Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Extraordinary X-men #13: Nuff Said!

How fucked are you when your sanctuary is infested by demons? The answer to that question is the primary theme of Extraordinary X-men. Mutants go from having a large, peaceful protest in the middle of DC to being safer among demons than they are among humans. That's a whole new level of fucked that few things outside Japanese anime porn can match. They still blame Cyclops, but oddly ignore the fact that the Inhumans aren't doing jack shit about the big fucking fart cloud that's killing them. I'm guessing they know that demons are less menacing than Disney lawyers at this point.

As fucked as they are, there comes a point where setting up shop in a demon-infested realm is going to leave the X-men too fucked to function. They barely functioned enough to survive another trip to another dystopian future involving Apocalypse. How can they expect to survive in a domain where demons pop up more often than annoying cat videos? Extraordinary X-men #13 sets the stage for the X-men to get just a little more fucked. At this point, does it really matter? I'm hoping a non-sober mind like mine can make that determination.


That said, I think it's safe to assume that the mind of a demon-loving teenage girl isn't inherently sober. It's just not something anyone who values the integrity of their asshole to say out loud. To be fair, Magik has been more collected and coherent in recent months. Since befriending a fellow demon-lover in Sapna, she's kind of mellowed somewhat, albeit only to the extent that a demon-loving teenage girl can. I still think she needs some better weed, but it has made her less overtly evil compared to recent years. That or this is just the natural byproduct of not hanging out with Emma Frost quite as much.

The problem is that during Apocalypse Wars, Sapna disappears for reasons that aren't entirely clear to a non-sober mind. Since Magik isn't eager to hang out with Emma Frost again, she goes looking for her. She even finds a portal and Sapna's pet demon, Boogers. I'm usually reluctant to root for demon-loving teenage girls, but Jeff Lemire makes it pretty damn easy here. How can you not root for a girl a demon named Boogers? It's like rooting against breast implants and puppies.


While Magik is taking care of her personal shit, the rest of the X-men have their own shit to deal with. The aftermath of Apocalypse Wars actually has an impact here. Let me pause for a second to acknowledge why that's a big fucking deal. Keep in mind, the X-men are in this shit storm because they got massively screwed off-panel after Secret Wars. So the concept that the aftermath of a major event helps build the next story feels pretty damn novel when it really shouldn't. Yeah, that's where we are with X-men comics these days, but I digress.

Apocalypse Wars may be over, but Apocalypse still did some pretty nasty shit. He turned Colossus into a horseman and now he's missing. That lead the team to take the old, wrinkly version of Apocalypse from the 30th century back to the past in hopes that he'll help undo the shit he did to Colossus. Plus, they already have Old Man Logan on their team and he's worked out well. I guess they figure getting another grumpy old fuck from a future can only help. At a time when prominent X-men are either dead or time-displaced, I can't argue with that logic.


As they're looking for ways to make Apocalypse undo the shit he did to Colossus, Nightcrawler and Iceman are taking the more direct approach. They're out in the non-demon world that's dominated by racist xenophobic slave-owners and the Marvel Universe that supports them. They're looking for Colossus and they're focusing on Clan Akkaba, who have long had a boner for all things Apocalypse. They probably could enlist help from the Avengers, but they're probably busy sucking the dicks of every racist xenophobic slave owners on Attilan.

This ends up being a surprisingly heated fight, especially from Nightcrawler. He's still pretty fucked up after the first arc. He takes it out on Clan Akkaba here. Let's face it, there are far less healthy ways he could deal with his shit. Sure, Iceman keeps him from going full Wolverine berserker rage, but it's refreshing to see Nightcrawler kick some ass. It also is an indirect hint of sorts that he's not totally in line with Storm's way of doing things, which plays out in Civil War II. Again, for a team that gets fucked over off-panel a lot lately, this kind of coherence is pretty damn refreshing.


Kicking the asses of Apocalypse worshipers is entertaining enough. There are still some demon asses to kick as well. This is where Storm meets up with Magik to get in on the action. It even leads to a nice little moment of sorts where Storm makes clear that she's willing to help even the demon-loving members of her team. That's why she's so respected by X-men, Avengers, and Wakandan kings. Helping a fellow X-men search for their demon-loving protege? It probably beats hearing whiny teenagers bitch about the lack of wifi in Limbo.

She follows Magik into the portal she finds with Sapna's pet, Boogers. Having already ventured into an Apocalyptic future, jumping through demonic realms must seem downright boring. It makes for some great visuals. A bag of weed isn't even necessary to enjoy them, but it certainly doesn't hurt.


They eventually show up in an apocalyptic version of London, which I imagine isn't much different from how London is during rush hour these days. They don't find Sapna, but they do find a bunch of John Constantine wannabes and assorted demon creatures. Their first instinct, naturally, is to attack the beautiful women. Like angry Twitter trolls, they don't need a reason. They don't seem to know anything about Sapna, which kind of stalls the plot, but it means more Storm and Magik fighting demons. Who can't get behind that? Who, I ask?


We then find out there may be another reason why Storm decided to fight demons rather than stick around X-Haven. While fixing Cerebro and dealing with the injured students from Apocalypse Wars, Old Man Logan and Forge get into a heated dick-measuring contest. It doesn't involve demons or Apocalypse worshipers, but it's still pretty damn relevant.

Remember, these are two men who have either seen Storm naked or are inclined to want to see her naked. Storm did share a few meaningful moments with Old Man Logan earlier in this series. She has also made it clear that her panties are still quite dry around Forge. So these two do have a reason to resent each other. They don't say it outright, but it's pretty damn obvious. I would say it's petty, but we're talking about seeing Storm naked here. I'd say the stakes are pretty damn high. Does it contribute much to the story? Fuck no. Is it still entertaining and relevant? Fuck yes. So it balances out.


There are more relevant battles going on, although the stakes don't involve a naked Storm so their importance is debatable. Iceman and Nightcrawler attack another Clan Akkaba stronghold in Egypt. That goes about as well as a vacation to Afghanistan. The action here is a bit more muted. Then again, it doesn't involve who gets to see Storm naked, so that's to be expected. Nightcrawler doesn't get to go berserker this time, but only because they find some actual leads on Colossus. Not sure which is better for Nightcrawler's mental health, but it moves the story along.


It's a story that has a lot of moving pieces now. We've got Storm and Magik fighting demons in their search for Sapna. We have Nightcrawler and Iceman fighting Clan Akkaba in their search for Colossus. We have Forge and Old Man Logan wanting to strangle each other over who gets to see Storm naked. It's a little chaotic, but each fight has its own appeal. Like different flavors of vodka or different strands of weed, they each have something to offer. The X-men have always been good at providing a variety of awesome. It's just one of the many things that make them more appealing than any team of racist xenophobic slave-owners.


Another thing the X-men are good at providing, sometimes to an annoying degree, are ominous hints about shitty futures. Having just gotten back from one in Apocalypse Wars, that's the last thing the X-men need, other than more clones or time travelers. This time, however, the ominous hints are a bit more concise. It turns out Clan Akkaba read Apocalypse Wars too. They seem to be aware of the apocalyptic shit that's going to unfold. Some of that shit involves more dead X-men. So long as they get the dignity of dying on-panel, they can't be too disappointed. They sure as shit shouldn't be surprised either. Another apocalyptic future is basically just another Monday for the X-men these days.


So...is it awesome?

Well, there are some interesting and semi-interesting things going on here. There is a genuine aftermath to Apocalypse Wars and it isn't cast aside like a used condom in a whore house. That may not sound like much, but at a time when iconic characters killed killed off-panel, that's a bit more important these days. There are a few personal moments as well. Magik actually shows some emotion that doesn't just involve getting horny around demons. So that's a nice touch. Old Man Logan and Forge are on the brink of strangling each other over who gets to see Storm naked. That definitely has some entertainment value as well. Is it enough though?

Well, as most X-men fans can attest since Secret Wars, the bar is pretty fucking low right now. They're in a world where racist xenophobic slave-owners get preferential treatment. We can't expect X-men comics to be as thorough or as epic as they once were. If we get a story that's concise, diverse, and exciting, we need to embrace it. The fact that nobody else gets sterilized in this issue is a victory in and of itself. Extraordinary X-men #13 may only make your panties half-wet, but that's what we have to work with these days. When shit is this bleak, you make a shit sandwich and you enjoy it for what it is.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

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