Thursday, November 20, 2014
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #28
I used to be one of those fans who wondered why the hell Cyclops was the leader of the X-men. Maybe it was just because I was a gullible kid. Or maybe it was because my teachers and guidance counselors kept experimenting on me with cocktails of ADHD drugs. But I honestly couldn’t figure out for the life of me why he was someone the X-men followed. Then the ADHD drugs wore off and I turned myself onto booze and weed. It all started making sense. After seeing what he was able to do through the Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon era, I could honestly say I would jump his bone if I were a chick, even if it meant getting horribly maimed by Jean Grey and Emma Frost.
What makes Cyclops so charismatic and so controversial as a character is that he’s willing to make hard decisions that nobody else wants to make. Those decisions are a big reason why he’s currently a fugitive from SHIELD and why most of his former teammates have ditched him. But those reasons are also why the mutant race isn’t extinct right now. He’s never shied away from making these decisions and seeing as how Professor Xavier was such a jerk when he was alive, he left Cyclops and the X-men with one exceedingly tough choice with Matthew Malloy. And despite Iceman being a massive asshat and his teammates still busting his balls every step of the way, he’s in a position to do what others won’t. Uncanny X-men #28 probably won’t win over any of his very vocal critics, but it will probably make plenty of women (and even a few men) want to sleep with him even more.
Maria Hill has already revealed herself to be among those women, but I don’t think her panties are very wet while standing in the ruins left by Matthew Malloy. Or maybe they are. Maybe she has strange tastes. I can’t really tell with that woman. But she doesn’t exactly get all hot and bothered when Cyclops confronts Matthew Malloy with the balls and bravado that only he can muster. Matthew is understandably tense and a little upset. He did just kind of wipe an entire city off the map and it wasn’t Detroit. But Cyclops proves to have way better negotiating skills than Maria Hill because he agrees to go with Cyclops to a less morbid location so they can talk. He even offers to buy him breakfast. Because how the hell can anyone negotiate with a volatile mutant on an empty stomach? It would be like me trying to sit through a Martin Scorsese movie sober.
Absent from this exceedingly tense moment are the rest of the X-men. Matthew Malloy already sent them home like a vindictive middle school principal. And since they don’t have someone like Magik on their team who can teleport and look dead sexy wielding a giant sword, they’re not in a position to contribute. Beast attempts to get help from the Avengers and the authorities. They react the same way most people react when a Jehovah’s Witness knocks on the door and asks if they want to hear the most boring people alive talk about Jesus. It makes for a moment that would be so satisfying if it didn’t feel so damn forced.
Hank McCoy admits Cyclops was right. No, that’s not a typo. No, I’m not THAT drunk. He finally admits it. He says Cyclops was right. The problem is he’s a little restrictive in terms of the context of this statement. He admits that humans are way too eager to walk around mutant problems rather than address them. But he doesn’t admit Cyclops was right about the Phoenix or the Avengers being assholes or his hypocrisy in fucking with the timeline when he brought the O5 X-men back from the past. He only admits Cyclops is right that humanity has room for improvement in addressing mutant issues. That’s like saying North Korea has room for improvement in terms of how it treats dissenting opinions. It comes off as a major revelation, but is painfully shallow. All it really establishes is that the X-men at the Jean Grey Institute are fucked and have nothing left to contribute in this conflict.
The only one who can really do anything at this point is Cyclops and he’s certainly not going to pass up an opportunity to help a fellow mutant and piss off Beast. Magik ends up teleporting them to some place remote, yet scenic. Cyclops is up front and honest with Matthew. He’s also not trying to speak to him through some drone or probe like SHIELD attempted because he’s not a pussy. He then does something else that SHIELD never offered. He gives Matthew a chance to read his mind. It probably won’t turn him on as much as it did Emma Frost, but it establishes a sense of openness that certainly helps.
In reading Cyclops’ mind, Matthew finds out that they have something in common. He sees glimpses of Cyclops’ past before he became an X-man. He also had powers he couldn’t control. They were also the kind of powers that could do a fuckton of damage if he was ever in a bad mood. Sure, he never wiped out an entire city, but I’m sure he would have if he made it to his first day of high school. Now there’s nothing in here that most X-men fans don’t already know. Hell, most of those fans can probably skip this part because it’s been told and retold more times than a Friday the 13th movie. But Matthew doesn’t know Cyclops’ story and he’s the one in need of insight.
In addition to details about his life story, Cyclops also shows how his life changed after he joined the X-men. But he doesn’t focus on how many clones he married or how many killer robots he destroyed. He focuses on the X-men’s accomplishments in pursuing Xavier’s dream, or lack thereof. He points out (and rightfully so) that the X-men saved the world enough times to warrant their own Thanksgiving Day parade, but it didn’t change a damn thing. Humans still hated mutants. Sure, mutants like Magneto acting like an asshole certainly didn’t help, but saving the world seems to work for the Avengers. But it doesn’t do a damn thing for the X-men.
This is an argument that has only recently become more important in wake of Avengers vs. X-men. The differences between the X-men and Avengers as heroes used to be like used tampons. Everybody knew they were there. They just didn’t talk about it. Cyclops, having been horribly screwed over by the Avengers, is finally shoving the bullshit in everybody’s faces to smell. He did things Xavier’s way for years, trying to be better and keep fighting for humans even if they hated them. Now, after all the shit mutants have fought for and lost, he’s starting to think that maybe Xavier’s approach had a few flaws. A man who loses two wives and unlimited access to Emma Frost’s panties is going to be a little jaded.
That jaded mentality just comes off a bit bland when he tries to use this to argue the merits of his revolution with Matthew Malloy. But wait, I thought he was supposed to be trying to help Matthew in accord with Charles Xavier’s last wishes? Maybe I am more drunk than I think or maybe this whole conflict has really started to drag. I’m thinking it’s a little of both because this is basically the same argument Cyclops has made before. Humans suck so mutants have to rise up. And somewhere along the way, he wants to help Matthew control his powers. It’s really hard to tell at this point because while there’s plenty of substance, it really doesn’t amount to much.
Cyclops only ends up telling Matthew Malloy more stories that most X-men fans already know. He recalls all the other cases, including the ones involving him, where mutants had powers they couldn’t control. He then points out that with his power, Matthew Malloy could become a vital part of his revolution. Because who the fuck would stand a chance against them if they had firepower like his? He goes back and forth between being Che Guevera and Dr. Phil, which makes for an even messier conversation.
It’s the kind of conversation with the kind of rhetoric Cyclops never would’ve used prior to Avengers vs. X-men. I know the crowd that doesn’t want to sleep with him loves to whine how he’s become too much like Magneto. I still say that’s bullshit. He’s not demanding that humans worship him. He’s not demanding that mutants be made rulers of the world. But he’s still carrying himself like the kind of guy who give the finger to peace in exchange for preserving the mutant race. Not only does it give the anti-Cyclops crowd more to bitch about, but it also accomplishes jack shit because Matthew just starts whining again at how he doesn’t want to be a mutant and he doesn’t want to be part of this shit. I can’t say I blame him, but the lack of progress here makes it about as enjoyable as watching a drunk argue with a wall.
Matthew pitches another omega-level hissy fit. Magik manages to come in and teleport Cyclops away before he can be crushed. But he’s not done having more pointless conversations. Even though Magik herself points out that his use of the world “brother” is too similar to how Magneto spoke when dealing with the Brotherhood. It’s not something that needed to be reinforced, but why the fuck not at this point? The story is doing such a good job of accomplishing nothing. Why stop? So Magik agrees to teleport him back to Matthew so they can waste even more time.
Cyclops appears again and Matthew is still brooding like a 15-year-old emo listening to every Linken Park song ever made. He tries to make the same argument again, using a bit more Magneto-style rhetoric. He talks about how having a mutant like him is going to make the rest of humanity think twice about fucking with his revolution or mutants in general. Matthew still isn’t wholly convinced. That’s probably because he hasn’t experienced his first Sentinel attack or dealt with anyone like the Purifiers, but his skepticism is understandable. And at some point, Cyclops has to realize his ripping off Magneto way too much for anyone to be comfortable.
He doesn’t realize this soon enough though. Because Magneto finally shows up, most likely because he was sick of Cyclops plagiarizing his methods. Hell, I’m surprised he didn’t bring a lawyer with him. He informs Cyclops that he has gone too far and when Magneto says something has gone too far, that usually means it’s just one step behind multiple clusterfucks worth of damage. That’s saying a lot given how Cyclops has said so much and convinced Matthew of so little. All he’s really done is made everyone around him forget that this was supposed to be about Xavier’s last will. In this, he’s succeeded in part, but he hasn’t succeeded in much else.
This issue felt like one of those movies that tries too hard to appeal to the Oscar crowd in that it attempts to abandon style for substance. Tom Cruise seems to try it every three years or so and it never works. I’m not going to say this comic failed as miserably as The Last Samurai, but it tried to do too damn much. At this point, the story is starting to drag and anyone with ADHD probably dropped this book halfway and went back to looking at cat videos. There was a lot of talking, a lot of angst, and not much progress. All it really accomplished was making me really hungry for pancakes. It’s like Cyclops spent the entire issue trying to convince Sean Hannity that global warming was real. It really didn’t amount to much.
I also imagine his Magneto-like rhetoric is going to going to give his critics a rage boner. A lot of what he said had some merit, but he’s starting to sound less like a revolutionary and more like a guy who thinks he’s still banging Emma Frost. I’m sure some women (and those few men I mentioned earlier) still want to sleep with him, but Uncanny X-men #28 doesn’t really do much to change the current state of affairs. I give this issue a 5 out of 10. Not much happens. There’s a lot of substance, but too much of it is more forgettable than Jim Carey’s last movie. What isn’t forgettable, however, is how much I love pancakes. I think this comic, if nothing else, warrants a trip to IHOP. Nuff said!