Wednesday, June 8, 2016

All-New X-men #10: Nuff Said!

Is someone born a genocidal douche-bag are they made? Despite what Lady Gaga songs would have us believe, this question has no clear answers. It's often a combination of the two. Some people are just born with a greater capacity to be assholes than others. Some are just molded into an asshole by a potent combination of shitty parenting, shitty upbringing, and shitty circumstances. Put anyone in the right position and they'll gladly rub elbows with the likes of Apocalypse, Thanos, and whoever Spider-Man happens to piss off.

All-New X-men #10 is exploring this question with Apocalypse, a character I just listed as someone who might share a cold beer with Thanos. While Extraordinary X-men explores yet another dystopian future, Dennis Hopeless has O5 Beast and Kid Apocalypse exploring a lesser-known past. It has major implications for the Apocalypse Wars event as a whole and the entire fucking timeline as a whole. Then again, tearing the timeline a new asshole has never bothered Beast before.

Now that he's a prisoner of the Sandstormers, it damn well better be bothering him now. I'm sure Marty McFly would've taken a bat to every time machine in the world if he had to spend more than 10 minutes with these assholes instead of making his future mother horny. O5 Beast manages to find a way to travel to the past, but fucks up as only he can by ending up with the fucking Sandstormers.

Naturally, they're curious about his arrival and wondering how he can help them slaughter more innocent villages. That curiosity, as well as the aid of a creepy old blind guy who shouldn't be within 100 miles of a teenage boy, keeps him alive, but only in a way that'll make him wish he were dead in the long run.

Time travel is much nicer to Kid Apocalypse, probably because he hasn't craved one too many new assholes in the timeline yet. The defining moment in the last issue was him meeting with his younger, pre-Apocalypse self and helping him escape the Sandstormers. Now, Kid Apocalypse is rubbing elbows with his past self and his past self has no fucking clue just what kind of an asshole he grows up to be. It's awkward, but not incest in 1955 awkward.

Dennis Hopeless goes out of his way to really flesh out Kid Apocalypse and his predecessor here. He makes it clear that young En Sabah Nur isn't exactly a fan of the Sandstormers. He's more like one of those unlucky in-laws whose family marries into a family of Raider fans. As far as pre-Apocalypse knows, Kid Apocalypse is just another blue-skinned freak like him and he can help him get the fuck away from the Sandstormers. At this point in his life, he's willing to trust him and probably kiss him if he can get him out of this shit. It's still creepy, but understandable and not technically incest.

This is a big fucking deal to anyone who knows much about Apocalypse's past. That's not saying much though because even his Wikipedia page doesn't give much insight into how some kid in Ancient Egypt became a genocidal asshole for the ages. Hopeless does something remarkable here in revealing that En Sabah Nur hasn't always been that asshole. He makes the case that hanging around the Sandstormers will turn any kid into an asshole of cosmic proportions.

Hopeless actually strengthens that case as he has Kid Apocalypse help his younger hide from the Sandstormers inside a settlement. There, they cross path's with Erika, a woman who looks ripped from a Pirates of the Caribbean movie and is far more bonerific than Johnny Depp. She has the subtlety of Johnny Depp too, as well as Russell Crowe's temper when she picks a fight with some guy selling fruit. Immediately, she comes off as the kind of person who picks a fight with someone who looks at her tits cross-eyed.

However, what makes this fight important isn't how petty overly sober people can be, regardless of the timeline. It's how pre-Apocalypse defuses the situation without maiming anybody. I'll give X-men fans a second process that. Apocalypse, or the kid who becomes Apocalypse, defused a situation without violence. Sure, he uses the fact that everyone is fucking terrified of his father, Ba'al, but he prevents anyone from getting their throats cut. He even pays for the food Erika ate.

Yeah, he's against violence and pays for his meal. At one point, Apocalypse had the manners of Oliver fucking Twist. I know. I'm still struggling to process it too, but in a good way. If Oscar Isaac got to reference this shit, his sex appeal would've been off the charts.

So at this point, my sympathy for Apocalypse is way higher than O5 Beast. Granted, that shit is graded on a steep curve, but it's still worth pointing out. O5 Beast is still trapped with the Sandstormers and the creepy old man who would be barred from being near children at most points in history is learning all he can. Behind the creepiness though, he does offer some important insight.

He cites a few important aspects of Apocalypse's established past, including Rama-Tut and stories of time travel. None of what he says is contrary to any established canon surrounding Apocalypse. Considering how fucked up the timeline is in the X-men movies, this shows that Hopeless gives considerable more fucks about continuity than most. Unlike my old gym teachers, I do give points for effort. The creepy old man cares a lot about that continuity as well. He seems to like a future where Apocalypse grows up to be a genocidal asshole and wants to make it happen. That or he's also a huge Oscar Isaac fan.

Back with Kid Apocalypse, we see even more insight into this kid who grows up to be the genocidal asshole that one day gets his own movie. There's some important moments here with Kid Apocalypse still looking at his younger self and seeing the monster he grows up to be. However, in this particular time, his younger self is just a happy-go-lucky kid who enjoys swimming and spear-fishing. He doesn't torture young animals or beat up kids on the playground. He's actually a healthy, normal kid with healthy, normal interests. I'm as shocked as Kid Apocalypse here, although he's probably way more sober.

He has a nice little conversation with Erika and she's even topless, so you know Kid Apocalypse is going to take her seriously. She believes Ba'al is the real asshole here. She makes the case that he's the one who turns this lovable young boy into Apocalypse. It leaves Kid Apocalypse pretty damn conflicted. Hell, I'm conflicted too. I still don't believe my old gym teacher wasn't born an asshole, but the insight in the story here does give me pause.

If there's anyone in this story who is an unambiguous asshole, it's Ba'al. There's no effort to humanize him and that's probably for the better. He comes off as the kind of guy who loved torturing animals as a kid and probably pissed on their corpses for good measure. When he visits O5 Beast and the old man, he's gone way too long without murdering someone. On top of that, his adopted son who he wants to mold in his assholery image is missing. He wants him back and he's perfectly willing to torture O5 Beast in any way necessary. While I still think O5 Beast is a total douche, I'll happily concede he's not on the same level as Ba'al. That man is a league of his own in terms of douche-baggery. He's almost as bad as Hope fucking Summers. Almost.

Since it's only a matter of time before Ba'al's douche-baggery finds them, things get a lot more urgent with Kid Apocalypse and his past self. His past self is still eager to get the fuck away from Ba'al, hopefully to another continent or timeline, whichever is easier. However, Kid Apocalypse is still reluctant to leave O5 Beast behind. Even he understands that this cannot be good for the timeline in the same way an extra shot of tequila cannot be good for my liver.

That discussion ends abruptly when one of the Sandstormers' rivals attack them at the port. Apparently, being a marauding band of assholes tends to make enemies, regardless of the era. Go figure. A nice little fight breaks out, one where Kid Apocalypse and his younger self get to be heroic. I'm still not used to that shit, but it's quickly growing on me. Pre-Apocalypse shows that, despite being less of an asshole, he can still kick way more ass than most kids his age. He just does it in a way that makes him lovable. Other characters can learn a lot from him.

Looking at you, Hope fucking Summers!

Kid Apocalypse sees this too. We get some nice inner musings about how he and this kid really are more alike than he thought. This young pre-Apocalypse is basically trying to do everything Kid Apocalypse is doing. He's trying to not become an asshole, but constantly gets distracted when bloodthirsty assholes attack him. It's a wonderfully poetic moment of sorts, one that says a lot more about fate and destiny than every Terminator movie ever made. No killer robots from the future are necessary here. It's just a powerful realization at a moment where Kid Apocalypse sees that maybe being an asshole isn't carved into his destiny with an adamantium dildo.

Kid Apocalypse and his past self manage to get away before they start enjoying the bloodshed too much. They're on the ship with Erika, who might be inclined to take her top off again. So everything is looking up for them, right?

Well, Ba'al is still alive so they're still fucked to some unenviable degree. He finally gets in touch with them, courtesy of the creepy old guy's mystic shit. He shows that he's just that determined to turn young Apocalypse into a genocidal asshole and he's willing to torture O5 Beast to do it. That means the prospect of swimming with more topless women got a lot more remote. I honestly can't think of a worse tragedy for Kid Apocalypse. it awesome?

Before I answer that, let me just point out that most stories that center around Beast tend to be graded on a reverse curve. This is a guy who joined the Inhumans, blames Cyclops for everything, and sticks his furry dick into an already-ravaged timeline whenever the fuck he feels like it. That said, All-New #10 essentially kicks that reverse curve in the ass. It's not just because O5 Beast does jack shit for the most part. It's because this story does something incredible. It gives depth, context, and intrigue to Apocalypse as a character. Read that sentence over again because for long-time X-men fans, it warrants repeating.

Anyone who just saw X-men: Apocalypse can understand that as a character, Apocalypse is as basic as the Red Skull, Darkseid, or one of Peter Parker's ex-girlfriends. Pretty much everything about him to this point is built around influences that make him a genocidal douche-bag. All-New X-men #10 completely fucks that overly simple setup in the best possible way. It paints Apocalypse as someone who became evil because of assholes like Ba'al influencing him, not because he's just an inherent douche-bag. It makes his story interesting in ways that Oscar Isaac's sex appeal can only help. At a time when Marvel seems to give three-tenths of a shit about making the X-men more interesting, this is as awesome an upheaval as any X-men fan can ask for. Remember that because I might not be able to say that with a straight face for much longer.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

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