Friday, September 30, 2011

X-men Supreme Issue 43: War and Peace PREVIEW

Hello all you wonderful X-men Supreme readers. Still catching your breath after hte end of Overlord? I certainly am! This fanfiction series has unfolded in ways I never imagined, but I'm happy with how it turned out. There was so much action and intensity leading up to that final moment. Now all that's left is to tie up the loose ends and bring X-men Supreme Volume 2: Mutant Revolution to a close. It's been such an amazing ride, but it must end if it's to make way for another new beginning! There's only one issue left so expect to see old stories end and new stories emerge that will thoroughly shape X-men Supreme Volume 3. Once again, I've prepared a brief preview. Enjoy!

Candy’s expression tensed with a mix of anger and frustration. She didn’t blame Warren for being mad at her. But this wasn’t a clear-cut issue. It was complicated, going back to the relationship they once shared.

“Look Warren, I know a lot has happened since we broke up. We’ve been struggling with it in our own way ever since,” said Candy in a deeper, more emotional tone.

“Struggling isn’t the right word,” said Warren, lowering his voice, “We almost got married, Candy. I was ready to take the next step with you. To break it off at that point wasn’t a struggle. It was downright painful.”

“I know it was. And I still feel that pain. I really did love you Warren and I still do. But you being a mutant was just too much for our families. I thought if your father wasn’t going to do anything about it, I might as well try my luck. I figured if my company could perfect the cure we could…”

But Warren didn’t let her finish.

“You still don’t get it do you!” he exclaimed, scolding her with resentment once reserved for his father, “I am what I am! Being a mutant isn’t a disease! It’s not something you can cure! It’s not something I want cured!”

“But if one day it became too much for you, I wanted to at least have the option!” cried Candy with tears now forming in her eyes, “I didn’t do it to force it on you! I did it because I love you!”

“Oh please! You just wanted a reason to believe we could still be together! It wasn’t an act of love! It was selfish!”

“So you wouldn’t have done the same?” she sobbed, “You wouldn’t have done whatever it took to find a way for us to be together?”

“Not if it involved doing the wrong thing for all the wrong reasons!”

His words were harsh. There was a hurt in his tone as well. Sorrow mixed with anger as he kept scolding her for what she had done. Candy couldn’t look at him anymore. She turned away to contain her sobs. She knew she was going against his wishes when she began this endeavor with the cure. She had no idea it would hurt him like this.

Warren let her sob for a moment while he collected himself. He tried not to let his anger get the better of him. A part of him still had a soft spot for this woman. For so long, he lamented over their breakup. He never blamed her for it. It was their families that forced it upon them. But after this he couldn’t look at her the same again. She wasn’t the same sweet woman he fell in love with. She had bore her true colors.

“You have no idea how much this hurts me, Candy,” he said in an emotional tone, “You saw how much it upset me when my father started doing anti-mutant research. You saw how much it upset me when our families demanded I cut off my wings in order to be with you. You always said you accepted my powers. You even said you loved them.”

“I did. I loved you and accepted you for who you are.”

“Did you?” Warren questioned, “Or did you just accept when it was convenient? Because as soon as it became an obstacle, you brushed it off the same way my father did. I expect that pig-headedness from him, but not from you.”

“I didn’t take it lightly, Warren! I was careful with it every step of the way!”

“But to actually go this far, continuing his work even when it bore things like this poison gas…it just shows you don’t understand. And you never did.”

It's been an exciting time for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. In a wonderful act of timing, I also have a new commissioned pic from my old friend, Brian Brinlee! Once again, he has contributed his amazing talent to X-men Supreme by taking a scene right out of Issue 23: Family and Fiends Part 2 and bringing it to life! All you Nightcrawler fans out there should appreciate this because it demonstrates why he's such an awesome character. He captured one of the best scenes of that issue perfectly and as always, I thank Brain for his contribution.

There's just one week left before X-men Supreme Volume 2 officially comes to an end! Afterwards, I'll make a series of announcements regarding the future of X-men Supreme. I have a few special bonuses I want to include that I hope will add to this fanfiction series's growing body of awesome. As alawys, I encourage all you X-men Supreme fans out there to provide feedback using my review section in each issue or contacting me. Either way is fine. Thanks again, everybody! Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

X-men Legacy #255 - Reunion for Awesome

When I'm hammered, I often see myself in deep space fighting intergalactic battles and banging hot alien chicks. Thanks to Mother Nature and basic human biology being such a bitch, I don't have the luxury of being hammered all the time so I have to rely on comic books to fulfill those fantasies. There are a great many stories that involve alien empires, blood feuds, and chicks with big tits. The X-men have had their share of stories like this. They've all been awesome in their own right. However, it wasn't until recently that the X-men finally returned to space so they could kick some alien ass. It also wasn't until recently that characters like Havok, Polaris, and Rachel Grey were more forgotten then Gary Busey's medications. But unlike Gary Busey, Marvel is capable of making sane choices when the time is right.

X-men Legacy has mimicked many of my drug-induced fantasies lately (except for an alien three-way with blue-skinned space hookers). First, there was the reality warping AU known as Age of X. Then there was Legion literally losing his already deranged mind into multiple personas, which the X-men had to corral and capture. Somehow Mike Carey found a way to use that story to segway into a story that involves traveling into deep space, getting involved in yet another Shi'ar civil war, and rescuing Rachel, Havok, and Polaris before readers completely forget they're still breathing. I don't know he comes up with this shit, but if it were a drug I'd be injecting it into my neck by the gallon!

The search for Rachel, Havok, and Polaris has been about as smooth as a relationship with Rick James minus the crack pipes. Rogue teleported herself, Magneto, Gambit, and Frenzy right into the domain of the Shi'ar where one of their space stations was plummeting into a star. It's exactly the kind of shit storm that Rachel, Havok, and Polaris would stumble ass backwards into despite the universe being cock-smashingly huge. Somewhere along the way, Rogue was separated from the rest of her team. She ended up with a team of Shi'ar bandits that were holding Rachel hostage while Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit got front row seats to a Shi'ar slaughterhouse (I assume that's the Shi'ar equivalent to the NFL). It ended with the revelation that Havok and Polaris are alive and unlike Rachel, they're still conscious. But they're a long ways from home and well on their way to losing their fucking minds.

X-men Legacy #255 is still riding First Class in the crazy train. Rogue has to find a way to escape her captors in order to meet up with the others and save her friends. This involves challenging the Shi'ar to the equivalent of a dick-measuring contest. Since the Shi'ar can't seem to resist a challenge that questions the size of their balls (or whatever they have), they must accept. The deal is simple. Rogue just has to kick the ass of the four-armed pet monster they've been hauling around like a pit-bull that's on it's way to being neutered. It's not a fair fight. Rogue's the kind of woman that isn't afraid to bone Magneto. If that's not tough, then what is?

It's not too hard to figure out who will be screwed over more in that fight. Meanwhile, Magneto and the others rely more on diplomacy to get the Shi'ar to cooperate. Having witnessed the mini-scuffle in the last issue that had the Shi'ar royally fucked, he offers them his assistance in exchange for tracking a few non-Shi'ar signals that may or may not be Havok and Polaris. Since being Shi'ar means being somewhat of a dick by default, they're reluctant to accept such help from puny humans. Then Magneto shows off some of his powers and after they're done shitting themselves, they accept.

Back to the fight with Rogue and the Goro knock-off from Mortal Kombat. It's not the most epic fight in the world and why should it be? So what if the creature is bigger, stronger, uglier, and has more arms than Rogue! Keep in mind Rogue still has that jolt of power from Legion. All this creepy monster has is a future as a coat rack. It's not even close to the Wolverine vs. Cyclops bash in Schism #4 that spanned several pages. Rogue barely breaks a sweat against this beast and the Shi'ar still don't take her seriously. Less we forget the Shi'ar have a genetic predisposition to being dicks so it makes what happens next all the more satisfying.

There are any number of ways Rogue could have downed that creature. She could have ripped off half it's arms and beaten him to death with it. She could use some of Legion's power to rip out his skeleton through his pinkie finger. Or if she's feeling creative, she could turn into that creepy girl Frenzy tormented and simply confuse the creature to death. If only X-men Legacy were a MAX comic. Then we could actually see all the intricate details that Rogue would put into ripping out someone's intestines and strangling them with it. But the fucking censors are a bunch of humorless pussies so she does the next best thing. She wakes up Rachel Grey, who to this point has been comatose much like Michelle Bachmann's electability. She then uses that beautiful mind that she inherited from her mother to knock the creature out. It's a great way for Rachel to finally strut her stuff. She hasn't done squat in the X-books for years so it's refreshing to see that she's still a badass.

While Rachel didn't lose her edge, Havok and Polaris seemed to sharpen theirs. Being stuck in space and isolated from the X-men has made them a bit less sympathetic than before. By that I mean they've modified their stances on torture or as Dick Cheney would describe them, "A damn good way to spend a Sunday afternoon." Remember those Shi'ar prisoners from the previous issue? Well they're brought before Havok and Polaris, who led the attack with those strange cockroach-like creatures that look an untreated STD on Flavor Flav's dick. They don't like the Shi'ar and neither do Havok or Polaris. So why not team up and fuck with them? That's teamwork, boys and girls! A great message for today's misguided youth.

The Shi'ar prisoners are left to sweat it out. They attempt to plead their case, but Havok and Polaris aren't hearing it. Neither are the creatures. They're like the Salem Witch Trials where all you have to do is randomly accuse someone and they're guilty by default. That's Shi'ar justice for you! Guilty until they fucking say otherwise! Before they can call the ACLU, Korvus delivers their sentence. Now who is Korvus? Well if you'll recall, he's the one who Rachel was inclined to bone before she, Polaris, and Havok went MIA. He wields something called the Phoenix Sword, which looks like it was ripped off from Final Fantasy VII. It's horrendously impractical, but it gets the job done. It still leaves a bloody mess, but what are you gonna do?

Now these actions don't seem very X-men-like of Havok and Polaris. Wolverine and Cyclops may hate each other's guts now, but even they would cry foul like the New York Giants faking injuries if they saw them passing out the kind of sentences that only Vlad the Impaler would find fair. But this is where that long absence from the books actually fits into the story. These two have been gone for quite a while so you wouldn't expect them to behave the same. I would be making a lot of poop jokes right now if Mike Carey made it so they hadn't changed after all this time. Thankfully, I don't have to. I want to save those for another Ultimate comics discussion.

During this whole show-trial, Magneto was watching from above with Gambit and Frenzy. I have to imagine he had to wipe away a few tears when he saw his daughter utilize some of the same ruthless tactics that made him such a badass. At the same time, I'm sure he's equally disturbed that his daughter is still shacking up with Havok. That and her playing a part in some alien war, but as with most father's they're probably more concerned about who has access to his daughter's pussy. The reunion is somewhat underwhelming given how long this has been built up. Both Havok and Polaris are pretty surprised, but they aren't ready to head back to Earth just yet. Keep in mind they're still in the middle of an alien civil war. It's almost as bad as a traffic jam in LA.

Gambit and Frenzy soon join Magneto, adding to the tension. If that weren't enough, the aliens aren't done torturing the Shi'ar. Korvus managed to leave one alive, probably because his arm got tired from swinging that oversized sword. For him, the aliens try something that even Magneto finds cruel. They use a psychic, presumably the same one that made Rachel take a long nap, to force the unfortunate Shi'ar into torturing himself. Even by Shi'ar standards, that's some pretty sick shit. You only see that sort of thing in Saw movies now a days. And for some reason, Magneto has a problem with this. He wants to take his children home and he doesn't want to be part of this war. Since Havok and Polaris have had so much time to get comfortable, they're not going to be reasonable about it. Against a guy like Magneto, that's like waving your dick at a shark.

Sooner or later, someone has to fuck things up even more. This time it comes from the very Shi'ar that Magneto, Frenzy, and Gambit helped out in the previous issue. They see once again that negotiations are for pussies and decide to fire one of their space toys right into the crowded torture arena. This goes over about as well as you would expect. Both the aliens along with Havok and Polaris interpret this as a threat. Who wouldn't? So having had plenty of time to work out her daddy issues, Polaris decides to attack her father and Havok joins in. And he didn't even have to forbid her from going on a date with Havok while wearing a mini-skirt.

So both the distance and time spent away from their friends has had quite an effect on Havok and Polaris. They've made some new friends against the Shi'ar and since Magneto helped the Shi'ar, that's all they need to attack them. It sets the stage for the kind of family clash that you can only see on Jerry Springer. It feels dramatic without being melodramatic. It's a tough balance to have in a story that's two years overdue, but Mike Carey pulled it off yet again! It almost makes me forget that he's leaving this series soon. I'll definitely miss stories like this so excuse me while I get a fresh bottle of whiskey to prepare for that sad day.

It's been a while since Magneto had to deal with all the numerous way she fucked up as a parent. The situation in Children's Crusade (a book you should all totally get) is bad enough. Now here in X-men Legacy, he has to contend with Polaris wanting to kill him. It supports a theory that I formulated years ago in my comic-reading career. Put Magneto's kids in a confined area with him for long enough and eventually they'll try to kill him. It's the kind of reunion you would expect between Polaris and Magneto. We don't know how long in the skewed physics that is comic time that Polaris has been away from Earth. If she's resorted to killing Magneto already, then I would say that's an appropriate way to end the book. In a ways it's a metaphor for the overall theme of this book. The X-men are just starting to reunite with Havok, Rachel, and Polaris. However, some crazy shit has happened in between and it's something they'll have to get around.

It's a great issue. As good as any you'll see from Mike Carey, which is saying plenty. Rachel finally woke up and Rogue got to kick some ass. That alone makes this comic worth buying and framing next to your autographed copies of Playboy. If there's a flaw anywhere, it's that the reunion was largely a setup. There moment where Rachel, Polaris, and Havok finally met up with their friends was a bit underwhelming. It was like "Hey! You're back. Cool. Now let's go beat up some aliens!" That's not to say it isn't an awesome presence, but it just wasn't enough. I don't mean to sound greedy, but given how long Rachel, Polaris, and Havok have been gone it's not something that should be glossed over. Just saying.

Other than that, the dialog and the action is as solid as always. There are times when Magneto comes off as a bit too diplomatic. Rogue's badassery helps to compensate in more than enough ways. The sci-fi visuals are like a line of blow for the eyes and the story moves forward at a fairly steady pace. It won't leave your head spinning like one too many shots of tequila, but it won't leave you yawning like a lecture from Ben Stein. For a final score, I give X-men Legacy #255 a 4.5 out of 5. This story begins the reunion, but doesn't completely flesh it out. For that, Marvel is making us buy the next issue like the greedy bastards they are. But even if it means a kick in the balls from my accountant, I've already reserved my copy! Nuff said.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

X-POSITION: Nick Spencer - My Answered (Sort Of)

Bear with me people. I'm a little drunk and a little depressed right now. On top of that, the subject of this post is Ultimate so you know I'll be going on my share of angry rants. Recently, I did a full review of Ultimate X-men #1 because self-mutilation just wasn't cutting it. That book was so bad I was prepared to dive head first into a vat of mercury to sufficiently damage my brain to the point where I stopped giving a fuck. But of course if that shit actually worked, every fan of the Cleveland Browns would have done that years ago.

Despite my apparent lack of regard for my own health and my fetish for brain damage, I was determined to give Ultimate X-men a chance. I have not forgotten that this was once my favorite comic book for nearly a decade. I still have boxes of Ultimate X-men comics that are gathering dust because I'm too disgusted to look at them. I want to like the new books. I really do. It would do my liver so many favors. But try as I might, the series still sucks several donkey balls and a moose cock. I respect Nick Spencer and all the work he does. I think he's a great writer and I would have loved to see him on Ultimate before the anal raping that was Ultimatum, but what's done is done. As such, I decided to send him some questions for his first X-POSITION for Ultimate X-men. Despite my angry ravings on this blog, he was kind enough to answer.

CBR: X-POSITION - Nick Spencer

Now I know most answers for any X-POSITION are vague. Writers can't spill all the details or I assume Marvel sends hit-men to rough them up when they're taking a shit. But at least they give some sort of rhyme to the reason. Well the answers I got this time had about as much rhythm as Mike the Situation's rap album. Here's what was said:

The arms of MarvelMaster616 seem to be kind of tired from some old baggage he's carrying around. Is there anything you can tell him to lighten his load?

1) I was once a big Ultimate X-Men fan, but then I (and others) were turned off by "Ultimatum." It seems many have attached a "stigma" to this event and its relation to the Ultimate X-Men. Does this present a challenge for you? Do you feel the need to address this?

Personally, a great deal of the appeal in doing the book came from the status quo upheavals that took place during "Ultimatum." To me, if this were just another book with all the familiar X-trappings and the same cast we see in the Marvel Universe, I really wouldn't understand the point of it. Why would we need an "Ultimate Comics X-Men" book if it didn't stand out considerably from what was already on the shelves?

To me, "Ultimatum" opened the door for much bigger stories than what came before. I get that might upset some people if they liked what came before and they wanted more of that, or if they felt angry about the deaths of some of their favorite characters. But for me, change is exciting. Upheaval is exciting. It opens doors to new stories. Whether or not you like those new stories is entirely up to you, I guess, but I think there's something to be said for taking chances here. I think it's making the most of a line like 'Ultimate Comics.'

Okay, first off I have to call bullshit on the notion that Ultimatum was an upheaval. It fucking slaughtered half the X-men for crying out loud! That's not an upheaval. That's a comic book equivalent of a snuff film. And why the fuck is it necessary to kill characters in order to make the series stand out? Who says he had to use the same characters and themes of 616 anyways? He can do that WITHOUT FUCKING KILLING OFF HALF THE FUCKING CAST! Ultimatum didn't open any doors. It closed them by killing the characters and the stories they had left to tell. Killing characters doesn't open up new stories. It destroys them because characters ARE stories. Especially in comics. Why else would Disney pay BILLIONS to buy the rights to these characters? Why would the Kirby family be suing Marvel to get those rights back? This isn't change. This is regression. To call this change is like calling a mass murder change. It's not the kind that people care for. Especially if they actually gave half a damn about the first 100 issues that came before this shit. The sad part is I agree with Spencer in that upheaval is exciting, but you don't need to fucking kill characters to get that excitement! That's like chopping off your arm for an adrenaline rush. It's fucking stupid.

2) Many characters that died in "Ultimatum" were killed off-panel with no apparent cause. Some characters like Dazzler, Toad, and Psylocke never had a chance to develop their stories further. I know you've stated that you'll never bring back any characters, but don't you think that's kind of limiting?

Not [in] my view. To me, "dead means dead" is such a powerful selling point for this universe. It ups the stakes and makes those deaths mean something. Right now, when a character dies in most superhero books, let's be honest, the fans set a timer and start counting down to the eventual resurrection. You can't do that here, and to me, that's a big part of what makes these books special. I worry a lot about the impermanence of death in comics and how it robs us of the ability to do tragedies -- and thankfully, that's not a problem in this line.

As far as a character dying before their arc is resolved, well, that's exactly how death works. None of us know when it's gonna hit, and not everyone gets to go out in a blaze of glory or just after they've reached closure on all the important things in our lives. Sometimes it happens quickly, and sometimes it happens when we least expect it. 

Sorry, but that's also bullshit. Dead means dead doesn't add value to any character's death. It's not a selling point either. Honestly, does Spencer really believe that a book with the title "Hey! We killed Wolverine in this book! Come check it out!" will actually appeal to people? It may get their attention the same way a train wreck that kills 140 people would, but it wouldn't hold it. Most people are repulsed enough to look away after a few moments. And those resurrection stories he pans? Well, some of them are very powerful. Case and point, Blackest Night. That was the biggest comic event by DC in nearly a decade. It was a huge resurrection story and guess what? It sold like a motherfucker. So he's wrong. The fact that Ultimate can't and won't do that doesn't make it appealing. It limits the book in ways akin to cutting off it's legs, chopping off it's arms, an asking it to play charades. And the part about just shrugging off characters that were killed before their stories were told was very callous and insulting of Spencer. I hope he does realize that some people do actually like characters such as Psylocke and Dazzler. And just shrugging their deaths off is the comic creator equivalent of being a dick. I get that he's not bringing them back, but the least he could have done is be more respectful.

3) Between the hunting of mutants, all the hatred incurred by Magneto, and the revelation about mutants being man-made, doesn't that render mutants permanently "screwed" (for lack of a better word)? Where's the hope for progression?

I'm not sure what you mean here by "progression." In my experience, stories where everything just keeps getting better for the protagonists tend to be pretty boring. "Amazing Spider-Man" is probably the most successful ongoing superhero comic ever made, and really, if you lay it out by what's happened, it's really just one horrible thing after another happening to Peter Parker with very few things actually working out well for him. In the real world, the poor guy would probably be locked up in a mental hospital somewhere by now. But what we love about his story is the way he picks himself up and keeps trying to do the right thing, even in the face of what seem like insurmountable odds.

That's exactly what I think we're doing here, too, if we get it right. The question is, what will our heroes do, what can they do, in a world that's decided they are the enemy? The only way you can feel great triumph as a reader is if the stage was set with great adversity, after all. And while the relationship between man and mutant might be irreparably broken, that doesn't mean there are no opportunities for personal victories in the midst of that, either.

This one was my fault. Progression was not the right word. I shouldn't have used it. By progression I don't mean that shit gets better. By progression I mean that stories have a logical flow to them. The current X-books have that. Messiah Complex led to Messiah War which led to Second Coming which led to Schism. There's a flow to it. Ultimate had none. It was just kill everybody and pick up the pieces. I know that stories about everything getting better are boring. That's why my latest issue of X-men Supreme royally fucked up the X-men's world, but at least I did it without killing any major characters. And I'm a fucking drunk. If I'm able to do that, then there's no excuse for anyone working at Marvel. He really didn't address my concern. I get that the characters will overcome adversity, but what's the point really? There seems to be none. Personal victories are just that. Personal. They don't have any impact on the bigger picture. X-men has always been about a bigger picture story and Ultimate is essentially fucking that up while ripping off Days of Futures Past in the process.

And it wasn't just his answers to my questions that I found upsetting. For another questions, he said this: "I resolved, when I took the assignment, not to start fixing things up or diluting all the world-changing events that had come before. If anything, I decided to push things further to the brink..." That essentially contradicted his answer to my third question. It's completely asinine. You go into a book with the intention of fucking it up even more? This series is a corpse that's already been butt-fucked to the point where even the maggots devouring the flesh have given up. Sooner or later, your dick will start hitting dirt. Marvel is supposed to be the House of Ideas. How is wanting to fuck up a series that has already been fucked up for two years a good idea? How does that fit into the mold of "Anything can happen (expect resurrections)." It can't. I'm sorry, but it just fucking can't.

Again, I like Nick Spencer. His work on Morning Glories speaks for itself. I wish him well with this and every book he writes. But he's wrong here. I'm sorry, but that's the only way I can put it without resorting to more necrophiliac jokes. One month from now, Marvel will be relaunching Uncanny X-men and Wolverine and the X-men. These books will actually have the characters that Ultimate threw away. When the sales figures come out for those books, I hope everyone else on the Ultimate staff will realize that killing characters is a shitty gimmick that hurts the books long term. Now if anyone out there has a pill or a drug that helps me stop giving so many fucks about this shitty series, email me and we'll talk. But for now, this series is really fucked and Nick Spencer does not seem inclined to unfuck it. Nuff said.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ultimate X-men #1 - The Ultimate Letdown

I consider myself an equal opportunity drunk. By that I mean if I get fucked up on one exotic substance, I make it a point to get fucked up on another just to ensure the karma of the universe remains intact. Sure, it makes me sick to my stomach. I think I puked up half my small intestines after reading Ultimate Spider-Man #1. And I can objectively say that the reddish brown entrails on the gas station toilet had more creative merit than that piece of shit. Ultimate comics have sucked so bad that it's made me wish that kid who kicked my ass in school spiked my milk with rat poison rather than laxatives. That would be far less painful than this shit. But in the spirit of fucking myself up on a balanced level, I've decided to review Ultimate X-men #1. After reading Ultimate X #4 I now go into uncontrolled convulsions every time I read the worlds Ultimate and X-men in one sentence. It's hard to believe that this used to be my favorite book for the better part of a decade. Since then it's crashed harder than Tiger Woods's image.

Ultimate X-men is like a corpse that's already been butt-fucked by necrophiliacs, lit on fire, pissed out by incontinent monkeys, and then shit on again by a pack of constipated elephants. Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Moses, and Xenu couldn't fix this shit with all the magic from every holy book ever written. That's what happens when you have an event like Ultimatum that essentially butchers good characters in a way so tasteless that Marvel might as well have paid a bum four bucks to stab their fans with a rusty knife. Now the only fans who seem to enjoy Ultimate X-men are the fans that never gave a shit about X-men in the first place or hate the major characters that make up the X-men. But by that definition, they aren't really X-men fans! So what the fuck is the point of this book?

Apparently, Marvel is treating Ultimate like that sandbox every kid takes a shit in. It was once fun, but nobody wants to go near it anymore. It's like that slut in your senior year of high school that everybody fucks and will do anything you want. Those sluts usually disappear without a trace for a reason. But not Ultimate X-men. Marvel insists on telling an X-men story where Cyclops, Wolverine, Professor Xavier, Magneto, Gambit, and Angel are dead. Well if that's the story they want to tell, then why the fuck call it X-men? But I digress.

Ultimate X-men is basically a world where all X-men are screwed. Magneto inflicted mass genocide. Now all mutants are basically criminals by association. They're to be shot on sight or thrown into prison camps. It's not an issue of them being victims. Magneto fucked them all over and there's no going back from it. They might as well be Nazis trying to win the Jewish vote in Florida. There's just no coming back from genocide. You're either screwed over or slightly less screwed over. The new writer, Nick Spencer, has a proven track record with titles like Morning Glories (a book you should totally read if you haven't already). However, he seems to have drawn the short straw and has to tell stories in this shitty series about how shitty the lives of mutants are. I actually feel sorry for the guy because he might as well be trying to market used toilet paper. But enough shitting over this already wrecked stage. What exactly does this shell of an X-book have to offer? Well that's why I'm here, people! I review this shit so you don't have to.

Ultimate X-men #1 starts off with Karen Grant. She's another brilliant fuck-up from the X-books. She was once Jean Grey, an outgoing and passionate character that was one of Ultimate's most lovable characters. Then after Ultimatum she changed her appearance, took on the role of Karen Grant, and become this emo porcelain doll with the personality depth of someone who had a botched frontal lobotomy. She even refers to Jean Grey in the past tense. She doesn't even consider herself Jean Grey anymore. And maybe that's for the better because she has the people skills of a crack head. It shows when she visits this woman who just found out her daughter is a mutant. She has red hair and telekinesis. Really? In a book where and I quote "Anything can happen" this is what they come up with? I'm sorry, but Generation Hope beat this book to the punch by over a fucking year. Since when did "anything" mean shit that was done less than a year ago?

So they're talking and Jean goes over how fucked all mutants are. They're basically under the thumb of the government and the only reason she's not in a prison camp is because Nick Fury says so. She didn't even say she could help. She says she's just visiting out of "concern." As if somehow that's enough to do much good. She has nothing to offer this woman. No hope for her daughter other than a life that sucks. So when there's a bang off panel and the girl's father comes down carrying a shotgun saying he just killed his daughter, there's really no impact. It's not all that shocking or all that hard hitting. It's meant to be an emotional scene, but since this is an Ultimate book it's just par for the course. So a man kills his daughter when she finds out she's a mutant. In Ultimate, that's like finding out that Lindsey Lohan got arrested again. Boring!

Then the book gets political because seriously, what's more exciting than politics in comic books? Isn't that why fans read books and not because of the characters that the title on the cover promises? Or maybe I'm just crazy. Anyways, Valerie Cooper basically holds a press conference telling the world what readers found out in Ultimate Origins (nearly four years ago). Mutants aren't a big step in evolution. They're just a failed science experiment. This as opposed to being the product of alien space gods like the Celestials in 616. That's like going from fucking Pamela Anderson to fucking Betty White.

Watching this news conference are the rag-tag team of non-X-men that were assembled in Ultimate X. They include Jimmy (Wolverine replacement), Derek Morgan (a Batman/Daredevil/Angel ripoff), and Liz Allen (whiny bitch that's just annoying). They're understandably frustrated by the royal screw-job that mutants are getting. But again, they got no choice and no hope. They're basically just hanging around Karen because she's on Nick Fury's good side and he's keeping them out of jail. This leaves Jimmy the Wolverine rip-off to basically copy his old man completely and strike out on his own. He wants to see this place where mutants were first made. For a moment it sounds like Wolverine isn't even dead. Ultimate X sucked ass, but at least Jimmy made an effort not to be too much like his old man. Seriously, if Marvel wants an X-men series where Wolverine is dead, why replace him with a kid that acts just like him?

So the news report continues because politics are just so exciting. Valerie Cooper continues answering questions, basically taking excuses right from the press in 1942 when everyone was justifying the internment of the Japanese. The difference here is that mutants are being prodded like cattle as a scene with Colossus so nicely illustrates. There are some places that claim to be nice such as the one Storm is at, but those are just for photo-ops. I'm not sure if the historical parallels are supposed to apply here, but they do to a point. The only difference is that if a guy like Magneto inflicts mass genocide then something as shitty as internment camps actually seems reasonable. That's how fucked up politics are in Ultimate. Michelle Bachmann would be right at home.

But it isn't just prison camps that are screwing mutants over. Some are still on the loose. Some still need to be hunted. How do they do that? Well here's a pop quiz for all you X-men fans out there. What other reality has mutants being hunted and thrown into prison camps? If you answered Days of Futures Past, you get a gold star and bonus points for being able to look up a story that is over 30 years old. Now Nick Spencer claimed that he's simply taking some inspiration from Days of Futures Past. He's not just ripping it off. I want to believe him. I really do. But when Rogue, who has been on the run since Ultimate X, is confronted by a Nimrod sentinel that might as well have been copied and pasted from the old Days of Futures Past storyline then I have to cry foul.

This is a huge problem for me among many. Ultimate has been pitched as this place where these new, novel stories can be told that can't be told in 616. But mutants being hunted and thrown into prison camps is not new. Days of Futures Past is an old story. It's one thing to take some elements from it. I know pretty much everything is a rip-off these days, but it's a matter of degree. When you throw the Nimrod sentinel into the mix and it looks almost exactly like it's 30-year-old counterpart then that's ten degrees too much. It's such an egregious level that Al Gore could make a documentary out of it.

So the White House press event went about as well as it does in real life. That is to say it triggered riots all over the country. So at least Ultimate still gets some things right. It falls on Nick Fury to do something about it. Yet he's the guy putting together a mutant team with a Karen Grant and Wolverine's kid. So how is he credible again? He's prepared to call in the National Guard, which in comics is like admitting your a pussy. That's when Quicksilver shows up. You know, the guy who basically manipulated Magneto into conducting mass genocide by making him believe his children were dead? He comes along and no one shoots on him the spot because only the readers know that. Now I know dramatic irony is supposed to heighten the moment here, but all it really does is make Fury and the President look like morons because they actually take him seriously. Pietro doesn't actually reveal what he has in mind. No, that's because this is a setup issue. That means shit isn't going to happen until the next issue. It's not a cliff-hanger. It's basically a hostage situation.

So most of this comic has essentially showed you how fucked mutants are and how fucked they're going to be with Quicksilver working out his daddy issues. Now we revisit some of the other X-men that weren't horribly butchered. Kitty Pryde, Bobby Drake, and Johnny Storm have all basically given up on the whole hero gig. It's hard to be a hero when everyone wants to kill you. So they just live the life of hobos, sleeping in old Morlock caverns. Yet they're aware of the crap that's going on and aren't inclined to thrust themselves into that shit storm. And who can blame them? This is one instance were being a hero is not just stupid. It's pretty much pointless.

But then Bobby points out on his nifty product placement ipad (I'm sure Marvel gets a shit ton of free itunes cards for this) that Rogue is involved in one of those riots. Well that seals it. When an old girlfriend is about to get lynched, that warrants coming out of the sewer and actually kicking some ass. It would be so heroic if at the end Kitty doesn't narrate it as saying this is how she became the world's most wanted terrorist. There's trying to twist the plot and then there's just trying too hard. So now they're going to become terrorists? Yet this book is called Ultimate X-men, isn't it? Four years ago I would have been confused and intrigued. Now I'm just bored. It's the end of the issue and all the elaborate setup, but I have no desire to see the action. I think it's safe to assume that the setup failed for me. Watching heroes become terrorists and mutants become increasingly screwed may make for a decent arc, but not a whole fucking comic series.

I know I come off as harsh, but in reality I'm saddened by how terrible this series has become. I can't find anything appealing about this book at all. A book where anything can happen except the return of the characters that most X-men fans actually give a shit about isn't a very good premise for a book. Not only is this book basically a setup issue, all it really sets up is that mutants are fucked. The only stories you can really look forward to is how fucked are they. The only way they can not be fucked is if the story becomes extremely contrived and just starts ignoring all the shit that led up to it. So in order for the stories to be good, it has to use bad storytelling. In a universe with working physics, that's just not possible. Nick Spencer is basically in a catch 22. There's really nothing he can do here other than roll with the punches and there's nothing to work with. Not in the slightest. Now like Brian Bendis, I like Nick Spencer. He's a great writer and if I met him and real life, I would buy him a beer and a hooker. But the circumstances of this book are beyond salvaging and he doesn't do anything to make it better. That's really the least I can say about this book.

I want to be excited for an Ultimate book again. I really do. But this series has just turned into a What If story that won't fucking end. What if Marvel was actually stupid enough to kill Peter Parker? What if Marvel was actually deluded enough to kill most of the X-men, try to replace some of the characters, and make a series out of it? What if Marvel made a series about the Avengers just being a bunch of assholes who only occasionally acted heroic? Part of the appeal of What If stories are that they're finite. They're not dragged out or used to destroy the potential of a series that actually was once a top tier series. But Ultimate X-men #1 epitomizes all that is wrong with Ultimate comics. It's boring. It's bland. The characterization sucks. The premise sucks. There's no sense of progression. No build-up or promise. No hope whatsoever. Now if this story happened without Ultimatum, then it may have some merit. But Ultimatum did such a thorough job of desensitizing the series from any shock or intrigue that there's nothing this book can do that will leave the readers' jaw on the floor. When a series has resorted to cannibalism, decapitation, and replacement characters shrouded in race gimmicks that's it. Game over. There's nothing left to surprise anyone.

At the very infinitesimal least, Nick Spencer makes sure his talent is apparent in the way the characters talk and interact. However, all the talent in the world couldn't make this shit ball shine. I hope Spencer gets a shot at another X-men book, but this just has nothing going for it. I can't find any reason to recommend it to anybody, even if they were just going to use it as toilet paper. No ass deserves the crap that's within these pages. If Ultimate were a dog, it would have been shot and buried by now. That's really the only thing that will make this series meaningful again. If Marvel decided to kill it like it should have after Ultimatum. Ultimate X-men #1 only gets a 0.5 out of 5. I didn't want to give the 0 I gave Ultimate X #4 because that book also had shitty art to go along. That book will make you spew diarrhea through your tear ducts. This one will just make you sick to your stomach and depress you that this is how low Ultimate has sunk. Nuff said.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Generation Hope #11 - Bitching Becomes Awesome

Reviewing any comic after having read a story as awesome as X-men Schism #4 is like smoking a joint while already fully drunk. You're already buzzed and the effects feel somewhat tame. But no matter how high I am, I'm always willing to get a little higher. Especially when it comes from comic books. To hell with my brain cells and everything my doctor or the pussies at AA tell me. Some awesome is just worth it.

Generation Hope has been more wildly varied than the stock market in recent times. For a while it was painfully mediocre. Every successive issue made me wish that Bishop would come back from the future and put two between Hope's eyes and one in her mouth just to shut her annoying ass up. Hope Summers has soured on me as a character so much that if she was a lemon I would be kissing the back of my head by now. Thankfully, Kieron Gillen has done a much better job of making the Five Lights great characters in their own right. Laurie, Idie, Teon, Gabriel, and Kenji are basically sperm cells in the scope of so many other characters. But they've quickly established themselves as new, original characters with their own personality. Sure, one of them looks like an Akira rip-off, but given how original Marvel and DC have been lately they might as well have discovered a new universe in Scarlett Johanssen's underwear drawer.

Generation Hope has taken a sabbatical from their typical teen tirades lately to fully integrate itself into the story of Schism. That or Marvel just wanted to boost sales of the title, which were inching dangerously close to X-men Forever numbers beforehand. Whereas Schism tells the story from the point of view of Cyclops and Wolverine, Generation Hope tells it from the point of view of the five lights. Keep in mind they haven't been X-men for long. This is their first time facing a killer robot. And like your first sexual experience, it's bound to be a humiliatingly awkward and nerve racking experience.

Generation Hope #11 picks up after the fancy new sentinel that those kid Hellfire brats released starts coming together over San Francisco Bay. It's now basically a lumbering monster poised to overrun anything that stands in it's way. In a sense, it's like Sarah Palin only with slightly more proficiency in math and US history. Jean Gr-I mean Hope (sorry, but after she came up so often in the Schism #4 review it's going to be tougher telling them apart) is sitting on the shores of Utopia with the Lights, contemplating how they're going to get out of this in once piece. At this point they must feel like Charlie Sheen's credibility. It's so damaged that it's practically unsalvageable.

Laurie, being the one who stayed awake in class, argues logically that they should run. They're not X-men veterans. They're teenagers still trying to cope with having blue skin and having to pay royalty checks to the makers of Akira. They're not equipped to handle this shit and they're right. To this point in the series, they really haven't taken on something on the level of a sentinel. They're supposed to be a rescue team. Not a stand-and-get-your-ass-mashed-like-a-chicken-at-KFC team. She's perfectly right in every respect, but Jean Gr-I mean Hope isn't having it. She was raised by Cable and she's a bit of a brat. So she has no qualms with kids being soldiers. I know it's hard to call someone from her background a bitch, but I'll say it anyways! She's a real bitch.

Laurie isn't without her detractors. Kenji, who must have stayed up long enough in his history class to know what happens in America when minorities are stuck in interment camps, argues that they should stand and fight for what's theirs. Like it or not, Utopia is the only home they've got. After the world started throwing sentinels at all things mutant-related, where else do they have to go? Even though he looks like an extra in an anime porn movie, he's got some balls or at least something like them.

Laurie still isn't convinced though. She sees what happened with Idie and she would rather not go through it herself. Keep in mind that at the beginning of this series she was just your typical college student. Now she's a blue-skinned fish girl that runs around naked on a mutant rescue team. I'm sure somewhere a creationist is shitting themselves. But then Jean-I mean Hope (I'll get it soon enough) basically overrules her and tells her to nut up or shut up. And Laurie points out that she does that knowing full well that she has this mysterious hold on the Lights that they can't escape. Then she rightfully calls her a bitch. Thank you Laurie! You've now earned my respect and I will be happy to get you a fake ID so we can get wasted at my cousin's Halloween party!

Beyond making Laurie more awesome than she's ever been to this point, she finally brings up the drunken elephant humping the 800-pound gorilla in the corner within Generation Hope. For reasons not fully understood by wildly speculated upon in comic book forums, Hope (see, I got it!) has this strange hold on her Lights. After she fixed their powers, they basically follow her the same way fat people follow an ice cream truck. Hope has never acknowledged that old, but now she's not denying it and basically using it to fuck with Laurie. So yeah, you need further proof that Hope is a brat? The prosecution rests!

What happens next may very well give me a blue-skin fetish and a fish fetish. So beware Long John Silvers! Because Laurie, the overly analytical grade grubber, actually does grow a pair and slugs Hope across the face. That's right, one of Hope's own Lights/prison bitches stands up to her and gives her something that she's more than deserved lately. It's a powerful and immensely satisfying moment. And it's easy to sympathize with Laurie. She understands that she's under Hope's thumb and she can't do shit about it. So like any frustrated teen that still struggles with impulse control, she picks a fight. Excuse me, I just teared up a little.

Hope, seeing as how Cable taught her not to take shit from anybody, fights back. It's nowhere near as epic as the fight between Cyclops and Wolverine in Schism #4. You get the sense this is more a fight between sorority girls over who stole who's underwear or who fucked whose boyfriend in the back seat of a BMW. For a comic that has been all talk and no action, this is basically light beer. It's not enough to get you buzzed. It just has a decent enough taste to warrant not using it in a bar fight. Naturally, the other Lights get involved. They try to break it up and Gabriel uses it as an excuse to cop a feel from Hope. Either way, it's nowhere near the most epic fight you'll see. It's not even top 50.

Finally, Idie speaks up. Never mind the fact that she's still traumatized from having killed some people a few issues ago. She still has enough balls to remind them that a few issues ago, she was just a scared little girl whose parents didn't know the difference between a mutant and a witch. As such, they got themselves killed. She may not have Laurie's college credentials, but she does have common fucking sense and common fucking sense dictates that fighting each other is fucking stupid. So yeah, when the girl they're trying to protect becomes the voice of reason something ain't right.

Laurie realizes this and begrudgingly accepts it. She agrees to stand and fight, hoping that her perfect blue-skinned ass gets out intact (as do I). Along the way they're joined by some of the other young X-men like Prodity, Rockslide, Pixie, and Anole. They made a brief appearance in an earlier issue so it's nice that they're showing up now. But they really don't seem to make much of a difference. They just show up to add numbers to this shitty kid-army that now has to face an approaching sentinel. Hope, never one to turn down a chance to throw more kids into the fire, accepts their offer.

Once again, Laurie has a problem with this. And why wouldn't she? She's already on the hook for Hope's cult-leader influence. She might as well be stuck in a family of Rick Perry supporters and forced to cheer when they talk about the death penalty in Texas. She makes it clear that when this is over, they need to talk about Idie. After what she went through, she shouldn't be playing the role of kid soldier. She's 14. She should just be entering her Twilight fan stage and masturbating to thoughts of Edward Cullen. Hope, being the bitch that she is, just brushes it aside. I sincerely wanted Laurie to deck her sorry ass again, but alas there's no such action.

In fact, there's really no more action within this whole issue. The fight with Laurie and Hope was it. Seriously, this issue was basically one fight scene and a whole lot of arguing. At this point you're either yawning or you've already passed out drunk. Because besides Laurie punching Hope (as awesome as that was), there's not much else besides talking. That's okay for an episode of Law and Order, but this is Generation Hope during fucking Schism no less. For there to be this little substance to go along with the style is just fucked up.

There's not much else left for this comic to do aside from make a nice, smooth transition into Schism #4. Remember that scene where Cyclops fired off an optic blast at the approaching sentinel? Well that's where this issue ends and where the events of Generation Hope #11 meet up with it. I admit this is a pretty nice way to tie each book together, but the lack of action and the lack of substance make this feel like filler and not the kind that involves diced onions mixed with mustard (What? Don't tell me you don't put weird shit on your burgers). So when the comic ends, you're thinking "Well it's about time." It's not the worst type of filler a comic could have, but it leaves so much to be desired. At least we got to see Hope get punched in the face. So it's not a total loss.

I've never been too big a fan of comics where characters just stand around and talk. If that's the basis for a good comic than I could just walk around with a camera, record all drunken rants I have with my buddies on a Saturday night, and get a job writing comics that will eventually lead to six Eisner awards. Sadly, that isn't the basis for anything aside from hangovers and the occasional bar fight. I get the sense that Kieron Gillen was trying to add depth to what the Lights were going through after the recent events in Schism. In the end I think he tried too hard. This book suffers from too much talking and not enough actually participating in the events of Schism. All the Lights do is basically argue amongst themselves while a killer robot is approaching to fuck them over. Well I'm all for character development, but like taking a piss after one too many beers there's a time and place for it. Like stumbling into the ladies bathroom while your date is doing blow off a toilet seat, this issue was neither.

It helped that Kieron Gillen's dialog and characterization were solid. The arguments Laurie had with Hope made this book worth picking up. It's a plot that has still been development for many issues, Hope's bizarre influence over the Lights. Unlike members at the Church of Scientology, Laurie has the balls to think for herself and speak out. She sees what's happening with the Lights and she doesn't like it. It's a great moment and I admit seeing her deck Hope was as satisfying as seeing your old parole officer get arrested for banging a hooker behind a Burger King. But it wasn't satisfying enough to make this comic truly awesome.

I still say that Generation Hope #11 fits into the greater story surrounding Schism, but it doesn't fit as nicely as it could have. There's just too much talk and not enough substance. This issue had the potential to do so much more. In the end it offers a perfect transition between Schism #3 and the events of Schism #4, but everything in between is sub-standard at best. For that reason I give Generation Hope #11 a 3 out of 5. It saved itself from a 2 out of five just for Laurie decking Hope. Bishop hasn't come back to blow her head off yet, so I'll settle for her own lights beating the shit out of her as she so rightly deserves for being a lame Jean Grey ripoff. Nuff said!

Friday, September 23, 2011

X-men Supreme Issue 42: Overlord Part 5 is LIVE!

It's here! The end has arrived! That is, the end of the Overlord saga. It's the biggest event of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series to date and I couldn't be more thrilled. This issue is a game-changer. The world of X-men Supreme will never be the same! The seeds of a new world will be planted. New plots will begin while others will end. There will be omens of things to come and scars that will not easily heal. The scale of this fanfiction series has always been a focus as I develop this world of X-men. X-men Supreme Volume 1: Mutant Revolution set the stage. X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers has now used that stage to begin a new kind of show. For all you readers that have been following this fanfiction tale with bated breath, I hope it's worth it!

Issue 42: Overlord Part 5

As if capping off Overlord wasn't enough, I also received another generous submission to the pics section. My old friend, MarvelWriter03 crafted another beautiful piece for X-men Supreme. This one is a supremely awesome version of Kitty Pryde. Once again, I'm humbled by his talent and his willingness to take time to create such a piece. You can view this in the official X-men Supreme Commissioned Panels section. Thanks again, MarvelWriter03!

Now that Overlord is over, there will be one issue left in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers. This issue will tie up the remaining loose ends and set the stage for X-men Supreme Volume 3. Whereas Volume 2 was all about growth, X-men Supreme Volume 3 will be all about scale. I'm looking forward to making it awesome! As such, it is very important that I receive feedback and comments on this issue and any subsequent issue. The generous support I've received has been great so far, but the more I get the more I can ensure that X-men Supreme will remain consistently awesome. Please contact me or post your remarks in each chapter. It's been a long, arduous road for this fanfiction series. I hope you've all enjoyed it thus far and I hope you continue to enjoy it as it grows! Excelsior!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

X-men Schism #4 - Clash of Awesome

There are three constants in X-men. One is that Jean Grey never stays dead. Two is Deadpool never shuts up. And three is Cyclops and Wolverine never see eye-to-eye. That third constant had manifested in many forms over the years, but somehow Cyclops and Wolverine have always been able to work through it. They respect each other to a point, but if one of them was on fire the other probably wouldn't piss on them if it meant saving their life. They've lusted for the same woman. They've disagreed on tactics, politics, and probably vote for different singers on American Idol. In that sense a story like Schism was inevitable. I'm just amazed it didn't happen sooner.

This big event that's supposed to shake up the X-men more than a sushi chef with carpel tunnel syndrome has been awesome in nearly every meaningful way. Sure, along the way Jason Aaron through a bunch of homicidal kids into the mix, but nobody's perfect. The WTF is far exceeded by the ball-busting awesome that has put Cyclops and Wolverine onto a path of no return. X-men Schism #3 was the big issue where we found out what besides Jean Grey's pussy would drive these men apart. What Aaron assembled was something so deep and so profound that it would be impossible for everyone to agree who was right and who was wrong.

It happened when Cyclops gave Idie, a 13-year-old girl who just started filling out a bra, the order to kill so that they could stop the Hellfire Club. She succeeded, but Wolverine had a big problem with turning a kid into a killer. I imagine most people (Texas not withstanding) would also have a problem with that. It's the kind of shit that even a degenerate like can't overlook. Sure he's killed so many people that Ted Bundy would ask for his autograph, but he doesn't do it without reason. He has principles and honor, something that Cyclops completely compromised. I finished that book feeling as though I could follow either X-man. That's what made it so awesome. Now X-men Schism #4 deals with where they go from here.

Cyclops, in an effort to come off as less a douche-bag, confronts Idie when they return to Utopia and consoles her. But wait a sec...didn't the last issue end with Wolverine and Cyclops staring down some freaky new sentinel that was building a body for itself out of scrap metal and broken dildos? When did they get back to Utopia? Did the sentinel just let them go? Did they call timeout or fake an injury like the New York Giants did on Monday Night Football? It's not as egregious as it sounds. The point of this first scene is to show Cyclops realizing that what he did was crossing a line. It also shows how tough it is for Idie. This girl just killed people and that shit takes time to sink in. It's like seeing your first bukkake video. It's difficult to process. 

The kids are shell shocked. But Wolverine? Well he's just shocked in the "Don't taze me bro!" tradition. That sentinel that started growing in the last issue is still growing now. Wolverine decided to stay behind like the ballsy son-of-a-bitch he is and recklessly threw himself at it trying to stop it. He might as well be trying to throw himself off a cliff to attack the horizon. Madison Jefferies and Dr. Nemesis are there, who can't seem to resist something that spits in the face of Albert Einstein and fucks Stephen Hawkings. It's basically an energy core with no machine. It takes the metal it needs from around it to build a badass body. Trying to destroy that body is like trying to shovel sand against the tide. It's basically way more badass than that shitty sentinel Iran tried to use.

This ain't your grandmother's sentinel. It's not something Wolverine can just decapitate and then go out and get drunk afterwards. After this thing does some serious damage to San Francisco for which they probably aren't insured, it blows Wolverine clear across the bay. Then it sets it's sights on Utopia. Why is this a big deal? Well remember what happened with those Hellfire kids? How they were able to neutralize all of the X-men's heavy hitters included Magneto, Namor, and Emma Frost? Yeah, it's fucked up as it sounds, but they're still out of it. They can't help Cyclops take this thing on. Most of the other X-men are off fighting abroad, trying to clean up all the sentinels that the rest of the world tried to sic on them. So Utopia is basically a cute Japanese girl in anime porn. It's pretty much fucked.

Cyclops does what he's been trained to do since he was still sneaking Jean Grey's panties from her laundry. He leads. With no heavy hitters to help him take on this sentinel, he once again calls upon the X-men youth. This includes some of the New Mutants and Generation Hope, including Idie. Now it seems like a dick move, asking Idie to fight again after she's just killed. But she and pretty much anyone else for that matter wouldn't have nearly as big a problem with destroying a killer robot. Plus, it's attacking their home. Why shouldn't they blow it up? None of the young X-men speak up. They follow Cyclops the same way sluts follow Tommy Lee. It's irresistible to them.

Once again, Wolverine has a big fucking problem with this. For him, throwing kids into the line of fire is just too much. There's being a dick, which Cyclops is mores often than not, and just being a total asshole. Throwing kids into the line of fire is just not what the X-men is about to him. He's okay with running and leaving Utopia behind. He would rather seem these kids run and have their home destroyed rather than see them fight and turn into killers. It's a valid point, but then Cyclops argues that with the way humanity is throwing sentinels at them where could they possibly run?

At this point I had to stop reading the comic and smoke a few joints to clear my head. Once again, Jason Aaron sets up an amazing dynamic. You really can't pin down who is right and who is wrong here. Both Cyclops and Wolverine make valid points. Cyclops believes in fighting to preserve their home. Wolverine believes in fighting to preserve the innocence of a younger generation. While I was watching purple unicorns hump before my very eye, I could see myself following both characters. It's a profound divide, one that's not about good or evil, right or wrong, or any of that crap the Christian Right won't shut up about. This is a dilemma with no true solution and that's what makes it so compelling.

Cyclops, being the stubborn asshole he is, doesn't listen to Wolverine. He stays put. He basically tells all the young X-men that if they want to leave, he won't stop them. But if they want to fight, they're welcome to join him. Seeing as how this is the guy that boned by Jean Grey and Emma Frost, there's no turning their back on him. He just has too much credibility to go along with his adamantium laced balls. Wolverine, being the spoiled sport that he is, storms off. In a sense it symbolizes him completely turning his back on Cyclops. As far as he's concerned, their epic bromance is over.

Not one to take this shit lying down, Wolverine decides to cross a few lines of his own. So while Cyclops is preparing the X-men for a battle that may get them killed, Wolverine goes back to his room where he meets up with our old friend Quentin Quire. Yeah, he's still a douche, but when he sees what Wolverine has in a little safe of his, even he's impressed. What's in that safe you may ask? More of Jean Grey's hair? A pair of her panties? Nope! But close! It's a detonator. When he returns to Cyclops and his army of scared mutant children, he says he's just armed 2000 pounds of plastic explosives. He plans to use it to blow up both the sentinel and a good chunk of Utopia. Now a giant robot is pretty damn dangerous, but an explosion? The kids won't stick around for that shit. They run, leaving Cyclops and Wolverine in an epic duel that looks like the build-up to a heavy-weight title fight in Vegas (minus the strippers).

What follows next are some epic exchanges. In this scene the lines are drawn. Wolverine lays out his side of the argument. Cyclops lays out his. Wolverine makes it clear that this has gone far enough. They've crossed a line and they have to pull back. Cyclops argues that they need to cross these lines in order to protect these kids and the only home they have in a hostile world where any asshole with deep pockets can buy a sentinel. They stare each other down and not like that awkward moment in a gay porno. These two have had so many reasons to hate one another. Now they get one more that's just too much.

Then if that weren't nasty enough, Cyclops drops the J-word. That's right. He references Jean Grey. It's quite possibly the best, most efficient way to get under Wolverine's skin. Remind him that he never got to bone Jean. Cyclops got to bone her all he wanted when she was alive. Not only that, he reminds her that she didn't love him. She didn't marry him. But then Wolverine turns that around and says that if she was alive, she would be more pissed at him. So once again, Jean Grey effects the X-books despite being dead. She's essentially the spark that turns Schism from just a fancy title into the kind of brawl that would give Don King a heart attack.

The next several pages have no words. Because fuck words! Who wants to see these two talk anymore? After years of petty disagreements and acting tough, it finally happens. They start beating the shit out of one another. One is firepower. One is raw strength. It's as even a match you'll get without pitting an unstoppable force with an immovable object. In a ways it's beautiful. These two characters have had so many reasons to fight one another. Now it's finally coming out and it can't be done in just one page. You need to show all the rage and frustration that goes along with it. In many respects these powerful scenes help symbolize Schism. It's not just the beginning of a divide. It's the violent destruction of the unity that was once the X-men's greatest strength.

I admit I was drooling like a dog in a butcher shop at these scenes. This was a series that promised so much as every X-men event does to some extent. But these scenes ensured that the promise was fulfilled. Even with one issue left, this scene really brings Schism together. Yet in all the heightened emotions that fume between Cyclops and Wolverine, they forget that there's still a killer robot that's about to burn their flesh off. Now you would think that this would be hard to overlook. It's like walking into your room and not realizing there's a fat hooker taking a shit in your bed. But these two are so caught up in their dick-measuring feud that they don't realize it. If they don't zip up their pants soon, they'll both be dead! Thus we have all the elements we need for a ball-shriveling climax.

There's no WTF to report from this issue. The last few pages left me with my jaw on the floor, my dick in my hands, and some mysterious white powder lining my nose. This is the kind of shit you think Cyclops and Wolverine often contemplate. But here they are acting it out, beating the shit out of one another over the very future of the X-men. Again, they both make valid points. Wolverine wants to preserve whatever innocence these young mutants have left. Cyclops wants them to stand and fight so that they have a future where innocence can be preserved. Cyclops crossed a line in the last issue. Now Wolverine is crossing the line in this issue. I would say 2000 pounds of plastic explosives crosses and blows up most lines. Now in the shadow of a sentinel, they beating the everloving shit out of each other. It doesn't just make for awesome visual. The story and the circumstances that led up to it give it extra meaning. It's that meaning which makes this comic truly awesome.

I thought X-men Schism #3 would be very difficult to top. I expected this issue to go easier on the drama and take full advantage of the giant killer robot that was introduced in the previous issue. Because historically speaking, whenever Marvel introduces a killer robot they can't resist using it. Well Jason Aaron showed a little restraint. The sentinel didn't do much other than just rough up Wolverine and wade through the San Francisco Bay. The giantkiller robot was actually secondary to once. The real action was the fight between Wolverine and Cyclops. That cover wasn't a tease for once. Not like that stupid Astonishing cover where Wolverine and Emma Frost were sucking face. This comic takes what Schism #3 set up and uses it to inject awesome right into the cerebellum of your brain. It's been a long time since an X-men event was this hard-hitting any X-men fan of any level would liable for treason for not checking this book out.

Aside from the rough transition in the beginning, this issue is nearly flawless. Jason Aaron has outdone himself with the past two issues. The absence of those lame ass Hellfire kids only helped this issue. It got to a point where I really didn't care that something that fucked up caused that sentinel in the first place. It led to Cyclops and Wolverine's big fight and I consider that fair compensation! The exchange between these two men really strike deep at what is happening to the X-men. With one issue left, it is already epic. It just needs to blow a few more things up to be complete. For that reason I give X-men Schism #4 a 5 out of 5 and my highest recommendation! You heard it here folks! With a bottle of vodka in one hand and a lit joint in the other, I salute Marvel for making an X-men comic so awesome! Nuff said.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ultimate Spider-Man #1 - Irreplaceable Awesome

Bear with me, people. I'm a little drunk and a little high. I have to be every time I review an Ultimate book these days. I know they seem less like reviews and more like roasts, but it's not done intentionally. I can't help it if Ultimate books suck so many different kinds of balls that even Courtney Love would look down at them for being so fucked up. My ass is still stinging from having to review Ultimate X #4. These are comics from series that I could once get high off of from sheer awesome. Now every time I see them I get the mental equivalent of explosive diarrhea. It's like seeing a dead body get gang banged by a bunch of meth headed necrophiliacs. You feel sick to your stomach, but you can't look away.

This brings me to Marvel's Ultimate relaunch. Unlike DC, Marvel thinks they can relaunch a whole series with just three books minus a good chunk of their most popular characters. Because what do you do when you kill Peter Parker, Wolverine, Daredevil, Cyclops, Dr. Strange, Professor Xavier, and Magneto? Do you start from scratch and try to do something different? Fuck no! You keep trying to make shit shine and use replacement characters and fucked up plots that revolve solely around fucking up Ultimate even more. I don't get it either. It sounds like the kind of logic that would even confuse Michelle Bachmann. But for some reason, Marvel thinks they can make this work and they have a secret weapon. It's called the fucking race card.

That's right. I'm saying it outright and I don't give a damn if Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton put a hit out on me. Marvel is playing the fucking race card with Ultimate Spider-Man. They go through the trouble of killing Peter Parker in a way that was final, complete, and pretty much over. Then they reveal last month in this big media blitz that they're replacing Peter Parker (big emphasis on replacing) with a character Bendis fished right out from the shit-stained recesses of his colon named Miles Morales. What caught so many peoples' attention wasn't that he was replacing a character that you can't replace. It's that he was of mixed race. He was half-black and half-Hispanic. Now as a raving drunk I'm like, "Who gives a shit? How can this kid that never showed up before replace Peter Parker?" Well no one asked that question and it played right into Marvel's hands. Because now you can't fucking hate the new Spider-Man because if you do, Bendis and all his Marvel buddies can just say "Fuck you, you fucking racist! Now buy the fucking book or we'll sick the NAACP on your ass!" Never mind that Miles Morales is still a contrived replacement character to the nth degree. By playing the race card, they're basically inoculating themselves from criticism. They'll say they aren't. But let's face it, if the new Spider-Man was just another white guy it would be a lot harder.

So why am I reviewing this? Well for one, Brian Bendis's work on Ultimate Spider-Man is deemed untouchable by many. Now don't get me wrong. I love the man for what he did with Ultimate. If I ever met him, I would buy him a beer and a lap dance from a stripper. But because of his legacy, he's a lot tougher to criticize and when a shiny new #1 comes out who the fuck is going to bash that? It's a lot easier to just ignore the fact that this whole book is based on a replacement character that Bendis pulled out of his ass. It's easier to ignore that Ultimate is already filled with shitty replacement characters after Ultimatum. Ergo, it's fucking lazy and as a professional drunk, I know lazy! So I'm going to try and offer a different perspective. I actually went through this book on an empty stomach and formulated my own assessment. I don't give a shit if others don't agree with it. This is my review and I'm sticking to it!

The new Ultimate Spider-Man #1 begins with the same shit that the first Ultimate Spider-Man #1 began with, Norman Osborn. This happens in the past and yes, he's still a massive douche-bag. That doesn't change no matter what universe you're in. Norman Osborn is a massive douche and like he has for much of Ultimate Spider-Man, he wants to recreate what he did with Peter Parker. So he has a new Spider and a new set of scientist who have the ethical backbone of Bernie Madoff. So it's the same deal. Osborn, mutant spider, Oz, and super soldiers. Are you bored yet?

After Osborn finishes his rant, we skip to the present where his labs are in tatters. His reputation is beat to shit after it's revealed that he was the Green Goblin. Maybe he should have done a ponzi scheme instead so he would be slightly less reviled. We're still not clear on when this happens other than it's after Osborn's reputation is shot to shit. But it really doesn't amount to shit at this point anyways. What matters is some guy wearing what looks like a Deadpool mask with a different color scheme breaks into the lab, steals some shit, and the super spider crawls on his leg. Now how that spider survives without him noticing it is pretty fucked up. When a spider that big is on your boot, you tend to fucking notice. But it crawls in the bag and he's gone.

Fast forward even more and we meet Miles, who looks about as emotive as manikin. He's with his Puerto Rican mother and black father a special lottery that will determine if he can get into a charter school. If you haven't heard of this shit, it's how cities like New York determine which kids get into the schools that don't suck. This isn't pure fiction here. It actually happens. Fox News uses it to bash teacher unions all the time. Kids will either be excited or feel like they got kicked in the balls

Yet Miles's luck seems a lot better than Peter's because he actually gets in. But again, he responds with as much passion as a comatose lizard. He just got into a school that doesn't suck and he doesn't give a damn. What's that even supposed to tell us about him? That he doesn't give half a shit about having a lucky break? That he feels sorry for the other kids? If there is a meaning here, it's never shown. At all. Not in inner musings. Not in expressions. Nothing. You're basically left to assume that he's just a douche.

So after his parents celebrate this wonderful opportunity for their son, Miles does what any dumb ass kid would do. He runs off and catches up with a less than reputable uncle. Now there are so many pedophile jokes I could make here, but I'll save them for when I have to review Ultimate X-men. His name is Uncle Aaron and he's like a character from the Dave Chappell show. You don't know what kind of fucked up he is. You just know he's fucked up. He basically tells Miles that it's a good thing he's going to that school. I say basically because the dialog is really shitty and you can't make out anything with this guy. But plenty more is said when he leaves the room.

So Miles has a popsicle and sits on the couch. Low and behold, that super spider from earlier shows up so we now know who that asshole in the mask was from earlier. Like Peter, he was just in the right place at the right time and then the spider bites him. Like Norman Osborn being a douche-bag, this is one element you need in every Spider-Man story. It's as predictable as the rising sun. Miles reacts with the same look you would see on a kids face if he saw his grandmother in a triple penetration porno. Again, Miles has the emotional range of a fucking lizard. At least with Peter there was screaming involved. This just adds to the boredom already entrenched from earlier.

After passing out like a bat hit from a joint, Miles's dad shows up and is understandably pissed. He thinks good old Uncle Aaron got his kid hooked on crack or something. Again, not much is said here. We're given very little background other than Uncle Aaron is a douche that has given the family a bad name. We don't know what he's done besides steal shit. For all we know, he banged horses in Memphis for fifty bucks a pop. That's how light on the details this whole issue is. In most of the first Ultimate Spider-Man #1, we at least got to see some of Peter's narrations. Hell, that's the hallmark of most Spider-Man comics. We're left with nothing on Miles. We're left to assume his inner musings are about as complex as a retarded cockroach.

After the shit dies down, Miles's dad gives Uncle Aaron a little pep talk. He basically sets the stage for Uncle Aaron to be the asshole in Miles's life that shits all over him. He's basically a glorified Flash Thompson. This is where the boredom escalates because you can see where this is going. Miles's friendly uncle is going to start fucking with Miles at some point. He'll be the bad influence that will demonstrate why great power incurs great responsibility. It's a theme of every Spider-Man book, but again it's predictable as fuck. Neither Uncle Aaron or Miles's dad says anything to warrant giving more than one tenth of a fuck about them.

Later on through some shitty transitions, we get the first subtle surprise. But at this point the boredom throughout this comic has been so egregious that I can't bring my ass to care. That or I'm already starting to get hungover from reviewing this shit. Miles starts showing his powers and somehow it involves ripping off Sue Storm from the Fantastic Four. It's not so much surprising as it is WTF. You'll be left shrugging your shoulders at the same time you're banging your head against the wall. So this is the reason they killed Peter Parker? To show how a spider bite can lead to powers that go beyond spinning webs and sensing danger? It's like killing yourself to get the insurance money to make the payments on your life insurance policy. It insures that this comic is self-defeating and utterly shit.

Now for the good news/bad news part of the review. The good news is I didn't throw up the last two meals I ate from reading this issue like I did Ultimate X #4. The bad news is my brain wanted to throw itself in a blender for this comic being so fucking bland and boring. It simply cannot process that a book with the title Ultimate Spider-Man #1 on the top could be so fucking lame. There's about as much depth as an amateur Ukrainian porno. Miles is as compelling as a sick rat. He shows no facial expression. He says next to nothing. He has no voice. He has no personality. And this is the guy that's suppose to replace Peter Parker? I seem to remember the first Ultimate Spider-Man not just setting up who Peter Parker is, but establishing his voice and his personality. All this issue did was put Miles in a position to get bit by a fucking spider. That was it. That was the whole damn point of this issue and it did so in the most boring way possible.

Like Ultimate X #4, there's next to nothing redeeming about this issue. It's a big ass gimmick. It has the shiny Ultimate Spider-Man #1 on the cover, but if you end up reading the whole thing the only thought that'll go through your mind is "When is Peter Parker coming back?" That's how compelling Miles is. There's being different and then there's just being different for the sake of it. Everything within this book is so contrived and so gimmicky that you might as well resurrect Billy Mayes and have him read it to you while pitching Oxy Clean in between the pages. You'll be about as thrilled as you would be from an economics lecture by Ben Stein. This was supposed to make Miles Morales an interesting character to follow. By the end, I needed several trillion multi-verses to contain the number of fucks that I do not give.

This comic echoes the big problem with the whole Ultimate universe. They killed off all the characters that most fans identify with and have tried to fill the void ever since. In doing so they've turned Ultimate into this extended What If series that poses the question what certain writers would do if they were allowed to fuck up these characters in ways that even fanfiction writers wouldn't attempt. And unlike fanfiction writers, they have the balls to charge $3.99 for this shit. So you want to tell stories about a world where characters like Peter Parker and Wolverine are dead. Fine. That's what What If is for! Not fucking Ultimate! How can Marvel call a comic like this accessible when it contains bullshit replacement characters pulled out of thin air and only tells stories about how fucked the surviving characters are? Simply put, they fucking can't and by trying it's more pathetic than getting butt-fucked by a monkey.

Ultimate is fucked. There's no way around it. At this point I would butcher baby polar bear, wrap my dick in the entrails, and wave it in the face of the mother if it meant I get back all the worthless years I spent following these shitty books. The only decent thing I can say about Ultimate Spider-Man #1 is that it wasn't quite as shitty as Ultimate X #4, but it's within spitting distance. That's why I give it a final score of 0.5 out of 5. It's that close to being on a level shittier than used toilet paper and half a useful. Brian Bendis is a great writer and he told some awesome stories with Ultimate Spider-Man. This is a serious disappointment. If Ultimate were a dog, it should be shot and the body burned. That would be the only merciful thing to do at this point. Nuff said.