Thursday, July 21, 2016

Uncanny X-men #10: Nuff Said!

What makes an Apocalypse story apocalyptic, but in a good way? It's not enough to just pay Oscar Isaac to make an appearance. Fox only recently learned that lesson. It's a matter of taking Apocalyptic themes, injecting apocalyptic threats, and creating an apocalyptic mood that gives every character an apocalyptic kick in the balls. By that standard, Cullen Bunn is succeeding where Fox failed and he does it without Oscar Isaac's sex appeal. Hell, he does it without Apocalypse actually showing up in Uncanny X-men, whereas he has a strong presence in Extraordinary and All-New. That's like preparing a steak dinner with a butter knife. It's a testament to his craft.

Now, Uncanny X-men #10 is here. With the way this story has been going, it can act either as a cherry on top or a fresh ball of shit on top of a chocolate pie. Apocalypse's asshole son, Genocide, is set to succeed where he failed. However, he has to succeed over a pissed off Magneto and a Psylocke who just fought a bitter ex-lover. It's like he uses the exact opposite of cheat codes, but maybe that's just his way of waving his dick in the face of Apocalypse. I've got a cold beer and a joint that says he's going to fuck up in some ways and I'm here to take it all in for your reading pleasure.


I imagine the fine folks in Green Ridge, Colorado are going to need more than a beer and a joint after this. After Genocide got a little too rough with Angel's lover, who happens to also be a sexy psychic ninja, he invites yet another method for which to screw himself. I guess pissing off Mystique and Magneto just wasn't enough. He has to make sure he's completely fucked himself beyond repair. There are overly depressed emos in high school that would say he's overdoing it at this point.

The fight is no longer fair because now there are an army of Archangels reining unholy hell on Genocide's quint little hideout. Psylocke finally decided it was time to ensue Genocide gets the ass-kicking he seems to so desperately want at this point. She has shown in this series that she has an uncanny ability to channel Arcangel's apocalyptic rage boners for good and she doesn't even have to flash her tits. That's power even Genocide has to respect.


That's not to say that this tactic is completely without risk. There's always a risk associated with unleashing a pissed off horseman of Apocalypse. Psylocke is the only one able to temper that risk. She's psychic. She's a ninja. She and Angel used to bang. She has every possible mechanism to reach him and ensure that he doesn't fall back into his Apocalyptic habits. I imagine the thoughts and memories of a naked Psylocke are far more powerful than any influence Apocalypse can conjure.

Psylocke puts that influence to use by going into Angel's mind. She even takes on her classic Psylocke costume, something that Greg Land does an excellent job of recapturing for this moment. The psychic setting of a church with dead bodies is creepy as shit, but still very appropriate. It sets the stage for Psylocke reconnecting with Angel again, something that nicely reflects their history together. At a time when Marvel seems too eager to ditch established romances so Spider-Man can hook up with Mockingbird, it's a refreshing moment.


It's almost as refreshing as seeing Magneto and Mystique kick Genocides ass. Almost. He pissed them off. He attempts to finish what Apocalypse started, minus Oscar Isaac's charisma and sex appeal, and fails miserably. No plan can succeed when it involves pissing off Mystique and Magneto.

It's a concise, brutal, understandably lopsided battle. This time, Magneto and Mystique have the edge and not just because they're pissed off. They have an army of Archangels as backup and Genocide has a town of brainwashed civilians too terrified to throw a punch. It's like a sick kitten fighting John Cena. It's not a fair fight. He does throw around some classic Apocalypse rhetoric, but without Oscar Isaac's influence, it's only too satisfying when Magneto and Mystique shut his ass up.


Genocide isn't the only one someone needs to shut up. As the plot with Genocide has been developing, another entirely different plot has been unfolding in the Morlock sewers. This one involves Sabretooth, Monet, and Monet's much less sexy twin brother, Emplate. Emplate, for reasons that only make sense after a joint or two, needs to psychically feed on mutants to remain anchored to this world. Monet and Sabretooth had to fight through a lot of mutant zombie types to get to him. However, Monet isn't as inclined to be as ruthless or efficient as Mystique and Magneto.

That sucks for her because the only way to save her hideous, mutant-murdering brother is to let him feed on her. It's not nearly as incestish as it sounds and Monet is hardly thrilled with the idea. Not wanting to set feminism back another couple decades, she doesn't completely stick to her promise to help her brother stop feeding. She channels her inner Hillary Clinton and flexes a little dishonesty, albeit in a way even Trump supporters might approve of.


She kicks Emplate's ass. She also makes clear that, siblings aside, she thinks he's a real piece of shit for tormenting mutants and using her to keep himself tied to this world. It's basically all the shit women want to say to internet trolls and ex-boyfriends. Yes, it is satisfying on some levels. Yes, it does end with Monet subduing Emplate and neutralizing him in a way that allows her to not completely break her promise, which is more than Hillary Clinton can claim. It's just not as dramatic or as emotional as it needs to be.

Why is this? Well, one might think this plot with Emplate has something to do with Genocide and Apocalypse Wars. One would be dead wrong, despite being perfectly logical. Outside arguments against creationists, that sort of thing shouldn't be par for the course. Cullen Bunn is usually so adept at tying in parallel plots into the same story. This time, they might as well be two separate comics in two separate arcs. Granted, both are pretty damn awesome by most measures, but their inability to gel makes it feel like a poorly constructed sandwich. It's still palatable, just not nearly as satisfying.


There's still plenty to digest with the battle against Genocide. In this battle, Psylocke holds her own and looks dead sexy while doing it. That's basically Tuesday for her. At some point, Fantomex has a chance to be an even bigger douche, but for once, he doesn't take advantage of it. After his douche-baggery in previous issues, that's a good thing. There's only so much douche-baggery a character can take on before they enter Hope fucking Summers territory. Even Fantomex doesn't dare take it that far.

Between Genocide's attack and Arcangel's minions, it's a hell of a spectacle and one Greg Land renders beautifully. People can say he uses too many Playboy centerfolds as tracing material. My eyes and my penis don't care. He helps bring scale and spectacle to this battle. Once Psylocke meets up with Magneto and Mystique, the results are a sight to behold.


However, the fight does not end when Magneto and his team run out of asses to kick. It only ends once Angel is subdued and Genocide's influence is purged from his mind. With Psylocke's help, she's able to figure out how Genocide fucked Angel up so thoroughly. It turns out that the wannabe cult leader version of Angel is actually a part of Arcangel that Genocide separated. That's why Arcangel is basically a blunt instrument now who has the personality of Kristen Stewart on valium. The only way they can balance out the bluntness and make Arcangel less likely to be Apocalypse's personal meat puppet is to re-merge.

It's not as sexy as it sounds, but it offers a certain level of drama. Angel makes it clear he doesn't want to be one bad hangover away from French kissing Apocalypse again. However, he's willing to re-merge with his Apocalyptic self if it will undo Genocide's shit storm. He does it because that's what a hero is supposed to do, especially in the presence of a woman who he used to sleep with. It makes Arcangel, by far, more likable than Fantomex will ever be.


Genocide is defeated. The innocent people of Green Ridge, Colorado will have to find another deranged cult leader now. Maybe they can call in Tom Cruise or something. On the plus side, the X-men have a fully coherent Arcangel back. So overall, it's a solid win on their part. There's still some awkwardness between Magneto and Psylocke. She isn't exactly thrilled with the revelation that he's been working with Mystique and her ex, but let's face it. That's not the worst secret Magneto could've kept from her. It's not like he had Gambit record her taking a shower or something.

This newfound mistrust comes at a time when Monet is now harboring her vampire-loving twin brother. Sure, he's not feeding on innocent mutants in the Morlock tunnels anymore, but now he's stuck inside her. She avoided becoming her brother's pet, but he's still pissing her off. So I guess that's another complication that's bound to screw the X-men over at some point, as if they can ever have too many.


Complications aside, Cullen Bunn does try to cap off his share of Apocalypse Wars on a high note. We get to see Psylocke and Angel share a moment again in Angel's mind. It's a moment that contains a wonderfully fitting message for any X-men story. Arcangel may be one of Apocalypse's many bitches, but now Angel is determined to forge a different path that doesn't involve being someone's bitch. He's not a blunt instrument anymore. He doesn't know what he is, but he's not going to let anyone who isn't a sexy psychic ninja influence that. It's the kind of empowered, understanding sentiment you just can't get out of an Inhuman comic.


So...is it awesome?

There's some wonderfully poetic undertones to the conclusion of this arc. It lines up nicely with classic themes of X-men, none of which involve sterility or Inhuman fart clouds. It has plenty of bloody, brutal moments that are to be expected in any clash involving Magneto, Mystique, and Fantomex.

That said, Uncanny X-men #10 just doesn't hit with the full impact that Cullen Bunn so masterfully set up in previous issues. The ending hit on the right themes, but feels rushed. That's not to say it's flawed. It's like a brownie without frosting. It's still good, just not as delicious as it could've been. Given the bar set by All-New X-men with its Apocalypse Wars tie-in, Uncanny X-men just doesn't measure up. It does set up some juicy plots moving forward, but the promise of a good brownie is never as satisfying as actually eating a brownie.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

3 comments:

  1. I'd just like to mention that this issue, like the last few, wasn't drawn by Greg Land but by Ken Lashley. Greg Land only did the cover.

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  2. I find myself really enjoying this comic. As of now it is the only X-men comic I like (sad because I absolutely adore Evan and like Idie but I just don't like the All New X-men run). I think every character is well done and made to be very interesting. I didn't even like Monet before this and so far I'm invested in her story! I agree it was a little weird to see the two story lines have nothing to do with each other but at least they were both compelling. But hey we have the real Warren back and he's my favorite of the original X-men so I can't wait to see where this goes! Great review as always you have a real talent in writing these and I love reading them.

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