart moments with perfect strangers and relatives, I can attest that it doesn’t make these conversations any less meaningful.
In the end it all comes back to Jean Grey. It has to come back to Jean Grey with these two. Their dicks won’t allow them any other option. Wolverine, in a bit of honesty that will upset his penis and all the Jean/Logan fans out there, admits that he has so much blood on his hands that he can’t not die a monster. That means he will be alone in the long run. And that means Cyclops has to be the one that Jean fell in love with. Now that he’s not dating Emma anymore and they have a time-displaced Jean in their presence, that’s not an unreasonable request. It’s something they can both drink to and it nicely sums up the divide between these men. In the history of drunken conversations, there have been many wonderful moments that have brought men together or made them beat the shit out of each other. On behalf of drunks everywhere, I declare this one to be one of the best.
It doesn’t turn out as beautifully for the Bricklemoore twins. Before that battle against the Jean Grey Institute students can unfold, Joseph makes a fateful decision. He turns on his twin sister, which will probably doom him to a lifetime of awkward holidays. But after his experience in a place where homework doesn’t suck, he’s willing to make that sacrifice. He knocks his twin sister out and surrenders to the students. But his humility doesn’t end there.
The Jean Grey Institute made such an impression on him that he’s willing to betray his sister and incur the wrath of SHIELD. And in an act that seems fitting and tragic, he’s willing to let Kid Omega erase his memories of this experience in order to protect it. That’s placing a lot of trust in Kid Omega, who may also make him forget how to wipe his ass just for kicks. But it makes for a nice moment and a fitting resolution that sends just the right message. And that message is that kids are willing to sacrifice for a school where homework doesn’t suck.
In the end the Bricklemoore twins leave the Jean Grey Institute without betraying SHIELD or the Jean Grey Institute. They also leave with the impression that it won’t be a threat because I guess Kid Omega has been through enough shitty schools to impart that experience on anyone. It may be cruel in some respects, but it ensures the least amount of damage for both sides. While the Bricklemoore twins were frauds and spies, it’s still hard not to care about them or their experience. They got to go to an awesome school where homework didn’t suck. That’s a hard thing to get over and I’m sure they’ll have dreams about how awesome a school could have been, but will never be. At least not one that’s publicly funded.
While I doubt I’m any closer to forgiving my guidance counselor, I believe this is as close as I’ll get to every believing that high school teenagers can rise to the challenge of doing the right thing for the right reasons. This issue brought a tear to my eye and a beer to my lips. It covered so much, perfectly balancing the plot with the Bricklemoore twins and the plot with Wolverine and Cyclops. It was by far the most meaningful development between the Jean Grey Institute and Cyclops’s team since Avengers vs. X-men. It hit so many right notes and resonated perfectly in so many amazing ways. Not only that, it really endeared me to the Bricklemoore twins. With Wolverine and the X-men nearing the end of Jason Aaron’s run, it’s fitting that this series is raising the bar higher than Seth Rogan on 4/20. I proudly give Wolverine and the X-men #40 a perfect 10 out of 10. I can’t anything less to a comic that proves once again that beer can bring bitter rivals together. Nuff said!