Thursday, April 14, 2016

All-New X-men #8: Nuff Said!

As a drunk, I have a very simple code of honor. Don’t give anyone a lot of shit unless they deserve it. I might not be able to pass a sobriety test, but I still know what’s fair and what’s bullshit. And for reasons that I’m not drunk enough to list, Beast has earned every ounce of shit I’ve thrown at him, and then some. Going all the way back to the Dark Reign event, Beast has had only one function. Bitch and moan about Cyclops at every turn and do absolutely jack shit to help anyone. If he were a real person, he’d be less likable than the comments section of a Taylor Swift video.

I won’t say that O5 Beast deserves the same volume of shit, but he’s made clear that he’s destined to be the kind of douche-bag who deserves that kind of shit. Going all the way back to the first few issues of All-New X-men, he comes off as the kind of kid that makes you rethink your stance on corporal punishment. Under Dennis Hopeless, I’ve been slightly less inclined to want to punch him in the dick. All-New X-men #8 attempts stem that inclination a bit more while trying to save O5 Cyclops’ story, as if it hasn’t been shit on enough. Say what you will about Hopeless, but the man is pretty damn ambitious.

It’ll take more than ambition to make O5 Beast likeable again. And him brooding like a 15-year-old goth kid who listens to too many Evanesance songs doesn’t help. Remember that dramatic scene where O5 Cyclops was trapped in a cave-in? Well, fuck any added drama that would’ve made that scene more compelling. Skip right ahead to the hospital where O5 Cyclops is alive, wounded, and resting comfortably with all sorts of awesome drugs in his system.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m glad Marvel resisted the urge to kill Cyclops a second time. That’s an urge Brett Ratner couldn’t resist. But to just skip ahead with no dramatic weight whatsoever feels like such a waste. And instead, we get O5 Beast musing about just how fucked the present is. It’s nothing we haven’t seen from him before. And most of us have seen a Ted Cruz speech at this point. We don’t need to be reminded of how fucked we are.

If O5 Beast does anything worth one less punch in the dick in this issue, it’s his little confession to an unconscious O5 Cyclops. Sure, confessions to unconscious people don’t usually count. I’d have way more speeding tickets if it did. But he at least tries to show some genuine honesty while filling in some of the details that happened off-panel. It’s not much, but it’s better than most of the crap X-men stories have gotten since Secret Wars.

For O5 Beast, the defining moment is him admitting he was wrong. Sure, it took him way too fucking long, but better late than never I guess. He says they’re wrong to stay in the present and his older self was wrong for bringing them in the first place. He’s starting to realize just what a dick he grew up to be while reminding himself they have no idea to get back to their own time. It’s honest, but I still want to punch him in the dick.

This moment of sincerity marks the last meaningful moment of drama that O5 Beast manages in this comic. After seeing a news report about Dr. Strange, he decides to ditch his friend in the hospital and take a quick trip to visit the good doctor, courtesy of his pet bamf, Pickles. Not sure that counts as animal abuse, but it’s pretty damn close.

This is where this issue stops being an X-men story and starts becoming a Dr. Strange story. Because why would a man who has his own series and his own movie coming out this year need extra face time in a fucking X-men comic? That’s a question that requires too much hope to answer. Instead, we get a drawn out, predictable discussion about O5 Beast and Dr. Strange debating the merits of magic. There’s nothing really substantive here other than O5 Beast still enjoys his science. The fact that Dr. Strange resists the ability to punch O5 Beast in the dick proves he truly is the Sorcerer Supreme, wielding more will-power than I ever will.

This bland discussion gets interrupted by an entirely predictable disturbance. O5 Beast happened to barge in on Dr. Strange when he was dealing with an incursion from the 12th dimension, which I guess in mystical terms is like an out-of-control tire fire or soccer riot. Either O5 Beast’s timing sucks just that much or his douche-baggery is starting to destabilize dimensions. I imagine it’s a little of both. That doesn’t prevent Dr. Strange from enlisting his help. I’m pretty sure he’d be better off enlisting help from MC Hammer’s accountant.

To his credit, O5 Beast does try to contribute. Dr. Strange gives him the Third Eye of Horus, which is supposed to help him see the mystical world as Dr. Strange sees it. That makes sense. If he’s going to help, he needs to see what the fuck he’s up against. He’s not Daredevil. He doesn’t have Ben Affleck’s baggage or his own Netflix show backing him up.

However, true to his recent traditions of douche-baggery and ineptitude, O5 Beast fails. He doesn’t contribute in any meaningful way. He doesn’t even throw any punches. He just looks around all this crazy mystical shit and reacts the same way most people would if they saw their grandmother giving a lap dance to Kanye West. There’s no fanciful landscape or epic spectacle. In fact, it looks like an un-rendered scene from a Michael Bay movie. O5 Beast’s way of managing that, it seems, is to faint.

That’s right. Like a little girl who just watched someone shoot a baby unicorn, he faints. The urge to punch him in the dick is getting stronger.

Again, there’s little dramatic weight and a lot of shit that gets skipped over. When O5 Beast wakes up, Dr. Strange has already done most of the work. He’s fought off hordes of goblins from the 12th dimension and we don’t get a slightest glimpse of the action. Instead, we get more bland chit chat between O5 Beast and Dr. Strange.

There’s still precious little substance in this science vs. sorcery debate. There are creationism vs. evolution debates that are more entertaining. There are some mentions of Dr. Strange’s own scientific background, but anyone who has scanned the wiki page for Dr. Strange won’t read anything they haven’t heard before. It really doesn’t offer anything of value for O5 Beast, Dr. Strange, or any of the ongoing plots in All-New X-men. They could’ve been just as productive by spending the entire page talking about the hockey playoffs.

When the action finally gets going again, it’s still pretty bland. Yeah, it has a terrifying shadow monster attack, but those kinds of monsters pop up at least twice a week in a Dr. Strange comic. And this is supposed to be a fucking X-men comic. Seriously, Dr. Strange, you have Benadict Cumberbatch playing you. He has a sexy accent and everything. What more do you need?

It takes way too fucking long, but O5 Beast finally makes a meaningful contribution and takes down the shadow monster. It’s not all that epic. It’s not even that exciting. He just jumps into action and does anything a drunk sushi chef with a butcher’s knife would do if they saw a monster. Except a drunk sushi chef would probably be more entertaining at this point.

O5 Beast still tries to make the whole science vs. sorcery debate meaningful. As Bill Nye the Science Guy found out the hard way, there’s only so much he can do. He does nothing all that ground-breaking. He just sees magic in a scientific context. That would be like me seeing quantum mechanics in an alcoholic context and solving for the Theory of Everything. It makes the same amount of sense and is much less interesting.

This is the extent of the action here. It’s mostly Dr. Strange doing what he does in his own damn comic almost every issue. Except this isn’t his own damn comic. It’s All-New X-men. He offers nothing that really helps the All-New X-men, the O5, or the mutant race as a whole. He doesn’t add any Inhuman-level bullshit, but his contributions are more forgettable than the LA Laker’s past season.

Dr. Strange and O5 Beast still leave on friendly terms. For mutants these days, that counts for something. Dr. Strange gives him some words of encouragement, but no magic spell to help O5 Beast become less a douche-bag. He lets him keep that magic mask though, which I guess is better than nothing. But still, the story here feels so utterly forgettable that a Simpsons rerun would be more entertaining at this point. At least Homer Simpson is funny. O5 Beast is just a douche. it awesome?

Since it began, All-New X-men has utilized all sorts of mechanisms for being awesome. Teen angst, teen melodrama, and general Cyclops-bashing are just a few. This one tried to utilize O5 Beast as one of those mechanisms and the results left a lot to be desired. I knew this issue was supposed to be centered around O5 Beast, but the fact he didn’t do jack shit to advance the story only adds to the already-lengthy list of reasons why he’s a total douche, no matter what time period he’s from.

Now that’s not to say All-New X-men #8 doesn’t have it’s moment. However, I still have the same urge to punch Beast in the dick that I did before I read this issue. He didn’t make that urge any worse, but he did nothing to make it better. He just hung out with Dr. Strange, learned a bit about magic, and that’s about it. There was nothing to expand on the plot with the Brotherhood, Kid Apocalypse, Idie, O5 Iceman, or X-23. There was so much nothing that it felt like one of those issues I can drink during a blackout and still not feel like I’ve missed anything. And since I usually reserve blackouts for visits to cheap massage parlors in Mexico, that’s pretty disappointing.

Final Score: 4 out of 10


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