Thursday, March 31, 2016

All-New X-men #7: Nuff Said!

Karma can be an omega level bitch. There’s no way around it. Get one too many lucky breaks and enjoy one too many triumphs and watch out. Karma is waiting in the wings with a sharpened dildo and a competent lawyer. Cyclops is finding this out the hard way. Make no mistake. He got pretty fucking lucky. He went from banging Jean Grey to banging Emma Frost. He united the mutant race, saved them from extinction, and was vindicated time and again. So of course Marvel is going to fuck him over and have the Inhumans come out with rose-scented farts. The fact they did it off-panel makes it all the more painful.

Even karma has its limits though. Marvel’s Inhuman-loving brass went the extra mile, completely destroying Cyclops off-panel and undermine everything he ever accomplished. Now, they’re ready to jam a rusted nail laced with anthrax into the open wound. O5 Cyclops has been abducted by Toad, yes Toad. Short of drowning every mutant in a vat of Inhuman piss, it couldn’t get worse. All-New X-men #7 still makes the effort though and the results will make X-men fans want to piss on the grave of every Inhuman that has ever died.

So the O5 X-men just defeated Blob and they’re in Paris. By any measure, they should be celebrating with a bottle of wine, some overpriced cheese, and some goofy accordion music. Instead, they’re only now just realizing that O5 Cyclops is MIA. Now I’m not going to say that’s a dick move. They were kind of distracted by Blob’s immensely fat ass. And compared to the dick moves that Beast alone has made, this hardly qualifies.

But they eventually find out the hard way that O5 Cyclops isn’t off recruiting future mistresses at French clubs. He’s been abducted by Toad. Yes, Toad, the former janitor of the Jean Grey Institute and the Brotherhood of Mutant’s former whipping boy. Being captured by him is like being called a douchebag by Kanye West. It’s pretty fucking low. But in his defense, Toad is shit faced drunk and he’s trying to change this shitty time in which mutants have to live.

Toad proves that it’s always possible for Cyclops to get screwed over just a little bit more in this era. He has him tied up and not in an Emma Frost sort of way. He’s also pissed-faced drunk. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it means he’s not in a clear state of mind. Ask the last cop who pulled me over what that can do to a person. I’m pretty sure he hasn’t stopped laughing.

Toad doesn’t say much. He’s not a very articulate drunk. O5 Cyclops just lies there and muses in a number of overly predictable ways. He’s trapped. He knows he just got pwned by Toad. And he’s in a confined space that makes optic blasts iffy at best. He at least tries to be strategic, but he learns the hard way that drunks don’t leave much room for strategy. Toad doesn’t even give him a chance to form a strategy when he hits him with a liquor bottle. It’s bad, but the fact Toad still has his pants on puts him ahead of a number of drunks I’ve known.

Back with O5 Cyclops’ teammates and so-called friends, they’re proving to be a lot less useful this time around. There’s concern. There’s strategy. They do want to find their friend. There just isn’t a lot of drama or tension here. There’s no effort to flesh out any of these ongoing issues surrounding O5 Cyclops, his adult self, and the issues that Hopeless has been developing throughout this series. They have about as much emotion as I do when I misplace my keys. For a series full of melodramatic teenagers, this comes off as pretty damn flat.

What it might lack in drama, however, it makes up for in head trauma. Pretty sure O5 Cyclops’ strategy is now completely shot to shit. Toad, still drunk off his ass, reminds us yet again that adult Cyclops fucked up everything for the mutant race. So he wants to take a page out of Terminator and avoid this shit altogether. Anyone who had the misfortune of paying to see Terminator 3 knows how badly that can turn out.

But again, it’s more “Cyclops is the worst!” without any details or explanations. Since this has been an annoyingly consistent theme since the end of Secret Wars, it doesn’t really carry a lot of weight. It’s just makes Toad an overly ambitious drunk. Anyone who ever rode a shopping cart down a flight of stairs after chugging half a bottle of vodka knows that ambition isn’t all that special.

Eventually, O5 Cyclops’ teammates do get their act together and start searching for their friend. They don’t have Cerebro, a cute telepath, or an angry Wolverine clone. They only have O5 Beast’s gadgets and an adorable pet bamf. Add Johnny Depp to the cast and they’re a full-fledged Disney movie. But they’re still way fucking behind the curve. Considering that they’re dealing with a drunk Toad here, that’s pretty fucking pathetic.

This means more pain and suffering for O5 Cyclops because I guess Brett Ratner set the bar too damn low. He manages to get off an optic blast that downs Toad, but he’s already dealing with a bottle to the head and a broken leg. So if he did have any strategy in mind for his escape, I think it’s safe to say he botched it.

There really is no strategy here. There’s a bit more dramatic weight with O5 Cyclops fighting for survival. Mark Bagley’s art here, which nicely describes the injuries someone might sustain from a bottle to the head, once again shines. But aside from the Wolverines of the world who jerk off to Cyclops’ suffering, there’s not much else here to add to the plot.

It’s taking his teammates way too fucking long, but they’ve almost caught up. They eventually find the car that Toad hit O5 Cyclops with in the last issue. What they discover won’t exactly make it onto an episode of CSI, but they’re at least able to determine that Toad is way more coordinated as a drunk than he ever was as a sober member of the Brotherhood of Mutants. That’s sad in some ways, but I can’t help but be a little proud in others.

There’s still a lack of urgency and drama here. The characters talk, but they’re still treating this with the same emotional weight of running low on beer during the Super Bowl. There’s some urgency, but they’re not treating it as seriously as they probably should. For a series that has had its share of success with teenage melodrama, this is pretty disappointing.

O5 Cyclops’ push to survive still gives the story some excitement. Except now, he has to channel his inner Jack Bauer and fight back. Sure, a drunk Toad is hardly on the level of rogue terror cell in Los Angeles, but the stakes are still pretty damn high. I don’t know if the O5 X-men found the time to see any Terminator movies, but I’m pretty sure they don’t want to have to resort to a Genisys style reboot.

There is some solid inner grit from O5 Cyclops, but it’s nothing most teenagers in a life-or-death situation wouldn’t think. He stops short of crying to his parents so I guess that puts O5 Cyclops slightly ahead of the pack. Jack Bauer certainly would approve. Then Toad, still drunk off his ass, decides if he can’t bash his skull in, he’ll burn him alive. He’s a drunk. And drunks tend to opt for simple solutions. Sure, they tend to cause property damage, but they can still work pretty damn well.

We don’t get to see just how effective Toad’s drunk tactics are. O5 Cyclops decides to let out another optic blast and hope for the best. He’s sober though so he has fewer excuses. However, the timeline doesn’t immediately turn to shit so it’s safe to assume that Toad failed or that O5 Cyclops succeeded or that even the Marvel timeline has stopped giving a shit about the X-men at this point.

Whatever the case, his friends are way too fucking late. They don’t even get a chance to kick-start Toad’s hangover. They just stand over the rubble, looking shell-shocked, and not even gasping at the thought that O5 Cyclops might have just fucked up his future even more. While there might have been a compelling struggle with O5 Cyclops, his friends carry themselves with the same urgency as someone going grocery shopping. It makes for a pretty hollow story and a new low-point for the O5 X-men. They just got outsmarted by a drunk Toad. I think that says it all about the current state of the O5 X-men right now. it awesome?

Well, if you’re among those who feel Cyclops isn’t done paying his karma debt for boning both Emma Frost and Jean Grey, I can see the appeal. Beyond that, however, there isn’t much appeal beyond a drunk Toad. Now far be it from me to judge a character for their drinking habits, I will say that Toad is one of the least entertaining drunks I’ve ever seen and I’ve been to Utah. I like that Dennis Hopeless built on Toad’s story that emerged during Wolverine and the X-men, but no amount of alcohol can make his current stupor more interesting. Maybe he should try weed next time.

Beyond tormenting O5 Cyclops and Toad’s drunken ramblings, not much happened in this issue. There was a lot of potential for dramatic weight, but like many family reunions, alcohol undermined that potential. That’s not to say the story didn’t move forward at all. It did progress, but only in a way that a drunk might perceive. All-New X-men #7 does entertain some interesting and dramatic elements. It just doesn’t entertain them very well. Again, maybe next time they should opt for weed over alcohol.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

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