Thursday, February 20, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #17
I sometimes wonder whether the adults that run religion and government actively conspire to instill a prisoner mentality in teenagers. Actually, I’m pretty convinced they do to some extent because teenagers can be fucking crazy. They’re a walking hormonal time bomb that has yet to learn basic skills like staying calm, being reasonable, and using common sense. But sometimes I wonder if this is just because teenagers are innately fucked up or because they’re treated like they’re going to fuck up. If suddenly a bunch of teenagers were put in a big building and left unsupervised, would they find a way to function? Or would they just start randomly beating each other up and/or fucking each other? I’m sure some fucking would go on just because teenagers are innately horny, but I don’t doubt that they might be able to instill some order. The keyword there is might. The students of the New Xavier School in Uncanny X-men certainly haven’t shown they’re able to function independently. But it’s a skill they’re going to have to figure out at some point because sometimes Cyclops and his team will have to take a break from teaching to blow up giant robots or save the world. With that in mind, I’ll be grading these up and coming X-men on a curve as I review Uncanny X-men #17.
And that curve is going to have to be pretty fucking steep because this new lesson is a lot like a surprise mid-term, but only if the teachers proctoring the mid-term had access to angry wolves on steroids. I don’t want to give my old teachers any ideas so I’m just going to come out and say Magik drops the New Xavier School students in the middle of a very exotic, very hostile environment. She doesn’t give them any instructions. She just leaves them to their own devices. That’s like my old shop teacher handing out sticks of TNT and saying, “Use your imagination before fleeing to another time zone.” They’re understandably confused and probably pretty fucking scared. However, I still contend that it’s not as scary as a surprise mid-term.
At first, they don’t do much. They’re teenagers. Their initiative is still a work-in-progress-that’s-painfully-slow-at-progressing. They start speculating at where they could be. It could be the Savage Land. It could be another planet. It could be a Danger Room simulation. Or it could be Magik’s favorite vacation spot for all they know. They don’t know. All they know is this isn’t a place they’ve ever seen on Instagram or Facebook. So for them, it might as well not exist.
To get some answers, Hijack reveals that like most of the star athletes at my old school, he’s willing to cheat. He reveals that he snuck his cell phone into the New Xavier School despite Cyclops making it clear that no cell phones are allowed. Being a wanted fugitive and not having the same connections as Edward Snowden, he understands that SHIELD is basically the NSA with guns and hypersonic jets. So using a cell phone is a big no-no. But Hijack doesn’t care. He uses it anyway to figure out that they’re in Montana.
If that sounds a bit random and a bit insulting to anyone that actually lives in Montana, hold the outrage. Montana also happens to be the site of that over-evolved ecosystem that Arcangel created in the Dark Angel Saga in Uncanny X-Force. It would actually be the second time that Cyclops has used this area since he and his team visited it during Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-men run. It makes for a nice connection between other X-books. Just throwing them in some random hell-hole, of which there are plenty in the Marvel universe, would be boring. This maintains a connection to a place that could very well be the next Savage Land. If only it had a beautiful woman running around in a leopard skin bikini like Shanna. I’m sure Marvel is already working on that.
Finding out that they’re in Montana still doesn’t explain much other than Cyclops and the rest of the staff have a fucked up sense of geography. They only realize just how fucked they are when they get attacked by a giant rhino monster. It may sound extreme and downright negligent, but my teenage self would have still traded places with any one of them to get out of gym class. Plus, it would have meant being closer to the Stepford Cuckoos and I think that’s worth being chased by a giant rhino creature. However, that benefit is lost on these inexperienced teenagers. Rather than stand and fight like real X-men, they run and scream like a little girl in a cage of spiders. It’s not as pathetic as it sounds. These are inexperienced mutants. They’re not quite at that point where fighting monsters is something they do every other Tuesday.
Naturally, they don’t stick together and end up fragmenting. Inexperienced teenagers aren’t usually keen on teamwork unless it involves football, basketball, or beer pong. It makes for an inept yet comical display of this team’s inexperience. Given how serious and competent most of the X-men are, it’s somewhat refreshing. But that doesn’t mean that everyone falls flat on their ass like an old Monty Python skit. Goldballs, who has had his share of pathetic moments, actually gets to be somewhat badass for once. He and Tempus get attacked by something that looks like a parrot fucked an ostrich and pumped it with steroids. He still yells and cries like Brett Ratner being chased by angry X-men fans, but he’s able to use his hilariously labeled powers to fight back. He’s not quite as bold or as tactical as Cyclops, but he gets the job done.
As for the students that ran off in a different direction, they’re not quite as lucky even if they are somewhat inept. They end up in a den that looks like a giant spider fucked a giant slug and fed it whatever crazy shit Monsanto feeds its corn. And Triage must have a severe spider phobia because he freaks out so much that two of the Stepford Cuckoos have to use a little psychic nudging to stop it. This actually marks the second time that the Cuckoos have had to use psychic tricks to help these new students grow a set of balls. The first time they did it was in the Limbo arc. I was willing to give them a pass then, but now it’s starting to seem like a crutch. At some point these students won’t have pretty young psychics in school girl outfits to help tweak their minds, although I’m sure they wish they did.
One other tidbit that’s worth pointing out is that one of the Cuckoos has dyed her hair red. I’m not sure which one it is. I know it’s not Celeste since she already established herself as the alpha bitch of the Cuckoos. I know one of them joked about dying their hair red. Yet this issue begins and she does it? Without an explanation? I know this issue is supposed to be about these young X-men gaining experience. But when a pretty blond teenager that happens to be related to Emma Frost dyes he hair, I think that’s something that shouldn’t be glossed over and it’s not just because my penis agrees. These are the little details that separate good comics from awesome comics. When those details aren’t there, it just gives the impression that somebody didn’t give enough fucks. And with comics costing nearly five bucks, there’s just no excuse.
Speaking of Celeste, the alpha bitch Cuckoo, she ends up with Hijack and Ben Deeds after everyone started running wildly. And her title as alpha bitch must carry some pretty shitty karma because as they’re taking shelter under a giant mushroom that isn’t part of an LSD trip, she gets psychically attacked by some mysterious beings that look like naked mud people and not the sexy kind. They must not care for pretty blonds in school girl outfits because they put Celeste in a world of psychic pain. But Ben Deeds, who only recently learned to use his powers, is able to settle things down. I guess he convinces him that hot blonds are more likely to show them her panties by not psychically assaulting her. What a novel concept.
This scares the other Cuckoos because for a moment they think someone flat-lined her mind like an overcooked pizza. But Ben Deeds is able to get them to stop the attack, which allows Celeste to get up and humbly swallow her pride. That’s a joke by the way. Remember the part where I said she’s the alpha bitch of the Stepford Cuckoos? Well that’s means she’s not all that understanding when it comes to any creature that psychically attacks her. So despite Ben’s diplomatic efforts, she decides to lash out and strike back. This doesn’t go over well with the mud people, who Ben explains are highly evolved beings. For Celeste, they might as well be a 13-year-old kid she finds stealing her underwear.
Lucky for Celeste, the rest of the team catches up with her and Tempus freezes the highly evolved mud people in a time bubble. It may have taken a while and a few fuck-ups, the this team of inexperienced teenage mutants is finally getting their shit together. They aren’t exactly making an epic stand for their kind. Again, they’re still teenagers. They’re still learning to think beyond their next Facebook post. But it’s a fitting resolution of sorts and some handle it better than others. Tempus doesn’t handle it quite as well and is somewhat hostile. But this only helps create some nice moments between her and her teammates.
And that’s something else that these new mutants have been lacking since Uncanny X-men began. They really haven’t had a chance to bond or become a team. They have had a few moments, but not as a team. This is really the first time where they’ve been able to function as a team and while they would probably have a losing record if they were a football team, they still functioned to a point where they can say they’re not the 2008 Detroit Lions.
It would have been a semi-victory of sorts for the students of the New Xavier School if only one of them hadn’t decided to shit all over the rules. Remember that cell phone that Hijack snuck past Cyclops? Well I wasn’t joking when I said that SHIELD in the Marvel universe is like the NSA with lots of guns and hypersonic jets. Because just as they’re catching their breath from surviving this exotic death tarp, SHIELD shows up demanding they take them to Cyclops so they can haul him back to jail for crimes he may or may not have committed while under the influence of a cosmic power that got forced in him by accident. I guess this is one instance where being an ill-informed teenager is a good thing because there’s no way they’re going to make sense of this kind of bullshit from an authority figure.
And since he’s the asshole who led SHIELD to them, Hijack makes up for it by giving a nice middle finger to Nick Fury Jr. That involves using his powers to hot wire the high tech metal suits that Fury brought with him and turning it against him. He doesn’t exactly look threatened. He’s Nick Fury with a Samuel L. Jackson demeanor. I’m sure if this were a MAX comic, he would have said the word motherfucker several times by now. But he just looks annoyed and probably stays that way after Magik arrives to transport the students back to the school.
When Cyclops assess their performance, he gives most of the students a passing grade. I’m sure he graded them on a curve since they’re inexperienced teenagers who just became mutants, but they survived and managed to eventually come together as a team. However, he singles Hijack out for failing big time, even with the curve. He reminds him of the no cell phone policy and rather than confiscate it and delete all his porn, Cyclops goes one further and kicks him off the fucking team.
Now this may seem excessive, but it makes sense from his point of view. Cyclops has seen one too many instances where a member of the team disobeys and puts everyone else in danger. And over 90 percent of those instances involve Wolverine and the last thing he needs on his team is another Wolverine. So while I do feel somewhat sorry for Hijack, he has nobody to blame but himself. He put his cell phone above the team. I know a lot of people can’t live without their cell phones these days. But when a job involves fighting giant monsters and being on the same team as Magik and Emma Frost, there just isn’t an app sophisticated enough to take the place of real teamwork.
In terms of real tests, I still rate this below my calculus mid-term during my junior year of high school. This issue was a simple, self-contained story that shifted the focus to the students of the New Xavier School. And why not? This is what Cyclops’s revolution is supposed to be about and they have been somewhat neglected lately, albeit not in the classic Alec Baldwin sort of way. Here, we got to see them function as a team and I use the term function loosely because that’s a word that’s difficult to apply to a bunch of inexperienced teenagers, some of whom are horny for their teachers. But as dysfunctional as they were, it still made for an entertaining story that highlighted some of the unique traits among these new characters. It also highlighted how hard it is to get teenagers to listen to basic rules, especially those that apply to cell phones. Now Cyclops knows how every homeroom teacher feels in trying to stop their male students from looking at porn on their phones. The end result shows that these aspiring X-men have a lot to learn, but they’re well on their way. It still lacked detail and refinement, but Uncanny X-men #17 still warrants a 7 out of 10. I’m still curious as to why one of the Stepford Cuckoos dyed her hair red. When pretty blond teenage girls become pretty redheads, it’s a big deal. My penis needs to know these things. When these aspiring X-men gain more experience, I hope they understand that. Nuff said!