Friday, September 23, 2016

Uncanny X-men #13: Nuff Said!

When villains become heroes and heroes become villains, it doesn't always mean the Scarlet Witch got drunk on chaos magic again and inverted everybody. It can also mean that a situation is now so utterly fucked that we can't help but cheer for villains to some extent. For the X-men, who rely heavily on sterilization, time travel, and alternate universes to hold themselves together, I'd say they're fifteen steps past fucked.

That's why I think people are ready to actually root for the Hellfire Club. For once, it won't just be the pro-orgy, pro-corruption, pro-Victorian fashion enthusiasts who will be cheering. The world is basically giving a big middle finger to the mutant race. The Hellfire Club is poised to do the same and get laid in the process. Who wouldn't respect that? They've been operating behind the scenes since Uncanny X-men began under Cullen Bunn. In Uncanny X-men #13, he's finally getting around to digging a little deeper. I'm expecting plenty of orgy and wine to be mixed in. Bet you're not going to get that shit on New Attilan.

Other than orgies and wine, the X-men do show that they can work with the Hellfire Club when corrupt companies and Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners are involved. Together, they launch an attack on an oil rig run by the Someday Corporation, the overly shady motherfuckers from the first arc of this series that claimed to help mutants by letting them sleep through this latest shit storm. They suspect that a company that puts mutants in comas may have a less noble agenda. That's like saying Mel Gibson may have an anger management problem.

In the least surprising development since Adam Sandler failed to get nominated for an Oscar, the X-men and their orgy-loving allies are attacked on the rig by a team of weaponized mutants. This makes for some heavy action, complete with some nice little insight from Psylocke, who is basically the one getting most pissed off by this team-up. Seeing that she's on a team with Sabretooth, that's saying something.

It's a fun, gritty battle that's perfectly in line with the battles Magneto's team has fought throughout this series. With the Hellfire Club involved, it becomes even more appropriate. However, they all do keep their clothes on during the fight so maybe there's still room for improvement.

It's not just mindless slap-fighting either. There is a strategy involved here. That strategy involves Mystique doing some sneaky shit behind the scene and being sexy as hell while doing it. That's a damn good strategy by default. It involves singling out one weaponized mutant, sedating him, and letting Arcangel carry him off. I don't know the merit of that strategy, but Mystique is involved so I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt. Well, that and my penis won't let me do otherwise.

The battle intensifies. The X-men and their new orgy-loving buddies are surrounded. Shit is going south faster than a constipated horse with food poisoning. Then, one of the weaponized mutants gets a psychic message and they leave. It's ominous and vague as fuck, but that's what happens. They just up and leave.

Is it a somewhat disappointing way to end a gritty, visceral clash between X-men and weaponized mutants? Yes, to some degree it is. However, it doesn't come off as completely meaningless because Mystique still succeeds with her strategy. Either the Someday Corporation is just trolling them or they have a strategy of their own. If it leads to Mystique being sneaky and sexy as hell, then I'm all for it.

Once all the weaponized mutants are gone, they enter the belly of the rig and find the same disturbing shit they've found before with Someday. They have mutants in statis tubes, hoping they'll wake up in a future where mutants aren't sterilized, heroes aren't fighting one another, and every hooker looks like Emma Frost. That's probably hoping for way too fucking much, but I can't say I blame them for wanting to sit this shit out.

Again, there's no big surprises here. These people weaponize mutants. Anyone who thinks they're being entirely honest with their business probably buys diet pills from Dr. Oz. Psylocke finds out there's some mind-fucking going on with these mutants and not the fun kind that the Hellfire Club probably enjoys every other Tuesday. Nobody looks surprised, nor should they be. They just know for certain now that more people need to have their heads bashed in.

They return to the Hellfire Club, which also happens to have a research lab that may or may not also act as a porno set. There's more curious insight from Psylocke, whose attitudes towards the Hellfire Club are skeptical at best. I'm sure she doesn't trust any organization that thinks lingerie is a suitable uniform. Then again, she has been on teams with Emma Frost so maybe she's not one to talk.

She remains less focused on those who enjoy one too many orgies and more on the mind-fucking that the Someday Corporation is pulling. She dips into the mind of the mutant they captured from the rig. She finds out he's from Mongolia and his life as a mutant really sucks donkey balls, which is fairly typical in any world where Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners get preferential treatment. He jumps at the chance to find sanctuary with Someday for reasons that are entirely understandable. Even so, he had to know on some levels that they were going to screw him over. It's like getting a loan from Tony Soprano. Somebody is going to break some bones at some point.

It leads to a flashy psychic journey into the mind of an ordinary mutant who doesn't want to be an X-man or live in a world where it sucks this much for mutants. It's a rare insight into the mutant population that gets glossed over/screwed over in X-men comics too often. Having Psylocke enter a mind, wielding her classic costume, and uncovering a painful psychic presence is just a nice bonus that moves the story forward.

Mystique may not share Psylocke's psychic gifts, but she's every bit as good at doing her job and looking sexy as hell in the process. She still has her own strategy and it involves doing what she does best, infiltrating a shady organization and finding ways to screw them over in ways they won't enjoy. It's a beautiful thing. It helped make Jennifer Lawrence's career. I always get a little emotional seeing it.

She's not nearly as charming as Jennifer Lawrence this time around. She gets in, she fights a few guards, and snaps a few necks. That's pretty much Mystique on a Monday. Once she's in, she takes the form of one of the mutant weapons and does a little digging. She ends up finding a surgery center that probably isn't just doing cheap boob jobs. Historically, surgery and mutants are like napalm and meth labs. It's bad combination.

It's also usually a bad combination to have a powerful telepath in the mind of a disturbed mutant. It only helps when one of those telepaths is sexy as hell. The sexiness, however, doesn't protect Psylocke from a little psychic trap. While in the mind of the hapless mutant who just wanted to sleep through this shit storm, she finds out the mind-fucking began shortly after they put him into stasis. That's right. Someday didn't even let him dream about a future where Jean Grey is President, Charles Xavier is the Pope, and Wolverine is Secretary of Whiskey. They just go right to mind-fucking him. Even the folks at Halliburton would say that's cold.

It's painful. It's disturbing. It's also flashy as hell, as are most psychic battles. As Psylocke is trying to dig through this unlucky mutant's mind, Mystique is snapping more necks. She doesn't like being left behind of course she's going to overcompensate. It's part of what makes her so skilled and sexy. She tries fighting off the asshats in the surgery room while Psylocke tries to find the source of the mind-fucking. It gets a little chaotic and a little confusing, as do most things that involve mind battles and shape shifters. Again, it helps when the characters involved are sexy as hell so at least there's entertainment value.

In the end, it's Mystique who uncovers the source of the mind-fucking. She's competitive. She's not going to let a purple-haired ninja beat her to the punch. That's what makes her so damn good at her job. However, she may regret being so damn good because the source of the mind-fucking isn't someone whose neck is easily snapped. It's Exodus.

Remember this asshole? He's powerful. He's mean. He looks like he lost one too many fights with a tanning both. He's also a powerful psychic and someone who actively looks for excuses to piss off the X-men. His presence is intriguing in that it exposes some secrets about the Someday Corporation. It also hints that there may be another battle between X-men and Exodus. I guess it beats the hell out of them fighting other heroes for once. it awesome?

I guess that depends on how intrigued you are on any story that involves Exodus mind-fucking people. Personally, I find that shit pretty damn intriguing. Magneto is no boy scout, but Exodus is right up there with tobacco lobbyists and traffic cops in terms of being an asshole. Cullen Bunn has been weaving all sorts of vague mysteries surrounding the Someday Corporation since Uncanny X-men began. I took 13 issues, but we finally have some answers and I can now say it was worth the wait.

Like a slow-burning candle that fills a room with the scent of peppermint and chocolate, Uncanny X-men #13 took a while to get noticeably awesome. It drags at times and gets a little disorganized. However, it still finds a way to make your asshole clench for all the right reasons. It also gives you a damn good reason to pick up the next issue. For the good of the series and the good of Disney's accountants, that's a win in my book.

Final Score: 7 out of 10


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