Thursday, March 6, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #1
Sometimes a relaunch could be the beginning of a fresh bender or a bad relapse. Right now, relaunches have been going around the Marvel universe like a pubic lice outbreak on a 70s porno set. If a series isn’t getting relaunched, a brand new series is being created that will probably end up getting relaunched at some point. Marvel has discovered that in the same way adding bacon to any meal makes it better, adding a new #1 to a comic makes it sell better. It’s shameless. It’s crass. But fuck, it works. So many once long-running books have been relaunched that Wolverine and the X-men was actually the longest running X-books to date. Well Marvel just can’t have that shit so after 42 issues, they’re relaunching it with a new writer in Jason Latour and a new focus. It’s still about Wolverine and a team of X-men. Why wouldn’t it be? It’s as basic a title as Snakes on a Plane. But it promises a few different elements than before. Different by Marvel standards can mean so many things, both awesome and fucked up. I’ll try to keep a running tab as I review Wolverine and the X-men #1. If I lose track, then it’s either really good or really bad. That or I’m just really high.
This new era of Wolverine and the X-men doesn’t start out on a chipper note. It flash forward to the future where, once again, shit gets fucked up by the Phoenix Force. Seriously, is there any future that doesn’t get fucked up by some cosmic entity and/or some deranged robot that the Hank Pyms of the world built? But I digress. This vision of the future is not unlike the one revealed at the end of the previous era of Wolverine and the X-men. Idie has grown up to be Beyonce-level sexy and Kid Omega has the Phoenix Force. That may or may not be the reason why Wolverine dies in the future. The return of Apocalypse may actually be a greater cause, so much so that I’m not exactly sure who is the asshole in this future clash. I just feel bad for Wolverine because I’m sure he would have preferred to die of old age and liver disease, whichever came first. But it would probably be liver disease.
Back in the present, Kid Omega is doing little to show that he’ll one day be worthy of wielding the Phoenix Force. After getting a diploma he didn’t want at the end of the last era, he is now forced into a new role of responsibility. For a teenager, that’s almost as traumatic as dealing with the DMV for the first time ever. He still doesn’t want this role. Even though Idie is being so lovably sweet to him in a way he sure as hell doesn’t deserve, he hates the idea of being a teaching assistant and having to instill order in a school that rarely has any to begin with. Yet she somehow convinces him to put on a dorky-looking suit that was probably bought off the racks from a Wal-Mart and take on the role. That’s the only weakness for rebellious teenage boys. Throw a pretty girl into the mix and his rebellion only goes as far as her rack.
Kid Omega isn’t the only one taking on new responsibilities either. While he’s hating his new role as a teaching assistant, other students that distinguished themselves in the previous series take on new roles as well. That includes students like Eye Boy. Wait, did I say they distinguished themselves? I must really be stoned because Eye Boy did as much to distinguish himself as I did at my last traffic court hearing. He basically just stood around and looked like he just shit his pants during many of the big events during Jason Aaron’s run. That said, he did get a diploma at the end. But at least he’s not in charge of a whole fucking class. He’s just showing new students around for orientation. It probably helps that one of the students is a cute, quiet girl named Nature Girl. I guess even Wolverine and Storm knew that he hadn’t distinguished himself enough to do more than just welcome new students to the school. Hell, a diploma isn’t even needed for shit like that. Most drunks I know will do a competent job if a case of whiskey is offered as incentive.
But wait a minute, why the fuck are students taking on these roles in the first place? Doesn’t the Jean Grey Institute have an established faculty? Where the fuck is Wolverine anyways and what was he thinking? Well, the answer doesn’t make a lot of sense in some ways and makes a hell of a lot of sense in others. Despite not having his healing factor, he’s back in some deranged cage match that probably gets on pay-per-view all the time in the Marvel universe. It’s taking place in The Block, an inter-dimensional prison where cage-fighting is probably the only the second most common form of entertainment after prison rape. At first, it just looks like Wolverine was bored and needed something to do in between steamy sex sessions with Storm. But he actually is on a mission and even brought a bamf with him to help out. He’s demanding that the Block bring someone to him. If it’s not a naked Storm or a mortally wounded Mystique, who could possibly be worth this kind of trouble? They just better have whisky oozing from their nipples because even without a healing factor, Wolverine isn’t known for his patience.
Wolverine’s absence means that Storm is the only responsible adult trying to maintain some semblance of order at the Jean Grey Institute. As for the rest of that dedicated faculty that usually helps keep the peace, Storm reveals that Wolverine granted them all extended personal leave. Now I know Wolverine is as qualified to run a school as I’m qualified to run an addiction treatment center, but that’s a pretty fucking stupid thing to do. Storm reaches out to Beast for help, who claims he needs space after seeing that the older version of himself he saw in Battle of the Atom made him feel all unfuzzy and shit. I don’t believe that for a second. If being an unapologetic douche-bag doesn’t bother him in the present, then why the hell should it bother him in the future? Whatever his reason, Storm finds out that Wolverine signed off on this and didn’t give a reason. Considering that she lets him see her naked on a regular basis, an explanation should be right up there with remembering her birthday.
And when he has other students in charge, that leads to less learning and more property damage. This shows in the class Kid Omega is supposed to be responsible for. While he’s basically just twiddling his thumbs and complaining about how itchy his suit is, the rest of the students have come up with a new game. It involves taking bets on whether Rockslide can kill one of the bamfs. In my old school when the teacher passed out drunk during class, we usually took bets on how many dicks we could draw on their face before they woke up. It wasn’t quite as destructive, but I imagine it was just as entertaining.
Naturally, it gets destructive in a way that goes beyond the classroom. Like when the teachers woke up and tried to stumble towards the bathroom to throw up, it gets more disruptive and more entertaining. It isn’t until the bamfs hide behind one of the pretty new girls that Rockslide stops his rampage, causing Eye Boy to go back into shit-his-pants mode. The destruction could have ended here. But then Doop has to get involved. Being the amorphous mass that every writer goes out of their way to make awesome, he punishes Rockslide by knocking him right out of the school so that he lands right in front of Storm.
As entertaining as this is, Storm is about as amused as vegetarian as a slaughter house. I can’t say I blame her either. Who would have thought that a class run by Kid Omega would result in major property damage? I mean besides everyone with a functioning brain. I get that Kid Omega has undergone a number of major shifts since Wolverine and the X-men began, but he’s still a total douche who has about as much maturity as a horny monkey. I’m all for continuing his story, but putting him in a position like this is predictably inept. Hell, Doop is more competent than Kid Omega at this point.
It only gets worse when Storm confronts Kid Omega. And it quickly goes back to what they learned about his future during Battle of the Atom and what occurred in the earlier flashback. He rightly points out that it was a fucking stupid idea to put him in charge in the first place. To be fair, Wolverine made that decision and not Storm. But he’s still right to point it out. He also points out how he hasn’t forgotten that he saw that he becomes the Phoenix host. And for him, that’s not nearly as awesome as it sounds and not because Phoenix hosts have a very short lifespan. It essentially maps his future out for him and if there’s one thing teenagers hate, having their future decided for them ranks right up there with taking away their cell phone.
It still comes off as a petty complaint on Kid Omega’s part, even if it is right to some extent. Hellion even calls him out on it and picks a fight with his omega level ass. It’s a dick move, but it’s not entirely wrong. And to Kid Omega’s credit, which I don’t think I’ve ever uttered before, he doesn’t fight back. He just storms off like a typical pissed teenager. It definitely says something when Kid Omega is the only one in this series who is acting logically. It’s still not clear what possessed Wolverine to put his immature ass in charge or why he let the other teachers run off.
Those answers are hard to come by, but other answers do eventually emerge. We do find out who Wolverine was demanding to see with his cage match in The Block. It turns out to be Fantomex, a guy who is probably almost as much at home in a prison as he is in a French brothel. And for reasons that I can only attribute to repeated concussions, he asks Fantomex to join the Jean Grey Institute as a teacher. He even brings in Genesis, someone he tried and nearly failed to keep from going all Apocalyptic on everyone, to add further incentive. It’s a strange move and a bit of a dick move. But that’s not the most distressing part and for a scene that takes place in a prison, that’s saying something.
Wolverine ditched Cyclops and goes out of his way to bust his balls because he favored a tougher approach to training future mutants. He rubbed elbows with the likes of Magneto, Namor, and Magik. He blames Cyclops for killing Charles Xavier every chance he gets. Yet he’s willing to give Fantomex a chance to teach a bunch of young and impressionable teenagers? This same guy who shot a kid in the face? Maybe if this happened before Avengers vs. X-men, I could buy it. But this shit just makes him out to be a total hypocrite. He won’t forgive Cyclops for his crimes, but he’ll gladly forgive Fantomex and give him a fucking teaching position? Healing factor or no healing factor, there’s no amount of concussions that could have that decision make sense.
To Wolverine’s credit, he does try to give some reason. He says Charles Xavier once took a chance on a killer so now he’s taking a chance on Fantomex. I still don’t get why the fuck he can’t apply that logic to Cyclops or even Sabretooth for that matter. But it still falls flat. It does lead to a nice moment with Fantomex and Genesis, but not much comes of it. Wolverine’s reasons for seeking him out and his reasons for needing more teachers in the first place makes no sense and just makes him seem more inept than a typical drunk. And speaking as a fellow drunk, I find that insulting.
The moments with Fantomex won’t get anybody’s panties wet. But final scenes with Idie and Kid Omega may trigger a few pussy boners. It might actually be the most meaningful moment that Kid Omega has ever had with his pants on. He confides in Idie how he fucking hates having his future laid out for him. Like any teenager, he just wants to wake up in the morning and do whatever the fuck he wants, preferably with as few consequences as possible. And for the first time, he actually admits he’s afraid. And teenagers will usually admit to their porno stash before they admit that they’re afraid. So that’s saying a lot. He doesn’t want the future he saw, even if it means having cosmic power. It may be the first time anyone can say with a sober mind that Kid Omega is a sympathetic character.
However, he’s not going to be able to whine about the future for very long. As he’s moping with Idie, the Phoenix Force rears its ugly head again and in an instant, jaded Jean Grey fans start banging their heads against the wall all at once. But it’s not as flashy as it was during Avengers vs. X-men. This time it comes in the form of some strange text message/spam that hits all the video screens in the Jean Grey Institute. It may be a sign that the whole “No More Phoenix” spell is wearing off faster than a beer buzz at Rush Limbaugh’s house or it may just be some very distasteful trolling from Mystique. Whatever the case, it means Kid Omega will have to mature real fucking fast if he’s going to face it. In either case, a mature Kid Omega sounds like one of those things that will doom us all.
I look at Wolverine handling his role as Headmaster of the Jean Grey Institute in the same way I look at how republicans handle government. They run on the principle that the government is inefficient and inept. Then when they get elected, they essentially prove themselves right. The big difference is that Wolverine is honest about it and he’s less a dick to teenagers who don’t vote. He made clear early after the founding of the Jean Grey Institute that he’s a piss-poor candidate for headmaster of a school. Yet he tries his best to do right by his students, which is more than can be said about the George W. Bush’s of the world. But putting an unapologetic douche-bag like Kid Omega in charge while letting the rest of his staff ditch their roles isn’t just inept. It’s downright irresponsible and coming from a drunk who once picked a fight with a poodle, that’s saying something. While seeing Kid Omega’s continued transformation made for some nice moments, bringing Fantomex into the picture made about as much sense as making O.J. Simpson a sensitivity counselor. The new state of the Jean Grey Institute is pretty fucked up and not enough details are given to explain how it got to this fucked up state. I give Wolverine and the X-men #1 a 6 out of 10 with the hope that Wolverine has a reason for being this inept that doesn’t involve too much whiskey. Well, I’ll be okay if it involves a little whiskey. But still, Fantomex a teacher and Kid Omega a teaching assistant? Whatever drugs he took to come up with those ideas, I want some. Nuff said!