Friday, January 15, 2016

All-New X-men #3: Nuff Said!

Every election cycle in America proves that it doesn't take much to generate a cult of personality. These days, a Twitter feed and a few viral videos is all it takes to turn someone into a bonified cult leader who can convince people that they can get into Heaven by sucking their dick. I like to think Cyclops did more than just fail an audition for American Idol to become this renegade mutant martyr that inspired his own gang.

Marvel declared him off-panel to be the most hated mutant on the planet. Even if it required a few truckloads of bullshit, this is the situation the O5 X-men find themselves in with All-New X-men. And All-New X-men #3 is supposed to mark the point where they convince O5 Cyclops to stop bitching about his older self and remember that he still grows up to be the guy who bangs Jean Grey and Emma Frost. I'm skeptical he'll ever take solace in that, but I'll try to remember that over the course of this review.


First, O5 Cyclops has to convince his shitty cult followers that they’re being fucking retarded. Seriously, do they not watch CSI? Do they not understand that holding police hostage never turns out well? Apparently, they don’t watch TV and haven’t learned of this thing called the internet yet. Because that’s what they did to break one of their followers out of jail. And O5 Cyclops kindly points out why it’s a dumb fucking idea.


They didn’t believe him at first because why believe a time-displaced Cyclops? They just came to get their friend. Taking police hostage was just a bonus, like breaking a window at a frat house party. Then, they try to leave and see that there’s a fuckton of police outside waiting for them. And that’s way more convincing than anything a time-displaced Cyclops says.

It makes for a humorous situation, but one that’s still volatile. It doesn’t involve a Sentinel or a clone monster from Sinister. It involves a bunch of mutant kids trying to flex their mutant nuts and being very bad at it. While the details are messy, it still has an undeniable charm. It reminds us that some dumb ass teenagers need to learn their lessons the hard way.


So now they’re trapped. And remember, they’re a bunch of teenagers wearing shitty bandanas. They’re not Hans Gruber or a Mexican drug cartel. They’re teenagers. That means they start arguing with each other instead of focusing on a solution. It means they’re looking to get out of the consequences of their actions instead of facing them. That’s not part of being a mutant. That’s being a fucking teenager and this time, O5 Cyclops doesn’t even bother pointing out how retarded that is. They’re just proving it to themselves and they’re doing way too good a job of it.


Eventually, O5 Cyclops does try to speak up. He does try to convince them that they’re not just digging their own grave. They’re shitting in their own coffin. Their response is completely unsurprising for a teenager. One of them lashes out and tells O5 Cyclops to shut the fuck up. It’s exactly as mature as it sounds. It further adds to the comedy of errors for these wannabe gangsters. They’re more fake than an Orange County rap group. That’s what gives them a unique charm on some levels. But they’re still douche-bags on plenty others.


These wannabe gangsters don’t seem to realize that the police are getting ready to storm the building and give them the Pablo Escobar treatment. They know they’re not dealing with Hans Gruber so they’re content to go Police Academy on their asses. That’s when the rest of the All-New X-men finally intervene. That means putting up a huge ice shell to keep the police from getting too LAPD with their policies. They manage to not get shot at so I guess that’s a win in and of itself.


It’s probably their most impressive win anyways. Once they get inside, it’s not like the Ghosts of Cyclops can put up much of a fight. These aren’t Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants. They’re not Sinister’s marauders either. They’re a bunch of teenage mutants who thought it would be a good idea to start their own gang and take cops hostages. Even for time-displaced X-men, this more of a training exercise than a fight.

This doesn’t stop Mark Bagley from adding some extra spectacle to the battle. His artwork really shines. It adds an appropriate amount of flash and flare, especially with Iceman and Idie. It makes watching the Ghosts of Cyclops getting their asses kicked more satisfying. One of them even decides not to fight and just watches rather than fight. She’s probably the smartest of the bunch.


Eventually, the police finally catch up and try to contain the situation. To their credit, they don’t get too trigger happy. They understand they’re not in the LAPD. The All-New X-men cooperate as good citizens should. However, the Ghosts of Cyclops are a bit more defiant. It’s another act of immature teenagers who don’t understand that getting arrested early in life is only cool when James Dean does it. For the rest of us, it really fucks up the later parts of our lives. It’s a hard lesson that many learn the hard way, sometimes with bullet wounds. It once again affirms that the Ghosts of Cyclops aren’t even as tough as their shitty bandannas.


But before bullets start flying, O5 Cyclops decides to step in and mitigate the situation before this becomes the inspiration for a rap album. He gives a heartfelt speech to the police and the Ghosts of Cyclops, one that only a handful of teenagers can make with a straight face. Sure, he spends half of it bashing his older self and it’s nothing that hasn’t been said by other X-men before. But he’s still a teenager so it still hits the right dramatic chords.

The problem with this speech is the same as the problem with Storm’s speech in Extraordinary X-men #5. So much of it is built around the premise that Cyclops did something so horrible and so terrible that 10 angels die every time someone says his name out loud. But we have no idea what the fuck that horrible something is so we have basis for taking this shit seriously. We’re left to assume Marvel just wants to one-up Brett Ratner. And that seriously limits the weight and impact of this speech.


The speech was still good enough to get the O5 X-men off the hook. O5 Cyclops got to join up with his friends while the Ghosts of Cyclops will likely get the Scared Straight treatment. That’s probably the best they could’ve hoped for in a situation that involved police hostages. Hell, that’s way better than anyone can hope for in real life where situations involving police hostages are usually solved with sharp-shooters.

There is a nice moment with O5 Cyclops and O5 Beast. O5 Cyclops basically thanks everyone for preventing him from going full emo. It effectively affirms his place in this new team. But again, the impact here is kind of limited because before Secret Wars, O5 Cyclops saw this guy trying to steal his future wife. Now they’ve just shrugged that shit off? Given how his future self turned out, I refuse to believe that that Beast could be that reasonable.


So the O5 X-men leave, knowing they’re not welcome within 500 miles of that police station for the foreseeable future. But O5 Cyclops’ little speech went viral, a concept he probably still associates with chicken pox. As a result, others see that there’s another young, untainted Cyclops running around. And Toad, the Brotherhood of Mutants’ de-facto whipping boy, sees this. Is he a threat to a team that has a kid Apocalypse on it? Probably not, but even he is an upgrade over the Ghosts of Cyclops at this point.


So...is it awesome?

Short answer, it tries to be. Long answer, it partially succeeds while still tripping over itself like other X-books have after Secret Wars. O5 Cyclops tries to come off as impassioned and determined to escape his future self. However, he just comes off as another whiney teenager. All New X-men #3 suffers from the same problem as Extraordinary X-men #5. Too much egregious shit happened off-panel so we have no context for O5 Cyclops’ conflicts. Absent that conflict, he’s just another whiney little shit.

At the very least, this issue succeeds in a few additional ways. It emphasizes the friendship between the team, something that often gets lost with the Cyclops-bashing. It also shows that the Ghosts of Cyclops are more colorful and entertaining than any killer robot or clone monster. Like the O5 X-men, they’re a bunch of confused teenagers who are still trying to figure out why the fuck they’re doing what they’re doing. That’s not an exclusively mutant conflict. That’s fucking high school and that does count for something.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

1 comment:

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