Monday, March 2, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #17


If the success of NASCAR has taught us anything, it should be that a good race will appeal to any demographic, no matter how drunk or white trash. When there’s something worth racing for, there’s an event worth watching. But the X-men deal with prizes that are way more valuable than a bottle of victory champagne, a shiny trophy, or even a kick-ass car that goes 250 miles-per-hour. That shit is all nice and goes well with any contest. But when the prize is becoming the unstoppable Juggernaut, beer and chicken wings just aren’t enough to cover the spectacle.

And it has been a hell of a spectacle so far in Amazing X-men. I won’t say it’s worthy of a pay-per-view fight between two naked porn stars over a dildo, but it’s getting very close. Cyttorak has been itching for a new avatar and he’s sent out notices to every power-hungry wannabe he can, including Cain Marko. I guess Cyttorak has a soft spot for nostalgia. He’s created a pretty fucked up race to get the gem and be the one to wear the goofy fish bowl helmet. The X-men are trying to end that race on a technicality at the very least and they’re doing it after sidelining Colossus. There’s a lot at stake. There has been plenty of action and a touch of drama. But like any good sporting event that’s worth watching while drunk, there has to be a winner. Amazing X-men #17 finally reveals the winner and the only cheering at this point is Cyttorak.

The X-men had to fought long and hard to stop a crop of prospective sociopaths looking to exercise their sociopathic tendencies from getting the gem. They weren’t exactly running up the score like a mismatched college football game. Then Cain Marko, the Coca Cola classic of Juggernauts, showed up to throw his hat in the ring, courtesy of Vanisher. He might not be as unstoppable as he once was, but he’s still capable of making the X-men’s job more difficult. Even without the power of Cytorrak, he shows he’s capable of kicking ass and looking a lot less goofy without the helmet.

At first, it looks like he’s going to help the X-men. It probably would’ve been more likely for PETA to sponsor a hot dog eating contest. Sure, he was able to take out a few would-be Juggernauts trying to get their hands on the gem of Cyttorak. Then he turned on the X-men, showing that he’s been Skyping with Hank McCoy because he claims they murdered Xavier. And yes, it’s the same Xavier he’s tried to murder on multiple occasions. I honestly want roll my eyes, but Hank McCoy has numbed me to this bullshit. It’s not like Xavier died yesterday. Cain Marko is just picking a really bad time to make this an issue. I guess being unstoppable doesn’t make someone proactive.


Cain Marko does complicate the battle, but it still has plenty of other ongoing complications. There are still other wannabe Juggernauts and a few Cyttorak-powered monsters looking to make the X-men miserable. They’re doing an okay job, but then Storm reminds them that she tends to get pissed when she’s miserable. And when she gets pissed, lightning tends to find vulnerable asses. She shows that the smart people know when to get the fuck out of her way. But one in particular isn’t quite that smart and decides to keep annoying her. He’s wearing a cloak so we don’t know who he is, but he’s someone who does make his presence known for a reason. Storm just make sure it hurts.


Storm isn’t the only one dealing with prospective Juggernauts not named Cain Marko. Firestar isn’t quite as badass as Storm, but she’s a pretty redhead who can burn her enemies to a crisp in a non-Jean Grey sort of way. That counts for something. What doesn’t count is her actually trying to reason with one of the prospective Juggernauts. She actually tries to convince him to walk away first, using reason and appealing to logic. That shit doesn’t even work on a message board. Did she really expect it to work against a sociopath?

Okay, so Firestar is not as efficient or competent as Storm. But she still has plenty of firepower and she’s able to use it against this asshole who won’t listen to reason. It just feels as though she could’ve skipped a couple steps so she could help her friends against Cain Marko. But I guess that would’ve made too much sense.


It’s during this fight that made too little sense that another complication enters the battle, but one that doesn’t involve poor reasoning skills. Before this battle began, Storm made it a point to sideline Colossus. She said outright that she didn’t trust him. Not only was he a former avatar for Juggernaut, he was also a member of the Phoenix Five who never really paid or apologized for what he did. He just waltzed back into the Jean Grey Institute and they accepted him.

While it was way overdue for him to face some shit for his role as Juggernaut, Colossus didn’t like being sidelined for this mission. He listened at first, but he had to know on some levels that a super-strong guy like him can’t stay away from a battle that involves Juggernaut. So he convinced Pixie to teleport him to the temple. And he shows up just in time to lend Firestar a hand. He also does it without appealing to reason. He just lets the guy get in one measly punch while Pixie sends him to some hostile hellish landscape, most likely downtown Detroit. It effectively takes one complication out of the equation, but Colossus’ presence adds another and is sure to piss off Storm. And as she’s already shown, she’s dangerous when she’s pissed off.


The crop of prospective Juggernauts is getting thinner, but Cain Marko is still the front-runner. The problem is even he goes about it in a laughably inefficient way. He goes out of his way to yell at the X-men for murdering Charles Xavier and again, the Jean Grey Institute staff admit that Cyclops did it in cold blood. They conveniently leave out the part where he was drunk on Phoenix Force. They also leave out the part where the Avengers and Charles Xavier were actively attacking him. It’s not like he killed him in his sleep or something. I guess these guys have been talking to Hank McCoy too much as well.

It’s another one of those aftermaths that’s way too fucking overdue. Like Storm calling Colossus out for his role in Avengers vs. X-men, Cain Marko took his sweet fucking time getting upset about this. Yet he chooses now of all times to take it out on someone? And he takes it out on those who actually tried to save Xavier? It really fucks with the flow of the battle.


But it doesn’t stay fucked up for long. Thanks to Rockslide, he’s able to shut Cain Marko up by crashing one of Cyttorak’s monsters into temple. It’s almost as effective as playing a One Direction song really loud over a stereo. It still comes a bit too late. At the very least, Rockslide helps lighten the mood. I think he knows as well as every X-men fan at this point that whining about who killed Charles Xavier is fucking old.


The problem is that crashing a monster into the temple isn’t enough to keep Cain Marko from the gem of Cyttorak. And the strange guy in the robe that Storm has been battling isn’t being slowed down either. He even drops a hint on who he is and that’s enough to change Storm’s mood from being pissed off to being in need of more lightning. It gets a little choppy, but it effectively sets up the final lap for the race to become the new Juggernaut.

This is where Colossus starts to contribute. Maybe this can count as his way of apologizing for being a member of the Phoenix Force and helping Cyclops commit the egregious crime of using cosmic power to create a global utopia. Because for some reason, his atonement must be that big. He takes on Cain Marko in what is probably the most visceral fight in the story to date. These are the two most notable Juggernauts going at it, trying to beat each other into submission. Cain Marko wants to wield its power. Colossus wants to destroy it. This is the kind of fight that has all the right meaning and emotions. It’s like the first Die Hard movie, minus Alan Rickman’s slick accent.


As awesome as the fight between Colossus and Cain Marko is, neither of them ends up getting what they want. Remember that guy Storm was fighting? Well he decides he’d rather work smart and not hard, something I’m sure Cyttorak appreciates immensely. So while the competition is busy beating the shit out of each other, he manages to take the gem. It’s a dick move, but I wouldn’t call it cheating. Even the NFL wouldn’t fine him for this. He just took advantage of his enemies’ oversights. That’s not cheating. Hell, that’s how investment banks get rich.


As this mysterious stranger is transforming into the new Juggernaut, Pixie coordinates with the rest of the X-men to get them the fuck out of the temple. They now understand that the race is over. They don’t stop to ask Pixie why the fuck she got caught up in this or why Colossus thought it was a good idea to undermine Storm’s direct order. I’m sure those questions are on their minds, but they really don’t have the time to make a big deal of it. When they’re in a collapsing temple, they just don’t have time for details. Just ask Indiana Jones.


Once they get outside, they find out along with Colossus, Storm, and Cain Marko who the new Juggernaut is. It’s hard to really say there’s a worst possible wielder when most of them end up with permanent rage boners anyways. But I think Ahmet Abool, the Living Monolith, definitely qualifies as the top five asshole that nobody wants to become Juggernaut. He doesn’t just look goofy as hell with that big dome on his head. He’s a giant fucking statue who was unstoppable to begin with. I think at this point, it’s okay for both Cain Marko and the X-men to honor Charles Xavier’s memory by fighting the urge to shit themselves.


I guess it’s safe to say the race is over and the victory party can begin, at least for the Living Monolith. I guess his idea of a party is the same as Godzilla’s. Him gaining the power of Juggernaut would be like giving the New England Patriots the defense of the 1985 Chicago Bears. It’s overkill to an extreme, but it’s an awesome extreme. Even Cain Marko has to admit that this is a shitty outcome and Cytorrak is a real asshole. But it still makes for a fun, action-packed story. It sets up what’s sure to be a victory party that’s as destructive as a Led Zepplin concert.

As eventful as it was, there was less drama this time. That’s understandable given the context of the story, but there wasn’t a whole lot of impact to Colossus showing up. Even after Storm made it clear that she didn’t trust him to not fuck shit up, he showed up and everybody just shrugged it off. There was still some drama, but it felt a bit too forced with Marko going all Hank McCoy about the death of Charles Xavier. Overall, there isn’t much complexity to this story. There really can’t be in a story that involves a fight against Juggernauts and living monoliths. That’s what makes it work. I give Amazing X-men #17 an 7 out of 10. So now a big fucking statue has the power of Juggernaut. If it weren’t such a blatant rip-off of Ghostbusters 2, it might actually be terrifying. Nuff said!

4 comments:

  1. The Living Monolith, a z-list villain last seen over 15 years ago as a minor part of The Twelve storyline. And Marvel trets it like a shocking twist. Maybe Paste Pot Pete will show up next.

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