Friday, May 23, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #4
Being different for the sake of being different is the worst reason for being different, despite what Lady Gaga may preach. I get that whenever a new creative team comes on a book, they want to leave their mark and give it their own unique touch. But that shouldn’t involve throwing out the shit that worked and replacing it with the shit that doesn’t. Wolverine and the X-men was initially established as a fun, light-hearted, Fast Times at Ridgemont High type spirit, minus the stoners. It had the X-men acting as both heroes and staff, trying to keep their teenage mutant student body from blowing everything up. Sure, they failed miserably at times, but that didn’t make their escapades any less entertaining. Now in wake of this relaunch, Wolverine and the X-men has taken on a different tone. It lacks the humor, spirit, and tone of the previous volume, exchanging it instead for Kid Omega being an ass and Wolverine ditching most of the staff. That’s like trading a Porsche for a Kia. It still does the same job, but not with the same style. The lack of made Wolverine and the X-men much harder to get excited about, even with the aid of awesome weed. But it hasn’t gone completely in the shitter. It has created a conflict in the Phoenix Corporation that stems directly from the events of X-men Battle of the Atom and Avengers vs. X-men. It just hasn’t done so with style. It’s like Joan Rivers modeling lingerie. It’s the wrong kind of presentation. Wolverine and the X-men #4 is supposed to make that lingerie more appealing, but it can only be so hot if it lacks style. Unless it involves Seth Rogan, that approach can only work so well.
Now nobody can ever say Kid Omega looked good in lingerie, but he is very much a central figure to this arc. He’s the one the Phoenix Corporation targeted and if X-men: Battle of the Atom wasn’t some elaborate LSD-induced hallucination, he’ll also be the future bearer of the Phoenix Force. But he didn’t really care for what the Phoenix Corporation was offering. Even their sexy nuns didn’t do it for him. Usually sexy women will get a teenage boy to give himself a colonoscopy, but not for Kid Omega. He either has really unreasonable standards or the Phoenix Corporation just has the world’s shittiest salespeople.
But thanks to Wolverine and Storm, Kid Omega managed to escape. And somehow he found his way to the secret location to the New Xavier School. It’s not even hinted at how he found this location. I’m pretty sure if he really knew where it was, he would have told Wolverine just so he could jerk off while he and Cyclops beat the shit out of each other. Instead of an explanation, we get to see Kid Omega attacking the O5 X-men and some of the students at the New Xavier School. It’s makes much less sense, but it’s more entertaining. I’m just amazed Kid Omega didn’t make a dick joke when he encountered Goldballs.
Once he’s done roughing up the male population of the New Xavier School, he turns his attention to X-23 and O5 Jean Grey. Here, he reveals that he’s still a teenage boy. The sexy nuns offered by the Phoenix Corporation didn’t do it for him. But X-23 and O5 Jean Grey sure did. Rather than fight them, he does the next best thing and puts on the kind of charm that only a creepy omega level psychic could manage. While it may be creepy, it works. I guess it’s easy to attract women when a little omega level telepathy is applied. It’s tantamount to cheating, but there isn’t a straight teenage boy on the planet who wouldn’t use it. I still have no respect for Kid Omega as a person, but I will say the kid has standards.
Unfortunately for him, he’s not the only powerful psychic at the New Xavier School. He also grossly underestimates his ability to psychically charm pretty girls. The Stepford Cuckoos prove that when they reveal that the O5 Jean Grey he thinks he’s about to cop a feel with is actually just an illusion. X-23 and O5 Jean Grey have too much self-respect and too weak a stomach to give let Kid Omega do anything other than leer. It’s so creepy that one of the Cuckoos claims she’s now a lesbian. I’m sure Kid Omega will still consider that a win.
While Kid Omega is all style and fake substance, Faithful John is the exact opposite. He was by far the most interesting character of the previous issue. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s a powerful telepath, and he’s rocking an epic ZZ-Top style beard. What’s not to love? Well, he is attacking the students of the Jean Grey Institute with the intent of killing Genesis. I said he was interesting. I never said he was Mother Theresa. But he’s not just doing it for shits and giggles, although I suspect that is part of it. He has seen the future and he has shared those visions with others. In that future, Genesis becomes Apocalypse and really fucks things up. So he’s willing to take a page right out of Skynet’s playbook from Terminator and fix the problem before Apocalypse gets all Apocalyptic.
And to accomplish this, he fights smarter rather than harder. It’s a lesson he knows most teenagers have yet to wrap their head around, along with how to cook anything that doesn’t involve a microwave. Having just showed the students what happens with Genesis, some actually side with him. Hellion is one of them. He attacks Rockslide and Idie, allowing Faithful John to concentrate on more pressing matters. He’s like a sadistic gym teacher, turning teenagers on one another so he can just sit back and enjoy the show. It’s cruel, but I know from experience how well it works so I’m not going to knock him for it. I’m just going to redirect my resentment towards my old gym teacher.
Wolverine and Storm could probably learn a thing or two from Faithful John’s tactics. They rely more on just plain fighting rather than fighting smart. It still works to some extent. They’re able to fight off the Phoenix Corporation’s Hydra-wannabes. But being able to defeat anything remotely akin to Hydra is like Derek Jeter winning a game of T-ball against 8-year-olds. It’s not a fair fight, but that’s not the point. While Storm favors returning to the Jean Grey School to protect their students, Wolverine opts to stay behind and confront Eden Younge, the CEO of the Phoenix Corporation and a guy who thinks having sexy nuns as henchmen is vital. Not saying I like the guy, but I do respect his style.
It makes for a nice moment between Storm and Wolverine when there have been painfully few lately. These two are still supposed to be sleeping together, yet they’ve come off about as close as reluctant lab partners for a high school chemistry assignment. It may feel somewhat out-of-place, but it adds some badly needed emotion for these two. Besides, after seeing Kid Omega’s bullshit fantasy about kissing O5 Jean Grey, we need something like this to stop the dry heaves. If I want to see something that sickening, I’ll picture Kathy Bates naked.
The endgame here is tied to two characters: Kid Omega and Genesis. While Kid Omega is looking for answers with Cyclops, Genesis looks for answers with Fantomex. He’s the one responsible for Genesis since he shot his predecessor in the fucking head. He’s been trying everything he can to keep Genesis from becoming Apocalypse, including but not limited to ripping off Superman’s origin story. Yet he’s still a target so Fantomex opts to hide him in The World. It’s another moment that adds a little emotion to the mix. Genesis knows what he is and is still trying to not be the asshole he’s supposed to become. Every teenager foolishly believes at some point that they’re in control of who they are. They don’t know that unless their name ends with Rockefeller, their options are pretty damn limited and downright fucked most of the time. In that sense, I feel somewhat sorry for Genesis, if only because I too was once a teenager who found out the hard way how the future fucks everyone at some point.
The World is still only a temporary refuge because Faithful John is still on a rampage. Thanks to Hellion, he’s able to get into the school. That’s where Armor tries to stop them while employing some of the psychic shielding tactics that she learned, which I imagine is right up there with Sex Ed in terms of vital curricula. But again, Faithful John works smart and not hard. He lets Armor attack him. He lets her believe she has stopped him. And the moment she starts feeling proud of herself, he sends one of the bamfs to take her out. That reminds me a lot about getting my mid-term grades back. The moment I think I do well, I see the grade and feel like I’ve just been assaulted by a demon.
Wolverine fares somewhat better against Eden Younge. He catches up with him just as he’s retrieving what looks like a steak knife that Donald Trump would own. Wolverine gives him a chance to end this without too many claw marks on his ass. He reminds him that he lost Kid Omega and if he fucks up the Jean Grey Institute, he’ll be even less inclined to help the Phoenix Corporation. Eden Younge seems to be on a cosmic level of not giving a shit. He then cuts himself with the blade, releases a Phoenix-level light show, and goes on this confusing rant about how he would do anything to cling to whatever frail hope he has left.
If that sounds confusing as fuck, join the club. I don’t know what kind of hope he’s talking about. If it’s hope that the IRS will stop screwing him over or that Brett Ratner will make a movie that doesn’t suck, he’s shit out of luck. Eden Younge comes off as the kind of guy who just likes to hear himself talk so that he sounds more ominous than he really is. He might as well be an infomercial pitch man. I really have no idea what he’s after or why I should give a fuck. My only hope is that it’s reason enough for Wolverine to stab him to death.
Younge can’t seem to explain who the fuck he is or why the fuck he’s doing any of this. However, Kid Omega has already read his mind and knows what they’re dealing with. He’s apparently a really old fuck from the Conquistador days. He found a miniature version of the Phoenix Blade and somehow that allowed him to be reborn in a way that helped him form his own cult. Since Jesus established that being reborn is the key starting a new religion, Younge had everything he needed. I still don’t know what the fuck he’s after, other than pissing off the X-men and toying with cosmic forces. Either he just got bored being a cult leader or he did it really fucking wrong
But Eden Younge takes a backseat to a much more meaningful conversation between Cyclops and Kid Omega. I know it’s a strange notion, having any kind of meaningful conversation with Kid Omega. But Cyclops is in a great position to help him because he has plenty of direct experience with the Phoenix Force. He didn’t just wield it, he married the girl that wielded it best. He doesn’t tell Kid Omega what he wants to hear, like most school counselors do with teenagers. He tells him that all that power really did go to his head, even though he tried to convince himself that it didn’t. It’s probably the most productive conversation a teacher has ever had with a teenage boy that didn’t involve condom usage. And despite what the Hank McCoys of the world would have us believe, Cyclops is still very good at reaching young and confused mutants.
Maybe he should’ve had a similar pep talk with Genesis sooner because his time is running out. Having effectively pwned the entire student body of the Jean Grey Institute with the same effort I put into making my Hot Pockets, Faithful John has nothing standing in his way from taking down Genesis. One of his mind-controlled bamfs locates The World where Genesis is hiding. However, Fantomex has finally decided to get off his ass and actually help. He stood by and let some creepy old guy beat up the a bunch of inexperienced students. He’s a douche, that much hasn’t changed. But he’s still ready to protect Genesis. Only one person should have to kill a kid. It’ll either be a creepy old psychic or a masked French douchebag. If I were in Genesis’s shoes, I would be very conflicted.
Going back to my lingerie analogy, I’m willing to say this issue made the overall concept of this series just a little more sexier. The Phoenix Corporation still has a business plan that’s more lacking than the last Keanu Reeves movie, but the battle against Faithful John and Kid Omega’s pep talk with Cyclops really added some badly needed dimensions to the story. For once, we got a big picture perspective of the Phoenix Force and other great powers like it. Cyclops, while lacking in credibility, gives Kid Omega some insight he won’t get from anyone else. And Faithful John continues to show that he has more personality than most of the students at the Jean Grey Institute. The battle that began way back in Uncanny X-Force continues and there’s a genuine struggle here with Genesis and the Phoenix. Storm and Wolverine aren’t able to accomplish much other than maybe sneak in a quickie before the next battle. But everything else in the story progressed in a way that makes the lingerie feel just a bit more appropriate. It’s still not a thong on Jennifer Lopez’s ass or a bra on Pamela Anderson’s tits, but it gets the job done. My penis and I agree. Wolverine and the X-men #4 gets a 7 out of 10. It’s not far off from being awesome and if it can continue this momentum, then my penis and I will have even more to agree on. Nuff said!