Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #8

There are a number of things on my bucket list that I know I probably won't have a chance to fulfill before my liver shuts down. I'm not saying it's impossible that I'll get to go on a date with Jennifer Lawrence and Megan Fox that ends with us naked in a tub full of whiskey. I'm just saying I'm keeping my expectations realistic. We all know we're going to die. It's one of those disconcerting things we like to forget about with religion, drinking, or a mixture of both. Wolverine has been lucky in that he hasn't really had to worry about that shit, but he still drinks anyways. That all changed when he lost his healing factor. Now he drinks for an entirely different reason, but he also has more urgency to complete his bucket list. There is at least one thing he knows he can cross over. He can die knowing that he got to love an actual goddess of a woman in Storm. And in Wolverine and the X-men #8, he gets to go on what might be his last date with her. I don't care how he dies. He could die a terrible death and have Sabretooth shit out his remains. He'll still be able to say he died happy on some levels because he got to date Storm.

To make sure this doesn't end up as one of those dates that gets interrupted by a Sentinel attack or an invasion from the future, Wolverine and Storm set their date up in a place where they can work around the constant threat of the institute being blown up. They decide to share a little romance within The World, the cozy little pocket dimension that Fantomex keeps in his back pocket next to naked pictures of Psylocke. In this place, time flows differently. A few minutes to us is a lifetime in the World. That means they could go on multiple dates, complete with heavy petting and foreplay, in the time it takes to heat up a hot pocket. Part of me wants to call it another bullshit time travel gimmick, but I prefer to call it a time exploit. It's not bullshit if it's the equivalent to a cheat code in in a video game.

And Storm and Wolverine take full advantage of it, treating it the same way any adults would treat a date night. Except for them, a date in the World means a romantic dinner atop some giant rock tower with flying dinosaur-like creatures flying around overhead. It's not as fucked up as it sounds. In fact, Storm finds it romantic. She might even be turned on by it. Plus, it's probably way cheaper than getting reservations at some overpriced restaurant on Yelp.

While time is flowing differently for them, life at the Jean Grey Institute continues as normal. It's still the same place where young mutants learn to deal with their new powers while living under the constant threat of the school getting blown up every other week. And after the recent battle with Faithful John and the Phoenix Corporation, the mood is still somewhat tense. It's like the day after a drug raid from the cops and nobody has any weed. Some, like Armor, are still struggling to cope without the aid of weed. There's not much to be gained from this, other than acting as a reminder that Storm and Wolverine are very much the heart of the Jean Grey Institute and these students still need them. And as much as they care for their students, they need a break from their teenage angsty bullshit and they'll hide in a pocket dimension to get it.

Storm and Wolverine spend the equivalent of seven days in the World, which amounts to multiple dates and plenty of make-up sex. There's no ambiguity or teasing here. Storm is shown topless and quite cozy with a shirtless Wolverine. Were this a show on HBO, there would definitely be some tits, bush, beans, and franks being served. My penis is already at full throttle, contemplating all the ways Storm and Wolverine spent seven days alone together. It's the kind of romantic getaway that few heroes ever get, even when they try to cheat time. It's a beautiful thing that'll bring tears and boners for everyone.

Unfortunately, even pocket dimensions are prone to cock-blocking. Seven days of peace, quiet, and lovemaking were just too much for Storm and Wolverine to enjoy. Something had to come along to ruin it all. A bunch of Skrull-lite aliens attack them in this private moment, effectively killing any chance at another romp. But they don't let it completely kill the romance. There's only so much excitement they can get on a date without something trying to kill them.

It still becomes an annoyance because Wolverine gets knocked out at one point, as he often does. When he wakes up, he and Storm are now somehow leaders of a resistance army to overthrow some upstart tyrant named War King who's trying to take over The World. It couldn't be more generic if it were a side-quest in an Elder Scrolls game. They even have a new friend, Azuth the Elder, who has incredibly poor English skills and way too much enthusiasm for when it comes to fighting oppressive tyrants. But Storm is already fully into it, treating this the same way most couples would treat a romantic walk in the park. Wolverine is frustrated, having had enough people try to kill him since he lost his healing factor. But Storm is already wearing a sexy resistance uniform so he's not in a position to argue.

It only takes them 11 days to stage a final showdown with War King. There's not much detail given on how Wolverine and Storm set up this showdown or how they led some massive resistance effort. There's no epic build-up to the battle. There's no elaborate backstory. It just cuts straight to Wolverine taking on War King and annoys him long enough for Storm to finish him off. It's no Lord of the Rings trilogy. And for once, I'm okay with there being few details.

The main point here isn't to make Storm and Wolverine the head of some rebellion. Hell, that in and of itself could be it's own series if Marvel were inclined to do something so awesome. The point of this issue is for Wolverine and Storm to go on a date. For them, a successful date sometimes involves overthrowing a repressive tyrant. It's like an extreme form of role playing, minus the goofy costumes and bad acting.

Three months later and Storm is already being worshiped as a goddess and a noble ruler, as she should be. They've already got statues of her likeness and they probably pamper her and Wolverine the same way a spa pampers one of the Kardashian sisters. It sounds like a pretty sweet deal, being ruler of their own little world while the world outside them is always intent on blowing them up. But it's still not why they came to The World in the first place. Sure, overthrowing a tyrannical leader is nice and all, but they get that shit as X-men. Because of that, they start having doubts that they can ever get a little peace and quiet where they can just be two people in love enjoying each other's company. It's like living in a world where people take the Catholic Church seriously. They never have a moment to just enjoy themselves.

This leads them to get away from the chaos yet again. More months pass within the World while the rest of the world is basically in the middle of a commercial break in a baseball game. The events start to drag here. First, Wolverine has a chat with Azuth on why he's not the one running things. There's some insight into how he ended up on the wrong side of a tyrannical clusterfuck, but it's still poorly detailed and basically a distraction from more important shit, like Wolverine and Storm making better use of all this time.

Somehow that leads to Wolverine playing survivor in some fucked up version of the Amazon. He's now got a full beard, no doubt a desire to turn his manliness up to 11 for Storm. He still ends up having to be rescued by her when he gets chased by a T-rex sized mammoth, but he doesn't seem to mind. More time passes and now they're building something together for reasons that aren't explained. I get that the passage of time in the World is different, but it gets pretty fucking confusing at times. It's hard to tell whether this still counts as a date. But nobody has tried to skip out on the check so I'm assuming it's still on.

It finally starts making sense again after a year in the World, which I guess is as long as a re-run of Robot Chicken in the real world. In that year, Storm and Wolverine have spent enough time to appreciate their romance. It leads to a very honest, very heartfelt conversation that should give Oprah fans a pussy boner. Wolverine basically tells Storm how much she means to him. She's not this unattainable piece of ass he could never tap like Jean Grey. She's not decadent one night stand like Domino. He makes it clear to her that she has a special place in his heart. And for once, there are no conflicting emotions. There's no shitty love triangle. There's just an honest, sincere showing of emotion from a man whose emotions are usually limited to being pissed off and drunk.

For Storm/Wolverine fans, this is the kind of scene that usually only exists in wet dreams and poorly written fan fiction. Ever since Storm and Wolverine got together, I've been frustrated by the utter lack of development they've gotten. After putting so much effort into failed relationships like Cyclops/Emma and Storm/Black Panther, it felt like gross negligence to not give Storm/Wolverine that kind of treatment. But waiting in line to get a kiss from Jennifer Lawrence, some things are worth the wait. And this powerful moment was definitely worth the wait, no matter what pocket dimension it was in.

Eventually, Storm and Wolverine return to the regular world where they go back to helping young mutants like Armor and preparing for the next attempt to blow up the institute. But the don't leave the World completely unaffected. Before they left, they reveal that they actually built a version of the Jean Grey Institute in the world for Azuth to run. It's a fitting way for them to leave their mark. They overthrow a tyrant, start a school, and squeeze in a little sweet loving along the way. Overall, it makes for the perfect date. It's just sad that it'll probably the be last one Wolverine ever goes on. Even so, the fact he went on it with Storm means he can still die happy.

This issue accomplished one thing more than anything else. It made sure that when Wolverine dies, it it'll have a devastating impact on Storm. This is issue is a case study in what Marvel should've done if they wanted to make Storm and Black Panther a romance that people would actually give a shit about. Thanks to a different kind of time travel that I didn't find infuriating for once, Storm and Wolverine got to spend a year together learning to love, cherish, and relate to one another. There are celebrity engagements that don't last that long. And while their date got side-tracked along the way, they still found a way to make it feel meaningful and deep. This issue highlighted all the ways in which Storm and Wolverine are so good for one another. Fuck retcons, royalty, and contrived marriages. This is how to make a romantic story awesome. And with Wolverine's death coming soon, this is just going to give it way more impact. Wolverine and the X-men #8 gets an 8 out of 10. But for fans of the Storm/Wolverine relationship, this issue should be encased in adamantium and preserved until the end times. Nuff said!

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