Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: All New X-men #32

We’ve all ended up in shitty places for reasons we don’t always understand or remember. And I’m not just talking about cases that involve going out for a night of drinking in one city and waking up in another time zone with a transvestite hooker and two Thai twins. There are cases where we leave with a certain destination in mind and a fairly clear understanding on how to get to it. Then somewhere along the way, we’ll get side-tracked for reasons that range from deranged serial killer in a hockey mask to shitty Google Map directions. For the O5 X-men, they set out on a trip to South Beach, but ended up in the Downtown Detroit that is the Ultimate Universe. Some might call it a not-so-subtle way to keep the O5 X-men from interfering with the events of AXIS. Others might call it a bullshit way to make the Ultimate seem less fucked than it really is. Both might be right to some degree, but there’s no question that their visit to Ultimate is going to suck because Ultimate tends to fuck over anyone not named Miles Morales or Kitty Pryde. I can only hope that throughout the pages of All-New X-men #32, the O5 X-men keep their assholes clenched as tightly as possible.

The asshole most vulnerable from outset is O5 Angel and not just because he’s banging Wolverine’s clone/daughter. After the team got sucked into dimensional rift emanating from a teenage girl, which might or might not be a metaphor for a nasty divorce, he ended up in the Savage Land. That alone is pretty shitty because it means he’s never far from a big pile of T-Rex shit. But what makes it even shittier is that the first Ultimate character he encounters is Jimmy Hudson, aka the laziest Wolverine rip-off character in history. Unlike X-23, they don’t become fast friends and try to bone. O5 Angel reacts the same way I would, basically saying, “I would rather be Daken’s prison bitch than hang around you, Mr. Wolverine-With-Dyed-Hair!”

I don’t mean to be too harsh on Jimmy Hudson, but he’s quite symbolic of why the Ultimate Universe has sucked more than Paris Hilton at a dildo factory. He represents the breadth of the pathetic efforts made to replace all the dead characters in Ultimate. Unlike X-23 and Daken, Jimmy has absolutely nothing going for him. He’s just a de-aged Wolverine, minus the badass history and the competence. Unlike Daken and X-23, he can’t be easily picked out of a lineup. He’s basically a poster boy for Ultimate’s policy of, “Let’s trade good characters for shitty replacement characters and act surprised when nobody gives a shit!” But I digress.

O5 Beast appears in a less shitty setting. Sure, that setting includes hungry sharks, but I’ll gladly deal with sharks before dealing with Jimmy freakin’ Hudson. And unlike O5 Angel, he’s able to keep his cool. He’s able to escape the sharks and wind up on a nice beach. Compared to the Savage Land, he might as well have woken up in Jessica Alba’s pool while she was sunbathing nude. It still gets a little awkward when he encounters a nice couple trying to share a romantic moment and hopefully get in a little Spring Break style beach boning. But of course, O5 Beast cock-blocks them. He’s still able to find out that he’s somewhere around the cost of Turkey. Again, there are worst places he could be and I imagine the couple found another place to get their freak on.

It’s only slightly less awkward for X-23. She winds up appearing in the middle of a football field in the middle of a game. The fact that she’s fully clothed is probably a relief to everyone at the stadium. Or maybe it isn’t. I’m kind of torn in that respect. But being pig-headed football players who are just a few concussions away from being Billy Madison style retarded, they try to attack her and X-23 responds in a way that would make Wolverine proud. Sure, that pisses off the players and scares the shit out of the audience. But after the shitty news the NFL has dealt with regarding Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, I imagine it’s still an upgrade.

Their reaction also reveals something else about the shitty state of the Ultimate universe that cannot be overlooked. It really fucking sucks for mutants. By that I mean mutants are treated the same way gays are treated in Saudi Arabia. Magneto basically ruined any chance mutants would ever have at peace. Now their whole population is relegated to a glorified Indian Reservation in the desert. So yeah, mutants are that fucked and that’s a big reason why Ultimate has been so shitty. I know 616 has put mutants in some shitty positions since Avengers vs. X-men, but it’s Disney World compared to Ultimate.

That’s probably not going to give O5 Iceman much comfort because he winds up in the second shittiest setting after O5 Angel. I guess the karma his asshole older counterpart has built up decided to bite him and send him right into the heart of Mole Man’s domain. Unlike some other Ultimate characters, Mole Man isn’t too different from his 616 counterpart in that he’s still the same creepy-as-hell sewer dweller. He hasn’t really done much to make himself shittier in Ultimate, which is saying a lot in and of itself. So naturally, he doesn’t do anything too outrageous when he throws his army of mud-people at O5 Iceman. If only his older self could be present. He would deserve all the shit in every sewer they throw at him.

All these various reactions are well and good, but fairly generic. It doesn’t really answer any burning questions about where they are, how they got there, or who that girl was that O5 Beast made ridiculously uncomfortable. That’s not a bad thing because they should have time to react to being in a new universe. That’s not the kind of shit anyone can shrug off. But at some point, the story does have to move forward.

This finally happens in some capacity with O5 Jean and Miles Morales. These two crossed paths at the end of the previous issue and makes for an awkward yet productive conversation. The events of Cataclysm are referenced, which might make some readers queasy. But it does provide a decent context. O5 Jean eventually skips the part where Miles gives her the full scope and scale of how much Ultimate sucks and reads his mind. For anyone who hasn’t been following Miles Morales in Ultimate, it’s a nice way to catch up. Miles is pretty much the only part of Ultimate that isn’t a steaming pile of elephant diarrhea so if nothing else, it’s a nice teaser.

Once the awkwardness subsides, O5 Jean is able to understand just how fucked up her situation is. She’s in an alternate world that Galactus recently tried to devour. She only knows what Miles knows, but she probably understands to some extent that this world sucks. And because she knows what Miles knows, she also understands that he has visited her world before (again, see Cataclysm for those who don’t have a weak stomach) so she’s not completely screwed. Miles being Miles decides to help her. I imagine he’s also eager for an excuse to explore a world that doesn’t suck nearly as much as Ultimate. Plus, he’s in a position to cop a feel with Jean Grey. That’s always a nice bonus.

It’s also a nice bonus whenever X-23 gets to steal a motorcycle and run from the police. In Ultimate, she doesn’t have to worry about hurting the X-men’s image. They’re already fucked to the point where no fluff peace on CNN will redeem them. So she can afford to be a lot more reckless when being chased by an army of cops. The way they treat her, she might be mistaken for a young black man in New York City with one too many marijuana cigarettes. Again, it’s a nice sign of just how fucked mutants are in Ultimate while giving them plenty of incentive to get back to their world. Even if it is full of time-displaced characters and angry cosmic forces, it’s still an upgrade over this shit.

However, that doesn’t apply to every part of Ultimate. Some parts are just as fucked as 616. O5 Beast finds this out the hard way that he’s not in Turkey. He’s in fucking Latveria. That’s only slightly less shitty than winding up in North Korea. He still tries to be friendly. In Latveria, I’m pretty sure that’s a misdemeanor. For that reason, it doesn’t take long for the Doombots to show up. The sad thing is the same thing would’ve happened if he had visited Latveria in 616. Doombots are to Latveria what goofy mascots are to Disney World. I want to feel bad for O5 Beast. I really do. But after asking a teenage girl if she’s on her period in the previous issue, I think this is a fitting act of comic book karma.

It’s not so fitting that the help Miles tries to get O5 Jean isn’t there when they arrive. It’s another act of convergence in that he brings her to the same place where Amadeus Cho (who for some reason is a bald 15-year-old child prodigy in Ultimate) has been studying the gateway into 616. That gateway closed for reasons not explained in the last issue. And because of that, SHIELD did what so few government agencies do and said, “Fuck it, we’re cutting your funding.” I guess Cho needed to employ better lobbyists or make friends with the Koch brothers. It makes for a sad moment for O5 Jean because Cho says outright that without the gateway, she’s stuck in Ultimate. And just like that, being dead in 616 doesn’t sound so horrible. It could only have been crueler if she had been sent to a universe where Cyclops is married to Wolverine and Emma Frost is empress of the world.

So after the O5 X-men’s first issue in the walking shit stain that is the Ultimate Universe, everybody’s asshole is still intact. Nothing too fucked up happened that hasn’t already happened to the X-men in some capacity. Being transported to another universe? Ending up in the Savage Land? Being chased by cops? Shit, that’s just Tuesday for the X-men. And maybe that’s the best anybody can hope for in anything involving Ultimate these days. The whole premise of this issue basically amounted to, "Oh shit! We’re in another universe!" It put all the O5 X-men in some uncomfortable situations, but none that will make anyone want to shit cinderblocks, as many Ultimate stories are prone to do. There are a lot of teasers about the kind of shit storm the O5 are in for. Some are more appealing than others. That appeal earns All-New X-men #32 a 7 out of 10. The story doesn’t move forward by much, but it does so without pouring any napalm on the burning corpse that is Ultimate. And in this day and age, that counts as a win. Nuff said!

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