Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: All New X-men #25
Whenever Marvel announces that a particular comic is a serious, jaw-dropping, ball-busting, game-changer I usually approach it the same way I approach an AA meeting I’m forced to attend. I just smile and nod, going along with it while secretly planning where I’ll get drunk later that night. Now every now and then, Marvel and DC are able to deliver on their blatant dick-waving. But more often than not, it comes off as a weight-loss fad pushed on late-night infomercials. All New X-men already went through a pretty ball-busting game-changer with The Trial of Jean Grey. Not only did O5 Jean manage to escape the Shi’ar’s brand of Minority Report style justice, but she came out of it with upgraded powers. She has already wielded more premature power than Kim Jong Un since All New X-men began. It was only a matter of time before it started biting Father Time in the ass. And this is what’s supposed to be so ball-busting about All New X-men #25. It’s big. It’s triple sized. And it has more artists than Eminem’s entourage. I’m all for squeezing more awesome into more pages, but even the art of Pablo Picasso can’t make a shitty comic not suck. So my focus for All New X-men #25 will come down to two simple questions: Is it awesome or does it require weed of a certain potency to enjoy? I await the answers with a semi-sober mind.
The setup is full of Twilight-level creepiness. Beast is sound wide awake in his bed. Insomnia is clearly kicking his ass and why shouldn’t it? A guy who fucked up the space time continuum shouldn’t be getting a good night’s sleep. But that’s not enough for a guy who has attained this level of douche-baggery. He gets an unexpected shadowy visitor. But unlike Edward Cullen, he’s not there to admire his beauty and fondle his hair in ways that would make anyone else a sex offender. He’s there to bust Beast’s balls and let him know that he has no idea how badly he fucked things up with his time-traveling bullshit. Beast tries to defend his actions, but he might as well be Forest Gump debating black holes with Albert Einstein. And he’s not just going to use fancy words to bust Beast’s balls either. He’s going to actually show him how wrong he is.
This is where the format of the issue takes on an entirely new appearance. It’s not just Beast lying in bed being told he’s a hypocrite and a douche-bag. He’s shown visions of various realities throughout the damaged space-time continuum. And this is what requires all those guests artists to contribute to this issue. All New X-men #25 wasn’t just marketed as being a double cheeseburger of an issue. It boasted an impressive cast of artists that included Bruce Timm, Art Adams, Scottie Young, J. Scott Campbell, and a whole bunch of others that I’m too drunk to list right now.
The first vision involves the first woman Beast ever wanted to get naked with. He’s shown a vision of Jean Grey that is so disturbing that even he can’t jerk off to it. He sees that in a timeline without Charles Xavier and the X-men to keep her tethered to her humanity, she eventually becomes corrupted by her power. We already saw that happen with Xorna in X-men: Battle of the Atom. Well it can actually get worse than that. More importantly, it gives a more complete reason as to why Jean lost her fucking mind in Battle of the Atom. This is what happens when she doesn’t have her friends and her mentor to keep her tethered to humanity. It’s consistent with her history of becoming corrupted. This just shows it doesn’t need to happen because of the Phoenix Force. It’s disturbing, but it gets the point across and adds some badly needed context to Jean Grey’s struggles.
Next, we get a vision of what happens to Cyclops. This might actually be a vision Beast doesn’t mind because it involves Cyclops being burned at the stake in a way that would give Puritans a raging boner. But it has some pretty fucked up implications that would likely kill his boner. It shows Cyclops’s mutant revolution failing miserably. And his punishment isn’t being locked in a room with Maria Hill, a baseball bat, and a bucket of crystal meth. It’s fucking crucifixion. Even if Beast despises Cyclops for what he has done, he has to be more than a little disturbed that humanity grows to hate mutants so much that they think crucifixion is an appropriate means of dealing with them. It may be more Christian, but it kills that whole promise of peace and understanding in a way that would make Jesus cry.
Iceman’s fate isn’t quite as gruesome, but still plenty disturbing. In a future without the X-men he’s not the lovable Run DMC fan that everyone has come to appreciate. Like Jean, his powers grow and he’s got nobody to help him control it. Since Iceman was never all that big on self-control, that leads to him creating armies of Ice-Hulks, Ice-Goblins, and Ice-monsters. He pretty much creates anything he ever saw in a World of Warcraft villain out of ice and he can’t control it. Again, this is something we saw in X-men: Battle of the Atom. That was one of the many gaping plot holes that wasn’t addressed. This one doesn’t fill in every detail, but like Jean it does provide a context. It’s late as hell, but so long as it doesn’t involve my girlfriend’s period I’m okay with things being late.
But there’s no extra context needed for Angel’s future. The extent to which he loses his shit and becomes and evil Apocalypse wannabe was already well-documented in the pages of Uncanny X-Force. Well in the future, that shit comes back to haunt him yet again. He’s already lost his memories and carries himself like a brain damaged man-child who thinks he’s an Everquest cos-player. It shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially Beast, that he gets sick of that shit and reconnects with his inner Apocalypse cos-player. It doesn’t end well for him, his friends, or the X-men. It acts as a nice reminder that Arcangel isn’t completely gone and still has the potential to stir up some shit. That excites me as much as it terrifies Beast.
It isn’t just the O5 X-men that get fucked by the future either. Beast also gets a glimpse of how some of his other fellow X-men lose their shit. Colossus has already been in a pretty unhealthy cycle for a while now and coming from a drunk, that’s saying something. Not only did his sister screw him over and stick him with Juggernaut powers. But he ended up as one of the Phoenix Five, which made him a fugitive and cost him his keys to Kitty Pryde’s panties forever. Now he’s drowning his sorrow in Domino’s panties. I suppose there are far worse ways he could cope, but Domino’s panties might not be as healthy because he ends up becoming jaded soldier in a war-torn world. Sure, he looks badass. It even makes perfect sense in the context of what has been happening to him since Avengers vs. X-men. But it’s still a shitty future.
Emma Frost’s future isn’t quite as badass. She’s still sexy as hell, but her future isn’t. In this future she probably wishes her powers were broken because she also loses control of her powers. I’m starting to see a trend here and it’s usually pretty hard to pick up on trends after a couple joints and a bottle of jack. But it’s consistent with the theme of there being no Charles Xavier, no X-men, and no vision to keep mutants like Emma Frost tied to their humanity. So that means that even someone as tough and sexy as Emma Frost just lose their shit. Even the former White Queen of the Hellfire Club can only take so much of peoples’ inner-most thoughts. Hearing how the men want to bury their face in her breasts and lick jello off her ass probably gets old after a while. Hearing too much of that shit would drive any woman crazy and kill her love of jello real fast.
Then there’s the archbishop of douche himself, Hank McCoy. After seeing how his friends lose their shit in the future, he really shouldn’t be too surprised to find out that he loses it too. At least he doesn’t end up getting burned at the stake, turning into Xorn 3.0, or going crazy from reading everybody’s sick thoughts about what they want to do with his boobs. All that brilliant intellect that he goes to such lengths to saving basically says, “Fuck this, I’m outta here!” That only leaves a snarling, pissed of Beast that’s unfit for a zoo or an animated Disney character. So while his friends and loved ones get fucked over more directly by the future, he gets to hang out in the Savage Land and gorge on dinosaur meat. Plus, he gets to shit wherever he wants and hump anything without being arrested. Hell, for him this isn’t even the top 10 worst futures he could have. It would be worse if he ended up being Paris Hilton’s pet for all eternity.
All these distinct futures and the different art styles depicting them have a pretty consistent theme that the shadowy figure is trying to hammer into Beast’s douche-laden skull. By fucking with the X-men and taking them away from Charles Xavier’s mentorship, he detaches them from their humanity and their ability to control their powers. This is a pretty big fucking deal because while Xavier may have become a douche in his own right in recent years, he did a damn good job teaching the X-men the value of clinging to their humanity. Both Battle of the Atom and The Trial of Jean Grey showed what happened when they’re pushed to their breaking point. They lose their shit and they lose sight of what it means to be X-men. That doesn’t just show that Beast fucked up the future. It showed he undermined the very foundation of what it means to be X-men.
These vivid visions certainly make Beast sicker than a Red Sox fan at Derek Jeter’s house. And yet he still tries to justify his bullshit. He claims that he did what he did because he believed in his selfish heart of hearts that this would create a better future. Sure, he was dying and he had a rage-boner for all things Cyclops, but on some levels he had to believe that. That doesn’t make what he did any less a dick move, but he still tries to use this as an excuse. He even demands that the shadowy figure show him these futures, if only to make his asshole hurt just a little bit less. I still find it frustratingly infuriating that Beast keeps making these bullshit excuses, but I can’t say I’m surprised. Short of a future that involves kissing Cyclops’s scrotum, I never expected him to show any remorse.
But there are still good futures to look forward to. As crazy as it sounds, not every future is apocalyptic. Let me say that again on the off-chance anyone involved in comics is reading this. Not EVERY future needs to be apocalyptic. The real world itself is apocalyptic enough with Fox News, North Korea, and the greedy assholes on Wall Street. We don’t need to see how it can get worse in the future. And the shadowy figure does make an effort to show that there are futures that don’t suck.
One involves humanity exchanging crucifixion for parades and celebrations. Yes, there is actually a future where the X-men are celebrated as heroes and the killer robots are actually on their side. It’s a beautiful thing, even though we don’t get to see too many details. But Jean Grey is alive, the Sentinel isn’t shooting at them, and the X-men are waving to the crowds with the charm of Jennifer Lawrence. It also has teammates like Kitty and Magik making amends. It has Storm, Nightcrawler, and Psylocke going into space as explorers. I almost wish we could get another double-sized issue to see more of this world where everything isn’t fucked. Since I’m getting older and more jaded, that kind of shit does have some appeal to me. I hope I’m not the only one.
Instead of a vision of this bold future, the flow of guest art becomes more incoherent and convoluted. The shadowy figure talks about how in this better future they find love. But then we get this fucked up spread of Kitty Pryde and Colossus going through the various relationship progressions in their past and potential future. It’s funny and cute, but does absolutely nothing for the story that’s being told here. If I want cute and funny, I’ll watch youtube videos of cats playing pianos. I don’t need to be reminded of all the fucked up complications that have occurred between Kitty Pryde and Colossus. I also don’t need to see a page dedicated to showing how Cyclops and Wolverine eventually become BFFs, but only when they’re old, senile, and constipated. It’s funny and cute, but it does jack shit for the story.
That’s not to say there aren’t some entertaining aspects to this twisted sequence of clip art. There’s actually a nice little comic strip featuring Jean and Wolverine from an artist who is known for doing these funny little strips on Tumblr. It’s fun and it’s cute, showing Jean Grey and Wolverine in a way that doesn’t involve unrequited love and creepy obsessions that involve naming schools after someone. But it really doesn’t contribute anything to the story. If this is a potentially better future for the X-men, I have no fucking clue as to how it fits into the bigger picture. And I don’t have to be sober to see that.
The rest of the spreads and sequences are less entertaining. They don’t depict any possible futures that make the shadowy figure’s point or fill in any plot holes. Some of these spreads look like ideas that could only work in fan fiction. Jean Grey, Emma Frost, and Rogue become agents of SHIELD? That shit isn’t ever happening in the comics, but if there’s someone out there with more time on their hands than me, please make some fan fiction out of that. Nightcrawler teaming up with Captain America? Hell, that doesn’t even need to be fan fiction. That could easily be an issue of A+X if Marvel hadn’t decided to cancel that book. These aren’t bad ideas. Hell, they would make decent minis. But they don’t do shit for this story or the point the shadowy figure is trying to make. They don’t work the same way the other spreads did in the shitty futures. It’s just glorified clip art and there are enough places to get that shit on the internet. It doesn’t need to be included in a $4.99 comic book. That’s like charging ten bucks see a youtube video and still having it being interrupted by bullshit video commercials.
In the end, all these non-Apocalyptic futures do make a point, even if the artwork does a piss-poor job of showing it. The shadowy figure informs Beast that because of the actions he has taken, these more pleasant futures cannot happen. He has already fucked himself and everyone he cares about into an apocalypse. That’s when he reveals his identity. This shadowy figure is none other than Uatu the Watcher. Who else could show him visions of these futures? And when Beast begs for help in unfucking the future, Uatu kindly reminds him that he’s the fucking Watcher. He’s not his temporal tech support guy. He then tells Beast that he disgusts him. And for all the disgusting shit the Watcher probably sees on a daily basis, most of which probably comes from Deadpool’s bathroom, that’s saying something. It puts a smile on my face to see that the Watcher and I agree that Beast is a massive douche. If he wasn’t bound by his oath to only watch, I would offer Uatu a joint and a bottle of Jack Daniels.
First off, I need to say that this comic gave me a big man-crush on the Watcher. And the timing couldn’t be worse since Marvel plans on killing him in their upcoming Original Sin. But he still lived long enough to give Hank McCoy’s ass some long overdue trolling so in that sense it’s safe to say he had a fulfilling life. That was really the main objective of this issue, berating Beast for ass-fucking the space-time continuum. Not only did he lie to a bunch of impressionable teenagers, but he failed to understand the consequences of his bullshit. Nobody has really called him out on this epic failure. It took the fucking Watcher to get the point across. And I think that’s right up there with passing out drunk in a gas station bathroom in terms of pathetic. But that point was somewhat obscured by the hodgepodge of clip-art that was splattered across page after page incoherent musings. There really was no plot beyond the Watcher trolling Beast. And since the Watcher has that bullshit oath of his, not much comes of it. Beast just feels a little more shitty. I suppose that counts as some progress, but it hardly justifies the extra dollar in price. That’s money I could have spent on booze and weed. I give All New X-men #25 a 5 out of 10. It filled in some plot holes and made Beast miserable. But beyond that, it was basically a glorified Tumblr feed. And it didn’t even have any porn. There’s just no excuse for that. Nuff said!