Thursday, July 10, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #9

I used to be into all the paranormal shit about monsters, aliens, and lizard people. Now looking back on it, that might have been because of excessive weed and cocaine use. I remember this one time where I saw this hobo glare at me and I accused him of being a spy for the Illuminati. I later found out the guy was just drunk. And after that, I found out the world is a lot more boring than we all wish it were. That’s why it’s comforting to see how in comics, some of those old stoned musings actually have some merit. The Wendigo might not make the cut in a Dan Brown novel, but it has the same spirit. I imagine Alex Jones would have multiple orgasms in the Marvel universe talking about creatures like this. I can’t get quite that excited, but the current story unfolding in Amazing X-men has been entertaining and enjoyable. It even promises to bring in Alpha Flight. How fitting is it that the week after Independence Day in America that we follow a story that unfolds in Canada? They’re health care system is better and their mayors smoke crack. That alone is enough to make me look at Amazing X-men #9 with a sense of optimism. I just need to make sure that reading it stoned won’t make me too paranoid. That hobo can and will kick my ass.

Unlike that hobo, the rest of the Jean Grey Institute’s main staff have no idea what they’re in for. They just came rushing to Wolverine’s aid when they found out that he took a trip to Canada. As Storm herself so eloquently put it, things tend to get pretty fucked up whenever Wolverine takes a trip to Canada and not because the drinking age is 19. They have no idea that an army of fucking Wendigos are involved. If they did, they would probably would have brought more X-men. If nothing else, it’ll give them yet more reasons to never let Wolverine take a trip to Canada for anything more than cheap beer and cheap Viagra.

In addition, Colossus is now joining the team. This is not too surprising since he returned in the previous issue. However, it’s still somewhat of a glaring omission to just let him back on the team when he’s supposed to be a wanted fugitive. Not only was he part of the Phoenix Five, but he was also a member of X-Force. Last I checked, they’re not on good terms with local law enforcement. So they’re willing to just shrug off Colossus’ past associations, but Cyclops is still Pablo fucking Escobar? I’m confused and a little pissed off, but I’ll smoke an extra joint and overlook it for now because I know it’s not going to be addressed anytime soon.

A more immediate concern that actually does get addressed involves Wolverine being surrounded by an army of Wendigo. This usually wouldn’t be too big a concern since this is the same guy who will fight off entire armies of ninjas and jerk off with their blood. But now Wolverine is without his healing factor and that means he’s not the one-man army he once was. Ninjas and monsters no longer shit themselves at the prospect of fighting him. It would have made for a very lopsided battle, but Wolverine already called for help earlier in the previous issue and it arrived just in time before his lack of a healing factor caught up with him.

It comes in the form of a badass midget and a sexy magic chick. That’s not just the premise of an awesome porno. That’s Talisman and Puck, to members of Alpha Flight that have dealt with the Wendigo before. Just as the previous issue, the presence of Alpha Flight adds a nice bonus to the story because they’ve been a big part of Wolverine’s life for decades. Now that he’s about to French kiss the grim reaper (and already has to some extent in his solo series), it makes sense to have them interact one last time. Plus, Talisman has a great rack. That’s certainly a bonus.

While this crisis is unfolding, reports of entire cities turning into monsters doesn’t go unnoticed, shockingly. And for once, it’s not just some crazy rant about Canadian health care by Sean Hannity. The story takes a step back and shows how the government is responding to it and unlike the United States, it doesn’t involve drone strikes against remote villages. They seal off their borders. Thor and Captain America also show up, which I guess is kind of them since Canada gets attacked about as often as Switzerland. But there really isn’t much point to them showing up because they’re stopped at the border so they can observe the authorities shitting themselves.

This scene does a good job of showing that the Wendigo conflict has a larger impact besides just leading into an X-men/Alpha Flight team-up. It actually does have an impact beyond mutants fighting monsters. However, it doesn’t really add much to the ongoing plot. In fact, it just feels like an aside or a reason to throw Captain America and Thor into the mix. Sure, they’ve both had blockbuster movies. But do they really need to show up in an X-men book? I guess those at Marvel and Disney still bitter at Fox would argue they should and I’m not prepared to argue with those people.

Cap and Thor really don’t do jack shit, but the Canadian government is taking this incident pretty fucking seriously. That includes sending a fighter jet to order the X-men to get the fuck out of Canadian air space. This sound like the kind of stunt we would see in the United States, but I’m guessing our government’s douche-baggery has crept north to some capacity. And in the same way it has mixed results on our side of the border, it has similar results for the X-men. The hapless pilot of that fighter jet gets attacked by a Wendigo, forcing Nightcrawler to rescue him. I could say that the Canadian air force needs to start investing in drones, but I think that stopped being politically correct several years ago. Again, it’s nice that we’re getting a sense of scale in terms of how the Wendigo conflict is affecting the outside world, but the impact is limited. All it seems to do is slow the overall story down and if I want shit slowed down, I’ll take an extra hit of LSD.

Since they Wendigo now know how easy it is to knock a jet out of the sky, they do the same with the X-jet because why the fuck not? They probably think they’re flying buckets of KFC. I’m not sure what sort of physics are involved in a bunch of mythical monsters being able to jump up and rip apart a supersonic jet, but I’m pretty sure they would make Stephen Hawkings shit himself. Since these are mythical monsters, I guess I can treat them the same way I treat the Hulk when he manages to fall from space and brush it off like mild cough. It certainly gets the X-men more directly involved in the conflict, although in a somewhat choppy manner.

With the X-jet now damaged, they’re now forced to come in for a crash landing. This really should have an impact on nobody. It seems the X-jet comes in for a crash landing every other week. It makes me wonder if they have these things delivered like pizza because they seem to crash so often. Naturally, the X-men survive thanks to Iceman and Rachel Grey. Of course, they end up crashing into a residential neighborhood, but since it’s already abandoned they really don’t give a shit. Only the insurance companies will lose any sleep over this.

There’s also a little girl somehow involved. She seems to be the only one who hasn’t been transformed into a monster and she was holding up in the attic of her house. It’s really not clear what the fuck she’s doing or how she is a part of this story. I’m assuming that she is because it’s not like Marvel doesn’t have plenty of cute teenage blondes to work with. Like Cap and Thor showing up, there’s just no hint whatsoever at how she’s going to impact this story. She might as well be the janitor on a porno set. We know they’re there at some point. We just don’t see how important their role truly is.

The girl, as well as pretty much every other detail that is needlessly squeezed in, fall to the wayside as soon as the X-men land. It doesn’t take long for the Wendigo to find them. Apparently, a big fucking jet crashing into a populated neighborhood attracts plenty of attention and not just from CNN. There’s a nice bit of action, full of all the juicy details that are expected of any epic X-men battle. It just feels like all these details with the little girl and the Canadian border being shut down did little to add to the impact. If anything, those details just took away from time that could be better spent showing a glorious battle between X-men and Wendigo. But still, it’s pretty fucking awesome to observe.

Eventually, they catch up with Wolverine, Puck, and Talismen. They also understand that when a jet crash lands, it’s usually something worth checking out. Wolverine gives them a brief refresher course about why the Wendigo is big fucking deal. He makes clear that these are not like ninjas or Hydra goons. These are innocent people that have been transformed into these monsters. Killing them is the same as killing innocent people. It’s a worthwhile reminder, even for those who Googled the Wendigo after the previous issue. It’s one of those details that actually does add something to the story. It also saves them the trouble of finding out a solution.

It’s actually pretty simple on paper. They need to protect Talisman while she conducts a spell that will undo the Wendigo curse. That’s exactly why he called her. He understands that this is one of those battles that has to be solved with magic and not adamantium claws or whiskey. Although I’m sure throwing in some whiskey couldn’t hurt. It really doesn’t sound like it should be too big a deal. The X-men could take care of this and get back to the mansion in time to watch the next match in the World Cup. It’s that simple, right?

Fuck no, this is a five-issue arc. There’s no way it’s going to be solved that easily. This is where Wolverine’s lack of healing once again catches up to him. He essentially lied when he assured the team that the Wendigo hadn’t wound him. That means that just as Talisman is casting her spell, he turns into a Wendigo and stabs her before she can complete it. Now he’s essentially fucked their situation up even more. It helps to further add to the epic scale of this growing conflict. What should have been a simple matter of X-men fighting mystical monsters has become much more complicated. I guess that means they’ll have to DVR the next round of the World Cup. I just hope they weren’t rooting for Brazil.

The bulk of this issue was spent establishing the scale of the conflict and that’s perfectly fine. There are way too many that gloss over shit like that the same way the DEA glosses over the Bill of Rights. So much time is spent just building up the conflict that when they finally do get around to fighting that conflict, it’s not all that epic. It feels like the arrival of Thor and Captain America is just needless filler. The whole sub-plot with the little girl doesn’t add much to it either. All it did was make me feel sorry for her that her house got fucked up and her insurance probably doesn’t cover crashing X-jet. Although in the Marvel universe, that may or may not be part of basic liability coverage. These are elements that could certainly factor into the conflict during future issues, but this issue on its own isn’t very concise until the very end. The not-so-shocking turn of events gives plenty of reason to pick up the next issue, but doesn’t make this issue as a whole feel as satisfying as it should. I give Amazing X-men #9 a 7 out of 10. It’s not that Wolverine being transformed into a mythical monster is less novel than the second Hangover movie. It’s that there wasn’t enough time was given to allow our collective assholes clench at the prospect of him becoming a fucking Wendigo. Nuff said!

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