Sunday, August 28, 2011

X-men Legacy #254 - Overdue Awesome

Certain things in life are worth waiting for. Things like a finely aged bottle of wine that will get you drunk and make you feel like a rich asshole come to mind. Lingering around in the bushes across from your neighbor's house while their smoking hot daughter strips down after a hard day at school and breaks out her favorite vibrator also hold true. In comics, it's somewhat different. The patience of fanboys is a fickle thing. If we're made to wait too long, then we lose interest because there's lots of other shit going on in other comics to get our rocks off. But when writers finally get around to something they've left hanging for years, our memories jog like a revelation from Odin himself. We remember and we're quick to forgive.

That's the relief/frustration that has come with the issue surrounding Havok, Rachel, and Polaris in the X-books. For over two years, these characters have been MIA. Hell, they might as well have been killed off because Captain America was dead for a shorter time than these two were missing. After the whole Kingbreaker arc where the Shi'ar underwent an ass-kicking enema, these three characters were essentially thrown into space and forgotten about like Sarah Palin's qualifications. Now after all this time, Mike Carey is finally revisiting these three forgotten characters. I'm sure that when they find out that the Xavier Institute is gone, everyone is living on an island in San Francisco, and Magneto has joined the team they'll shit enough bricks to fill the galaxy. That makes it all the more worth reading!

It began at the very end of the previous issue. Rogue, Magneto, Gambit, Frenzy, and Professor Xavier had just finished saving Legion from his renegade personalities. It required a little trickery and pwnage, but it was an immensely satisfying knock-out to the lingering mess left by Age of X. Now armed with some of Legion's powers, Rogue went to work fulfilling her promise to Rachel Grey. She teleported herself, Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy into space, deep into the Carl Sagan inspired depths and into the heart of the Shi'ar's domain. It's taken a long ass time and a shit ton of teasing, but it's finally happening! Havok, Rachel, and Polaris are coming back to the X-books and hopefully Marvel won't kill them off too soon.

The issue begins with a less than pleasant arrival, but only slightly more pleasant than flying coach on a non-stop flight from Baltimore to San Diego. Frenzy, Magneto, and Gambit arrive on what looks like the set of Bambi minus the talking animals. It seems like an odd setting because didn't the last issue imply that they were heading off into deep space? Did Disney somehow force Marvel to do a shitty crossover along the way? Well those fears are quickly laid to rest when a giant robot attacks them. That should comfort readers that this is still an X-men comic and killer robots are as normal a sight as Charlie Sheen at a whore house.

So Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit wind up fighting a giant robot. Where does Rogue end up? In a hostile space station with an alien pointing a gun at her head. All in all, it's as fair a trade as you'll get in the Marvel universe. They don't know why the hell she's there, but that's all the reason they need to point a gun at her. Rogue is only there because these same aliens happen to have an unconscious Rachel Grey nearby and if you're recall, that was the signal she zeroed in on. But here's the thing. The Shi'ar that are threatening her aren't there to take her prisoner or probe her (although that's something plenty of other guys wouldn't mind doing). They're there to use her as an escape decoy. For some reasons, these guys want off this space station. I suppose the food in Shi'ar space stations sucks that much.

Meanwhile the giant robot with Gambit, Frenzy, and Magneto follows the same sad path that all robots follow when they face the X-men. I'm pretty sure if robots had their own political action committee, they would label Marvel as a hate group. Gambit and Frenzy take care of the killer robot in typical flashy fashion. However, its' not all flare. Magneto reveals that there was no metal he could manipulate in the robot or the pilot. It leads him to point out that they're not in the woods and they shouldn't expect to find Ted Nugant shooting Bambi. They're in a Danger Room like simulation aboard a space ship. It should be pretty creepy, but given the X-men's experience it's like finding out Courtney Love has herpes. It's not too surprising, but it does add a little intrigue.

Back with Rogue, we find out that this space station is known as the Gul Damar. Ignoring that it sounds like some eccentric Middle Eastern oil Shiek, it also reveals that the Shi'ar have been a bit down on their luck. They had a war with the Kree and it didn't turn out so well. By that I mean they abducted George W. Bush, probed him, and allowed him to organize their campaign. So you can probably guess how that turned out. They got their asses handed to them and seeing as how the Shi'ar were kind of dicks to the other races they conquered, it's basically open season on Shi'ar and Elmer Fudd is armed with alien weapons.

Now this doesn't just provide a believable backdrop for these Shi'ar and why they're doing what they're doing. It also helps explain why Rachel, Polaris, and Havok couldn't get back to Earth. It's kind of hard to get a ride when there's a fucking war going on. And it's even harder to send out a distress signal when the side that brought them into this cosmic mess is getting their ass kicked. So again, it explains why they've been MIA, but waiting this long for the explanation still sucks.

But don't start feeling sympathy for these assholes. They still treat Rogue like shit, pistol whipping her when she tries to ask for more information on why they're running away like a bunch of pussies. They also add a sense of urgency to their little escape because they soon find out that the station they're on is kind of falling into a star. By kind of I mean they're going to be burnt to a crisp fairly soon. They're only hope is to find a ship and get the fuck off and not in the way you would get by paying a hooker five hundred bucks to act out a Star Trek fetish.

So Rogue now knows they're on a crash course with a cosmic barbeque. Yet Frenzy, Magneto, and Gambit don't know. They're still adjusting to the knowledge that they're on an alien space station. So yeah, they have some catching up to do. As soon as they find their way out of their woodland Bambi simulation, they start exploring. As it just so happens, the station is attacked by a series of bug-like marines that set their sights on what few Shi'ar are unlucky enough to still be alive. They don't speak English so they might as well be extras in an Independence Day sequel. This time Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit don't get involved in alien politics. They just sit back, open up a bowl of popcorn, smoke a joint, and watch the show. It's quite a spectacle and the Shi'ar once again get their asses handed to them. At this point they're starting to look like the alien equivalent of Jews.

Since Magneto is one to sympathize with people like this, he eventually puts down the joint and decides to help out the Shi'ar. He does to those space bug marines what the Kardashians did to reality TV. He fucks them up just a enough to turn them away. This is Magneto at his best, showing off enough force to make even a raging hoard of alien marines run away like a bunch of pussies. The Shi'ar he saves are understandably grateful, but he has questions and they have answers. So like Radioshack, they get to the Q&A and unlike Radioshack they don't have to deal with some dimwitted sales guy that tries to sell you an overpriced stereo that Best Buy sells at half the price.

While Magneto is getting answers, Rogue is getting pissed about the whole hostage arrangement. They lead her into a ship that they hope to hot wire, fly off, and presumably pick up some alien hookers along the way. While they're busy, she asks a bit about Rachel. These guys don't seem to know much about what happened to her and the Starjammers. They just happened to pick her up. That immediately prompts me to use the c-word, contrived. So please, if you're a card-carrying member of a woman's rights group, don't hate me for pretending to use the word cunt. Well you feminists should love what happens next because once Rogue realizes that being a hostage sucks, she punches out one of the Shi'ar captors and challenges her to a death match for possession of Rachel. It sounds a lot like the plot of a prison lesbian porno, but that only adds to the potential awesome!

This scene adds to the mystery as to what the hell happened with Rachel that separated her from Havok and Polaris. But again, it comes off as a bit too convenient. These bumbling aliens just happened to find her? Seriously, how the fuck did that happen? There isn't much of an explanation. It may be explained in the next issue, but seriously a fucking hint would go a long ways. At least we have Rogue beating the shit out of an alien to look forward to. So I guess that softens the blow.

Back with Magneto, the Shi'ar explain to him why they're still shitting their pants over this latest attack. Apparently, someone has it out for the Shi'ar. So much so that they're sending alien marines to fuck with them. Well who could hate the Shi'ar that much? On the final page, we're greeted with the answer and the revelation of another potential mystery. Guess who ordered that attack in the first place? Hint, it wasn't someone with a big head, round eyes, and an inclination to probe asses. It was Havok and Polaris. They were the ones ordering the attack. They were the ones trying to kill the Shi'ar. For some reason, they hate them with a passion. What's that mean? I don't know but the next issue better come out soon so we can find out! Waiting this long to see these characters again just sucks on so many levels. I would say better late than never, but what the fuck.

So after all this time and incessantly ignoring such a gaping plot hole, is this issue worth the wait? Did waiting all this time for Rachel, Polaris, and Havok make it any less satisfying? Well I'm a bitter drunk who still holds grudges to sports teams I lost money betting on so maybe I'm not the best guy to ask. After reading this issue, it didn't feel like a true return to form because Havok, Rachel, and Polaris didn't really play much of a part. Yeah, they showed up and we got some idea of what has kept them in space all this time, but it's not enough to make readers completely forget about all the time they waited for this shit. It's hard to care as much after so much shit has happened in between. It's still relevant, but it's more underwhelming than it should be.

Never-the-less, it was still a nicely crafted comic. The exotic scenery and the cosmic feel of the story came together nicely, but it felt a little choppy at times. There was some nice action with Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy. As is often Carey's style, he sets up a few mysteries that Rogue is left trying to resolve at gunpoint. It's a refined if not overly so first issue to an arc. If nothing else it shows that there was a good reason for Havok, Rachel, and Polaris to remain stranded. They were kind of stuck in ways they couldn't fix. It's not an overly contrived excuse nor is it exceedingly elaborate. It is what it is and it works.

Waiting aside, this issue was as enjoyable as you would expect any Mike Carey X-book to be. It's a significant change of pace and locale from the previous arc with Legion, but it doesn't feel rushed and it sets up a nice scenario for the story to unfold. I could go on several more rants about why this story with Rachel, Havok, and Polaris couldn't be told sooner and how it's total bullshit that they were basically ignored while so much shit went down in the other X-books. But I'll pop some Nyquil and save that for another blog post. For now, X-men Legacy #254 gets a 4 out of 5. It has set up a cosmic stage for an awesome struggle. Now all Mike Carey has to do is use it, abuse it, and everything else in between to make it awesome while somehow making Havok, Polaris, and Rachel relevant again. It seems impossible and I have doubts that it can be done, but then again I'm a drunk. What do I know? Nuff said!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

X-men #16 - Exotic Awesome

I know I throw the word gimmick around like chlamydia in Snookie's bedroom. I use it to both bash and praise, but mostly bash. Crossover stories are among some of the oldest gimmicks in comics. They were around when I was still a drunken sperm stammering around in my father's balls. They're done so often today that it's hard to call them gimmicks anymore. That's just how shit is. So when Marvel started an X-men comic with the express purpose of crossing it over with other Marvel characters, it didn't come off too much as a gimmick. It was just a natural extension of where Marvel was going.

However, the new X-men series has been more hit or miss than Barry Bonds's steroid tests. Most of the arcs in this series have been underwhelming. Some good has come from them, like a Vampire Jubilee. And the best by far, X-men First to Last, wasn't really a crossover as much as it was a simultaneous story of the present and past. In a market where Uncanny X-Force, Uncanny X-men, and X-men Legacy are crowding the top, the good old adjectiveless X-men remains mired in mediocrity. However, I haven't completely given up on this series. I still give it a chance here and there, but I'm not expected to get a fucking contact high or anything. For the moment, I'm content with a story that doesn't suck.

After X-men First to Last and X-men #15.1, this series is finally ready for another arc. Emphasis on finally. Victor Gischler returns after a brief sabbatical. He's had plenty of time to plan this shit out so he has no more excuses. For this new arc, he's choosing a different kind of crossover story. First it was Blade. Then it was Spider-Man. Now Spider-Man didn't work on his own, so instead he brings in the FF. By that I don't mean Fantastic Four. I mean the Future Foundation. In case you forgot, they can't be the Fantastic Four because Johnny Storm is fucking dead (for now). And they replaced him with a guy who sold his marriage to the devil. The series has been different to say the least, but it's been a top seller so I can't take that away from it. Now can it succeed where that lame ass Spider-Man crossover with the Lizard failed? Well that's why I make these drunken reviews. So you folks don't have to!

The issue starts with Spider-Man getting what appears to be part of his punishment for making deals with the devil. By that I mean he's babysitting Valerie and Franklyn Richards. As Johnny Storm's replacement, he has to contend with the shittier aspects of working for the FF. They're on a boat in the Carribean with Spider-Man presumably covering their eyes every time they see a topless sunbather. Then they start talking Bermuda Triangle and while in the real world that's just a shitty marketing ploy to make conspiracy theorists plaster foil to their heads, in the Marvel universe it's a big fucking deal.

So naturally this disturbance prompts the FF to go right to the X-men. Wait, did I say naturally? Actually, it happens so fast that it's like that moment when the LSD wears off, time goes back to normal, but you're still playing chess with Ben Franklin. Why would the FF just go to the X-men after locating a disturbance in the Bermuda Triangle? Not saying that it's a hole Marvel leaves unfilled, but to this point this X-men series has done a good job of having crossovers happen more naturally. They don't just knock on each others' door. They just cross paths. That may be nit-picking because the FF, which now includes Doom (long story), give a good reason for seeking out Cyclops. This little disturbance involves Lee Forester.

Now who is Lee Forester? Well unless you were reading X-men comics at the same time Ronald Regan was just starting to go senile, you would easily miss it. Lee was a woman Cyclops dated while Jean was still recovering from that whole death thing that strikes her every other Thursday. Apparently, she sent a distress signal pleading Cyclops or Magneto (assuming she didn't bang him as well) for help. Now I can understand wanting a guy like Magneto to help out, but calling for Cyclops might be asking a bit much. Once again, I'm left to assume his penis has powers that defy comprehension. Never one to ignore a beautiful woman begging for his help, Cyclops agrees to work with the FF to investigate this disturbance and maybe work out a three-way with Lee and Emma. Although Emma makes it clear she's about as fond of Cyclops's exes as she is redheaded girls who flash the Phoenix Force when they're PMSing.

Now I like this way of getting the X-men involved with another facet of the Marvel universe and not just because it's the FF. Characters like Lee Forester are easy to forget. They haven't been mentioned in years and now she finally appears again and there's still an impact. It's one of those past relationships that's easy to gloss over, but it still effected Cyclops enough to want to help her and it was effective enough to piss off Emma Frost. In other words, it's win-win.

With help from the FF's awesome arsenal of gadgets and rides, they set out for a nice relaxing journey in the Bermuda Triangle. That's sort of like going sunbathing in North Korea. It's about as moronic as it sounds. So it doesn't come as too much of a surprise when they hit a little turbulence on their journey. And by turbulence, I mean their sub ruptures. But when you've got Sue Richards and Magneto on board, it's akin to a shaving cut. This comes shortly after Dr. Nemesis mentions that they're trying to locate a portal from where the disturbance originated. So the source of this turbulence is about as mysterious as whether or not Pamela Anderson's breasts are real.

Once they're finished putting their stomachs back in place, the sub surfaces and arrives on dry land. Now they probably assume they're on some remote Caribbean island. They decide to get off with the hope that maybe they'll find some nude sunbathers that need lotion applied to their backs. They end up in an Avatar-like world with purple dinosaurs and not the kind that sing nursery rhymes either. It's basically a Savage Land ripoff, but I guess it's more interesting than some random island. Still, the nude sunbathers would have been a nice touch.

They fight off the initial dinosaur attack by having Thing throw Wolverine at it. Colossus isn't around so he fills in for the fastball special. It's a fun way to dispatch a dinosaur and it pisses Wolverine off, which is always good for a few laughs. They discover that the submarine is damaged, surprise surprise. It needs some time for repairs, which means they're stranded in a real world Jurassic Park minus Steve Goldblum's witty remarks. For some reason, Doom isn't content with sticking with the team. So he decides to fly off and the others aren't inclined to stop him. It seems a little random, but then again Doom isn't much of a team player.

It's also worth pointing out the parallels between Doom being in the FF and Magneto being in the X-men. These are two former assholes working with the people they've tried to repeatedly kill. That's like hiring Ted Bundy at a women's shelter. These two have interacted in the past so it is somewhat strange that they pretty much blow each other off and not in the way you can make gay pornos out of. I think it was a missed opportunity because these are two characters doing things that are way outside their usual comfort zone of imposing their will on the weaker masses.

Once Doom goes off for some me-time, the X-men locate the ruins of an what looks like a settlement. I'm assuming these guys never saw an Indiana Jones movie or even that shitty King Kong remake that demonstrates why it's not smart to show up unannounced at an ancient inhabited city. They take about as kindly to outsiders as Michelle Bachmann does to gay activists. So it's not terribly surprising when some strange alien-like spider-weapons show up and try to kill them. Wait...alien spider-weapons? That was never in Indiana Jones. Okay, so maybe it was a little surprising.

The X-men and the FF battle their way through these less than creative machines. They discover that they're not piloted by humans or even super-intelligent computers, most likely failed Apple products, that went bad. They're these green Skrull-like creatures, but not nearly as badass. When a character like Pixie is able to humiliate them, they're about as threatening as a stink beetle. The fight isn't all that spectacular and I don't think it was meant to be. It seems pretty small for a book that has both the X-men and the FF in it, but then again this is the first issue. I'm assuming shit won't start blowing up until a few issues in.

Once those killer spider-robots are dispatched, the X-men and the FF reconvene to figure out what their next move is. They got dinosaurs on one end and crazy alien creatures on the other. They might as well have stumbled into the Bronx half-naked. But they certainly made their presence known. That means the human population that were too pussy to beat the shit out of those machines finally show up and greet their visitors. Among them are such colorful characters as Skull the Slayer, but Lee Forester is nowhere in sight. So the X-men and the FF have made contact and that's about it. I don't think this could be qualified as a cliffhanger, but it's a decent progression of the story that's unfolding. But still, nude sunbathers would have been so much more awesome.

I admit, I'm fairly impressed with how this issue turned out. It wasn't as underwhelming as it's predecessors. I suppose this means that Gischler just needed some time squeeze some creativity out of his muses. That or he scored some kick-ass weed. This issue brought the X-men and the FF together in a mostly believable way. The use of old plots like Lee Forester and the dynamics between the FF and the X-men were well-done for the most part. It effectively set up a story that's interesting enough to get into and not gimmicky enough to write off. It won't blow your brains out, but it will give you a mild concussion.

This book still has an overly mediocre feel that is hard to escape from. The way the FF met up with the X-men didn't feel all that fluid. At least with vampires and the first Spider-Man story, it felt like a natural progression. In this case the FF just showed up on Utopia and they went from there. Not that it's too unbelievable, but it just seems too bland. Also, we didn't get a whole lot of interactions from Doom and Magneto, two guys who I'm sure would have a lot more to talk about given their current standing in the comics. I'm hoping that future issues will address that, but for this issue it just feels like a missed opportunity.

 Minor caveats aside, this was a solid all around comic. This story with the X-men and the FF has the potential to be awesome and after X-men First to Last, it has a tough act to follow. It's not spectacular just yet, but it is above average. I would definitely put this on a list of X-books to get, but the bar is set pretty high with books like Uncanny X-men and Uncanny X-Force. With that precedent in place, I give X-men #16 a 3.5 out of 5. I want to give it something higher, but it hasn't crossed that threshold just yet. I hope that it does because the more quality X-books there are on the market, the better. Nuff said!

Friday, August 26, 2011

X-men Supreme Issue 40: Overlord Part 3 is LIVE

It's beautiful day for a big update to the X-men Supreme fanfiction series! I'm really excited about this one. The biggest arc of X-men Supreme to date has reached it's midpoint. That means secrets will be revealed, plots will be hatched, and major twists will take place. This fanfiction series has gone through many big moments, but none quite as big as this! Magneto has pulled out all the stops. There's no progression anymore. He's going for it all! If you only read one arc of X-men Supreme ever, this is one you won't want to miss! I hope my words do it justice. Please remember to comment on the issue at the end and let me know what you think!

Issue 40: Overlord Part 3

This fanfiction series is nearing it's biggest turning point. Yet I haven't forgotten the other parts of this website! I recently updated the pics section and it was an extensive update at that. A fresh batch of pinups is now in the X-men sexy ladies section. This includes new images of Rogue, Jean Grey, Mystique, Storm, and the Scarlet Witch. Marvel has always done a good job of crafting images of it's ladies that are pleasing to the eye so once you're done with the latest issue of X-men Supreme, take a look and enjoy!

This is a big moment for this fanfiction series so it's very important that readers take the time to review. I know I say that every week, but this time it has extra weight because so much of X-men Supreme's future will build from this arc. I hope you all enjoy it, but I'm eager for feedback on the Overlord arc. Please comment on each issue or contact me at any time to discuss it! Until next time, take care and best wishes!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Uncanny X-Force #13 - Seeds of Awesome

Once again, I've put on a fresh pair of pants that don't have jizz stains on them so I can effectively review another issue of Uncanny X-Force. I'm at the point where I'm contemplating suing Marvel and everyone behind Uncanny X-Force for making me soil so many pants with what precious life seed I have left, not discounting all I wasted watching Cinemax at night when I was a teenager. But for the kind of awesome Uncanny X-Force has delivered lately, I would say it's worth spending a few hours every month blotting out semen stains.

The series has been awesome. I think I've made that abundantly clear in my reviews. But what has made the last few issues special has been the big event feel to what in many ways is just another arc. Fuck the whole Civil War of Siege model. This series doesn't need to create it's own mini with a fuck-ton of tie-ins to be big. This arc delivers something that feels as epic as Fear Itself or Flashpoint. It follows a distinctive narrative that sets Uncanny X-Force apart from the rest of the X-books. What makes the Dark Angel Saga special isn't just the scale. It's the ability to bring two worlds into one story and not fuck it up. If anything, the past few issues have been a model for all future crossover stories to follow.

The Dark Angel Saga followed a solid progression of awesome. First Arcangel started showing symptoms of becoming the new Apocalypse, thanks in no small part to Fantomex putting a bullet through the head of a kid. Then X-Force traveled to Age of Apocalypse to collect the special life see, a poorly named piece of Celestial supertechnology. Along the way they met up with some of their counterparts who are dead in 616. This includes Nightcrawler, Sabretooth, and Jean Grey. It was a big fucking deal when Wolverine met the woman he's been trying to bone for decades. It was an even bigger fucking deal when they found out that the new Apocalypse in the Age of Apocalypse universe was none other than Wolverine's counterpart, who actually had the privileged of tapping that sweet cosmic ass that he so pines for. Now they have to face him while hoping not to lose their only ticket back home.

It would be easy to have the first panel of Uncanny X-Force #13 showing the team just shitting themselves at the sight of Wolverine/Apocalypse. But keep in mind, there's sort of another plot going. Remember that life seed? The one that another group had to fly out and retrieve from the body of a dead Celestial? No? Then you drink more than I do and should get some serious fucking help. Led by Fantomex, Rogue, Gambit, and Sunfire they descend into the Celestial's rotting corpse only to find that Celestials don't like to be fucked with even when they're dead. They get attacked by a bunch of Celestial antibodies, which makes for a rough ride.

They descend to what I can only presume is the rectal cavity of the Celestial, fighting it's killer robot antibodies along the way. Sunfire has to be a badass and go out to buy time for his team. He's miles above a much more resilient son of a bitch than his 616 counterpart, who hasn't done shit in years. He buys enough time for Fantomex to find the life seed. Now it happens somewhat quickly and if you don't read closely, you may be left to wonder how the fuck they were able to extract something like this from the bowels of a fucking Celestial. Well Rick Remender does offer an explanation. He doesn't leave this shit hanging. Fantomex comments on how the technology is similar to that of the World, which if you'll recall was the site of a major story shortly before this one began. So not only does it provide a viable explanation, it hints that perhaps it may be the scene for another story down the line. If it involves dead Celestials, count me in! There are so many possibilities with super-powered alien space gods.

So they get the seed, they're still under fire, and now they have to escape. It's always the hard part. Escaping from the corpse of an alien supergod.. Along the way, Fantomex muses on the sexual tension between Rogue and Gambit. Then again, this is a guy who seems to adopt the European custom of seeing everything as a sexual innuendo. Seeing as how Rogue porked Magneto in Age of Apocalypse, that says a lot about her standards so sexual tension isn't too surprising. Especially now that Magneto is in a wheelchair and presumably needs a fuckton of viagra to get it up. But the tension is only secondary. In order to escape, Gambit goes all out to get Rogue's panties wet. By all out I mean he sacrifices himself so they can escape. He blows his sorry ass up, ensuring he'll never get laid and only leave Rogue behind to pleasure herself. Kind of a lose-win situation if there is such a thing.

Now ignoring how pathetic this is on Gambit's part, it's still sort of a bland way to end AOA Gambit. Granted, Gambit is kind of a tool no matter what universe he's in, that doesn't mean he's a character you just callously throw away. They don't even show him blowing up, as if the editors are afraid of being too graphic. I'm sorry, but in a comic where a kid got shot in the first arc I think that's a piss poor excuse.

So X-Force is already taking casualties. Never mind that in the last issue, Wolverine saw his AOA daughter get fried to the bone. So he and the rest of X-Force and their AOA allies are understandably pissed. They respond as you would expect, beating the everloving shit out of the Black Legion that Wolverine/Apocalypse has assembled. Wolverine even tries to go for his evil twin, but he's not having it. AOA Wolverine is just as badass as 616 Wolverine, he has Apocalypse's powers, AND he got to bang Jean Grey. He's basically superior in every way.

Eventually, all of X-Force tires to go for Wolverocolypse. However, AOA Jean Grey isn't having it. That's still her lover behind that asshole exterior. So like any good wife, she reaches out to him and tries to save him. Unfortunately, she discovers that AOA Wolverine has pretty much lost his humanity along with his fucking mind. But it's not because he's a total dick cheese. He became Apocalypse because someone needed to take the mantel. If they didn't, the Celestials would wipe them all out. So to save both him and Jean, he became Apocalypse. He's willing to become this tyrannical super mutant and accept a touch of genocide so the world can have a fresh start. And he wants Jean with him, which makes him somewhat sympathetic yet he's still an asshole.

Just like the previous issue, Rick Remender captured the emotions between AOA Wolverine and AOA Jean perfectly. This isn't the unrequited love bullshit that is so annoying in 616. These two were actually lovers in the Age of Apocalypse. So seeing Wolverine turn into this monster strikes Jean where it hurts most. Even though she's got another perfectly fuckable Wolverine from 616, she still wants to save HER Wolverine. That's Jean Grey at her finest and fans of hers should commit this to memory because you know Marvel isn't doing shit with her in 616 for the next few decades.

Unfortunately, AOA Jean's sweet talk and her overly exposed cleavage isn't enough to get through to AOA Wolverine. I know. I was just as shocked to see it as well. But even when Jean goes Phoenix on his ass, Wolverocalypse barely flinches. He basically swats Jean to knock her out the same way you would hear 50 cent describe in one of his songs. He then takes her and teleports away, ranting on and on about how they can still be together. He still comes off as an asshole, but you can tell he still loves her. That or the power of Jean's pussy is just that great.

Now left behind and thoroughly pissed, X-Force takes their frustrations out on the rest of Wolverocalypse's forces. It gets bloody. It gets gruesome. So much so that AOA Iceman runs away like a total pussy. That and AOA Blob gets thrown out a window and does the world's greatest belly flop. Along the way they pick up Gateway, who in case your brain has lapsed is the key to getting them back to their world since Dark Beast screwed them over. All the while 616 Wolverine keeps bitching about how they have to go after Jean. It's almost pathetic to see a guy so pussy wipped from a pussy that prefers his evil counterpart over him.

Once all of Wolveroclypse's goons are cleared out, X-Force gathers themselves and prepares to go after Jean. They don't know what's going to happen to her, but rarely has there ever been a case where an insane lover has done something to a woman that hasn't turned out disturbing in ways that require a gallon of Pepto Bismal. But before they make their attack, a shadowy figure shows up. It's not too clear and if you're a little more than tipsy, you may miss it. But remember it because it comes into play very soon.

Using Gateway, the team descends on Wolverocalypse just as he's putting Jean in a Snow White style coffin minus the midget jokes. What follows is an elaborately detailed depiction of how Wolveroclaypse brutally slays ever last member of X-Force and the AOA X-men. It's graphic. It's brutal. If that weren't enough, we see Wolverocalypse's inner musings as he kills them. He treats it the same way most people would treat pissing on an ant hill. It means nothing to him. Now does this mean that all these characters are dead and Marvel has just ass fucked themselves into a hole? Well if remember that shadowy figure that was so easy to miss? That should tell you why that's not the case.

In a much less startling surprise than it was probably meant to be, it's revealed that Wolverocalypse didn't actually kill anybody. That was Fantomex's misdirection powers. Not that it's a cheap way to get some brutal shots on a page (it is), but considering there's no apparent transition of time that shows Fantomex returning or how long it takes for them to even set up this attack is confusing as hell and more disorienting than driving drunk with Lindsey Lohan. It lacks any surprise and setup. It's the kind of shit that Rick Remender is usually good at setting up so this was a bit of a disappointment and I rarely say that in an Uncanny X-Force review so that's shit you should document.

During Fanomtex's misdirection, X-Force took AOA Jean and prepared to leave with her in one of Gateway's portals. But before they can drag her off so Wolverine can finally get that sweet Phoenix powered pussy he's been craving, AOA pushes back. She refuses to go with him. That would be too easy. She reminds Wolverine and the readers for that matter that she isn't his Jean Grey. She belongs to the AOA Wolverine, even though he's an evil genocidal maniac now. That's loyalty right there. It sounds like the kind of thing the wife of an alcoholic would say, but Jean Grey makes it sound heroic. So despite Wolverine's whining, she sends him and the others packing through the portal back to their own world so she can confront her deranged lover. It's probably the most heroic thing you'll ever see Jean Grey do and knowing Marvel, it will probably be the last heroic thing you'll see Jean Grey do for the next several decades.

It's an emotional scene, every bit as dramatic as all the scenes with Jean and Wolverine have been. Rick Remender once again shows he can do drama just as well as over-the-top action. Regardless of whether Marvel ever bothers to use Jean Grey again, Rick Remender really did her justice here and this kind of sacrifice speaks volumes to who Jean Grey truly is. It's by far one of the most powerful moments in Uncanny X-Force to date and that's like saying it's the best rack in an issue of Hustler.

As disappointing as it was for Wolverine to leave Jean behind yet again, he and the others return to 616 with exactly what they need to save Arcangel. There's just one big fucking problem. They're too late. As soon as they return, they discover that Arcangel has been waiting for them along with the horsemen we met in the first arc of Uncanny X-Force and Dark Beast. So that life seed they went through all that trouble to get may end up doing precisely dick because just as in Age of Apocalypse, someone had to take the mantel. This time it's Arcangel and he's prepared to be the same asshole that AOA Wolverine became when he put on the big A!

In the end all I can say is it sucks to be Psylocke! But seriously, it was an awesome way to end the issue. X-Force goes through all that trouble to find the life seed and escape the Age of Apocalypse only to find out they're a tad too late. Arcangel has become the new Apocalypse and he's gotten the band back together for a worldwide tour that will only be slightly less destructive than the last Ozfest. This after Wolverine has to watch the hot redhead he so deeply wants to bone leave him behind yet again for another. Granted, the guy is just another version of him, but it still sucks. You can tell he wanted to save her and get some thank-you sex out of it. Looks like he won't get that chance.

Rick Remender's brand of storytelling once again shines in the way everything comes together. He made sure that the loose ends were kept to a minimum. He covered what happened with Fantomex and he threw in a little deception later on. And just like the last issue, he did a great job of capturing the drama and the heartache of the Wolverine/Jean Grey scene. It won't make you bawl like the end of Old Yeller, but it will make you feel for these characters in ways you won't usually admit to unless you've had a few too many during happy hour. But even with the emotion and the drama, there were some shortcomings.

For one, the death of Gambit was a little callous. In a series where a kid gets shot in the head, it seemed a little underhanded that his death wasn't really shown and was fairly glossed over. In addition, it wasn't all that clear how Fantomex had enough time to reach the others, play his little trick, and get a cheap laugh out of it. Not that it couldn't work, but it's hard to tell when sufficient time had passed to allow this shit to happen. It's surprising, but it lacks coherence and that makes it come off as contrived.

None of these peeves detract from the sheer volume of awesome that Uncanny X-Force #13 delivers. It's as solid a comic as they come. It just has a few easily overlooked flaws. Easy or not, I can't really give a perfect score to a book that was choppy in the middle. The beginning was great. The end was great. It's just those little details that keep it from being perfect like the last issue. So for a final score, I give uncanny X-Force #13 a 4.5 out of 5. Without a doubt, Uncanny X-Force is the best X-book on the racks and issues like this demonstrate why. If you can't find something to like then chances are you're already a douche-bag and have no business enjoying comics as a whole. Nuff said!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Uncanny X-men #542 - Mystical Awesome

I'm starting to feel like Marty McFly from Back to the Future and not because I have unresolved Oedipal issues. My whole sense of time is fucked up because I just reviewed two issues back-to-back that covered the same event. Now I'm reviewing an issue that took place before it. How do we know that? Well the other event is called Schism and in Uncanny X-men, the X-man haven't schised yet (I'm copyrighting that word right now). So unless the guys at Marvel are taking more drugs than I am, logic dictates that the timeline places Uncanny X-men #542 before this moment. Now Marvel is more coy about timelines than a transvestite prostitute on acid. So I'm not expecting any confirmation. I'm just expecting this issue to carry on the same awesome that Fear Itself has set up in other books.

Like every other series in Marvel, Fear Itself has struck the X-books with the force of a vibranium tipped dildo charged with the energy of a neutron star. The Serpent has taken a page out of Wal Mart's playbook and given away magic hammers at discounted prices. Unlike Wal Mart, he's a bit nicer to the lady folk. One of those hammers ended up in the hands of Juggernaut. He was unstoppable before, but now he's armed with Asgardian mojo. So what's the first thing he does with it? Simple. He takes a stroll to San Francisco to beat the living shit out of the X-men. In Uncanny X-men #541 we saw the classic approach. The team banded together, removed Juggernaut's helmet, and tried to give him a psychic migraine the likes of Michele Bachmann can only bitch about when she's not bashing gays. Well guess what? That shit doesn't work anymore! At the end of the last issue, the X-men found out that the old ways just don't work anymore. Juggernaut no longer has a weakness. Hitting his mind won't work. Hitting his body won't work. They might as well be bringing pillows stuffed with goose feathers to fight the fucking Death Star. The team lost their top psychic in Emma Frost and their mutant messiah, Hope Summers, was knocked out. In essence, they're fucked.

Uncanny X-men #542 continues that battle and by continues the battle I mean it keeps showing just how fucked the X-men truly are. It's gotten so bad that Cyclops is reaching out to guys who used to try and kill him on a regular basis, one of them being Avalanche. He was able to convince him that his former role in the Brotherhood was rendered moot when an Asgardian powered Juggernaut was coming their way. So Avalanche, likely in exchange for naked pictures of Emma Frost, agrees to help. He uses his powers to open a chasm so deep you could partially fit Glenn Beck's insanity inside it. Well deep or not, that proves to be about as effective as pissing in the ocean to stop a tsunami. Juggernaut just walks right over. And no, I don't mean that as a cute metaphor. He literally walks right over it in a way that puts Jesus Christ to shame.

So that idea is shot to shit. Now Cyclops has to regroup with Mayor Sadie back in San Francisco and like all politicians, she's getting impatient. Juggernaut and the Serpent are stoking all sorts of mutant-hating fears and they want the X-men to do something about it, but they don't want to have to pay for it. They're not unlike the Tea Party, wanting to do more by cutting out important shit like supporting your neighborhood heroes. Cyclops has to deliver in ways that Michele Bachmann can pretend to champion in interviews. He notes that Juggernaut already put Emma Frost and Hope in a hospital bed. So that's two mutant powerhouses and a two awesome sets of tits taken out of the equation. They're dealing with magic here and that means they need to rethink their approach. And when an Asgardian powered Juggernaut is coming their way, all options are on the table.

Then we get a little detour. Remember those angry mobs that were so pumped full of fear? Well they aren't the only ones. While Emma Frost is lying in a hospital bed, requiring massive amount of sedatives to counteract her roofie immunity, she has a nasty vision or hallucination (or both). What does it entail? Her greatest fear, of course! It's Fear Itself. What's her greatest fear? It has red hair, green eyes, a fiery temper, and Marvel won't stop teasing the fuck out of it! That's right. It happened again. Marvel dropped another bullshit hint about Hope, Jean Grey, and the Phoenix. They weren't even trying to be coy about it this time. In the vision, the Phoenix basically says that Cyclops will never love her like he loved Jean and that Jean always comes back. Not only that, she may already be back in the form of Hope Summers. Yeah, that's what it implies! This after Marvel outright stated that Hope is NOT Jean Grey. There's teases, there's hints, and then there's just being a dick.

Now this scene did piss me off because as I've ranted before, I'm annoyed as hell by these incessant Jean Grey teases. It's been happening since she died nearly a decade ago. Marvel went to great lengths to connect Hope Summers and the Phoenix Force, but they've gone to equally great lengths to downplay the similarities to Jean Grey. They'll state outright that they're not connected, but they'll still drop these hints that Jean Grey and Hope Summers are linked? Maybe I'm just jaded, but given how elaborate Marvel has been with this shit I just can't take it seriously. I can already assume what's going to happen. Somehow it's all going to be a figment of Emma's imagination. She'll pull back, come off as the victim, and have makeup sex with Cyclops. I would LOVE to be wrong, but until I see otherwise that's what I'm assuming. Yes, it is annoying as shit. But like my entire freshman year of high school, I will try to shut it out and enjoy this comic.

There's certainly a lot to enjoy. The scale of this struggle against Juggernuat just keeps getting bigger. If the battle in the last issue with Hope and Juggernaut wasn't flashy enough, Cyclops and the X-men are breaking out every possible trick. Cyclops starts going over all the ways they're trying to stop Juggernuat, from flying him away to teleporting him to the surface of the sun. Nothing is off the table. The old knock-the-helmet-off routine just isn't working anymore. It's 2011. Juggernaut is better equipped. So Pixie's teleportation powers along with Chamber's and Rogue's don't do shit. They're getting desperate and need to go to extremes.

Enter Illyana Rasputin. Remember her? The crazy young blond that was in a straight jacket in the last issue? No, it wasn't part of a porno. She kind of when ape shit in a New Mutants story and Colossus was having a hard time dealing with it. Well now in this desperate moment, Cyclops decided to release Magik and enlist her mystical talents. Whether she's crazy or just plain bored, she decides to help. That involves transporting her, Colossus, and Kitty to the Crimson Cosmos, home of Cytorak. This is the cozy little universe where Juggernaut drew his power. It stands to reason that the only way to stop the unstoppable is to draw upon another unstoppable power. That unstoppable enough for you?

If that wasn't scary enough, Emma Frost woke up in her hospital bed. Remember those voices in her head telling her to snuff out the cute redhead that Cyclops may try to bone at any minute? Well unlike a competent crazy bitch, she refuses to take her meds and actually listens. Word of advice all you pretty ladies, if a voice is telling you to suffocate someone with a pillow that's usually a sign you've had too much to drink or someone slipped you something when you were off taking a piss. I could go on yet another rant about how Emma Frost's disdain of redheads and her jealousy of Jean Grey is a tired old plot that Marvel never does anything with, but I already ranted enough earlier. So I'll just say Emma will still find a way to come out golden after this. She always does and always will provided the men at Marvel keep fantasizing about boning her.

From one crazy blond to another, Illyana has a little heart to heart with Cyttorak. She channels her inner Johnny Cochran and makes a compelling case. Juggernaut, Cyttorak's avatar, has found a new source of power. It's strong, it's badass, and it doesn't leave him vulnerable to psychics. That means he's essentially given the finger to Cyttorak and since he's not the kind of creature to forgive and forget, she requests that he pick a new avatar to kick his ass with. Cyttorak is more easily swayed than the jury at Casey Anthony's trial. He presents to Illyana a ruby that will grant her the power to bitch slap Juggernaut. However, Colossus has a problem with this. A big fucking problem. His sister is already fucked up enough. Giving her a taste of Juggernaut is one too many doses of crazy. But she reminds him they're kind of fucked and they don't have a choice.

This is painfully apparent back in San Francisco. Again, Cyclops is going over all the ways in which the X-men are trying to stop Juggernaut. All of them are failing, yet you can't fault them for not being creative. They use characters like Dazzler and Siryn, who only make occasional cameos in Uncanny. You have Gambit and Rockslide working together and by that I mean Gambit charges Rockslide up so that he can fucking blow Juggernaut to hell, but he barely tickles the guy. Even Magneto (yes THAT Magneto) attempts to show his ego-driven power by throwing a fucking aircraft carrier at Juggernaut. That's not a metaphor either. He really does throw an aircraft carrier at Juggernaut. And guess what? It still doesn't work.

Now at this point, you would think the X-men would start getting fatalistic. They're getting their asses kicked. But set that shit aside for a moment. By using so many diverse characters and so many (albeit failed) tactics, it adds to the overall scale of this issue. This isn't just focusing on a few characters like Cyclops, Wolverine, or Emma Frost's tits. The whole X-men are involved. Seeing as how this is in a series that's nearing it's end, that's oddly fitting. The whole team is throwing everything they have at an enemy that has been around since the very early days of the X-men. You couldn't make for a better stage if you forged it out of planks of solid gold wrapped in bacon.

This kind of scale has a way of scaring the shit out of the non-powered people in the Marvel universe. They see this happening and they get scared, just as the Serpent probably wants. And as anyone who has ever made an impulsive decision while tripped out on crystal meth knows, you don't make smart decisions when you're scared. That's what prompts Mayor Sadie to go behind the back of her mutant allies and enlist the help of the US military. Because who could be more trustworthy than the US military? Their motto being invade now and justify it later. Juggernaut is here for the mutants. The way Mayor Sadie sees it, if she has to sacrifice the mutants to save her people then that's just fine and dandy. Don't know if she's scared or just stupid, but it's still a dick move. If that weren't bad enough, Cyclops finds out about this. He knows now the politicians are against him in addition to Juggernaut. That's a double dose of impossible odds and even for a guy like Cyclops, that's too damn much.

At this point, Cyclops needs a miracle. Or the next best thing, which is magic. Back in the realm of the Crimson Cosmos, Illyana is poised to become Cyttorak's new avatar. Now Colossus could be the understanding brother and let his crazy sister merge with this corruptible power, but that would just make him an asshole. So being the stone-cold Russian with a heart of gold, he pretty much shoves Illyana aside and goes for the power himself. Illyana doesn't seem too upset with this. If anything, she seemed to expect it. Only Kitty is visibly upset and why shouldn't she be? Her boyfriend is about to merge with an evil power and she tries to remind him that no amount of makeup sex will compensate for this, but when an Asgardian powered Juggernuat is on the loose that sweet Kitty poon has to take a back seat. In the end we're left with a new and improved Colossus armed with Juggernaut's power. He's Colossouant! Or Juggernossus! Or whatever the fuck you want to call it, it still looks badass and sets the stage for a kick-ass fight in the next issue!

All in all, we've got magic, we've got armies, and we've got distressed psychic women with big boobs trying to kill annoying replacement characters. Seriously, if you didn't find something to love in this comic then you're either comatose or dead. Kieron Gillen has been walking that fine line between above average and supremely awesome for a while. I get the sense that he has the capability of taking that extra step that previous writers haven't been able to take, but it's taken him a while to go the distance. Well with this issue he did! This is as good an issue of Uncanny X-men that you'll ever find. The scope, scale, and story all mesh perfectly with the backdrop of Fear Itself. For this, I bow to it's awesome.

Now that's not to say I can overlook the scene with Emma, Hope, and the Phoenix Force. Anyone who has read my drunken ravings on this blog know that I go into seizures whenever I see Marvel teasing Jean Grey in 616. I get it. You like fucking with certain fans! Memo received! This isn't fucking Office Space and I don't need a reminder from eight fucking sources that Jean Grey is dead and her imagery gets a reaction. It's already been confirmed by Nick Lowe that Hope isn't Jean Grey. It's a foregone conclusion that Emma is either hallucinating, drugged, or the Serpent is just fucking with her greatest fears (ie Jean Grey). We know Emma Frost won't snuff Hope Summers and not just because she's alive and well in Schism. Marvel just won't make Emma Frost do anything that makes her any less their golden girl just as they won't do anything to ever bring Jean Grey back. that's just how they role and they're still assholes because of it.

But assholery aside, this was still an awesome issue. Kieron Gillen found a creative way to get the entire X-men involved. We see just how desperate the team is and Gillen actually shows the reader rather than just tells it. We see all these failed tactics from characters like Mercury and Adam X that really haven't shown up much in other books. It's a great way to show the whole X-men struggling in this battle. Then he takes the plot with Kitty, Colossus, and Magik to a new level. We get a new mystical twist that pits magic against magic against mutant. In the end, that leaves us with a Colossus/Juggernaut. It sets the stage for the equivalent of an arm wrestling match between Yahweh and Allah. It's so epic that every holy book ever written couldn't do it justice. Since this is nearing the end of Uncanny X-men, I couldn't think of a better way to end it!

I could let my annoyance with the Emma/Phoenix/Hope issue completely skew my scoring of this issue. But that would be a dick move. As much as that scene annoyed me, this issue was just too awesome to let something petty like that bring it down. This issue was as uncanny as the title indicates. For that, I cannot justify giving this issue anything less than a 5 out of 5. It's awesome. It's epic. It's over-the-top. It's the perfect cherry on top of the cake already set up by X-men Schism #3 and Generation Hope #10. It's been a great week for X-men fans. It's the kind of week you look back on and your balls get wet. Really, it's that awesome! Nuff said!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Generation Hope #10 - Killer Awesome

Fresh on the heels of X-men Schism #3, I'm compelled to offer my drunken ravings on the book that links right up with it. The story in Schism is a big fucking deal. So big that just one book doesn't cut it. So what better way to subtly grow the story without adding big ass numbers to it and shamelessly leech sales for another floundering series than to use Generation Hope as a go-between? It's not nearly as fucked up as it sounds. It's not even as douchy a move as it sounds. If you read Schism #3 (a thousand lashings with Courtney Love's pubic hair if you didn't), then you know why using Generation Hope can and should link up with Schism.

As a quick refresher, X-men Schism #3's defining moment wasn't a bunch of snot-nosed kids somehow took down the X-men with weapons that Homeland Security would kill for. It was Cyclops giving an order that had Idie, one of the Five Lights, cross a big line and became a killer. She's among the youngest of the lights. She's also the most naive in a ways. She's like that girl you meet at a party who is from Bumfuck Texas and doesn't know the ingredients of a Bahama Mama. Everything is new to her. She was the one that was actually shocked when Kitty Pryde told her that she fucked her boyfriend without marrying him. Where she comes from, sexual repression and religious dogma are so normal that all enemas are shaped like crosses. She seemed to get over that, but she still didn't carry herself as your typical X-man. She's a young girl who just began filling out a bra. So her becoming a killer was a big moment and one big enough to wound the hearts of everyone who ever wrote slash fanfiction with Cyclops and Wolverine because it drove a big fucking wedge between them.

But the story of how Idie ended up in a position to be a killer wasn't really revealed in X-men Schism #3. Why would it? It has to designate a certain number of pages to depicting homicidal kids. This is where Generation Hope #10 comes in. This issue tells the story of how Idie made it to that fateful moment. Fittingly enough, it's told from her perspective. It fills in the gaps of Schism that Marvel is usually content to ignore like the 800-pound-gorilla humping donkey. It begins with the Five Lights staying out of the big sentinel battle that's been unfolding all over the world. Since they're a rescue team and not robot-killing specialist, they stay behind on Utopia and watch the mechanical carnage. It's only slightly more entertaining than a UFC match and a knife fight between monkeys.

Not everybody is taking it seriously. Gabriel watches it the same way some guys watch Monday Night Football. Don't know what that says about him, but he still comes off as an ass. Since the Five Lights are still novices, they don't understand the deeper meaning that goes into destroying mutant-killing robots. I know that's like saying taking a shit is poetic, but there is a deeper meaning here. Laurie and Idie get into a bit of a debate about it. Laurie is reading Xavier's old journals so she supports the old school position that says mutant killing robots are bad and they must be destroyed. Seems reasonable enough, but Idie sees it differently. She sees herself and mutants in general as monsters. She doesn't blame humanity for making killer robots like this and she does have a point when you think about it. This debate prompts Laurie to invite Idie to the mutant history museum. For those of you who already read X-men Schism #3, you know why that's a bad idea. If you haven't, you're probably confused and in need of some light head trauma.

Idie accepts Laurie's invite and goes to the museum. While the main team is off smiling for the paparazzi, they're acting like your typical tourist minus the incessant bitching about buses not being on time. Laurie carries herself like your typical nerdy intellectual. She's the kind of girl that can go into museum and have the same face that a guy would have when he walks into a strip club. The history and insight of a museum hold genuine appeal to her. For idie, it's a bit different. She looks as comfortable as a gay man at a Hooters because she's not like Idie. She's a girl from Africa who until recently didn't know there was a world outside her village. That sort of shit will affect a girl.

Laurie and idie aren't the only one at the museum. Kenji also joined in. He's an art guy so again, a museum would appeal to him. It's a little league game to a pedophile. He and Laurie are drawn in and they get a nice refresher course on sentinels. Since these mechanical monstrosities are such an integral part of mutant history, they start debating in the same way a Jets fan would debate with a Giants fan. This is where Kieron Gillen's writing really shines because he's very good when it comes to dialog. It's very conversational and it takes time to offer perspective, something that books like X-men Schism #3 did not take time to include. How could it when there were more pressing matters like homicidal kids?

Kenji and Laurie are so damn busy with their intellectual dick-measuring contest that they don't see Idie wander off. Again, she's a girl from Africa. Their conversation may as well be in Sanskrit for her. So she checks out a few other exhibits. Along the way, she meets up with Prodigy. This is a nice touch because he's a character that shows up only once in a blue moon. He's rarely had much of a role outside of New Mutants and he offers a little living history to Idie, telling her about how some of his friends died at the hands of mutant-hating douche-bags. This is something Idie herself hasn't really experienced before so it has an impact and sort of sets the tone for what we already know happened in X-men Schism #3.

Idie keeps wandering and finds herself at another exhibit. This one involves a recording of a very special girl with red hair and green eyes. Again, if you think that's referring to Jean Grey, you should know better by now. Marvel's new company policy for the past few years has been fuck with Jean fans as much as possible so make sure you get a copy of the memo! This redhead isn't Jean, but close! It's Rachel in her old Hound uniform. Now she's still in space getting the shit kicked out of her by the Shi'ar so Idie is watching a recording. She basically talks about how her future sucked ass and how mutants like her were treated by humans the same way Colonel Sanders treats chickens. It's a reminder that the future can suck in a big way and it's not clear if that future is still going to happen.

Later on, Laurie catches up with Idie and she comments how Rachel has similar hair to Hope (or Jean ripoff if you prefer). I think Kieron Gillen took a subtle potshot at all the angry Jean Grey fans out there by having Laurie say that she doesn't look like her and not every redhead looks like Hope. It would have been less subtle for Gillen to walk up to every Jean fan in their sleep and beat them over the head with a baseball bat saying "Jean and Hope aren't linked. Jean is fucking dead. Now shut up and accept Hope Summers, damn it!" But I guess this works as well. Still seems like a dick move.

All the high culture and intellectual debates are nice, but this is an X-men comic tying into a major X-men event. That means shit has to start blowing up at some point. Well once again, this issue links up with X-men Schism #3. The battle against the Hellfire kids takes shape and Idie, Laurie, and Kenji are on the sidelines. Laurie does what any college educated girl would do. She fucking runs. Idie, however, decides to linger. That or she's in the process of shitting herself. It's hard to tell. All she understands is there's a big ass fight unfolding right and front of her and that's not a good thing.

Flash forward to the latter part of X-men Schism #3. The X-men get their asses kicked by the kid Hellfire Club. I will repeat that. The X-men are beat by a bunch of deranged children. That's worth reinforcing because even in another comic, that's fucked up. All the while, Idie is contemplating what the hell she can or should do at this point. She stayed back, not letting the other X-men or the Hellfire kids see her. She sees the X-men get defeated and she's now the only one between them and a role in whatever perverse fantasies an insane kid can come up with. I'm guessing it would involve dressing up like Spongebob.

All the while, we see what is going through Idie's mind. Again, Kieron Gillen does a masterful job of articulating the emotions that she's experiencing. At the same time, she's getting conflicting orders from Cyclops and Wolverine. These orders were documented in X-men Schism #3. If you want to see it, buy that book or check out my review. I'm not going to repeat it, but all you need to know is Cyclops wanted her to take those Hellfire goons out. Wolverine didn't want her to become a killer. Guess which one she chose?

It was graphic enough in X-men Schism #3, but in this issue it's like an extra dash of hot sauce atop a jalopeno burrito. Idie crosses that line. She becomes a killer and takes out the Hellfire guards. She's not subtle about it either. She burns them. She freezes them. She generally ensures that they die a very painful death. Yet all the while, she still looks like a confused teenage girl. It's disturbing and somewhat tragic. It was a turning point in X-men Schism #3 and it's a turning point in Generation Hope #10. In any case, Idie will never be the same. This after being ignored for a good chunk of the series. Way to overcompensate Marvel!

When all is said and done, Idie meets up with Jean Ripoff (aka Hope) and the rest of the lights outside the museum. This is presumably before it explodes like it did in X-men Schism #3. As one would expect, Hope is pissed. Laurie and Kenji didn't do dick. They left Idie to face this impossible decision all by herself. Seeing as how she's gone out of her way to whip their ass into shape, she's pretty upset with them. Here, Laurie reveals something startling. When Hope isn't present, they aren't fighters. They're just teenagers with mutant powers. That cult-like influence on them really doesn't serve them well on their own and Idie just showed why. It's a distressing and potentially disturbing revelation. It puts the Five Lights in a very uncertain position, one where nothing can really be the same anymore. Then again, this is X-men. Cataclysmic change happens every other Tuesday.

This comic marks a significant contrast with X-men Schism #3. While that issue was all about big moments, big spectacles, and homicidal kids this comic was more of a personal story. It gave readers a sense of what Idie was going through before she got that fateful command from Cyclops. Most of the issue isn't spent depicting how she fucked up a bunch of Hellfire goons with a mix of fire, ice, and presumably lawsuits from Jesse Jackson. While that would have been awesome in it's own right, more of the story is focused on showing where Idie is coming from. She sees mutants as monsters and she understands that they're dangerous. Yet she's okay with this. It sounds like a twisted perspective, but it makes a fair amount of sense when you think about it with a slightly sober mind. That's part of what makes it so compelling.

Aside from the subtle potshots at how all redheads look alike, there weren't too many flaws in the telling of this very personal and very insightful story. It's the kind of comic that doesn't just compliment another. It actually enhances the overall event because it adds a much needed personal touch. Idie in many ways is the victim of the disagreement between Cyclops and Wolverine. She becomes a killer and it affects her. Now there are some elements that were underdeveloped. It would have been nice to see something done with Prodigy and it was never answered what the other lights were doing when kid Hellfire struck. But that's only a minor hole that's easy to ignore. I just assume they ate the shitty catering and had to take the Browns to multiple Superbowls.

In the end, Generation Hope #10 was one of the most compelling issues. However, it doesn't feel like a natural continuation of what the previous nine issues have been. It seems that Generation Hope can only be best when it's complimented by other X-books. When it tries to stand on it's own, it's often bland and boring. This feels like a bit of a flaw. You could probably cal this X-men Schism #3.1 and it would work just as well. But labels aside, it's still an awesome book. I tip my hat and raise my glass of whiskey to Kieron Gillen for making this issue awesome. I give it a 5 out of 5. The X-men are divided and Idie is caught up in the middle of it all. Her story deserves to be told and unless you're a card-carrying member of the KKK, you'll feel for her. Nuff said!