Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #15
When it comes to the many villains of the X-men comics, Juggernaut is to X-men what Tequila is to alcohol. It can be good in brief shots, but it doesn't take much to get really fucking sick of him and never want to have anything to do with the guy again. He's not a very interesting character, even if he is powerful as fuck. He's got an attitude that would fit right in with the Oakland Raiders, albeit with much greater offensive output. I'm not saying that Juggernaut is a bad character. I'm just saying he hasn't been relevant since he banged She-Hulk.
But I think enough time has passed from that boner-killing incident to bring him back into the picture. Since Colossus hung up his dome-shaped helmet, Juggernaut hasn't been a factor in the X-men comics. But there's never a shortage of anyone seeking the power to be an unstoppable asshole. We just have to hope that Justin Bieber never gets his hands on that power. Amazing X-men #15 is set to bring Juggernaut back into the world of X-men. Now there's no Charles Xavier and no Cain Marko to hate him. That means the slate it clean to be another unstoppable asshole to take on the mantle.
It's a bit mantle full of fucked-up situations and grotesque bloodlust. And since some fans have probably suppressed memories of the inglorious way Colossus' stint at Juggernaut ended after Avengers vs. X-men, it helps to get a bit of a refresher course in his history. There's some nice flashbacks about Cyttorak, the mystical god-like being that grants his avatars with unstoppable power. It's nothing that can't be gleaned from Wikipedia, but it uses pretty pictures and badass depictions of the creature himself. So I say it's still worth showing, even if it can be easily skipped by most X-men fans. We know what fuels the Juggernaut. We know Cain Marko was once Juggernaut and Charles Xavier had to fight him. So why should we give a shit about a new Juggernaut?
Well one important detail to remember from this little flashback is that Cyttorak is one of those gods that loves being worshipped the same way Donald Trump loves hair gel. Like a good blowjob, he just can't get enough of it. Since Colossus gave up his helmet, there's nobody left to give Cyttorak his divine brand of fillatio. So being the determined, competent god-like begin, Cyttorak creates another gem and sends it somewhere it can be found. It would probably be most effective if it made it appear as an overpriced piece of jewelry in a sore that Paris Hilton shops at, but that might be too competent. So he has it appear in some Indiana Jones style ancient ruins for a bunch of cut-throat tomb robbers to find. Again, far be it from me to question the decisions of a deranged god, but I still think there are far more effective ways in finding someone seeking to be unstoppable assholes. Maybe next time Cyttorak should just try hosting a reality show. That would work just as well.
This activity doesn't go unnoticed either. Enter Cyttorak's last unstoppable prison bitch, Colossus. He's been basically gotten through his stint as Juggernaut unphased. Not only did everybody completely absolve him of any responsibility for what he did as Juggernaut or as one of the Phoenix Five, but he seems to have suffered no ill-effects. It even led to him boning Domino on a regular basis. Sure, he lost Kitty Pryde, but she's now boning another guy named Peter so I still think that counts as only a partial defeat. However, some of those ill-effects finally catches up with him at the worst possible time.
Shortly after a secret booty call from Domino, he has a vision of the new gem of Cyttorak. It's probably the worst possible mood killer that doesn't involve a surprise visit from grandparents or a Mormon intervention. Domino, who is not on good terms with the X-men at the moment, is as confused as she is naked. This doesn't stop Colossus from channeling his inner artist to do a quick painting of the new location of the gem of Cyttorak. And when a mystical gem takes priority over a naked Domino, it's a bad sign that a nasty shit storm is coming.
As it just so happens, magic is a hot topic around the Jean Grey Institute. With Piotr's sister rubbing elbows with Cyclops and being about as stable as spoiled rich teenage girl with a boob job and a crack addiction, the institute is in need of a new magic master. There aren't exactly applicants lining up around the block. Pixie is the only one with marginal skill. It's so marginal that they invite the fucking Scarlet Witch to visit and give her lessons. I guess a woman responsible for the near-extinction of a race and the inversion of the entire X-men is welcome, but a guy like Cyclops who tried to use the Phoenix Force to fix all the world's problems is not. That's 10 steps beyond a double standard, but I digress.
The Scarlet Witch isn't much of a teacher because Pixie's spell fails miserably and hilariously on Rockslide, who has quickly become the Toad of the X-men. But her involvement certainly bodes well for her ability to contribute in an issue like Juggernaut, where magic is the main source of all the property damage and broken bones. That said, if the X-men's options are only Pixie and the Scarlet Witch, they're already fucked in an unstoppable way.
Armed with the vision that ruined his afterglow with Domino, Colossus confronts Storm. It doesn't take much to convince her that this is a big fucking deal that needs to be dealt with in a big fucking way. However, she surprises Colossus when she tells him she's benching him for this fight. Because for the first time since Colossus just randomly showed up at the institute's front door, Storm reveals that she doesn't entirely trust him to handle a situation like this.
Now this sort of conversation is more overdue than Half-Life 3. When Colossus returned to the Jean Grey Institute, nobody batted a fucking eye. Finally, someone is reminding him that he was not only once the avatar for Cyttorak. He was once a fugitive who fought alongside Cyclops. Wolverine might have trusted him fully, but Storm can't afford to be that forgiving now that Wolverine is dead. She tells him he is being held to a different standard because so few on the team can say they were once Juggernaut who ended up becoming a wanted fugitive after waging war on the Avengers. It's way too fucking reasonable to be a dick move.
As late as it is, it still evokes some overdue emotions. This is the kind of conversation that they should've had back when Colossus first returned. He was part of the Phoenix Five. He was once Juggernaut. The X-men shouldn't just brush that sort of shit off. And Storm, while it does come off as cold, has a damn good reason for keeping him out of this. It's just a shame it took this fucking long to address. But I'm too high to whine about it anymore so I'll drop it.
Storm assembles a fairly robust team to take on this new Juggernaut or at least stop someone from becoming a new avatar. It's basically the same team that took on the Wendigo, including Iceman, Northstar, Rockslide, Nightcrawler, Storm, Firestar, and Rachel Grey. It's not exactly the most powerful team ever assembled, but they have a telepath that can get the job done. They don't seem all that worried either. There's almost a casual approach taking on the unstoppable Juggernaut. As far as they're concerned, it's as simple as knocking off the helmet and letting the pretty redhead do the rest. That might work for a True Blood rerun, but chances are something is going to fuck this plan up badly.
Colossus probably believes this more than anyone. He's certainly not happy about being benched, but he obeys Storm's decree initially. He decides to sit outside of Wolverine's office, which has since become a shrine of sorts where students leave flowers and beer cans. He's clearly thinking about giving the finger to Storm's order and throwing himself into the line of fire against the Juggernaut. He even gets some encouragement from a young student named Trance. She reminds him that Wolverine was probably benched from an important mission at least once a week by Cyclops. He honored that decree the same way baseball players honor the MLB's anti-steroid policy. It's a powerful and very negative message that's sure to piss off the moral crusaders. That's probably a good sign that it's the right thing to do.
Storm's team arrives at the exact location that Colossus envisioned. It's here where the story starts to slow down and drag somewhat. There's no big clash. There's no major fight that breaks out. They just hang around the exterior of the structure and then enter just in time to see a hideous Cyttorak-style monster that looks like an oversized booger. This should be horrifying, but the team reacts the same way most people react to news of another sex scandal involving a Congressman. It really has very little weight to it all.
This is kind of the main shortcoming of this story. It's dragging at this point and it's not doing anything that'll make anyone's balls sore in the morning. The X-men try to track down Cyttorak and a new Juggernaut, but they just end up facing some generic monster that could've easily been a rejected Godzilla enemy. It doesn't fall completely flat, but nobody's panties are going to be soaked by this battle just yet. That doesn't mean a dry pair shouldn't be kept handy.
Even if this monster is about as scary as a mutated My Little Pony villain, it's still a battle that Colossus wants to be part of. It's at this point he decides to channel the rebellious spirit of Wolverine and do something about it. And like Wolverine, he needs a cute teenage girl to help him. That sounds a lot creepier than it actually is, but it helps tie the story into Pixie's ongoing pursuit of being the X-men's new magic expert. She doesn't look quite as intimidating as Piotr's sister, nor does she look as good in black leather pants, but she's now Colossus' best bet to show that he can be trusted again. And it's hard not to root for a guy who's boning Domino.
There are some comics where after I read them, I can already predict how assholes on message boards will complain. Internet trolls are nothing if not predictable. This comic does a lot of things right, but I just know there will be a certain segment of fans that bitch and moan at how the story moved too slow. That's not entirely untrue. It did unfold slowly. It had to because it set up a number of situations and focused on a number of ongoing dramas rather than just get to the part where Juggernaut starts smashing shit. That's not a bad thing. Hell, that's probably the best way to approach a story like this, but that's going to be lost on some people. These are the same people that will whine about Han or Greedo shooting first until the end of time. Their complaining is irrelevant.
What is relevant here is how this issue too its time. It got choppy in some areas and rushed in others, but it did something very important. It set up certain characters to ensure that people gave a shit about what happened to them. That's what separates a story that's forgotten after one or two bong hits and a story that will soak the panties of those awaiting the next issue. This story has a lot of things going for it. But unlike the Juggernaut, it's not unstoppable. It hasn't built up a lot of momentum yet, but it has so much going for it that I'm going to brace myself anyways. Amazing X-men #15 gets a 7 out of 10. I don't know who will end up being the new Juggernaut or why he or she will want to crush the X-men. I just know if their ordeal ends with them hooking up with Domino, it'll count as a success. Nuff said!