Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #33
What’s the difference between simple bad luck and a full-blown shit storm? It’s subtle, but only to the extent that certain kinds of Earthquakes are subtle. Bad luck is fleeting. Bad luck is some dip-shit at Starbucks putting too much cream in an espresso. It’s annoying, but it’s over as soon as someone spits that disgusting concoction out on the nearest barista. A shit-storm is a bit more elaborate. It leaves a stench the same way bathing in John Goodman’s septic tank leaves a stench. It lingers, it taints, and it stinks in ways that can induce seizures.
To say that the mess Cyclops left after dissolving the New Xavier School was a shit-storm would be the most polite way of putting it. He found a way to do it in a manner that pissed everyone off, including his ex-girlfriend. He just really dove head-first into it, leaving plenty of other characters with a noticeable stench. He’s got a lot to clean up and it’s not going to be solved with a simple bottle of Febreeze. So I’m sure a lot of X-men fans are curious about how he’s going to go about it. I admit I’m curious about that story as well. Well unfortunately, that’s not the story we get in Uncanny X-men #33. In fact, we don’t get jack shit in terms of progress regarding the closure of the New Xavier School. We only get a simple one-shot story involving Kitty Pryde and Magik. It’s as entertaining as it sounds, except for those hoping for lesbian porn.
It’s not completely random. While Cyclops was announcing to his students that the New Xavier School would be closing, Magik grabbed Kitty and teleported her away. She didn’t give a reason. She probably knew Kitty would make the kind of scene that even a demon child like her couldn’t stop. Or maybe it was the other way around. Either way, they ditched this monumental moment and this is the story that happened.
It’s completely irrelevant to the plot revolving around Cyclops shutting down the New Xavier School. In fact, that shit doesn’t even get mentioned. But to be fair, they really don’t have time to contemplate it because Magik just happened to teleport Kitty to Monster Island. It’s basically like the Savage Land on crack. At the very least, Magik was honest about saying she would do something stupid if she stayed to listen to Cyclops’ announcement. And in Monster Island, she has plenty of opportunities to vent. Is it health? Fuck no. But is it fitting? Fuck yes.
However, Magik then reveals that she’s not just there to blow off steam, although that would be a perfectly legitimate reason for a demon-powered teenager. She claims she took her to Monster Island to find a mutant who happens to be in trouble. If that sounds obscenely contrived, then take a deep breath. That last bong hit didn’t kill too many brain cells.
Exactly how the fuck does this mutant tie into the ongoing conflict surrounding Cyclops and the New Xavier School? How does this mutant contribute anything to the story that took a big fucking turn in the previous issue? Spoiler alert: he or she contributes less than jack shit. There really is nothing else to it. They’re just there to help a missing mutant. Kitty and Magik are almost casual about it. Magik fights off the monsters as though she’s painting her nails and Kitty is just calmly talking to her as though she’s waiting in line at a Wal-Mart. She doesn’t ask about Cyclops or what’s happening to the New Xavier School. She just shrugs her shoulders and goes along with it.
Now I’m not saying that helping an innocent mutant makes for a shitty story. Hell, that’s probably the simplest, most basic kind of X-men story there is. There’s just absolutely nothing appealing about it in the context of recent events. I love watching a rerun of the Simpsons as much as the next guy, but if I see a rerun at a time when I was hoping to see a new episode of Family Guy I’m still going to be disappointed. So in a sense, this whole story fucks itself before it even has a chance to get going.
Circumstances aside, this story that nobody wanted or asked for still progresses as coherently as is possible on a place like Monster Island. Magik keeps fighting off armies of blood-thirsty monsters. Eventually, the monsters realize that fighting a demon-powered teenage girl is not good for their long-term health. So they decide to back the fuck off. Something about that is inherently logical. Even monsters on an island dominated by monsters would rather not deal with a pissed off teenage girl. This is why parents drink and why therapists are overpaid.
There’s no question that Magik is badass and dangerous. The battle against the monsters here is nothing spectacular. It’s fairly generic. It’s not overly rushed either. It’s just predictable. I can’t say it does anything wrong. I don’t think anybody would expect an island of monsters to give someone like Magik any trouble. But again, the circumstances of this story just limit the impact.
Once the monsters back the fuck off and leave the teenager girls to the guidance counselors and principals of the world, Magik and Kitty Pryde proceed to look for this missing mutant. Along the way, Magik and Kitty do have some meaningful conversations. Magik explains that she’s not just doing this because slaughtering monsters is how she blows off steam, although that’s probably part of it. She says that when the X-men are at each other’s throats like Cyclops and Wolverine fighting over an old pair of Jean’s panties, she likes to go off and help mutants in need. It’s how she reminds herself that the X-men are worth fighting for. It’s probably the most healthy coping skill a messed up teenager has ever done in any circumstance and it doesn’t even require a prescription. It makes a twisted bit of sense, even if the impact is still limited.
Kitty doesn’t add much. She just chooses not to argue. When a fucked up teenage girl is doing the right things, she understands that it’s usually a good idea not to say a damn thing. So he just follows her along and helps her search for this mutant. And like 70 percent of all the X-men’s search efforts, it leads them to a creepy cave. I guess it’s still better than mad scientist’s lab or Graydon Creed’s basement, but it’s right up there.
Inside the cave, they find this missing mutant. And it turns out to be a mutant that’s far more adorable than Matthew Malloy or Hope fucking Summers. It’s a little girl who looks like she tried to cos-play as an alien from Star Trek and failed miserably. She’s not deformed. She’s not whining like Matthew Malloy. She’s just scared, confused, and adorable. It helped make Frozen a billion dollar movie so why not use it here?
Kitty Pryde, being the one who isn’t plagued by demonic forces, reaches out to the young girl. Their exchange is every bit as adorable, utilizing the classic X-men heroics. This girl is scared and hungry, but she quickly connects with Kitty the same way most children connect with a puppy. It might not be a story about Cyclops and Havok opening up their own pizza place, but even the non-Disney fans have to enjoy this on some level. Except the sociopaths, this moment should touch the hearts of every X-men.
This exchange quickly goes from cute to terrifying when the little girl, who calls herself Bo, reveals that her father left her on this island as finger food for monsters. Even Darth Vader would say that’s pretty fucking harsh. He could’ve at least given her a chance to join the dark side. She says her father told her that her powers killed her mother. But he might just be a massive dick. A man who leaves a little girl on an island of monsters certainly fits most of the criteria.
The girl starts getting emotional and understandably so. Thinking about an asshole father who left her on an island of monsters probably would upset anyone at any age. The problem is a crying little girl is like a dinner bell for some monsters. And one of them just happens to be nearby. It’s not as bad as a Sentinel, but it’s still right up there.
However, there isn’t much of a battle this time. Magik doesn’t get a chance to skin this monster alive and make cute puppets to cheer Bo up. Instead, Bo shows off the powers that brought out the massive dickhead in her father. She shoots off a few fancy energy blasts, probably pissing off a few Dazzler fans in the process. These blasts end the battle in an effective, albeit unspectacular way. It still takes out the monster, along with Kitty and Magik. It also explains why Bo was able to survive on Monster Island. With a power like that, capable of taking out monsters that startle her, she could probably survive on Monster Island as easily as I could survive at a Wal-Mart.
Kitty and Bo have another adorable conversation. Kitty once again shows the classic skills of a good X-man, talking to the young mutant girl with kindness and compassion. She explains to her that she’s a mutant. She has powers and her father was a total asshole about it. Even though she and Magik just experienced the business end of those powers, she’s not mad. I’m sure Kitty has endured way worse when she’s gotten in Wolverine’s way before he’s had his morning beer. It’s the complete opposite reaction of her asshole father and it goes a long ways towards making the little girl feel at ease.
It’s still worth saying that Bo is incredibly adorable. I know this story is still completely out of place. But after the bullshit story surrounding Matthew Malloy, Bo is a welcome upgrade. She’s more representative of the issues mutants face. They have scary powers that their parents don’t understand. The X-men go out of their way to help them. It’s a perfect display of what the X-men are all about. It’s simple and basic, even if it’s out of place. And even if I were an angry drunk, I couldn’t help but adore this girl and this story on some levels. Then again, I tend to get overly emotional when I’m drunk, as plenty of traffic cops can attest.
Having endeared themselves to this little girl, Magik teleports her away from Monster Island and to the Jean Grey Institute. They then introduce Bo to Storm and Nightcrawler, who welcome the little girl with open arms. Even though her powers leave them feeling hung over, minus the beer buzz, they both embrace her in another tender moment. It essentially proves that Magik’s approach to dealing with the X-men’s internal struggles is effective. Just running off to help an innocent mutant does in one day what a year of group therapy can’t and is probably way cheaper. It also gives Kitty Pryde and Magik a way to re-connect. It’s still awkward with Kitty having dated her brother, but there’s still friendship there. Magik should just be glad her name isn’t Petra. Then there might be too much sexual tension for that friendship to work.
This issue was as basic as an issue of X-men could possibly get. Take a couple X-men, put them in a hostile environment, and have them rescue a scared young mutant whose parents happen to be dicks. This is a script so simple that Stan Lee could recite it verbatim while drunk. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that script. There’s nothing inherently wrong with how it’s done in this issue. It just feels out of place, like watching an episode of Game of Thrones out of order. There’s still plenty to enjoy, especially if it involves a Lanister in a brothel. But it doesn’t really contribute much to the bigger picture.
There were so many hard emotions and major changes at the end of the previous issue. There was a powerful story that was just starting to unfold. But instead of seeing that story, we get this fun little adventure with Kitty Pryde and Magik. Don’t get me wrong. I love Kitty Pryde and Magik. I’m sure there’s an alternate universe where they go down on each other over the Red Skull’s rotting corpse. It just doesn’t really add much. It’s plain. It’s simple. It works. But it doesn’t do anything that the X-men haven’t done since the Kennedy Administration. I give Uncanny X-men #33 a 6 out of 10. It’s good in that it follows that tried and true formula correctly. It just felt out of place. There’s a time and a place for two women to fight monsters and it doesn’t always have to be in anime porn. It might have been the right place, but it wasn’t the right time. If I want that kind of filler, I’ll go back to eating at McDonald’s. Nuff said!