Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Scanned Thoughts: Age of Apocalypse #4
Anyone who takes something too literally is bound to cause trouble or fuck something up in a wholly fucked up way. Between organized religion and political correctness, the world has endured more than its share of shit storms caused by these people. The entire Middle East and the Deep South is a testament to this phenomenon. But there are some people who will take something overly literally just because they have the power to and couldn't give one tenth a shit about what anyone else thinks. Televangelists are one good example. Apocalypse is another.
Apocalypse has a very simple philosophy. Either you're strong enough to survive or you go extinct. He builds his entire existence around that principle. He's basically a creationists worst nightmare. And in Age of Apocalypse, that's the kind of principle that has turned his world into the kind of sweat-stained shit-hole that almost makes downtown Detroit look appealing. Well, in a world where Dr. Doom is a god, this isn't enough for him.
After three issues of mutants and humans fighting for possession of a virus that could wipe out mutants, Apocalypse decides to just shrug his shoulders and cut it loose. If it kills everybody, fine. If some survive, that's even better. That's how he does business. An apocalyptic plague gets unleashed? Walk it off, pussy! That's what he's told his entire domain in Age of Apocalypse #4. It sounds only slightly less cruel than Nick Saben's coaching style, but nobody has the luxury of dropping out or getting expelled.
It doesn't take long for the effects of this virus to show up either. Before anyone even gets a chance to call in sick, Cannonball gets infected and he explodes. No, that's not a diarrhea joke. That's what actually happens. He just fucking explodes. I don't know if a virus has ever done that in a way that didn't result in a clogged toilet, but it's a pretty brutal way to show that this isn't the common cold they're dealing with. It creates a great "Oh shit!" moment that Doug Ramsey narrates. He still hasn't done anything other than cower and shit himself, but he's been the lens through which this story has unfolded. So it makes sense that he shares in the "Oh shit!" moments that follow.
Needless to say, unleashing a deadly plague has the X-men very concerned. They came to the Flatscan Ghetto to stop this shit and now they've officially failed. In their defense, they had no idea Apocalypse would be the one to unleash the virus. They didn't think he could be that deranged, but I guess they underestimated what being a mutant demigod does to one's mental health. I'm pretty sure even Tom Cruise would recommend that Apocalypse see a psychiatrist.
The X-men try to fight back against Apocalypse's forces, as if that somehow counts as good hygiene. They might as well sacrifice a goat at this point to stave off the disease because that would be just as effective. They still have some semblance of stragegy. Emma Frost, aka Mrs. Magneto, attempts to probe the mind of Peter Corbeau to figure out where he got the virus. His memories have been conveniently erased though. And like a personal email from Hillary Clinton, that should be a red flag.
This doesn't stop the X-men from fighting back. The details of that fight are actually pretty solid. There's a real sense of desperation now. The X-men are fighting for answers, even if they can't stop the virus. I guess that way they can die with a sense of closure. It also gives the chance for some X-men to step up and be awesome in ways they haven't been able to in Battleworld to date, probably because Doom and Marvel lawyers agonizing over movie rights wills it.
Iceman is one of those X-men who gets to step up. He unleashes a cold wave that might as well have come from Ann Coulter's soul, freezing Apocalypse solid. He even tries to freeze the virus. It's still like putting an ice pack over malignant tumor, but it's pretty badass and Iceman has to take these chances while he can, lest the Kim Davis' of the world deny him.
As this fight is unfolding, there's another sub-plot that has been building behind the scenes. This one involves Wolverine, Cyclops, and Burner. Keep in mind, Cyclops is technically a prisoner who the X-men captured. So this is already consistent with at least half of Wolverine's fantasies that don't involve Jean Grey or naked Japanese hookers. But instead of Wolverine kicking Cyclops in the balls, they're investigating a lab in New Cairo that's supposed to have ties to this virus.
It doesn't reveal anything too shocking, other than Dark Beast had a sense of medical ethics that would make Dr. House himself cringe. That shouldn't shock anybody at this point, especially as even non-Dark Beast has evolved into a such a douche. It also reveals that Burner was among the test subjects that decided being a lab rat for Dark Beast sucked worse than being OJ Simpson's wife. It's not much, but it adds some additional connections to a story that badly needs it.
It's actually the first time this sub-plot or any sub-plot has effectively tied in with the overall story. One of the major shortcomings of this series as a whole is how it has all these side-plots involving different characters, but there's not much glue holding them together. Now, it actually feels like this shit is linked, albeit barely. It's more scotch tape than duct tape, but it's better than nothing.
It's during this investigation that more connections are dropped, this time involving Jean Grey. Yes, in this world, Cyclops and Wolverine still bicker about Jean Grey. That's probably the least shocking thing that doesn't involve finding a bottle of whiskey under Wolverine's bed. But this is important because the last issue showed her as a test subject in this facility. So naturally, Wolverine picks up on her scent the same way Tommy Chong picks up on an unsmoked blunt.
That's when Havok enters the picture. He sees his brother working alongside X-men and he does not approve. And no, this isn't an inverted Havok either. The Havok in Age of Apocalypse is just an all-natural asshole. There's a brief clash, but it doesn't last long and for good reason. They find out the virus has been unleashed and Apocalypse is battling the X-men. They even find out it works by sending their powers into overdrive and causing them to either burn out or explode, whichever comes first. There are worse ways to go, but it still sucks. And apparently Jean Grey is the key to stopping it because beautiful redheaded psychics are the key to stopping every mutant crisis it seems. See Hope fucking Summers.
While they keep searching for Jean Grey and Wolverine keeps trying to hide his boner, the battle against Apocalypse continues. And despite Iceman having a chance to be badass for once, he might as well have been pissing into the wind. Apocalypse breaks free from the ice shell and probably earns himself a marriage proposal from Kim Davis in the process. However, the battle at this point still isn't all that epic. And for a series that emerged in the 90s, a time of Power Rangers and Nicholas Cage action movies, that's somewhat disappointing. But at least by today's standards, it's still fairly intense.
Keep in mind, as this battle is unfolding, there's still a cloud of a killer virus hovering around them. Fighting in the middle of that is like playing a game of football while a nearby volcano is erupting. At some point, that's going to be a factor, even if Aaron Rogers were the quarterback. Other mutants on both sides start getting infected, including Wild Child. But of course Sabretooth doesn't hesitate to snap his fucking neck and end him before he can explode like Cannonball. And the amount of fucks given is barely measurable. I mean it's not like this virus would infect Apocalypse himself, right? Right?!
Well wax my balls, slap makeup on my face, and call me a Backstreet Boy because that's actually what happens. That's what effectively keeps this battle from becoming the 90s era epic clash that desensitized a generation of kids from violence. Apocalypse gets infected from this virus. Yes, the omega-level asshole/demigod who unleashed this, assuming he was fit enough to shake it off, gets infected and he succumbs. Let that sink in for a moment, especially if your name is Oscar Isaac.
Apocalypse is supposed to be one of the most obscenely overpowered villains in Marvel. Him succumbing to a plague is like Wolverine succumbing to alcohol poisoning. It's by far the biggest "Oh shit!" moment that could've happened in this story. Usually these kind of moments are full of so much WTF it derails the story, but that doesn't happen here. If anything, this is so fitting and satisfying it might as well be a premium condom at Jenna Jameson's house. In his final push to make his segment of Battleworld the most fit, he gets himself killed. I can already hear Doom laughing his ass off.
It doesn't just stop at this shocking "Oh shit!" moment either. Apocalypse dying doesn't stop the virus from spreading. There's still a big fucking cloud of it hanging over the area. And its next victim, fittingly enough, is Magneto. So both Apocalypse and the leader of the X-men, arguably two of the most fit mutants in this world, fall at the hands of this virus. It's also fitting in a strange sort of way, given how so much of the crap that turned this world into a steaming pile of dystopian shit came from their clash.
But what gives it even more impact is how Emma Frost helps comfort Magneto in his final moments. There really hasn't been much drama in this story aside from Doug Ramsey whining and Cyclops bickering with Wolverine about who wants to fuck Jean Grey more. But this is probably the most sincere and heartfelt moment of the story. It's kind of odd, given how Magneto and Emma Frost have absolutely no romantic history in any other X-men medium that doesn't involve obscure fan fiction. And yet, it still conveys a sense of heart that evokes just the right amount of feels. While I doubt there will be any Magneto/Emma fan clubs, this moment proves that there was more to this relationship than Emma having nice tits. And that's saying something.
Between the "Oh shit!" moments and the heartfelt drama, the final pieces finally start to come together. The virus is unleashed and Apocalypse is dead. There's really nothing left to fight over except for finding out which asshole made this virus in the first place. Emma Frost, being heartbroken and supremely pissed, finds out pretty fucking quickly from the guy who claimed his memories were erased. Well in her pissed off state, she un-erases them. How? She's Emma fucking Frost. That's how.
In doing so, she find out that it was Dr. Nemesis who made this virus. He's the same Dr. Nemesis who was doing experiments on Jean Grey in previous issues. And as it just so happens, Wolverine and Cyclops manage to find him in New Cairo. How did they find him? Those details are conveniently glossed over, but I doubt anyone has the energy to bitch about it after seeing Apocalypse get killed so easily. It effectively sets up one last battle, albeit one nobody not working at the NSA could've expected.
In the end, I think it's official now. The Age of Apocalypse is fucked worse than a Bangkok crack whore. This issue took multiple handfuls of "Oh shit!" moments, threw them in a blender, and hit frappe. I'm not going to lie. Even I was pretty shocked with what happened here and I didn't think Marvel could do that anymore after they made Peter Parker into a devil-dealing douche-bag. And yet here I am. I am genuinely shocked by the twists in this issue, but in a good way. No deals with Mephisto were necessary this time and that alone is an accomplishment.
Apocalypse is dead. Magneto is dead. A good chunk of the X-men are already dead and right now, they need to get on their knees and pray to Doom that they can limit the damage at this point. But I'm pretty sure that Doom, like the rest of the Marvel execs who spend their days fuming at Fox over movie rights, couldn't give three tenths of a shit.
And once again, Jean Grey is the key to saving everyone. Granted, that's the least shocking revelation since Elton John coming out, but it's fitting. Let's face it, nobody is ever going to give more fucks about Doug Ramsey than Jean Grey. And Dr. Nemesis may not be Apocalypse or Magneto, but he's definitely flexing his nuts in all the right ways. For all these shocking twists and the utterly fucked nature of this world, I give Age of Apocalypse #4 an 7 out of 10. This world may be fucked and Doom might be jacking off to their misfortune, but I guess that's just one of the many perks of being the god of Battleworld. Nuff said!