Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #25
Is everybody ready for some more deep, dark secrets? Trick question, nobody is ever ready for deep, dark secrets. Anyone who claims otherwise is either lying, psychic, or has their own deep dark secrets that they know trumps everybody else's. If people were ready for them, then these secrets wouldn't be so deep and dark to begin with. Why else would someone like Charles Xavier not tell his X-men that he secretly married Mystique? I still question whether that counts. If I managed to get Mystique to marry me, I would be proclaiming that as loudly as possible from the tallest building. Sure, she would probably kill me in my sleep in a million terrible ways, but it would be worth it and I sure as hell wouldn't keep it a secret. But in the Uncanny X-men tie-in of Original Sin, this secret marriage isn't even the deepest, darkest secret that Charles Xavier has been keeping from his X-men. That first one only shocked his students while nearly causing Emma Frost to die of laughter. There's supposed to be some other deep, dark secret revealed in Uncanny X-men #25. I doubt it's going to be anywhere near as shocking or hilarious as secretly marrying and knocking up Mystique, but I'll try to take Emma Frost's approach and maintain a sense of humor about it.
The problem is, there's nothing all that funny about the next part of his will. At this point it couldn't have been more shocking if he revealed he had also married Magneto, but it's really not meant to be shocking at this point. This next revelation is more pragmatic in that it recalls Charles Xavier's encounter with a young boy named Matthew Malloy. And yes, this is the same boy who in previous issues had the uncontrollable urge to blow shit up around him in the same way I have the uncontrollable urge to drink an unopened bottle of whiskey. This boy and all the destruction he caused is the part of Xavier's secret that won't win him the same respect that marrying Mystique has given him, but no matter how bad it is, I'll still owe this man a beer.
The story of Matthew Malloy is pretty basic. While the regular X-men are out on a mission, Xavier detects a new and volatile mutant. So he decides to pay the kid a visit and go through his usual, "You're different and you're going to look awesome in spandex." At first, the kid is pretty normal and no more harmless than any kid that carries on a conversation with action figures. Then it gets fucked up when the kid just up and makes everything around him explode. I wish I could be more specific. But even with the aid of weed, I can't really make it into anything other than a fart joke. There's nothing fancy about this kid's powers. He just blows shit up around him and not in the entertaining, Michael Bay-style way.
Naturally, this is a big fucking problem for mutants. This kid, who by all other accounts is no more an asshole than any kid who swiped a couple of chocolates from the pantry, is the kind of mutant that would ruin everything for every mutant for the next few centuries. It would be like an a clone of Joseph Stalin taking control of all of Europe and proclaiming that he's a gay, Jewish, black guy. It would basically give Fox News all the ammunition they would ever need. For mutants, it would have ended their struggle before the Brett Ratners of the world could ruin it. Naturally, this doesn't sit well with the X-men. Thankfully, this holographic will has a pause button, something that all lawyers and legal personnel should have. It's an emotional moment for the X-men in that it's their worst fear realized and their mentor is the one who hid it from them.
By taking a breather from all this unpleasant legal shit, it gives some characters a chance to catch their breath. It leads to some more emotional moments, but that doesn't stop some from busting Cyclops' balls even more. They still blame him for killing Charles Xavier. Even after they accept that he wasn't in his right state of mind, they'll keep busting his balls in ways that don't give him a boner. It's a dick move, but it's understandable. It's also understandable that Mystique now has a legal claim to the Xavier Institute. Knowing her, she'll probably turn it into a toxic waste dump, a Wal-Mart, or male strip club. They even try to explain her recent deranged behavior by Xavier's death, but that's demonstrably bullshit because she was getting deranged long before he died. No amount of money or legal douche-baggery can change that at this point and if this were somehow used as an excuse, it would be the worst excuse ever not used by O.J. Simpson or Bill Clinton.
There are a few less topical character moments. Nightcrawler and Kitty have a nice hug that's really no different than what they shared in an issue of Amazing X-men, hence completely unnecessary unless Marvel is setting Kitty up to cheat on Starlord already. Then someone finally comments on Dazzler's new look, which I'm sure even sober readers forgot about at this point. But beyond her looks, she makes clear that it doesn't matter if Mystique is Mrs. Charles Xavier. Hell, it doesn't matter if she's Mrs. Bill Gates at this point. She's going to fuck her up for what she did to her. And since the Jean Grey Institute doesn't condone that sort of righteous vengeance, she's sticking with Cyclops. That or she just wants to give Beast another "fuck you," of which he deserves plenty.
They finally tighten their assholes enough to continue hearing Xavier's will. In it, he ironically vindicates Cyclops for not trusting the Avengers. He explains why he never turned Matthew over to them. He didn't trust Captain America, SHIELD, or anyone to handle a scared young mutant. Let me say that again. He didn't trust Captain freakin' America. And this is before Avengers vs. X-men when the X-men learned the hard way that Captain freakin' America sucks elephant balls when it comes to dealing with mutants. He thinks the Avengers would just use this as an excuse to treat all mutants like threats. And given the many dick moves the Avengers made during Avengers vs. X-men, that's perfectly valid.
So Xavier decided to handle this situation himself. He revealed that Matthew Malloy was too powerful for him to suppress his powers directly. That means he had to get creative. So he created an illusion that made him look Matthew's age so he could befriend him. That way it's way less creepier than some old guy in a wheelchair playing with a kid. I'm not going to say that it's not creepy at all, but it is effective. Kids tend to deal better with other kids, seeing as how adults have had all the childhood innocence ripped out of them by age 13.
Creepy or not, it does work and Xavier definitely deserves points for creativity here. Matthew Malloy treats Xavier as a friend. But before they can start bonding over action figures and ice cream, his powers flare up again. Xavier manages to keep himself from losing access to anymore of his limbs, but it only adds to Matthew's trauma. And now that he thinks he's dealing with another kid, he's more willing to open up. That gives Charles Xavier the proverbial ice cream truck he needs to ingratiate himself to this boy. Sure, it's still somewhat of a dick move. But when houses are being blown up along with innocent people, it's at least partially justified. Unlike certain traffic cops I won't name for legal reasons, Xavier doesn't go overboard with it.
Now that he's Matthew Malloy's best semi-imaginary friend, Xavier uses that opening to start putting psychic blocks on his mind so that he couldn't tap into his powers. He also manipulates his memory so that he doesn't recall that he blew up his house and probably killed his parents. He even made him forget he was a mutant. As pragmatic as it sounds, it kind of goes against what he taught the X-men. And by that I mean it's pretty much the opposite of what X-men are supposed to do. He didn't help this boy accept who he was and teach him to control it. He lied, manipulated, and suppressed him. Yes, this is a dick move. But no, it's an understandable dick move. A far worse dick movie is not telling his X-men that he married Mystique and giving intimate details about their honeymoon.
This leads to another emotional moment where Cyclops calls Xavier out on his bullshit. This is also a dick move on his part since he's the one that everyone blames for killing Xavier. But he's not entirely wrong either. Xavier taught the X-men that no mutant was beyond helping. It was their duty to reach out to all of them and help them accept who they are. Yet here Xavier is, going behind their backs and doing the exact opposite. It's dangerously close to Ted Haggard level hypocrisy. Xavier's will tries to describe just how difficult it was in dealing with this kid, but the fact he never told anybody about it showed that he cared more about not coming off as an asshole than dealing with this kid. Even Ted Haggard never went that far.
Cyclops gets understandably upset. Then Iceman decides that this is the perfect opportunity to make it even worse by joking about how he killed Xavier again. That earned him an optic blast to the balls, but he deserved far worse. He might as well have played Marilyn Manson music at a dead teenager's funeral. The pathetic part is Iceman actually acknowledges that Cyclops wasn't in control of himself when he killed Xavier. But he still makes clear that he hates his guts for it. That's like blaming a sick dog for throwing up when it's too sick to make it outside.
Therein lies the problem with this ongoing grudge between Cyclops and the rest of the X-men. At this point, it's getting painfully difficult to justify their hatred for him. Wolverine has lost his shit plenty of times and killed way more people. Wanda Maximoff lost her shit and committed genocide. Hell, Jean Grey lost her shit, killed five billion aliens, and got a fucking school named after her. Yet they keep giving Cyclops shit for something they admit he didn't have any control over? Even if Cyclops is a dick for what he did, it's a much bigger dick move to use this shit as an excuse. It really undermines their characterization to the point where it just feels like they're being assholes to Cyclops because it's cheaper than beer.
Piss poor character moments aside, Charles Xavier's will continues and he reveals how he dealt with Matthew Malloy later on in his life. He had Matthew transferred to a special orphanage and basically white-washed the public records in ways that only the Koch brothers could match. Then at one point, he finally reveals to Matthew that his imaginary friend is actually an old guy in a wheelchair. Thankfully, he's too young to know how creepy that is. But he's old enough to understand how fucked he is. He even asks Xavier to kill him, but he refuses. He eventually settles on psychic-induced amnesia. And it doesn't come off as another dick move for once because the kid actually asks for it. That helps give the moment all the right emotions. It really is tragic, a scared kid who finds out he's a monster and wants nothing more than to forget. It still doesn't feel like the kind of thing that Xavier needed to keep hidden right next to his secret marriage with Mystique. But it does count as being a big secret that only an overpaid lawyer can handle.
Xavier's will then lays out one last mission for his X-men. It's not a wholly unreasonable mission either. He doesn't ask them to fight Magneto naked or buy a lifetime supply of tampons for Mystique. He tells them to quietly visit Matthew Malloy with the most powerful psychic they've got, make sure the telepathic walls in his mind remain strong, and keep an eye on him just as he did for so many years. It's not much more unreasonable than having them watch his dog after his death, except this is a dog that blows shit up instead of just pissing on them.
I won't say it's the most ball-busting, pants-shitting last request ever made. I'm sure Donald Trump has something in his will instructing his children to have him buried in a casket of solid gold with the ashes of Marilyn Munroe, Catherine the Great, and Cleopatra sprinkled over his dick. But again, it does hit all the right emotional chords without turning Charles Xavier into an even bigger asshole. Given that this trend that started with Joss Whedon has been on a roll second only to Apple's stock price, that's quite an accomplishment. And despite all the bad blood between the X-men, they accept this mission. I'll still be shocked if Iceman doesn't say something that warrants shooting his ass before it's over.
And with that, the deepest darkest secret of Charles Xavier is revealed. I'm still of the opinion, drunken as it might be, that him marrying Mystique is a far bigger secret. Then again, I don't think that qualifies as a deep dark secret. That qualifies more as, "Damn! Somebody buy that guy a beer and joint," type secret. But that wasn't the focus of this issue. The focus was on Matthew Malloy and how Charles Xavier spent a good chunk of his life trying to keep this kid from fucking everything up for mutants the same way Hitler fucked everything up for a single mustache style. It wasn't as dark as it could've been. For once, Charles Xavier didn't become an even bigger asshole from this revelation. That's refreshing in some ways, but disappointing in others. The revelation didn't have as much impact as the Mystique revelation, but it did evoke all the right emotions. While some characters came off as bigger dicks than usual, the emotional weight of this issue is what made it awesome. I give Uncanny X-men #25 a 7 out of 10. It's above average in that it gets everyone in the right mindset. But if it were a beer, it would only give just enough buzz to not feel cheap. Nuff said!