Friday, August 15, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #10

When a trip goes wrong for a guy like me, it usually involves being dragged out of a whore house by a couple cops while drunk and wearing ladies underwear. It’s not pleasant, but it’s only as dangerous as the guys who share the jail cell. But when a trip goes wrong for the X-men, it usually involves killer robots or killer monster or some other creature or being bent on killing. In that sense getting drunk and snorting blow in the girl’s bathroom at a bar in Bangkok doesn’t seem nearly as dangerous. I’m sure the X-men would rather be doing that than taking on an army of Wendigos, who have transformed an entire town in Canada into an army of killer monsters. It has already gotten past the point where the cops have barged in and nobody can tell whose underwear they’re wearing. The X-men have arrived to confront the problem, but Wolverine still ends up being infected and transformed. As I review Amazing X-men #10, I take comfort in knowing that as bad as some of my vacations have gone, I never got turned into a mythical monster that didn’t involve a bad hit of LSD.

I’m sure most of the X-men wish they were on a bad LSD trip after seeing Wolverine get turned into a Wendigo in the previous issue. Now they’ve got to deal with a Wendigo armed with adamatnium claws. That’s like giving a bear a machine gun. It turns a messy situation into one that’s truly fucked up. It makes for a messy fight, but it finally gives Rockslide a chance to do something that doesn’t involve ripping off Thing. It’s easy to forget that he’s still just a teenager and a student at the Jean Grey Institute. That means his only skill is hitting stuff that his teachers tell him to hit. That’s all he needs to do once he enters this battle.

It makes for a brief, but satisfying battle between a team of experienced X-men and a Wendigo Wolverine. It’s actually a pretty fair fight on paper, but then again so was last year’s Superbowl so that helps. Since they can’t even slow Wolverine down when he’s not a mythical monster, Nightcrawler resorts to teleporting him away so they have room to work. They place an awful lot of faith in Wolverine’s inability to run a couple miles, but it opens the door to other kinds of action.

In the previous issue, there were a number of somewhat random asides that didn’t really tie into the main story. One of them involved a little girl who somehow escaped becoming a Wendigo, which probably just meant she watched way too many Home Alone movies. Northstar ends up saving her. It seems like a weak way to connect this girl to the main story, but it adds a nice human touch to the story. This way they’re not just fighting monsters. They’re also saving people. Sometimes that’s easy to forget in the same way it’s easy to forget that strippers can’t pay for boob jobs with one dollar bills.

It’s also easy to forget that when thousands of people start turning into mythical snow beasts, it kind of generates attention and not just the kind that show up in shitty tabloids claiming Hitler was reincarnated in a penguin. It also gets the attention of authorities who understand that mythical monsters don’t pay taxes. That means the Avengers need to be at the Canadian border doing everything they possibly can to guard against a flood of Wendigos. I want to say it’s a metaphor for illegal immigration, but I’ll leave that sort of shit to Lou Dobbs. This is just a good way of showing that the Wendigo attack is having an impact beyond the X-men and whichever town in which Wolverine happens to get in trouble. It’s a minor detail, but one that helps add to the breadth of the story.

Another detail that adds the story is Northstar being badass in a way that pisses off the Fred Phelpses of the world. His efforts to save the little girl are rewarded with more Wendigo attacks. And I’ll bet the little girl still complained that she left her stuffed teddy bear behind. It’s a tough, but awesome display on Northstar’s part. And despite the wounds, it does come with a bonus beyond just saving a little girl from years of therapy.

His old team, Alpha Flight, finally manages to catch up with them. Not just a few members. Not just a few passing references. I mean the whole fucking team, including Aurora, Sasquatch, and Snowbird. That officially makes this an X-men/Alpha Flight crossover. These crossovers are like peanut butter and chocolate. On their own they’re pretty awesome, but when combined they become a special kind of awesome. Knowing Wolverine is going to die soon, it would have been a federal offense to not have Alpha Flight show up again. Well now Marvel can skip witness protection because they’ve gone the distance here.

But before the X-men can fully link up with Alpha Flight, they have to fight their way through more Wendigos. The action here is still pretty basic, but it’s not poorly done. It doesn’t attempt to be the final scene in a Mission Impossible movie or a Power Rangers re-run. It just has them battling it out. There are some nice moments, like Rockslide showing that he needs to stick to fighting killer robots and Colossus showing that he’s still fond of the fastball special. It’s not epic like an orgy at the Playboy Mansion, but it is satisfying like a blowjob at a strip club.

Once they finally have a chance to catch their breath, they’re able to tend to Talisman, who was on the business end of Wolverine’s claws. This requires some rather messy first aid, the kind that those with a weak stomach need to be at least 50 feet away from. This allows for a little humor to be injected into an otherwise very serious conflict. These little moments of humor have been a big part of Amazing X-men since it began. And what could be funnier than Rockslide throwing up while others contemplate following his lead?

The laughing and puking doesn’t last long. They finally meet up with Alpha Flight, who have already taken care of the Scooby Doo portions of the conflict. They reveal that this outbreak began when some dipshit at a meat packing plant killed someone and grinded them up for hot dog entrails. That’s another aside from previous issues that didn’t make a lick of sense initially, but now it proves to be a key detail in that it started the Wendigo outbreak. Canadians, like Americans, love their meat. They don’t care if it comes from a mystical creature. They only care that they can add bacon and ketchup. Now to keep these creatures from turning the rest of Canada into one big hot dog factory, they need to find the source and throw it in a deep fryer. Sorry, but this shit is making my hungry so I’m going to have to hold off on the food jokes.

Now with Alpha Flight at their side and a clear understanding of what they need to do to unfuck this situation, they go about finding the source. This is where the Alpha Flight team-up becomes more than just a gimmick because Sasquatch has a connection to the source. I guess all these big, furry, monster types all run in the same circles. I hope that means they can stage an intervention for Beast at some point, but that might be asking for a bit much. He’s able to track it to a cave, which is naturally guarded by an entire army of Wendigos. Even mystical creatures aren’t that stupid. Like the creatures in Lord of the Rings, they know not to leave their most valuable site unguarded.

That said, it doesn’t seem they were able to sit through the whole Lord of the Rings movie. If they had, they would have taken note of the final battle scene where Sauron’s attention was diverted away from the two little hobbits looking to screw him over. That or they just held their piss for way too long. At least Sauron only had to deal with hobbits. The Wendigo have to deal with Storm and Guardian. These are not the kinds of enemies that are slowed down by killer spiders. Maybe I’m giving the Wendigo more credit than they deserve. They’re mythical beasts, not skilled tacticians. But seriously, Sauron was just a giant fucking eye. They have no excuses.

Or maybe I’m not giving the Wendigo enough credit because perhaps they do have a plan that doesn’t involve throwing orcs at the problem. The X-men and Alpha Flight are able to mount a pretty impressive attack, one that’s on a much larger scale than earlier. There are plenty of details to help convey the scope of the attack, something that would otherwise be glossed over for more shots of Rockslide throwing up. But the end result of their plan implies that the Wendigo do have ambitions beyond that of a standard non-sparkling vampire. As Guardian said at one point, their curse is limited to Canada because it’s a country that needs to be known for more than just hockey. But now these creatures want to spread all over the world because they’ve finally realized there are places way more fun than Canada. If it took them this fucking long to figure that out, then maybe Sauron is the more competent bad guy after all.

Overall, this issue was basic yet effective. Oftentimes, the simplest things are the easiest to fuck up. That’s how some end up thinking a mullet is a sensible hair style or a tube top is appropriate attire at a funeral. Even when basic things aren’t fucked up, they tend to be boring. On their own, a hammer and a watermelon can only be so funny. But when done right, it can be pretty fucking hilarious. This issue offered a concise, thorough explanation of the Wendigo conflict. It had typical action, drama, and heart. But it did all this typical stuff really fucking well. It tied up some dangling plots, established the scale of the conflict, and brought the rest of Alpha Flight into the fold. If it were a burger, it would have been packed with extra cheese and extra bacon. Now that I’m hungry for bacon, I’m just going to give Amazing X-men #10 the 9 out of 10 it deserves and hit up the nearest Five Guys. Yes, I know this issue gave me more reasons to be suspicious about the contents of a hot dog. No, it doesn’t make me less inclined to wrap a hotdog in bacon and eat it with a bottle of whiskey. Nuff said!

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