Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #31


After a night of heavy drinking, there comes a point where the line between buzz and sickness become so blurred that it might as well be the same feeling. It's what I like to call the "fuck everything" zone of drunkenness. When I'm in that state, I could get hit by a car and just shrug it off. I'm just beyond the point of giving half a shit. For the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier, that point has long since passed. This story had such bold potential. Charles Xavier married Mystique for crying out loud. How the fuck does that become a total afterthought? It's at a point where if I were drinking, Jack Daniels himself would cut me off.

Does anyone else remember that this arc started when Original Sin was still going on? Does anyone else remember that it started when Wolverine was still alive? No? Those people that don't remember need to email me. I want to know who sells them their weed and how I can get some by the end of today. This is a story that has gone on way too fucking long, so much so that it completely clashes with what the solicits say. The cover of Uncanny X-men #31 teases it as being the aftermath of AXIS. But this shit is still stuck in last summer's big event. And personally, I'd much rather read a story about an inverted Havok joining Cyclops' team than Matthew fucking Malloy.

But I digress. Uncanny X-men #31 is supposed to finally give the payoff that it hasn't been able to give since last summer. It's already completely forgotten the whole Xavier marrying Mystique shit. It's tried to throw in some, "Oh fuck!" moments by having Matthew Malloy kill Cyclops, Magik, and Emma Frost while bringing Charles Xavier back from the past. But seeing as how we already know they don't stay dead, nobody's assholes are going to be getting any tighter. But still, I'm going to give Uncanny X-men #31 a chance. It's just going to be hard when the point of me giving a fuck passed back when the Cleveland Browns still had playoff hopes.

If there's any chance that anyone can unfuck this cluster of WTFs, it's Charles Xavier. He's the one that fucked it up in the first place with Matthew Malloy. Now, thanks to Tempus, he's in the future where he hopes to fix this before SHIELD loses any more overpriced helicarriers. The reaction of the Stepford Cuckoos and the rest of the New Xavier School students is nice. They react to the same way most teenagers would react to meeting Taylor Swift. So long as they don't date him or become his prized student, they should get something out of it. They would be the only ones at this point.


The New Xavier School students swoon just long enough for an emergency recording from Cyclops to activate. Being the kind of guy who probably has a battle plan for brushes his teeth, he also has a plan on the exceedingly likely chance that he or Emma or Magik die unexpectedly. While I'm sure he thought he would die at the hands of another angry clone of Jean Grey or a Phoenix-powered Hank McCoy, he does take steps to make sure his students know what to do. He basically tells them to get the fuck in the X-jet and get to the Jean Grey Institute where they'll be safe.

For the young mutants at the New Xavier School who only recently learned how to fight killer robots, it's one too many "Oh fuck!" moments. To his credit, Cyclops doesn't ask that his students avenge him or throw themselves into the front line to destroy whatever robot or evil clone that killed him. He does try to protect his students. The Hank McCoys of the world would probably roll their eyes at that shit, but it does show that he still has a plan. Charles Xavier just has to figure out a way to make this plan feel like terrifying to a bunch of young mutants.


The problem with Cyclops' backup plan is that he assumed the army of Jean Grey clones or killer robots would be too busy dancing on his corpse to attack the Jean Grey Institute. Well, it seems Matthew Malloy just isn't content enough fucking up Xavier's last will and testament or distracting the X-men from the fact that Charles Xavier married Mystique. Does anyone else even remember when that was the most interesting part of this story? Or was I just really fucking high to the point where I imagined that? I don't know. Like I said, I'm beyond the point of giving a shit and so are the X-men.

As soon as the Jean Grey Institute staff sees Matthew Malloy, their first instinct isn't to wrap him up in warm blankets and give him a cup of hot cocoa. While I'm sure Hank McCoy and Iceman want to dry hump him for killing Cyclops, they're a bit more concerned with the possibility that he'll kill more of them. So even though Matthew Malloy is losing his fucking mind and whining like a kid at the dentist office, they decide the best way to deal with him is to fight him. And they don't even have a helicarrier to attack with. In terms of reactions, this is right up there with making Mel Gibson the next Pope in terms of stupidity.


The result is every bit as fucked as has come to be expected at this point. Matthew Malloy still can't control it. Everything Charles Xavier did to help him was as productive as Johnny Manziel's rookie season. Matthew ends up killing the entire Jean Grey Institute staff and whining like a bitch the whole time. It's one of those moments that, under different circumstances, would rank about a 9.0 in the "Holy shit!" scale. But given how long this story has dragged, it has no impact. Even with all this gruesome death and obscene destruction, it has the same impact as another shitty Transformer movie.

This is by far the biggest weakness of the story. It began as a tie-in with Original Sin. It promised so many deep, dark revelations. To some extend, it did that. But it dragged it out so fucking long that it has completely lost its ability to generate enough fucks to be given. It has the same effect on me that it would a coma patient. It just falls that fucking flat. So all the X-men are dead, Charles Xavier failed, and the world of mutants is fucked. It should be tragic, but it's really no more annoying than a paper cut at this point.


So how the fuck does something like this get fixed? Sadly, there are only bullshit options at this point. First, Professor Xavier wanted to travel to the Jean Grey Institute with Tempus to confront Matthew. But for some reason, that whole trip got skipped and Professor Xavier went straight for the "Fuck this!" solution. And the most fucked up part about that is it's probably the most viable solution at this point. If the entire X-men die trying to confront Matthew Malloy, then he has a better chance winning an arm-wrestling contest with the Hulk on a coke binge.

So in a painfully choppy shift, Professor Xavier travels back in time with Tempus to catch up with Matthew Malloy's future parents. That's right. He's now taking a page out of Back to the Future, minus the incest. Instead of trying to fix the shit storm that he kicked up, he's just going to make it so Matthew's parents never met and he was never born. It's the kind of cheating that even Bill Belichick would find excessive. But at this point, cheating is warranted if it means ending this shit.

But beyond the cheating, this reveals something even more distressing. It shows that if there is a mutant that can't control their powers, then this is how Charles Xavier is willing to deal with them. It shows that he is every bit the hypocrite Cyclops said he was earlier. The whole "Nobody is beyond help" philosophy might as well be as legitimate as a lung cancer study funded by tobacco companies. He basically just spat in the face of his own philosophy. Granted, he did it in the least painful way possible. He didn't torture Matthew's parents. He just tweaked their thoughts so they wouldn't meet. It's not the same as giving Matthew's father a few kicks in the balls, but it's still bullshit on principle.

What makes this premise even shittier is that it basically concedes that there are mutants too dangerous to help. Matthew Malloy, despite begging for help, couldn't be saved. This means that the William Strykers of the world are right on some levels. There are mutants out there too dangerous to deal with. So how the fuck can Charles Xavier justify peace and understanding with that possibility? He can't. So he's not just spitting in the face of his own philosophy. He's spitting in the face of the entire concept of X-men.


After confirming that Matthew Malloy was never born, Tempus takes Professor Xavier back to his own time. So I guess he really only showed up in the future just long enough to find out how fucked they were. Then he goes right back because...actually, I'm not even going to try and make sense of this shit. There's only so much weed I can smoke before my ability to make sense of this shit hits a wall. So I'll stop trying.

This poorly organized narrative uses a bit more cheating. Professor Xavier apparently has the power to telepathically make himself forget about this shit. Because why not? He's clearly stopped playing by his own rules at this point. He still manages to have a nice chat with Tempus, who says he didn't completely fuck everything up. Even if he is a hypocrite, the X-men achieved a lot because of him. They skip over the way shit went wrong with Cyclops. Tempus just says he alone is responsible. Never mind that Tony Stark put a fucking cosmic power in him. That shit's just a technicality. It's way too rushed and way too simplistic. Xavier then warns Tempus about the way she's using her powers. But at this point, he's pretty much pissed away what's left of his credibility when it comes to giving powerful mutants a morality lecture.

Still, he got to marry Mystique. I can't help but respect any man who manages to accomplish that. I know that plot was forgotten about quicker than the last Tyler Perry movie, but that still gives Charles Xavier some street cred in my opinion.


So how does this unfuck the future? Well, it goes back to the moment where the X-men gather around to read Professor Xavier's will with She-Hulk. Apparently, Xavier removed the part about him marrying Mystique. Instead, he just said the institute and all the money to fund it now belongs to Cyclops. That's right, the student who ended up killing him while drunk on cosmic power now owns the Jean Grey Institute. It has the impact of a sucker-punch from a butterfly. But after all this bullshit with Mathew Malloy, that's probably a good thing.


However, there is something meaningful that still comes out of this. Tempus, who is now the only one who knows how shitty everything got, pays Cyclops a visit to tell him just how badly he fucked up. He's probably confused because he's probably not used to one of his students giving him shit like this, especially in a sexy Australian accent. But she basically tells him to get his shit together because she'll be watching him. And if he fucks up the way he did with Matthew Malloy, she'll go back in time and make sure his parents never meet or castrate his father, whichever comes first.

Cyclops is understandably confused and pissed. He kicks her out of the New Xavier School on the spot, but this actually makes for one of the most meaningful moments in the story. Tempus says she's basically just doing what he taught her. She's now a graduate of the Cyclops method of getting shit done, which sometimes involves pissing people off. It's wonderfully ironic, her turning Cyclops' own tactics against him. It's probably the most fitting way for Tempus to make her mark on the X-men. It also gives Cyclops a whole new set of motivations to not fuck up. And to think, Tempus had a crush on Cyclops at one point in this series. Something about that just seems right.


After this little pep talk from Tempus, Cyclops makes a fateful decision that might end up being the most appropriate under the circumstances. He signs the Institute over to Storm. And in exchange, he also asks that she take in all the students from his school. It's right up there with trading a cheeseburger for a blowjob in terms of unequal exchanges. But it does finally give the story some level of impact. After what Tempus just told him, Cyclops decides that his students are better off at the Jean Grey Institute. He even tells all the X-men who now hate his guts that he still loves them. He never has to call Charles Xavier the hypocrite he is. Even though it's a solution that required some really egregious cheating, it's a solution that works. Bill Belichick would approve.


The end of this arc gave me the same feeling that I imagine Elton John gets whenever he visits the Playboy Mansion. I really felt nothing. I didn't feel like bashing my head against the wall like a Seahawks fans at the end of the last Super Bowl. I didn't feel like Homer Simpson swimming in a pool of beer either. I'm just glad this story is over. Even though it ended in a way akin to using cheat codes in Skyrim, it really didn't upset me. When my ability to give a shit ended several hangovers ago, my emotional range is exceedingly limited.

That's not to say that there wasn't something of merit that came of all this. The fitting bit of irony at the end with Tempus taking Cyclops' lessons a bit too much to heart had the right impact. So the story itself has merit in terms of what it does for the characters. It just took way too fucking long and fell way the fuck off the rails along the way. Between dropping the whole Xavier marrying Mystique and taking place before Wolverine's death, this whole story was like shooting craps with loaded dice. The impact was always going to be limited, but it still did just enough. It's just not going to get anyone too happy, upset, or horny.

I give Uncanny X-men #31 a 5 out of 10. It's basically the Switzerland of comics, minus the watches and chocolate. Something did eventually come out of it. But like a constipated whale that accidentally swallowed a pickup truck, it wasn't nearly enough. Nuff said!

16 comments:

  1. So the whole mystique story is retconned? Does that mean the future Xmen are gone too?

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    1. Probably going to be some alternate future. We can just say the future X-men are in their own universe. Secret Wars is approaching so it's an "anything goes" situation.

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  2. I guess Mystique found out about Mathew and made arrangements where Xavier's telepathy wouldn't solve the problem.

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  3. This was possibly the worst ending Bendis has pulled. So, Xavier knew the exact date/hour/minute/second that Matthew Malloy's parents met? What a shitty ending. I think someone over at Marvel has given Bendis to long a leash with time travel. I'm kind of glad Bendis is leaving X-men. His stories always fall short in the end.

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  4. "While I'm sure Hank McCoy and Iceman want to dry hump him for killing Cyclops ..."

    You know a story has been dragged out for too long when you can't remember who killed Scott Summers. =P

    I've been looking forward to your review all day, knowing Bendis was going to let us down. There are maybe one or two good moments here from Eva and Cyke at the end, but the rest of this arc was a bloated trollfest on Bendis's part.

    The Mystique angle amounted to nothing, the exploration of Cyclops's ambitions/philosophy was discarded and Beast's progress into seeing into Scott's point of view was lost.

    Utterly pointless arc. All it managed to do was develop Eva Bell, who -- while a character I quite like -- is now obscenely overpowered from a storytelling perspective in much the same way Matthew Malloy was (seeing as Eva effectively took Malloy of all people out, that really says it all), and end the X-Men's Schism in a terribly underwhelming fashion.

    The story never even delivered on the remaining revelation that was supposed to be waiting in Xavier's will once the Malloy caveat was addressed (as promised at the end of issue #25). Hell, within this very issue, the set-up of Xavier going to the Jean Grey School was abandoned without explanation, creating for some very awkward pacing.

    It's obvious from the utterly disconnected cover of this issue, as well as the repeatedly unfounded solicitations, that this story went through some significant changes between conception and publication. Issue #29 had been billed as the conclusion to this arc ("Everything over the last several months has been building to this—a turning point for the X-Men") while issues #30-31 were billed as dealing with the fallout of "AXIS."

    So, yes, changes, and not for the better, I think -- unless what was there before somehow sucked even harder. Maybe this will at least blesedly be the end of all the time travel malarkey Bendis has been doing.

    By the way, Jack, it's the Jean Grey School, not "institute." =P

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  5. Yesssssssssssssssss, It is true that I am dissapointed because I like Cyclops fight but It is also true that this story has changed like Bendis said, it is obvious and changes are bad. It is confusing and there are a lot of things ended in a bad way.

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  6. That's all that happened? I expected more from Xavier's appearance.

    But I liked the way Tempus talked down Cyclops. That was great to see.

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  7. Call me childish, but this is exactly what I was expecting from the moment I began reading uncanny xmen: to see cyclops being pawned humilliated and defeated and to see his mutant revolution end. As bonus we got a newly stablished and solid character on Eva Bell. No doubt she'll become a key figure on Marvel comics in the future.
    A former hero, turned into villain, falls...
    A new overpowered cool and cute heroine rises...

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  8. Just so I'm clear on how this abortion of a story ended -- Scott Summers was the only person in the world who even tried to help Matt Malloy.. And then he was murdered in cold blood by SHIELD which caused the kid to have a further meltdown. And then Xavier went back in time and pre-aborted the kid he failed utterly to save. And everyone forgot about it except Tempus. Who inexplicably blames Scott and threatens to murder him if he "steps out of line" which presumably means trying to live up to Xavier's dream instead of Xavier's douchey hypocritical reality.

    Fuck you Brian Michael Bendis. I'm glad Xavier is dead and I hope he's burning in Marvel's Hell, presumably along with Spiderman's marriage.

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    1. To hell with story! No matter how much you cry pal. Cyclops getting exactly what he deserved for murdering Xavier was great. And to see him being pawned by a young girl (who to make it worse uses to love him) makes it apotheosic. Its pone of my favourite comic booka momento of all time!

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    2. "To hell with story!" pretty much sums up both Bendis and Marvel. And why would I cry over a shitty comic by a past-his-prime hack who writes to appeal to cretins who think "apotheosic" is a word? The vast majority of X-Men stand revealed as incompetent amoral hypocrites. Hopefully, Cyclops can be retconned into being an Inhuman and wash his hands of those losers for good.

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    3. Cyclops didn't "murder" Xavier. Enough with that nonsense. The bald moron psychically attacked a guy whom he knew to be mentally unstable due to being hocked up on Phoenix mojo. Physically attacked him FIRST, and Scott retaliated. What did Xavier think was going to happen exactly? A more accurate term for it would be self-defense, regardless of what drivel Marvel keeps trying to cram down our throats.

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  10. So this is Cyclop's fault? Excuse me, but how is ANY of what happened with Malloy his fault? He got this mess dumped into his lap unexpectedly by the bald moron, and tried his best to handle it. Was it perfect, no. But overall his actions made sense and at least he was TRYING! Then SHIELD comes in and royally ***** things up, leading to Eva and Xavier making a decision that was, at the very least, morally dubious. And yet this is somehow SCOTT'S FAULT, bullshit. I like Eva as a character overall, but boy did Bendis write her HORRIBLY in that last scene. It's obvious that Marvel is so obsessed with this "everyone hates Scott" nonsense that they'll run with it regardless of whether it makes sense in context or not.

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  11. boo Tempus, show the other xmen too such as Hijack and Morph

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