Monday, February 16, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Cyclops #10

I know I joke a lot about teenage boys thinking with their dicks and not their brains. I stand by all those jokes. Having been a teenage boy myself, I understand how hard it is to spare enough blood for my brain cells at times. But I never mean to imply that teenage boys are incapable of having genuine heart. They certainly are capable of it. They just have a harder time than most people because, as I’ve said many times before, an dick that never sleeps forces them to multi-task in ways they’re not prepared to handle. But if anyone has demonstrated an ability to show more compassion and erections, it’s O5 Cyclops.

In his solo series following his adventures with the Starjammers, he’s shown on multiple occasions an uncanny ability to be the most likable teenage boy since Doogie Howser. He’s found a way to re-connect with his father while also finding new ways to survive and be a total badass. He’s still a long ways away from being the Cyclops that eventually hooks up with Jean Grey and Emma Frost, but he’s shown that he’s well on his way. Part of that process involved hooking up with a hot alien girl named Vileena. However, he now faces the possibility of ditching her in ways that will make all the Madelyne Pryor fans bitch again. Cyclops #10 puts him and his father in a very difficult position that has a lot of emotional weight. But if there’s any teenage boy who can handle it in ways that wouldn’t make it come off as a Saved by the Bell rerun, it’s O5 Cyclops.

Those emotions are front and center as O5 Cyclops attempts to escape with Corsair from this big crystal planet that might as well be an oversized snow globe. From a purely strategic perspective, they’re in pretty good shape. Corsair didn’t just escape. He sabotaged the Starcracker that O5 Cyclops helped Captain Malafect steal. There’s really nothing bad about disabling a weapon capable of destroying an entire star, especially when it’s in the hand of a bunch of pirates who would gladly sell it to the highest bidder, provided they didn’t destroy their bank or their favorite brothel. And as far as Malafect’s crew knows, they’re both lying dead in a cave with a crystal monster digesting their bones. If staying alive and freeing his father was part of the plan, then O5 Cyclops succeeded in ways that even the Hank McCoys of the world would have to respect.

However, it still doesn’t sit well with him. All the time he spent with Captain Malafect’s crew helped build some bonds that he can’t easily forget. He’s still an emotional teenager who can’t be as cold or as ruthless as the Donald Trumps of the world. There’s also the matter of the cute alien girl, Vileena. In this case, his heart and his penis won’t allow him to feel that good about this outcome and that’s what makes the story more interesting than a glorified Survivor knock-off.

The emotions are a lot less complicated for Captain Malafect. He just found out that Corsair escaped and since he didn’t end up shooting anyone in the head, he probably doesn’t know that he disabled the Starcracker either. On top of that, he also finds out that the Starjammers are alive and being held captive by another batch of pirates. I’m starting to think that space in the Marvel universe has a real problem policing its trade routes. It’s at this point where all the dirty secrets finally come out in a way only Brian Williams can empathize with.

It turns out that the SOS for the Starjammers came directly from his ship. And the only one who could’ve sent it was O5 Cyclops. Not only that, he helped Corsair escape. So now Captain Malafect has even more reasons to be pissed. Not long ago, he was praising O5 Cyclops for his space pirating skills. He even was willing to look the other way when his daughter started flirting with him. Now he has a better reason than most protective fathers to castrate O5 Cyclops on sight.

Captain Malafect is understandably pissed. Not only did he get played by a kid, but he also got played by someone who fooled around with his daughter. That’s a two-for-one deal in a ball-busting continuum. But the reaction is a lot more pronounced with Vileena. When she hears this, she isn’t just pissed. She’s heartbroken. And as with O5 Cyclops, this added emotional weight gives much more power to the story.

This has been one of the biggest strengths of this series to date. It keeps finding ways to give emotional impact to the events. It’s one thing to just have O5 Cyclops fly around space with his dad, shooting other pirates and flirting with cute alien girls. That sort of thing is a fun story and would make for a great special on the Travel Channel. But to give that story an impact, it needs some emotional weight and that’s exactly what this moment brings. Vileena was among the most likable characters on Malafect’s crew. Now she’s the one most hurt. That’s what makes it awesome and meaningful.

That’s not to say there’s no place for the kind of space pirate badassery that made Johnny Depp so damn rich. While O5 Cyclops is dealing with the emotional ramifications of what he’s done, he and Corsair run into a pack of alien wolves/tigers who decide their flesh looks tasty. They’re not exactly candidates for Hello Kitty merchandise, but, they do add a little action into the emotional undertone in just the right way. And once again, O5 Cyclops shows that he’s come into his own as a badass space pirate. I’m sure Corsair had to hold back tears of joy when he wasn’t avoiding a good mauling.

After warming up on a pack of blood-thirsty space predators, O5 Cyclops and Corsair are more than equipped to take out a squad of Shi’ar and hijack their ship. Corsair makes himself a bit more useful this time so it’s not at all a fair fight. It’s not like either of them feel bad about roughing up Shi’ar at this point. Given how their pirate antics has toughened them, it almost feels like cheating at this point.

Once in the ship, Corsair even reveals that they’re in the best possible position. They’re slipping away while the other half-dozen Shi’ar warships converge on Captain Malafect. The Shi’ar are still very interested in that Starcracker they stole and since they vastly outnumber Malafect’s crew, they’re going to skip the part where they pay for it. That’s just how competent Shi’ar businesses work. That means Captain Malafect and his crew are probably going to get slaughtered, captured, or some combination of the two. It works out perfectly for them. They don’t have to worry about Malafect anymore and they can focus on linking up with the rest of the Starjammers.

There’s just one big problem. O5 Cyclops knows that leaving that crew to die is a real dick move. Captain Malafect may be a total douche-bag, but his crew is all right. One of them took a bullet for him. Another was willing to let him into her panties. He may be an aspiring space pirate, but he’s not a total dick. Maybe his older self who left Madelyne Pryor would be willing to live with it, but he hasn’t become that person yet. And he’s not in a hurry to be that guy so he tells his father they’re turning back.

And remarkably, Corsair is proud of him. He doesn’t get angry or anxious. He actually supports his son in wanting to do the right thing. At a time when other fathers are sending bounty hunters after their rebellious sons (see Starlord’s recent family affairs), here’s a father who actually encourages his son to do the right thing. That really shouldn’t be such an amazing concept, but fuck if it doesn’t feel awesome. Not only that, it demonstrates that this is a Cyclops who will do the right thing even when it’s not the most strategic. Even the most ardent Cyclops-hater has to respect that. If they don’t, then they’re just being assholes.

Just as Corsair predicted, Captain Malafect’s crew is overmatched and overwhelmed by the Shi’ar. He seems to accept that their heads are about to become trophies in a Shi’ar living room. That’s when Corsair and O5 Cyclops return to help them out in the most badass way possible that doesn’t involve bikinis and flame throwers. The Shi’ar have an army of heavily armed soldiers. Corsair and O5 Cyclops have the element of surprise and a fully equipped Shi’ar ship. It’s as fair a fight as it’s going to get and it ends up being pretty lopsided.

The battle ends quickly and decidedly, which helps send a solid message to Captain Malafect. It leads to a tense moment with Corsair and the Captain. As pissed off as Malafect is for being deceived, he and his crew are alive because O5 Cyclops decided that ditching him would be a dick move. Corsair makes it a point to say that. Even though he treated him like a prisoner at first, O5 Cyclops still gave enough of a shit to save their miserable asses. It probably doesn’t make him feel any less disgusted that his daughter wanted to bone him, but it is still better than being slaughtered by the Shi’ar.

Corsair offers a simple proposal. In exchange for saving their asses, they just let him and O5 Cyclops go. Even though he and Captain Malafect have a really shitty history, they’re pretty much as even as they’re ever going to get. They can still slit each other’s throats on sight if they see each other again down the line. But for today, they just part ways and chaulk this up to a learning experience. It seems so reasonable and so logical. They both benefit in the end. How could anyone possibly disagree with that?

While Captain Malafect might be open to the idea of being reasonable, his teenage daughter is not. There’s a time to be reasonable and there’s a time to be overly pissed to a point where being reasonable just makes way too much sense. So Vileena decides to do what Taylor Swift only sings about and turns on Corsair and O5 Cyclops before her father can even make a decision. This includes going out of her way to be extra rough with O5 Cyclops, who at least tries to reason with her. Being so young, this is probably the best way for him to learn that there’s just no reasoning with a pissed off teenage girl. Be they human or alien, they’re just that vindictive.

It’s another moment where the emotional weight really gives the story strength. There are any number of 90s sitcoms where teenage girls act irrationally bitchy. This doesn’t feel so irrational. She really sincerely cared for O5 Cyclops and his deceit really hurt her. Her reaction might have been extreme, but it’s perfectly understandable. The emotional weight really sells it and she makes clear that she wants O5 Cyclops to suffer. She truly is her father’s daughter in this respect. But I still think O5 Cyclops’ penis will tell him it was worth it.

I think it’s safe to say that Madelyne Pryor now has a new BFF. This issue proved once again that in a universe of ruthless space pirates and cosmic forces, nothing can quite compare to the power of a vindictive teenage girl. It says something that Vileena ends up being the most pissed off in this issue. It feels fitting though. O5 Cyclops spent the past few issues growing closer to her, developing feelings for her and forging new connections with Captain Malafect’s crew. And unlike his older counterpart, he doesn’t opt to just ditch Vileena. He tries to go back and do the right thing. What’s his reward? She now wants to skin him alive and pleasure herself to his screams.

It’s fitting, if not poetic. O5 Cyclops finally does the exact opposite of his older counterpart and it still screws him over in the end. It’s one of those outcomes that just feels so right, like finding that perfect show on Netflix or putting on a pair of underwear right after it comes out of the dryer. This issue put O5 Cyclops in a position to either do the right thing or the smart thing. He chose the right thing this time and it was not an easy decision. This issue captured that struggle so perfectly and for once, the anti-Cyclops crowd has to find a different reason to hate him. Cyclops #10 gets a 9 out of 10. Let this be a lesson to all aspiring space pirates. Don’t be afraid to take on killer aliens and ruthless space pirates. But when it comes to the emotions of teenage girls, be afraid. Be very afraid. Nuff said!


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