Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #6
Anyone who has ever been in a bar fight knows that at some point, everybody forgets what they’re fighting about and who deserves to have their ass kicked the most. This usually happens after the first three punches or after someone runs out of blow, whichever comes first. That doesn’t keep the bar fight from being epic. It just makes it more chaotic. In Wolverine and the X-men, it’s not quite as chaotic, but it is somewhat unclear on who we should be rooting for. Wolverine and Storm are trying to protect Genesis, who may or may not be destined to become Apocalypse, and the Phoenix Corporation is trying to prepare Kid Omega to take him down, which may or may not be a bad thing because death by Phoenix Force is just as shitty as death by Apocalypse. Some of this uncertainty stems from throwing yet more time travel into the story, which at this point is like asking for more explosions in a Michael Bay movie. It has long passed the point of absurdity, but that hasn’t kept the story from being engaging and compelling. There promises to be more time travel to help clear up who we should be rooting for. Even though I feel like punching Marty McFly in the balls, I’ll suck it up and try to enjoy the prospect of an Apocalypse/Phoenix battle in Wolverine and the X-men #6. In the same way some drinks are worth the hangover, some stories are worth the frustration.
I take some comfort in the knowledge that Idie probably shares my frustration. She boldly followed Kid Omega into the future only to find out that his adult self is just as much an asshole as his teenage self. There are reasons most people find it frustrating to deal with teenagers, which gives them plenty of incentive to grow out of it. That didn’t happen with Kid Omega. And the reason it didn’t happen had nothing to do with him being an inherent douche-bag. It was because of fucking time travel. Doc Brown and Doctor Who are probably banging their heads against the wall now because when Kid Omega saw his future self in X-men: Battle of the Atom, he decided he wanted to change himself because wielding the power of the Phoenix Force just wasn’t enough for him. Sadly, he succeeded and in this case, success means he loses his shit and decides to go Dark Phoenix. If it makes no sense, even after a few bong hits, then don’t freak out and go running to the DEA. This is a teenage douche-bag trying to tweak with things he doesn’t understand. He might as well be an Amish toddler trying to wire a supercomputer. It’s bound to get fucked up, albeit in a confusing way.
Not surprisingly, things are much less confusing back in the present. Faithful John, who became the most likable guy to attack the Jean Grey Institute in years, was finally subdued in the previous issue when he made the stupid mistake of pissing off Storm too much. He managed to get his ass shocked by enough lightning to give Larry King an erection, leaving him more burned out than Lindsey Lohan after a weekend in Las Vegas. But he’s not dead and his mind is still going strong.
So he figures if he can’t snap Genesis’ neck, he might as well make him want to snap his own neck. That’s the power of telepathy. And since Genesis is now hiding in Fantomex’s miniature version of Abu Grab, he’s got plenty to work with. It promises to be a pretty epic battle and Genesis stands ready to fight, even throwing in some Richard Sherman style trash talk. Faithful John has gone to all this trouble to kill him. It would be a shame if he didn’t make an epic effort to get the job done. He’s like the antithesis of Congress.
Sadly, we don’t get to see that struggle. Instead, the story goes back to the future to give me even more reasons to punch Marty McFly in the balls. That story just involves Idie and Kid Omega confronting Kid Omega Phoenix, who has decided to finally take a cosmic shit on the Jean Grey Institute and even rough up a horribly aged Wolverine. Hell, this sounds like the kind of shit he would do without the aid of time travel, but he has to make it more inane by trying to justify why he’s being such a dick.
This involves a horribly underdeveloped explanation as to how Genesis eventually became Apocalypse. Apparently, treating him like shit when he’s a teenager gives him plenty of incentive to become apocalyptic. He became powerful, only Kid Omega could stop him, and he managed to contain him, but not before he turned Idie into a horsemen. It should have been a heroic triumph that turned Kid Omega from a typical teenage douche-bag with a shitty haircut into a hero. But that just wasn’t enough for him. Even as an adult and armed with the power of the Phoenix Force, he still finds a way to fuck it up.
This is where my frustration with time travel stories turns into a full-blown migraine. Apparently, what fucked up Kid Omega and his future was going back in the past and seeing his past self in X-men: Battle of the Atom. Now I admit I would be pretty disappointed in seeing my teenage self again, but Kid Omega takes it a step further and does it in a way that makes about as much sense as the first half-hour of Inception. His past self was pissed off by his future self and his future self was pissed off by his past self, which meant his future self had to fuck with the past and manipulate the Phoenix Corporation into revealing more about the future. And at this point, I just grab an empty bottle of whiskey and throw it across the room.
I get that Kid Omega is a dick who isn’t known for doing shit that makes sense, but it doesn’t help when the extent of his dick moves are unrefined. This might just be a product of being way too burned out on time travel stories, but I couldn’t make sense of where the dick moves of the past and future began or how they related to one another. I get the sense the whole point of this inane conversation was to just piss off the Phoenix Force so that we could get another Phoenix battle because apparently, the shitty outcome of Avengers vs. X-men wasn’t enough for some people.
So instead of Genesis battling Faithful John in the World, we get a lot of bitching and moaning between the past and future versions of Kid Omega. That’s like getting a light beer instead of Jack Daniels. That battle, as epic as it might have been, ends before it can even be shown in all its glory. Faithful John ends up being manipulated by Fantomex’s deception powers, leading him to wear himself out while Fantomex and Genesis watch on, trying not to laugh their asses off at him. It’s not a very satisfying battle, but it does make for a nice moment between Fantomex and Genesis about not becoming the monsters they’re destined to be. That’s easy to say when they’re not the ones jumping into the future to see the assholes they become, but I find it hard to hold that against them at this point.
I can’t really say the same for the big battle against Kid Omega Phoenix. Given how poorly the battle against the Phoenix turned out in Avengers vs. X-men, I had a hard time getting too excited about this. It’s the same bullshit as before. Everyone struggles to attack whoever is tripping balls on cosmic power. There are a few emotional moments in between, mostly with Idie and Kid Omega. And someone has to end up making a sacrifice to stop the Phoenix Force. Since Kid Omega is such a dick and does little to make anyone give a shit about him, seeing him prepare to sacrifice himself has no impact. Thankfully, the future avoids getting fucked up even more because adult Kid Omega stops him. But still, at this point it really is hard to give too many fucks.
Eventually, the Phoenix is defeated to the surprise of absolutely no one. And unlike Avengers vs. X-men, there’s no emotional weight to it. Idie just stabs future Kid Omega and that’s pretty much the end of it. Future Wolverine manages to get in a few stabs, but he might as well be an extra on an episode of Star Trek because he really doesn’t do jack shit. I guess when the Phoenix isn’t a pretty redhead, he just can’t get that involved. I want to say that seeing Kid Omega’s future self get his ass kicked is satisfying, but I’m still too damn confused to enjoy it. He had to have known on some levels that he was only going to fuck himself up even more by messing with the past. Surely, as an X-man, he has experienced enough time travel to understand that. But no, he just has to go about it in a way that’s so devoid of depth that the only thing worth focusing on is how shitty his hair looks in the future.
As a result of this vapid plot, the battle against Faithful John ends without much refinement. Thankfully, this breakout character who did so much to endear himself in a way few villains not played by Tom Hiddleston can survives the final battle. He is now a prisoner in The World, which means it’s only a matter of time before he busts out and kicks Fantomex’s ass. That time can’t come soon enough, but for now he’s in the capable hands of Doop. So in that sense, this struggle isn’t a total loss because it isn’t definitively over. Faithful John is still alive and he’s still got a hard-on for killing Genesis. That gives me hope that we’ll see him again and he’ll find new ways to be awesome.
Things finally get back on track in terms of the timeline. Everyone is back where they should be in the space-time continuum. Faithful John may have upset plenty of students, but they seem pretty eager to shrug it off and get back to fooling around in the Danger Room. It’s another case of lacking details, but that’s not to say the events of the story don’t have a major impact. As the Jean Grey Institute staff tries to make sense of this shit, failing miserably in the process, they find out that the Phoenix Corporation had a bit of a power shift. Eden Younge just wasn’t working out and was more forgettable than Ryan Leaf’s football career. So they end up hiring Kid Omega as their new CEO. That’s right. They put Kid Omega in charge of a billion-dollar company. What could possibly go wrong there? Fuck, now I’ve got another migraine, but at least this one doesn’t involve time travel.
Reading the end of this story acted as a reminder/kick in the balls as to why I’m so sick of time travel stories. As if the increasingly convoluted and plotholed Terminator movies hadn’t proved it enough, this story showed just how fucked up time travel stories can become. At the very least, this story helped expand on the future that was first revealed in X-men: Battle of the Atom. The question for me is, did it really need to? Sure, it helped provide insight into why Kid Omega became the Phoenix and how it fucked him up, but we already know from Avengers vs. X-men how the Phoenix Force fucks people up. The story surrounding Genesis, Fantomex, and Faithful John was much more relevant, but took a back seat for most of the story and that felt like a mistake. In the end, this was a time travel story that showed just how fucked up a time travel story can be in wake of events of a previous time travel story. At least Back to the Future had the good sense to include an awesome soundtrack. This issue did a good job of creating new characters and expanding on previous stories, but in the end it felt too damn confusing and incomplete. And for those who don’t read comics sober, that really takes away from the enjoyment. I give Wolverine and the X-men #6 a 6 out of 10. This isn’t a bad story with a bad premise. It just tries to do too damn much and doesn’t do so in a coherent way. It’s like a teenage boy trying to fuck like a porn star on his prom night. He’s only going to make a mess and feel mortified in the end. Nuff said!