Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Uncanny X-men #11: Nuff Said!

Some things never get old. A cold beer, chocolate donuts, and masturbation come to mind. On the other side of that coin though, there are some ideas that are never good ideas, yet people still keep trying to make them work. I'm not talking about Fantastic Four movies or Comcast customer service either. I'm talking about the kind of shit that never ends well, but people still can't take the fucking hint. That's the best way to describe any idea that involves turning mutants into weapons.

Apocalypse Wars is over. Cullen Bunn, still intent on proving that he deserves to have his shoes licked clean by Emma Frost, is intent on turning Magneto's team of fuck-this-sterilization-shit X-men into a pack of winners. He steps up to the plate again in Uncanny X-men #11, already with a lead and the bases loaded. So why not use that bat to beat down at the pile of shit concept of making mutants into weapons? Yeah, it gave us X-23, Deadpool, and Wolverine, but sometimes awesome requires that things get messy/bloody as hell.

Bunn decides to skip a couple steps to get to the messy/bloody as hell part and Odin bless him for it. The target is some faceless research facility in Utah that's probably funded by Mormons, corrupt casino owners, and Texas republicans. That makes me feel a lot better when the guards get attacked with one of them being turned into mindless ape who bludgeons his co-worker to death. Still less mindless than a typical Trump supporter though.

I want to have sympathy for guards in the Marvel universe, but these guards aren't military. That means they have a choice in the companies to which they lend their services. If they even suspect that the company is making living weapons, I can't have too much sympathy. How many guards have to die before they realize that living weapons fucking hate guards.

More messy/bloody as hell action follows. A group of mutants who look nothing like Wolverine or Deadpool lead the charge. They're not as brutal or hairy or annoying as other living weapons, but they're still pretty damn efficient. Along the way, one of them offers some nice telepathic insight that highlights a lesser known detail of the current Marvel universe, one that makes the Lewis Black in me want to yell at the nearest small animal.

Mutants are already going extinct. They've been sterilized, exiled, and marginalized to such a degree that shooting a mutant in the street probably qualifies as a tax write-off in some parts of the world. Even so, people are STILL making weapons to fight mutants? That's like the Pentagon spending a billion dollars to develop weapons to kill endangered condors.

It's the kind of obscene logic that only those who deal with Fox's lawyers probably understand. This mysterious team of mutants don't bother trying to understand that logic. They find what they're looking for, namely a tank created from Sentinel technology. More messy/bloody as hell action follows and one of the mutants gets cold feet, which means he gets fucking killed on the spot.

That's another problem with living weapons that too many overlook. When they start to fuck up, they tend to die brutally. You either have to be that stupid or have that strong a stomach to get into that business. It's sad, but then again we live in a world where Fox keeps trying to make Fantastic Four movies.

We already know how shit involving living weapons tends to pan out. We don't know what happens when someone has to merge with their flesh-eating twin brother from another dimension. I'm honestly curious about that sort of thing. Smoking a lot of pot makes you think about that shit. Now, Monet is in that exact situation, having absorbed Emplate during Apocalypse Wars. She's stuck with her brother, who is now part of her mind and body. Not only does she give the most terrifying hand jobs ever, she's got to deal with this while the X-men deal with other sterilization shit.

It's a nice demonstration of inner conflict, something Cullen Bunn does very well. He did this with Angel during Apocalypse Wars. Now Monet has to deal with it in a fairly seamless transition of shit storms. At a time when deaths happen off-panel and entire schools move to Limbo, those seamless transitions are pretty damn valuable.

Another precious resource in this let's-fuck-mutants-over-off-panel era is trust. That's something Magneto kind of pissed away during Apocalypse Wars when he revealed he had been working with Mystique and Fantomex on the side. Psylocke, who has multiple reasons to stab anyone who works with Fantomex in any capacity, is not pleased. Being a sexy psychic who can earn trust by telepathy or flashing her tits, she's probably not used to that.

It leads to a tense, but meaningful conversation while Psylocke is wearing sexy workout clothes. So it's both productive for the plot and sexy as hell. That's a damn good combination in my book. Psylocke reveals that despite his lies, they did save Angel. However, he still lied to her and teamed up with Fantomex and Mystique of all people. She doesn't say it outright, but I think she lets him know he better put an adamantium lock on his balls for the foreseeable future.

On top of that, Psylocke is convinced he's still lying to her. Since one lie is rarely the only lie with a guy like Magneto, she has every reason to do more than just take her frustration out on his balls. That's where Monet comes in. Sure, she has secrets of her own, but what better way to distract from her crazy shit than to expose the crazy shit of someone else? It's perfect logic.

You know what's also a perfect combination? I mean besides Psylocke in sexy workout clothes? Sabretooth living in the Savage Land. This place is to him what living in a brewer is to me. It's a perfect environment that maximizes every one of his violent instincts. There are cute adorable animals that will make it into a Disney movie in this place. There are only angry, blood-thirsty dinosaurs and giant bugs. We don't necessarily need a nice montage of Greg Land artwork to reinforce that concept, but it definitely helps.

It's bloody. It's brutal. It's visceral. It's also completely in line with Sabretooth as a character and living weapons like him. It may not do much to move the story forward, but it does give Sabretooth some overdue insight. Since Uncanny X-men began, he's basically just been a Wolverine place-holder, playing the part of the gruff, burley asshole who stabs things that need stabbing. This gives him a chance to channel his more primal traits, something that Wolverine usually resists unless a cold beer or a cute redhead are involved. It's refreshing and it gives Greg Land an excuse to draw more visceral scenes and we can never have too many of those.

It isn't just visceral hunting that probably makes PETA supporters queasy though. Eventually, Sabretooth's therapeutic bloodlust is interrupted by a renewed and more talkative Arcangel. It's another moment that builds on the aftermath of Apocalypse Wars, as opposed to letting all that shit happen off-panel. He finally has more personality than a toaster oven, but still clearly fucked up by being split in two and not in a sexy sort of way. He comments on how his current state and Sabretooth's are similar. Ominous? Yeah. Vague? Fuck yeah. It's still meaningful enough to keep a non-sober mind interested.

He also lets Sabretooth know that they have a mission. On a team where the leader keeps secrets and one of them is possessed by an inter-dimensional sibling, that may even be relaxing in a strange sort of way. It still means stabbing may be necessary so of course Sabretooth is going to play a part.

This mission takes them away from the savage jungles into a domain that may as well be the exact opposite. I'm talking about the Hellfire Club, an organization where the silverware is actually silver, the clothes are made from endangered animals, and the orgies are always refined. Psylocke decides that since Magneto has too much experience keeping secrets from powerful telepaths, she needs to confront him directly. That means going to the Hellfire Club with Sabretooth and stabbing the truth out of someone, even if that means making blood stains on clothes that probably cost a mortgage just to dry clean.

It's not the first time the Hellfire Club has shown up in this series. Their involvement in Uncanny X-men has been hinted at for a while now. Again, Bunn shows an uncanny commitment to cohesion and connections, something that has been seriously lacking at Marvel since they discovered the benefits of letting shit happen off-panel. So this little visit feels both overdue and right.

It does, however, lead to another awkward revelation that will probably prompt Psylocke into stabbing more than Sabretooth. She makes her way to the Inner Circle, only to find out that it has more familiar faces than she thought. Sure, Magneto is there. That she already suspected, but Monet? The same Monet that encouraged her to look into this in the first place? I'm sure that surprises/pisses her off in one too many ways. She claims they want to talk business, but I'm pretty sure Psylocke is ready to do as much stabbing as Sabretooth after this shit. it awesome?

There's gratuitous bloodshed alongside meaningful plot developments, two ingredients as essential to an awesome comic as beer and porn is to a successful frat party. It's easy, and sometimes necessary, for the aftermath of a major arc to get ignored in favor of something that'll blow more shit up. Cullen Bunn continues to exercise admirable restraint in that respect, focusing more on exploring the fucked up peculiarities of having Magneto lead a team of killer X-men. It's a restraint that even a drunk can admire.

That said, this issue has some of the same flaws that dragged Apocalypse Wars down somewhat. There's a lot of shit going on here, but the connections between the shit isn't all that clear. Don't get me wrong. I like a story about the Hellfire Club and living weapons trashing a military base as much as the next guy, but when you don't read comics sober, it can be more confusing than a non-sober mind can manage. No matter what your mindset though, there's still plenty of fun in gratuitous violence, meaningful plot development, and orgy-loving secret societies. Uncanny X-men #11 has all that and Psylocke in sexy workout clothes. You get your money's worth.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

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