Thursday, October 23, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #12

Some have argued with varying degrees of coherence that whenever the X-men go up against enemies that are either alien or based on magic, it undermines the core themes of their stories. It’s not entirely wrong. How exactly does battling an army of Wendigo further peace and understanding between humans and mutants? That’s like trying to solve global warming by creating a Taco Bell meal that doesn’t induce diarrhea. That’s not to say such endeavors aren’t worthwhile. They just seem out of place. I don’t believe that every X-men story needs to have the same theme. Every superhero needs to mix shit up a bit every now and then. I’m sure even Hugh Hefner feels the urge to bang an ugly fat chick every now and then. And the X-men have a rich history of battling magical foes like the Wendigo and Juggernaut while making it look pretty damn awesome. It’s for that reason that the Wendigo arc in Amazing X-men has had its share of moments. It has yet to have that moment that feels like the first hit on a crack pipe, but it has definitely built towards it. Amazing X-men #12 promises to finally deliver on that high. And with the price of crack skyrocketing these days, the price of a comic makes it much more cost-effective.

The battle against the Wendigo has been a case study in how shit just keeps getting worse and worse. First, they had to just contain the spread of the Wendigo plague. For a while, they did that by guarding the Canadian border in ways that some Republicans only wish we could do with the Mexican border. But like outdated immigration policies, this backfired when the curse began spreading. This means that innocent little girl that Northstar has being trying to protect needed to be saved again after being reunited with her father. It was a touching moment in a story full of monsters, which made this all the more disheartening, even if it doesn’t do a good job of playing up those emotions. On top of that, Northstar’s sister got attacked as well. So that means shit is getting worse and not for reasons the Family Research Council might think.

This shittier turn isn’t restricted to the border either. The battle against Tanaraq, the overly generic monster that’s behind the Wendigo attacks, is not going well either. How bad does it get? Guardian ends up getting eaten by Tanaraq. And that’s right up there with somebody getting an acid enema in terms of shit going bad. It’s a more detailed battle that has been going on since the previous issue. It’s not quite as refined as detailed as it could be, but it’s solid enough to get the point across. That point is basically that Tanaraq has kicked their asses and gotten a nice snack out of it. So it’s definitely turning into a productive day for him.

The stench of this shit storm just keeps on spreading because apparently, the X-men haven’t reached their daily quota of being screwed over. Colossus, Rachel, Sasquatch, and Nightcrawler were tasked with guarding the portal to the spirit realm before Tamaraq can come through. They fought valiantly before, but like an overworked cook at McDonald’s, it’s only a matter of time before they start slipping. But instead of an undercooked burger or semen in the ketchup, Nightcrawler ends up getting bitten and Colossus ends up getting stabbed. So now they’re about to become Wendigo, essentially rolling out the red carpet for Tamaraq. I still consider that more preferable to finding semen in my ketchup.

I imagine that innocent girl, Amber, would disagree and not just because she’s never been to a McDonald’s that made the mistake of hiring a chronic masturbator. She’s scared and alone after having been rushed into the woods to escape the Wendigo. But when Northstar went back to find his sister, he ended up getting bit as well. Now he and Aurora are set to turn into Wendigo and all that poor little girl can do is run. I imagine this is one of those things she’ll be telling her therapist one day.

The presence of the little girl hasn’t been vital to the story. There’s nothing she does that helps the X-men battle the Wendigo in any ways. However, her presence doesn’t at all hurt the story. It actually does more to help because she maintains that human connection to the conflict that is so often lost in these monsters vs. mutants stories. While she doesn’t get a lot of emotional development, her being this innocent victim that the X-men try desperately to help adds some humanity to their struggle. That way it doesn’t feel too much like a mutants vs. monsters story. If nothing else, this little girl will grow up to avoid the William Strykers of the world.

At this point, everything seems have fallen to the deepest part of the shit tank. It couldn’t possibly get any worse without Nazis showing up. When Storm, Firestar, Snowbird, and Rockslide wake up in the Spirit Realm, they’re greeted by the second worst sight before Nazis. They’re chained to a rock and facing down a horde of angry monsters that Tamaraq probably hasn’t fed since the Nixon Administration. It really is a situation where it feels like it can’t get any worse.

This might be a jinx in most instances, but in this case that doesn’t happen because things finally start improving. Unfortunately, it comes courtesy of Iceman. I know I’m being more than a little petty when I bash him on this blog the way I’ve been doing with Beast for years. But let’s face it, Iceman has earned it. But I’m not afraid to say he does contribute in a meaningful way when he shows up with a pack of those snow creatures he met earlier and frees them. He even brings that nature god that Tamaraq chained up in order to make himself so powerful. So that means they finally have a way take him on and ensure nobody gets eaten again. However, Storm makes it clear that the X-men tend to get shafted when they trust gods so they make one condition. They have to make the X-men gods in order to help with this fight.

Now if that sounds like a wholly unreasonable request, don’t put down the joint. It is. But when someone like Storm makes it, this hardly qualifies as unreasonable. It’s more a, “This is how it’s going to work and fuck anyone who says otherwise,” kind of request. And wisely, the nature god does as she asks. And I can say with as sober a mind as I can manage that the results are divinely awesome.

Just before Tamaraq is about to pass through the portal that Rachel and the others can no longer guard, Storm leads another attack with Firestar, Iceman, and Rockslide. But this time, they’re packing god-level power. It’s the kind of power that makes them look infinitely more badass, even Iceman. Yes, I admit Iceman looks badass in this battle. It makes me sick to my stomach just typing that out loud, but I’m okay with attributing that to the last three burritos I ate if nobody gives me crap about it.

This god-level power makes for an epic, detailed, satisfying attack against Tamaraq that a visual orgy of awesome. This menacing creature that has done so much to upset US/Canadian relations really had this coming. And after shit got so bad for a while, this changes the tone of the struggle in all the right ways. It put a smile on my face and a boner in my pants. It couldn’t have been better without also putting a cold beer in my hands.

It’s still not as lopsided a fight as the X-men would prefer. Tamaraq is still able to fight back, despite facing god-powered X-men. The Wendigo curse had spread so far that his power levels are Dragonball Z level immeasurable. So what could possibly stop him at this point? More god-powered X-men? The answer, in this case, is actually even more satisfying.

Remember that snack break Tamaraq took? The one where he decided Guardian would be a nice meal. Well, that turned out to be dumber than going on Morgan Surlock’s diet in Super-Size Me. Apparently, Tamaraq forgot to chew because Guardian was still in one peace, which meant he had enough strength to not just avoid being digested. He actually punched his way right out of Tamaraq’s stomach in ways that would make Ridley Scott try to sue him. Sure, it means Marvel will probably incur a lawsuit, but fuck if it isn’t satisfying.

Things get a little rushed from here on out. The Wendigo Curse is lifted. We see the afflicted X-men transform back into a picture of health, but we don’t see much from the other victims. However, we do get to see Amber again and that makes for a nice touch. We even get to see the X-men helping some of the other kids whose parents were afflicted because the X-men understand that some kids haven’t grown old enough to become bigots. They might as well do their part before parents, schools, and Fox News starts to indoctrinate them.

It also marks the last time Wolverine gets to share in the victory party with his fellow X-men. Since this issue takes place before Death of Wolverine, it’s somewhat bittersweet. Everybody gets to recover and Wolverine gets to have one last battle with his Alpha Flight buddies. He even takes time to thank his fellow X-men for pulling his ass out of the fire after yet another ill-fated trip to Canada. It’s kind of sad, but it’s nice to know that he got to enjoy a triumph like this before he died. I just hope he and Colossus shared an extra big bottle of vodka when all was said and done.

I know Marvel comics has never shied away from subtle forms of blasphemy, but it helps that they find a way to make it satisfying. This battle that had all the right elements of a mutants vs. monsters battle, complete with the tried and true formulas of pre-Twilight werewolf movies. As a bonus, some of the X-men actually became gods for a while to kick the ass of the monster behind the Wendigo plague. Yet it wasn’t godly power that ended the fight. It was a guy who got eaten. Something about that is just so immensely satisfying that I feel like I just got a free lap dance. And I didn’t even ruin my pants. It’s a solid end to a story that has been choppy at times. It remained somewhat choppy here, but not to the point where it made the ending less satisfying. It has monsters. It has gods. It has mutants. It has cute little girls being rescued. It couldn’t have more without Storm and Rachel Grey wearing a G-string. Amazing X-men #12 gets a 9 out of 10. We all have a soft spot for monster movies that occasionally deal in gods. And whenever something comes along that massages that spot like an expensive Thai hooker at a spa in Las Vegas, then it’s something ot be treasured. Nuff said!


  1. Slightly off-topic: Why does this issue and a few of the previous issues in this series have the "Cyclops" tag? I don't think he is in this issue or the previous ones or even talked about in this issue.

  2. I like how, in that last scanned image, Logan's off-panel dialogue is coming out of Jean-Paul's mouth. Editorial quality control for the win!