Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Scanned Thoughts: Years of Future Past #5

If shitty sitcoms, and even a few good sitcoms, have taught us anything, it's that siblings don't need much of an excuse to be assholes to one another. From the Brady Bunch to the Simpsons to the Bundys, entire seasons can be built around siblings being at each other's throats over reasons as petty as borrowing a toothbrush. In an apocalyptic future full of mutant internment camps and Doom-powered Sentinels, there are more pressing matters aside from toothbrushes. But that didn't stop Christina and Cameron Rasputin from turning on one another once they entered the eye of President Kelly's mutant-bashing conspiracy. Now, they're in the midst of a bitter sibling dispute and for some reason, the threat of Doom-powered Sentinels is secondary.

It has made for a tense and at-times disorganized narrative in the Years of Future Past series. However, it's a narrative that has captured all the right themes of Days of Future Past. It's not just about surviving internment camps, killer Sentinels, and whatever other shit the Terminator franchise has since ripped off. It's about the impact on the X-men and their families. That's what gave the original story so much emotional weight. That's what this Secret Wars tie-in has been trying to match. For the most part, it has done an admirable job. And in Years of Future Past #5, it attempts to put a cherry and an extra layer of bacon bits on top.

And a good way to add those bacon bits is to pour napalm on the rapidly devolving sibling relationship between Christy and Cameron. This isn't just a brother and sister fighting over who uses the bathroom more in the morning. This is a real, heartfelt clash of ideas between two family members who just found out they're family. It was one of the most dramatic moments of the previous issue and seeing as how that got everybody's panties plenty wet, why not run with it?

Christy and Cameron have already exchanged blows. Sometimes that's the most productive argument that a couple of siblings can have, but Cameron keeps trying to make his point. He cites tigers and how they were endangered at one point. Then one species decided to shoot itself in the foot and they made a comeback. So maybe if mutants did the same, humans would benefit. And on some levels, it makes a strange bit of sense. Sure, it's still a dick move to an entire species, but I can see the PETA and Greenpeace crowd siding with Cameron, provided they serve Kale and soy in the afterlife. It helps add further weight to a clash that was already pretty fucking intense to begin with.

Being a good annoying sister, Christina doesn't buy into Cameron's nihilistic bullshit so he gives up trying to convince her. He then ditches her and tries to go after President Kelly to finish giving the biggest middle finger to his species since pandas decided to stop fucking.

As for the rest of the X-men, they still have no idea that Christy and Cameron are taking their new sibling rivalry to meth-head status. They're still focused on saving President Kelly from the elaborate conspiracy meant to make genocide an socially acceptable option. This involves Rachel and Storm guiding Air Force One into a nice, safe landing where the President and everyone on board don't shit their pants too much. But even they seem to suspect something stinks and it isn't the typical stench associated with politicians. They still think that if Christy can save the President, everything will be all cake and blowjobs. Because that somehow nullifies killer robots and internment camps apparently.

However questionable the X-men's reasoning might be, their plan goes to shit the moment Cameron shows up. At first, they don't suspect that he's dining on paint chips and LSD. He even passes by Colossus, who has no idea his son just tried to kill his sister, which would warrant way more than a timeout and a spanking. They all think he's on board with this plan to save the President and the entire mutant species. Then, he breaks onto Air Force One and grabs President Kelly by the throat, presumably with a huge fucking boner, and prepares to fuck his race in ways that a German bondage porn company would find offensive.

At this point, Cameron Pryde is beyond redemption. It's one thing to fight with his sister. Now, he's ready to kill the President and doom an entire species. Hell, even Dr. Doom himself would say that Cameron is a total dick. And in a world where Dr. Doom is a god, that's saying something.

Cameron's douchebaggery is poised to fuck everyone over. That's why it's pretty satisfying when his plan gets fucked over as well, courtesy of his mother and a giant fucking dragon. Yes, this story brought a giant fucking dragon back into the mix. I'll give everyone a minute to change their panties.

Having left his sister behind and extremely pissed, Cameron probably should've expected his sister and mother to go to extreme measures to punish his treacherous ass. And I don't know how much more extreme you can get by throwing a giant fucking dragon into the mix. This would be obscene overkill had they not already used a giant fucking dragon earlier in the story. That's exactly what makes it so fitting. If a giant fucking dragon worked well before, then why not use it again?

Lockheed, who was only down for the count after battling a Doom Sentinel earlier, fucks up Cameron's plan and scares the shit out of any racist henchmen the President might have on his staff. Hating minorities is common in the upper ranks of power, but that shit tends to take a back seat when giant fucking dragons enter the mix.

It's at this point the less heroic parts of the X-men's plan get exposed. Kitty Pryde finds out that Rachel and Magneto intended to have Christy sacrifice herself to save the President, hoping that would somehow change his stance on mutant genocide. As much as she's against mutant genocide, she's also against plans that rely on her daughter getting killed. So naturally, Rachel get a good punch in the jaw.

This begins one last epic clash between the President's forces, the X-men, and the douche-bags who betrayed the X-men. That naturally attracts more Doom Sentinels. But this time, the X-men have both Storm and a big fucking dragon on their side. It's not a fair fight is what I'm saying and unlike watching the Patriots beat up on the Oakland Raiders, it makes for a damn satisfying show.

It also allows Christy to confront President Kelly and in a way that doesn't require her to get killed. She tells him she's the last official mutant birth and despite the plots and internment camps, she's here to save his ungrateful ass. Will that make him less a racist? Maybe. Maybe not. Will it at least give him pause before he adopts Nazi-style policies on minorities? Probably. Plus, she saves him by letting him ride a big fucking dragon out of the battle. I'm pretty sure if Elton John gave Pat Robertson a ride on a big fucking dragon, he'd attend a gay wedding that same day.

Once the President is secure, Christy turns her attention to Cameron. It effectively skips over the other epic struggles going on between the X-men and the Doom Sentinels. While that is a disappointing oversight, we at least get to see the final clash between two embittered siblings. This isn't a clash between Thor and Thanos. It's not meant to be on that scale, nor should it. It's mean to be a bitter, personal struggle between two siblings. And that's exactly what we get.

It's a little rushed. Cameron basically says the same bullshit he said earlier about mutants deserving extinction. He even makes clear that he'll keep working towards this goal because every teenage boy needs a hobby. And since they don't have cell phones or the internet in this apocalyptic future, why not take up a hobby in self-inflicted genocide? This makes the final resolution inevitable. Christy has to kill her brother.

It's a moment that's exactly as intense and dramatic as it needs to be. Not long ago, these two characters were both part of the same struggle. They both were part of an X-men team trying to save their species from extinction. Then, one of them just dove head-first into the wrong end of the pool and lost his fucking mind. It's tragic, but it's also fitting and it captures all the right emotions.

This powerful moment generates a pretty intense reaction. Kitty Pryde and Colossus are understandably horrified. Sure, it saves them the trouble of lecturing their son on why self-inflicted genocide is wrong, but it's still a tragic loss. It leads to a solemn moment in the Rasputin/Pryde family that anyone who didn't make it through Toy Story 3 with dry eyes can appreciate.

At the very least, this solemn moment does have some positive benefits. A couple of President Kelly's henchmen are in a position to take out Christy and her family because seeing a mutant family in a state of sorrow just makes some people too horny. But President Kelly, showing that being saved by a mutant and given a ride on a giant dragon can affect even asshole politicians, orders them to stand down. So in the end, the X-men did succeed in getting President Kelly to ditch a more genocidal policy towards mutants, at least for now. Anyone who works for Planned Parenthood can tell you that even major victories don't make certain assholes go away.

The rest of the X-men leave the scene, having fought enough politicians and Doom Sentinels for one day. They end up back at Nightcrawler's church where Christy and her family share another solemn moment. They even let Rachel Grey join them, despite her willingness to let Christy become a mutant martyr in the worst possible way. She at least apologizes. That's way more than assholes like Magneto ever do. So at the very least, nobody decides to follow Cameron's douche-baggery.

It's a sad moment despite their triumph. They stopped President Kelly's plot, but they also lost someone dear to them. And in many ways, that's fitting. The whole Days of Future Past concept isn't meant to be a fucking Prozac commercial. It's a dark, sad world full of tragedy, loss, and creepy killer robots. The fact that this story was able to make the tragedy and loss so dramatic is a pretty awesome accomplishment.

While in Nightcrawler's church, the X-men also meet up with the other mutants they freed in the previous issue. They saw Christy and the X-men save the President. They figure they have a better shot at surviving by hanging with them. Plus, they have a giant pet dragon. How can you not trust someone with a giant pet dragon?

But as they're coming together, they hear sirens outside the church. I guess it would've been hoping for too much to think that just saving the President would be enough to make the rest of the world not want to use them for target practice. So the X-men get ready to fight again. However, we don't get to see that fight. This is where the story ends and we're left to fill in the blanks. It's overly vague, not unlike the ending to the last Matrix movie. But this ending is a lot more satisfying and doesn't suffer from Keanu Reeves' shitty acting.

So in the end, did Years of Futures Past add that final cherry on top of all the layers of awesome it worked in earlier? If I took the time to sober up, I could probably make the argument that at least part of that cherry found its way onto this concoction of classic X-men themes. But where's the fun in that? This issue kept all the high drama it had built up over the past several issues with Cameron and Christy. And the resolution had plenty of tragedy and feels, right up there with a typical Youtube video featuring a cat and a baby.

While it got the drama and feels right, the story itself still felt incomplete and a bit uncoordinated. But for an apocalyptic future, it's not like they could go from the Walking Dead to the Jetsons. At the very least, the X-men stopped a plot by President Kelly's lap dogs to screw mutants over a little more. That's basically like a tax hike on the poor dying in committee. It's not the most satisfying resolution, but it's far from the most disappointing. Anyone who endured the original ending to Mass Effect 3 would agree.

Years of Futures Past #5 told a solid, drama-filled story, complete with a giant Sentinel-fighting dragon. That makes for a pretty fucking awesome story. That's why I give this comic an 8 out of 10. I don't know when we'll get to see giant dragons fighting killer robots in an apocalyptic future again. If using the Inhumans to screw over mutants because of the movie rights doesn't work out, I'm sure Marvel will use something else and dragons are definitely on that list. Nuff said!


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