Wednesday, March 25, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #32
For some characters, it's a challenge to give them the benefit of the doubt. Some just don't have a good track record of not finding a way to fuck it up. But if ever a character deserved a mulligan or two on his fuck-ups, it's Cyclops. I know there are a vocal contingent of fans who hate his guts and everything he does. First they said he was boring. Then they said he was a total douche. They basically treat him like Michael Bay, always finding flaws in everything he does despite being an undeniable success. I tend to think these fans are in need of better weed. But come on, this is a guy who lost two wives, a son, and a father figure. Yet he still tries to lead the X-men as best he can, even when everybody hates his guts. How can anyone not respect that on some levels? The Hank McCoys of the world being the lone exception.
The Last Will of Charles Xavier brought out the worst in Cyclops. Sure, it got retconned in the end, but it showed just how capable he is of fucking up when the going gets tough. The problem is that nobody else is willing to offer an alternative so he still gets the blame, no matter what. Now he has Xavier's will and the shit storm caused by AXIS to deal with. So he's already half-screwed before he does anything at this point. But Uncanny X-men #32 is a chance for him to show that he can still be the leader the X-men need him to be, even if it makes the Icemans and Beasts of the world violently ill. Whether he'll fuck that up too remains to be seen.
At the very least, Cyclops can at least say that his own brother isn't in the same camp as Iceman and Beast. One of the many consequences of AXIS that nobody has bothered to address since it ended was that Havok stayed inverted. He didn't go back to being the guy who shined Captain America's boots and lectured people about the politically correct way to use the word "mutant." If we all wanted that, we'd listen to Al Sharpton. Instead, his inversion led him to joining his renegade brother's mutant revolution. It's the kind of brotherly love that we haven't seen from Cyclops and Havok since Brett Favre was still flip-flopping over his retirement. But it's a little too late.
While Havok reuniting with Cyclops does help give a big middle finger to the Avengers and their bullshit unity team, it also happens to come at a time when the shit storm caused by the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier is still settling down. It makes no fucking sense from a chronological and logistical point. First, they were dealing with Charles Xavier's will. Then they were dealing with the Scarlet Witch's inversion spell. Now maybe there was some time between Havok leaving the Uncanny Avengers and him joining Cyclops that would make this slightly less contrived. But nobody likes making assumptions in a world where marriages and family ties can be retconned so it still feels forced. Even so, it's still a meaningful moment in that it re-establishes a connection between Cyclops and Havok.
That heart-warming moment doesn't really last because it happens to come on the same day Cyclops basically shut down the New Xavier School. Just a few hours before Havok arrived to admit that the Avengers are assholes, Cyclops gathered his students and told them about his decision. He calmly and kindly explained to them that he's going to help transfer them to the Jean Grey Institute where they can get the training and education they need. He even assures them they'll be safe there. He probably even mentioned Storm is there to protect them. How the fuck could that not appeal to them?
It sounds so reasonable and sincere. Naturally, they all tell Cyclops to go fuck himself. As with most teenagers who receive reasonable and sincere advice from an adult, they get fucking pissed. Now most of their reactions make no fucking sense. They bitch and moan about how they left their homes to fight alongside him. Sure, they never mention the part where Cyclops never forced them to join, but they're teenagers. That would be too reasonable. But they still have a legitimate reason for being pissed. They agreed to follow this man. They supported him even when he fucked up. Now he's telling them they have to go to another school. And for teenagers, being sincere and having a damn good reason just isn't enough. It's like arguing with a vindictive ex-girlfriend. Reason and sincerity just won't cut it.
Cyclops' inverted brother ends up being much more understanding. And seriously, that should say a lot about the teenage characters in this series. Havok, after sleeping off the effects of being horribly scarred and inverted during AXIS, wakes up to find that Cyclops is planning on turning himself in. He's going to take the blame for the death of Charles Xavier. Sure, the Scarlet Witch isn't going to take the blame for M-Day and Wolverine never took the blame for killing his son. But that's a technicality that only those with overpaid lawyers can afford.
It makes for another nice moment between brothers. It's also a complete reversal for Havok. At the beginning of Uncanny Avengers, he and Hank McCoy were joined at the hip in the "We blame Cyclops!" fan club. Now he's telling his brother that it was an accident. He was not fully responsible. Maybe this can be attributed to the inversion, but even Mitt Romney would be taken aback by this kind of flip-flopping. It still makes for a very nice moment where the two brothers reconnect. It also is a nice moment of humility for Cyclops. And after the shit he did during the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier, he fucking needed it. I won't say he completely balances out, but he comes pretty damn close.
Even so, the students of the New Xavier School don't give a shit. Goldballs even expresses his discontent by knocking Cyclops out. It's only slightly less healthy than bitching and moaning on a message board, but it helps convey the sentiment of Cyclops' students. It's pretty intense, as it should be. Emma, Illyana, and Kitty Pryde even show up. They only slightly more reasonable. And Illyana and Kitty Pryde end up just leaving. I guess that's still healthier than the way Goldballs reacted, but it makes for a chaotic yet dramatic situation.
There's a lot of anger. They keep asking for an explanation, but they don't give Cyclops a chance to give it to them. They'd rather storm off and be pissed. I'd expect that from Hank McCoy a 13-year-old girl whose parents refused to buy them an iPhone, but not from X-men or mutant revolutionaries. In that sense, they'll probably fit right in at the Jean Grey Institute because I'm sure Hank McCoy will help nurture their irrational Cyclops hatred.
Eventually, Emma Frost confronts Cyclops privately and she does it fully clothed. That's how he knows she's serious. She yells at him too, but in a much more constructive way. That alone makes her the most reasonable ex-girlfriend in the history of the Marvel universe. She still reminds him how he begged her to join him even after they broke up and she barred him from ever seeing her naked again. She reminds him how she went along with him, even when she had so many reasons to strap him to a chair, shove a dildo in his mouth, and make him watch her bang Namor until the next full moon. It's a nice little refresher course on the emotional toll these two have taken on one another, but it has a meaningful point and she doesn't even have to flash her boobs to make it.
Emma finally gives him a chance to come clean and explain what he hoped to do with this mutant revolution, which is way more than any of his students gave him. And the answer Cyclops gives is both telling and pretty damn compelling. He lists all the ways that the X-men have tried to realize Charles Xavier's dream. They tried being heroes. They tried fighting alongside the Avengers. They tried starting their own country. They tried damn near everything. And he rightly points out that all that shit has failed.
He's not blowing pot smoke at a sick dog either. First there was Genosha. It became the site of mass genocide and later, it was the site of a Nazi concentration camp. Then, they tried Utopia because Norman Osborne was a massive prick. The Avengers ended up invading that shit and it all went downhill from there. All the while the X-men kept trying to work alongside humans and all it ever got them was a middle finger and a proverbial "fuck off." What else could they have done?
What Cyclops lays out feels like a natural, albeit desperate progression. He made his revolution out to be a threat to tell the world to knock this shit off. One genocide should've been enough, but mutants still keep getting all this crazy shit that leads cops to shoot innocent mutants for no reason, as Hijack found out recently. With Charles Xavier dead, it felt like the dream really was dead as well. And Cyclops' desperation really drove him this time. It wasn't out of anger or malice. It had a legitimate point. At this point, only the Hank McCoys of the world would still give him shit for it.
This explanation does seem to resonate with Emma Frost...for about five minutes or so. The Cyclops/Emma fans might want to look away and get some extra strong weed because this is where the emotions start to take a turn. First, she hints that maybe they should start over. Maybe she should take the lock off her panties so they could start fresh. Cyclops, showing more will power than any straight man in the history of any universe, says fuck no.
This leads to another powerful moment where Emma Frost reveals that, once again, she's been lying to him. She reveals her powers have been fixed and they've been fixed for a while now. It's not the first time she's lied to him. Even when they were together, Emma has had a nasty tendency to lie. She kept lying even after she promised to stop lying. Even if she has the best rack in all of comics, there's only so much lying a relationship can handle. But by revealing this latest lie, Emma breaks Cyclops down in a way that only an ex-girlfriend can. And she even manages to do it without making him feel like his balls have been sucked into a black hole. Somehow that makes her even sexier, although that should surprise no one at this point.
Once these lies are exposed, Emma reminds him that as bitter an ex-girlfriend as she is, she still admires him. She admires his thoughts and his desires. She probably admires his penis too, but she leaves that out because I'm sure it was implied. She reminds him of this because she shared a lot with him and not just her panties. That means Emma Frost probably knows better than anyone the kind of man Cyclops is capable of being. Now he's essentially punching that man in the dick and telling him to piss off. It's enough to make her wish her powers were still broken. It sends another powerful message that only Emma Frost could ever truly get across. She can make her point and look damn sexy doing it.
Emma tells Cyclops outright that he can't unmake the threats he made for his mutant revolution. And if he's going to back down from them, then he might as well shave his balls and get a tattoo of Hank McCoy's dick on his face. If he's not going to understand that, then she's not going to stay. She won't let herself live in an area where there's a chance he could plant a camera in her shower. It's probably the most brutally honest Emma Frost has ever been. And for the White Queen, that's saying something.
While her departure probably hurt Cyclops in a way for which his penis will never forgive him, Havok is ecstatic. This might be the inversion talking, but he's glad Emma Frost is gone. I'm sure he felt that dating the former White Queen was bad for his soul. Then again, he dated Magneto's daughter so he's not one to talk. Then in a very uninverted moment, he inspires Cyclops to do something more productive than turn himself over to the authorities. He urges him to do something that Charles Xavier and Wolverine would be proud of. At the very least, he should do something that'll make Iceman and Beast shut the fuck up. He doesn't say what it is, but it's clear that Cyclops is open to alternatives. In fact, this is probably the first alternative anybody has ever bothered to give him. And it's pretty fucking pathetic that it takes an inversion spell for someone to finally come up with something. Go figure.
This was one of those issues where everyone finally channeled their inner PMS. All these emotions and issues that had been either glossed over or set aside were finally laid out like Bill Clinton's secret porno stash. It was revealing, engaging, and even a little titillating. Or maybe that's just the blow talking. I can never tell. But after the chaotic shit storm caused by AXIS and the Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier, this issue finally stopped throwing more shit at the fan and moved the story of Cyclops' revolution forward in a meaningful way. Sure, no SHIELD helicarriers crashed and no Avengers were pwned, but it did succeed in making Havok likable again and that alone is a hell of an accomplishment.
That's not to say the whole flip-flopping on who killed Charles Xavier for what reason was any less annoying. At this point, that whole debate is like a used condom. Nobody wants to handle it anymore and nobody really should. And this whole inversion crap that's supposed to be affecting Havok really didn't come into play like it has with Sabretooth and Tony Stark. So now another detail is getting glossed over. It's not quite as egregious, but it still continues an annoying trend. There's still a lot to like about this issue and what it does for Cyclops' story. He's humbled himself in ways that were overdue. And it feels like he's finally ready to step up and make the Hank McCoys of the world eat a bucket of shit. That's why I give Uncanny X-men #32 a 7 out of 10. It's good and it'll give everyone who has an annoying little brother warm and fuzzy feelings inside. For those who once had hot blonde girlfriends, not so much. So I guess that Hugh Hefner is the only one who should stay away from this comic. Nuff said!