Thursday, July 17, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Magneto #7

The people who get shit done in this world either have a lot of power or they have a lot of money to influence the people who have power. In the real world, that power is pretty limited. That’s how big ass corporations like GE can somehow avoid paying taxes while the guy who busts his ass for years laying brick sees his health insurance premiums go up. But in the Marvel universe, even the deep pockets of corporations and lobbyists are limited. If a guy has power like Magneto, then shit gets done pretty fucking fast. He’s on a one-man mission to fuck up the people who dare fuck with mutants. Unlike other activists, he doesn’t accomplish this by hiring lawyers or making friends with Al Sharpton. He uses his God-given mutant power to put humans and mutants alike in the kind of horrible agony usually reserved for the IRS. Since his solo series began, his mission expanded from asshole humans to asshole mutants. Now he’s expanding his power, turning some of those asshole mutants into allies that can help him in his struggle against other assholes. And he didn’t even need to bribe one politician to do it. I’m sure the folks at GE and Goldman Sachs are shitting themselves. It almost makes me feel sorry for Magneto’s next targets in Magneto #7. I say almost because in the same way I don’t have sympathy for Donald Trump when he loses 10 million dollars on a bar bet, I don’t have sympathy for the assholes that use killer robots to deal with minority issues.

The most unfortunate part of Magneto’s ambitious effort, however, is that in order to get close to these assholes, he often has to put himself in some pretty shitty places. And a prison cell run by the Hong Kong criminal underworld is right up there with the back of the line at the DMV in terms of shitty places. But Magneto spent his childhood in a fucking concentration camp. I’m sure their prison to him is no worse than staying in a shitty motel along the Jersey Turnpike. But that prison was just to get him miserable and pissed off enough for the main event. In this case, that main event involves a cage match made specifically for mutants. And since the floor of the cage is stained with blood and bone scraps, I doubt that cage match involves water balloons and condoms full of raw sewage. It’s pretty fucking brutal and on top of that, there’s a cheering crowd betting on how much he’ll be maimed. It’s the kind of sport that only Jason Vorhees, Chucky, and Dick Cheney would find entertaining.

It’s a shitty environment, there’s no question about that. But how exactly to Magneto know to put himself in such a place so shitty? Well, just like the previous issue, he got help from his human ally, Briar Raleigh. And she’s one of those weird humans who has a problem with people that harass minorities to the point where they make them fight in cage matches. So instead of bitching about it on the internet, she teams up with a guy who has a history of ruthlessly killing anyone who threatens his kind. It’s a hell of a lot more effective than bitching about it on the internet or donating to the ACLU. She also seems to be well-connected in that she’s the one who tells him about mutants going missing in Hong Kong. She’s even nice enough to let Magneto borrow her private jet to get to Hong Kong since his powers are somewhat limited. So she’s helping him murder-hating assholes and she’s rich enough to afford her own private het? I’m surprised Magneto hasn’t proposed to her yet.

Guess it’s pretty hard to be romantic when there are mutants suffering at the hands of Hong Kong gangsters. As with previous issues, this continues the theme of heavily utilizing inner monologues with Magneto. In this case, he has plenty to dwell on. These people are all cheering, knowing they’ll see something that would probably get them banned for life if they tried to upload it to Youtube. He mentions how they see him as nothing more than a freak with powers, not unlike Rick Santorum sees homosexuals as freaks with a fondness for assholes. He’s prepared to show them that, like Rick Santorum, they’re both wrong and look stupid in sweater vests.

In order to do that, he first has to survive his cage fight against a Predator X. That’s what counts as entertainment for these people. They have to take a creature specifically designed for killing mutants and unleash it on innocent mutants they pick off the street. That’s like wanting to watch a hungry bear fight a wounded puppy. What’s the entertainment value in that? It only adds to the sick, twisted nature of these people and makes me want to see Magneto horribly maim them even more. I know that sounds like unhealthy bloodlust, but at least Rick Santorum never supported animal cruelty in addition to his bigotry.

The fight against the Predator X is pretty brutal, but in a beautifully bloody way. It’s like watching Jackie Chan in a fist fight while high on Peyote. It’s a violent, bloody struggle. It’s one of those cases where having Magneto’s powers be broken actually works much better than it would have if he were fully powered. He even fully admits this in his monologues, saying that this fight would be over before the sadists in the audience had a chance to get drunk if he were at his full power. Instead, he has to get his hands dirty. He has to fight with one hand tied behind his back, one eye gouged out, and one foot stuck in a ski-boot that’s two sizes too small. Sure, it means these sadistic assholes are plenty entertained, but it also demonstrates nicely that Magneto doesn’t just rely on his powers. He’s perfectly willing to fight armed only with his fists and burning hatred. For a guy who often wears a goofy helmet, that’s pretty fucking badass.

Unfortunately, burning hatred and fists are not enough to take down a Predator X in the same way that a strong spirit and a noble hard aren’t enough to stop bullets. Magneto also has to show that in addition to being willing to fight, he also knows how to win a fight when he’s under-powered. There’s being badass and then there’s just being a wounded pig outside a slaughter-house. But in addition to being badass, Magneto is also pretty fucking smart. Nobody ever got to be the leader of his own team of mutant terrorists by being a dumbass. He knows how a Predator X works and he knows how to exploit it. Seeing him put that knowledge to use only adds to his badassery and the bloodshed. At this point, those with weak stomachs or PETA supporters might want to look away.

First, Magneto exploits this nasty little instinct that Predador X has that allows it to psychically link to any mutant whose blood it tastes. Well Magneto makes sure it gets a whiff of his blood so it gets a full, unfiltered view of his incredibly shitty life. Even a ruthless predator has a hard time stomaching the memories of a kid who grew up in a Nazi concentration camp. It’s smart, effective, and cruel. That’s basically the Magneto trifecta. While Predator X is too disturbed to attack, Magneto rips off some of its horns and jams it into its skull. I’m struggling to come up with a way to accurately convey how badass this is, but even my bloodlust has its limit.

I end up having to raise that limit because it doesn’t stop with Predator X. After defeating the beast, the audience hoping to watch another mutant get mauled, devoured, and shat out like an extra spicy chicken wing are in shock. Magneto then makes clear to them that if they don’t get the fuck out of this place and go back to jerking off to violent German dungeon porn, he’ll start pretending they’re all Predator X cubs. Most get the message. Some of the thugs that imprisoned him earlier clearly must have hearing problems because they try to subdue him. Let me say that again with a proper context. These guys who don’t have superpowers of any kind attempt to subdue a mutant who just killed a Predator X. They might as well be a pack of gerbils trying to subdue Mike Tyson on crystal meth. It’s not a fair fight, but it’s still every bit as satisfying. These guys throwing around slurs like a Jay-Z album are horribly butchered and as disgusted as I am, I can’t stop myself from smiling. And I didn’t even need to take an extra bong hit.

There’s plenty of violence and bloodshed to go around, but there’s still room for tender, less nauseating moments. The whole reason Magneto put himself in this dank part of Satan’s anus is because there were innocent mutants being slaughtered by these people. He made it a point to find some of these mutants who were set to be the next Predator X snack. There aren’t many left. Predator X and the sadists in the audience had a huge appetite, but they’re still alive, albeit more traumatized than a toddler walking in on his parents during an S&M party. Magneto helps free them. It’s a nice reminder that Magneto isn’t just brutal for the sake of being brutal. He actually does care about the suffering of mutants. He just likes to make sure that those who inflict the suffering get a nice overdose of their own medicine.

That brings us back to the metrosexual Godfather wannabe running this fucked up operation. Magneto makes it a point to track him down too. That’s where he discovers that this guy has found yet another way to be a sick and twisted asshole. Not only was he throwing mutants to a Predator X to entertain the always ripe market of sadists, he was also using these captured mutants to create Mutant Growth Hormone, similar to what Mystique did to Dazzler. As if Magneto didn’t already have enough reasons to torment this guy in ways that even Rick Santorum would find excessive, he just had to go for the hall of fame for assholes. It’s yet another case of this comic raising the stakes in terms of brutality and while it may make plenty of people uncomfortable, those same people will find it satisfying in a way that’ll make them feel disgusted with themselves.

Even the most ardent pacifist would probably take some satisfaction in how Magneto deals with this guy. It would have been too easy to just snap his neck or slit is throat or impale him with a huge metal spike. Magneto may be ruthless, but he’s not lazy. If he’s going to maim someone for their crimes against mutants, it has to be poetically just. He accomplishes that here by tossing the guy to a couple of hungry Predator Xs. Magneto even makes sure he takes a shot of Mutant Growth Hormone so that this asshole can die a mutant, just like the innocent mutants he threw into his ring. I don’t know if that counts as poetic justice, but fuck if it isn’t more satisfying than a three way at the Playboy Mansion.

Going back to the issue of sympathy, there aren’t many in this issue who deserve it. Magneto has never been an overly sympathetic character to begin with, but these wannabe Fight Club enthusiasts are in a different hemisphere in terms of douche-baggery. It’s not enough to binge watch Breaking Bad on Netflix or jerk off to endless volumes of internet porn. These people had to be entertained by abducting innocent mutants and watching them get slaughtered. Just when I think Magneto can’t find anyone more deserving of his wrath, he finds assholes like this. And that’s a big part of what makes this series so satisfying. He doesn’t just subdue these criminals and hand them over to the proper authorities. He fucking maims their ass in ways that would make champions of the Geneva Convention shit themselves. These are not the acts of a hero or even an anti-hero. In a ways, Magneto being under-powered has helped make his endeavors a lot messier, which only adds to the awesome. Anyone who wants to know why Magneto is so awesome or just wants to see assholes get what they deserve, read this book. And after the nausea wears off, appreciate it for what it accomplishes. Magneto #7 gets a 9 out of 10. His methods are brutal, cruel, and downright sadistic at times. But they work when it comes to administering justice and they don’t even need overpriced lawyers or a bullshit religious exemption to do it. Nuff said!

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