Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Years of Future Past #3

We live in an era where people love to bitch and moan about a story being done and redone to the point of absurdity. There’s now an entire population of douche-bag hipster types who make it their sole mission in life to whine about how there are no original ideas anymore. And for some reason, they have to do it in coffee shops where they insist on taking forever just to decide they want a fucking latte. I admit there are times when remakes and reboots annoy the shit out of me, but I don’t reject the concept outright. It doesn’t matter to me whether something is a remake or a reboot of a story that has been told since the days of Plato making poop jokes. All I care about is whether or not it’s awesome.

An apocalyptic future with killer robots is about as original as a talking cartoon dog. But like bacon and whiskey, there are so many ways to make it awesome. Days of Future Past is right up there with the original Terminator movie as the story that got this concept right. Years of Future Past could’ve taken a piss all over it, but instead it just added more bacon bits to the mix. Within the context of Secret Wars, it’s created an engaging and refined narrative that we hoped to see in the Matrix sequels, but never got. How could it be even more engaging? How about adding a giant fucking dragon to the mix? No, I’m not talking about Game of Thrones. I’m talking about Years of Future Past #3. It has less tits and amputations, but it still has a big fucking dragon in it.

That big fucking dragon has a name too, Lockheed. And up to this point, he’s been the bouncer for Centrum, the last mutant refuge. Well now he has to be less a bouncer and more a John McClane style enforcer. Kate does reveal that he got fucked up by Sentinels before so he has even more motivation to return the favor. That motivation definitely shows in the first wave of attacks. The Doom Sentinels might as well be flying chocolate bars. They’re glorified snacks, minus the processed sugar. It makes for a pretty brutal battle and one that Storm makes flashier when she enters the picture. This keeps the Doom Sentinels occupied while Centrum is evacuated. It’s good strategy. A giant fucking dragon is as good a cover as anyone can get without making a couple of grizzly bears hump in the middle of the road.

It’s a pretty brutal battle, but one that goes to shit way too quickly. One of the Doom Sentinels gets a cheap shot on Lockheed and the battle ends in a decidedly unsatisfying way. It would be like Rocky Balboa getting knocked out in the first round by Apollo Creed. For a big fucking dragon, that’s pretty disappointing. But in Lockheed’s defeat, we get a big fucking revelation that has way more impact than a big fucking dragon, albeit not nearly as awesome.

When shit starts crashing down, Cameron gets caught in the chaos. Kate Pryde saves him, as any X-men is inclined to do, but she reveals something major in the process. Cameron is her son. I’ll give everyone a moment to sober up and check their brains to make sure they haven’t had an aneurism. Take as many cold showers as you want. It’s still true. Cameron is Kate Pryde’s son. Now don’t start making some overly pornographic assumptions that Kate bumped uglies with Wolverine, who Cameron has been Cameron’s de-facto father at this point. It’s made clear that he’s still Colossus’ kid. That keeps Wolverine from becoming excessively creepy, but it still makes for the least satisfying twist since the Seinfeld finale.

It’s not just that there were some hints that Christy and Cameron might have the urge to make another Joffrey Baratheon. It’s the implication that Kate and Colossus basically ditched one of their kids and left him with Wolverine of all people. Seriously, this is a guy who has murdering his own son on his resume and a guy who tends to attract the Sabretooths of the world. It would be one thing if they were just shitty parents, but they kept Christy. So this twist feels less like a twist and more like several shots of tequila with a WTF chaser.

It gets understandably awkward real fucking fast. It also gets chaotic, but not in a very understandable way. We see no more dragons fighting killer robots. Instead, we see the team just separating Scooby Doo style because I guess these people never saw a standard slasher movie. And for some reason, Kate Pryde opts to have Cameron and Christy as part of her group. That’s like Bruce Willis going on a scavenger hunt with Ashton Kutcher. Not only that, it derails the whole dragon-fighting-robot plot that had so much appeal.

They eventually make it to a church since I guess they never saw other horror movies like the Exorcist either. Inside, they meet up with Nightcrawler, which is a nice touch. He’s the kind of guy who can temper the effects of bad WTF. And since this is a world where Doom is a god, his role as a priest is that much more interesting. Hell, if Doom was a god, the bible would be a much more interesting book. It has all sorts of interesting implications. But like a dragon fighting a robot, we are denied once more.

Instead, we get a respectable effort by Kate Pryde to explain why she never told Cameron and Chrissy they were siblings, risking Game of Thrones style incest in the process. It’s not wholly unreasonable. Cameron was born before she and most other mutants got sent to internment camps. When Kate and Colossus got captured, Wolverine escaped with an infant Cameron. Shortly after, Kate and Colossus found time to make another child, but just before President Kelly implemented his no-mutant-baby-making policies. So she was stuck in an internment camp while he was on the outside, roughing it with Wolverine.

In terms of bullshit explanations, this is better than most. But it still fails to satisfy anyone with even a moderate WTF tolerance. Kate and Colossus still ditched their son and even after they found him again, they kept a pretty big secret from him and from Chrissy. There’s just no way this doesn’t come off as a real dick move on some levels. I know parents have to make tough decisions and be assholes at times, but there are too many excuses and not enough reasons here. And honestly, did they really think that Cameron wouldn’t be in as much trouble if he grew up around Wolverine? Hell, they’re lucky he isn’t smoking a pack a day yet.

Cameron is still a bit more understanding than Chrissy. He ends up making excuses for her, but some of that stems from him picking up on Wolverine’s don’t-give-too-many-fucks-unless-it’s-a-beer attitude. But even he calls bullshit on some of Kate Pryde’s reasons and she seems to know on some levels she fucked up. That’s more than a lot of parents do. Just ask the Duggars.

Another awkward moment follows, this time between Chrissy and Cameron. It’s way more awkward than any conversation Luke and Leia ever had in Star Wars. The fact that there’s a funny Star Wars reference doesn’t help, but doesn’t hurt either. They gloss over the hormonal shit and have this jumbled, incoherent conversation about how adult make fucked up decisions and how anyone trying to make sense of the world is doomed to have a seizure. They still have a nice, non-incest hug in the end and it is somewhat sweet that they can get over this awkwardness. But nothing they say feels like they actually dealt with the issues here. I’d much rather be seeing dragons fighting killer robots, but that’s just me.

The awkwardness ends officially once Nightcrawler shows up with Kate. They’re then transported to the top of the church where they can overlook another mutant internment camp. They finally bring up the whole mutant reform package that President Kelly has been pitching, which has been horribly glossed over after being so central in the first few issues. Guess a giant dragon fighting a robot isn’t the only thing that got derailed.

There’s some talk about these mutant reforms and some Soviet style propaganda that’s urging mutants to embrace segregation. Nightcrawler says he’s tried to save these mutants from this sort of Fox News style crap, but he hasn’t been able to. They have big fucking guns. He can teleport and win Halloween contests. It’s not a fair fight.

There’s a brief and boring debate on the merits of freeing these prisoners with the limited manpower at their disposal. Cameron rightly points out that these people are probably not in a good state to battle an oppressive government with the backing of Doom. Chrissy doesn’t seem to really give it more than half a thought. To her, they’re in internment camps. They need to be set free in a world where dragons and Doom Sentinels prowl an apocalyptic landscape. I guess she’s never seen the Walking Dead. It could’ve made for a tense, meaningful discussion. It just ends up being some fairly meaningless whining before Chrissy says “fuck it!” and launches her attack.

The battle that follows isn’t nearly as epic as Lockheed fighting Doom Sentinels. How could it be? How can anyone compete with a dragon? It doesn’t make much of an effort either. They appear, start fighting guards, and storm through the gate. There’s nothing that visceral or satisfying about it. It’s about as spectacular as watching James Bond shoot a few random henchmen. The difference is that these henchmen are prepared. They have gear that would probably keep James Bond from banging whatever bimbo he’s trying to bang. Nightcrawler quickly does his best General Akbar impression and warns that it’s a trap. And without the aid of a giant dragon, they’re pretty fucked.

But it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. They don’t just find themselves playing the part of Rodney King in a bad neighborhood. Once they make it into the camp, they find something surprising. Some of the mutants in the camp are actually working with the guards and they don’t seem to be in a rush to break out. It’s another twist, but one that’s not wrought with as much WTF. There are even a few familiar faces in the crowd as well, like Destiny and Pyro. There even seem to be a few humans in the crowd. It’s a strange development that feels like both a trap and a mind-fuck. But after finding out about Kate and Colossus’ questionable parenting skills, it’s not nearly as strange as fucked up as it could be.

So as much as I enjoyed watching a giant fucking dragon fight killer robots, the excess amount of WTF made this issue feel exceedingly sobering. It’s like dropping some bird shit into a bowl of chocolate fudge. It tries to do the same shit Star Wars did in Return of the Jedi, but it fails while having way too many unpleasant implications. It’s not just that Cameron and Christy might have wanted to dip their toes in the incest pool. It’s that at one point, someone thought it would be a good idea to give one of their kids to Wolverine to raise in a post-Apocalyptic future. Because that’s what responsible and loving parents do, keep siblings apart and trust a hard-drinking loner with anger-management issues to raise a child. There’s only so much WTF I can take when I’m low on weed and I think this came way too close to exceeding it.

All the WTF factors aside, the story did move forward and there was still plenty of drama to go around. While some creepy shit was glossed over, other aspects weren’t. Throwing Nightcrawler into the mix helped and seeing a few more familiar faces at the end kept things interesting. There’s still a battle plan to oppose these Bernie Sanders type reforms that President Kelly is proposing. Parts of that plan are still vague, but the overall struggle is still ongoing. Now it’s gained another complication that has nothing to do with incest. It’s just not nearly as awesome as a robot-fighting dragon. I give Years of Future Past #3 a 5 out of 10. I’m sorry, but a robot fighting dragon can only do so much. Not a lot of stories outside of Star Wars can get away with teasing incest and this just isn’t one of them. Nuff said!

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