Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: All New X-men #23
In my experience as a professional drunk, I’ve woken up in some pretty strange places in some pretty fucked up situations. One second I’m entering a bar looking to celebrate another week of awesome comics. The next thing I know I’m lying face down in a petting zoo in my underwear and there’s a pig missing. I’m okay with remaining blissfully ignorant about some things. But for O5 Cyclops and the rest of the time displaced X-men in All New X-men, they don’t have that luxury. The Trial of Jean Grey has begun and they just got their asses kicked by a Shi’ar commando unit that abducted O5 Jean. I imagine they’ll be pretty messed up when they learn the details that the Guardians of the Galaxy share with them. But at least they’ll have their pants on. So in reviewing All New X-men #23, I still consider them lucky in that respect. There are just some things nobody should have to explain to a security guard at six in the morning.
So with my blackout experience in mind, I can’t help but sympathize for O5 Cyclops. He was on the losing end of an alien attack in the first issue of this event. And instead of seeing blurred visions of some fat transvestite he may or may not have proposed to, he sees a vision of O5 Jean Grey. And she’s actually not pissed at him for once. Instead, she actually acknowledges the letter he wrote to her way back in All New X-men #1. It seems so long ago, but that letter was sort of the beginning of the drama between O5 Cyclops and O5 Jean. Now that O5 Jean is in corrupt clutches of an alien legal system that only Josef Stalin would admire, those emotions are a lot more raw. It also makes waking up from that attack nearly as bad as any hangover.
Now when I wake up and see a talking raccoons, a talking tree, a hot alien woman with green skin, and a space ship I usually assume that the LSD hasn’t worn off. But for O5 Cyclops, it’s just a painful reminder that he has some catching up to do after he passed out. While he was having visions of O5 Jean, the rest of the team agreed to accept help from the Guardians of the Galaxy. Normally accepting help from animals that wield machine guns is a bad idea, especially after losing a fight and being semi-coherent at best. But they don’t have the luxury of sobering up. The others just tell O5 Cyclops that they’re on board a space ship, they’ve teamed up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, and they’re about to take a trip to hostile alien territory. But O5 Cyclops’s first concern is O5 Jean. He’s still a teenage boy. Not even the shock of being in a space ship surrounded by aliens and traveling to a hostile alien system takes priority over a pretty girl. Pussy is just that important to teenagers.
Beyond the concerns of O5 Cyclops and his penis, this actually extends the drama that began in the first issue of this event. O5 Cyclops and O5 Jean weren’t exactly on the friendliest of terms, despite the knowledge that they have a future where they fall in love, bone frequently, and get married. For a good chunk of the All New X-men series, these two have been driven further and further apart by the details of this bullshit future they’re dealing with. Yet they still get all hot and bothered around each other. And now that O5 Jean has been abducted, they have to give a damn about each other again. It has taken a while to develop, but it only makes the ongoing melodrama that much more satisfying.
But for once, melodrama takes a backseat to being confused, pissed off, and scared shitless for O5 Jean Grey. She wakes up from her blackout in much less pleasant surroundings. The Shi’ar trapped her in some force bubble in the previous issue and now those volatile psychic powers that have caused so much confusion, awkwardness, and destruction have been contained. I guess that means the Shi’ar were way more prepared than the rest of the X-men ever were. But that still sucks for O5 Jean because Gladiator makes it clear that Shi’ar law doesn’t give half a fuck about whether someone is time displaced. If they’re guilty of a crime at any point in the timeframe, they will charge you for that shit. I know asshole cops in Arizona that are more forgiving than that.
There really isn’t much else Gladiator does to justify O5 Jean’s imprisonment. Granted, he only recently became the leader of the Shi’ar Empire, but abducting a young girl for crimes committed years ago seems like a shitty way flex his new power. I know President Obama gets shit for how he uses his power, but this is the kind of shit that would make Glen Beck’s head explode. Now maybe Gladiator is thinking that by trying her now, he can avoid the carnage that Dark Phoenix caused. That would make more sense of his actions, but at the moment he just comes off as an asshole who holds a hell of a grudge. Then again, a grudge against someone that killed 5 billion innocent beings might be justified on some levels.
While on their way to rescue O5 Jean from a bullshit Shi’ar show trial, the O5 X-men get to know the Guardians of the Galaxy a bit better. If they’re going to rescue their teammate, they should at least get used to the idea of working with aliens, talking trees, and raccoons with machine guns. And the Guardians aren’t exactly sympathetic either. They seem to agree with the Shi’ar to some extent that while O5 Jean hasn’t committed these crimes, she will eventually. That should piss them off, but I guess they know they have to temper their anger while on an alien ship with a talking tree.
In addition, Kitty Pryde berates herself a little for not seeing this coming. And maybe this is a little late because I remember plenty of overly sober fans on message boards whining about how she failed to see how the Shi’ar would have a problem with a time displaced Jean Grey. Well I don’t hold that against her and not just because I have better weed. She kind of had a lot of shit on her plate with the arrival of the O5 X-men. Between dealing with a bunch of emotionally vulnerable teenagers, Mystique, Hydra, and a time displaced Brotherhood, how the fuck was she supposed to think, “Hey wait a minute, is it at all possible that the Shi’ar could still be pissed at what happened with Dark Phoenix and send a fucking commando unit to abduct her?” It may seem obvious to some, but given the circumstances I think she deserves a pass. Her admitting she fucked up, which is something not a lot of people do when they’re sober, is worthy of admiration.
But they don’t get a chance to admit all their fuck-ups or explain why they’ve decided to set up shop in the future. As soon as they enter Shi’ar space, they take on the same status as a wounded zebra in a den of hungry lions. A much bigger, much more imposing Shi’ar space ship finds them and starts shooting in a scene that should have Star Wars fans giddy like a horny rabbit on crack. It leads to some rough turbulence, which for seasoned X-men is usually no more annoying than an itchy nutsack. But these are the O5 X-men and this is the first time they’ve ever been into space. Being shot at by an alien battle cruiser is like having to fight off an army of ninjas after seeing only one Bruce Lee movie. It’s overwhelming and gives the impression that the Guardians of the Galaxy need to splurge on a bigger ship.
It’s not a fair fight, but it still makes for an awesomely inauspicious start to this bold and poorly equipped rescue mission. It’s much more intense than the first clash with the Shi’ar, which might as well have been a SWAT team raiding a pre-school. But unlike that battle, the O5 X-men have new friends in the Guardians of the Galaxy to help them out. This sort of battle against bigger, stronger ships that are run by bigger, meaner assholes is what the Guardians do every Monday morning. So while the O5 are busy shitting themselves in zero gravity, Gamora and Angela are getting ready to do battle. It’s still a horribly uneven fight, but it at least one side will be able to fight back. And yes, it helps that this side happens to include hot alien women like Gamora and Angela.
The battle is just as uneven for O5 Jean Grey, who is still stuck in Shi’ar custody and no Saul Goodman to help her out. She does get to speak to someone who might or might not be a lawyer in Oracle. She doesn’t have Saul’s terrible comb-over, but she does offer some perspective as to why the Shi’ar have decided to make her miserable. And for once, it’s not because she’s a minority or guilty of taking a piss on a parked cop car while drunk. She starts asking her about the Phoenix Force, which I’m sure every X-men is sick to the point of dry-heaving. And she finds out via telepathy that while O5 Jean knows about this thanks to the memories she poached from Beast’s perverted mind, she has no firsthand account. So hasn’t committed the crime technically. But I doubt the Shi’ar legal code allows technicalities, unless the emperor happens to be drunk at the time. Maybe someone can get Gladiator some vodka.
This scene acts as a nice reminder of sorts that O5 Jean has seen the future. Way back in All New X-men #5, she saw some pretty nasty spoilers and was almost as disappointed as everyone who got spoilers of X3. But beyond these visions, O5 Jean has been struggling for most of this series to deal with these revelations. Well now she’s out of time. She’s being charged with future crimes and she can’t just curl up into a ball and sulk like a normal teenager is supposed to do when they find out that growing up suck more ass than they thought. It’s a big moment because it means O5 Jean has to deal with her future now and her current attitude towards it just isn’t going to work. And aside from maybe staying awake in an algebra class, adjusting an attitude is the hardest thing for a teenager to do.
O5 Jean probably would trade spots with the rest of her teammates in a heartbeat. Despite being in the crossfire of a Shi’ar battle cruiser, Angela takes Drax and Groot out into the vacuum of space to give a cosmic middle finger to the Shi’ar. They don’t exactly have the impact of the fucking Death Star, but they do give Guardians and the O5 X-men a chance to unfuck themselves. Some even try to join in the fight. X-23 has never been one to shy away from a fight, even if it takes place in space. That actually makes her the most well-adjusted teenager in this entire issue. How fucked up is that? But that even a pissed off teenage with a history of anger issues can only do so much against at Shi’ar battle cruiser run by beings more unreasonable than Baltimore City traffic cops.
Then unlike the ride home from my New Years party, the X-men and the Guardians get a lucky break. Someone else enters the picture and they happen to have as much affection for the Shi’ar as PETA has for Ted Nugant. They surprised the Shi’ar and hit them like the Millennium Falcon hitting Dearth Vadar’s ship before he can shoot down Luke Skywalker. And they didn’t even need to use the Force. Just some big ass laser cannons do the trick. So suck it Jedi! But who else would be willing to help them and who else has an incentive to piss off the Shi’ar?
This leads to a revelation that took me by surprise and not just because I did an extra line of blow this morning. The X-men and the Guardians were helped by the Starjammer. And the man leading them is Corsair, who also happens to be Cyclops’s father. Now this alone wouldn’t be too surprising if it weren’t for that minor detail that Corsair is supposed to be fucking dead. And he’s been dead since the War of the Kings story where his son, and Cyclop’s other long lost brother, fucking killed him. The Guardians even point that out, but Corsair just shrugs it off in the same way Glenn Beck shoves off common sense and basic human decency. He even introduces himself as Major Christopher Summers, not even knowing that his time-displaced son is listening in. This creates an awesome, albeit confusing moment. It’s not enough to be shocking. It has to have an impact and with an impact like this, I can say that this is one of those comics that could make insurance rates skyrocket.
There’s a lot I can say about this issue and this event at this point. The words "fuck" and "yes" come to mind almost immediately. After the first two parts of this crossover were basically just an introduction to the crisis of dealing with the Shi’ar legal system, this issue simplified things. The O5 X-men and the Guardians of the Galaxy are now working together. And before they can even get used to that idea, they get attacked by the Shi’ar. It gives the Guardians a chance to flex their space-fighting muscles and it gives the O5 X-men a chance to shit themselves again at the notion of being in space. And while they’re adjusting, O5 Jean is having the Phoenix Force shoved in her face like a bunch of oversized dicks in a Jenna Jameson greatest hits compilation. There’s still plenty of melodrama and some ass-kicking space battles. Now it’s just more streamlined. It’s like having a lap dance pre-negotiated at a strip club. And yes, that’s as awesome as it sounds. I give All New X-men #23 a 9 out of 10. Now in addition to killer aliens and talking racoons, they’ll have to deal with a family reunion minus the beer and barbeque. In other words it’s going to get worse for O5 Cyclops, but more awesome for drunken fans like me. Nuff said!