Monday, March 30, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #18
There are certain people who should never be given a certain kind of power. We all learned that the hard way through two terms of George W. Bush’s presidency. It’s not always an issue of power corrupting. It’s just an issue of bad combinations. Nitro on its own is fine. Glycerin on its own as fine. But when put together, shit can get pretty volatile. In that context, the power of Juggernaut is like weapons grade plutonium. There aren’t a whole lot of people who can or should ever have that kind of power. But some are less qualified than others.
Cain Marko was already horribly under-qualified during his stint as Juggernaut. So now that the power of Juggernaut is up for grabs again, the bar is set pretty damn low. That didn’t stop Cyttorak from trying to lower it even more when it called out to an army of known sociopaths to gorge on it. The X-men did their best to stop them, but in the end the Living Monolith was the lucky winner. As bad as Cain Marko was, making him the Juggernaut is like giving the Hulk nuclear weapons. It’s fucking overkill. But overkill can still be pretty damn awesome. Amazing X-men #18 is in a position to reinforce that while settling who gets to wear the goofy helmet. I guess all the unstoppable power in the world can’t overcome awful fashion tastes.
I won’t say the Living Monolith’s look as Juggernaut counts as an improvement, but it’s still pretty fucking terrifying. An average-sized Juggernaut was bad enough. A giant sized, Attack on Titan sized Juggernaut is overkill in a way that even Donald Trump would find excessive. He’s not just big. He’s armed with the unstoppable bloodlust of Cyttorak. He’s now powerful enough to tear the world a new asshole and make it constipated. It truly is a pants-shitting level of unstoppable, as it should be for any story involving Juggernaut.
The X-men are understandably shell-shocked. They entered this fight with the intention of preventing shit like this. Instead, they failed to stop the absolute worst case scenario that didn’t involve giving Blob a sponge bath. It’s as epic a failure the X-men have ever had without one of them being senselessly killed off. So how do they deal with it? How can they possible confront such an unstoppable threat? They’re not just going to sit down over a camp fire and try to talk it out, right?
Well shave my balls, put makeup on my dick, and cast me in the next Pixar movie because that’s exactly what they do. Seriously, Storm decides to just sit down and lament. And it’s not over the fact they now have an overpowered Juggernaut to deal with. She laments about being in such a shitty mood lately. Ignoring for a moment that her lover just died, this is not a good time to dwell on shit like this. I was expecting someone to pick her up, but the rest of the X-men end up joining her. They even share fond memories of that special time when Storm shared Emma Frost’s fondness for nudity.
Look, I enjoy memories of a naked Storm as much as the next guy, but this is too much WTF for a crisis. I get that the X-men are overwhelmed by the threat of a Living Monolith Juggernaut. But this just really derails the plot. To be fair, Rockslide and Cain Marko point that out. It doesn’t make the volume of WTFs involved any less egregious.
Firestar actually starts a campfire while the Living Monolith is soaking in his new power and preparing to wipe his ass with the entire world. They just shrug it off while they review other overwhelming threats that they had to overcome. They all agree that none has been more powerful or sucked more ass than this. Sure, they’ve fought giant robots, but none of those robots had the power of the fucking Juggernaut.
They do eventually start spit-balling ideas, still managing to ignore the big ass Juggernaut just over the horizon. It makes me wonder why the fuck the Living Monolith doesn’t try to step on them like bugs. It’s like they’re daring him to come up with a way to stop him. Even with unstoppable power, that’s a dumb move. It’s not too dumb in the sense most of their ideas suck. However, it does give them a chance to address some of the personal issues that emerged at the beginning of the story. Storm was pretty harsh with Colossus in saying he should sit this one out. He disobeyed her, but she’s not in a mood to bust his balls. She ends up apologizing, but not before noting that he also had a nasty tendency to sacrifice himself when shit like the Juggernaut is involved. And after Wolverine’s death, they don’t need to deal with that shit again.
They keep on talking, going through more fucked up ideas like calling in Magik or asking the Scarlet Witch to help. Because it’s not like the Scarlet Witch hasn’t royally fucked up the Marvel universe on two separate occasions or something. I have to imagine at this point that the Living Monolith must be twiddling his thumbs or taking a piss because eventually, they do come up with a viable idea. And it doesn’t involve inversions, genocide, or getting seduced by Dr. Doom.
Colossus actually gets a little existential on Juggernaut, questioning his and Cyttorak’s motivations. He starts to sound like one of those hippie protesters that whine about rampant consumerism while waiting six hours in line to get a new iPhone, but he does make a valid point. Cyttorak gives power to Juggernaut because he wants destruction and chaos. But to what end? Has anyone even bothered to ask this question? Has Cytorrak ever asked himself this question? I know it sounds like I just had a few extra shrooms, but it’s not a bad question to ask.
It actually makes the idea of sitting around a camp fire and thinking about this shit have merit. It takes away some of the WTFs in that it produces something that’s genuinely worthwhile. They all agree that the key to stopping Juggernaut is to get Cytorrak to reassess his goals. They’re basically going to try and be a guidance counselor to a rebellious teenager. That’s only slightly less daunting than taking on the Living Monolith.
The X-men then finally get up off their asses and start doing something about this. While Colossus agrees to confront Cytorrak, most of the X-men decide to battle the Living Monolith. They figure he’s done twiddling his thumbs and is ready to start crushing shit. The battle is on a fairly epic scale and it’s got plenty of firepower with Storm, Nightcrawler, Iceman, Firestar, Northstar, and Rockslide. It’s still horribly one-sided though. They know they’re not going to stop a Juggernaut-powered Living Monolith. They just need to keep him occupied and not get killed. It’s still a basic tactic for the X-men in a Juggernaut fight, but it’s a classic for a reason.
While the X-men Living Monolith are now finally doing something meaningful, Colossus gets help from Rachel Grey and Pixie to call upon Cyttorak. He’s not exactly happy to see his former champion. He seems perfectly happy to have a new champion that happens to be the size of a skyscraper. Hell, I’m surprised he doesn’t have a full-on rage boner. But then Colossus starts asking him the same existential questions he asked his team earlier. Cain Marko is even there with him. Like a Jehovah’s Witness trying to convince a teenage boy to stop looking at internet porn, he tries to get Cyttorak to think about his next failed champion. It’s not entirely wrong, given his perfectly imperfect track record. And unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses, he doesn’t just slam the door in his face or turn the garden hose on him. So I guess the question resonates.
This might be the perfect opportunity to set Cyttorak down on the couch and help him have a nice Dr. Phil moment that he can later tell Oprah. Then Colossus gets a little too bold and offers a different challenge. He dares Cyttorak to give him more power than he’s ever given any one of his champions before. He then says he won’t use that power to cause chaos and destruction. He’ll use it to kill Cyttorak. First, let me just say that the universe isn’t big enough to contain Colossus’ balls anymore. Let’s get that out of the way. Second, this is either the craziest dare made since A Christmas Story or the smartest.
Cyttorak must be either crazy or dumb because he accepts Colossus’ challenge. It’s actually a pretty amazing moment. The X-men aren’t just out to fight Juggernaut this time. They’re out to stop him at the source. They’re not fighting the symptoms anymore. They’re fighting the disease. It is a change to the classic formula that past Juggernaut battles have followed, but it’s a meaningful change. It took a while to get to it, but it’s starting to feel like it really has worth to it.
It succeeds in one key part. It removes the power of Juggernaut from the Living Monolith. That’s one huge problem solved. It’s a visceral, powerful moment that involves the Living Monolith getting knocked flat on his ass. Even though he didn’t get a chance to do a whole lot of damage as Juggernaut, it’s still pretty damn satisfying. If only he hadn’t been twiddling his thumbs while the X-men contemplated a way to screw him over, his defeat might have more impact. But he was already a douche before he became Juggernaut. Kicking his ass at any stage is still satisfying.
The only problem is that Cyttorak decided to take a page out of Darth Vader’s playbook and change the deal. Instead of giving this power to Colossus, he decided that he didn’t trust giving an X-man all that power. He must have read the original Phoenix Saga and knows it doesn’t end well. So instead, he gave Cain Marko the power he was going to give Colossus. Now Cain Marko has to be the one to destroy Cyttorak, if he still gives a shit at this point. Again, it’s both crazy and brilliant. Even if Cyttorak loses, Cain Marko is still unstoppable and the X-men are fucked. I’m guessing this means he can look forward to another massive rage boner.
Before this issue even began, it had a pretty epic foundation to build from. It was X-men versus Juggernaut. It’s right up there with Wolverine in a dick-measuring contest with Cyclops in terms of classic X-men themes. So far, the story has utilized a pretty basic yet pretty compelling method for carrying out this classic struggle. A new Juggernaut is about to emerge and the X-men try to stop it. But in this issue, the X-men dared to try a different approach. In a world where people riot over changes to the Coca Cola recipe, that can be dangerous. And I think what the X-men did here worked, at least in part.
I admit the idea of the X-men sitting around a camp fire and lamenting how fucked they are while a hulking Juggernaut rampages doesn’t appeal. It’s like watching Jerry Springer without any fights or strippers. It was one of those WTF moments akin to watching a couple of cops play Candy Crush on their phones while a gang war is going on. I understand that some cops won’t respond to anything that doesn’t involve giving out bullshit traffic tickets, but I hold the X-men to a higher standard. At least with this issue, they did get their shit together. And by finding another way, they actually made this classic struggle more intriguing. It took a while and it dragged like my dick on a hot summer day at a baseball game, but there was a solid payoff in the end. And it did offer a few revealing moments for certain characters. I give Amazing X-men #18 a 6 out of 10. I truly do wish that problems could be solved with a camp fire and a cooler full of beer. And I see the merits of taking a moment to think about dealing with a recurring problem. But like masturbation, there’s a time and a place for everything and it can get pretty damn awkward when people try it in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nuff said!