Monday, February 24, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: X-men #11
There’s a great schism among comic book fans that sometimes turns into an all-out gang war. It happens whenever characters are killed and/or brought back to life. Some bitch and moan that it demeans a character’s death to just bring them back after a few years. Some bitch and moan that it demeans a character’s potential to keep them dead. Like the gay marriage debate, nobody is ever going to change anybody’s mind on these issues. But no matter how pissed off or outraged one side gets, these books just keep selling. And between the sales of Blackest Night and Civil War, major comic book publishers have no reason to stop. Now I don’t expect quite the same outrage in wake of the revelation in Brian Wood’s X-men that he’s bringing Madelyne Pryor and Selene back from the dead. But I’m sure there will be some people out there who will find a reason or a way to bitch and moan about it. So before I begin my review of X-men #11, let me just say fuck these people with an adamantium dildo.
The first lady to get the Jesus Christ treatment is Selene, the Black Queen. This probably isn’t going to surprise anyone. Her “death” wasn’t as final as Nightcrawler’s or Cable’s and neither one of those two stayed dead. She was last seen in the Necrosha event, which was built around reanimating the corpses of dead mutants. Her fate was somewhat ambiguous. And to bring her back, Emora and Lady Deathstrike break into a special vault hidden in a New York City bank that contains whatever invisible bits of the Black Queen that are still alive.
Now Necrosha is mentioned, which is a nice touch. But there’s no explanation whatsoever as to how she ended up in this vault, disembodied or otherwise. That may be too much to ask given the constraints of the story, but it’s telling that this vault is in fucking New York City and all it takes is a little black magic to bring her back. And I refuse to believe there isn’t some crazy psychopath in Marvel’s version of New York City that has too much free time and practices black magic.
I won’t say this method of brining the Black Queen back is entirely contrived. The mention of Necrosha and the mystical elements is basically par for the course with her. And since Emora the Enchantress is a fucking Asgardian goddess, she’s more than qualified to do something as simple as bring back the dead. I’m sure that’s something she did for shits and giggles as a teenager in Asgard. And it fucking works. The Black Queen re-appears to them in the flesh. She’s even naked, which is always a nice bonus. She doesn’t look all that trilled about being alive again. She’s the fucking Black Queen. I imagine being brought back from the dead is like that feeling drunks get after they recover from a hangover, which usually involves a desire to go out and get drunk all over again.
The resurrection of the Black Queen is a clear sign that the Sisterhood is several steps ahead of the all-female X-men. In the previous issue, they tried to chase them down in Dubai before they could do any more damage with Arkea. They didn’t necessarily fail, although Monet nearly got herself killed. However, they did get tricked into going in the wrong direction. Storm, Rachel, Psylocke, Monet, and Omega Sentinel end up storming some fancy yacht, which leads to somewhere between dick and jack shit. They don’t deny that they’ve been pwned, which is more than I can say for 85 percent of anyone on a message board. But they know they’re in trouble.
And it’s here where their mission gets a little more refined. It’s not as basic as a Power Rangers re-run where they just call upon zords and find the giant monster to destroy. It’s more like an episode of 24 or a Mission Impossible movie where the enemy is actually smarter than a bucket of horse piss. Monet, who happens to be an ex-cop, points this out and reasons that the Sisterhood isn’t just attacking them outright. They have a plan that is smarter than something that a Bond villain would come up with. That includes finding new recruits and ensuring they have enough firepower to take on the X-men. It’s mostly talk, but it’s meaningful talk that shows a level of refinement that is under-appreciated in comics. It’s no Downtown Abby, but it does make the plot a bit more engaging.
What isn’t as engaging is how the Black Queen adjusts to the world of the living again. And that’s to be expected to some extent. She’s the fucking Black Queen. She’s not the kind of person to be writing poems about roses and dancing in the fields naked celebrating the joys of life, although I wouldn’t mind seeing that. She just puts on her usual exceedingly sexy uniform, touches up her makeup, and catches up with what’s going on. She’s not all that impressed at first, but then Arkea shows up and lets her read her mind. And in an instant, she goes from superior alpha bitch to prison bitch. It may seem out of character for the Black Queen, but it’s not wholly unreasonable. Arkea already got a fucking Asgardian on her side. Getting the Black Queen to obey her really isn’t that much of a stretch. Plus, she’s tasked with killing the X-men. I don’t think she needs to be manipulated that much to help with that.
All this is happening while the all-female X-men are trying to catch up. Right now, they’re more behind the curve than Forest Gump in a nuclear physics class. But they’re not stumbling around in the dark like a drunk looking for their cell phone. They continue to show real detective skills that prove once again that having a penis or being Batman isn’t necessary to solve crimes. They find out through their sources that someone with a fuckton of money bought some remaining genetic material from Madelyne Pryor and it happens to be the same person that bought access to the Black Queen’s vault. Since they already figured out that Lady Deathstrike is now inhabiting the body of an exceedingly rich woman whose family has strong criminal ties. It doesn’t take any real detective skills to figure out just how fucked they are.
And if it sounds strange that somebody would actually buy the remains of dead mutants, that’s actually addressed. Apparently, there’s actually a market in the Marvel universe for mutant memorability. But they don’t just stop at napkins, clothes, or used tampons. They go so far as to sell genetic material to collectors, fanboys, and people who just like to hoard weird shit. It sounds fucked up. But after watching just one episode of Pawn Stars, I find it painfully believable. And because of this fucked up human tendency to hoard weird shit, it’s going to bring the Goblin Queen back to life. It makes me wonder how the fuck the human race isn’t extinct yet.
It’s a very exciting prospect. The all-female X-men now know what the Sisterhood is up to and it’s a race against time to stop them. This is an enemy that’s smart, resourceful, and cunning. It should be an epic struggle. That’s exactly why the story goes downhill way too fucking fast when that plot is just flat out abandoned. And instead, we catch up with fucking John Sublime. He’s still at the Jean Grey Institute and under constant watch. He has a little chat with Kid Omega that really contributes absolutely nothing to the story other than reminding readers that he was once a villain. I’ve killed a lot of fucking brain cells in my life and even I still remember that. And if I don’t need a reminder, then this scene is a fucking waste.
Things get slightly back on track with the Sisterhood, but only for the length of a single bong hit. As Typhoid Mary is sparring with Lady Deathstrike and pondering the kind of shit she has gotten herself into, the body that Lady Deathstrike inhabited suddenly takes over. The woman, Ana Cortes, suddenly breaks free and is able to overcome Lady Deathstrike’s control. And the first thing she does is ask Typhoid Mary to kill her. She’s even more overwhelmed by this shit than Typhoid Mary and would rather just die than deal with someone like Akrea and the Black Queen.
While I can’t say I blame her, this sudden shift only fucks up the flow of the plot even more. There is some decent action when Ana attacks Typhoid Mary, but it’s all very underwhelming. And when Arkea shows up, her first response is to gut herself. Again, it’s underwhelming because it’s so sudden and has had no build-up whatsoever. For all the promise of a clash between the Sisterhood and the X-men, it’s like a bad LSD trip. It goes from riding a unicorn with naked bikini models to chasing giant raccoons while wearing a speedo. It makes no sense and kills the momentum of the story.
It’s a disappointing turn of events and it isn’t helped by attempting to squeeze even more sub-plots into the mix. A few issues ago, Arkea resurrected a bunch of rusted Sentinels from the ocean floor and had them attack a beach. For the X-men, fighting a bunch of rusted Sentinels is like playing Resident Evil with cheat codes. It kills any sense of thrill. There is some action. Jubilee leads a team that includes Mercury, Hellion, Roxy, Pixie, and Cipher against these rusting pieces of junk. It’s colorful and flashy. But like seeing the same horror movie in broad daylight, it really doesn’t have much impact.
The only major twist it can manage is Jubilee disappearing in the end. The explanation for it is pretty piss poor. They manage to rough up the Sentinels, Bling saves Mercury, and everything else is basically a typical Tuesday for the X-men. But Jubilee just disappears and there’s not much hint as to why. Now it could end up tying into other parts of the story. But as it stands, it’s more disconnected and disjointed than the beta version of Windows Vista. It offers none of the impact shown by the Sisterhood arc and generally feels as though it takes away completely from the actual story. Anyone reading this comic while drunk or high will probably have already lost interest by now.
I admit I was very excited for this issue. The prospect of seeing the Black Queen and the Goblin Queen share the same comic was just too awesome for my brain and my penis to process. And while this issue did deliver the Black Queen and set up the Goblin Queen’s return, it threw a lot of unnecessary crap in the mix that was more forgettable than Brittney Spears’ first marriage. Was it really necessary to see John Sublime taking a walk with Kid Omega? Was it really necessary to make a big deal about the young X-men fighting off a bunch of rusted old Sentinels? I say fuck no and even if it was warranted, it didn’t have to completely disrupt the momentum of the story. That’s what makes X-men #11 so disappointing. It had so many great elements going for it. But like a guy trying to do his taxes while giving his girlfriend oral sex, it’s just too much. While I’m still excited for the next issue, I can only give X-men #11 a 5 out of 10. The Black Queen was naked in this issue and that’s worth something. But there was way too much trivial shit that got in the way of the actual story. It essentially cock-blocked readers like me and I get enough of that shit at college frat parties. Nuff said!