Monday, May 26, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: X-men #14

The best of intentions have a way of pissing off some unexpected people. I’m sure that Barack Obama thought he would be making a positive mark on history when he decided he was going to run for President. I doubt he had any idea how many crazy racists religious nuts would come out from the shadows and attack him like he just took a shit on George Washington’s grave. And those are just the people who listen to Glenn Beck. Who could possibly be pissed off by a young woman choosing to adopt an infant child after her parents were presumed dead? Hell, this is the kind of shit that makes pro-lifer’s horny. That’s exactly what Jubilee did with Shogo, yet in being so responsible and loving she pissed off someone really nasty, namely Shogo’s biological father. Apparently, this is a guy who probably wasn’t going to pay child support or alimony. He’s the kind of guy who goes on a murder spree to break out of prison just to get to a kid he didn’t seem to give a damn about until after Jubilee adopted him. But this guy is no Jerry Springer reject. He’s powerful enough to attack the Jean Grey Institute and wound two students. I can see some fathers doing that if they think their daughter or son is alone in a room with Chris Brown, but this guy has no excuses. That’s what makes him so dangerous and that’s why X-men #14 should be a lesson to anyone who thinks their good intentions won’t piss someone off. Even adopting an orphan baby is going to make a few nasty enemies. That’s just how fucked up the world is sometimes.

One of those nasty new enemies was brazen enough to shoot Teon from afar in the previous issue. Naturally, the staff at the Jean Grey Institute takes that shit pretty seriously. Rachel and Monet get on the case, searching New York City during fucking rush hour no less for the shooter. How they managed to find him in a city of millions and track him to a specific subway without triggering shit storm parade down Time Square is not explained. But Rachel Grey is the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey. She is a capable telepath. She’s able to navigate the crowds while probably making everyone think they’re a couple of teenage girls chasing after a boy they sent nude pictures of themselves to by mistake. It shows her skill, but doesn’t make for a very exciting chase.

They eventually do catch up with him in a subway. Again, it’s not nearly as tense as it could be and not just because Rachel is making sure the rush hour traffic doesn’t start shitting themselves. The shooter himself doesn’t look all that devious. He looks like Liam Neesan fucked Miley Cyrus. He threatens to kill the innocent people Rachel is psychically deceiving. Then he threatens to blow his own brains out before they can get any information out of him. He keeps talking about how the future is unstoppable. Someone should tell him that only taxes and bad hangovers are unstoppable. Monet is able to stop him before he pulls the trigger, but I’m still confused about this guy and not just because he looks like this priest I knew who got caught streaking through Sorority House. If this was meant to be tense, it failed and now I have that disturbing image of that old priest in my head.

There’s still plenty of legitimate tension back at the Jean Grey Institute. Two students are still wounded and some of the other students, many of whom don’t have X-men training that help them deal with the constant threat of being shot, are worried. Psylocke, while monitoring the holding cell for their new guest, has to reassure a young mutant that they’re not going to let anyone hurt him. I remember my mother telling me the same thing every time I went to the dentist. It didn’t take me long to figure out that it was bullshit.

With the prospect of some crazy douche shooting students still hanging over everyone’s head, Storm hopes to get a little proactive and asks her time-displaced daughter, Kymera, for information. Now this is actually the first time Storm and Kymera have gotten a chance to talk. They’ve never brought up the fucked up circumstances under which she came from the future who her father is, information I’m sure both Storm and Wolverine would want to know. But Storm is only focused on what she knows about the shooter, not exactly a good way of breaking the ice with a future daughter. Given how many time-displaced X-men there are, I would think there’s at least an online support group. Maybe Storm should have gotten advice from Rachel, but she would probably have told her the same thing. Trying to get a little foresight from the future is a dick move and Kymera doesn’t provide it. That’s also a dick move so I guess this is a good case of like mother/like daughter.

Having not gotten any advice from Kymera, the rest of the X-women opt to go directly to the source. That means a very hostile intimidation that involves Psylocke, Monet, and Rachel Grey. That’s like being locked in a cage with the Rock, Mike Tyson, and John Cena after they’ve been fed a bucket of crystal meth. They’re both debating whether or not they should treat this in a way consistent with the provisions of the Geneva Convention or adopt the North Korean approach. Since two of their students were shot, they make it pretty clear that they’re ready to channel their inner Kim Jong Un. Then Storm shows up and stops them from doing anything that might get them on Amnesty International’s shit list. She tells them they’re going to have a meeting. But I think that’s code for, “Get the fuck out of this room before your rip the guy’s liver out through his scrotum.” And while the X-women get the message, the prisoner continues to show that he gives far fewer fucks than anyone in his position should.

When the X-women meet in the Danger Room, Storm does something unexpected of anyone who was once worshipped as a goddess. She humbles herself. She acknowledges that she has basically been leading a team without actually asking anyone whether or not they want to be part of a team. It is part of why Rachel has been criticizing her at every turn. Granted, I find some of that criticism more contrived than a speech by Glenn Beck. But it wasn’t completely without merit and Storm makes it clear that they are now going to operate as a team. She even says they’ll vote on a leader, but I think she also implied that one of the voters can reign an unholy hell of lightning down on their asses whenever she feels like it.

Now for the past few issues, a lot of this conflict felt really contrived. This is the first time it actually feels legitimate. It’s still very shaky and underdeveloped. I get the sense that this is just a way for Rachel Grey to stay relevant since nobody seems to want her to interact with the O5, the Uncanny roster, or any other team that might be in need of a powerful psychic from an apocalyptic future. I may be wrong or doing too much blow, but the whole internal struggles with the all-female team feel more manufactured than lousy boob job. And having spent my share of time in Las Vegas, I know lousy boob jobs.

There are still plenty of issues to discuss before they vote. They haven’t even had a chance to pander to lobbyists or anything. They don’t get that chance because their prisoner finds a way to fuck their day up even more by causing some random explosion within his cell. It’s at this point I realize how fucking stupid it is to take a guy who already shot two students and try to imprison him in the same school he already showed he could outwit. That’s like putting Charlie Sheen in charge of a Mexican pharmacy. It’s a dumb move of George W. Bush proportions.

The action that follows isn’t very detailed. There’s just a lot of fire and shit with the X-women trying to navigate it. For all they know, their students are being cooked like baby back ribs. We have no way of knowing because it unfolds so chaotically. That’s probably the point. That doesn’t make it any less confusing. The shooter keeps taunting them while still having the personality of an old iPod that turned evil. It’s not as interesting as it sounds.

This time the X-women get an assist. Kymera actually decides to make herself useful in the past and attacks the shooter while saving Shogo. In the process, however, the shooter reveals that he’s not just an awesome shot with a shitty vocabulary. He’s also a walking bomb with a timer built right into his forehead. That sounds fucked up when I say it out loud, but when I think about it for more than five seconds it’s actually pretty brilliant. It explains why the guy didn’t put up much of a fight when the X-women captured him. He wanted to be in their domain when he exploded. That sounded incredibly dirty, but it gets the job done. It’s not entirely clear that they came out unscathed. It’s only clear that the Jean Grey Institute is going to need yet another round of heavy repairs. Other than proving that insurance companies must hate them, he also proves that whoever is after Shogo is pretty fucking cunning and pretty fucking devious.

Their fate is left uncertain. It’s a pretty safe bet they’ll be shell shocked and feeling like a couple of Twinkies that just got deep fried at a County Fair. Some might even be wounded. Or they might just walk away unscathed since X-men seem to survive explosions every other day. We don’t know because we don’t get a fucking clue. We just get a quick glimpse of the mastermind who is probably jerking off as to how well he’s outwitting the X-women. We still don’t know much about him other than he’s more obsessed with the future than Doc Brown and way more competent. The lack of details here makes it pretty hard to get too worked up, but it shows that they’re going to have to fight hard if they want to keep Shogo.

The story could have ended there on just a confusing and mediocre note. But once again, we get this side-story that takes away from the story that’s actually somewhat interesting to see some of the young X-men partake in a Danger Room scenario that probably takes place at least twice a week. Young D-listers like Hellion, Anole, and Rockslide meet up with Psylocke to basically reenact every Dynasty Warriors game ever made. At least Dynasty Warriors allowed users to press buttons. Nothing much happens here. They just screw around, showing their inexperience and making guys like me wonder what the fuck this has to do with Shogo’s father. I don’t mind comics that try to tell extra side-stories. I would just rather they have a fucking point.

This issue may have had the most tense moments in an all-female story that didn’t turn into a lesbian porn or a Julia Roberts movie. They’re all very overmatched by this enemy, but the nature of that enemy is confusing. He’s packing more heat than Rambo on crystal meth. We get that. But as he frustrates the X-women in this issue, it’s not as clear what he’s after. Is he still after Shogo? Or is pissing off X-women the only thing that gives him a boner? Confusing it may be, his impact is not obscured in the slightest. He’s forcing the X-women to either stop their bitching and become a team or let this asshole continue to make them look like headless chickens in a staring contest. They’ve clearly done something to piss this guy off and he’s very good at being pissed off, but we just don’t get a reason to be pissed off with him. Instead, we get Kymera finally doing something, which isn’t much, but it’s still an upgrade. And we get another meaningless story tacked on at the end that’s more forgettable than Adam Sandler’s last three movies. This series still has a lot going for it, but it needs more to be awesome. Even beautiful women can only do so much to compensate for its shortcomings. I give X-men #14 a 5 out of 10. Let’s have less shitty Danger Room sub-plots and more ovary-busting mash-ups with Storm and Rachel. That’s the kind of shit that will fascinate and titillate, a winning combination if ever there was one. Nuff said!


  1. WTF !? Was that Corporal Scott Summers, from X-Treme X-Men, attacking the school ??

  2. Clay Mann's art reminds me of 1980s old school Marc Silvestri art. Clay Mann, I want to have your baby.