Friday, October 17, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #27
We've all had to deal with difficult people who make a big public scene. Half the time they come from children. Half the time they come from adults acting like children. Most of us aren't equipped to handle these people. These people usually require a time out, therapy, or a higher dosage of whatever drugs they are or aren't taking. Sometimes I think the X-men are more like therapists than superheroes because they end up having to counsel people who freak the fuck out when they find out they're mutants. Unlike said children and adult children, they have a more valid reason. But more often than not, the X-men can't deal with them the same way they deal with Sentinels. In his last will and testament, Charles Xavier revealed just how far he had to go to give a kid with insanely destructive powers the kind of therapy he needed. Now the X-men have to finish the job and they have to do it while Iceman insists on being a total prick. Emotions have been riding pretty high with this conflict. Uncanny X-men #27 promises to show just how much more therapy this kid will need and how much of it they'll blame Cyclops for. I was smart enough to not bet on this, but if I did the only sure bet would be that Iceman and Beast would still come off as total assholes in the end.
The only one who might be worth betting on at this point is Rachel Grey. She's the only psychic powerful enough to take on Matthew Malloy at this point, but even she's terrified of confronting him. And when the daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey is terrified, then it's safe to assume they're already significantly fucked to a certain degree. In the previous issue, Exodus already tried something similar with Matthew. He ended up getting the psychic equivalent of a shotgun to the head. Rachel is trying to avoid that fate while everyone else is trying to figure out if there's another way. All the while, Matthew Malloy is starting to get feel for his terrifying, obscenely potent powers. He's like a pyromaniac learning to use napalm. Little good could come of it. So there is a pretty significant sense of urgency at this point.
As this is happening, this is where the discussions between the X-men start to get a little divisive and for once, it's not because Beast and Iceman are being assholes. It starts with Cyclops, who suggests the utterly ridiculous idea of just talking to the guy. Everyone else rightly points out that's a stupid ass idea. That would be like sending a lawyer to calm down the Hulk. It can't possibly have a desirable outcome in their minds. Besides, that's not what Charles Xavier requested in his will. He said they would have to mind fuck the kid again. Talking over beer and a plate of buffalo wings just won't do the trick.
But it's during this conversation that some of the X-men reveal some outright hypocrisy. Since Uncanny X-men was relaunched, everyone from the Jean Grey Institute to the Avengers to assholes on message boards have been giving Cyclops crap for killing Charles Xavier. Yet here, one of the first things Wolverine suggests is killing Matthew outright. That's right, these same people who bitch and moan about Cyclops killing a man just casually suggest they kill this guy who by all accounts is scared shitless and had no intention of hurting anybody when his powers went haywire. I'm not going to say that makes Wolverine as big an asshole as Iceman or Beast. He would still have to eat a live puppy to get close to their league. But even Ted Haggard would call that kind of hypocrisy pretty egregious. It doesn't even amount to much for them in the end because, since they haven't pissed on Xavier's legacy enough, they opt for a less peaceful approach.
This involves Rachel Grey attacking Matthew Malloy psychically in a way that even Xavier might not be comfortable with. She makes him think that every superhero in the Marvel universe, including Charles Xavier, have converged on him the same way they would converge on Thanos if he was armed with the Ultimate Nullifier. Now she doesn't make him think the Hulk is about to jam his oversized fist down his throat. He basically just intimidates the hell out of him so "Xavier" can convince Matthew to let him rebuild the psychic blocks on his mind. And he has to do this while Matthew is remembering that he's killed all these people, including his own parents. I won't say it's a huge dick move. I'll just say that standard sized condoms might not be sufficient.
However big a dick move it ends up being, it still fails. Matthew Malloy might be losing his shit, but he's not stupid. He sees through the ruse. He knows as well as anybody that unless it involves the Red Skull or blaming Cyclops for everything, the Avengers and X-men would never converge on him. He also must have at least a Twitter feed of some sort because he also remembers that Charles Xavier is dead. Might have been a good idea to leave that part out, but I guess hindsight is a real bitch sometimes.
Now I don't want to say this makes Matthew a complete asshole. I don't even want to say it makes the X-men complete assholes, although they come painfully close at times. Part of what has made this story worth reading is that, aside from Iceman, nobody comes off as a total asshole. Matthew Malloy didn't intend to do all this damage and the X-men don't intend to treat him the same way they would treat Sinister on crack. It's not at all a traditional heroes vs. villains conflict. I know that kind of shit is more common these days than CSI spin-offs, but when they're done right, they can still be pretty awesome.
Part of doing it right, unfortunately, still involves shit blowing up. To not have that in a story like this is like not having beer and buffalo wings during the Superbowl. It just doesn't work. So Matthew Malloy, now royally pissed at someone trying to mind fuck him, decides to deal with it by blowing up another SHIELD helicarrier. I'm sure that's going to make every taxpayer in the Marvel universe bang their head against the wall, but they should be used to it by now. It could easily be the moment where Mathew starts seeing the X-men and SHIELD the same way Lindsey Lohan sees rehab. However, this is another area where this type of shit storm is navigated in just the right way.
Even though he's blowing up a Helicarrier in a way that would probably give Dr. Doom a boner, Matthew Malloy doesn't totally hulk out. He doesn't declare the X-men or SHIELD to be his mortal enemies. He doesn't say anything that would even warrant attention on a message board. He actually flat out says he's not mad at them. He's just mad at Charles Xavier for lying to him. I won't say it's wholly unreasonable. I won't say it's that reasonable either. We all get lied to every time by Congress, pharmaceutical commercials, and user agreements for Apple products. That's not an excuse to destroy a helicarrier.
The extent of Matthew Malloy's temper tantrum gets a little confusing here because the details are sort of skilled. It's one of those points in the story where anyone reading this book stoned will have to hold off on another bong hit. One minute the helicarrier is going down. The next Cyclops is landing face first in the snow outside the New Xavier School. It's not clear how he got there. It's not even clear what Matthew did. It's only clear that he's back at the New Xavier School and feeling more hung over than I feel after a St. Patrick's Day party on Bourbon Street. His students are understandably concerned and confused. They're in good company too because right now, the only detail that's clear is that nobody should ever go drinking with Matthew Malloy on St. Patrick's Day.
Cyclops isn't the only one dealing with Matthew's mutant powered hangover. Rachel Grey and Storm wake up back at the Jean Grey Institute. Their students are understandably confused as well. There is some attempt at an explanation. Rachel reveals that Matthew actually spared them from the destruction of the Helicarrier. For some reason, he saw fit to transport them away from the destruction while leaving all those nice, hard-working SHIELD agents who were probably just hoping to live long enough to start collecting a pension or get rich as contractors to suffer in the wreckage. So I guess it's not an act of total mercy.
It does, however, make painfully clear that Rachel Grey's plan for dealing with Matthew Malloy was stupid as fuck. But like her father, she admits her failure. Unlike her father, nobody gives her shit for it. Maybe it's because she's a pretty redhead. Nobody in the Marvel universe can stay mad at a pretty redhead. But it's not like they didn't try to honor Xavier's wishes. This was his plan more than it was theirs and it failed like Paris Hilton's music career. There's no nice way to put it. Carrying out Xavier's will just earned them a bad hangover and some serious pwnage.
Now they're going to need an entirely different approach to deal with Matthew Malloy. Mind-fucking him isn't working. Threatening him with the collective might of SHIELD and the Avengers is just a waste of perfectly good helicarriers. Now even Cyclops is beginning to see why Charles Xavier went to such great lengths to keep this kid hidden and ignorant in ways that Mormons only wish they could get away with. They still need to deal with him before he renders the Jean Grey School and Cyclops' mutant revolution more obsolete than last year's iPhone. But this is where Cyclops comes to another realization that changes the tone of the story.
Earlier, Cyclops pitched another one of his hissy fits over what Charles Xavier did to Matthew Malloy. He went so far as to call him a hypocrite for keeping secrets like this and mind-fucking a mutant in ways that would've made the world's worst porno. This was part of what evoked the epic assholery of characters like Beast and Iceman. But he's not entirely wrong, even if he is prone saying dumb shit without the promise of Emma Frost's pussy to make it better. So he comes to the insane conclusion that they need a different approach to deal with Matthew. Since Xavier's method worked about as well as New Coke, I'd say that's entirely reasonable.
So how do they deal with a dangerous mutant like Matthew Malloy? If mind-fucking him won't work, how can they possibly deal with him in a way that won't piss off Maria Hill and every Avengers in every universe that ever existed? It's actually less daunting than it seems. Cyclops, in his infinite and probably severely concussed wisdom, decides to just flat out talk to the kid like he suggested they do in the beginning. On paper, it still sounds stupider than trying to teach Homer Simpson quantum mechanics, but on a less ridiculous level, it makes sense. Manipulating this kid just didn't work. So why not just flat out talk to him? That's exactly what Cyclops does, going so far as to say that Charles Xavier fucked up. He even offers to buy him breakfast. Because who can stay angry after a homicidal rampage after a plate of eggs and bacon? It sounds so ridiculous, but like the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, it works.
This is one of those issues where, on a purely pragmatic level, not a whole lot happens. If I were to summarize the events to someone with ADHD who sold their meds for weed money, I would tell them this story involved the X-men attacking Matthew Malloy, failing, getting pwned in the most merciful way possible, and Cyclops taking a wholly different approach. They still would probably lose interest the moment they saw a cat walk by, but that wouldn't make the assessment less valid. However, that doesn't mean these events didn't have a certain level of depth. They still moved the story forward. They still continued the themes established in previous issues and took them in a new direction. The X-men tried to do things as Xavier might have done them. They ended up getting their asses handed to them while costing SHIELD yet another helicarrier. Now Cyclops is going to try to do things his way and probably make Maria Hill insatiably horny in the process. It still doesn't do as much as it needs to to be fully awesome, but it gets the job done. I give Uncanny X-men #27 an 8 out of 10. So Maria Hill lost another helicarrier and failed to contain another dangerous mutant. But she got to see Cyclops step in and take charge again in a way that probably made her soak her panties. So I think if anyone asked her if it was worth it, she would say, "fuck yes." Nuff said!