Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: All-New X-men #34

Anyone whoever says that it could always be worse is usually the kind of person who deserves a traumatic head injury from a piece of heavy mining equipment. These people can somehow take a shitty day and find a way to make it shittier by saying the least effective, most contrived excuse ever conjured by guilt-ridden hippie liberal types. Nobody in the history of mankind has ever been told, "it could be worse," and felt better about it. But in the case of the O5 X-men, I think it deserves an exception. This is one instance where there’s a real, tangible example right in front of them just how much shittier their lives could be.

There’s no question that the O5 X-men are not happy with their future. They have every right to be a little disappointed. One of them ended up dead. The other ended up crazy. The other became a complete douche-bag whose only contribution to anything involves making snow cones. But the shit the O5 X-men endure in their future is nothing compared to the steaming pile of whale diarrhea that is the Ultimate universe. They’ve been stuck in it for a few issues and already, they’re finding out just how much shittier it could be and they haven’t even learned about Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch’s little venture into incest. I doubt that would make them feel any better in the long run, but at least they can never deny that it really could be worse. And All-New X-men #34 only gives them even more reasons. They probably won’t be enough to make Beast or Iceman lesser douche-bags in the future, but at least they won’t have to live with the disturbing thought of Maximoff-style incest in their world.

In that context, the meeting between O5 Jean and the Ultimate version of the pseudo-X-men isn’t as awkward as it could’ve been. I say pseudo because the X-men in Ultimate have been fucked up in ways that even make Brett Ratner cringe. They’re an endangered, artificial species that shrugs off typical X-men activities that don’t involve Galactus incursions. So I guess that just makes the situation more awkward. It doesn’t help that Ultimate Iceman claims O5 Jean is hotter than her Ultimate version. To be fair, Ultimate Jean does not do a good job pulling off the Lara Croft look. But it still leads to an interesting exchange that becomes way more than awkward real fast.

That tends to always happen whenever O5 Jean Grey dares to read someone else’s mind. First, she read Beast’s mind, which had to have been plenty disturbing with all the fantasies of how he would disembowel Cyclops. Now, she’s reading her Ultimate version’s mind in telepathic montage that’s not quite as epic, but still conveys all the right emotions. It essentially gives O5 Jean Grey a crash course in how fucked the Ultimate Universe is and how it fucked her up. And she didn’t even needed to die this time. So when both she and her Ultimate counterpart faint, it’s perfectly understandable. I’m just surprised they didn’t violently throw up first.

It’s a disturbing moment for both of them, but one that makes me feel like I’m covered in baby kittens. This is the kind of encounter I often hope for, but never see in comics. O5 Jean and Ultimate Jean have a lot they can learn from each other. And I’m not just talking about all the reasons why boning Wolverine is a bad idea. Both of these characters were once so loving, charismatic, and powerful. Then they were badly screwed over in ways I’m too stoned to describe. This exchange might not make the extent of such screwing any less egregious, but it should give them some badly needed perspective.

As much as O5 Jean needs it, I would argue Ultimate Jean needs it more. Few character got screwed over worse in Ultimate than she did and not from anything that happened to her in a major story. Her character was just so utterly butchered and fucked that nobody would think that she was once this caring, outgoing young woman that always found a reason to smile. And instead of dealing with it, she became a raging psychopath who tried to murder all her friends. Then for some fucked up reason that was never explained, they shrugged it off and let her join them. It’s way more fucked up than a drunk like me can ever describe. So for her to finally get a meaningful dose of emotion is really refreshing. It may be way too fucking late, but it’s still a great moment.

It’s not quite as emotional for O5 Iceman, who has been fighting one of Mole Man’s monsters in the streets of Atlanta since he arrived. He still doesn’t know he’s in a world way more fucked than one where Kim Kardashian is still relevant, which is quite a feat. He just battles this monster in a standard, yet still satisfying battle. He doesn’t do anything too spectacular. His powers are somewhat hindered by the Atlanta heat. Anybody who ever went streaking in the middle of summer on a cocaine binge knows what I’m talking about.

O5 Iceman still finds a way to have a conversation with the creature. The creature doesn’t really talk back, but for once he does more than just whine and make shitty jokes. He even points out how he’s changed the least since getting stuck in a shitty future. He didn’t even get a school named after him. The best he did was become some Ice Wizard in the future and bone Kitty Pryde. It’s not much, but I don’t think he should be complaining too much.

He eventually does defeat Mole Man’s monster. Again, it’s not all that epic, but it’s still plenty satisfying. Not many characters can say that in the Ultimate Universe these days who aren’t named Miles Morales. So what’s his reward for such a feat? He gets arrested by the cops. He’s a minority in a big city. In wake of recent tragedies, I’d say that’s painfully accurate. O5 Iceman is the lucky one. He puts his hands up and he doesn’t get shot. There’s no joke I can make about this situation. Police brutality is a big fucking deal these days and I’m the asshole who complains mostly about parking tickets. But as lucky as he is, O5 Iceman still a long ways away from knowing just how fucked he is.

X-23 and O5 Angel are a bit farther along. They managed to find the hidden Weapon X facility in Canada that they thought was their school. Turns out it’s just a typical Weapon X facility, complete with blood stains and shit-filled pants. Hillbilly Wolverine, also known as Jimmy Hudson, is with them. He’s the one that reveals another shitty detail of the Ultimate universe. Mutants aren’t a product of evolution. They’re a failed science experiment. Being a failed science experiment herself, X-23 knows how much that sucks. Being a rich pretty boy with wings, O5 Angel is just deadpanned.

It leads X-23 to remember that it was some random new mutant that O5 Beast thought was PMSing who brought them to this world. Now they have even more incentive to find her and get the fuck out of this universe. Hillbilly Wolverine is understandably confused. He inherited Wolverine’s claws and healing, but he didn’t get his intuition or brains. He just stands around like a kid watching a couple of dogs fuck. It’s awkward, but I can’t say it’s not accurate.

Just learning they’re in another universe is hard enough, but Dr. Doom has to make it even more uncomfortable for O5 Beast. Few characters can make Ultimate a shittier place. Dr. Doom is at the top of a very short list and he’s genuinely intrigued about the world O5 Beast comes from. He now knows some random new mutant brought them to the Ultimate Universe and Dr. Doom went so far as to feed O5 Beast truth serum to make sure he’s not fucking with him. If only the CIA was so merciful.

Dr. Doom is now learning a great deal about mutants, X-men, and a world where they’re not completely fucked. He also learns how O5 Beast is in love with Jean Grey and how she no longer gives two licks of a ferrets asshole about his emotions. Considering the bullshit he pulled in X-men: Battle of the Atom and its aftermath, I think she’s more than justified. She would rather put adult Cyclops in awkward positions. For anyone sick to their stomach at how this pairing even became possible, it’s very satisfying to see him so humiliated. I know I give Beast a hard time on this blog, but until he stops giving me reasons, I’m going to enjoy scenes like this. And Dr. Doom is sure to enjoy it as well.

The only problem is we don’t even get a clue as to what he has planned. The Ultimate version of Dr. Doom is a bit more of an enigma compared to his 616 counterpart and not just because had fucking goat legs for a while. He might be just as eager as the O5 to ditch this shitty world. It’s just no fun living in a world where Reed Richards is the bigger asshole.

I think it’s safe to say O5 Beast is now the most fucked of the whole team. O5 Iceman would be a close second, now that he’s been arrested for the horrible crime of stopping a rampaging monster in the middle of a busy city street. That’s not to say his arrest is nothing more than another exercise in police being assholes. They end up revealing to him, albeit unintentionally, that he’s not in the same world he remembers. They bring up that time when the X-men were on magazine covers back in an era when Ultimate didn’t suck elephant balls. It doesn’t just give O5 Iceman a clue. It gives him a chance to re-charge his ice powers in the nice air-conditioning of a squad car, which he uses to break out. He doesn’t even need to call an overpriced lawyer. He just ditches them. I’d say, leaves them unharmed, and fucks up their car. Seeing has how they arrested him for bullshit reasons, I’d say this makes them even.

So now everyone in the O5 X-men is up to speed in terms of being in a shitty alternate universe. Now they have to actually deal with that shit. It’s a step that’s often skipped in a story like this, but it’s not skipped with O5 Jean Grey. When she wakes up, she’s in the Cerebro chamber with her Ultimate counterpart. They then have another moment, but this time it doesn’t overwhelm them to the point of fainting.

It’s actually a lot more meaningful than that. They get a chance to point out just how difference their lives are and yet they’re still the same person. It’s one of those fucked up concepts that still brings out all the right emotions, so much so that it inspires another hug. O5 Jean has needed more than her share since All-New X-men began. This one might be the best yet, awkwardness aside. And it’s Ultimate Jean who needs it most. She even admits that O5 Jean is better at being Jean Grey than she was. And she’s the younger one. It’s a pretty powerful moment and one that almost makes revisiting the rotting corpse that is Ultimate Marvel worth it. Almost being the key word there.

Once the hugs are out of the way, Ultimate Jean helps O5 Jean activate Cerebro so she can find the mutant who brought them to this epic fail of an alternate universe. She even throws in a little tidbit about Miles Morales being in love with her. I guess she’s used to that at this point with teenage boys. But when she starts scanning, it doesn’t take long for her to find something. Once again, it’s pretty jarring. But we don’t even get a hint at what it might be. Is it Dr. Doom? Is it the mutant? Is it another Kardashian photo shoot? We have no fucking clue. Now I’m the one who needs a hug.

As five-year-olds, we all have to learn very quickly how to deal with not getting what we hoped for. There are too many cases where I go into a movie expecting to see Jennifer Lawrence’s naked ass, but I only end up seeing Hugh Jackman’s. Not to say that I think Hugh Jackman has an ugly ass. Most straight women would strongly disagree. It’s just not what I was hoping to see. But this issue gave me a big part of what I hoped to see in this crossover between 616 and it’s shit-stained counterpart. The story moved forward, but not by too much. Plenty of emotions emerged, but only to a point. But it was still more than enough to be awesome. Anything that results in Jean Grey giving someone (even herself) a hug has to be awesome to some extent.

This issue had action, heart, and attitude in so many right places. It’s only major shortcoming was the lack of details and not just because the ending was too damn abrupt. We didn’t even get a hint at what O5 Jean Grey saw. We didn’t get a hint at what Dr. Doom was planning. But it’s not like these details were completely ignored or thrown away. The story just got cut off before it could get to them. And so long as my weed supply holds, I’m willing to be patient. I give All-New X-men #34 an 8 out of 10. If nothing else, this whole series is showing that Jean Grey has yet another mutation that involves wanting to hug people. I suppose there are way worse powers she could have. I guess she needs lots of hugs after hearing the thoughts of Hank McCoy and Wolverine. They may not be the overtly pornographic hugs I’m used to seeing, but they still put a smile on my face and a boner in my pants for all the right reasons. Nuff said!

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