Sunday, February 26, 2012

X-men Legacy #262 - Biblical Awesome

Usually when a character is grossly overpowered in a comic, they come off as more boring or bland than a speech by Al Gore when he's had several hits of Valium. Overpowered characters went out of style when people started realizing that the stories surrounding such characters were more predictable than Mitt Romey's hair style. There are only so many stories you can tell with a character than can literally punch his way out of anything whether it's an exploding planet or a parking ticket. So when an overpowered character like Exodus comes along, it usually means there's going to be a lot of fighting and a lot of trash talk. But you usually don't expect any existential elements that will make you question the inherent mysteries of the multiverse.

Yet Christos Gage managed to avoid that pitfall. In his previous issue of X-men Legacy, he brought Exodus back into the picture after being MIA for the last few years (presumably spending his free time fucking with Pat Robertson as I'm assuming that shit never gets old). Even though he's one of Magneto's former acolytes, he didn't show up at the Jean Grey Institute looking to bust their heads for not making him the school's official panty inspector. He showed up because he in his infinite wisdom had determined that the schism that divided the entire mutant race was going to destroy them all and he couldn't allow it. He was going to just ask Wolverine to work out his differences with Cyclops. He was telling him in the same way the IRS tells us that the income tax if voluntary. This led to a pretty elaborate and pretty awesome battle that ended with Exodus finding out the major details of what happened in Schism. He then determined that Wolverine's team wasn't the one he should be beating up. It was Cyclops that needed his ass kicked.

Now under less fucked up circumstances, I assume Wolverine would have no problem letting someone like Exodus slap Cyclops around a bit. If for no other reason than to wound him in a way that make-up sex with Emma Frost can't heal. However, Utopia is still full of kids that didn't join the Jean Grey Institute. While he still resents Cyclops, he and his team still have an obligation to stop Exodus. It's something that Rogue and Wolverine actually argue about in the first pages of X-men Legacy #262. It actually revisits the whole premise of what led the two teams to schis in the first place. Rogue wants to stay behind to warn Utopia. Wolverine wants to just go after Exodus since he lost his teleportation powers, once again due to Rogue. He just doesn't want Cyclops sending kids to take on someone like Exodus. But Rogue sees it differently. They both have very valid concerns and that's part of what makes the tension so very real. You usually don't get shit that real when a guy like Exodus is dicking around.

In an effort to avoid a very awkward reunion with Cyclops, Wolverine loads his team up in the Blackbird and flies them out in pursuit of Exodus before he can reach Utopia. Rogue later catches up with them via teleportation and right before they're about to crash into him no less. Makes me wonder if she was just holding back so she didn't have to listen to Wolverine bitch and moan about how much he hates the guy that married Jean Grey. Whatever her reason, she returns and even borrows Cannonball's powers to get the ball rolling on the battle. Even though Exodus was lightly drained in the previous issue, it still requires an all out assault just to stop him before he reaches his destination.

Some elements from other X-books were incorporated here, much to Gage's credit. He mentions the Jean Grey Institute's precarious financial situation, which makes crashing the jet into Exodus a financially unviable tactic. It's subtle, but it's one of those little things that goes a long ways in a book. Besides, it just means that Rogue has to teleport Wolverine and the others out into mid air where they wrestle Exodus out of the sky until he hits the ground in a meteor-like strike that would make Michael Bay cum in his pants. It's a nice way to get the ball rolling while showing everyone that there are more economically practical ways to take down an overpowered enemy without crashing expensive shit. The GOP candidates would do well to take notice.

Like Brett Favre after he breaks his ankle in the middle of a championship game, Exodus gets up and shakes off the impact. Wolverine and his team take not chances with this guy. They attack in full force, laying into him before he can get his second wind. Seeing as how he roughed them up pretty good in the last issue, they're due for a little payback. And this time it isn't just Rogue that shines. Others like Iceman demonstrate that he can use his powers for more than making nude ice sculptures of Jessica Alba, taking on a hulking ice form to help add a little force to his attacks. All the while Rachel has to hold back and use her telepathy to keep Exodus from mind-raping them into thinking their bodies had been anally probed to the point of paralysis. Again, it's one of those little elements that Gage hasn't really demonstrated to this point, but damn it if he makes it work.

That doesn't mean Exodus doesn't start hitting back at one point. He's on a holy mission damn it and like most religiously motivated crusades, he's not going to let a little thing like reason hold him back. He manages to hit Wolverine with a blast that burns most of the flesh from his bones. Granted, that probably happens to him at least once a week, but it does show that Exodus can hit back and look badass while doing it. But it isn't just the hitting that makes the battle engaging. There's actually some character development in the mix of it all if you can believe that.

Since it wasn't until recently that Frenzy became a major player in the X-books, it's easy to forget that she and Exodus were once on the same team. They were once professional douche-bags as Magneto's acolytes, doing his bidding and finding ways to screw over the X-men and the human race. But then Frenzy was converted due to the power of Cyclops's penis in Age of X. Exodus readily points out that such an experience made her soft and he wasn't just referring to her cooch. Frenzy responds both with a punch to the face and a reminder that right or wrong, Cyclops didn't bail on everybody. It's nice way of showing where Frenzy is as a character and how she's come to accept her new role with the X-men. It's a great moment even if it is subtle. But if you can't appreciate it, then I'm sorry but you need better weed.

Since Exodus doesn't know or care about the power of Cyclops's penis, he has little issue with roughing up his old teammate. But to his credit, Exodus doesn't just do it because he's annoyed by her changing sides. He actually does a little preaching Billy Graham style, only not as insane. He admits he failed the Acolytes and in order to make up for his failure, he wants to reunite the mutant race. He genuinely believes that their lack of unity will destroy them. It's not your typical I'm-a-badass-so-I'm-gonna-beat-the-shit-out-of-people-who-annoy-me type babble and that's a good thing. Even if his efforts have some merit, the X-men don't buy it. Since Gambit has shown a desire to tap Frenzy's ass, he uses his powers to blow up Exodus's cape. It may not slow Exodus down, but it may increase his chances of getting laid and that's just as important.

Despite this onslaught and eccentric preaching, Exodus once again proves he's as overpowered as Pat Robertson wishes he were. He's able to beat back the X-men and shatter Rachel's psychic defenses. This allows him to use his own psychic powers to paralyze the team. It's not unlike the last issue where Exodus demonstrated too much power and too much insanity, even for a guy with a biblically inspired name. At this point readers may once again be frustrated by how overpowered this guy is. I share your frustration, but I have booze to help me with that. If there's been one flaw in this eventful arc, it's that everything the X-men do pretty much amounts to dick because Exodus is just that strong.

However, this is where Gage throws in yet another twist. Remember that argument Wolverine and Rogue had at the beginning of the book? The one where Wolverine would rather take down Exodus before Cyclops could throw kids into the battle? Well it turns out he wasn't drunk or just dwelling on the fact that he never got to lick Jean Grey's tits. Before Exodus can kill the X-men with his rants about salvation for the mutant race, Utopia's backup arrives. However, it isn't the Extinction Team. It isn't the security team either. It's Generation Hope and a couple of the New Mutants. Yep, they're all kids who in another world would be obsessing over SATs. It's a twist that may or may not vindicate Wolverine's concern, but they may be their best hope against Exodus so it makes for a very volatile situation with which to end the comic.

An arc based entirely around the premise of fighting one overpowered character still seems like it shouldn't work. It's something most of us can get in the real world by watching a boxing match with Manny Pacio against some wannabe lightweight that's 40 pounds lighter than him. But Christos Gage once again manages to take this premise and turn it into a damn good story. It's a story that involves more than just Exodus whipping out his dick and showing everyone that dares question it's prowess how much it hurts to fuck with him. He's on a biblical quest, misguided it may be, to reunite the mutant race whether they like it or not. Being reasonable just doesn't work for him. Diplomacy is for pussies. It may make him friends with Iran, but not with the X-men. It led to some great dramatic moments and a surprise twist with the appearance of Generation Hope. It's definitely the kind of overpowered brawl that actually measures up in ways that go beyond who punches harder.

I usually have some criticisms with X-men Legacy regarding how Rogue is often over-utilized as a cure-all for everything that ails the X-men. I still think it's a problem with other arcs involving her, but in this instance that sort of overuse actually has a valid purpose. She needs to be that flexible power-draining babe that shows off her cleavage in order to measure up against Exodus. And she doesn't take on every aspect of the fighting. Other characters like Frenzy and Gambit and even Iceman manage to shine. However, Gage still hasn't filled in some of the plot holes from the last issue. We still don't know what led Exodus to take this crazy stance about mutant unity. He was just thrown into the mix. That and some of the other dramatic elements that were discussed in the last issue like with Rogue, Gambit, and Frenzy were pretty much forgotten. But most readers probably won't give a shit since the drawn out battle is so damn entertaining.

X-men Legacy has been in a transitional state for the past few issues. The end of Mike Carey's legendary run and the beginning of Christos Gage's run has been a volatile time for this series. For the most part, Gage has measured up respectfully. However, this is the first issue to date where he's really set himself apart. With this issue, he's delivered the kind of awesome for X-men Legacy that I thought would take a while to match after Mike Carey's departure. As such, his accomplishments with this issue are all the more respectable. That's why I give X-men Legacy #262 a 5 out of 5. It feels good to be this thrilled by an issue of X-men Legacy again. So long as it doesn't throw in too many scenes with Rogue shacking up with men four times her age, I think the future of this series is bright. Nuff said!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

X-men #25 - Double Bloody Awesome

When you mix teenagers and vampires, you usually start a blood war between Twilight fans and True Blood fans. It causes such an uproar that every possible medium can't resist to urge to suckle every last dime of exploration from the vampire craze teat. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sick of it, even thought I do still enjoy making Twilight jokes on this blog. However, it doesn't matter how sick you are of vampires and how much you want to gouge your eyes out every time you see an image of Edward Cullen. If a vampire story is done well, it's still worth enjoying. You wouldn't expect X-men comics to be host to such stories, but under Victor Gischler in his adjectiveless X-men run there have been some of the best vampire stories you can find without having to exploit the imagery of Anna Paquin's tits.

After a brief plunge into a politically charged plot, adjectiveless X-men has shifted gears and gone into full vampire mode. Jubilee, who was turned into a bloodsucker in the first arc of this series, had been updated by a vampire named Raizo Kodo. But he wasn't the kind of vampire that would torture newbies by making them listen to coded messages from Stephanie Meyer to help fuel their bloodlust. He was part of a group of vampires called the Unforgiven. They're basically like a Vampire AA minus the second hand smoke. And the entire last issue was spent showing Jubilee struggling with her bloodlust now that she didn't have Wolverine's blood to help taper her hunger. It didn't make for a very interesting issue. In fact, I thought it was one of Gischler's most disappointing issues in quite some time because it dragged out and was too narrow. However, it wasn't disappointing enough to make me any less intrigued by X-men #25 so I'm fully expecting something more. I'm hoping I won't be as disappointed as MC Hammer's accountant this time.

X-men #25 starts off by fixing one of the key problems with the previous issue. It actually got the other X-men involved on the first page rather than the last. While the overly bloated story with Jubilee was being dragged out, Storm and the rest of Utopia's security team were scouring the Earth in search of Jubilee. They knocked over every vampire den and Twilight fan club they could find, leaving a trail of dead vampires in their wake. It's so destructive you almost feel sorry for these bloodsuckers. Then you remember that they probably dine on the blood of missing hookers, thus causing the price of escorts to go up so in many ways the X-men are performing a valuable service here by thinning out the vampire crowd. While it may ensure that guys like me don't have to pay a couple hundred bucks for a dirty sanchez, they still are unable to find Jubilee.

That finally changes thanks to Madison Jefferies, who took his sweet time while Storm, Domino, Colossus, Warpath, and Psylocke were going on a vampire killing rampage. He finally managed to use Cerebra to track down Jubilee and without killing any vampires (as if there's any fun in that). He was able to pinpoint her movements to the South China Sea and since China is about as welcoming to foreign intruders as they are human rights advocates, they need to be very careful. Now this location isn't too big a deal, but based on what I read in the last issue it sure didn't look as though Jubilee was in China with her new vampire buddies. Then again, I may have just smoked too much weed before I read the book so I won't dwell on it.

The team arrives in a remote, semi-tropical coastal area. It looks like the kind of place where you can either find rich tourists or feeding grounds for sharks. The team makes their way onto land where they find what looks like an old missile bunker, as if the Chinese government would ever lose track of places like those. They enter and start exploring, finding out quickly that the area looks like a hotel room that Guns n' Roses rented for the night. But they do end up finding what they were looking for at least in part. They meet up with Razio Kodo and his hippie vampire team, the Unforgiven. He does try to explain himself at first, but considering he abducted one of their friends it's entirely understandable that the X-men would be a little pissed.

Storm and her team are there for Jubilee and that's all there is to it. You take one of their teammates, they kick your ass. It's as simple an equation that you can understand it even while high. Storm makes this clear when she orders the X-men to attack. It leads to the kind of poise that should make feminists all warm and fuzzy inside. But it also has a nice butt-shot for Psylocke before she takes on Razio, so I guess it balances out. The Unforgiven may be vampire hippies at heart, but they can still fight. Granted, they got outsmarted by Jubilee in the last issue, but they have a chance here to retrieve at least part of their dignity.

The Unforgiven actually prove that they're much tougher and probably smell better than most hippies as well. The fight scenes that follow are pretty elaborate and well-documented, giving every X-man a share of the action. Warpath is aggressive as you would expect, but his balls are too big for his scrotum at some points because he does get his ass kicked a few times. Domino shows off her marksmanship in addition to how well she fills out skin-tight suits, but since vampires are pretty well endowed physically (and I'm assuming that extends to their dicks) she can't get in a winning shot either. Even Storm, the one who ordered that the X-men start randomly kicking vampire ass, gets a run for her money. But there's a reason why she's the leader. When someone gives her trouble, she either shoves a lightning bolt up their ass or punches them in the face. In this case it's the latter and it works just as well as lightning.

The action is great. The fight scenes are awesome. However, aside from the mutual ass-kicking, not much else happens. Sure, there's some witty banter and a few taunts. But it's more style than substance. I know some readers are okay with that. They don't give a damn if there's no greater purpose aside from the X-men beating the shit out of vampires. For me, however, I get enough mindless action watching my neighbor fight the police whenever they find him trying to deep fry a turkey with gunpowder. It would help if style and substance were more balanced in my comics.

This fight only ends when Jubilee steps in between Psylocke and Razio, who may or may not have been hitting on her. It's only now that they can finally clear shit up and Jubilee can let the X-men know that these vampires are trying to help her. However, it becomes much deeper than that. This actually is the most powerful scene in the whole issue because just her face alone reveals how much she's struggling with her vampirism. To this point she's been relying on transfusions with Wolverine's blood to keep her blood-sucking instincts at bay. Even she understands that she can't rely on that shit forever. She needs to learn how to deal with what she's become and you know what? She's completely right. Gischler does a great job of capturing the emotion of this scene. He's the one that made Jubilee a vampire. It's only appropriate that he be the one that develops this story.

It all looks like both sides are on the path towards understanding. With Jubilee's impassioned words, they can all stop fighting, hug it out, and watch a True Blood marathon. Well, that would be too easy. Part of what made Gischler's first Regenesis arc so compelling were the twists he threw in. The last issue had none of that, but here we get something that seems unexpected if not random. Colossus, who wasn't involved in the vampire brawl, shows up with a couple of Wrecking Crew thugs in his arms. These guys aren't typical X-men characters. They're the regulars who usually get their asses kicked by the Avengers. They went up against Colossus with his Juggernaut powers and wouldn't you know it? They got their ass kicked. Moreover, they reveal something that promises to fuck their mission up even more. The Wrecking Crew along with a long list of other Marvel villains are out to collect a reward on someone's head. That head belongs to Razio Kodo.

Now I'm not entirely sure why someone would want to hunt down a hippie vampire. Probably for the same reason Richard Nixon wanted to hunt down the hippies. This whole peace shit just doesn't work for them. I mean who wants peace when needless bloodshed is so much more entertaining? I'm not sure if that's a direct quote, but I'd be shocked if a handful of politicians hadn't said it at some point in their lives. Both the X-men and the Unforgiven have to set aside the fact that they just exhausted themselves kicking one another's ass and take note that the surrounding area is now swarming with super-powered Marvel villains out for a quick payday. So I guess the hugs and True Blood marathon will have to wait.

I freely admit I was disappointed with the last issue. Before X-men Regenesis, it probably would have meant that I wouldn't have given more than three quarters of a shit about the next issue. However, Victor Gischler has shown in recent times that he's capable of invigorating this series with the kind of awesome that makes readers hold onto their balls in anticipation. He earned my confidence with the last arc. With this issue, he has shown that he's capable of honoring that confidence. That earns him both brownie points and a free line of blow if we ever meet at a comic convention. He didn't just get the rest of the X-men's security team involved as he should have in the last issue. He actually threw in a twist that got more members of the Marvel universe involved, which is supposed to be the purpose of this series to begin with. Maybe that doesn't make it a twist as much as it does a course correction, but it still works.

This issue improves on pretty much every flaw I listed with regards to the previous issue. It wasn't too narrow. It had action, coherence, and a sense of progression. If it shared one flaw it was the sense of a narrow scope. Not a whole lot happened outside the battle between the X-men and the Unforgiven. They spent a lot of pages fighting and insulting one another. That's all well and good, but that doesn't move the story forward all that much. It's just mindless spectacle and if you want that I'm sure there's at least one person in your neighborhood that has a cache of illegal fireworks. It was fun to watch, but you really didn't have to read anything that the characters were saying until Jubilee stepped in. The dialog just felt hallow, but it was still fun like said firework display.

Overall, I'm really glad that Gischler picked up the pieces from the last issue and made this issue as awesome as it needed to be. The story of Jubilee and her new life as a vampire is one that has unfolded in many ways in multiple books. It's a compelling story that has become a gateway to other stories that may or may not involve the X-men kicking the shit out of more Marvel villains. And what's not to love about that? I give X-men #25 a 4.5 out of 5. Gischler is making a strong push to have his series in the same high quality league as Wolverine and the X-men and Uncanny X-men. He's not quite there yet, but he's close to being within drunk vomiting distance. Nuff said!

Friday, February 24, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 48: The Good, The Bad, The Sinister Part 2 PREVIEW

I've been hard at work on the next issue of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. The latest arc, The Good, The Bad, The Sinister, began with a few revelations and a little deception. That's to be expected when a man like Sinister is involved. He has a history of tormenting the X-men in some very creative ways and I hope to capture that essance with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. While the Sinister Intent arc helped introduce him, this arc will help readers understand what makes Sinister tick in the world of X-men Supreme. Moreover, it'll reveal some major secrets that I've only been hinting at to this point. I'm very excited about this arc and as such I've prepared a brief preview of what you can expect from this important issue.

“Logan…it’s time to wake up.”

Those deep, menacing words roused in him the angry Wolverine. In a burst of anger and rage, he plowed through the veil of unconsciousness.

“Hrrrrrraahhhhhhhhhh!” he roared

With renewed strength surging through his body, he shot up from his unmoving state in a burst of rage. He was expecting to wake up in some dingy lab strapped to a gurney with wires going into his body. But what he got instead was completely unexpected.

As Logan shot up, opening his eyes and drawing his claws, he found himself on a nice comfortable bed instead of a metal gurney. There were no shackles or wires. There wasn’t even a laboratory around him. Instead, he was in what looked like a cabin in the mountains. There were wooden walls, nice animal-fur carpets, and an old fashioned wood stove. It wasn’t unlike the many cabins he stayed in throughout his life in Canada.

But as nice a surprise this was, Logan was still suspicious.

“You gotta be freakin’ kidding me!” he snarled as he slipped out of the bed, his claws still drawn, “This someone’s idea of a sick joke?”

“It’s no joke, I assure you.”

Logan swiftly turned around to see that the voice that had been calling out to him belonged to Madelyn Pryor. She was now standing behind his bed, wearing the same revealing outfit he remembered from the forest. She had the same menacing smirk on her face and Logan was prepared to rip into her on the spot.

“You! This another one of your mind games?!” he roared, holding his claws up to her throat.

“Oh please,” she scoffed, “If I were attacking you telepathically, you would not be in such a peaceful setting. You would be tied up, bound, and caged like the animal you are.”

“How kinky,” said Logan dryly, “That mean I’ll have to start carving you up to get you to tell me where I am?”

“And ruin my perfect figure? Please,” said Madelyn casually, “I’d be happy to tell you where you are, but I’ll leave that to someone with much greater insight.”

The front door to the cabin then opened. Logan shot around again, this time coming face-to-face with someone that pissed him off even more. It was Sinister and he had the same snide grin as Madelyn.

“Hello Wolverine,” he greeted, “Nice to see you alert and well-rested.”

Logan growled as he turned his rage towards the imposing figure. With murderous intent, he lunged towards Sinister with every intention of ripping him to shreds.

“You!” he roared, “You’re as ugly as Jeannie said you were!”

“Did she also mention I could do this?”

With a snide grin, Sinister raised his hand and hit Logan with a healthy dose of telekinesis. It stopped him just as Logan’s claw was about to make contact with his face. It wasn’t enough to knock him back. It was just enough to freeze him in place. Before he could regroup, Sinister clenched his fist and put the feral mutant into a firm telekinetic hold. Logan continued to thrash, forcing Madelyn to come in and help. But Sinister remained undaunted. He didn’t even look surprised.

“You ugly fucking excuse for a clown! I’ll kill you for this lousy stunt!” roared the raging Logan.

“Oh is it really so lousy?” taunted Madelyn, “It worked didn’t it?”

“I’ll kill you too for playing your part as psycho bitch!”

“Please dispense with such juvenile threats. I didn’t go through the trouble of trapping you so you could spew obscenities.”

“Yeah right! You give Cyke and Jeannie the same courtesy when you snatched them up last time?!” roared Logan, “I should gut you just for that!”

“Trust me, you don’t want to do that,” taunted Sinister, “Even if such an act is physically impossible with my body.”

“Trust me, nothing would be more satisfying!”

“Would it? Because if somehow you kill me, you would be killing one of the few people left in this world who can give you answers about your past. And you do seek answers, don’t you, Logan? Or should I say, Weapon X?”

While I continue to work on the latest arc for X-men Supreme, I also plan on doing a few updates. This includes new entries in the bios section and the pics section. However, while I am determined to keep these sections up to date, I've been a little disappointed by the lack of reviews and feedback I've been getting lately. It feels like it has been declining since X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope began. I work long and hard on this fanfiction series. It's important that I get feedback and support. I'm always encouraging people to contact me and I mean it. I really do want to know what people think of X-men Supreme and I want feedback so I can make this website better. So please keep that in mind as this fanficiton series moves forward. I want to do so many things with X-men Supreme, but that won't be possible if others don't enjoy it. Thanks and I hope you enjoy the future of this fanfiction series. Excelsior!


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wolverine and the X-men #6 - Gambling on Awesome

Certain themes work well in every story. Fun, booze, tits, and weed come to mind. No matter how mindless or poorly told, it's hard to make that shit unappealing. Wolverine and the X-men has managed to work in plenty of those themes. Between Wolverine's drinking, pretty girls in school uniforms, and and overall fun environment full of homicidal kids and living islands, Jason Aaron has set this series apart. It has taken a creative, cartoonish type approach that usually only comes after a few hits of LSD. However, Jason Aaron has managed to do it without the risk of brain damage. So what else could he possibly add to make this series more awesome? How about gambling and casinos?

Ah yes, I could start a whole new blog about why casinos and gambling is awesome. I could start another blog describing all the crazy shit you can do in Las Vegas with a few hundred bucks, a pound of blow, and a kid from MIT who can count cards in blackjack. But sometimes people don't gamble just to have fun, make money, and hang out around loose women (although that does constitute a healthy portion of it). Sometimes people have more noble reasons for gambling. The reason as it pertains to Wolverine and the X-men begins in the last issue.

Yeah, there was some crazy shit going around with Kitty's unexpected pregnancy turning into a Species II remake. That was all well and good, but another issue that doesn't revolve around shit that would get Catholic bishops riled up involves money. As in, the Jean Grey Institute for Higher Learning is running out of it. The Hellfire Kids made sure that they don't have access to Warren Worthington III's money since he lost his fucking mind in the Dark Angel Saga. Now Wolverine needs to find another way to get it and in order to do that, he has to enlist help from Kid Omega. This kid is more unpleasant to be around than a hung over crack addict in withdrawal. Yet he has to be the one that saves the school. It's not so much an odd couple situation as a fuck-it-we're-screwed-either-way situation.

Wolverine and the X-men #6 takes that gambling element I mentioned earlier and turns it into the Jean Grey Institute's best hope for survival. Armed with a space ship and a couple of tuxedos, Wolverine flies Kid Omega to the Planet Sin. It's a planet that is basically one big Las Vegas. It's laden with casinos, money, and loose alien females that have no problem with inter-species mating. It's basically heaven is what I'm saying. Armed with Kid Omega's telepathy and intellect, Wolverine wants to win enough money to keep the school open. Kid Omega, being the self-centered prick he is, will do it just for kicks and the possibility of alien poon.

From the streets of an intergalactic Las Vegas to the insides of a young, vulnerable woman...okay, when you put it like that it doesn't sound very far, but bear with me here. In the previous issue, it was revealed that Kitty Pryde's unexpected pregnancy wasn't exactly a pregnancy. Somehow she came across some Brood style germs or she bought condoms from the Catholic church, which in turn made her body a battleground with the mini-Brood laying waste to her insides. It's not unlike eating twenty extra hot buffalo wings after six beers on a Sunday night. Kid Gladiator already began whipping out his dick to prove his doucheiness when he shrank himself and ventured into Kitty's body to combat the invasion. Beast, Marvel Girl, Lockheed, Iceman, and Warbird followed. They're doing their best to hold off the invasion while Kitty deals with the resulting indigestion. I imagine it's pretty uncomfortable, but I'm still not convinced it compares to the pain of taking a shit hung over the next morning after those 20 buffalo wings I mentioned earlier.

This alien mini-assault, which resulted in a lockdown of the school in the last issue, keeps the X-men occupied so that a very special alien that showed up at the end of the previous issue can casually waltz inside. By casually, I mean he has four angry Brood on a leash that he orders to attack the institute like my neighbor at 2 in the morning does with his dog when I'm taking a piss on his tomato garden. We don't know where this guy came from, but in the last issue he destroyed an entire alien freighter and killed some hard-working SWORD agents as well. So we can assume he's a douche-bag. Since he's using Broods as pets, I'm just going to call him the Brood whisperer.

Once these pitbull Brood enter the institute, they start busting up shit in a way that's probably going to require even more money from Wolverine and Kid Omega's casino venture. They're able to hunt down Kitty in the infirmary, who was told outright to stay still so she doesn't cause them to get tossed into her intestines and shat out later with whatever she ate three days ago. Being the hardass young woman she is, Kitty doesn't listen. That and Broo, the only lovable yet still butt-ugly Brood in the Marvel Universe, warns her so she takes her faux pregnant ass and starts running. I imagine it's like trying to run a marathon when you really need to take a shit. I only hope that Kitty isn't wearing her favorite pair of underwear.

Are my jokes about shit and other bodily functions starting to make you queasy? Well, don't worry. We finally catch up with Wolverine and Kid Omega. In Las Vegas world, they're doing as well as you would expect anyone who has a powerful psychic on their side. Kid Omega is like Rain Man if Rain Man was an insufferable douche-bag. Wolverine is able to win at whatever alien blackjack this planet has, but not content to just hang back and crunch numbers he decides to shoot some alien craps. Along the way he starts winning as well and he manages to get the attention of two hot alien babes. He also gets the attention of casino security, but I'm pretty sure the hot alien babes are more pressing.

For some, a scene like this could come off as too cartoony. I mean an alien world that's one big casino? Where the fuck did that come from and why the fuck is Aaron pulling it out of his ass? Well, it's not terribly outrageous when you consider the scope of the Marvel Universe. They have introduced countless alien races over the years and most of those aliens have very human-like traits, primarily the propensity to be an asshole. And since places like Las Vegas are often founded by assholes (namely mafia), it's perfectly within the realm of Spock caliber reason that a world like Sin would emerge where aliens can go to gamble, drink, and get laid. I know it sounds fucked up. I also know I tend to bitch about shit being contrived in comics, but there is something called context and it's not exotic type of insurance fraud.

The aliens on Sin now have to summon their inner Joe Pecsi to handle Wolverine and Kid Omega. Back on Earth, Kitty Pryde has to channel her inner Samuel L. Jackson to take on the raging Brood that want to rip apart from the outside before her insides are shredded. Hey, nobody can fault the Brood for not being thorough. By the same token, nobody can fault Wolverine for stashing some guns around the institute. After leaving Broo behind in a containment field, she retrieves one of those guns and uses them to take out the attacking Brood gangster style. It should be a moment for her to catch her breath and check to make sure her snatch is still intact. Instead, that Brood Whisperer I mentioned earlier finally catches up. Apparently, he didn't care much for his pets. He just used them to soften Kitty and her friends up while he got the drop on her. Is it overly elaborate? Yes, it is. Is it effective? Fuck yes.

Since Kitty has her friends floating around within her insides, she can't phase away from the attack. So she gets tossed around like an Afghani teenage bride. That Brood Whisperer I mentioned earlier doesn't care for her condition. He doesn't even seem to care that she turned his pets into blood stains. But he does reveal that he was the one that sent those mini-Brood up into her lady parts and didn't even bother to buy her a drink. He's almost as bad Charlie Sheen minus the child support. But despite these elaborate lengths to knock her up with his broodlings, the Brood Whisperer reveals that this wasn't about her at all. Instead, he sets his sight on Broo, who Kitty trapped in a containment field earlier. Seeing as how not much has been revealed about Broo thus far, it's an intriguing and nicely timed twist.

There's no mystery involved with Wolverine and Kid Omega. No matter what planet you're on, there's a simple law to every major casino. If you win big and win consistently, casinos don't like you. And if they feel you've won too much, they'll send as many of their friendly associates (usually armed with baseball bats and brass knuckles) to introduce themselves and make you wish that you weren't so lucky. Given the scene that Kid Omega had been making earlier, it's amazing their limbs aren't already broken.

Wolverine handles this threat the same way he handles most threats. He starts beating the shit out of anyone in his way. Since he's been so lucky in this world, why not push it further? I personally wouldn't do it because even with some liquor in me, I can only break so many bones. Now he and Kid Omega have to find a way out with their winnings so they can fund the school. They may not have much of a school left though because not only does the Brood Whisperer have everyone neutralized, but the rest of the X-men are thrown yet another complication. Remember Kid Gladiator? The egotistical douche-bag who ran into the battle inside Kitty's body leading with his oversized balls? Well apparently, he ran in too quickly because he ended up turning into a Brood. So it's either alien Brood ranchers or alien casino security. I'm honestly torn as to which I would rather handle.

I know I keep beating this point home like my dick at a Jessica Alba movie, but Wolverine and the X-men is just a plain fun comic. It's not overly serious despite dealing with serious issues. Things like money shortages and aliens invading the bodies of young women could easily become a slasher flick and/or a bad porno. But Jason Aaron finds a way to make it feel light-hearted. He effectively balances the two plots with the Brood and Wolverine's quest for funds, moving them both forward and setting them both up for some heavy action that promises to extend to the next issue. You've got an alien casino world and alien invaders that are setting up shop in Kitty Pryde's lady parts. What other comic has this kind of shit? Tell me and don't say you saw it while high on shrooms because that shit doesn't count!

While the plots were nicely balanced, the plot with Wolverine and Kid Omega felt like it made more progress than the plot with the Brood. In fact, we really didn't get too many answers with respect to what the Brood is up to and what that Brood Whisperer guy was after. It was mostly just the rest of school staff fighting off the invasion inside Kitty's body while Kitty tried to avoid being the appetizer to a Brood buffet. However, it's hard to really call this a flaw because there was so much action here and there were a few twists as well with Kid Gladiator turning into a Brood. While we didn't get answers, we still got plenty of intrigue and along with a casino plot that would make Robert de Nero proud, there's just too much awesome in this book to nit-pick.

Wolverine and the X-men has gone a long ways in a short span of time. Even with Avengers vs. X-men looming over the horizon like more Rick Santorum's attack ads that compare Obama to Hitler, this series manages to maintain a solid and unique tone. It feels different from the other X-men books while still feeling like it fits into the larger scheme of things. I don't know what Jason Aaron was smoking when he came up for the idea of having an alien casino, but I want to know where I can get some! Even if I can't, I'm content to give Wolverine and the X-men #6 a 5 out of 5. You've got casinos. You've got aliens. You've got monsters. You've got a faux-pregnant lady running for her life while her friends use her innards as a battleground. You won't find something this entertaining or this unique without having to pay off a few shady figures in Tijuana. Since the price of doing business with said shady figures is getting risky and not all of us can donate our organs for the necessary funds, we'll have to settle for this comic. Nuff said!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Objectifying Women in Comics - The Other Debate

I try not to get too political on this blog. I look at politics the same way drag racers look at speed limits. They're best ignored until the law comes back to bite you. But every now and then, I feel the inescapable urge to comment on a major controversy that won't go the fuck away. And since this controversy happens to involve women and how their boobs are portrayed in comics, I just have to say something.

It started when I read a recent article on CBR about the portrayal of female characters in comics. It's one of many articles that have emerged over the past few months where men and women alike complain about how women are being portrayed in modern comics. It was sparked largely by this.

That's Starfire, the bonerific heroine from Red Hood and the Outlaws, one of the new 52 that DC relaunched last year. She went from the happy-go-lucky alien babe to the mindless sexbot and for some very understandable reasons, people had a problem with that. Now it could have been contained to just this one issue and the result of some overly shitty writing on DC's part. But no. Like Ozzy Osborne taking a piss on the Alamo, it had to become something much bigger than it was. Now it's become a feminist boondoggle that has scrotums shriveling, ovaries kicking into overdrive, and drunks like me banging their heads against the wall for reasons that don't involve running out of blow.

I'm already a frustrated drunk to begin with and I was content to just let other people fight this out, but it's gotten to a point where there is no debate anymore. People are starting to miss the fucking point and I feel compelled to bring it up since nobody else will or at least won't without a few shots of tequila in their system. So for all you men and women, get ready because I'm going to go on a rant about gender issues. I'm probably going to offend some women and some men. There's absolutely no way around it in this politically correct world so please bear with me because I'm not just ranting this time. I'm actually going to try and make a valid point in this debate that I hope will set it to rest in some ways.

First off, I get it. I understand why women are upset with how they're portrayed in comics. That's not sarcasm or cynicism either. That's the honest truth. Women do have a reason to be upset with a lead female character like Starfire is turned into a glorified blow-up doll. They have a right to be upset when characters like Rogue, Power Girl, Catwoman, and Huntress are posed in ways that encourage masturbation. They're right when they say there's a double standard when it comes to men and women. Now does that mean I agree with the article on CBR and all others like it? Well it's not that simple. See, the debate for me goes like this.

Outraged Woman and/or Man: "Women in comics are being portrayed in an overly sexualized, objectified way that's insulting and demeaning!"

Me: "And?"

I know what you may be thinking. I'm implying that I don't care about their argument, but that's not what I'm saying. If I didn't care I would say "So what? Now where's the nearest bar?" But I didn't say that. I said "And?" because that argument isn't a complete thought. It's only half the debate. The other half is supposed to be the solution or at least what you think is a viable solution. At no point do I ever hear anybody propose such a solution. It's just "This is a moral outrage!" and that's it.

Well there's a word for that kind of talk. It's called whining. It's what little kids do when their parents tell them they can't get a candy bar at the check-out line in a grocery store. In the adult world when you point out a problem or criticism, you at least try to advocate a solution. Bringing awareness isn't a solution in and of itself. It can be part of the process, but at some point you need to put something down on paper or you're just wasting time and breath.

The writer of the article was Kelly Thompson on CBR. She's a good writer and she makes plenty of valid points. But I ask both her and every other man and woman who has made the same argument. What's the alternative? What's the solution? Hell, what's the compromise? What is it? What would you do to make things different? Those are not rhetorical questions. Those are real questions that need to be answered if your argument is to have merit. Don't play a game of hypothetical and paint a picture of an ideal world in your head where this issue didn't exist and everything was all peaches, cream, and imported vodka. Give the rest of us, the readers and the male audience that are the targets, a viable solution with the keyword being viable.

Let's start simple. How would you want them posed? You want them all to pose like the men? You want every female character to do absolutely nothing to distinguish themselves from the other gender? That almost implies that they're ashamed to be women and want to be men. Same goes for clothes. You want Rogue, Catwoman, and Huntress to dress like men? Wearing baggy blue jeans and a shirt that says "Ask Me About My Prostate?"  More importantly, how would that be just as memorable or viable in the comic market? Would men still buy it? Would more women buy it? How do you know this? Flip these images of Hulk and She-Hulk and tell me they work just as well.

Let's look at it form another angle here. How much objectification is really at work here? Thompson claims that women are built like porn stars while the men are built like athletes. Are they? NFL linemen are considered athletes. Sumo wrestlers are considered athletes. Fuck, golfers are considered athletes. The men in comics are NOT fucking athletes. They're male models. Pretty boys. Jocks. The kind that make up over 99 percent of all the douche-bag antagonist in every 80s teen movie ever made.

Moreover, do comics do this because of or in spite of reader tastes? Comics don't exist in a vacuum. They're part of a market that relies both on sex selling and selling quite well. That market uses evolutionary biology to full effect. Men are visual creatures. That's not an opinion or a criticism. That's a scientific fucking fact. Here's a study that proves it in a way no whining can resist. Like it or not, men are going to respond more strongly to the presence of sexual imagery than women and comics are a visual medium. To be against using sexual connotations in comics is akin to being against birds for using wings. Now is the current situation excessive and egregious? I would argue yes. It is. But again, what the fuck are we supposed to do about it?

Finally, there's a reason why men aren't dressed up in the ridiculous outfits that female comic characters wear. It's the same reason why men don't pose like women in comics. It's because, and I know this is a politically incorrect thing to say, men and women are different. Men have a penis, balls, and hair on their ass. Women have boobs, a vagina, and ovaries. There are a long list of other differences and like every other animal in nature, those differences result in different manifestations of behavior. This isn't even about comics anymore. This is about fucking evolutionary biology. It doesn't justify the current situation, but it does imply a different perspective.

I know we live in a multicultural society that values equality and shit, but men and women are still fundamentally different at the end of the day. Whining about them not being completely equal is like whining about the sky being blue. It's just plain whining and it's no better than that little kid making a scene in the grocery store I mentioned earlier. It's not going to make the imagery of Emma Frost flaunting her sexuality or Namor flaunting his male bravado any less potent.

So I'm all ears. What do we do about the current situation? What do we, the consumers, propose to Marvel and DC and every other publisher out there as a reasonable solution that will ensure they're just as viable if not more so as an industry? I don't know what it is and I've yet to hear anything from anybody that offers something tangible. Maybe someone on this blog can offer something. I know I come off as a raving nut job here, but I'm not being disingenuous when I say I respect women. But I respect men as well. I'll comment on boobs as much as I'll comment on dicks. At the end of the day, it doesn't change anything. So for this debate about women and comics and all debates like it, I implore the morally outraged parties to quit with the fucking whining and start proposing viable solutions. Nuff said.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sunday Rant: Who Will/Should Win Avengers vs. X-men?

It's Sunday again and I've been drinking. So you know what that means? One, I need to call my neighbor and tell them I took a shit in hot tub again. Two, I'm ready for another rant! I don't want to make these too typical because my liver will kick my ass and because I want to leave more room for reviews, but given the current situation with Marvel comics there's a lot to rant about and my drunken ravings shall be heard!

This week, I want to talk about two important questions surrounding the upcoming Avengers vs. X-men event. One is a question that everyone is asking. The second is a question only a select few with awesome weed are asking. The most pressing is who will come out on top with Avengers vs. X-men? Marvel has said early on that this battle will be a winner and a loser. Now we don't know if Marvel's definition of winning is the Vince Lombardi kind or the Charlie Sheen kind, but as they showed with events like Civil War they are capable of screwing a certain segment of heroes over that were on the wrong side of a conflict. But forget for a moment who will come out on top. Get a little liquor in your system and start asking the question who SHOULD win?

There's no bones about it. The Avengers and the X-men will have plenty of reasons to beat the shit out of each other. The world is set to be torched by the Phoenix Force and for some very convoluted reasons both sides can't agree on how to handle it. Just look at the cover. Diplomacy amounts to precisely dick at this point.

For the moment, Marvel is employing their usual Area 51 style security to prevent any hint at who may be favored. They've focused more on starting fanboy battles where kids in their parents' basement piss and moan about who has a tougher time getting a bikini wax, Rogue or She-Hulk. That's an admirable strategy in it's own right, but if Marvel is being sincere about there being a winner and loser just as they were with Civil War then that raises some interesting possibilities. Since I haven't started dry heaving yet, I'll review some of them.

First, let's look at the Avengers. This is a team that the world respects. They're not mutants. They're officially recognized superheroes. Some of them like Iron Man and Black Widow don't have powers they were born with. Some like Hulk are the result of an accident. Yet they're all a self-contained, well-understood force for justice and all that is good. That's why the public is inclined to look on them favorably for the most part. The events of Fear Itself and Civil War shook the public's confidence in their heroes. They have a much smaller margin for error. If they do something that leads to the kind of destruction that Fear Itself incurred, then they're not going to be seen as heroes as much as they are a nuisance. So when Nova comes back from deep space to let them know that the Phoenix Force is on their way and it's capable of unleashing way more destruction than the Serpent ever could, they know they have to get their shit together. They won't have a very confident public if the public is burnt to a crisp. So their focus is stopping this overgrown parrot before it takes a giant shit on their world.

The X-men are in a very different boat. The world already hates them. They're so hated that homicidal kids are able to take over corporations and launch sentinels on the island nation they had to work so hard to carve out. In the eyes of many, they aren't heroes. There isn't much sympathy for their kind in the same way there isn't much sympathy for the influenza virus. While some do tag team with the Avengers every now and then, for the most part the mutants of Marvel have to contend with being the ticking time bombs in the eyes of every human. Unlike the Avengers, most were born with their powers and they aren't exactly predictable. And most people hate unpredictability, which is why weathermen are so hated. When news emerges that the world is about to be torched, their concerns aren't in line with the Avengers.

If that weren't bad enough, they're an endangered species. The events of House of M reduced their number to a point where you could fit all of them in Donald Trump's office and still have room for a pool. They managed to jump start their species again with Hope Summers in the events of Second Coming, but it hasn't been a smooth ride. You can still count all the new mutants she's sparked on one hand and she did it with the help of the same fiery parrot that is on a crash course with Earth now. Oh, and she has red hair and green eyes. There isn't a good history with characters that have red hair, green eyes, and a connection to the Phoenix Force. Be that as it may, that history is very personal for very obvious reasons.

Need I say more? But beyond the threat the Phoenix inherently poses, the X-men have to think of the larger picture. Their species isn't growing fast enough and the recent Schism between Wolverine and Cyclops has left them less than united. Hope Summers flashed some Phoenix potential and a handful of mutants emerged. Now the Phoenix itself is on it's way and they're a species in need of a rebirth. It's impossible for them to separate the Phoenix Force from the mutant messiah that they've doubled down on after the casino has broken their balls, cut off their fingers, and gouged out their left eye. They want to save their species while the Avengers want to save the world. And therein lies the heart of the problem.

The Avengers and the X-men both possess some pretty heavy firepower, but each side is motivated by different circumstances. One comes off as inherently heroic. The Avengers are just trying to stop the world from becoming a giant ash tray for the Phoenix. But the X-men want to use the Phoenix to jump start their species. This was actually stated in a recent preview for Avengers vs. X-men #1 by Scott fucking Summers of all people. The Phoenix killed his wife and fucked him up in ways that led him to marry her clone. Yet in this preview, he talks about trying to train Hope to tap the Phoenix Force. I know there is a large legion of Cyclops-haters that are jealous of him getting to bury his face in Emma Frost's boobs every night, but they actually have a valid point here. When the man most hurt by the Phoenix Force is arrogant and desperate enough to try and control the Phoenix Force, his giant balls are overshadowed by the extent his head is up his ass.

So Cyclops is willing to risk the entire world being burnt to a crisp like a slab of deer meat on Ted Nugant's grill and entrust the power of the Phoenix to Hope fucking Summers? A girl who in recent issues of Generation Hope has pissed off members of her team to the point where they want to fucking crucify her? Well smear peanut butter on my dick, call my neighbors dog, and give my ex-girlfriend a lesson in oral sex. If that isn't the act of a man who has let his role as dictator of a country and personal giaglo to Emma Frost go to his head, I don't know what is.

This has led me to conclude in my drunken wisdom that Cyclops and the X-men are on the wrong side of the battle, at least they are under the current circumstances. They're the one putting the Earth in danger. They're the one not willing to work with the Avengers to find a way to take down the Phoenix before it shows up. So when asking who SHOULD win the battle between the Avengers vs X-men, I think I speak for the beleaguered residents of the Marvel universe when I say the Avengers should win. And this coming from a guy whose blog and fanfiction series both star the X-men.

But it would be foolish to think that the circumstances would be this basic. With Marvel, they rarely are. There's a wild card in the mix that hasn't been fully finalized yet, thanks in large part to the shitty delays plaguing Avengers: Children's Crusade. That wild card's name is Wanda Maximoff. She's the other side to the Avengers vs. X-men coin. She's the one that made Hope Summers necessary when she lost her fucking mind in House of M and neutered most of the mutant population. She has slowly (emphasis on slowly) regained her sanity in the events of Children's Crusade, but the mutants of the Marvel Universe haven't forgotten that she's still responsible for making them an endangered species. And as previews have shown, she will be a factor in how Avengers vs. X-men plays out.

Both Wanda and Hope have demonstrated that they're capable of restoring mutants. They've also demonstrated that they're capable of fucking reality up in a way that all the LSD in Europe couldn't match. The Avengers may in some ways may also be sheltering the key to the survival of the mutant race while also sheltering her from justice. It's something that makes Cyclops's decision to double down on the Phoenix Force more understandable, but that doesn't make it any less a dick move.

As it stands, the Avengers are still on the right side of history. But that could change as the story unfolds. It begs the question what will happen if one side loses. If the Avengers lose, then they may be reduced to the same kind of scrutiny that mutants face because of their powers. It'll become a much more hostile world for superheroes and one that could make for some very interesting stories. But if the X-men lose, then mutants are more vulnerable than ever. They suddenly become a menace on the level of Days of Futures Past. Utopia could fall. The Jean Grey Institute could be taken over, which wouldn't go over well with Wolverine to say the least. The gap between one group of heroes and the other would be so great that it would completely change the dynamic of how the Marvel Universe works. That also could make for some very interesting stories.

Then there's a chance they could both end up as losers and the world would be that much more fucked. We really don't know at this point, but if I were a betting man that hadn't lost his last mortgage payment betting against the Giants in the Superbowl I would say the Avengers have the better odds. They're the one coming out with the movie later this year. They're the one Marvel is pushing with all their might to be the biggest name in comics. They may or may not succeed, but whatever the case I'll keep drinking and ranting as the truth unfolds. Nuff said!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Generation Hope #16 - Messianic Awesome

I tend not to make a big deal of comics that use the kind of messianic metaphors that make Pat Robertson, the Family Research Council, and James Dobson whine like little girls stuck in a room with a spider. I enjoy blasphemy as much as the next guy, but let's face it. The story has been done to death for the past 2000 years. However, the messianic story surrounding Jea-I mean Hope Summers (my memory sucks when I'm drunk) is not a story you would expect to hear from Middle Eastern goat herders. It's a story that Marvel has turned into an epic that has spanned years. Jean-I mean Hope (I need to sober up) is in a position to be the messiah to the entire mutant race. She's already helped boost their numbers with the Five Lights. Like a certain Middle Eastern preacher, she's gained some exceedingly loyal followers along the way and used those followers to go on the kind of adventures they right books about. Can't think of a good example, but you get the idea.

However, part of every messiah story involves a betrayal of sorts. You don't take on the role of a savior without making a few enemies because saviors by definition have to save others from something that's fucking with them. More often than not, it's a someone. The only way to combat it is to fuck with the system itself and Je-I mean Hope (need more coffee) has been doing more than her share. Since Second Coming, she's become less a messiah and more an insubordinate brat who thinks with her fist more than her brain. This has already led her to put Idie in a bad position that led her to leave the team in Schism. Then in the most recent arc, she brought Sebastian freakin' Shaw to Utopia and demanded that he join her team. She might as well have brought Mephisto on a double date with Spider-Man and Mary Jane Watson.

All this has led to more and more anxiety from her fellow Lights and the other X-men, especially Emma Frost since she tends to despise redheads for obvious reasons. Now it's getting to a point where some are looking to play the role of Judas in Hope's (cold shower did the trick!) messianic story. Generation Hope #16 begins to tell that story. It starts off by showing Hope in a pretty conflicted position because after the hissy fit she threw in the last issue with Sebastian Shaw, Cyclops has given her the X-men's file on the asshole for her to study. In reviewing it, she gets a sense that she's dealing with a guy that may or may not rank somewhere between pond scum and donkey shit. Plus, he did try to kill Cable a few times. That can't help, but to Cyclops's credit he's still trusting her. To him, she's still the messiah and that means giving her the kind of leeway that Charlie Sheen gets with his family.

Messiah or no messiah, some of the Lights are finally getting tired with her bullshit. And who better to conspire against a Jean Grey ripoff than an Akira ripoff? Kenji made it clear at the end of the last issue that he didn't like the control she asserted on him or the other Lights. And being the kind of deranged artist that thinks logic doesn't make for good art, he starts plotting. He attempts to get Laurie involved and he shows a little creativity in the process (he is an artist after all). He uses those creepy tentacle-rape monster type powers of his to link into Laurie's mind where he creates an illusion where they're both normal. He points out (correctly) that Hope has power and influence over every one of them and the more Lights she activates, the more power she'll have. He briefly flashes an image of her becoming a Goblin Queen like one-woman army, which I admit is pretty hot, but since she's already a Jean Grey ripoff I would rather Hope leave Madelyn Pryor alone.

The fucked up thing about this crazy lecture is that Kenji isn't wrong. Hope isn't the tragic little girl that was running from Bishop for most of her life. She's an arrogant brat not afraid to assert herself on a bunch of young mutants who haven't had much time to adjust to the idea that they're doomed to being labeled a freak for the rest of their lives. She hasn't really made them feel normal. She's tried to turn them into soldiers for her rescue team. Even if he is one of those artists that sniffed one too many paint fumes, Kenji has good reason not to trust her with an army of Lights.

It's a very serious and emotional moment for Kenji and Laurie. However, James Asmus isn't without throwing in a bit of humor. In previous issues, Teon has proven unable to control his mating instincts around the Stepford Cuckoos. But cut him some slack. They're three hot blonds that like to dress in catholic school girls uniforms. How could anyone, let alone a hyperinstinctual mutant, help himself? Two of the Cuckoos try to hose him off like a priest taking a cold shower after watching the Little League World Series. They even create a nice dream-world for him where he's surrounded by beautiful women and all his does is eat, sleep, mate, and fight. Instinct or not, that sounds like Heaven in my book! But what's interesting here is one of the Cuckoos actually comes to Teon's aid. It leads to a rare fight among the triplets and not the kind you can masturbate to unfortunately. It shows that the Lights aren't the only one dealing with a potential rift. Could one of the Cuckoos have the hots for a lovable horndog like Teon? It's possible and could make for the kind of fantasy that both dogs and man alike can cherish. 

So her Lights are conspiring against her. Her unofficial pet in Teon can't tear himself away from the Stepford Cuckoos. You would think this is shit she should be on top of, but she does have other crap to deal with. Namely Sebastian Shaw. After reading about what a douche-bag he is, she pays him a visit. Shaw has since shaved both his beard and head, making him look less like a rich asshole and more like the guy I buy pot from. You don't want to feel any sympathy fr this asshole, but he does make clear that he trusts Hope and Hope has to lie to his face that she would help him recover memories of who he was. Given what she's read about him, it's understandable. But still, she's supposed to be the messiah and lying like that is usually a bad sign. I'm sure even Jesus was a little more tactful when his disciples asked about him and Mary Magdalyn.

Everyone seems to either be plotting to kill one someone or fuck them. Teon seems to be improving his luck with the Cuckoos, but what about Gabriel? He also has a raging boner that won't go away. He's tried sharing it with Hope, which only ended in disaster. He tried sharing it with Pixie, who didn't much appreciate it either. But since he went out of his way to save her ass in the last arc, she's a bit more open to letting him lick chocolate off it now. She pays him a visit and it doesn't take long before she forgets all about his tendency to let his penis do the thinking and kisses him. Maybe it's just because Pixie has a lack of options on Utopia and not enough people have an Elf fetish. So why not go for a guy who is so horny at times that he would hump beanbag chair with a slit in it? It's not romantic, but they both get laid. So why not?

While Gabriel's day is getting better by the second, Hope's day just keeps getting worse. She crosses paths with Emma Frost again, who if you'll recall smacked her across the face in the previous issue in a rather awesome way. She just finished a meeting with Kenji, which is like seeing the President of Iran come out of a gas station bathroom with a nuclear weapons scientist from North Korea. In a very unmessianic way, Hope blows Emma off and once again it's not in a way you can masturbate to. My dick is starting to get very upset, but at the expense of diverting too much blood from my brain I'll also point out that Hope confronts the same gang of mutants that tried to rough her up in the last issue as well. It was a generic fight, but one that left Random and his buddies pretty humiliated. So it's a little surprising/ominous when Kenji comes along to break it up. It doesn't come off as an overly friendly gesture either. It's more a "the bitch is mine!" type move.

It's not just Kenji that's making a move either. After yet another instance where Emma wants to slap Hope a new one, she meets with Cyclops to nag him like any good girlfriend should when their fuck buddy is paying too much attention to another woman. What's odd is she's not wrong either. She points out that Cyclops is giving Hope way too much leeway and is blindly trusting that she's the messiah they all hope she is. That doesn't sit well with her and for once Emma Frost's tits, pussy, ass, and lips are not enough to sway Cyclops. Even the mention of the Phoenix does nothing so Emma Frost does something that if it happened in any other book would be big. She uses her powers to knock his ass out. It's not quite as bad as locking a clamp around a man's dick, but I imagine it's right up there.

This is a powerful scene, but once again it's playing off the old theme that Marvel won't do anything to seriously disrupt the Cyclops/Emma relationship. So it's hard to take seriously that something is going to happen here. Moreover, all this drama seems to be happening in a vacuum. It's really not clear how this fits into the events of the other X-books, if at all. It means either nothing meaningful will come of this shit or it's just one of those things that will be glossed over in other books. That's the problem with comics that are about to end. So many good things may happen towards the end, but it's all too easy for related books to write them off.

Now Hope's blind adherent isn't around to help her. It allows Kenji to take some pages out of Japanese anime porn and use that tentacle rape body to attack Hope in a way that isn't quite NC-17, but still pretty fucked up. Using his powers and getting help from former brain-in-a-jar Martha, he starts mind raping Hope into a dream world where he attacks her. He brings up the events of the first arc of Generation Hope where she used his own powers to fuck with him and tame him. He also taunts her at how she's an arrogant brat who wants to be a messiah, but doesn't give three sixteenths a shit about the Lights she influences. Again, he's not wrong. Hell, I found myself saying "It's about damn time!" when I read this scene. I'm not an art buff, but Kenji is alright! Aside, from of course, the tentacle rape connotations.

Once he's done screwing with her mind a bit, he wakes her up to show that she's in a position that another messiah back in Palestine 2000 years ago was in. She's nailed to a cross-like structure with Emma Frost, Magneto, Kenji, Laurie, and a bunch of other mutants surrounding her. They dare her to show that she's the messiah she claims to be, but Kenji also points out that messiahs have a tendency to die. It's really an either/or prospect. Either sacrifice herself like a good messiah or stop being such a bitch. It should be an easy choice for any reasonably minded person, but Hope Summers is the same arrogant bitch that brought Sebastian Shaw to Utopia. Reasonably minded left her sorry ass a long time ago.

This is the kind of story that hasn't exactly been brewing from the beginning, but the potential has always been there. Now James Asmus is realizing it and doing a damn good job of making good use of it. He really shines here in the way he handles these characters. I can honestly say that this is probably the best depiction that the Lights have gotten in quite some time. We don't just get to see Kenji and Laurie adjusting to their roles as mutants under Hope's wing. We get to see them wrestling with their very nature. The visuals and the mind games help give this book a unique feel. They don't go to some exotic location to fight a battle. Much of it happens inside their minds and really helps flesh the characters out. Because while Kenji sounds like an artist that smoked way too much weed at times, he's perfectly reasonable in despising Hope for her hold on the team.

The only criticism I can levy against this issue (if you can even call it that) is this drama doesn't seem to play off anything else that's going on in the other X-books. Shaw's presence hasn't been brought up to anyone yet and Namor, who was assured that Emma Frost killed the man, hasn't even been mentioned in a thought bubble. While this story may eventually mix with the rest of the X-books, at the moment it feels very isolated and narrow. It's written in a way that seems too cut off from the larger scope of the X-books. I know that Generation Hope is getting canceled, but that doesn't mean it can't play a part in the greater X-men landscape. It's still a very well-written book, but is too narrow in scope and we get no sense that the events in this issue will affect other books even if they should.

On it's own, Generation Hope #16 is still a quality comic. James Asmus has done an admirable job taking this series down the home stretch. Unlike the last arc that involved an adventure in Western China, this arc is more character based and brings to surface something that feels like an important element to the whole messiah aspect to Hope's character. With Avengers vs. X-men looming in the not-so-distant future, the timing couldn't be more appropriate. It just needs to fit into that larger puzzle. With that in mind I give Generation Hope #16 a 4.5 out of 5. When Judas got tired of being a messiah's prison bitch, he struck a deal in secret. When Kenji felt the same way, he took a more direct approach and played mind games with his messiah. Thus proving that even in stories that are a basis for all of Western monotheism, the Japanese are still more efficient. Nuff said!

Friday, February 17, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 47: The Good, The Bad, The Sinister Part 1 is LIVE!

The time has come for the first arc of X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope. This fanfiction series has had it's share of arcs thus far, but none like this! Back in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers, I introduced the X-men Supreme version of Mr. Sinister. The X-men did not defeat him during their first encounter in Sinister Intent. Since then, Sinister has been biding his time and plotting with help from someone who should sound familiar to Jean Grey and fans who know her history. Well now it's time for some of Sinister's many secrets to come out! His history with the X-men and his plans for mutants as a whole is not to be missed. Throughout the history of Marvel comics, Sinister has been behind some of the most nefarious plots for the X-men. This fanfiction series will be no different and it starts with the first issue of this new arc.

Issue 47: The Good, The Bad, The Sinister

There will be many important elements to emerge from Sinister and his dealings with the X-men. Don't expect this to be the last or the most destructive. But I promise all you passionate X-men fans out there that this arc is not to be missed! As always, I strongly encourage everyone to take the time to leave a review and provide feedback. Please contact me with all your comments or questions. I'm happy to listen. Moreover, I've been concerned about the lack of traffic to my website lately. I really want this website to grow along with this fanfiction series. To do this, I'm willing to accept help from anyone willing to provide it. Got a website of your own? Let me know and I'll post it! Got a story you want to share? Let me know and I'll be happy to post it! Got some X-men art? Let me know and I'll be happy to post it! I want this website to be special and in order to accomplish that, I'll need help. So please, if you have something you would like to contribute to the world of X-men Supreme, let me know and let's make this website and this fanfiction series truly special! Excelsior!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Uncanny X-men #7 - Evolutionary Conflicts (of Awesome)

The most I know about evolutionary biology and anthropology extends to how it explains my liver function and how I an use this knowledge to process more booze. It hasn't helped me win any additional beer pong matches that I wouldn't have already won or helped me avoid taking a shit in the kitchen sink, but at times it has helped me understand certain elements of the X-men comics. You don't need to be Richard Dawkins to appreciate the role evolution plays with the X-men. You can be a middle school dropout and still understand that if you give nature enough time, it's going to evolve some pretty awesome shit. So when you create a little pocket of land where evolution has millions of years and unlimited energy akin to Game Genie cheat codes, it's going to cause the kind of shit that only Cyclops's Extinction team is equipped to deal with.

This is the essence of Tabula Rasa, the pocket world created in the Dark Angel Saga where Arcangel got the spirit of Charles Darwin shit faced and had him go crazy on a world where God's image just doesn't apply. When the Dark Angel Saga ended, Tabula Rasa remained and that fancy time bubble that allowed millions of years to pass in the same time frame as a Seinfeld rerun collapsed. This led all that fancy life to go ape-shit and abduct some overly curious humans, which prompted the Extinction Team to explore this area that's within God's blind spot and uncover it's secrets.

The previous issue spent a good deal of time uncovering those secrets while not showing much action. This was okay to a point because it explained the source of that Iron Man wannabe that showed up a few issues ago and introduced the Apex, the advanced race of intelligent humanoid creatures that look like the Predator if it were shaved and neutered. Most died when the time bubble collapsed and one of the remaining Apex met up with the X-men to explain what they're up against. Apparently, the other remaining survivor had too much free time and when he/she/it found out that the entire Apex civilization was gone, he/she/it (I'll just say he because I don't see any breasts) responded in the healthiest way creating a massive suit of death fueled by Celestial energy. I guess they didn't evolve some form of booze on Tabula Rasa.

Uncanny X-men #7 picks up after the X-men have had time to process this threat and formulate a plan that doesn't involve shitting their pants. It doesn't help that their friend, who humbly calls himself Good Apex, is such a douche-bag. He probably would have called himself Longrod Von Ironcock (assuming he has something akin to a penis) if possible. But he settles for something basic because he doesn't think non-Apex creatures can appreciate his race. So I guess evolution doesn't have a mechanism for keeping sentient life from becoming douche-bags. At least this so called Good Apex leads them to a mountain where Celestial energy is in the process of being released by his Bad Apex counterpart. Only Storm, Cyclops, Magneto, and Psylocke are on the front line. Hope, Namor, Colossus, and Illyana are busy and we don't hear from them in the entire comic. For a series that's usually pretty balanced, that's not a good sign.

You know what also isn't a good sign? More talking after the last issue was full of extended explanations about Tabula Rasa, the creatures in it, and how sentient beings that have the skin texture of elephant shit became the dominant species in this mini-world. To be fair, Kieron Gillen does link up some of the details in the previous issue with this issue. In the last issue, Good Apex explained how his people set up shop in a temple fueled by Celestial energy to keep them in a deep sleep that turned into just your typical death sleep. In this issue the X-men visit said temple and find out that Bad Apex didn't just set up shop in the unofficial tomb of the Apex, he set up shop in a monument containing all the accomplishments of his civilization. So it's part museum and part crypt. It's fitting yet still a little bit creepy.

As they journey through this creepy temple, there's more talking about the Apex and no real action. It's just walking and talking. Basically Lord of the Rings without the big ass battle scenes. However, it does help Kieron Gillen's dialog is smooth and easy to follow. It makes the excessive talking that much more bearable, but eventually they do reach their destination. The X-men and Good Apex find Bad Apex in the middle of what must be his 18th nervous breakdown. He's standing in a bed of busted up butterflies/robots/shit that doesn't have a word for it yet. It essentially is a metaphor for how fucked his world is and much it pisses him off. In this lament he calls Good Apex "unwife." Now I'm not sure what this term entails, but I'm pretty sure it would make for awesome fetish porn and/or a kick-ass episode of Jerry Springer.

Zoophiliac feelings aside, Bad Apex proves he's true to his title when he uses his Iron Man-eqsue suit to attack the X-men. So we finally get some action, but it isn't much. Bad Apex just fires a missile that blows up and makes everyone wish they were born without a head for a brief moment. It's not unlike waking up the next morning after six bottles of tequila. It's not too fair a fight from the onset. Magneto, usually adept at diverting missiles with his powers, wasn't too effective because Bad Apex apparently had a few spare million years to perfect technology that overcame simple magnetism. It's a little cheap, but that's the power of evolution I guess.

At this point when we finally get some action, the impact really isn't all that great. There was a lot of talking in this and the last issue that set up this confrontation, yet not much happened as a result. The lack of involvement from Hope, Namor, Illyana, or Colossus doesn't help either. We don't know what's going on or if they're aware of any of the shit that's taking Celestial energy and using it as toilet paper. Usually, Gillen is able to make his work pretty coherent when balancing multiple plots and characters. This is the first time where his story is getting narrow. It's not too egregious, but given the high standards that he himself set it is pretty disappointing.

The battle isn't too basic though. Despite the apparent ease with which Bad Apex took down the X-men, Psylocke mixes it up a bit by doing some ninja-style sneak attacks. It always helps that she's wearing a skin-tight uniform that shows off her ass while she's jamming a katana into an robot/disturbed sentient creature. Bad Apex still manages to shake the attack off as well as a follow-up shot from Cyclops. He boasts along the way as you would expect anyone who enjoys fucking with superheroes. So even with millions of years of evolution, making stupid quips and sounding like a pompous ass can't be naturally selected out of existence. It gives me little hope for the future of the human race.

Whereas the X-men are attempting and failing with the direct approach, Good Apex is trying something a little more subtle. He sneaks past his unwife (seriously, Gillen should copyright that shit) and tries to get to the Celestial energy that's fueling this shit. At this point Danger actually shows that she's not only sexy in a way that only Japanese fetish porn can articulate, she's useful because she creates a space suit for Good Apex to brave the danger. Despite being an arrogant creature, Good Apex is impressed and maybe a little turned on. I can't tell if these creatures get boners. But whatever the case, he tries to find the Celestial off switch. Bad Apex, having had enough fun roughing up the X-men, goes after him and attacks. I'm not sure if this counts as domestic or spousal abuse, but it has explosions so it's no worse than my uncle's third marriage.

The action definitely ramps up here because it has more of an emotional element. Good Apex clearly cares about Bad Apex and is trying to stop him from making a mistake that only a brain-damaged, tramatized being with a god-machine would make. He manages to vent a good deal of the Celestial energy. As expected, Bad Apex doesn't appreciate this and lashes out in a way that can only be compared to the way my ex-girlfriend used to attack me when I sold her jewelry for blow. Bad Apex probably would have become the Apex equivalent of OJ Simpson, but then Storm rejoined the battle and threw some lightning into the mix. That tends to help quell deranged ex-spouses (to a point).

In addition to the lightning, Storm rightfully criticizes in a rather colorful way that Bad Apex was shitting on the legacy of his entire civilization. This doesn't seem to bother Bad Apex, but since Good Apex drained all the Celestial energy he can't exactly continue with his policy of burning an entire world to a crisp. So after shaking off Storm's little lecture, Bad Apex and his pet robot disappears to regroup. It's not a typical bad-guy-getting-away type scenario. It's more a bad-guy-calling-timeout-so-he-can-find-another-way-to-fuck-with-them type scenario. It's the kind of ending that doesn't make for much closure. It actually makes the overall arc feel like it's dragging now. All we know is that Bad Apex is going to try something equally or more fucked up that will probably turn Tabula Rasa into a pile of dog shit. I want to get excited about it, but I'm just not feeling aroused by dog shit anymore.

After the previous issue, I was working under the assumption that the plots that were set up would be appropriately developed and/or blown up in this issue. There were a few explosions. There was some fighting as well. But for the most part, it was just more talking and more setup like the last issue. Like I said in my review of Uncanny X-men #6, I don't mind it when Kieron Gillen flexes his literary muscle. It's like a guy with a big dick or a woman with big tits. If you've got it, flaunt it. But like big dicks and big tits, flaunting can be distracting and in this issue there just wasn't enough substance to go along with the flaunting. It was like a rum and coke without the rum.

That's not to say there wasn't some good development here. Not only did we get some insight into the whole unwife concept for the Apex, but we also developed a new understanding for what Bad Apex is doing. This is a creature that woke up, found out that the entire Apex civilization had gone to shit, and there was nothing that could be done to save it. So Bad Apex is doing what is akin to giving Iran an H-bomb in the Marvel Universe, using Celestial energy to assemble the kind of tools of destruction that makes God wish he hadn't rested on the seventh day because it makes him look lazy. The problem is it's just not coupled with enough emotion. We know Bad Apex is pissed and Good Apex is trying to stop this overblown hissy fit. There's just not enough substance to make the reader really give a damn about where Bad Apex is coming from or enough action to make the reader overlook it.

Not a whole lot was built up here, but Kieron Gillen did succeed in moving the story forward. He's very descriptive on what the threat to Tabula Rasa is and goes out of his way to develop the Apex, but doesn't really do much for the X-men. It's still good, but it feels like too much is missing and too much ink was wasted. Now Kieron Gillen has earned a lot of leeway with the quality of his work in Uncanny X-men so I can't dock him too much for his work in this issue. But I can't give this issue the praise I want. As such, I give Uncanny X-men #7 a 3 out of 5. Two issues have been spent building up this Tabula Rasa story. That's about half an issue too long. With all this setup, I'm hoping that the next issue will make me shit out my brains and barf up my colon. Nuff said!