Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Guardians of the Galaxy #13
Going to public school, every teacher and administrator basically works under the assumption that every single teenager is a ticking time bomb that’s going to erupt at some point. So that basically means that everyone is guilty until proven innocent. And if there’s even a possibility that teenagers might show something akin to individuality, creativity, nonconformity, or (God-forbid) sexuality they’re immediately labeled criminals. Now I know I haven’t described teenagers in a very positive light on this blog. My experience with teenagers tends to could my judgment almost as much as weed, but I understand that a drunk tends to attract fucked up teenagers. I also understand that treating teenagers like criminals is the first step towards making them act like one. It’s like being surprised that Mike Tyson punched someone in the face after calling his wife a bitch. That’s why I have no sympathy whatsoever for Gladiator or the Shi’ar in The Trial of Jean Grey. They’ve been treating O5 Jean like a criminal even though she’s from the past and hasn’t yet committed the heinous crimes of Dark Phoenix. So it was only a matter of time before she finally snapped and decided to fight back. And for a girl destined to go Dark Phoenix, that’s pretty fucking dangerous. That doesn’t mean I won’t be cheering her on in Guardians of the Galaxy #13. It just means the Shi’ar will get as much sympathy from me as they’ll get sobriety.
For the first time in this bullshit excuse for a trial, O5 Jean gets a chance to take the stand and make her case. She admitted her guilt at the end of the previous issue, but only to the extent that Barry Bonds admitted he used steroid. She then points out in the most reasonably pissed off tone ever attempted by a teenage girl that while she did lose control under the influence of the Phoenix, it’s a fucking force of nature. Stopping it is like trying to stop gravity or trying to make Downtown Abby funny without weed. And not only did she fail. Everyone around her failed to stop her, including the Shi’ar. The big difference is that the Shi’ar dealt with it by slaughtering Jean’s entire family. She can take being treated as a genocidal monster by a bunch of pissed off aliens. She’s a teenage girl. She’s unhinged enough to handle that. But she can’t take those same pissed off aliens slaughtering her family. For her, that’s not just crossing a line. That’s driving a convoy of trucks full of elephant shit over the line and crashing it into a bus full of kittens.
Now I said I had no sympathy for Gladiator whatsoever and I fucking mean it. That’s why when O5 Jean enters this new level of pissed off and slugs Gladiator with a telekinetic bitch-slap, it put a smile on my face and a boner in my pants. But this is no ordinary telekinetic bitch-slap. In O5 Jean’s enraged state, something happens that puts her power on a level where she can deliver said bitch-slap in a way that even someone like Gladiator can appreciate. And for once, it doesn’t involve the fucking Phoenix Force. That put another smile on my face and an even bigger boner in my pants. It may end up getting me in trouble at my next job interview, but it’s worth it.
Now the nature of this upgrade isn’t clear, but it’s definitely got Phoenix-level punch. There’s no crazy cosmic bird. There’s none of that “I am fire! I am life incarnate!” bullshit. This is all Jean Grey. This is her raw potential turning into a massive ball of telekinetic ass-kicking. I find this as refreshing as a cold beer at a baseball game because for much of her history, Jean Grey’s power has been dependent on the Phoenix Force to carry that extra punch. Sure, she’s pretty damn powerful as a psychic, but not powerful enough to hold her own. Well this time, she doesn’t just hold her own against Gladiator. She kicks his ass in a way that honors and respects her dead family.
But what exactly is driving this badass new Jean Grey? I know teenage girls can get pretty pissed off, but even this is pushing it. After giving Gladiator 10 times as many concussions as Troy Aikman, Oracle tries to reach out to O5 Jean and figure out just what the fuck is going on. She finds out that O5 Jean has somehow unlocked a new kind of psionic power. She can basically take all the psionic energy around her and use it to channel the smashing power of an army of Hulks. Oracle makes it a point to note that she has never had this power before. This shit is brand new and something she never showed before. She worries that O5 Jean can’t control it. Then O5 Jean says in the most polite way a pissed off teenage girl can manage that the Shi’ar are the ones that kept pushing her. And this is the end result. She’s not the Phoenix. She’s just a super-powered pissed off teenage girl. I’m no judge, but I’ve been screwed over by enough to know that this is probably much worse. And after casting Oracle aside, O5 Jean unleashes the full force of this new power on Gladiator. And just like that, my face hurts from so much smiling and I need new pair of pants.
Even with O5 Jean’s level of pissed off, this attack does take it out of her. It forces Starlord to catch her and gives the rest of her friends time to rally around her. They’ve been fighting for her this whole time and she makes it a point to show her gratitude. That’s something most teenage girls never show until their parents bail them out of jail for getting drunk at a frat party. And they’re still committed to helping her. They’re ready to fight the entire Shi’ar Imperial Guard with her. And now that she’s armed with this fancy new power, it’s actually a pretty fair fight on paper. She’s basically a hulked out psychic and the Shi’ar are the assholes that attacked Earth, killed Jean’s family, and tried to exercise their bullshit justice on them. I guess in that context, it’s not a fair fight. Even someone as powerful as Gladiator has to realize at some point that he’s as overmatched as he is fucked.
This could have made for the kind of epic clash that could only be matched by pitting an army of Hulks against an army of Juggernauts after feeding them nothing but cocaine and bacon for three months straight. However, this is where the epic scale basically becomes unbalanced. O5 Cyclops is the one who ends it. He basically storms over to Gladiator, tells him to back the fuck off, and warns him that if he ever pulls shit like this again, then he would reign unholy hellfire on his ass with help from the entire Marvel universe. And keep in mind, this isn’t adult Cyclops. This is O5 Cyclops. He’s a teenage boy. Yet he’s making this kind of threat to Gladiator. And remarkably, it fucking works.
It’s a pretty inglorious way to end what could have been a gloriously epic battle. But at the same time, it does get one important point across. O5 Jean reminds them that she has never shown this kind of power before. Everything the Shi’ar think they know about Jean Grey no longer applies. She calls this shit all new, which I guess is pretty damn fitting given the whole All-New X-men mantra. At the same time, it does follow a dangerous precedent. She upgraded her powers as well during X-men Battle of the Atom and that shit didn’t turn out well for her in the long run. And in a world where new apocalyptic futures unfold every other day, nobody should get too optimistic.
This flat ending basically leaves only menial loose ends to resolve. The Shi’ar don’t go after O5 Jean. They don’t do anything more to try and rectify the crimes of the Phoenix Force. They just let them go. It’s as pathetic as it sounds. The trip back to Earth isn’t that eventful either. There’s just some banter between the O5 X-men and the Guardians of the Galaxy. O5 Jean repeatedly conveys her gratitude. Groot even gets a little horny from the sight of so many trees. I guess I can’t be the only one involved in this story that doesn’t get a boner or whatever trees get when they’re horny. They’re basically space buddies now. The O5 X-men and the Guardians of the Galaxy are allies and when entire alien races are looking to screw them over, I guess it helps to have as many allies as possible.
In addition to having new allies, there are also some new romantic sub-plots that emerge. On the trip back, Kitty Pryde gets a little friendly with Starlord. She seems to have a thing for handsome rebellious space outlaws who have shitty parents. I’m guessing she’s the kind of girl that had a Han Solo poster over her bedroom as a girl and it allowed her to touch herself every night before going to bed. So before the Guardians of the Galaxy leave, Starlord gives her the cosmic equivalent of an iPhone so that they can keep in touch. That’s probably code for Starlord sending her pictures of his dick. But given how uptight Kitty has been since striking out with Colossus and Iceman, I think she needs to get laid.
This could have made for a fairly sweet, albeit still pretty flat resolution. Then O5 Cyclops drops an unexpected bombshell that really fucks up the moment. He announces that he’s leaving the team to spend time with his father in space. Now this isn’t coming out of nowhere. It was already announced weeks ago that O5 Cyclops was getting his own solo series to chronicle a new space adventure with Corsair. It just wasn’t clear whether he would still be part of the team. Well now we’ve got our answer. O5 Cyclops is leaving the team, at least temporarily, for some father/son time.
Now this in and of itself isn’t going to make anyone’s nuts hurt. But it still comes off as pretty damn contrived. We never see O5 Cyclops discuss this with his father. We never see him talk about it with his teammates. It’s like he decides right then and there to go on a space adventure with his father. It’s like waking up at three in the morning and deciding to take polka lessons. There’s no progression leading up to this decision. It makes sense only in the context of what has been revealed about Cyclops’s new series. But beyond that, it’s pretty damn weak.
It does cause some drama. I would argue that O5 Angel’s departure from the team caused way more, but it does have some effect. It leads to a moment with O5 Jean, but one that’s incredibly under-developed and underwhelming. O5 Cyclops basically acknowledges their future together. He doesn’t show that he wants to change it and neither does O5 Jean. He just says that this decision to leave might be best for the both of them. So this whole sub-plot about their relationship basically gets put on hold so he can hang out in space with his dad. It doesn’t effectively One More Day the Cyclops/Jean relationship or do anything to revise its history. It just makes clear that the issues between them are still unresolved and they’re going to just put them on hold for now. So long as I have plenty of booze and weed to tide me over, I’m okay with that.
It makes for a somewhat hollow ending. O5 Cyclops leaves. The rest of the team worries about what this could mean and how this could affect them if they find a way to go back to their own time. And O5 Jean shows signs that she’s not quite as in-control of this new power as she claims to be. It looks like the seeds of Xorna have been planted and now she doesn’t have O5 Cyclops around to distract her hormones. That could be a pretty bad sign. But it’s all still somewhat flat. The trial is over, but it doesn’t feel like justice or injustice for that matter was served. It’s like only eating half a plate of bacon. It’s still delicious, but unsatisfying in the end.
The Trial of Jean Grey has been working on a pretty epic scale. It has to if it’s going to accommodate the Guardians of the Galaxy, the All New X-men, and the Starjammers in a full on brawl with the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. That’s like WrestleMania on crack, meth, and Red Bull. So much was made of holding O5 Jean accountable for the crimes she committed in the future. However, not much really came from it other than O5 Jean leveling up her powers. No verdict was ever rendered. Nobody really came to a resolution. O5 Cyclops just basically threatened Gladiator until he declared it a mistrial. Granted, he did so in the most badass way possible. It still left too many loose ends. But they weren’t too lose or too egregious. They could have easily been resolved. But for whatever reason, the ending was rushed and all we got out of it were a few jokes from Groot and Rocket Raccoon.
It’s not much of a payoff, but it does take the overall theme of All New X-men and Guardians of the Galaxy to the next level. It even starts a budding romance between Starlord and Kitty Pryde. And if there’s a possibility that a few new characters can get laid, I think that’s a bonus. I won’t say that the Trial of Jean Grey is an epic achievement. It had the potential to be, but it stopped short and on purpose. So in that sense it’s neither a success nor a failure. It’s just an overly open-ended resolution. It’s basically a mistrial, but the case isn’t being thrown out. For Guardians of the Galaxy #13, I give it a 7 out of 10. For the Trial of Jean Grey as a whole, I also give it a 7 out of 10. Justice was not exactly served, but it wasn’t pissed on either. That’s more than anyone can say about the criminals at Goldman Sachs and Enron. And in this day and age, just avoiding having a story go horribly wrong and falling completely flat counts as a win. Nuff said!