Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: All New X-men #26
It doesn’t take much to set some people off. For one person, crashing a shopping cart into the rear bumper will only evoke a scowl and a middle finger. For another, there mere act of tripping over them on a sidewalk is akin to taking a shit on their mother’s grave. These aren’t just people with anger management issues. These are people who are going through a bit of rough shit, be it divorce, shitty parents, or running out of weed. For O5 Jean Grey, it’s more than just a bit. She just got done being put on trial for a crime she hasn’t even done yet. She got so pissed that she somehow managed to upgrade her powers. Hell, if that’s all it took to become stronger, I’d be fucking Superman based on all the parking tickets I’ve gotten. But this power upgrade is only the latest nudge for O5 Jean down the path to becoming either Xorna or dead. Both results suck and with The Trial of Jean Grey Over, she now has to start dealing with it in All New X-men #26. Being a teenage girl who just watched O5 Cyclops take a vacation in space to play Han Solo with his father, I don’t have much faith in her coping skills.
And by all accounts, O5 Jean is off to a pretty shitty start. She finally gets a chance to get some rest and like a hangover that kicks in just before the blackout, she has a nasty nightmare. It’s not the first time either. O5 Jean Grey has been having crazy nightmares since she arrived in the future. Her first nightmare involved a crazy, naked Wolverine stabbing her to death. This one is only slightly less horrifying in that she dreams about going Dark Phoenix, just as the Shi’ar showed her. Everyone around her is either dead or wishing they were dead. She’s drunk on power in a way only matched by Donald Trump’s fantasies. But what really makes it hit hard is that this is exactly what she feared. She admitted to being a monster in The Trial of Jean Grey. She just hasn’t found a way to cope with it yet. I still say it’s more terrifying than being stabbed by a naked Wolverine.
Naturally, the horrified gasp of Jean Grey having a nightmare is a major disturbance in the force for Cyclops. For once his brain, his heart, and his penis are on the same page when he comes for her. It’s more than a little awkward and not just because O5 Jean thought that O5 Cyclops had returned from space. Cyclops just found out about what happened with the Shi’ar and his younger self. He’s probably both pissed and a worried. He knows Jean Grey’s future better than anyone. Hell, he’s seen her naked. And he doesn’t have to be in love with her to know that the shit the Shi’ar showed her can have a nasty impact on a teenage girl. But it goes further than that in a way that both Twilight fans and X-men fans can appreciate.
In terms of the bigger picture, Cyclops is probably the one character in the entire Marvel Universe that understands what O5 Jean is going through the most. And it’s not just because he married her and raised a kid with her, although that definitely helps. He just recently experienced what it was like to go Dark Phoenix. He finally understands what Jean Grey went through when she struggled with this power. He even pointed it out to Wolverine in AvX: Consequences in another act of epic Wolverine pwnage that would only be topped by O5 Jean knocking him out in All New X-men #2. Now without O5 Cyclops around, he’s the only Cyclops she can turn to and it brings out a side of him and O5 Jean that is both refreshing and overdue.
It’s the heart-to-heart they admit they’ve been avoiding. First, Cyclops establishes he knows how much Dark Phoenix nightmares suck. Then he assures her that all their future space adventures aren’t going to suck quite as badly. But then it gets more personal with Cyclops telling her how he would have horribly maimed Gladiator if he had been there when they came to abduct her. It also addressed the new powers O5 Jean used to kick Gladiator’s ass and give Jean Grey fans everywhere a boner they haven’t had since the Grant Morrison era. And Cyclops rightly points out that this is something the old Jean Grey never showed. Like O5 Jean said in the previous issue, this shit is all new. And it reminds them both at how the older Jean didn’t have that tool in her arsenal to save herself.
It’s when their conversation gets so personal that this emotional discussion takes on a rich, profound detail that is so beautifully handled that if it were a diamond, only Lady Gaga could get away with wearing it. It doesn’t just provide profound insight for Cyclops, who admits there are so many things he would have done differently if he had the knowledge O5 Jean now has. It also highlights the powerful chemistry that Cyclops and Jean Grey have. And I’m not just talking about romantic chemistry either, although it is clear at one point that O5 Jean’s teenage hormones get the better of her. Nobody should expect her to be completely immune to the power of Cyclops’s penis. These two characters really do bring out the best in one another. The way they care for one another and the way they learn from one another is what helps make them two of the most iconic characters in the history of X-men, despite what Wolverine fans may say.
That said, Kitty Pryde isn’t all that comfortable with Cyclops being alone in a room with O5 Jean Grey. She understands the power of Cyclops’s penis and his inability to think rationally around all things Jean Grey. But that doesn’t take away from the emotional weight of their interaction. Beyond encouraging O5 Jean to train with her new powers, they worry about the damage Beast has done to the timeline in his effort to troll Cyclops. O5 Jean even admits she likes the kind of man Cyclops has grown up to be. She does overlook that little bit about him killing Professor Xavier. But after the murders the Shi’ar showed her, I think she’s the only one who truly understands how overwhelmed Cyclops was in that moment. So in that sense, they really are pretty much the only ones who really understand each other. And that just gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside that I don’t usually get without whiskey and porn.
On the opposite end of the warm and fuzzy spectrum, X-23 isn’t nearly as inclined to substitute O5 Cyclops for his older counterpart. While O5 Angel is off on his morning flight, trying to forget that his older self has lost his fucking mind, he finds X-23 loaded up with enough gear to cross Siberia. She says outright that she’s leaving. There’s nothing tearful or conflicted about it. She’s just ditching the New Xavier School. With O5 Cyclops gone and the power of his penis no longer present, she has little reason to stay. O5 Angel tries to do exactly what O5 Cyclops did in All New X-men #20 and stop her, but he simply lacks the charm or the penis to do so. To be fair though, X-23 is pissed off in a very different way. O5 Angel is perfectly reasonable and doesn’t say anything really stupid, which teenage boys have been known to do around girls. X-23 is just that determined to tell everyone to piss off.
That also includes angry bears. PETA supporters might want to skip this part of the story, but I think X-23’s state of mind is worth emphasizing here. While O5 Angel is trying to convince her to stay, a curious bear shows up who probably thinks O5 Angel is an oversized chicken wing just waiting to be deep fried. Fuck, I’m hungry now. But lucky for O5 Angel, X-23 scares him away. Let me say that again to get the point across. X-23, a teenage girl with claws, terrified a bear so much that it ran away. I think that says something about both her and the terror inspired by teenage girls that’s worth noting.
But beyond scaring a bear, O5 Angel finds out that X-23 might have had a thing for O5 Cyclops. All those hugs they shared meant something and it didn’t just involve soaked panties. It probably confuses the hell out of O5 Angel. Apparently, he has yet to learn that teenage girls tend to react poorly when a guy they want to dry hump just up and leaves. Boy, he’s really fucking behind the curve. In that sense, O5 Angel has no chance of convincing X-23 to come back so she leaves and O5 Angel is left to contemplate just how much crazier teenage girls can be. Again, he’s got a long ways to go.
X-23 is off and ready to look for someone else to hug her. Then in what looks like her mind and her hormones playing tricks on her, O5 Cyclops shows up. He says he has come back to her. He just missed hugging her that much. Fuck having his own solo series where he gets to cruise around the galaxy with his father in ways that every Star Wars and Star Trek fan only dreams. He would rather stick around and hug her.
Anybody who believes that shit needs to lay off the weed or smoke more of it. Of course it’s a ruse, but it isn’t her raging hormones making her hallucinate either. It’s a shape shifter looking to both fuck with her mind and stab her. And she (or he) succeeds. I say it could be a he because in addition to Mystique, the renegade son she had with Wolverine in the Battle of the Atom future is still running around. And he seems to enjoy stabbing things associated with Wolverine just as much as his mother. He (or she) claims to take no pleasure in doing so, but I get the sense he’s hiding a massive erection after leaving X-23 for dead.
I also imagine mulling over complicated physics equations gives O5 Beast a boner. He’s just way better at hiding it. That’s what he ends up having to do as he’s going over a big ass chalkboard full of the kind of math that gives most high school juniors night terrors during mid-terms. It’s not the first time either. He was working on this board during the first issue of The Trial of Jean Grey. Now he adds some extra equations to the mix, namely O5 Cyclops leaving and O5 Jean’s new powers. This seems to hint that this is a significant change in the way their presence is impacting the timeline. They just keep finding new ways to fuck it up, but this way might actually be productive. It has to be because I don’t think the timeline can take any more new assholes.
Speaking of assholes, the rest of the New Xavier School staff are incredibly douchy when O5 Angel returns to tell them that X-23 left. In fact, some don’t even remember her name. O5 Iceman admits to calling her Wolverine Clone. Granted, that’s what she is, but it’s still a dick move, not even learning her name. The only one who really gets pissed off is Kitty Pryde and rightfully so. She already had one of her students ditch her. She doesn’t need it to become a trend.
But before she can give her students a much needed lesson in not being a dick, X-23 comes back on her own. To be fair, she kind of had to after being stabbed and all. It’s not quite clear how wounded she is or even why she’s so wounded. This is someone who has had all the flesh on her bones blown off before. She should be able to walk this off the same way Brett Farve walks off a broken ankle. But she has already shown that she can be wounded badly. It’s just hard to figure out how a simple stab wound could do this much damage.
That said, there is a pretty telling hint. There’s a good reason why I suspect that the shape-shifter that stabbed X-23 might not be Mystique. The future Brotherhood of Mutants that stuck around at the end of X-men Battle of the Atom are still pissed. They can’t go back to their own future, but they can keep fucking up the present. And as it just so happens, they’ve found the secret location of the New Xavier School. Stabbing X-23 was just a prelude. They’re probably sick of being at a point in time when they have to use outdated iPhones and slower internet. Who wouldn’t be pissed about being stuck with dial up? And if they have a way to wound X-23, they sure as hell have a way to wound the rest of the O5.
This is one of those issues where beautifully developed drama more than compensates for the lack of actions. And it’s not like there wasn’t any action. X-23 got fucking stabbed and left for dead. But just one issue ago, there was a ball-busting epic brawl between O5 Jean Grey and Gladiator. It’s perfectly okay to not have that kind of action in the next issue. In fact, this issue perfectly follows up on the impact of The Trial of Jean Grey. The heart-to-heart with O5 Jean and Cyclops was the real meat of the issue. It’s worth the price for that scene alone. Seeing X-23 scare off a bear is just a nice bonus. This kind of drama is something that has taken way too fucking long to unfold, but like a happy ending at a massage parlor it’s so worth the wait. It sets up a new dynamic with O5 Cyclops being absent and one that promises to actually make progress that doesn’t involve O5 Jean and O5 Cyclops being awkward and pissed all the time. And despite what Glen Beck may say, progress is a good thing and All New X-men #26 has plenty of it. I give it a 9 out of 10. Like a priest at the Little League World Series, there are going to be a lot of uncomfortable feelings between O5 Jean and Cyclops. But those uncomfortable feelings are what make it so much fun to watch. Nuff said!