Thursday, April 17, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #6

I once wrote a letter to the White House suggesting that all peace negotiations take place in a bar with free beer, cheap whiskey, and unlimited buffalo wings. Granted, I was drunk when I wrote this letter. But I still believe it's perfectly logical. Take a few bitter enemies, put them in a bar, get some liquor in them, and they'll either become best friends or try to kill each other. My thinking is if they try to kill each other when drunk, then peace was never possible to begin with. I never heard back from the White House. In fact, I'm pretty sure the Secret Service put a tracer on my car. But I still think the concept is valid. And I think it could certainly help the X-men bridge the schism that has been in place for years now. Wolverine already showed that he can get along with Cyclops when beer is present. Now that Nightcrawler has returned, they have even more reason to drink in celebration. If only they could set aside this whole schism bullshit, they could focus on more important issues like finding new ways to piss off Maria Hill. That's probably on their to-do list, but it's not going to be addressed in Amazing X-men #6. Nightcrawler has officially returned. We already got a taste of the impact in Nightcrawler #1. But no beer was involved in that issue so I consider this to be more official.

Well now it’s official. The X-men are no longer fighting for their lives against the forces of Heaven and Hell. They’ve beaten Azazel and Nightcrawler has returned to the world of the living. That’s a damn good reason to rent a bar for the night and drink until everyone starts pissing from a pool table. It’s a beautiful thing and something the X-men should celebrate more often, given how many times someone dies and comes back to life. I don’t remember Jean Grey, Cyclops, or Charles Xavier getting a party at a bar for when they came back to life. I’m just going to assume it got way too crazy to show on panel for now and hope Nightcrawler’s party is a success. So long as there’s beer, it would take the power of Galactus to keep it from being successful.

Everyone already has their glasses raised and an open tab. They’re ready to start getting drunk, shooting pool, and fucking bitches. It might not be in that order, but that’s the plan. However, the party is missing the second most important component after the beer. And that’s the reborn man of the hour himself, Nightcrawler. But he’s not late out of shyness and since he can teleport, he can’t use traffic as a reason either. He’s just making a pit-stop to check on his father, who is supposed to be in custody and on his way to a prison cell that will make him wish he were still in Hell.

And just like the first five issues, there’s some nice inner monologue from Nightcrawler to give a little extra context to the circumstances. I know my inner monologue would consist mostly of “Where’s the beer and when can I start drinking it?” But Nightcrawler is a bit more poetic, lamenting about how he can’t choose his family. He’s the son of Azazel and Mystique. That basically makes him the son of the devil and one of the devil’s favorite groupies. Even for a man of faith, that’s pretty hard to work around. But Nightcrawler has found a way to deal with it, which puts him right up there with the Pope in terms of his piety, minus the scandals. Once he’s satisfied that Azazel is on his way to a life of solitary confinement and sodomy, he goes off to celebrate.

Nightcrawler joins his fellow X-men and they’re all ready to start drinking. There’s some more nice inner monologue that shows how Nightcrawler really does treasure his friends. In many ways, they’re the ones most responsible for keeping him from being the same asshole as his parents are. And that’s really a good message for everyone who isn’t an asshole parent. Good friends can trump shitty parenting. However, some of those friends aren’t exactly on good terms. That’s when Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Magik come in.

This has all the makings of an epic mutant bar fight. By now, everyone has probably told Nightcrawler how Cyclops became a wanted fugitive that tried to destroy the world, murdered Charles Xavier, and probably ate a few live puppies in the process. I like to think he’s smart enough to see through that bullshit. It allows him to stop himself from triggering the epic bar fight, which is disappointing in some ways. But it would sort of undermine the whole celebration aspect of this party.

Nightcrawler does confront Cyclops. He even reveals he met Charles Xavier after he died, saying outright that Cyclops killed him. He doesn’t add any context. He doesn’t mention that Xavier was attacking Cyclops and that he was overwhelmed by the Phoenix Force. By that logic, he should say the same to Wolverine, X-23, and Jean Grey for all the people they’ve killed while in a fucked up state of mind. That’s disappointing because it gives the impression that Nightcrawler has bought into the same bullshit that Wolverine and Beast keep pushing. And he’s way better than that. But unlike Wolverine and Beast, Nightcrawler embraces Cyclops and welcomes him to join the party. Even Wolverine and Beast’s bullshit can’t keep him from being such an awesome guy.

The party unfolds and there are no bar fights. Again, it’s somewhat disappointing. But the purpose here is to celebrate and not inflict wounds that can’t be healed with more alcohol. It’s one of those exceedingly rare happy moments for the X-men. They happen about as often as a new reality show that doesn’t suck. But it happens here. It has already been shown in previous comics that Wolverine and Cyclops can get along in the presence of alcohol. Perhaps that’s how the schism in X-men has to end. They just haven’t applied enough alcohol to the problem.

For a while, it’s a nice party and nobody gets too drunk at first. It almost gives the impression that they’re doing it wrong. But then they get an unexpected visitor in Mystique. Actually, scratch that. Everyone and their mother should have expected Mystique to show up. Her son came back to life. Even though she has devolved into a total sociopathic bitch with the character depth of a pet poodle, she does still care that her son is alive again. It’s way fucking overdue for her to show that.

However, that doesn’t mean the reunion is full of joy and tears. There’s no way the bar has enough alcohol to make that happen. Nightcrawler finds out that Mystique came disguised as a waitress. She fooled everyone, even Wolverine. But she didn’t fool Nightcrawler. There’s not much that comes of this meeting though. Nightcrawler teleports her outside and just urges her to get the fuck away from her party before everyone has an opportunity to get drunk. Mystique rightly points out that he has changed and seems genuinely impacted by her son’s return. It felt like a lot more could have come from it, but it doesn’t. That’s just asking for too much at this point. It seems Mystique can’t be awesome without Jennifer Lawrence.

But Mystique has more concerns than just seeing her son alive again. There’s also the matter of her baby daddy, Azazel. She must really be aching for back child support because she found out that he’s back on Earth again. And she’s not at all convinced that there’s a cell in this world that can hold him. For the man who knocked her up and ditched her, she needs to make sure he’s put in a more secure kind of hell. It leads to less heartfelt reunion and more tension. Mystique goes so far as to pull a gun on Nightcrawler after he lets it slip where Azazel is being taken. But for her, pulling a gun on a loved one might as well be a kiss goodnight. That’s what she has been reduced to in the comics.

The party is now officially on hold for Nightcrawler. After Mystique slips away, he goes after Azazel. And nobody in Heaven or Hell or anywhere in between should be surprised that he found a way to bust out of his convoy. He gets a little help from his evil bamfs, who create a Fast and Furious style pile up that is perfectly executed. Nightcrawler is nice enough to rescue the drivers and guards. Then he attacks his father. He probably understands that even the devil himself doesn’t deserve Mystique’s wrath. That or he just doesn’t want to risk having Mystique send Azazel back to Hell where he almost conquered Haven. That would basically do Azazel a favor and Nightcrawler just can’t have that.

Azazel manages to overpower Nightcrawler. Then Mystique shows up on a motorcycle in a way that was blatantly ripped off from Terminator 2 and Resident Evil 2, but I’m not complaining. The battle becomes street brawl and there isn’t even any alcohol involved. That means it’s pretty fucking serious. The action here is very nicely organized and the family dynamics here only make it more awesome. This is actually the first time since CDs were still popular that Nightcrawler, Mystique, and Azazel have all been in the same scene together. It may be more overdue than Ghostbusters 3, but fuck it’s satisfying.

It makes for a very tense moment where Mystique has guns pointed at both of them. It has the potential to be one of those moments that define all three of their characters for years to come. Sadly, it ends more prematurely than a Mormon prom night. Nightcrawler tries to attack, if only to make this a less messy family reunion. But then he just passes out somehow and wakes up with his parents gone and his friends catching up with him. It’s incredibly abrupt. There’s no hint that someone hit him over the head with a bowling ball, hit him with an extra-large shot of sedatives, or told him about the night he was conceived until he passed out. Nightcrawler is still in one piece, but now both his parents are on the loose. Now he has even more reason to get drunk.

What happens to Nightcrawler isn’t clear. But what happens with Mystique and Azazel is a bit less subtle. Azazel teleports her away from their son’s wrath, if only to make Mystique horny again without it getting too awkward. And he apparently succeeds. Mystique claims she wants to kill him. But Azazel senses she has another reason. He even gives her a chance to shoot him. But she doesn’t. Instead, she offers him a job. She doesn’t even demand back child support or alimony. It’s still somewhat abrupt, but Mystique clearly looks conflicted here. And maybe even a little turned on. While most kids would be elated with the idea of their parents getting back together, this is one instance where even Christian conservatives would be okay with divorce.

Now I don’t want to get my hopes up here. I learned the hard way after my first encounter with a transvestite hooker that expectations can easily be dashed. But I really do want this to be the beginning of something different for Mystique. She used to be a more complicated character. She was even a member of the X-men for a while. But now she’s just a total fucking psychopath who exists only to piss off Wolverine, as if that’s all that hard. Maybe Azazel being back will give her another purpose and Nightcrawler being alive will give her more emotional range than pissed off tiger. That’s still a pretty big maybe.

For Nightcrawler, it’s a tough night for something that was supposed to be a celebration. But he deals with it the same way I deal with my problems. He tries to drink them all away. And it seems it works to some extent. That’s the power of alcohol. More inner monologue has him lamenting about how he can’t choose his family. But I imagine his thoughts get sufficiently slurred at some point so he stops giving a shit. He and Wolverine drink together until the sun comes up. Nightcrawler even admits he loves him. That’s the success of any kind of alcohol intake. When it gets two buddies to admit they love each other, they’re doing it right.

This book began with a joyful celebration and ended in a drunken stupor. Not going to lie. I did tear up a little. I’m man enough to admit that. The whole family reunion angle with Nightcrawler and his parents was pretty nice too and very well-done. But seriously, a drunken celebration of Nightcrawler’s return to the living couldn’t have turned out better. Sure, Azazel got away and ran off with Mystique. And sure, they’re probably boning in ways that would make every head at the Vatican explode. But I doubt even Nightcrawler had enough faith that Azazel would stay locked up. And while it wasn’t all terribly emotional between him and Mystique, she finally did come off as slightly more than an unapologetic sociopath. She may have gotten away, but at least everyone got drunk and hugged. That’s an epic win in my book. Amazing X-men #6 gets an 8 out of 10. Any party where two grown men get drunk and profess their love for each other as the sun rises is a damn good party. Definitely worth all the slash fiction shit that will probably come of this. Nuff said!

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