Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Death of X #3: Nuff Said!

I'm of the firm belief that anyone is capable of becoming a total asshole. I don't care if you're a pacifist nun who nurses sick animals back to health. Get stuck in traffic for three hours, get overcharged by your cable company, or get the wrong order from Starbucks and your inner asshole is going to emerge. You may not be the kind of asshole that takes a baseball bat to a window, but you'll still show you have it in you.

Cyclops has been an asshole at many stages of his life. Nobody is really shocked by that shit anymore. They haven't been since he got shit for marrying a clone. However, the key to being a true asshole is to take it out on those who don't deserve your assholery. In that sense, it's debatable how much of an asshole Cyclops is in Death of X because he's taking it out on the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. These are a team of unapologetic assholes who never did shit for anyone until it became too much of an inconvenience, but thanks to movie rights bullshit, they're treated as though their shit doesn't stink.

I say all of this because Marvel is making a concerted effort to turn Cyclops into the ultimate asshole. That shouldn't be too hard because he's been an asshole before, but against the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners, Marvel is really pissing into the wind. They start going for broke in Death of X #3 and let's just say I'm not standing downwind of them in anticipation.


Just as in the last two issues, you can really tell which group has their movie rights with Marvel and which has their rights held hostage by a bunch of crack-addicted Fox lawyers. The Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners decided it's too damn inconvenient to just go to Madrid, work with the X-men in containing the riots that Cyclops helped trigger, and do actual hero work. Instead, they used the powers of their newest recruits to knock every single mutant and human out cold in Madrid. On top of that, they did it with a goddamn smile as though they just brought a sick puppy back to life.


Crystal and her team of fellow Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners stand over a messy, decimated city full of unconscious people and smiles. She and her buddies just shrug this shit off, thinking they just succeeded because they didn't have to unnecessarily inconvenience themselves. This is what passes as heroic for these guys. Never mind that they knocked all these people out without asking and didn't even warn the X-men, who were actually trying to get their hands dirty in saving lives. You know, like actual heroes.

I guess that concept is retarded Latin for them. Instead of actually getting their asses in gear, looking to mitigate the damage they caused by knocking everyone unconscious, they focus more on giving their new recruit a fucking code-name. Seriously, that's a higher priority for the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners in this situation. Even so, we're still supposed to think these asshats are the heroes. I don't think there's enough whiskey or weed to make sense of that.

If nothing else, it continues the same theme that Death of X #1 established. It's basically an unspoken rule that the shit of Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners doesn't stink. In fact, they don't even fart. They cough breath mints and spit imported vodka. Nothing they do is bad, but nothing they do is all that heroic either. Never-the-less, the X-men are supposed to work with them to fix this problem. I may be a drunk, but even I know when some relationships are just doomed to fail.


Storm and her team of X-men can keep trusting that a team of Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners will go out of their way to help a vulnerable minority. Hell, she can trust that Lindsey Lohan won't fail another drug test. That still does mutants a disservice. Emma Frost understands this. That's why she's trying a different approach. That approach probably doesn't require her to be damn sexy every step of the way, but that's never stopped her before.

She and Cyclops are already hatching a plan and she's even recruiting Magneto to help them. It's not a complicated plan. It just involves Magneto keeping the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners in Madrid so they can do what they need to do. Given Magneto's history with other groups that have a legacy of racism, xenophobia, and genocide, it's safe to say he'll be plenty motivated. Emma doesn't even need to flash him her tits.


Another part of this elaborate plan involves the Stepford Cuckoos recruiting the services of another mutant. This takes them to England, home of Dr. Who, James Bond, and countless James Bond rip-offs. There, they meet up with Thomas Jones, also known as Alchemy. He's a mutant. He's not the kind of mutant who jumps at the chance to wear skin-tight spandex uniforms, but he's in a position to help. He also doesn't need to have to be knocked out or psychically manipulated to help a situation. That alone makes him more likable than every Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners not named Kamala Khan.


As this plan goes into motion, the rest of the X-men in Madrid wake up and realize that there may be some risks to working with Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners who don't like being inconvenienced. Considering they got knocked out in a city that's supposed to be ground zero for a big green mutant-killing fart cloud, that's bound to make some of them anxious. Storm certainly understands that. Having been the one to reach out to the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners, I imagine she's a little pissed, especially when Iceman points out that everybody got knocked out except Crystal and her Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owner buddies.

If we didn't already know how badly this shit would play out for the X-men and the entire mutant race, this scene might have had more impact. Sadly, we do know how it plays out. We do know that the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners come out of this smelling like Jennifer Lawrence's panties while the X-men come out smelling like Johnny Depp's last three movies. It does at least sew the seeds of doubt in the heads of the X-men that maybe the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners aren't going to do shit to help them when their species is going extinct. They may not know this now, but it does set them up to learn the hard way down the line.


After wasting plenty of time fawning over the code name of their newest recruit, Crystal and her fellow Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners finally feel inclined to get their asses in gear and help out all the people they knocked out without permission. Storm and her team of X-men decide to confront them first, if only to point out that what they did was an omega level dick move.

Crystal acts as though it's not a big deal. They knock out a bunch of innocent people and accomplished heroes without permission. She treats it like she just overcharged them for a burrito at Taco Bell. Apparently, Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners don't understand that knocking out innocent people is a bad thing. Does it really take a lecture from Captain America to teach these assholes what constitutes a dick move?


Naturally, things get more tense than one of Tom Cruise's divorce settlements. The Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners, still averse to being inconvenienced in any way, decide the best way to deal with the X-men is to knock them out again. If anyone still has any sympathy for the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners, then I can't help you and neither can my weed dealer. Just stick to watching reruns of Duck Dynasty.

This time, however, the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners don't get to do things the easy way. This comes courtesy of Magik, who drops by and snatches up the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owner who knocked everybody out. This confuses both sides, but at least it makes things more balanced. The Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners probably aren't used to that shit so that's fitting. It says a lot about them that a demon-loving teenage girl is more likable than they are. She makes this conflict feel balanced for once, which can't sit well with the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. It's the first time where they can't carry themselves like their shit doesn't stink.


The situation gets unbalanced again, but this time in the X-men's favor. Seeing as how they got knocked out against their will when they went out of their way to work with the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners, I'd say this makes them even. However, this imbalance comes courtesy of Magneto so we have to grade this situation on a curve.

He comes packing plenty of Magneto-level heat. He also brings backup like Colossus, Wolfsbane, Rockslide, and Warpath. These are X-men who can do way more than just inconvenience the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. He makes clear that they're not going to do shit at this point. They just proved that they like to solve problems by knocking people out and treating it as though they just cured a sick baby. He even keeps Storm's team from interfering because they already lost their credibility by thinking they could trust the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. It's often hard to take Magneto's side when he's got a rage boner, but in this case, I don't even need to be high to sympathize with him.


With the rest of the X-men and the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners restrained, Cyclops and his people put their plan into motion. They arrive outside of Madrid, staring down a massive green fart cloud that's on its way to maim innocent mutants while strengthening Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners. It's the kind of sight that would make a lawyer at Disney squee with joy, but for mutants, it's the kind of pants-shitting terror that hasn't been seen since Brett Ratner.

Before it hits, Cyclops has a word with Alchemy. In doing so, he actually sounds like the Cyclops we know and love from the past several years. He doesn't come off as someone whose about to commit the worst atrocity since Joel Shumacher. He comes off as someone who just wants to save his people. He doesn't even force Alchemy to help them. That alone makes him much more credible than the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners, who jump at the chance to knock innocent people out cold when the situation becomes too hard.

It still feels hallow though. We know how this is going to end. We know Cyclops is still going to become the most hated person in Marvel comics who isn't a secret Hydra agent. At the very least, we're getting one last glimpse into who Cyclops is. He's not out to commit atrocities. He's out to save his people. If that's going to make him a monster, then so be it. He'll still be more likable than any Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owner not named Kamala Khan.


So...is it awesome?

The story is coherent. Things move forward, tensions rise, and nobody is more an asshole than they need to be. Given that the bar is so damn low with the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners, that's probably the best we can hope for these days. At the very least, the rest of the X-men start to recognize that the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners can be assholes who will only ever do what is least inconvenient to them, even if it means knocking people out against their will.

If Death of X #3 accomplishes anything, it lays the foundation for future conflicts, namely Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners vs. X-men. It also provides a greater hint for what sort of horrifically evil shit Cyclops will end up doing that makes him so hated. It's still overly vague, but at the very lease, his motivations are the same as they've always been. He wants to save the mutant race from yet another extinction. After the last one killed Charles Xavier, his reputation, and his relationship with Emma Frost, I'm pretty sure he's extremely motivated to avoid another shit storm like that.

There are still a lot of problems with the setup, characterization, and context of this story. We know how it ends. We know mutants get an omega-level screw job thanks to Cyclops. Death of X has a chance to provide context to it all. For now, all it's doing is showing that the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners can be assholes and nobody gives a shit. That, more than anything, sums up the current state of the X-men.

It's like watching a football game where you know the Patriots are cheating, but nobody does shit about it. Even Roger Goodell would see the issues with this setup and you wouldn't have to bribe him. This makes for a hallow story, but at least Death of X #3 tries to be more coherent and balanced than previous issues. It still fails, but it doesn't fail miserably and that's as close to a win as the X-men can get these days.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

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