Thursday, August 14, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #7

I believe there are certain breeds of ex-girlfriends that deserve to be classified as their own unique species. What is it about certain women that fills them with an inhuman need to make a man suffer endlessly for a failed relationship? Even the devil isn’t as vindictive as some of the women I’ve known. At least these women don’t have superpowers, otherwise a good chunk of the male population would have been horribly mutilated five minutes ago. Wolverine, being Marvel’s most accomplished man-whore, has his share of bitter ex-lovers who are probably planning to have an orgy at his upcoming funeral. Between Mystique and Deathstrike, I would be shocked if this funeral didn’t cause a global shortage of lube. But I’m not sure I would put Melita Garner, his most recent ex in that list. Their relationship was brief, but she didn’t exactly swear to bathe in the entrails of his rotting corpse. Now she’s set to return in the pages of Wolverine and the X-men #7. I don’t know what to expect, but if I were Wolverine, I’d put an adamantium cup around my junk for the duration of this issue.

It’s a good sign that Melita has been busy, but not with plotting her ultimate revenge against her former lover. That alone puts her above half my ex-girlfriends. She’s actually been hard at work, putting together a book covering the life of Wolverine. She’s basically writing his biography and why shouldn’t she? She is a reporter and she did actually date him for a while. She’s seen him naked and she’s been a target of Wolverine’s enemies, yet she survived. She has guts and a great rack. She’s already gone about contacting Wolverine’s old allies/drinking buddies, including Kazar. I honestly couldn’t think of anyone more qualified.

It’s a perfect time for someone to write a biography of Wolverine. He’s set to die in a few months and it can only help Melita’s career, having survived dating Wolverine long enough to write a book about it. Only one supremely powerful force could put a stop to this. No, I’m not talking about Sabretooth on a meth binge. I’m talking about lawyers.

As someone who is on a first-name basis with the lawyers and judges at traffic court, I can say without reservation that legal issues can fuck up any good idea. If Jesus Christ tried to start a ministry today, he would probably get harassed by the IRS so much that he would go back to being a carpenter. In this instance, it’s Daredevil who throws a legal wrench into her plan in the form of a cease and desist letter. Wolverine doesn’t want her writing this book and not just because she’s seen him naked. I imagine she’s pretty pissed off, even by ex-girlfriend standards. But one of her colleagues, Ben Ulrich, does point out rightly that Wolverine is very different now that he’s lost his healing factor. He’s not wrong either. But Melita doesn’t know that. As far as she knows, he’s still the ill-mannered brute who can drink a whole keg of whiskey and still pass a breathalyzer.

The extent of this change is nicely demonstrated when Wolverine takes some time to look in the mirror and realize just how much it sucks not having his healing factor. For once, getting hit by a truck isn’t something he can just walk off. When someone hits him, he gets bruised. When someone cuts him, he bleeds. It shows just how vulnerable he has become. It’s almost tragic, him not being able to spit and swear while choking down whiskey like it’s air. But it helps prove Ulrich’s point to Melita.

This would have been a much nicer insight into Wolverine’s new vulnerability if it weren’t obscured by all these asides with various students at the Jean Grey Institute. I know this isn’t Wolverine’s solo title and he’s not the center of the world in this series, even though his name is in the damn title. But these scenes with Armor, Iceman, and Glob Herman really don’t do shit other than remind everyone that even a school for mutants can be just as boring as a school for humans. Very little of these interactions add anything meaningful to the plot. It almost feels like a distraction, but not in the David Blaine style that ends with him pulling a card out of his large intestines.

The more pressing story involves Melita and her book. Naturally, she’s pretty pissed off that lawyers have gotten involved in a way that would render all her hard work useless. I guess just being able to say she dated Wolverine and survived isn’t enough for her. Some women are just that demanding I guess. Daredevil claims that this is just Wolverine’s way of protecting her. Knowing that an army of ninjas or an assassins is never far from him or the people he cares about, that’s not as unreasonable as most legal requests.

This is where Melita continues to show that she’s the good kind of ex-girlfriend, if it is possible for such a creature to exist. She rightly points out that the reason Wolverine has so many people who want to kill him is because they all see him as a monster. To be fair, that monster has butchered and maimed a lot of people, banging and leaving plenty of women along the way. But Metita still believes that people should know the man behind the ruthless killing machine/man-whore. I can’t necessarily disagree with that. I can only add that knowing the man might only make some of Wolverine’s enemies hesitate to butcher him horribly. It won’t make them crave his severed head any less.

I would have liked to see Melita plead her case even more, as useless as it might be. Legal issues aren’t known for placing a high value on rational arguments. But instead, we get more side-plots involving students at the Jean Grey Institute. However, this time they’re a bit more meaningful in that they build from the events of the Phoenix Corporation arc. I’d still rather see Melita describe all the death-defying shit she had to do to get to know Wolverine, but I’m okay with seeing Idie being cute.

Having recently experienced the joys of time travel and becoming almost as sick of it as I am, she’s not feeling like her usual cute self. She ended up cutting class and ditching Glob Herman when he tried to be friendly with her. Eventually, Broo tracks her down and tries to be that lovable yet terrifying creature she grew so fond of. But she’s still not feeling it. She still comes off as someone who just had to sit through an extended cut of Battlefield Earth.

Broo can’t seem to cheer her up. Then Storm enters the picture. And if Storm can’t get her out of this post-time travel slump, nobody who doesn’t have a prescription for unlimited weed can. They have a pretty deep conversation, but one that’s somewhat confusing. Idie claims nothing really matters now because she has seen the future. She saw how shitty things turn out for her and Kid Omega. Yet even when she does bad shit like joining the Hellfire Academy, she get special treatment. While most teenagers would exploit the shit out of that until it got them a new Ferrari, she’s not comfortable with that. I want to say it’s teen angst, but even teen angst isn’t this shallow.

That’s the problem with this side-plot. Idie has been affected by seeing the future, but in a painfully confusing way. I’m guessing the Jean Grey Institute has a class on time travel. If not, they damn well ought to because part of seeing a shitty future involves coming back to the past to change it. Idie complaining about the future she saw is like complaining about Cleveland Browns having another losing season before the season even begins. It may seem like a safe bet, but it’s not carved in fucking granite. It makes for a lousy attempt to create teen drama and it makes Idie feel a lot less lovable and endearing than usual, which is tragic in its own right.

It almost makes going over legal issues more preferable, which is also saying a lot. Wolverine and Daredevil end up discussing this legal clusterfuck over a quiet evening of fighting ninjas. I guess that’s their version of grabbing a beer and going to a baseball game. Not much insight is given into ninja attack number 2,039,205,680. It’s painfully generic to the point where Wolverine and Daredevil can actually discuss legal issues in between. And when Doop gets into the mix, it becomes even more lopsided.

To be fair to lawyers just this once, Daredevil says he agrees with Melita. And for once, he can’t say that he agrees with her because she has a nice rack. Maybe he can claim she smells good, but he’s actually got the high ground this time. But Wolverine still won’t change his mind. As far as he’s concerned, fighting ninjas on a night where he should be getting drunk with Storm is proof enough that he can’t let even his ex-girlfriend get caught up in the fucked up dangers of his life. Wolverine is a lot of things, but he’s not the kind of guy who just lets ninjas rip up his ex-girlfriend, especially when she hasn’t yet sworn revenge on him. At the very least, Daredevil forces him to consider that plain fear is a bad excuse for making a dick move. That’s the kind of shit that makes ex-girlfriends swear revenge in the first place.

More side-plots enter the picture, but once again it helps that they stem from the events of the previous arc. The battle against Faithful John essentially forced Fantomex to become a defender of the Jean Grey Institute. This guy, who has a history of shooting kids in the head, is the last person anyone would want to defend a school. But he did his part, saving the school and Genesis. I’ll give him that. But when Storm confronts him while he’s off getting drunk, he goes on this drunken rant about how vulnerable Wolverine and the school has become. It’s not even a very insightful rant. I’ve heard drunk hobos say things more through-provoking. If Fantomex is trying to make a point, every self-respecting drunk should be ashamed of him because it basically amounts to nothing. And that’s just a waste of a good beer buzz.

Wolverine once again proves that he’s at his most productive when surrounded by alcohol. While Fantomex is off wasting perfectly good alcohol bemoaning his role at the Jean Grey Institute, as though a guy who shot a kid in the head should even have one, Wolverine is considering what Daredevil told him about living in fear and being vulnerable. That leads him to make a fateful decision. He asks Storm out on a date. No, that’s not code for a booty call. That’s not code for a romp in the shower where they skip the foreplay either. It’s a real, actual date that involves more than just getting drunk and humping. It may not sound crazy on the surface, but for Wolverine he might as well say he’s going to be a vegetarian for a day. Given the many unresolved aspects of his relationship with Storm, it’s way more productive than anything Fantomex has ever done.

In terms of impact, this comic left as many marks as a pillow fight with a toddler. It’s not completely forgettable, but it’s not all that memorable either. There were some solid elements presented in this story. The return of Melita Garner, the inclusion of Daredevil, and the aftermath from the Phoenix Corporation arc all had plenty of potential in their own right. In the end, not enough of it was realized. There were some nice moments, but they lacked significant depth. At times it felt rushed, like trying to juggle baseballs while having to take a shit. These elements could fit together better in future issues, but they’re just not concise enough. It’s one of those comics that actually has to be read sober and as a responsible drunk, I just can’t overlook that. I give Wolverine and the X-men #7 a 6 out of 10. For once, Wolverine’s ex-girlfriend doesn’t want to torture him. For once, Wolverine is going to be a gentleman and treat a beautiful woman to a date. I guess it’s nice to know he could cross this off his bucket list, but fuck if he didn’t cut it close. Nuff said!

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