Thursday, April 28, 2016

Old Man Logan #5: Nuff Said!

They say with age comes wisdom. But does it really? Or is it just that as you get older, you stop giving a flying fuck? I guess most of us won’t find out until our hair starts turning gray and we start shitting in bags. For Old Man Logan, he doesn’t have to wait. He knows and despite looking like a walking Just For Men before picture, he carries himself with the kind of wisdom and don’t-give-a-fuck attitude that makes Wolverine awesome.

The first arc of Old Man Logan was a testament and a love letter to everything we love about Wolverine. If I were a woman, I’d return that love letter with naked pictures and a wedding ring. Now, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino are looking to expand Old Man Logan’s role in the new Marvel universe. He’s finally accepted that he’s not in the past. He’s just in a world where mutants are fucked for a whole different reason. At least it’s a world where he hasn’t killed all his friends and Storm isn’t married anymore. Old Man Logan #5 launches the next chapter in his new life and while I may not be a woman, let’s just say naked pictures aren’t entirely off the table.

The first arc ended with him catching up with the events of Extraordinary X-men. This new arc pics up right after that in as good a transition as we can possibly expect from the X-books these days. Old Man Logan needs to run off and do some Wolverine shit again. This leads a nice moment with storm, one that’s full of drama and emotional undertones and possibly some incredible sexual tension. I know Old Man Logan doesn’t look nearly as hot as his former, Hugh Jackman inspiring self, but I imagine Storm needs to get laid just that much at this point.

It’s not about her busting his balls for running off. It’s about her reminding him how much she and the X-men need him. That kind of fucks with Old Man Logan, seeing as how he blames himself for slaughtering the X-men in his world. But that’s exactly what makes the drama so appropriate and juicy. Not sure he’s ready for Storm to jump his bone, but I imagine even Old Man Logan isn’t too old to avoid temptation.

Once again, Andrea Sorrentino’s gritty artwork fits the tone of Old Man Logan like chocolate frosting atop a pot brownie. It makes for a perfect backdrop as Old Man Logan ventures out into a world he doesn’t belong in. It’s also a world that’s being fucked over by clouds of Inhuman farts, but it’s still an upgrade compared to the wasteland he came from, although that’s certainly subject to change. Even so, Sorrentino’s artwork here, depicting Old Man Logan on a motorcycle, couldn’t be more Wolverine-esque without a bottle of whiskey in the background.

He eventually arrives at his destination. It’s an isolated ice road town where the wolf population is higher than the human population. But he’s not just here to pitch a new shitty reality show for the Discovery Channel. He’s there because he came to this same place in his world.

It leads to another wonderfully appropriate, exceedingly brutal flashback. Just like those in the first arc, this one is perfectly placed and beautifully depicted, providing relevant insight into Old Man Logan’s fucked up story. This one involves his efforts to kill himself after he slaughtered his friends. Having an adamantium skeleton and a healing factor made that surprisingly difficult. He even tried letting a train run over his head. And it still didn’t work. Let that sink in for a moment and then go get some aspirin.

It leads to a defining moment for Old Man Logan, one where he buried his X-men costume and his title as Wolverine. It’s the moment that transformed him into this distinct manifestation of Wolverine that is so different from the whiny pretty boy version we see in the movie or the arrogant, don’t-give-a-fuck-and-flirt-with-married-women version that we see in so many comics. It’s an important moment in its own right and one that is even more relevant now that he’s with a new team of X-men in a new world.

This defining moment has all sorts of dramatic weight. Him returning to Weapon X and hoping to punish himself? Not so much. It turns out only half as bad as you would think. Then again, this is after he tried and failed to kill himself by getting his head run over by a train. So it’s a lot more understandable in that context. It basically sets the stage for Old Man Logan to start stabbing things again after he threw away his X-men uniform. That’s one distinction that every form of Wolverine has to embrace to some degree.

Old Man Logan is only slightly less inclined to embrace it compared to his predecessors. Back in the present, he’s more inclined to stop and feed a dog before he stabs something. That doesn’t just win him points with the animal rights crowd. It wins him points with a cute young woman. She doesn’t look like Jean Grey and she’s not a Japanese hooker so there’s nothing overly pornographic about it. It just makes for a nice moment between Old Man Logan and a girl who loves dogs. It’s not as dramatic as stabbing, but it’s a lot less messy.

Return to the flashback and the potential for stabbing is much higher. However, this is during a time when Old Man Logan swore not to fight. So those assholes that attacked him at the Weapon X facility had an advantage. In most other X-men universes, they would have found the business end of Wolverine’s claws in the first half-second and their entrails would become glorified finger paint. But in Old Man Logan’s world, he never draws his claws. He just gets the everloving shit kicked out of him. It might be woefully lopsided, but it’s perfectly appropriate within the context of his history.

This is when we find out why this flashback is so much more relevant than 99 percent of the flashbacks in other comics. This moment, right after Old man Logan gets the shit kicked out of him, is when he meets Maureen. She’s not Jean Grey. She’s not Mariko Yashida. And yet in the world of Old Man Logan, she’s the one who ends up marrying Logan and survives the wedding. That alone qualifies her to participate in girls nights with Carol Danvers, Wonder Woman, and Black Widow.

It’s an important moment both in this story and in the grand scheme of Old Man Logan because Maureen didn’t get a lot of chances to shine. She was just the woman who managed to give Old Man Logan a reason not to run his head over with a train a second time. Here, we find out how they meet and how their relationship unfolds. For someone who managed to convince Old Man Logan to name one of his kids Scotty, I think she’s earned that level of intrigue.

This is where the ties between the flashback and the present become perfectly aligned. Remember that adorable young woman who loves taking care of dogs? Well, that’s the Maureen of this non-dystopian world where Wolverine hasn’t slaughtered his friends. She’s just a young girl at this point in the timeline. And no, it doesn’t get creepy in a way the Vatican would have to cover up. Old Man Logan flat out admits to himself that she’s not the girl he’s destined to fall in love with and start a family. She’s just a girl he needs to protect. It’s a perfectly Wolverine-like thing to do, regardless of age. From Jubilee to X-23, it’s kind of a tradition. At the very least, he has to make sure she doesn’t end up a vampire.

Old Man Logan’s heart might be in the right place, even if his hair color and prostate aren’t. However, he’s still Wolverine. That means he’s bound to attract the kind of danger that needs stabbing. Even in a remote part of Canada like this, that danger finds him and this is no exception. And who better to fuck with Old Man Logan’s reluctance to stab things than Lady Deathstrike? He may not be the same Wolverine she dedicated her life to killing, but I doubt she gives enough fucks to care. It’s another opportunity to maim and torment Wolverine. Like a free beer or lap dance from Emma Frost, who is going to turn that down? it awesome?

When a series like Old Man Logan sets the bar so fucking high, that’s a surprisingly hard question to ask. When that same series keeps fighting new ways to raise the bar and punch the guy raising it in the dick, it gets somewhat easier. Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino have made Old Man Logan the imported scotch of X-men comics and Old Man Logan #5 is just as smooth as all the previous issues, minus the dry heaves and hangovers. It once again ties Old Man Logan’s struggles in this world to the world he lost in the most meaningful, visceral way possible. He’s a different kind of Wolverine, but he’s still the Wolverine we know and love. Being a jaded old fuck just makes us love him more.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

All-New Wolverine #7: Nuff Said!

I give clones a lot of shit on this blog and I think Spider-Man fans will agree. They earn it. But there are exceptions to that shit. There are shining diamonds within those mountains of excrement that make clones a concept that doesn't have to be completely ditched. Case and point, X-23. She's the new Wolverine. She's the one carrying on Logan's legacy. While it's debatable just how much a clone she is since she technically has a mother, she is basically the exact opposite of everything Spider-Man fans have come to associate with clones.

The first arc of All-New Wolverine gave X-23 a chance to show that she's worthy of that legacy. Anyone who doubted her probably kicked themselves in the balls after reading it. She showed the heart, honor, and willingness to stab the right people that would've made Logan proud. But, after saving her clone sisters, there are still plenty more people to stab. All-New Wolverine #7 has her take a break from all the stabbing. And let’s face it, she’s earned it. Even Logan needed a break every now and then. Every brewery and redheaded hooker in Canada would probably agree.

It’s not just the stabbing that wears her out. X-23 also has more baggage than most teenage girls and I’m not just talking about some bitch stealing her prom date. She’s still dealing with the death of Logan, her genetic and de-facto father. And Tom Taylor makes it a point to remind us of that in a flashback, one that evokes just the right set of emotions that makes X-23 a great character and the complete antithesis of Hope fucking Summers.

It’s a powerful moment, one where she urges Logan not to run off. She claims she doesn’t belong with the X-men. Everyone is afraid of her, ignoring at the time that an angry teenage girl is barely the 10th scariest thing the X-men deal with. But Logan shows better parenting skills than 95 percent of everyone who ever appeared on Jerry Springer. He urges her to stay and succeed where he fails. And hanging out with him tends to get her shot, burned, and disemboweled and that’s just from when he pisses off Cyclops. She’s better off not making his mistakes.

It’s a great moment and one Hope fucking Summers never learned form.

That moment gets even more feels when X-23 wakes up from the memory, still urging Logan not to leave. Him being dead now should evoke that sad yet fuzzy feeling in your heart that you probably haven’t felt since the first time you saw the Lion King. Having just rescued her own share of vulnerable clone sisters, she could use Logan’s help more than ever. Were he not dead, he’d have dropped the whiskey bottle and put his pants back on to help. But he’s not here and it’s sad in a beautiful sort of way.

So how do you cheer someone like X-23 up? This looks like a job for Squirrel Girl! Seriously, who is more qualified to cheer up a pissed off teenage girl than someone who is a walking ball of warm, fuzzy joy? And unlike whiskey and hookers, she’ll put a smile on your face for all the right reasons, minus the dry heaves.

She arrives with X-23 carrying a wolverine. No, not the one that looks like a bearded Hugh Jackman. I mean an actual wolverine. He even has a name. She calls him Jonathan, which is kind of like naming a grizzly bear Percy. But it sounds exactly like something Squirrel Girl would do. She’s going to seek Wolverine out for help. Why not bring a real wolverine? Did I mention Squirrel Girl is a non-genius teenage girl who hasn’t been emotionally traumatized yet? Hope that helps make more sense of it.

It turns out bringing an actual wolverine was ingenuous. For reasons that only make sense in Joe Quesada’s mind, the wolverine takes to Gabby like a kitten to a ball of yarn. It’s disturbingly adorable and astonishingly fitting. A clone of Wolverine’s clone with a pet wolverine? It’s basically the perfect pitch for a G-rated Disney movie. The soundtrack alone will kick Frozen’s ass.

But beyond getting Gabby a new pet, Squirrel Girl says she’s there to confront X-23. Apparently, she has a mission for her. This being Squirrel Girl, those missions usually involve little stabbing and more chirping. But after what X-23 went through in the first arc, maybe she could use a little chirping.

X-23 agrees to the mission, if only because Squirrel Girl saved her the trouble of buying Gabby a stuffed animal. However, before she leaves, she confronts Gabby in another emotional moment that echoes with the same feels as the earlier flashback. Gabby doesn’t want her to leave, just like X-23 didn’t want Logan to leave. It beautifully parallels the emotions that X-23 has struggled with throughout her history. If this really were a Disney movie, it would be the perfect moment for a Let It Go style song. It also gives Gabby a chance to show that despite being a clone, she’s an adorable young character with plenty to offer. She’s worth saving and adoring.

You hear that, Hope fucking Summers? This is where you done fucked up.

The mission involved isn’t going to raise anyone’s blood pressure more than a Looney Toons rerun. X-23 and Squirrel Girl venture off on a mission to find a missing squirrel that disappeared after a tree got knocked over. Yes, this is the sort of mission Squirrel Girl prioritizes. And you know what? I don’t have a problem with that at all. That’s not just the weed talking either. It’s just one of those cute little eccentricities that the Marvel universe needs in a world full of killer robots, ugly aliens, and Hope fucking Summers.

X-23 employs her Wolverine skills, picking up a scent and tracing the missing squirrel to some upscale apartment where douche-bags and Donald Trump supporters probably live. There’s no elaborate break-in. Nobody gets stabbed, maimed, or even woken up. It’s not as boring as it sounds. It’s just how things usually go with Squirrel Girl. And after all the grotesque violence in the first issue, this is kind of refreshing. X-23 was due for a break in the violence almost as much as she was due a break from O5 Angel’s whining.

Naturally, X-23 succeeds in her mission with Squirrel Girl. Again, nobody needs stabbing. Sinister didn’t capture the missing squirrel or anything. Mole Man didn’t try to turn it into a monster. Some dipshit kid just captured the squirrel and tried to keep it in a box like a pet, as many dipshit kids tend to do at some point in their lives. At first, they worry that the squirrel might be dead, which is like throwing a kid’s Halloween candy in a furnace. Thankfully, the kid who took the squirrel wasn’t a future serial killer or republican presidential candidate. The squirrel is alive, well, and Squirrel Girl is squeeing with joy. I dare anyone to see that and not smile.

They return the grateful squirrel to its family. And, still being a lovable teenage girl, convinces X-23 to take a selfie and swap numbers. X-23 even cracks a smile, something Wolverine doesn’t usually do unless he sees a naked Jean Grey. It’s a beautiful moment where X-23 finds joy in something that doesn’t involve stabbing. It seems downright therapeutic, not to mention refreshing. It also gives me up that this isn’t the last team-up between Squirrel Girl and X-23. They may not be Cable and Deadpool, but they certainly have the potential to be, minus Deadpool’s dick jokes.

Thanks to Squirrel Girl’s adorable influence, it inspires X-23 to share a nice moment with Gabby. She basically says to her what Logan never got a chance to say. She promises she’ll help her and she won’t just ditch her. Yes, I’m referring to Hope fucking Summers again. I’m sorry, but I do feel like that shit is worth emphasizing because this has the exact opposite effect. It’s heartfelt, dramatic, and brings out the best in both characters. It’s the greatest non-lesbian moment two young female characters can share. it awesome?

Before I answer that, let me just say this. Any story that has Squirrel Girl in it gives me the insatiable urge to hug a stuffed animal. Don't judge me. I have issues. Putting her in a story with X-23 sounds like something that can only work with the aid of really good weed, but I actually read All-New Wolverine #7 sober and I still wanted to hug that stuffed animal. So fuck yes, this was pretty awesome.

It's still a huge fucking shift compared to the last few issues. Nobody got stabbed, decapitated, or bludgeoned in this issue. And this is a fucking Wolverine comic. It's like an episode of South Park without the fart jokes. It seems off, but it still works. I mean, it has an adorable pre-teen girl hugging an actual wolverine. Where else outside of a fucked up beer commercial are you going to get that?

Final Score: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Upholding and Underscoring a Legacy: Action Comics #51

The following is my review of Action Comics #51, which was posted on

Imagine for a moment that the iPhone has been around for 75 years. How many updates, reinventions, breakthroughs, and setbacks would it have gone through? How many features would it have added, dropped, or botched entirely? It's difficult to imagine because there aren't a lot of things that last 75 years these days. There aren't a lot of things that last 25 years these days, the Simspons notwithstanding.

Despite the onslaught of time, Superman finds way to endure. He's goes through transitions, relaunches, reboots, revamps, and gimmicks that would've broken a lesser character. From Superfriends to Richard Donner to Batfleck, Superman navigates these shifting eras as few characters can. Sure, he's been cloned, killed, resurrected, de-powered, and overpowered. He still endures as the heroic ideal, one who sets the standards by which all heroes not named Deadpool are measured.

With the New 52 era coming to an end to make way for Rebirth, Action Comics #51 prepares Superman for yet another transition. It's a transition that presents a unique set of challenges and not just those that involve being upstaged by Batman every now and then. Losing his powers and having his identity exposed now forces Superman to reassess his position in the DC universe. He'll always be one of its primary pillars, but even he understands there's only so much Superman can do, even if he can do obscenely more than most.

It's for that reason that Action Comics #51 builds a story around Superman preparing the world for a time when he can no longer fulfill his position as the gold standard for heroism in the DC universe. It's not him being proactive either. Once again, Superman is dying. This should carry a lot of emotional weight, but between All-Star Superman and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, these emotions feel too familiar.

Despite this familiarity, there are important concepts at play here in terms of Superman's legacy. The issue is these concepts are underdeveloped and underplayed. Action Comics #51 puts Superman in a situation where he has to prepare Supergirl for being the last remaining non-clone, non-hybrid, non-alternate universe Kryptonian on Earth. It's a situation that has so many emotional undertones, but few of those emotions are realized.

That's not to say there aren't powerful moments at play. Peter Tomasi makes it a point to have Superman remind Supergirl why he is the pinnacle hero for every era of his 75-year history. He understands that people are afraid of exceedingly powerful aliens and they're perfectly right to be afraid. Someone who can lift mountains, fly through space, and be friends with Batman is bound to make a lot of people worry. That's why what Superman does is so important. That's why it's important that Supergirl carries on this legacy.

This moment, however, is lacking in terms of emotional impact. It's the most defining moment of the narrative in Action Comics #51, but it's a moment that feels rushed and underdeveloped. In addition, the overall setup for the story is rushed. The whole mystery of Supergirl missing is resolved in the quickest, least dramatic way possible.

The details around this mystery are explained in a throw-away flashback that barely qualify as a teaser. It's more like a skippable video ad than an actual part of the story. Nobody will miss anything by skipping it. That might be fine for video ads, but for the overall story in Action Comics #51, it's wastes ink that is better spent refining the emotional undertones of Superman's predicament. Grant Morrison already made a veritable how-to guide for these stories with All-Star Superman so any Superman story that falters with such a story has no excuse.

It's not just the overly rushed pace of the story that derails the drama. There's another side-plot involving Dr. Omen that sets up another conflict that likely can't be rushed. However, it feels entirely disjointed from the primary plot of Superman preparing Supergirl to carry on his legacy. For a story that already feels rushed, being disorganized doesn't. Anyone whose mind doesn't operate on the same wavelength of the Flash is likely to get confused.

Even if the pace is rushed and disorganized, it isn't wholly chaotic. There are still dramatic undertones at work here as Superman prepares himself for yet another death, not knowing how permanent it might be. It feels personal, him reaching out to Supergirl and preparing her for a world where she is the sole bearer of Superman's legacy. For someone whose power levels make solving daunting problems so easy most of the time, it's an important element to highlight. It just isn't highlighted enough.

In preparing for a fresh round of upheaval with the upcoming Rebirth relaunch, there are many loose ends to resolve. Leaving too many unresolved will make printing that all-important #1 on the cover feel like a hollow gimmick. As it stands, Superman has more loose ends than most. Action Comics #51 at least begins the process, but doesn't proceed very far.

Tomasi makes it a point to emphasize the importance of Superman's legacy in the incredibly broad scope that is the DC Universe and rightly so. Superman's legacy is important and passing it off to Supergirl, who has neither his level of experience nor his clout among other heroes, has numerous dramatic undertones. Absent that drama, the emphasis on that legacy feels shallow at best.

Superman dying is a big deal, even if it has been overdone and overplayed since the early 90s. Every major hero gets a death story these days and, being a 75-year-old icon, Superman gets more than most. That doesn't mean that these kinds of stories have to be overly generic. However, this latest attempt is dangerously close to that territory and not even Superman may be able to save it.

Final Score: 4 out of 10

Monday, April 25, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse Final Trailer [HD] - Snikt Motherfucker!

Just one month left! One month until we find out once and for all whether Fox can make an X-men movie that doesn't suck and doesn't rely on Ryan Reynolds' insane dedication to making a Deadpool movie. There are a lot of ways Fox can fuck this up. They've done it in the past and it's unreasonable to think they won't do it again. But I'm feeling a bit more upbeat and maybe a bit high. I'm willing to give any movie a chance that has Jennifer Lawrence, Sophie Turner, Alexandra Shipp, and Oscar Issac a chance to be awesome. The final trailer came out today and it even offers something that might give it some extra awesome to compete with Disney, aliens, and ninja turtles. One word people. Snikt!

Oh Hugh, I'm going to miss you. I think I speak for a lot of X-men fans and horny housewives when I say we are so going to miss you. Nuff said!

Friday, April 22, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 134: Natural Disorder Part 3 is LIVE!

The end of every major arc in X-men Supreme usually means major upheavals and Natural Disorder is no exception. It’s already happened multiple times in this fanfiction series. We saw it unfold after the Uprising arc when Magneto went to prison. We saw it in the Overlord arc when Magneto became ruler of Genosha. We saw it after the Dark Legacy arc when Sinister’s plot with the Legacy Virus left 300 million people dead within the span of a week. This fanfiction series goes through all sorts of shifts and unlike the comics, they aren’t restricted to sterilization plots.

The conflict in Natural Disorder is unlike anything the X-men have faced thus far in X-men Supreme. The Mutant Liberation Front, as led by Magneto’s old henchman Toad, isn’t out to destroy humanity directly. They favor the indirect approach, destroying the foundation on which the human race is built and allowing natural selection to do the rest. They demonstrate more tact and cunning compared to the likes of Magneto or Sinister. They’ve even managed to convince others, including the Brotherhood’s own Avalanche, to join them. While their methods are cunning, the X-men can be just as tricky.

They had to be, given the result of their first encounter with the Mutant Liberation Front. In X-men Supreme Issue 127: Terror Sell, the X-men suffered a humiliating defeat. On top of that, they learned that Professor Charles Xavier had been keeping another unpleasant secret in the form of an addiction to pain pills. This secret forced him to step down from the Xavier Institute, forcing the X-men to function without him. Now, in his first real test as Operations Commander, Cyclops led the X-men in the attack against the Mutant Liberation Front. The outcome will forever change the landscape of this fanfiction series.

The fallout began to unfold at the end of X-men Supreme Issue 132: Natural Disorder Part 2. The X-men successfully stopped the Mutant Liberation Front from crippling the entire human race with Magneto’s old amplification machine. However, their efforts now threaten to cripple both humanity, mutants, and every living thing on the planet, starting with Polaris. After being abducted by the Mutant Liberation Front, she is now the engine driving this machine. She is also the key to stopping it. But doing so will come at a price, one that will be felt both within the X-men and for many others.

I usually save major shifts like this for the end of a major volume. That’s what I did with Uprising, Overlord, and Dark Legacy. However, I’m taking a different approach in X-men Supreme Volume 6: Liberation Decimation. This major shift is not the end of this volume of X-men Supreme. It’s only a major upheaval. There are still plenty more to come, but they all start with the stunning conclusion of the Natural Disorder arc.

X-men Supreme Issue 134: Natural Disorder Part 3

The end of this arc will bring many changes and new challenges to the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Change and upheaval are the fuel with which X-men has evolved over the past half-century. Great conflicts bring out the best and worst of these characters. It’s my intention to ensure that only the best shows with X-men. To do that, it’s incredibly important that readers continue to provide feedback for this. The more I get, the more I can ensure that X-men Supreme is as awesome as can be. Either post your comments directly in the issue or contact me directly. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Extraordinary X-men #9: Nuff Said!

Being a horseman for Apocalypse is kind of like being the guy who cleans up after an orgy. It’s a dirty, thankless job, but one that deserves respect. Apocalypse is to X-men what porn is to the internet. They’re inextricably linked and not just because Oscar Isaac will soon be able to seduce both Star Wars fans and X-men fans.

Whenever shit goes bad for the X-men, Apocalypse is there to make it worse. When shit is going good for the X-men, as rare as that might be, Apocalypse is there to fuck it up. He’s the living embodiment of Mondays, hangovers, and Brett Ratner for the X-men. Now, he’s set up shop in another dystopian future since the X-men can never have too much of those. I’m just going to mark the ways in which Apocalypse gives this dystopian future his personal touch in Extraordinary X-men #9. I doubt it’ll be as memorable as Age of Apocalypse, but since this isn’t 1995, I’m okay with that.

That said, did Age of Apocalypse have a big ass temple shaped like Apocalypse’s head? I think not. Take that, 1995! In a flashback to the moment when Colossus and a team of D-list X-men nobody gives more than half-a-shit about first arrived, this is the first thing they say. Compared to some of the other dystopian futures they’ve seen, it could be worse.

They quickly figure out that mutants aren’t just fucked in this dystopian future. They’re dead. Not near extinction, not dying, not sick. Fucking dead. Apocalypse said they had their shot. They should’ve been a bunch of xenophobic, slave-owning, elitists like the Inhumans. As such, Apocalypse determined, probably with the aid of Disney lawyers, that mutants had to go and they did. And Apocalypse isn’t known for making exceptions and that includes time travelers.

Enter Apocalypse’s horsemen, who we met in the first issue. They see mutants they’re like exterminators who just found out they missed a few rats. They know Apocalypse is a neat freak when it comes to the gene pool. That means Colossus and these kids need to be as dead as Josh Trank’s directing career. It leads to a quick, somewhat rushed fight, but that’s kind of fitting. These aren’t the X-men’s heavy hitters. This is Colossus and a bunch of kids on a field trip. They couldn’t be less equipped without bringing feather dusters and dildos to this battle.

Being the heroic communist he is, Colossus helps the kids get away while he takes on Apocalypse’s horsemen himself. These are the same horsemen Apocalypse empowers to give natural selection a meth-fueled kick. So even if we hadn’t known he failed miserably in the previous issue, I doubt even Rocky Balboa would’ve bothered cheering for him here.

This means this story is going to be driven by Glob Herman, Ernst, Anole, and No Girl from here on out. I’ll give those who don’t read an X-men comic that doesn’t involve Wolverine stabbing something a moment to get their shit and leave. For those who stay, it’s not nearly as bland as it sounds. These may be D-listers, but they’re of the lovable variety. They’re like the opposite of Kid Omega and Hope fucking Summers.

They find out that in this future, Apocalypse as created these little dome-like cities that he totally ripped off from Kandor. These cities contain those who he deems fit for survival. I imagine that process was almost as intensive as a typical top 10 pick in the NFL draft. So unless there’s a Peyton Manning on their team, they’re fucked.

Flash forward a couple of days and the D-listers start exploring these worlds. One of them is Magika, a world where all of Marvel’s magical creatures dwell. It’s basically Harry Potter, My Little Pony, and Frozen. It seems so fanciful. They even meet a cute little creature named Moogum. Sure, he says mutants are already damned to the deepest pits of Brett Ratner’s septic tank, but he’s still cute.

Well, he doesn’t exactly stay that way. At first, Moogum pretends to help them. Then he reveals his true agenda. No, it’s not some elaborate conspiracy out of a shitty Dan Brown novel. Moogum just wants to eat them. Is it crude? Hell yeah. But does it make for some fun chase scenes you’ll never see in Scooby Doo? Hell yeah. It’s not an epic battle, but it shouldn’t be. This isn’t Wolverine on a drinking binge in New Orleans. These are D-list X-men who haven’t even fought evil clones yet. They’re still working their way up.

More time passes. Anole, Glob, Ernst, and No Girl keep traversing these worlds. Along the way, Glob laments how he’ll die a virgin and how he’ll never get a chance to lose it to Jean Grey. It may sound fucked up, but I won’t lie. I’d probably think the same in Glob’s position. I would also lament if I never saw Emma’s tits, but that’s just me.

They eventually end up in a world run by Iron Man robots that call themselves Stark-self. They’re basically what’s left of Tony Stark, who has been long dead, most likely due to liver disease or rectal trauma. He’s not exactly a friendly face, but after facing a kid-eating monster like Moogum, it’s an improvement. How sad is that? A killer robot is an improvement for a group of teenage X-men?

This time, the fleet of Iron Man robots don’t try to kill the X-men or try to shoot the Phoenix Force with a big ass gun. Instead, Stark-Self actually provides some valuable insight into what’s going on in this umpteenth fucked up dystopian future. Earth is basically no more. Apocalypse held these big ass trials in the past and basically cut out the parts of Earth that were worthy of survival and killed the rest. That means the Atlanteans, the Wakandans, the mystics, and Stark-Self survived. And yeah, even the fucking Inhumans survived. That’s right. Those xenophobic, slave-owning, Game of Thrones wannabes got to survive. Disney’s lawyers are just that powerful.

Aside from Apocalypse’s agenda-driven criteria, this is basically all that’s left of Earth. And mutants were determined long ago, with little debate with lawyers, to be unfit. So there’s no Phoenix Force or Secret War to save them. They just fucking die. Pretty sure everyone at Marvel Studios jerks off to that idea every night. But these young X-men manage to remind Stark-self that he was once a friend to the X-men. Sure, he shot a giant gun at the Phoenix Force and did jack shit when they were going extinct, but he was still a friend. Guilting a robot in a dystopian future into helping them is basically what the X-men have been reduced to and since Stark’s robots are slightly more advanced then dumb-ass Sentinels, they agree to help.

That’s not to say Stark-self offers to help these vulnerable kids fight for survival. That would be too generous, even for a living and sober Tony Stark. Instead, they provide No-Girl with a new robot body and send them off into other worlds. This leads to a nice training montage of sorts. It shows days, weeks, and months passing as these D-list X-men survive with an aptitude worthy of a C-plus, if not a B-minus. It’s not going to put them in the same league that will allow them to look at Storm’s ass or flirt with Jean Grey, but they definitely make the case that they at least deserve a chance.

It’s the kind of development we don’t see enough of these days, D-list characters moving up a grade. The Kamala Khans and Miles Morales of the world are exceptions, not the norms, and they got to build on brands that were already there. These kids have never worn an X-men uniform, never been turned into living weapons, and never got to team up with Deadpool. So seeing them grow into survivors is satisfying in a special sort of way. Sure, it’s kind of rushed, but it has to be.

And moments like Anole pointing out how Mole Men survive this world, but not mutants is incredibly poignant and incredibly said. It’s another testament to the current state of mutants for Marvel.

Finally, we reach the present time. The flashbacks and flash forward are over. The D-listers finally catch up with the A-listers. Now, they can start battling Apocalypse’s horsemen and it feels like a fair fight. This time, it definitely has all the makings of an epic clash. The X-men versus Apocalypse’s horsemen is like Wonder Woman and Power Girl in an oil wrestling contest. It’s hard to set up something that has the potential to be just that awesome. Now the rest of the X-men know that this is all that’s left of the world and Apocalypse is the dick that stuck it that world.

While the setup is epic, the details are somewhat light. But that’s not to say it’s rushed. That’s not even to say it’s finished. This is just the beginning of the battle. It doesn’t try to finish everything too quickly. There’s no comic equivalent of premature ejaculation, at least not yet. We just now know what led to this moment and how fucked this future is. No dystopian future is going to surprise any self-respecting X-men fan at this point, but context certainly helps.

The only other context this battle offers is just how overmatched the X-men are. Even with their A-listers, they’re in a fractured, fucked up world where Apocalypse has already purged mutants from existence in ways Disney executives can only jerk off to. So even with Storm leading the charge, she doesn’t exactly have the X-men in the strongest position to take on Apocalypse. She doesn’t overtly blame Cyclops for this, but you can tell she’s probably thinking it. In fact, I imagine everyone on the team will come up with at least six different ways to blame Cyclops for Apocalypse Wars when all is said and done. it awesome?

Well this issue fills in some blanks. It explores some colorful, fanciful worlds that can’t usually be explored without tripping balls on LSD. But in the spirit of 4/20 and all the stoners who celebrate it, I think that’s appropriate. In terms of actually moving the story forward and getting us closer to another classic clash between X-men and Apocalypse, Extraordinary X-men #9 doesn’t do much. Like the last 30 years of this country’s drug laws, the effect is limited. Unlike drug laws though, there is some meaningful contribution.

Jeff Lemire isn’t just letting the X-men’s heavy hitters flex their nuts. He’s getting D-list X-men characters and giving them a chance to join the C-list. After reading Extraordinary X-men #9, I can’t honestly say that these characters have failed miserably. Now I’m not saying Glob Herman or Ernst are going to be on Bryan Singer’s short list for future X-men movies, but they at least deserve some credit at a time when fucking Squirrel Girl gets her own series.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Mindbending Avenging: All-New, All-Different Avengers #8

The following is my review of All-New, All Different Avengers #8, which was posted on

There are some issues in modern superhero comics that just don't have a real-world parallel. Issues like regulating superpowers, safeguarding weapons of mass destruction, and managing the use of killer robots have some degree of contemporary relevance. In fact, the management of killer robots is almost certain to become an election issue if DARPA, the Pentagon, and Amazon have their way. The same cannot be said for mind-wiping.

Despite the CIA's best efforts, there is no real-world equivalent to completely wiping the memory of an otherwise healthy adult mind and reshaping it accordingly. That's what makes the concept behind the Avengers: Standoff event such an intriguing thought experiment. In a world where telepaths like Emma Frost can make people forget their own names, why wouldn't the use of psychic manipulation be an issue? Given its potential uses and abuses, it would probably have its own lobbyists.

All-New, All-Different Avengers #8 highlights the potential of psychic manipulation in a way that is both disturbingly pragmatic and naturally terrifying. SHIELD, in its infinite wisdom and gross lack of oversight, attempts to use psychic manipulation to turn unrepentant criminals into productive members of society. On paper, it sounds like a win-win. It removes dangerous individuals from society in a manner that still allows them to pay taxes and contribute. It's basically a Republican's fantasy and the private prison industry's worst nightmare.

Despite sounding so good on paper, the Avengers learn fist-hand why this sort of thing would have the ACLU up in arms. Thanks to Maria Hill and a sentient version of the Cosmic Cube named Kobik, they've been subjected to the same psychic manipulation usually resolved for the Baron Zemos of the Marvel Universe. The fact that Kobik takes the form of a young girl adds an extra twist that feels like it came right out of The Shining, minus the Stephen King style of horror.

For the Avengers and the Unity Squad, the way Avengers: Standoff unfolds still has all the traits of a horror movie. A brief flash forward at the less-than-favorable outcome of this conflict with Kobik suggests that elements of a slasher movie get mixed in as well. However, these traits become secondary in All-New, All-Different Avengers #8. The story deals less with the mind-bending implications of Pleasant Hill and more with escaping its grasp. It's not quite as exciting as it sounds and in a story that has Deadpool in it, that's quite an accomplishment.

Previous issues of the story deal with breaking the psychic manipulation on the Avengers and the Unity Squad. It's hard to contemplate how someone who hasn't seen The Matrix multiple times might react to such manipulation. Having the power of Thor, the computing capacity of Vision, and the mental instability of Deadpool adds plenty of potential complications that might reveal something about these characters. It might even reveal that they're not that as mentally stable as Deadpool would have them believe.

All-New, All-Different Avengers #8 fails to address this though. It effectively paints itself into a corner, making it unable to add the kind of mind-bending layers to the story. It's less a philosophical thought experiment and more a prison break. The complexities that helped make Avengers: Standoff so intriguing give way to the kind of generic action that the Avengers face every other Tuesday.

That's not to say there aren't some compelling aspects of this struggle to escape Pleasant Hill. As is often the case, Deadpool finds a way to creatively confront the source of the chaos. Being a walking testament to chaos, violence, and tacos, he's uniquely qualified to confront Kobik. It's hard to imagine him being competent enough to confront a little girl who happens to embody a reality-warping power, but it gets a lot easier to imagine, considering it's not even the sixth weirdest thing Deadpool has confronted in his colorful history.

This doesn't necessarily mean Deadpool is a good influence on children, but it does mean he helps end the last parts of the Kobik's reality-warping, mind-bending illusion. It comes off as a bit overly simplistic, but Deadpool helps add a little entertainment value, as only he can. It completes the final part of the escape for the Avengers and the Unity Squad. Entertainment value aside, it still comes off as generic.

If there are any deeper impacts to being mentally manipulated, then they're cast aside in favor of more battles against super-powered monsters, as if the Avengers don't face enough of those. Mark Waid and Adam Kubert still find ways to add entertainment value where they can, but aside from Deadpool's contributions, it falls flat.

There's still a lot of potential in the concept behind Avengers: Standoff and All-New, All-Different Avengers #8 offers the best opportunity to the story to explore that concept. While that opportunity isn't completely wasted in terms of the overall story, it still wastes or ignores much of that opportunity.

The characters are mentally manipulated to a point where they believe that they've lived entirely different lives. Then, when the deception is exposed, they basically snap back to their old selves with no noticeable effects. While the minds of superheroes are supposed to be resilient, there's only so much protection a magic hammer or a spider sense can offer. It gives the impression that the human mind is stronger and more rational than daytime talk shows would have us believe.

Most Avengers stories involve them fighting super-powered bad guys at some point. The challenge is getting them to this point in a creative, novel manner. Avengers: Standoff tries to takes a creative path in meeting this challenge, but reverts back to familiar territory too quickly. There are any number of stories that involve the Avengers escaping the grasp of powerful, mind-bending, reality-warping threats. This is just the latest and far from the greatest.

Final Score: 5 out of 10

Friday, April 15, 2016

X-men Supreme Issue 134: Natural Disorder Part 3 PREVIEW!

The extent of every victory is often measured against the price paid to achieve it. The X-men have paid more than their fair share of prices throughout X-men Supreme. They’ve paid a high price throughout their entire mythos. The death of Jean Grey during the Dark Phoenix Saga remains one of the most iconic moments in the history of X-men. They won the day, but lost someone very dear to them.

X-men Supreme has suffered losses as well. Most recently, the X-men lost their teammate and former teacher, Thunderbird, during the Dark Legacy arc. They’ve endured plenty of other losses, from the departure of Angel and Rogue from the team to Charles Xavier having to part ways with his blossoming love interest, Lilandra Neramani. Major losses are a big part of the drama that gives the X-men’s story such power. I’ve tried to capture that throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. And I intend to do so with the final issue of the Natural Disorder arc.

The X-men have never faced an enemy like the Mutant Liberation Front before. Under Toad’s leadership, a concept that many X-men fans might struggle with, they’ve set themselves apart from Magneto’s Brotherhood of Mutants or someone like Sinister. They don’t seek to kill humanity or fight their fellow mutants. They seek to let natural selection do that for them. They took a page right out of Magneto’s playbook in the Overlord arc and tried to use the same machine he used to wipe out every piece of electronic equipment on the planet. Take away civilization, technology, and infrastructure and the world is reduced the basic mechanics of survival. The X-men know the odds aren’t in humanity’s favor so they can’t afford to lose this battle.

It has already been one of the X-men’s most difficult battles to date in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. They’ve had to fight the Mutant Liberation Front without the guidance of their mentor, Charles Xavier. It’s Cyclops who is now in charge. He led the attack against the Mutant Liberation Front as they prepare to make their final move in the swamps of New Orleans. However, the battle ended up going wrong for both sides. The machine that once nearly destroyed the world before is about to do so again. There’s no gray area anymore. Either the X-men win the day or everyone loses.

Those are the current states in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Cyclops must show he can lead the X-men without his mentor and the X-men must show they can defeat the Mutant Liberation Front on their own terms. However, as we’ve seen in many other battles with the X-men, victory will come at a price. Just how high will that price be? That’ll be revealed in another heart-wrenching conclusion to a very important arc. As always, I’ve prepared a preview that offers a taste of just how heart-wrenching this issue will be.

“Havok?!” exclaimed Phoenix, who still had to restrain Toad with her telekinesis.

“Where is she? Where’s Lorna?!” he exclaimed, his hands glowing with energy.

“Whoa there, little brother! You’re a little late to the show!” said Cyclops, “We’ve taken care of the Mutant Liberation Front. We’re still working on saving Polaris.”

“I don’t care how late I am! Where is she?!” he demanded.

“Where do you think?” said Iceman, pointing up into the sky.

Havok looked up and saw what Iceman was referring to. He paled at the sight of the hovering machine. The way it lit up the night sky with simmering energy made it clear that his lover was in a great deal of trouble. There was no telling how much pain his lover was in, making the younger Summers brother all the more determined to save her.

“Damn you, Lance,” he mused, “I need to get to her!”

“Maybe you didn’t notice, but it’s not exactly safe to be near her,” Shadowcat pointed out.

“I don’t care! I didn’t overload a transport sphere and leave riot on Genosha just to watch her suffer!”

“Wait…a riot on Genosha? When did that happen?” asked Storm.

“One crisis at a time, Storm,” said Cyclops as he ran over to his brother, “I understand you’re anxious, Alex. I’m not going to bust your balls like you’re used to, but I need you to trust me! The X-men will handle this!”

“Cut the crap, Scott! If it was Jean up there, you would already be on your way up there! So don’t tell me to just stand here and wait!”

Cyclops saw that his brother was in a difficult state. He and Havok had their differences in the past, but Cyclops still wasn’t ready to see his brother needlessly risk his life. There was still a chance they could stop this madness without more danger. However, this was once instance where he understood the pain of watching his lover suffer.

While Havok was fixated on the device above, there was a noticable shift in the activity. The glowing ball of energy surrounding the machine started pulsing erratically. The large bolts of lightning that lit up the sky began swirling around in a new pattern. It was as if they were being drawn back into the device. As this happened, Madison Jefferies looked up from the console.

“We did it! It worked!” he announced.

“What exactly worked, homme?” asked Gambit.

“I’m still seeing some nasty fireworks,” said Shadowcat.

“Consider yourself lucky! At this point, that’s the worst we’ll get aside from the damage that’s already been done,” said Jefferies as he looked over the computer screen, “Danger was able to initiate the emergency shut down. The amplifiers are no longer feeding off of Polaris’s powers. That means the magnetic storm has stopped growing! The Earth’s magnetic field is safe!”

“So it’s over? We have succeeded?” asked Colossus.

“What about Polaris? Will she be okay?” asked Iceman anxiously.

Madison Jefferies paused to go over the data. As relieved as he was with this news, it wasn’t over yet. The machine was still going strong and there was a good reason for that.

“I’m afraid that’s a bit complicated,” said Jefferies anxiously.

“Why am I not surprised?” groaned Shadowcat.

“It appears the shutdown was initiated too late. Even though the machine is no longer amplifying the electro-magnetic field, it seems to have overloaded Polaris’s powers.”

“Quit talking she’s broken computer! Will she be okay or not?!” spat Havok.

“I honestly couldn’t tell you. These readings don’t make any sense! The machine isn’t amplifying her powers, but the flow of energy has been reversed. Now it’s Polaris’s mutant abilities are stuck in overdrive. They’re effectively reverberating in increasingly volatile fluctuations. At their current rate they’ll either overwhelm her completely or tear her apart at the cellular level!”

It was a grim prognosis and one Havok refused to allow. Having heard enough, he made a decision. He was going to save his lover from this terrible fate no matter what the cost.

“Then it’s settled! I’m going up there!” he said.

“As Lorna’s ex-boyfriend, I’m obligated to point out how nuts you are,” said Iceman.

“You heard what he said, Alex. There’s nothing you can do for her,” said Beast.

“Bullshit! I need to try!” said Havok.

The determined young mutant turned to Phoenix, who could already sense what he had planned. It was clear that she didn’t approve either, but she did not attempt to dissuade him.

“Phoenix, I need you to fly me up there!” he said, “Can you make it through the lightning?”

“Even if I said I couldn’t, I’m sure that still wouldn’t bother you,” she replied.

Tasked with this new challenge, Phoenix released her telekinetic grip on Toad and handed him off to the others. Colossus pinned him with his foot while Iceman and Psylocke stood over him. They were not going to let him go after everything he had done.

“Don’t even think about it, swamp breath,” said Psylocke menacingly.

“One wrong move and I break your spine,” added Colossus.

“You guys take everything way too seriously,” sneered Toad.

With Toad restrained, Phoenix joined Havok. They were prepared to take off. Then Cyclops grasped Havok by the shoulder and turned him around.

“I’m going after her, Scott!” said Havok sternly, “Don’t even think about stopping me or so help me…”

“I wasn’t going to try and stop you, Alex. I was just going to say…be careful,” said Cyclops.

As losses mount for the X-men and the drama escalates, I hope to keep this fanfiction series engaging and intriguing for all the right reasons. I want X-men fans to see X-men Supreme as a genuine outlet for X-men, especially at a time when the comics have been so dire. The situation in X-men Supreme is very different. There’s no sterilization plots. The institute hasn’t been relocated to Limbo. Expect a very different path for X-men Supreme. And in order to ensure that path is sufficiently awesome, it’s important that I get as much feedback as possible. Please contact me directly or post your comments directly in the issue. Either way is fine. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, April 14, 2016

All-New X-men #8: Nuff Said!

As a drunk, I have a very simple code of honor. Don’t give anyone a lot of shit unless they deserve it. I might not be able to pass a sobriety test, but I still know what’s fair and what’s bullshit. And for reasons that I’m not drunk enough to list, Beast has earned every ounce of shit I’ve thrown at him, and then some. Going all the way back to the Dark Reign event, Beast has had only one function. Bitch and moan about Cyclops at every turn and do absolutely jack shit to help anyone. If he were a real person, he’d be less likable than the comments section of a Taylor Swift video.

I won’t say that O5 Beast deserves the same volume of shit, but he’s made clear that he’s destined to be the kind of douche-bag who deserves that kind of shit. Going all the way back to the first few issues of All-New X-men, he comes off as the kind of kid that makes you rethink your stance on corporal punishment. Under Dennis Hopeless, I’ve been slightly less inclined to want to punch him in the dick. All-New X-men #8 attempts stem that inclination a bit more while trying to save O5 Cyclops’ story, as if it hasn’t been shit on enough. Say what you will about Hopeless, but the man is pretty damn ambitious.

It’ll take more than ambition to make O5 Beast likeable again. And him brooding like a 15-year-old goth kid who listens to too many Evanesance songs doesn’t help. Remember that dramatic scene where O5 Cyclops was trapped in a cave-in? Well, fuck any added drama that would’ve made that scene more compelling. Skip right ahead to the hospital where O5 Cyclops is alive, wounded, and resting comfortably with all sorts of awesome drugs in his system.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m glad Marvel resisted the urge to kill Cyclops a second time. That’s an urge Brett Ratner couldn’t resist. But to just skip ahead with no dramatic weight whatsoever feels like such a waste. And instead, we get O5 Beast musing about just how fucked the present is. It’s nothing we haven’t seen from him before. And most of us have seen a Ted Cruz speech at this point. We don’t need to be reminded of how fucked we are.

If O5 Beast does anything worth one less punch in the dick in this issue, it’s his little confession to an unconscious O5 Cyclops. Sure, confessions to unconscious people don’t usually count. I’d have way more speeding tickets if it did. But he at least tries to show some genuine honesty while filling in some of the details that happened off-panel. It’s not much, but it’s better than most of the crap X-men stories have gotten since Secret Wars.

For O5 Beast, the defining moment is him admitting he was wrong. Sure, it took him way too fucking long, but better late than never I guess. He says they’re wrong to stay in the present and his older self was wrong for bringing them in the first place. He’s starting to realize just what a dick he grew up to be while reminding himself they have no idea to get back to their own time. It’s honest, but I still want to punch him in the dick.

This moment of sincerity marks the last meaningful moment of drama that O5 Beast manages in this comic. After seeing a news report about Dr. Strange, he decides to ditch his friend in the hospital and take a quick trip to visit the good doctor, courtesy of his pet bamf, Pickles. Not sure that counts as animal abuse, but it’s pretty damn close.

This is where this issue stops being an X-men story and starts becoming a Dr. Strange story. Because why would a man who has his own series and his own movie coming out this year need extra face time in a fucking X-men comic? That’s a question that requires too much hope to answer. Instead, we get a drawn out, predictable discussion about O5 Beast and Dr. Strange debating the merits of magic. There’s nothing really substantive here other than O5 Beast still enjoys his science. The fact that Dr. Strange resists the ability to punch O5 Beast in the dick proves he truly is the Sorcerer Supreme, wielding more will-power than I ever will.

This bland discussion gets interrupted by an entirely predictable disturbance. O5 Beast happened to barge in on Dr. Strange when he was dealing with an incursion from the 12th dimension, which I guess in mystical terms is like an out-of-control tire fire or soccer riot. Either O5 Beast’s timing sucks just that much or his douche-baggery is starting to destabilize dimensions. I imagine it’s a little of both. That doesn’t prevent Dr. Strange from enlisting his help. I’m pretty sure he’d be better off enlisting help from MC Hammer’s accountant.

To his credit, O5 Beast does try to contribute. Dr. Strange gives him the Third Eye of Horus, which is supposed to help him see the mystical world as Dr. Strange sees it. That makes sense. If he’s going to help, he needs to see what the fuck he’s up against. He’s not Daredevil. He doesn’t have Ben Affleck’s baggage or his own Netflix show backing him up.

However, true to his recent traditions of douche-baggery and ineptitude, O5 Beast fails. He doesn’t contribute in any meaningful way. He doesn’t even throw any punches. He just looks around all this crazy mystical shit and reacts the same way most people would if they saw their grandmother giving a lap dance to Kanye West. There’s no fanciful landscape or epic spectacle. In fact, it looks like an un-rendered scene from a Michael Bay movie. O5 Beast’s way of managing that, it seems, is to faint.

That’s right. Like a little girl who just watched someone shoot a baby unicorn, he faints. The urge to punch him in the dick is getting stronger.

Again, there’s little dramatic weight and a lot of shit that gets skipped over. When O5 Beast wakes up, Dr. Strange has already done most of the work. He’s fought off hordes of goblins from the 12th dimension and we don’t get a slightest glimpse of the action. Instead, we get more bland chit chat between O5 Beast and Dr. Strange.

There’s still precious little substance in this science vs. sorcery debate. There are creationism vs. evolution debates that are more entertaining. There are some mentions of Dr. Strange’s own scientific background, but anyone who has scanned the wiki page for Dr. Strange won’t read anything they haven’t heard before. It really doesn’t offer anything of value for O5 Beast, Dr. Strange, or any of the ongoing plots in All-New X-men. They could’ve been just as productive by spending the entire page talking about the hockey playoffs.

When the action finally gets going again, it’s still pretty bland. Yeah, it has a terrifying shadow monster attack, but those kinds of monsters pop up at least twice a week in a Dr. Strange comic. And this is supposed to be a fucking X-men comic. Seriously, Dr. Strange, you have Benadict Cumberbatch playing you. He has a sexy accent and everything. What more do you need?

It takes way too fucking long, but O5 Beast finally makes a meaningful contribution and takes down the shadow monster. It’s not all that epic. It’s not even that exciting. He just jumps into action and does anything a drunk sushi chef with a butcher’s knife would do if they saw a monster. Except a drunk sushi chef would probably be more entertaining at this point.

O5 Beast still tries to make the whole science vs. sorcery debate meaningful. As Bill Nye the Science Guy found out the hard way, there’s only so much he can do. He does nothing all that ground-breaking. He just sees magic in a scientific context. That would be like me seeing quantum mechanics in an alcoholic context and solving for the Theory of Everything. It makes the same amount of sense and is much less interesting.

This is the extent of the action here. It’s mostly Dr. Strange doing what he does in his own damn comic almost every issue. Except this isn’t his own damn comic. It’s All-New X-men. He offers nothing that really helps the All-New X-men, the O5, or the mutant race as a whole. He doesn’t add any Inhuman-level bullshit, but his contributions are more forgettable than the LA Laker’s past season.

Dr. Strange and O5 Beast still leave on friendly terms. For mutants these days, that counts for something. Dr. Strange gives him some words of encouragement, but no magic spell to help O5 Beast become less a douche-bag. He lets him keep that magic mask though, which I guess is better than nothing. But still, the story here feels so utterly forgettable that a Simpsons rerun would be more entertaining at this point. At least Homer Simpson is funny. O5 Beast is just a douche. it awesome?

Since it began, All-New X-men has utilized all sorts of mechanisms for being awesome. Teen angst, teen melodrama, and general Cyclops-bashing are just a few. This one tried to utilize O5 Beast as one of those mechanisms and the results left a lot to be desired. I knew this issue was supposed to be centered around O5 Beast, but the fact he didn’t do jack shit to advance the story only adds to the already-lengthy list of reasons why he’s a total douche, no matter what time period he’s from.

Now that’s not to say All-New X-men #8 doesn’t have it’s moment. However, I still have the same urge to punch Beast in the dick that I did before I read this issue. He didn’t make that urge any worse, but he did nothing to make it better. He just hung out with Dr. Strange, learned a bit about magic, and that’s about it. There was nothing to expand on the plot with the Brotherhood, Kid Apocalypse, Idie, O5 Iceman, or X-23. There was so much nothing that it felt like one of those issues I can drink during a blackout and still not feel like I’ve missed anything. And since I usually reserve blackouts for visits to cheap massage parlors in Mexico, that’s pretty disappointing.

Final Score: 4 out of 10