Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: X-men #17
Great stories that end with a whimper are akin to premature ejaculation. They take something that's supposed to be awesome and make it into something that feels too short and too humiliating. It's still better than stories that just plain crash and burn. That's more like a bad porno that ends with a kick in the balls. I won't say that the all-female X-men series has gotten quite that bad. My balls are no sorer than usual. But if it were a male porn star, it would have been fired already because too many of the stories surrounding this series have withered. They haven't been bad. They haven't even been irrelevant. This latest story involving Shogo's father is a logical progression considering this whole series began with Jubilee rescuing Shogo. But Shogo's father has been about as compelling as Bill Belichick at a press conference. Even when they try and use Kymera, another time-displaced holdover from X-men: Battle of the Atom, it falls flat and my balls are still intact. That's not to say this isn't a story worth telling. It just needs a little more nitro and less glycerine. X-men #17 is supposed to be the final showdown between the X-women and Shogo's father, who has the ridiculously uncreative name, The Future. It's not billed as the kind of battle that would warrant its own special on Jerry Springer, but it's a battle that needs to happen because I doubt either of them wants to get lawyers involved. They'll only fuck things up in ways second only to more time travel.
As necessary as it is, it's not exactly the fucking Superbowl. This battle doesn't involve killer robots, time-displaced enemies, or alien shape-shifters. It involves a killer forest. That's right. The weapon The Future has chosen to oppose the X-men is basically inspired from Greenpeace's ultimate wet dream. The Future has Jubilee as prisoner and he's demanding that they fork over Shogo or he'll give her the Twilight treatment. Seriously, he thinks he can play hostage with a baby and an X-man. For someone who was billed as a dangerous international criminal capable of wounding the X-men in their own home, it's a pretty shitty approach to getting his son back. Maybe he should've gone with lawyers because Kymera, Storm's time-displaced daughter, claims to have a little foresight on how this turns out. That means she essentially has a cheat guide for beating The Future. That ensures this is not going to be a fair fight, with or without lawyers.
That's not to say a living forest isn't as useless as pellet gun against the Terminator. It does show that it's capable of at least frustrating the X-men and jacking up their insurance rates. When Storm and Rachel Grey come flying in, one of the trees actually leaps up and hits the X-jet, causing it to crash land. So an overpriced high tech jet is no match for a fucking tree that didn't cost anything to plant. There's something obscenely unbalanced about that equation, but it's not as egregious when considering just how often the X-men end up having to crash land. Seriously, a tree knocking them out of the sky isn't going to rattle them. It's just going to hurt their pride and their wallets.
While this is the first instance of the X-men being downed by a fucking tree, it really doesn't create much of a dire predicament. Part of what gave this story so much strength in the beginning was how it made the X-men so vulnerable. The Future was able to attack their students while within the safety of the Jean Grey Institute, safety being relative for a school that gets blown up once a month. Now he's throwing a fucking tree at them. That's like going from a tank to a cap gun. It essentially ditches the tension that worked so well before, meaning the only excitement that can be gained from this situation can only be done with the aid of shrooms.
It can't really get too exciting because these trees are part of nature. And as it just so happens, the X-men have someone on their team who has been making nature her personal bitch for decades. Storm, who is the last person anyone should try to attack with nature, doesn't take kindly to having her jet dented by trees. So she calls on her bitch, that being Mother Nature, and hits back with a fucking heat wave. Last I checked, trees are at the mercy of nature and nature has been begging for mercy from Storm for a long time. Again, it really is an unfair fight and it takes away any possible tension this showdown may have had. At the very least, Storm does it in a way that's still sexy as hell.
That's not to say this battle isn't mired in certain complications. It would have been too easy for Storm to just unleash a couple tornadoes, make The Future shit himself, and call it a day. But Kymera, Storm's future daughter, has already read the spoilers for how this battle turns out. It's not as clean as it could have been and she thinks this is a good time to show that time displaced characters don't have to be a total pain in the ass. For some reason, that means bringing Shogo onto the battlefield and putting a baby in danger.
So I guess I should take that comment back about time-displaced characters not being a pain in the ass, but I guess it's just easier to call them more reckless than a drunk NASCAR driver on the 405 freeway. Even so, she claims she has a plan and Rachel encourages Storm to have faith in her future daughter. Sure, she's not telling her dick about who her future baby daddy is, but that would make her too likable I guess. She's already putting a baby in danger so I guess she knows she can't hope to compensate at this point.
That's not to say there isn't some merit to Kymera's concern. Monet, who is already on the front lines, informs Storm that her heat wave attack is incurring some collateral damage. I'm not sure if they should bother being surprised. They're fighting a guy who shot a couple of mutant teenagers from a distance for shits and giggles. Collateral damage ranks just below an itchy scrotum on this guy's list of priorities. Plus, they still have to deal with Jubilee being a hostage. Sure, she's an immortal vampire now and not of the Twilight variety. But they can't let her get caught up in the crossfire. She's got an adopted son now and she's already had enough shit thrown at her. A Storm-induced heat stroke shouldn't be one of them.
Storm agrees to let up on her heat wave and do things Kymera's way, which in and of itself makes her one of the most reasonable parents in the world. That may not sound like a big deal, but let me put it like this. She's trusting her time-displaced teenage daughter to help her get through a hostage situation. And this is a teenage daughter that still hasn't revealed too much about the future, even though I'm sure Storm and everyone interested in who she sleeps with is probably interested. I know Storm is a caring and compassionate person at heart, but this feels like it's walking that fine line between compassion and gullibility.
After meeting up with Kymera and the rest of the team, they learn her plan. And it involves putting Shogo's life at an even greater risk to stop The Future. That means opening a cut on Shogo's finger and using his blood against The Future. She claims there's some method to this obscenely reckless tactic that would make most pro-lifers gasp in horror. But again, Storm and the rest of the X-men trust her because she's from the future and she has spoilers for the future. Even if she's right, Kymera has already earned herself a spot at the top of the list for worst babysitters of all time. This essentially punches her ticket to the Hall of Fame.
It's not like she's proposing they give Shogo the Michael Jackson treatment. Kymera just gives Shogo a little cut on the finger. He whines like babies do whenever they get cut or whenever somebody takes their sippy cup away from them. Let's face it, there have been worst things done to babies on a TLC reality show. But unlike those shows, this one actually accomplishes something. Since Shogo's blood is a descendent from The Future, it essentially shorts out the weapon that he was using to control the forest. There's not much of an explanation. And even if there was, it would reek of bullshit. But it provides a more subtle blow to defeat The Future. Still would have preferred seeing Storm shove some tornadoes up his ass.
Once the weapon is disabled, Jubilee is freed and the plants turn against The Future. Anyone hoping that Jubilee would get a chance to give The Future the True Blood treatment for using her adopted son against her is going to be disappointed and underwhelmed. She doesn't even get a chance to suck his blood and spit it out on his face. With Shogo disabling the weapon, it somehow gets turned against The Future. Again, there's no explanation and nobody is going to be too disappointed to see The Future get strangled to death by a bunch of fines. Hell, it's something that environmental nuts can jerk off to. But it still makes for a very inglorious and unsatisfying defeat for a villain that had once been so imposing.
There's not much else to compensate. For once, there aren't a ridiculous amount of loose ends. Shogo didn't really react well to that cut. Again, he's a baby. He's not going to react well to anything that isn't a nipple or a clean diaper. But for some reason that isn't sufficiently explained yet again, he got a little tummy ache from making contact with the local plant life. It could've made for a really rough situation. Marvel has gone so far as to make deals with the devil and throw shit like cannibalism and incest into the mix, but they're not about to start killing babies. So Shogo survives, again without much of an explanation. It's nice, a baby surviving and Jubilee being reunited with her son. But given the overly underwhelming ending, it's hard to get much enjoyment out of it without the aid of a bong and a bottle of Jack Daniels.
Even though there aren't too many loose ends to tie up, there are still some issues that at least make an effort to give the resolution some impact. Kymera, having saved her future friend as an infant and without having to slay a killer cyborg from the future no less, decides to write her mother a letter to let her know she's leaving. She still doesn't give her any useful information about the future, despite having shown the benefit of such foresight. She just up and fucking leaves. That would be a pretty big moment if Kymera had done slightly more than jack shit to endear herself to others. All she really did was make Shogo's rescue less messier than it could have been. She might as well have paid the cleaning bill for a date she threw up on. It didn't amount to much and it doesn't really change anything. Only a rerun of the Home Improvement would have been less entertaining at this point.
I can't say I found the end of this story to be too disappointing. I can't say it blew my mind like a pound of meth and a hit a peyote either. This ending struck me the same way the check at a Chipotle strikes Donald Trump. It really doesn't amount to much. It still gets the job done, but in a way that's not quite as satisfying as it could be. There was no epic final battle. There was no final confrontation. There was nothing else to make anyone give two farts and a shit about Shogo's father or the battle to oppose him. This guy, who carried himself with more ambiguity than an extra in a Transformers movie, did absolutely nothing to make himself memorable. He's the anti-Darth Vadar and none of the X-women even got a chance to take him down. It was all solved way too easily with Shogo and Kymera's departure at the end amounted to throwing away an extra pair of socks. I can't give X-men #17 too harsh a score because it didn't do anything that was terribly egregious. Every character was fairly well-done and there were nothing overly shocking, but it felt too much like a guy trying to gangbang a cheerleading squad with only half a boner. I give X-men #17 a 5 out of 10. It's not terrible. It's not great either. Nobody's panties are going to get soaked by this arc, but nobody's balls are going to shrivel either. In this day and age, that's often the best we can hope for. Nuff said!