I say this because even at my most drunk, which is saying something, I never got the impression that the relationship between X-23 and O5 Angel was meaningful romance. Is it sweet at times? Yes. Is it cute? Sure. Is it a blossoming romance? No. It's not. It just isn't. Ever since the events of Black Vortex, it's like they're just looking for an excuse to break up or star in their own vampire series. All-New X-men #12 promises to give them that excuse or drag this shit out even longer. We're either going to squee or we're going to throw up. Or maybe we'll do both. Either way, I'm drunk enough to handle both.
At the moment, there's about as much romantic chemistry between X-23 and O5 Angel as there is between a pile of dog shit and a dead frog. O5 Angel is going to some rich douche fashion gig in Milan. X-23 is alone, bored, and restless as fuck. Unlike most teenagers, bitching about things on Facebook and taking shitty selfies on Instagram doesn't help. She's the fucking Wolverine now. She needs to stab shit in order to function properly. That's still healthier than some of the teenage girls I knew in high school, but that's another story.
O5 Angel is gone. O5 Beast is locked in his lab, still fucked up after the events of Apocalypse Wars. Kid Apocalypse and Idie are out trying desperately to get O5 Iceman laid. On top of that, O5 Cyclops is still stuck in a wheelchair, recovering from shit that happened before Apocalypse Wars. Seeing as how his adult self ends up killing Charles Xavier, there's something poetically just about his condition.
He still makes the most of it. He takes some of O5 Beast's gear and helps X-23 find something to stab. On top of that, he sees how pissed off she is about O5 Angel. Being in a wheelchair doesn't make him less perceptive and understanding. It's enough to make you wonder why X-23 didn't make a greater effort to hump him instead of a perpetually brooding rich pretty boy. Maybe she just wasn't willing to dye her hair red or wear white lingerie. She has her limits, I guess.
With O5 Cyclops' help, she's off to start stabbing shit. With help from the junk food addicted Pickles, who is still way more fun than 99 percent of the shit we've seen from X-23 and O5 Angel's relationship, she arrives in the Amazon ready to bust some heads. There's some nice inner musings where Hopeless captures X-23's approach to a stab-heavy mission. It's an approach that would make Logan so proud.
There's just one problem. She arrives too late. Before she can start stabbing anyone, she finds out they've already been stabbed. Someone beats her to the punch. That's like stealing my whiskey or hiding Snoop Dogg's weed. It denies X-23 something that defines her. It's pretty damn infuriating. For a teenage girl with excessive stabbing tendencies, it can't be healthy.
She tries a couple more missions, courtesy of Pickels' teleporting and O5 Cyclops' aid. One takes her to Toronto where Mole Man is growing killer plants. One takes her to a train trying to suck up Inhuman fart clouds for Cameron Hodge. Both end up being a bust. Mole Man is already defeated. Then again, he's the kind of guy that Squirrel Girl can probably take down on an off-day so maybe that's a good thing.
It's when she finds Hodge beaten that X-23 really starts to get pissed. She needs to stab something, damn it! Hopeless makes this very clear with her inner musings. Again, it's a decent insight into the mind of a teenage girl who became Wolverine. The lack of stabbing is just getting to her, so much so that she drowns her sorrows in Twinkees. Unless you're a stoner, that's just physically and emotionally unhealthy.
Finally, she finds a mission where there's still something to stab. Naturally, it's in Florida, the land of gators, drunk Gator fans, and 95 percent of America's embarrassing headlines. There's a demon infestation at some self-storage unit. Considering the shit Florida tends to find in Disney World dumpsters, I'd say that's about a 6.2 on the weirdness factor. It doesn't matter though. It's finally something to stab.
For X-23, it's as therapeutic as a trip to Tahiti and an endless supply of martinis. She describes her inclination to violence as a curse, which makes her more self-aware than most teenagers who just think their English teacher is out to get them. She turns that curse into something positive, like stabbing demons and assholes who deserve it. That's perfectly in line with the legacy of Wolverine, taking an inclination to violence and doing something awesome with it. Pretty sure Logan would be crying tears of joy right now.
Logan would probably start banging his head against the wall when O5 Angel shows up to undermine X-23's therapeutic stabbing. He doesn't just show up reeking of rich douche and caviar either. He's packing a full Black Vortex powered rage boner, which helps incinerate demons and makes shit awkward with his pseudo-girlfriend. I say pseudo because I may be a little high and some teen romances just aren't genuine enough to be otherwise.
What follows disrupts a perfectly good demon-stabbing party. It's also a case study in all the shit that's wrong with the X-23/Angel relationship. Once again, O5 Angel lies. He yells at her for being so fucked up by normal standards, but perfectly healthy by Wolverine standards. X-23 admits she fakes not being fucked up around him. I doubt that's all she fakes. Keep in mind, she originally wanted to bone O5 Cyclops, the same guy who is destined to bone Jean Grey and Emma Frost. I'm pretty sure she knows on some level that she's getting sloppy seconds at best.
More yelling and bullshit teen angst follow. There's more demon fighting in between, but that shit gets crowded out by more yelling. O5 Angel brings up X-23's history of cutting herself, which is a nice reference to the wonderful run Marjorie Liu had with X-23. It's still a real dick move for him to bring up. It's not the only dick move between them. There's all the angst about X-23 letting herself get hurt all the damn time and O5 Angel getting too drunk on Black Vortex. It's shit we've heard before. It brings nothing new or meaningful to the table.
That, in my ways, is the biggest shortcoming of the Angel/X-23 relationship. They bitch and moan about the same shit again and again. They never really take more steps. Even teenagers understand shit needs to progress after a while. These two yell at each other about the same shit and it never fucking changes. They don't support each other. They lie to each other. They shut each other out. Even by teen standards, that's not a healthy relationship. There are Seinfeld reruns that have healthier relationships than this.
It would be a damn good time for these two to just cut their losses, end things right here, and try to salvage some form of friendship. If Gwyneth Paltrow can do it with her ex-husband, then they have no fucking excuse. Well, they need a fucking excuse now because despite all the unhealthy shit they yell at one another, they still come together and fucking kiss. It's like a fight on Jerry Springer that ends with a kiss, a blowjob, and a massage. It's totally out of place, out of character, and reeking of bullshit.
Again, Hopeless tries to make it sincere. It just comes off as forced. O5 Angel gets all angsty about the Black Vortex. X-23 comforts him. Somehow that's enough to overshadow all the fucked up problems they yelled at one another. I know teenagers are irrational creatures, but even their hormones and melodrama have their limit. X-23 just claims she understands and that's enough? I'm sorry, but understanding how fucked up someone is doesn't make for a healthy relationship. It makes for a competent therapist, but that's about it.
What about the demons? Well, they just fucking leave. That's right. It's not enough that this bullshit teen romance that even 90210 fans roll their eyes at seems destined to drag. The entertainment value that usually comes with a demon fight is essentially ditched. Are we really supposed to find more bullshit from X-23 and O5 Angel to be more entertaining? Maybe I'm too drunk to make sense of it, but that just doesn't seem right.
We do get a glimpse of the source of the demons. She looks like Madelyne Pryor. She has horns like Magik. I don't know who she is, but if her demons do a way with this bullshit teen romance that can only function through force, she can't be all evil.
So...is it awesome?
I usually do give points for effort, if only because my old gym and calculus teachers weren't so merciful. I get the sense Hopeless is genuinely trying to make X-23/Angel a thing. I really don't doubt his sincerity. The problem is that, even by teen drama standards, it falls flatter than warm bottle of non-alcoholic beer.
There's no way around it. X-23 and O5 Angel have to really be forced in order for them to function. That's like a marriage that can only work by having both members cheating on one another at all times. It gives absolutely no indication that it can function in a believable, compelling way. At a time when Deadpool's marriage to a succubus is the most functional relationship in the comics, that's pretty fucking sad. All-New X-men #12 tries to be deep. It doesn't fail miserably, but it doesn't succeed spectacularly either. It just ensures we'll have to endure this bullshit phony teen drama a bit longer. It may work on 90210, but even that shit got canceled after a while.
Final Score: 5 out of 10