Wednesday, December 16, 2015

All-New X-men #2: Nuff Said!

I find the concept of “lovable losers” to be bullshit concept. I’m convinced it was invented by Cleveland Browns fans as a marketing gimmick to justify their existence after 1994. There’s no such thing as a lovable loser. There’s only someone who loses and loses badly. Sometimes it’s not their fault. In fact, most of the time it’s not their fault.

We still don’t know jack shit about how much fault Cyclops has to bear for becoming the most hated person at Marvel not named Chuck Austin. We just know that his time-displaced self is trying to give the finger to his loserly legacy. He’s lost his friends, his reputation, and the affection of the girl he loves. In terms of shitty places in the Marvel universe, he’s right up there with whoever gives the Hulk a prostate exam. All-New X-men #2 is supposed to continue his journey deeper into this most shitty of places. So don’t expect me to stay sober as I review it.

I’ll bet O5 Cyclops wishes he were drunk though. He’s trying to kick the asses of the Ghosts of Cyclops, if only to avoid smearing more shit on his shit-stained grave. Since he’s not his competent, adult self he fails. Then, his friends show up before his older self’s grave becomes nothing more than a tainted underwear hamper. They offer to help. He doesn’t appreciate it. He’s a teenage boy still. Help is not appreciated unless it comes with tits and chocolate.

O5 Cyclops ignores his friends and tries to tell them to piss off. That way he can focus on beating the shit out of the leader of the Ghosts of Cyclops. It’s not that much of a spectacle. It’s not going to be mistaken for Wolverine fighting Sabretooth anytime soon. But Mark Bagley’s art makes it feel at least somewhat visceral.

It also creates the distinct impression that O5 Cyclops is not in a healthy state of mind. That would be interesting if we still didn’t have any fucking clue as to what happened to his older self. We’re just left to make too many assumptions and for an un-sober mind, that’s dangerous. There’s a lot of shit that can make a teenage boy lash out irrationally and take his frustrations out on someone. For all we know, the Ghosts of Cyclops posted dick pics on his Facebook account and that would warrant the same reaction. That’s what happens when you let too much shit unfold off-panel.

Whatever the reason, assuming dick pics aren’t involved, this fight doesn’t last long. It doesn’t get to become all that epic either. The cops show up and end this shit before it anything gets marginally interesting. It’s not that they shoot anyone either. O5 Cyclops willingly surrenders, figuring that the shit stains on his older self’s grave don’t need any more smearing. He still manages to tell his friends to piss off.

And the cops in Austin are remarkably understanding of the damage they caused. O5 Beast actually tries to stand up for his (former) friend, which is probably the most decent thing he’s done in a decade. The cops still take him to jail, but the fact they don’t shoot him is still a positive in my book. This gives me hope that if I ever visit often, I can get drunk in public and not get shot.

While the rest of the O5 X-men are left wondering how much more they can do without getting shot, O5 Cyclops ends up in a jail cell next to the asshole he was fighting. It actually makes for an intense, dramatic conversation. And by dramatic, I mean O5 Cyclops pitching a teenage-level hissy fit over this guy’s obsession with his older self.

He tries to kindly point out as politely as any fucked up teenager can that he’s not some cool, James Dean style rebel. He’s an asshole following the example of another asshole. You could probably say that about most emo-goth kids or hipster douche-bags, but O5 Cyclops makes it clear that this is different while admitting outright that he’s a time-displaced version of his asshole older self. It’s probably the one time where teenage melodrama just isn’t sufficient to capture how fucked up this situation is.

So while O5 Cyclops is rotting in jail with some asshole he’s tried to beat up, what do O5 Beast and O5 Iceman do? They go out for pizza. I shit you not. That’s what they do. I guess their friend getting arrested is just that easy to shrug off. But to be fair, pizza is a lot like air for teenagers. It’s just one of those things that always has priority. And there is an effort at meaningful conversation between the two. It just doesn’t go anywhere because O5 Beast’s pet bamf escapes and starts making a mess. I admit, that’s way more entertaining than any meaningful conversation.

Leave it to O5 Angel and X-23 to actually do something productive. They managed to track down the rest of the Ghosts of Cyclops. They even find out that they intend to bust out their body from jail. At that point, X-23 does what anyone would expect Wolverine to do. She gives a bit middle finger to any kind of strategy and runs head-first into a fight. The only difference between her and Logan is that she looks a lot sexier. And I say that with the utmost respect for Hugh Jackman.

Again, we get a somewhat brief battle that tries to be epic. Mark Bagley’s art certainly helps and Dennis Hopeless does plenty to capture X-23’s attitude. But it’s another battle that gets cut off way too fucking soon. Some cars get thrown. Some shit gets destroyed. Then O5 Angel just flies them out of there because…honestly, I don’t know and I don’t have the patience to sober up and find out.

It actually leads to an interesting moment where X-23 berates O5 Angel for trying to protect her. She’s not some fucking Disney princess that needs rescuing. She’s fucking Wolverine now. If he can’t accept that, then he can’t expect to see her naked in the future. Given how shallow and forced this relationship has been, it’s refreshing to show just how under-developed it is for once.

The rest of the team catches up with O5 Beast and O5 Iceman. They show up just in time to see bamf putting on a show for the college kids in town, chugging pizza and drinking beer like a motherfucking boss. Not gonna lie. This scene made me really wish I had a bamf for a pet. It was funny, bringing a small yet undeniable tear of joy to the face of any self-respecting drunk. Given how depressing the X-books have offered lately, this bit of humor was a nice touch.

It sure as shit doesn’t last. Back in the jail cell with O5 Cyclops and we get more over-the-top, self-deprecating melodrama. And at no point within this belaboring and bemoaning do we get any hint whatsoever as to what the fuck adult Cyclops did that was so bad. We don’t know if he strangled a bunch of Inhuman babies or rejected Medusa’s sexual advances. O5 Cyclops, in whining how much he hates his older self, gives us no context whatsoever. He tries to come off as sympathetic. But without any insight, this is just more bitching and moaning.

Again, this is a problem that isn’t just restricted to this series. This same shit has been happening in other X-books. With so much shit happening off-panel, we don’t know of O5 Cyclops is just being melodramatic or if it’s every bit as bad as it claims. For all we know, he doesn’t even know the whole fucking story. So if there is any drama in this moment, it’s completely lost because it’s completely without context.

Knowing that we’re not going to get any of those details, it’s almost a relief when the Ghosts of Cyclops show up. At the very least, they stop him from doing any more bitching and moaning about his older self. Maybe when we know just what the fuck Cyclops did that was so bad, this scene will have some weight. For now, it’s just a teenage boy whining about something other than slow internet speeds. it awesome?

Short answer...somewhat. Long’s trying to be and not making nearly as much progress as it wants to. Like the other X-books, All-New X-men #2 is still bogged down by gaping plot holes that are usually reserved for a Christopher Nolan movie. Each major clash is cut off before it can get interesting. And too energy is put into reinforcing how much Cyclops is hated right now. I usually don’t mind belaboring certain points, but when that entire point happened off-panel, it just can’t be unfucked no matter how much it’s belabored.

At the very least, this issue made me wish I had a pet bamf. Since I don’t have any pets that I can (legally) get drunk with, that counts for something. Beyond that, this book moved the story forward. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing in between. It’s basically the most boring sandwich you can possibly have. You only eat to satisfy the most basic of hunger. If you’re expecting anything else, you’re expecting way too much.

Final Score: 5 out of 10


  1. "At that point, X-23 does what anyone would expect Wolverine to do. She gives a bit middle finger to any kind of strategy and runs head-first into a fight."

    See, I have a tremendous problem with this because that's NOT what Laura would do. She's supposed to be a consummate strategist, not a mindless berserker.

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