Monday, March 3, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #42
It used to be when a comic book series ended, it was like a funeral. Shit ends or gets canceled and that’s that. Now in the age of reboots, re-launches, and retcons it’s more like an extended stay at rehab. Characters or books stay out of sight for a while until they’re ready to confront the world again in a sober, hopeful mind. Sometimes it works. Most of the time it doesn’t and involves dealing with way too many people who don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. But Marvel has tried to make re-launching less like a stint in rehab and more like a car wash for a car that just went through a demolition derby. So far the results have been mixed. The re-launch of the new Wolverine series was full of way too much WTF. But now Marvel is planning on re-launching Wolverine and the X-men, a series that has been a fairly consistent beacon of awesome since it began. Sure, it had crazy shit like the Hellfire brats. But it has been a vital part of the X-men mythos. Now it’s preparing to close the door on one era to make way for something new. And since the re-launch is taking place in the equivalent span as a rehab stint for Lindsey Lohan, I’m not going to get too emotional with my review of Wolverine and the X-men #42. That or it may just be the cocaine.
Since this issue promises to be the end of one era, it’s only fitting that it offer a glimpse into the future. And by fitting, I should probably say by Marvel standards because there seems to be a disturbing glimpse into the future every other Thursday. And that future usually isn’t a vacation destination in the same way Detroit isn’t a vacation destination. This future, which was already visited before during an earlier issue and again in X-men Battle of the Atom, isn’t apocalyptic. But it’s the kind where whiskey is still necessary. The Jean Grey Institute is about to close its doors for good and this time it isn’t because someone blew it up for once.
That and Wolverine hasn’t recovered his healing factor yet because now he’s old, weak, and probably constipated. It’s sad for him, but he’s not quite as bitter and cantankerous as some of the old men I’ve met. At least he’s not bitching and complaining about how the President is a secret Muslim Kenyan agent. He’s even catching up with a few of his former students, which includes and older and remarkably sexy Idie. It’s kind of fitting since she was such a key player in the schism that led to the Jean Grey Institute. Now she’s acting as a reminder of sorts of how far it came. It doesn’t help his shitty health, but it’s a hell of a lot less hostile than any reunion I’ve had with my old teacher. At least Idie doesn’t appear to have the urge to punch her former teacher in the face.
Back in the present, things are a little less grim. The Jean Grey Institute has reached graduation day. I would say that it has been a long, arduous journey for these students, but I have no idea just how much time has passed. I sure as hell know it’s not four years because there would be a lot more broken spirits. It could be a year. It could be only four fucking months. It’ s impossible to tell, but that’s okay. It doesn’t take away from the theme of graduation day. For young teenagers who have been agonizing in a school where homework actually sucked, it’s an exciting time. Even a few parents have shown up, which is actually pretty remarkable considering how rarely parents of young mutants come into the picture. They’re usually either dead or assholes who disown their kids. It may not sound like much, but it’s one of those details that really gives the impression that this is a real school and these are real teenagers and some of them don’t have parents that are real assholes.
The only one who isn’t all that excited is Kid Omega. That’s not rare in the slightest. He has never cared for school-sponsored events that don’t involve him mind-fucking his teachers. He’s one of those characters who just arbitrarily hates anything that everyone else around him enjoys. He’s like an omega level hipster, but slightly less annoying. Idie, who I guess is his sort-of girlfriend now, tries to cheer him up. He tries to cheer her down though, reminding her that her family is dead. But that doesn’t mean she won’t have friends in the audience. Hope fucking Summers actually takes some time out from being a total bitch in the X-Force comics and from hanging around fugitives to attend her graduation. I still get a terrible pain in my balls whenever I see Hope fucking Summers in a comic, but that’s nothing a line of blow won’t fix. And she doesn’t even get to say that much. Kid Omega just storms off, wanting nothing to do with graduation. He doesn’t give a reason and since he’s Kid Omega, he doesn’t need to give a reason. It’s still arbitrary, but Kid Omega finds a way to make it work.
The ceremonies then begin. Wolverine looks as proud as a guy who just won a bar fight in Bangkok as he hands out diplomas to the likes of Pixie, Shark Girl, and Eye Boy. But Kid Omega is still doing his best to be as miserable and pissed off as possible. And he probably would have succeeded if Captain freakin’ America didn’t drop by to attend the ceremony. That’s not too surprising given Wolverine’s recent history with the Avengers. But it is surprising that Cap is singling Kid Omega out. That would be like Rhianna giving Chris Brown a hug at his court case.
It actually wasn’t very long ago, at least for the sober crowd, that Kid Omega pissed a lot of people off and fired the opening shots to Schism. He broke into a UN meeting, mind-fucked a bunch of world leaders, and did with a goddamn smile. That’s usually the kind of shit that Captain America has a problem with. And Kid Omega seems intent on reminding him. He actually asks Captain America to treat him as a criminal and a trouble-maker. He wants to be that way. Yet he just laughs it off as if it’s some crazy shit teenagers say. The sad thing is he’s not entirely wrong. It’s an unusual exchange that really makes no sense, given the context of Schism. If I recall, the American way is to punish criminals and not to give them diplomas. Maybe they do that shit in California, but not when Captain America is involved.
Back in the future, a cantankerous old Wolverine continues to muse with Idie. In the process, he drops a few interesting hints about future events. Some of them already transpired in Battle of the Atom, namely Beast becoming an even bigger douche than before and Iceman becoming a cross between a snowman and Gandalf. But he mentions a few other names like Storm, who is conspicuously absent. It doesn’t bode well for her or their current arrangement which allows him to cut her hair and see her naked. But it does provide some nice links to the past/future.
For Wolverine, he does start to sound like a cranky old man. While Idie seems to remember her time at the Jean Grey Institute fondly (hell, she even got to dress up as the fucking Black Queen at some point), Wolverine seems to think it lasted longer than it should have. Maybe someone should tell him any school for mutants that doesn’t get blown up should be labeled a success. But Idie can’t stay around to convince him. In this future, the mutants and the X-men haven’t been exterminated because they’re still active. And since she’s still is part of the team, she has to leave him to continue droning on like an old man on the brink of senility. It’s sad and bittersweet, but I think Idie would have learned during her time at the Jean Grey Institute that Wolverine will always find a way to be miserable.
Once Idie is gone, Wolverine celebrates that misery the same way I celebrate not being hung over. And that’s by having a nice glass of whiskey. The bamfs even join him, even though they’ve gotten old and wrinkled just like him. That’s the beauty of whiskey. It can be enjoyed at any age and for the same reasons. It would have made a fitting last act before closing the Jean Grey Institute. But once again, Kid Omega has to be a total douche and fuck it up. And in the future, he’s not just an asshole. He’s a Phoenix-powered asshole. We already saw that in X-men Battle of the Atom. And now he’s back and in a perfect position to mock Wolverine. It provides a nice transition back to the present where Wolverine confronts Kid Omega about his diploma. Those kinds of transitions from past to present aren’t usually done very well because I suspect the editors at Marvel have way better weed than I ever will. But they must have run out because this highlights some interesting developments with Kid Omega.
He’s still a bitter little punk who only wants the world to fear and dread him. He even says that outright. But at the same time, he’s growing up and he fucking hates it. While he’s exceedingly douchy about it, that’s not an uncommon feeling for some teenagers. I should know. I graduated with some of them. Sure, some of those teenagers turned into garbage men, fast food clerks, and meth cooks. But they didn’t like the idea of growing up either. And while Kid Omega keeps complaining about graduating, he doesn’t fight it or run away. So on some levels, and his future self confirms this to a point, he does make good use of what he learned at the Jean Grey Institute. And that’s way more than my old high school can say about some of my graduating class.
Kid Omega continues to be a brooding little punk, even as Idie and the other young mutants drag him into celebrating. For Wolverine, it’s still bittersweet. And he’s a bitter old man who had the luxury of a healing factor for most of his life. He’s also still a guy who always has to be ready to be an X-man, an Avengers, or a guy who will try to bust Cyclops’s balls the moment an opportunity arises. He’s not the kind of guy to let his guard down and celebrate in a way that doesn’t involve whiskey. I would argue that’s all he needs, but Storm then shows up and reminds him how much he enjoys seeing her naked. And she reminds him that he doesn’t have to be an X-man or an Avenger for now. He can just be an educator. And no man with a functioning brain and/or penis argues with the woman who is currently giving him regular sex.
It’s a nice moment that shows how Storm continues to influence Wolverine. But it also has the feeling of a bad omen. Earlier in the issue, future Wolverine hinted that things do not end well between him and Storm. And since Marvel has a rich tradition of fucking with strong romances, especially those involving Wolverine, I don’t think Storm/Wolverine shippers should be too excited. They might have to get a hug from sad Cyclops/Jean and Peter/Mary Jane fans very soon. I can’t offer much else other than more whiskey.
Back in the future, the Phoenix-powered Kid Omega has a little chat with the aging Wolverine. He still comes off as a total douche-bag, but he does have somewhat more maturity. That’s like saying I’m only somewhat more sober on a Sunday morning. He mostly just annoys him, saying that he’s surprised that he wasn’t the one that shut the school down. In fact, I’m surprised by that as well. He could do so much worse to Wolverine, especially with the power of the Phoenix. But I guess in the future, Kid Omega just gets bored with that shit.
That doesn’t mean he hasn’t found a new way to annoy his former teacher. Before he leaves, he reveals that he made a quick stop in the Negative Zone where the Future Foundation have apparently set up a school as well for millions of exotic creatures. And he brought some of them with him, probably saying that he could take them to a school where homework doesn’t suck and where whiskey is can be found stashed in every room. Dumping these students on an aging Wolverine sounds like a dick move that Kid Omega that probably does in between jerking off to old pictures of Emma Frost. But actually, he does Wolverine a favor because he gives him a reason to keep the school open. That’s like giving an old man a reason to keep his dick working. It’s a nice moment, but still a dick move.
It makes for some nice moments in both the future and the present. But it can’t all be nice. Even the day a teenager gets one step closer to leaving high school behind has to have some evil involved, if only because school insists on leaving as many scars as possible. So while the students are celebrating, Master Pandemonum and Swarm, who survived the end of the Hellfire Academy story, are plotting to ruin their day. But their plan doesn’t get very far. Somehow, Doop shows up and ruins their plans with a loud ass guitar, Marty McFly style. I only wish I was drunk as I type those words, but that’s what fucking happens.
Now even after sobering up, I really don’t see the point to this scene. I guess the issue couldn’t be about the joys of graduating. That might actually be too uplifting. There has to be some kind of ominous threat. But having Doop fuck it up with a guitar? Granted, I’m all for Doop being awesome. But this just makes way too little sense, no matter how much weed I smoke. It contributes nothing to the story and really offers no hints as to things to come.
In some cases, that actually works. For Kid Omega, he’s still clueless as to what he’s going to do now that he’s has a diploma. And maybe this is the perfect metaphor for graduation as a whole. A teenage kid gets a piece of paper saying he is somehow more grown up and has no fucking clue as to what he’s going to do with it. I sure as hell didn’t know. Then again, I was high off my ass for most of my graduation. But I imagine it’s still a pretty daunting prospect for any teenager, even if they don’t have mutant powers. And that sends just the right message for an issue like this. It sure is better than the get-your-diploma-and-get-the-fuck-out message I got from my high school.
It works just as well for Wolverine. He wakes up the next morning with Storm in his bed and a school that hasn’t been blown up yet. And he seems to have taken to Storm’s message. He’s not the loner and the ill-tempered brute he has always been with the X-men. He’s still an ill-tempered brute, but he’s also an educator that a lot of young mutants look up to. Considering how he admitted he had no idea what the fuck he was doing when he began, that’s pretty fitting. It also proves that it’s possible for even an ill-tempered Canadian with drinking problems to wing it and still be a successful educator. I feel like this is something I should rub in the faces of my old teachers. But instead, I’ll just do my best to enjoy this final page of Wolverine and the X-men.
These days, there aren’t too many happy endings that aren’t supplied by a well-run Asian massage parlor. There aren’t too many uplifting messages that aren’t supplied by horribly unrealistic Disney movies. But the ending for Wolverine and the X-men actually felt uplifting. It gave the impression that Wolverine’s work with the Jean Grey Institute isn’t utterly doomed. It is possible for the students to progress. Characters like Idie certainly have had their share of growth. And Kid Omega is still a total douche, but he adds some colorful personality to the school. He also adds something with which to contrast the mood of the school. Every kid tends to have the same feelings about graduation day. This issue captured many of those feelings. The glimpse into the future was somewhat unnecessary and didn’t offer much. But it added some nice context. So for my final review of this era of Wolverine and the X-men, I give Wolverine and the X-men #42 an 8 out of 10. So now the students have moved up a grade level. Nobody knows what to expect other than the certainty that Kid Omega will still be a douche and Hope fucking Summers will still be a bitch. Nuff said!