Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: All New X-men #29
I’m a man who enjoys simple pleasures. Give me a pizza, a bottle of whiskey, and a football game and I’m one happy motherfucker. Books like All New X-men might have all sorts of serious and complicated themes. Hell, that shit is unavoidable when time travel is concerned. But one of the major features that have made this series one of the best X-books to come along in the past 10 years is that it’s full of these simple pleasures. Seeing O5 Jean Grey knock Wolverine out, seeing O5 Cyclops and X-23 hug, and seeing O5 Jean Grey kick Gladiator’s ass are all simple yet enjoyable pleasures that help make this series extra satisfying. Now those kinds of pleasures have been hard to come by in recent issues because Xavier Jr. and the future Brotherhood of Mutants have been pissing everyone off in so many ways. More than anything else, these past few issues have made me really hope that Xavier Jr. gets his ass kicked in the most humiliating way imaginable. I know I may never see the day when Ann Coulter is arrested for going down on Rachel Maddow in the basement of a Mosque, but I hold out hope that Xavier Jr. and his goons will suffer an equally degrading fate. All New X-men #29 promises to deliver. But just in case, I’ve got a pizza and a bottle of whiskey handy.
I don’t have to wait too long to find out if I need it. There isn’t much build-up to X-23’s arrival to the battle. We get a nice, simple explanation about how she was able to sneak past the future Brotherhood. O5 Jean just flexed her new psychic muscle and masked her presence from Xavier Jr. I’m sure it helps that X-23 is already pretty pissed off. Raze did kind of stab her a few issues back and X-23 tends to not be too understanding when it comes to stabbing. So she’s quick to return the favor. As soon as she’s close enough, O5 Jean Grey makes sure she takes full advantage of it. X-23 is then able to give Xavier Jr. the kind of wound that even Chris Brown would find excessive. It’s as satisfying as it sounds. For once, my hopes have not been dashed by the DEA or Fox News.
O5 Jean also reveals that Xavier Jr. did not know about her power upgrade. As far as he knew, she was just another inexperienced telepath at an age when she was just starting to realize how disgusted she is that she ever listened to Justin Bieber. He has no idea that this teenage girl just recently got done kicking Gladiator’s ass. It means she can take extra satisfaction as well, knowing she just humiliated him in a way that caught him completely off guard. She couldn’t have pwned him harder without using sleeping pills, crazy glue, and a pile of horse shit.
For X-23, however, stabbing Xavier Jr. just isn’t satisfying enough. Some people are just not satisfied with the simpler pleasures in life and that’s fine. Because for X-23, that means she also is still plenty pissed off to take on Raze. Some might even argue that he deserves more of an ass-kicking than Xavier Jr. I’m not going to get into that argument. I’ll save my arguments for the next traffic cop I confront. I’ll just assume now that they’re in the same general echelon of douche-bag and enjoy the sight of X-23 maiming him.
But much like my ex-girlfriend, Xavier Jr. doesn’t go down. He’s wounded and outmatched, but still determined to savor the sight of seeing the X-men kill each other. After being wounded by X-23, the rest of the O5 X-men and the New Xavier School are briefly free. They’re also plenty pissed off as well because apparently being mind-fucked in the Marvel universe ruins everyone’s morning. So they attempt to join the battle before X-23 can chop him up into too few pieces, but Xavier Jr. is still able to fight back and mind-fucks them again into attacking each other. I’m assuming this is going to ruin their morning for the rest of the week. There is no coffee strong enough to get around being forced to maim friends and teammates.
However, Xavier Jr. being wounded revealed something to the X-men that was already hinted at in previous issues. His so-called Brotherhood wasn’t exactly a brotherhood as much as it was a team of mind-fucked meat puppets. While that would make an awesome name for a heavy metal band, it doesn’t bode well for Xavier Jr. Now his team, minus Raze, are all too eager to turn on him. Unlike the rest of the X-men, he had been mind-fucking them for more than just a few minutes. So I imagine they’re right up there with Brazil’s World Cup soccer team right now in terms of being pissed.
While this isn’t too shocking since it was already hinted at, it certainly does retroactively change a few things with respect to X-men: Battle of the Atom. In some ways, it clears shit up a bit. In others, it fucks it up. But in this rare instance, the former is more potent than the latter. Now it makes a bit more sense as to why Beast and the others would just turn on their former friends and teammates. The assassination of President Dazzler might have been the trigger, but it didn’t feel like a full blown turning point. Now we know it was Xavier Jr. working behind the scenes, making sure everyone was properly mind-fucked into submission. It takes away some of the drama from X-men: Battle of the Atom, but at least it makes a bit more sense.
It’s now painfully clear that Xavier Jr. is the prime douchebag here and Raze is his Vice President. Now that he no longer has the element of surprise or a team backing him up, O5 Jean Grey and the Stepford Cuckoos attempt to shut him up for good. However, Xavier Jr. reveals that the extent of his douche-baggery is even greater than they suspected because he also happens to be a fucking coward. Before they could land the finishing blow, he masks his mind and escapes. This means that the X-men don’t have time to listen to the heartfelt apologies of their future friends. Now they all have plenty of incentive to hunt Xavier Jr. down and kick his ass.
It also means that Raze has no fucking chance at this point. After getting roughed up by X-23, Cyclops and Iceman finish him off. It’s not quite as satisfying as seeing Xavier Jr. get stabbed, but it still puts a smile on my face and a beer in my hand. He certainly deserves worse for the shit he has done. I’ll just assume X-23 gave him a few extra kick in the balls when nobody was looking.
It has all been so satisfying to this point, but then the retconing starts to escalate. One of the gross oversights that seems to be lingering in wake of this arc is that Xorna hasn’t said a fucking word. I would think after the way the last battle turned out, she would be fighting tooth and nail to get another shot at O5 Jean. Well, apparently there’s a good reason for that and it’s not because Xavier Jr. beat her in rock, paper, scissors. Xorna, in the sense that she’s an aged O5 Jean Grey, never existed. She was just another construct of Xavier Jr. and his bullshit mind-fucks.
Now this does a lot more than just change the circumstances of X-men: Battle of the Atom. It changes the whole dramatic landscape of it. A huge part of the emotional impact of that story came from Xorna being Jean Grey. She was the one that supposedly battled Emma Frost, the Cuckoos, and O5 Jean Grey. She was the one that convinced O5 Jean that the O5 needed to go back to the past. Yet now she’s just a psychic equivalent of an imaginary friend in a creepy mask? That basically means that some of the big battles in X-men: Battle of the Atom were basically no different than a squirrel wrestling a paper bag. It takes away the emotion, but it does help fill in more blanks about Xorna. It also reveals that O5 Jean’s future isn’t as fucked up as she thought. She’s not doomed to end up as a mentally unstable psychopath who is stuck in a creepy, yet badass suit for the rest of her life. That offers hope for her and confusion for the rest of us. But after all the shit O5 Jean has been through, I’m willing to endure a little confusion. It’s nothing an extra joint can’t fix.
Once the team is done scratching their head and shrugging their shoulders, they turn their attention to finding Xavier Jr. If this were an old rerun of a Saturday morning cartoon, the bad guy would get away, curse the good guys, and vow to get back at them through some other horribly generic plot. But since Saturday morning cartoons have sucked since the last episode of X-men Evolution aired, that doesn’t happen here. The X-men have a multiple psychics, an expert tracker, and teleporting demon child on their side. They have no fucking excuse for letting this guy get away. Naturally, they find his wounded ass trying to crawl away in the snow. Cyclops has plenty of reasons to kill this guy the same way he killed Xavier Senior, albeit far more justified. But since he doesn’t need the Avengers or the X-men riding his ass about that shit again, he decides against it. He is still capable of being a better man. That won’t make Captain America or Hank McCoy lose their rage boner for throwing him in jail, but it’ll help ensure he doesn’t add to his already long list of failures.
Once Xavier Jr. and Raze are taken care of, the O5 X-men help Xavier Junior’s former meat puppets go back to the future. But before they leave, there is a nice moment with O5 Beast and old and ugly Beast. They have a nice chat about the other plot-hole that emerged in X-men: Battle of the Atom, namely why the O5 X-men can’t go back to the past. Old and ugly Beast said he never figured it out, but he urged his younger self to succeed where he failed. Sure, he doesn’t provide him the slightest bit of guidance. He’s still Beast. He’s going to be a douche about it, even to his younger self. But it’s a nice reminder that this plot hole hasn’t been forgotten and will continue to be an issue. I still don’t trust Hank fucking McCoy to fix it in a way that won’t require him to be an even bigger douche, but it’s still a nice detail to include.
It’s even nicer to see Xavier Jr. and Raze handed off the Maria Hill and SHIELD. They’re now stuck in inhibitor collars and the X-men gave them specific instructions to never remove them. I want to say I trust Maria Hill to listen, but this is the same woman who never noticed Dark Beast infiltrating SHIELD’s systems so I’m just going to assume she fucks up and forgets at some point. At the very least, she doesn’t use this as a pretext to go after Cyclops again. I think she learned her lesson Uncanny X-men and is running out of dry panties.
But Xavier Jr. already hints that he’s not done mind-fucking the X-men. In the previous issue, he revealed how he sent notes to his future self to warn him that their previous plan to kill the X-men failed. Well now he’s going to have to send another one and now they’re going to have to account for an O5 Jean Grey that’s powerful enough to kick his ass and get him stabbed. I’ve no desire to see Xavier Jr. involved in any X-men story in the near future, but if it means he’ll get stabbed again, I’m okay with that.
Once again, the X-men have one the day. O5 Jean now has new hope that she won’t end up like Xorna and she can get a handle on her powers. And the rest of the team got to beat up Xavier Jr. again. Overall, I would say that’s a pretty satisfying day for any team of X-men. But O5 Angel just isn’t satisfied. He decides he needs to make this day better by asking X-23 out for lunch at a Bob Evans. I’m not sure he knows what a Bob Evans is. That would be like Bill Gates wondering what the dollar menu is at a McDonald’s. But X-23 accepts his invitation, if only because she get a free meal out of it. O5 Angel even steals Cyclops’ motorcycle, channeling his inner Wolverine. I guess that makes it painfully clear that X-23 is going to be jumping O5 Angel’s bone in the next issue. Sure, it would be pretty OOC and probably a little contrived after she just got done hugging O5 Cyclops so many times. But hey, it’s still a free meal at Bob Evans.
I guess in the end, that pizza and whiskey I had on standby can act as a bonus. This issue delivered what it was supposed to deliver, Xavier Jr. getting his ass kicked, followed by utter humiliation. To say it put a smile on my face would be like saying I only somewhat enjoy myself at a strip club in Las Vegas. Both Xavier Jr. and Raze got what they deserved. But what really gave this issue its impact was the way it essentially reframed X-men: Battle of the Atom. So much of the emotion and drama came from Xorna being Jean Grey. Now apparently, she was just an elaborate way for Xavier Jr. to fuck with her. Granted, it worked, but it still takes away from that story somewhat. But at the same time, it adds a little context that helps fill in more blanks left by that story. Like me when I recovered from a bad bout of constipation, there are still some irregularities. But the story now feels more complete. Plus, X-23 got a free breakfast and motorcycle ride out of it. I say that’s a win, but only in the sense that it lessens the confusion and opens some new doors. I give All-New X-men #29 an 8 out of 10. I’m trying really hard not to be too sadistic in taking pleasure in Xavier Junior’s suffering. As Cyclops said, we have to be the better man. Then again, that’s easy to say for anyone who has seen Emma Frost and Jean Grey naked. Nuff said!