Wednesday, July 27, 2016

X-men 92 #5: Nuff Said!

Remember the days when Marvel had all these iconic romances that gave generations of fans all kinds of feels? That's not a rhetorical question. I really want to know if anyone actually remembers that time and not just because I went to one too many raves in the late 90s. It's true though. There was a time when Marvel did celebrate its iconic romances instead of letting Mephisto fuck them up. Now, Deadpool, who is married to a fucking Succubus, has the most stable marriage in the Marvel universe. Let THAT sink in for a minute.

It's true. There was actually a time when Cyclops and Jean Grey stood as one of Marvel's bedrock romances. It was right up there with Reed/Sue and Spider-Man/Mary Jane, two romances that also got shafted coincidentally. The 90s were a great time for this romance. Then, Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner decided Jean Grey has to be Wolverine's ultimate fuck toy and tried to build movies around that premise. It's a decision that taints just how awesome Cyclops and Jean Grey are as a couple. X-men 92 #5 offers a very overdue reminder of that era. It's an era that, in addition to better party drugs, I miss dearly. That's why I intend to be extra sentimental in this review.

There's definitely plenty of sentiment and the sexy kind no less. Remember, this is a world where Jean Grey didn't die, Cyclops never married a clone, and Emma Frost never mind-fucked anybody. It's a world where Cyclops and Jean Grey are just two people in love, trying to find peace in a world that can't resist the urge to throw killer robots at them. They seem to have found it in a nice, secluded cabin in Alaska, in front of a roaring fireplace. It's the perfect setting for an epic romance, a porno, or both.

There's more than just sentiment though. There's also the inescapable void of not being X-men anymore. Cyclops and Jean Grey left after the Secret Wars tie-in, entrusting Storm to lead the team. That gives them much more time for love and sexy fun, but Jean may not be ready to end her superhero days. She probably wants to do more than just faint at least once in every fight. Cyclops, not being a douche that went evil in this world, is willing to support her because that's what guys do for their women. They don't make deals with Mephisto. They show love and support. Take notes, Peter Parker!

So with all this love and support, the future seems bright. Then, Cyclops and Jean Grey go to sleep and the future kicks them in the ass. By that, I mean they wake up in the year 3992. I know. Even my ass is sore after that.

They're greeted by a semi-familiar face in Rachel Grey, who is the Phoenix in this time. Granted, she's a weak and old Phoenix, but still way more boneable every Inhuman not named Kamala Khan. She still has enough power to use the Phoenix Force to bring Cyclops and Jean Grey into the future, uniform and all. I guess she realizes that they can't save the future while wearing ugly ass Christmas sweaters.

Now it's not quite clear if this version of Rachel is their future daughter. They don't make that abundantly clear early on, but Jean Grey trusts her and that's good enough for Cyclops, who isn't all that fond of anything related to the Phoenix. In his defense, it did nearly kill his girlfriend so who can blame him?

After Jean establishes some trust, they learn that their future is more fucked than they hoped. Turns out Apocalypse, who showed up at the end of the Secret Wars tie-in, took a giant apocalyptic shit on the world, as he tends to do in most X-men related worlds. Half the world died. The rest are basically Apocalypse's bitches. So no, it's not a very pleasant future. I'd still rather live there than one with the fucking Inhumans.

They meet Clan Asakani, who are all too eager to accept help from two X-men. Apparently, Rachel used the Phoenix Force to get help against overwhelming odds. She got Cyclops and Jean Grey as a result. Can't say I disagree with its choice. While Cyclops is somewhat reluctant to take part in another Apocalypse shit storm after having retired, Jean Grey convinces him to join this fight and help Rachel. She doesn't even need to flash him her tits. That's the extent of their love in this world. It's a beautiful thing.

So they set off into the Savage Land towards the Sinister Citadel where Apocalypse's alpha bitch, Mr. Sinister, resides. It leads to a nice little montage of Cyclops and Jean Grey navigating the rigors of this apocalypitc shit storm, complete with T-rexes armed with Cyclops blasts and robot Deadpools. Together, with the aid of Rachel and Blaquesmith, they kick more ass than they've kicked together in over a decade. Again, it's a beautiful thing. Both the 90s kid and the jaded 2016 adult in me can't help but smile.

As nice as the montage is, it's still somewhat rushed. I honestly wanted to see more of Cyclops fighting an army of robot Deadpools. Who the fuck wouldn't? We live in an era where Cyclops dies off-panel and the only Jean Grey we can get is time-displaced. It's still way better than nothing, but I was a greedy little brat in the 90s and that greedy little brat wants more.

Even without a more detailed montage, we get some nice moments in between. Blaquesmith reveals that Rachel Grey is running out of strength and they're running out of time. Once her strength gives out, they'll be sent back to the past. It's basically a much simpler setup than any of the shit storms Beast created in the mainline comics.

That adds even more urgency to the battle at hand. They reach Sinister's Citadel and what do they find? An army of failed Cyclops/Jean clones waiting to kill them. Admit it. You're not surprised in the slightest. Sure, they're failed clones and they're ugly as fuck. They're still more likable than every Inhuman not named Kamala Khan. It makes for another fun fight that's a bit more detailed.

On top of that, Jean Grey never faints. Yes, fans of the old show. She never faints or yells, "Scott!" I'll give X-men fans everywhere a moment to let that sink in for all the right reasons.

They finally reach Sinister. That's when they learn a very unpleasant truth. Turns out, Rachel was working with Sinister the whole time. However, she did it for very non-Sinister reasons. Hell, even Sinister did it for non-Sinister reasons. What do I mean by that? Well, it turns out he doesn't like being Apocalypse's alpha bitch. So he comes up with a plan to kick Apocalypse's ass and he can't complete that plan without Cyclops and Jean Grey. Since Rachel and pretty much everyone else on the planet left alive by Apocalypse's shit storm agrees, she helps him. Even Cyclops can't blame her for that shit.

The result of that help? Well, it actually answers one of the burning questions that the cartoon never got around to answering. It reveals the origin of Cable. In this world, he's not the son of Cyclops and a Jean Grey clone. He's the son of Cyclops and the real Jean Grey. That's a big fucking upgrade by any measure. It also means Jean Grey gets to meet her son, minus the birthing pains. Talk to any woman whoever gave birth and find out just how big a deal that is.

Despite the hostility between Cyclops and Sinister, they still take a moment to welcome their son and future badass, Apocalypse-killing mutant messiah into the world. It's a nice moment that actually creates connections that the old cartoon never got around to making, probably due to budget cuts or Fox executives who think a plot like this doesn't glorify Wolverine enough. That alone makes this issue special.

So the plan is complete. Rachel helps Sinister create the ultimate weapon against Apocalypse. So now what? Do they shake hands, call a truce, and help Cyclops and Jean Grey make less ugly sweaters? Fuck no. Rachel uses what's left of the Phoenix Force to burn Sinister to a crisp. Can anyone honestly say they wouldn't do the same thing? Especially after all the shit he did to her parents?

Yeah, that is finally confirmed for the most part. Rachel is the future daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey. No cloning or genetic experiments necessary. Just good old fashioned lovemaking and birthing pains. They don't get a chance to really have any family time though. That's kind of unavoidable because to kill Sinister, Rachel uses what's left of the Phoenix Force, which had been keeping Cyclops and Jean Grey in the future. So once she uses that up, they fade. It makes for a sad moment where young Cable doesn't get to know his parents very well. It's tragic, but if Disney movies have taught us anything, it's that losing parents is the first step towards being a total badass.

For Cyclops and Jean Grey, their time in this future is over. However, the Phoenix must have been off its game because they don't end up back in their cozy little cabin. They end up in some other fucked up time, facing an entirely different group of mutants claiming to be the X-men. Is it a desirable destination? No. Is it better than ending up in those ugly ass sweaters again? Yeah, I'd say so.

Keep in mind, Cyclops and Jean Grey made it through this without any fainting or love triangles. Chad Bowers and Chris Sims accomplished something that even Bryan Singer couldn't accomplish without a fuckton of money from Fox. That alone is a testament to what this comic accomplishes. it awesome?

Aside from ugly Christmas sweaters, X-men 92 #5 contains the kind of awesome that I thought died on December 31st, 1999. It has everything the mainline comics lack in terms of characterization and romance. There's action, there's romance, and there's family. Sure, there's time travel as well, but it's the kind of time travel that lacks Marty McFly style incest or Beast-level douche-baggery. Hell, I'll French kiss Blaquesmith while sober before I accept any time travel bullshit from Beast.

More than anything else, X-men 92 #5 shows Cyclops and Jean Grey fighting together as equals. They never have to save each other. Nobody faints. Jean never yells "SCOTT! and Cyclops never yells "JEAN!" It actually improves on the X-men 90s cartoon, which for X-men fans is like making Emma Frost's tits bigger. There's a lot to love here. There's romance, drama, and Cyclops punching Deadpool in the jaw. It's the kind of awesome that works in 1992, 2016, and every year in between. So in overall terms of Chad Bowers and Chris Sims' efforts to make Cyclops and Jean Grey awesome again, the results truly speak for themselves. I officially owe these guys a beer, a joint, and whatever the fuck my dealer can get me.

Final Score: 9 out of 10


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