Thursday, April 30, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: X-men #26
When it comes to the X-men, it’s hard for anything they face to feel overly exotic. This is a team that deals with aliens, gods, dictators, and religious bigots all in the same week. It’s hard to put them in a situation that’ll feel genuinely novel. That doesn’t mean the stories of these situations can’t be awesome. If people got tired of seeing their favorite characters follow a familiar formula with their adventures, the Simpsons wouldn’t have lasted over 25 years. And in the same way I enjoy the Simpsons, I enjoy seeing the X-men deal with crazy yet familiar challenges.
There’s nothing all that mind-blowing about the latest clusterfuck the X-women have encountered. They’re trapped in a deep, subterranean realm in the Black Rock Desert and one of them happens to be horribly claustrophobic. It sounds like both an adventure and an upcoming reality show on NBC. While it would suck as a reality show, it has done a good job of putting the X-women in a situation that brings out the strengths of their characters. Some have shown more strength than others. That’s hard to avoid in a team that has both Storm and Monet in its ranks. Nobody’s going to feel their mind and heart race in this story without the aid from some really good weed, but X-men #26 still has plenty to offer. But does it deliver? It does, but not in the way you might expect.
For a good chunk of this arc, the X-women have been stumbling around in this cave trying to figure out why it’s trying to become Earth’s latest rectal wart not caused by fracking. Somewhere along the line, they uncovered that it’s part of yet another Kree clusterfuck and this one didn’t even have the decency to give a hot blonde superpowers. It just created the kind of death trap that the X-men find themselves in at least once a month. At this point, they’re done playing Indiana Jones. They just want to get the fuck out before they have to outrun giant boulders. And since this cave is being fueled by Kree douche-baggery, it doesn’t make it easy for them.
Rachel, Psylocke, and Monet’s escape attempts are a lot more ambitious than Indiana Jones, but the cave just doesn’t want to let a bunch of pretty women out of it. I want to say I can’t blame it, but this cave has already displayed a Robert Durst level of creepy so I’ll stop myself. They’re able to escape, but not without feeling they just spent a weekend in Tony Stark’s bungalow. Then Storm shows up and it’s no longer a balanced battle.
Now Storm is supposed to be the claustrophobic one here. In fact, she’s been dealing with that shit for a good chunk of this arc. She’s been dealing with it to the point where it starts to drag. Finally, she decides to kick that phobia in the dick and join her friends. It’s not just an awesome display of how she can dry-hump nature on a whim. It also makes for an emotional reunion. She actually takes the time to embrace her friends. It may sound like the premise of most lesbian porn, but it actually has heart. It still gives me a boner. That doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it though.
The emotional reunion lasts about as long as a Van Halen reunion because that cave isn’t done being a Kree-fueled asshole. It decides it’s no longer content just being the topic of a National Geographic documentary. It’s going to take a page right out Ghostbusters and become a big rampaging monster that’s nowhere near as adorable as the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. Even though it’s in the middle of a fucking desert, that desert just happens to be the site of some hipster goth concert. So there are plenty of people to crush. I know this probably doesn’t need to be said, but fuck the Kree.
The X-men go to work doing what they do whenever they see a giant monster and/or killer robot. They even have a chance to meet up with Gambit, who has done basically jack shit in this story. For all we know, he was having a three-way with a couple of goth chicks. And he keeps on doing jack shit as Storm and Rachel Grey attempt to attack the rock monster. It immediately tries to give them the Ray Rice treatment. But these are the X-women. Even a cave monster has to worry about more than a four-game suspension and a dipshit casino security guard.
It doesn’t exactly make for an epic battle on part with the final battle in Terminator 2. Rachel Grey actually tries to be the one that delivers the finishing blow. She fails miserably and that’s kind of a running theme with her. She’s such a powerhouse, but she does so much nothing in every X-men comic she’s in that she might as well be Brett Favre’s backup. It’s a symptom of a much bigger problem involving Rachel Grey as a character, but one that’s no more egregious than usual in the face of a giant rock monster.
Despite another self-deprecating moment, Rachel Grey gets a nice save from Jubilee, who has tried to contribute to this story as best a mutant-vampire/teen mother can. She flies in on one of the X-men’s many mini-jets and catch’s Rachel because I guess she just hasn’t been marginalized enough. But being part of the X-women, it’s fitting that she shows up since she has been working behind the scenes with Beast to figure out why this cave is more fucked up than any hole in the desert that nobody besides Bear Gylles would go.
It makes for another emotional reunion followed by more hugs. Again, that moment gets ruined when the big fucking rock monster crushes Jubilee’s mini-jet. I’m pretty sure that warrants combing Beast’s fur for a week. Given all the jets the X-men lose, they’re probably numb to such horrors.
The X-women make another attack. This time, Jubilee offers some advice. This thing is a result of yet another Kree fuck-up. Instead of creating another Captain Marvel, it created a pissed off rock monster. So maybe it makes more sense to reach out to that rock monster or at least make it think happy thoughts before they kick its rocky ass. It’s not the same as Chuck Norris just cracking his knuckles and hoping the sound of his bones is enough to shatter the monster, but it does offer something a little deeper than the typical monster/giant robot fight.
It also has the added benefit of allowing Rachel Grey to reveal just what’s pissing this creature off so much. It adds some details about the Kree fuck-up that created it. Surprise, some dip-shit humans helped add to it. First, a Kree satellite crashed because I guess that’s what Kree technology is best at doing. Then some dip-shit humans tried to turn it into a weapon and made it into a monster instead. Then a Kree soldier arrives to piss off said monster. It’s not so much a tragedy as it is a comedy of douche-baggery.
At the very least, the X-women show it some level of mercy. Rachel Grey makes sure the creature is numb before Storm blows it the fuck up in the most spectacular way possible. It is a little overly efficient in that it basically shows that Rachel Grey should never be on the front lines of a giant monster fight. But the added details about this creature help give its destruction some weight, which is something we don’t normally get when the X-men destroy a monster/killer robot. We’re just content to see shit blow up. That’s all well and good for a Transformers movie, but depth helps make it meaningful.
The X-women finally have a chance to catch their breath and the would-be concert-goers can finally stop shitting themselves. This is usually the part where they just shrug their shoulders and go onto fight the next killer monster that comes their way. But again, we get a little extra added depth.
They stand in the ruins of the creature and muse over the douche-baggery and incompetence that created it. On some levels, it was a tragedy because this monster wasn’t rubbing elbows with the Red Skull or anything. It was a victim of another Kree-inspired shit storm. And the X-women had to be the ones to put it down. It makes the moment more bittersweet, but in a good way.
It also makes for a sweet moment between Storm and Jubilee back at the Jean Grey Institute. Even though it was probably her claustrophobia fucking with her, Storm had visions of Wolverine in that cave. It adds a little extra emotion to a story that involved giant rock monster, which in and of itself is an accomplishment. It also shows that Wolverine’s death still has impact, even if the lawyers at Marvel Studios wish it didn’t.
Jubilee even tries to honor the dead rock monster in some weird yet fitting way. She takes a piece of it and gives it to Karoka, the Jean Grey Institute’s resident lawn monster. It’s a nice way of ensuring they don’t completely shrug off the tragedy that created this monster. And it gives Karoka hope that one day another Kree fuck-up will turn a mountain into a big-titted woman rock monster. Let’s face it. At the rate the Kree fuck up, that’s bound to happen at some point.
In terms of the larger arc, this story has dragged at times. That’s not to say it dragged as much as the last Martin Scorsese movie, but the X-women spent a bit too much time stumbling around in the dark. However, this issue offered a nice payoff to all that stumbling. They finally got the fuck out of that cave and kicked ass as only X-women can. But they ended up doing more than just destroy a rampaging rock monster. That’s the kind of shit anyone can see on a Power Rangers rerun. They found time to inject a little heart into the struggle. Sure, it still ended with Storm exercising her inner goddess and shattering the monster in ways no megazord can boast, but there was more to it and that helped give the story its impact.
Beyond fighting a rock monster, there was still time for nice character moments. Even Karoka got in on the act. Sure, some characters like Rachel Grey might as well be extras on a Star Trek rerun at this point. However, the characters that did have moments made the most of them. This extra bit of emotion is what has made the X-women awesome and worthy of their own series. This arc didn’t play to all their strengths, but it did enough to be satisfying. I give X-men #26 a 7 out of 10. So now the Kree have found a way to fuck with humans and mutants alike. Can someone just put a big sign on the moon at this point and tell the Kree to fuck off until the Captain Marvel movie comes out? I think everyone in the Marvel universe is tired of their shit at this point. Nuff said!