Sunday, April 29, 2012

X-men #27 - Awesome Lost In The Fodder

My Uncle Longrod Ironcock once told me this profound nugget of wisdom: "You could be fucking the hottest girl in the world next to a guy fucking a horse and everyone will still pay more attention to the horse." Now it's worth noting that my Uncle is senile from years of prescription drug abuse, but I like to think there's a small bit of wisdom in that drugged up musing. I think the point he was trying to get across is you could have the best damn comic in the world, but if it's being released during a series of big ass comic events it's going to be no different than being the guy with six fingers trying to draw attention at a freak show with two midgets gangbanging a goat. You're not going to make enough noise to make people forget about the much bigger event going on. How does this relate to comics or the latest issue of Victor Gischler's adjectiveless? Or is this just me writing reviews while still hopped up on pain killers from my surgery? Well if you're willing to accept that it's a little of both, please bear with me.

It seems so long ago, but Victor Gischler had renewed my faith in his adjectiveless X-men run. After X-men Regenesis took over the X-books, his book benefited in more ways than any other X-book. Finally, the series had developed a sense of coherence and feel. Jubilee was coming into her own. Storm's new security team was kicking ten different kinds of ass. It was a beautiful thing. Then the events surrounding Avengers vs. X-men came along and fans forgot about this series faster than the city of Denver forgot about Tim Tebow after the Broncos signed Peyton Manning. It doesn't help that X-men was in the middle of an arc before it started getting delayed. I honestly had to stop smoking weed for a few days to remember that Gischler had been telling an awesome story about the X-men coming to rescue Jubilee from the Forgiven, but ending up in a brawl with an army of mercenaries that were strapped for cash and looking to deliver Razio's (the Forgiven's leader) head for quick payday. It hasn't been a bad arc, but fuck if this series has a shitty sense of timing.

Now I want to be fair here. Victor Gischler's adjectiveless X-men really hasn't played a role in Avengers vs. X-men or anything leading up to it. None of the events in this series involve characters that are key players in the main event. Marvel hasn't gone out of their way to hype this series up like they have with other books so of course fanboys with nanosecond attentions are going to forget that...ooh, look at the kitty. Even if the suspense of this series has been lost, the arc is still unfinished and an unfinished comic arc like only half a boob-job. It's as incomplete as it is tragic.

Now once you jar your memory enough to remember what was going on in this series, you'll know that Jubilee was caught in the middle of a battle between an army of masked assassins that were bearing down on the Unforgiven's lair. Warpath, Domino, and some of the Unforgiven's heavy hitters went outside to fight back the onslaught. Storm and Razio stayed inside to take on the rest while trying to protect Jubilee. This worked about as well as OJ's defense team after he thought pulling off a robbery in Las Vegas was as easy as pulling off a murder in LA. Storm and Razio were hurt, leaving Jubilee to defend herself. While she's facing down a still unknown enemy, the rest of the team is turning the tide against the onslaught. that's easy when you're Deadpool, you're nutty as a sack of squirrel turds, and you hijack a tank. If only one part of that was a euphemism. Even when you're outnumbered, insanity plus a tank always gives your side the edge! I think Sun Tzu said that or maybe it was my Uncle Ironcock again.

We then go from sanity to a messed up teenage girl overcome with bloodlust. Okay, so maybe it's not that big a stretch. But in the previous issue way back when, a nicely dressed figure with a sword that also happened to be wearing a John Wayne Gayce style mask was able to take down Storm and Razio. Now that's not to be taken lightly. That's akin to knocking out Mike Tyson and Oscar de la Hoya in two quick punches. It left Jubilee as the only one to take on this strange yet crafty villain that is smart enough to get an army of mercs to do the dirty work. It seems like a mismatch until you remember that despite being a walking Twilight cliche, Jubilee is a trained X-man that learned to fight under Wolverine. That means she's okay with wielding a sword and using it to perform adult circumcisions. Even though she gets roughed up a bit, she shows plenty of skill that makes her worthy of that yellow coat and trademark pink glasses.

Outside the base, the rest of the X-men are just finishing off the elaborate diversion. That means Warpath has a scene where he's excessively violent with a Hydra thug. In the same way an episode is South Park is not complete without Cartman making a wildly anti-Semitic remark, it's not a complete X-men comic for Warpath unless he does something needlessly violent. At the same time the rest of the Forgiven meet up with the X-men and determine that they're probably not doing themselves any favors by playing into the hands of whoever summoned this elaborate beach party minus the bikinis and booze. As if it already wasn't apparent by Deadpool's presence, this attack was clearly an elaborate ruse and they played right into it.

Now I have a problem with this scene and it's not that it wasn't sufficiently awesome. A few issues ago, the incoming attack by an army of money grubbing mercenaries looked pretty daunting. Yet over the past few issues this seemingly daunting force seemed to be no more threatening than Ron Paul's poll numbers. I get that the X-men and the Forgiven are the heroes and they're supposed to win, but unlike the previous arc there was little sense of a struggle or an elaborate fight. They just took the incoming threat down despite being outnumbered without any sense of strategy or plan. This in addition to it being a clear ruse only makes it seem too much like fodder and that's something Gischler had been good at avoiding since Regenesis.

But if Gischler faltered in some areas, he more than made up for it with others. I mentioned earlier how Jubilee fought the neatly dressed masked mastermind with admirable badassery. However, when it's clear she's overmatched by this foe, she takes it to the kind of extreme levels that would make Wolverine gush with pride and possibly give him a boner (he does like Asian women last I checked). Knowing she's a vampire and shit that kills humans don't really apply to her anymore, she takes her enemy's sword right through the fucking gut. Now I've seen teenage girls do much crazier shit than this, but I'm still impressed because it shows that she not only has the kind of pain tolerance only matched by fetish porn actors. It shows she can pull off some pretty badass shit as a vampire, more so than she ever could have as a mutant.

Despite having a fucking sword in her torso, Jubilee fights on. She headbutts her nemesis, probably implying that wearing something that gay to a fight doesn't help. She then decks his ass (the sword still in her gut mind you) and effectively lays this asshole out in a way Razio and Storm couldn't. But that's not enough for Jubilee. Badass or not, there's something else she has to contend with now. That's the insatiable appetite a vampire works up by beating someone to a bloody pulp. She goes from looking like a cute Twilight ripoff to looking like something Buffy would throw into a meat grinder. She's poised to not just beat this guy but drink his blood as well. After throwing all this shit at the Forgiven, he more than deserves it.

However, Jubilee isn't quite ready to join the Eric Northman ranks of vampires just yet. Both Razio and Storm talk her down before she gives into her urges the same way ditzy cheerleaders give into their urges in the back seats of cars. She's able to fight off the transformation into a more traditional bloodsucker and returns to her cute yet still jailbait style appearance. For whatever reason, the masked adversary is grateful and gives her a respectful bow. Then like all good villains armed with writers who prefer quick and easy escapes, he disappears without saying a word by running through a wall. I'm not sure if that's a mark of respect or just another way of giving someone the finger, but it effectively ends the conflict.

The rest of the X-men and the Forgiven catch up with their buddies, but as expected they're too late to make a difference. It's another one of those cliched instances of bad timing that Gischler was able to avoid in previous arcs. If he just mentioned they were busy staring at Domino's boobs, I would have found that to be acceptable. But alas, we're left with the same shitty excuses. Deadpool's quips help make up for it, but there's one last issue to deal with. The whole reason for being involved in this clusterfuck was because the X-men wanted Jubilee to come back with them. Well the Forgiven have since proven they can be trusted with a fucked up teenage girl going through a vampire transition. And since forcing a teenage girl to do something against her will is always asking for trouble, they allow her to choose where she goes.

Now if you paid any attention to the tone of the comic and this arc, her decision shouldn't be that surprising. Despite a nice reunion with her fellow X-men, Jubilee decides to stay with the Forgiven. Her decision is understandable. The X-men have their own shit going on and she's not a mutant anymore. She's a vampire. It makes sense that she would best learn to master her vampire abilities with other vampires. However, this doesn't change the slightly shitty stench surrounding this situation.

Once again, Jubilee leaves the X-men. She came back for just a few glorious arcs and now she's gone again. Can this girl ever get a fucking break? Yeah, it makes sense that she should stick around with other vampires. Problem is, it makes too much fucking sense in this instance. Victor Gischler did something great with Jubilee's character when he made her a vampire. In this issue alone, she made her more badass than she's ever been in her history. Now she's leaving again and pretty much brushed to the wayside like she always is. There was so much potential for her as a vampire working with the X-men. She could have offered something different to the mix, but now the best part of Gischler's adjectiveless X-men series has been tossed aside and it's just plain disappointing.

At the very least, the final scene does attempt to tie together the events in this arc with events from the first arc. We find out there are more nefarious vampire plots that may or may not suing Stephanie Meyer. They were the ones behind the attack and they have connections to Xarus, the vampire with serious daddy issues that made Jubilee a vampire in the first place. It doesn't clear up all the loose ends, but it's a nice scene to connect the major events in this series. It's just unfortunate that the vampire angle and the mutant angle is pretty much shot to shit now that Jubilee left. Guess we can write off the next big X-men event where they team up with vampires and storm the stage of True Blood demanding that Anna Paquin get naked more frequently.

In terms of endings, this arc was solid. It's not the kind of ending that will have your jaw on your floor and your dick touching the ceiling, but it won't leave you disappointed either. Now it's impossible to ignore the timing of this issue unless you can selectively kill the right brain cells to make you forget about Avengers vs. X-men (if you succeed in this, please tell me who your pot dealer is). So it's impossible to assess this issue on a curve. If you're able to go back and read all the issues that led up to this one, you'll see that the story flows quite nicely. The end of this arc fits well with how the events have played out. It makes sense that Jubilee would stick with the Forgiven while the X-men leave her to her choice. It makes sense that there are still other vampire forces out there from Curse of the Mutants that want to fuck Jubilee's shit up. Yet just because it makes sense doesn't mean it's satisfying.

My biggest problem with this issue if you can call it that is how it effectively isolates itself from the other X-books. Part of what made X-men Regenesis such a great boon for this series was that it finally felt like it had a role with the other X-books. Since Avengers vs. X-men got going, that role has fallen to the wayside. And while having Jubilee join the Forgiven makes sense, it essentially writes her out of the X-men yet again after Gischler did such a great job of writing her back in. While Jubilee did look like a badass in the end, it's still not clear what she proved or what the other Vampire Illuminati think they proved by just throwing random crap at Razio. It would make for interesting future arc, but with Avengers vs. X-men going on it really doesn't seem like it's relevant anymore.

That's not to say that Avengers vs. X-men renders this comic poor. But the ending just seemed to clash with everything Gischler did to make Jubilee a more interesting facet to the X-men once more. I had really come to enjoy Vampire Jubilee and her role with the team. She had a lot of potential to be an interesting change of pace. Now that she's with the Forgiven, the X-men's security team isn't all that interesting aside from Domino's cleavage. It just seems like this book sacrificed too much in the end. It would have been more of a twist if Jubilee chose to stay with the X-men. I'm still glad that Gischler went out of his way to make Jubilee look badass, but the predictability makes it difficult to give this comic the same score that I've been giving other quality X-books lately. I give X-men #27 a 3.5 out of 5. It's clear that Marvel isn't done milking the vampire angle yet and they'll probably do so until Stephanie Mayer starts pulling her hair out. I guess until the new season of True Blood begins and we have Anna Paquin's breasts to look forward to, it's the best we can hope for. Nuff said.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

X-men Legacy #265 - Bucket List of Awesome

I think everyone should have a bucket list. You have to have some sense of what you want to do before you turn into maggot chow. I have shit like screw the hottest waitress in Los Angeles and smoke a joint on the White House lawn on my list. I'm sure it's no different with fictional characters. They have shit they want to do as well before they die or get rebooted out of existence, whichever comes first. They just never get a chance because let's face it. After you run around in skin-tight outfits waving your superpowered dick in everyone's face, there just isn't a sense of urgency. Well in the pages of X-men Legacy, that urgency is thrust into the picture with the force of a 1000 Sandra Fluke testimonies.

The previous issue of X-men Legacy brought a volatile situation right to the Jean Grey Institute's doorstep, which really is no more unusual than a fire drill considering the shit they've dealt with. Only instead of Exodus looking to flex his nuts, this time it was Weapon Omega and Mimic. They weren't looking to pick a fight, but they ended up doing so anyway because Weapon Omega must have had a bad dose of PCP or something that caused his powers to make him a walking time bomb. After some rather painful handshaking that turned into a schoolyard brawl, the X-men agreed to help Weapon Omega. The plan was simple by comic standards. They were going to have Mimic and Rogue absorb Weapon Omega to drain off his explosive potential. Then in a twist of physics that would make Stephen Hawking cringe (figuratively speaking) they ended up turning one bombastic mutant into three.

X-men Legacy #265 begins by detailing the immediate reaction of Rogue, Mimic, and Weapon Omega. I'm not sure how one is supposed to react when they find out they just became a walking bomb. I'm pretty sure there's an urge to shit your pants or pay an impromtu visit to your ex-girlfriend's house involved. For Beast, it quickly puts him on the spot. Even though he's been an insufferable douche-bag for the past few years, he's still the X-men's resident brainiac and he's the one that has to come up with a solution. It leaves the others to sweat it out. Rogue especially is worked up. Gambit, still showing an insatiable desire to get into her pants, tries to console her. Then Rogue tells Mimic she still has a thing going on with Magneto. I still don't get why she's not over her wrinkly scrotum fetish, but it makes little sense given the context of the situation and the presence of longtime flames like Gambit. I get that Gambit is an ass, but at least he doesn't have white hair on his balls.

While Beast is twiddling his thumbs, Rogue and Mimic are left to panic over how they'll be joining Weapon Omega in becoming a walking Chinese New Year. It leads them to start chatting on a more personal level. Now you would think that just having a casual chat when you've got an hour to live would be stupid, but it makes sense that you would want to keep yourself distracted. If you just keep lamenting over your impending death, you will run out of shit with which to fill your pants. It's actually very well done because it gives both Mimic and Rogue a chance to reflect on how their powers make them feel like meat puppets that act only as mediums for the powers of others. It's probably something they don't give a second thought when they know they're not going to die. In a situation like this, it's nice to have that kind of reflection and Gage depicts it perfectly here.

While reflections are all well and good, there's still plenty of incentive for the X-men to find a way to avoid having to rebuild a sizable chunk of their school (again). The next few scenes go over some failed attempts to eliminate or at least slow down the impending explosion. Gambit tries using his powers. Chamber tries using his. Even Husk gets involved, which is saying a lot since her character gets less attention than Todd Palin. All their efforts are failures. Rogue, Mimic, and Weapon Omega are still ticking time bombs. But hey, at least they're trying. It's not like they're working for the New Orleans Saints and need to use torn ACLs as incentives.

In between these failed attempts, the plot with Rogue and Magneto continues to linger. Now I could go on and on about how fucked that story is and why it should be shot like a deer at Ted Nugent's house, but I'll pop some Xanex and hold off. While Rogue is pondering his wrinkly ass, she has a nice talk with Toad. To this point Toad has been the institute's whipping boy, but it's easy to forget that he was once a member of the Brotherhood. He offers some nice insight to Rogue, explaining how Magneto may be an asshole but he's an asshole you feel safe around. He comes off as an abused dog at times, but he makes a point and gives Rogue something to think about. If it makes her panties wet, well then that's just one less meal we all have to worry about.

Beast and Rachel eventually do come up with a possible solution if you can call it that. It involves putting all three of them into a psychically induced coma. That way their bodies aren't active enough to blow up. In terms of solutions, this is right up there with amputation and cutting meat out of your diet. It's not a life worth living and it's a pretty shitty solution if ever there was once. Again, Beast does little to distract readers from the massive douche-bag he's been in recent years. Naturally, Rogue, Mimic, and Weapon Omega don't agree with that shit. They feel there has to be a better way than a coma. I'm pretty sure if you get a homeless guy drunk at three in the morning, he could come up with a better idea.

Eventually, they do come up with a better idea (resisting the urge to give Beast the finger). Rather than knock themselves into a coma, they propose another power swap. This time they intend to essentially short each other out so to speak. It's like plugging a vibrator into a transformer. It seems like a good idea, but you know it's gonna short something out. Since Beast can't come up with anything else, he allows them to give it a shot and wouldn't you know it? The shit works! Rogue and Mimic are no longer walking time bombs. They no longer have to worry about not living long enough to piss on Dick Cheney's grave. However, their original problem isn't solved. Weapon Omega is still set to blow. So essentially, they're right back to wear they started.

Eventually, Weapon Omega makes the shitty choice to allow someone to put him into a coma. It's not a choice he takes lately and he clearly doesn't like it. But it's a choice that has to be done if he doesn't want know, blow the fuck up. Rachel offers to make it quick, but since Mimic is his friend he offers to copy Rachel's powers and do the deed himself. It's a very dramatic moment between two friends. I'm sure it's a moment that someone out there will turn into slash fanfiction, but in this instance it's more than understandable. These two guys are buddies. It's not a pleasant moment when one of them has to put the other in a coma without a good batch of heroin and Christos Gage captures it perfectly.

When all is said and done, Weapon Omega is effectively neutralized. Beast, probably in an effort to make up for his shitty ideas, contains him in a special stasis tube that looks way too much like a coffin. Now that Weapon Omega's fate is essentially in limbo, it leaves Mimic with some fucked up choices. Rogue, being in a good mood after finding out she's not going to die, consoles Mimic and offers him a shot at the Jean Grey Institute. Since he has nowhere else to go and his buddy is here, it seems like the most fitting place. Plus he doesn't have any gray hairs on his balls so if he can get flirty with Rogue, maybe he can put an end to that bullshit relationship. Besides, Cyclops's Extinction Team has a mimic of their own in Hope. Since Wolverine can't stand the thought of his dick not being as big as Cyclops's, he has to have one too and now they do. And just in time for Avengers vs. X-men no less! I'd call that an bittersweet win if not quite epic.

X-men Legacy has taken on all sorts of tones over it's illustrious history. Going all the way back to Mike Carey's visionary run, this series has been everything from character focused soap opera to a deep space adventure complete with aliens that look like giant pubic lice. A big part of X-men Legacy's appeal is the wide range of awesome it provides. The last arc provided a well-scripted brawl with Exodus. This arc is very different in that it doesn't involve enemies or fighting. It involves a more personal touch. There was some action, but most of it was in the previous issue. This issue had mostly talking, planning, and lamenting over the possibility of blowing up worse than Mel Gibson in a synagog. It wasn't as wildly entertaining as previous issues, but what it lacked in action it made up for with the personal touch.

The biggest strength of this issue was the heart. Mimic and Weapon Omega are buddies. They both didn't ask to become walking time bombs. Mimic wanted desperately to save his friend, but in the end Weapon Omega was willing to make the necessary sacrifice to avoid becoming that bomb. It made for an emotional yet open ended story that could definitely be revisited down the line. The Jean Grey Institute even yielded a new instructor out of the conflict. With Avengers vs. X-men set to link up with this series, it couldn't have come at a better time. While the emotion with Mimic and Weapon Omega was well done, the stuff with Rogue seemed a bit underplayed. Her obsessing over whether or not to call Magneto got old several issues ago. For a relationship that is sickening on a necrophiliac level, it's been dragged out way too fucking much.

The variety offered by X-men Legacy continues to be a great appeal. Christos Gage has worked in more than his share in his brief run. He's had the kind of mindless action that ADD first graders would enjoy and the kind of heartfelt drama that gives Twilight fans pussy boners. Now that X-men Legacy is poised to tie in with Avengers vs. X-men, it'll be interesting to see how Gage handles this series. If this issue is any indication, it shows he has the range to cover both personal stories and stories that involve blowing shit up. I give X-men Legacy #265 a 4 out of 5. Shit didn't blow up here, but if you're a lover of bromance stories or stories with gay connotations then this comic is for you! Nuff said.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 52: District X Part 1 is LIVE!

It appears things have finally settled after a string of updates for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. My surgery made this particular update difficult. I had more setbacks with this issue than I've had with X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope than I have had with any other volume. However, through painstaking work and more than one revision I managed to complete the latest issue without delays. And it's a good thing too because this issue is the start of an important, 3-part arc that will both introduce new characters to the world of X-men Supreme and shake up the political landscape in which the X-men live.

I already set the stage for this arc with my previous issue, Issue 51: Stirring Outrage. After dealing with aliens and Mr. Sinister, the X-men must now face a much more pragmatic threat in the Friends of Humanity. Just like in the real world, X-men Supreme is in the midst of a presidential election. Senator Robert Kelly has been banking on anti-mutant sentiment to carry him to the White House. So far, it has worked to his advantage. Now with help from their newest ally, Lilandra Neramani, the X-men hope to turn the tide. How do they plan to do this? Check out the latest issue of X-men Supreme to find out!

Issue 52: District X Part 1

I continue to be encouraged by the generous yet few readers who take the time to comment on my fanfiction series. I work hard on X-men Supreme and I plan on working hard on the many stories I have planned for the future. However, I can't make those plans as awesome as they deserve to be without feedback. So I urge everyone who has been reading and following the X-men Supreme fanfiction series to take the time to comment on this and other issues or contact me with your feedback. Thanks a ton to everyone who helps support X-men Supreme. Until next time, take care and best wishes! Excelsior!


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Uncanny X-men #11 - Reflections on Awesome

I have a very simple policy when it comes to filler. Unless it's part of a stripper's breast implants, I'm generally against it. Filler in comics is no different than the filler in the Chicken McNuggets served in McDonalds. You don't know where it comes from. You don't care to know either. And while the taste may not make you sick, it's more bland than Al Gore's facial expression. Big comic events tend to have a metric fuckton of filler. That's why you don't often see me review tie-ins on this blog. I'm sure some of them have great stories to tell, but in the grand scheme of things they're basically the guys in Star Trek with the red uniforms. They tend to be expendable, forgettable, and they never get you laid.

Since Avengers vs. X-men is shaping up to be the biggest Marvel event in a decade, it's impossible to avoid the filler that comes with tie-ins and what not. While I do plan on focusing primarily on the main 12-issue series, some of these tie-ins run through some of my favorite books so I can't avoid them anymore than I can avoid a wet T-shirt contest at a Mexican bar. And like a serving of Chicken McNuggets at McDonalds, I'll partake in these tie-ins/filler every now and then. I won't even need to be drunk at one a.m. with a bad case of the munchies. But there's reason to be hopeful about the Avengers vs. X-men tie-ins and it's not just because it has the potential to show more pages of the X-men and Avengers kicking each others' ass.

The first tie-in I reviewed was Jason Aaron's Wolverine and the X-men #9. It was a comic that expanded on a scene in Avengers vs. X-men #1 where Captain America paid Wolverine a visit. It didn't just add in some extra dialog or give Aaron another excuse to do scenes with Kid Gladiator being a douche. It actually told a compelling story that didn't feel like a tie-in. It's like finding a McNugget that was dipped between Jenna Jameson's breasts and submerged in chocolate. It gave me hope that future tie-ins would be better than history would lead us to believe.

This leads us to Kieron Gillen's first tie-in issue with Uncanny X-men #11. If ever a writer earned the benefit of the doubt (and a free lap dance from my sister), it's Gillen. He's made Uncanny X-men one of the top X-books on the market. Now like Jason Aaron, he takes a number of scenes right out of Avengers vs. X-men #1 and expands on them. Is it still filler? Well if it's awesome, who the fuck cares? Uncanny X-men #11 carefully weaves itself into the events of Avengers vs. X-men #1, showing Cyclops's and Emma's reaction to Hope's little Phoenix tantrum during her 'training.' With help from Dr. Nemesis, they find out that this wasn't your typical PMS-level Phoenix flare. This one actually sent out a signal that some very interested parties (namely the Avengers) would pick up on. It actually explains nicely how Cyclops was so prepared when the Avengers decided to kick diplomacy in the nuts and attack their ass in Avengers vs. X-men #2. And that's the mark of a good tie-in issue, filling plot wholes with the same efficiency as a giant tampon.

The issue then goes from filling in some holes from Avengers vs. X-men to expanding on what happened in the previous issue of Uncanny X-men. That's right. Gillen wasn't content to play off the main series. He actually thought it would be prudent to expand on his own series. It may sound obvious, but I can only assume that the sheer lack of such depth in previous tie-ins was simply a result of comic writers having shitty weed dealers. But I digress.

In the previous issue, the now imprisoned Unit requested to speak to Hope. It was implied at the end that he told her about the Phoenix Force, which would help explain how she seemed to know about it in Avengers vs. X-men #0 (I'm sorry, but continuity can be a beautiful thing so it's worthy pointing out). Now he goes on to give a lecture about destiny and choice. It sounds like he's telling her that she shouldn't give a damn what the other X-men think. She needs to choose her destiny in the end. But as soon as she leaves, he makes a snide remark about how he knows she'll have to make a sacrifice. He taught her one thing while believing the complete opposite. Put on a black robe and he's practically a Catholic priest.

It's an ominous hint that nicely connects the first scene. However, there was nothing ominous about the next scene. It essentially just replays what happened in Avengers vs. X-men #1 when Cyclops flexed his scrotal muscles and shot Captain freakin' America when he demanded that the X-men hand over their mutant messiah. The difference here is that the scene is being narrated by Namor. Okay, so the transition from Hope to Namor made about as much sense as Bernie Madoff's bank account. But it's still a compelling scene because it offers a little insight into why Namor is fighting alongside the X-men. Anyone who knows his history also knows he has far more experience fighting alongside the Avengers. Yet he sees the mutants as analogous to Atlantis, a small group on an isolated plot of land being oppressed by much larger forces. He doesn't mention that the promise of Emma Frost's pussy is keeping him there as well, but he does make clear that while he would prefer to go snorkeling with her he respects Cyclops too much NOT to fight by his side.

Namor quickly joins the battle as it unfolds between the Avengers and the X-men. As he draws some Avengers into the water, Colossus takes a dip as well. It's a somewhat smoother transition here because it picks up on the battle between Colossus and Red Hulk that was only left to the readers' imagination in Avengers vs. X-men #2. Since I'm low on acid, that shit pissed me off so I'm glad we got some more details regarding this battle between the Unstoppable Russian and the blowhard General who looks like a giant rectal wart. But aside from the big time slug fest, Colossus takes some time to do some narrating of his own. Gillen makes another connection to the previous issue where Colossus started showing concerns that he was becoming too unstable with the power of Cytorak. His insight is disturbingly delightful, like reading the journal of Kathey Griffin when she's on peyote. At first he seems to be holding back, but once Red Hulk pisses him off to a certain point he starts to flash some monster mojo that red skin and hulking muscles just can't compete with.

The story then picks up with Hope again, but it's another instance where the transition and the context leave you scratching your head like Chaz Bono at public restroom. Gillen does the same thing he did with Namor, taking a scene from Avengers vs. X-men #2 and expanding on it with his trademark inner monologs. This time Hope narrates the scene where she first flashed her Phoenix potential just as Wolverine was attempting to jam his adamantium appendages into her bowls. In addition to that making a good title for a gay porno, Hope offers some decent insight into what was going through her mind when she started rubbing elbows with that cosmic parrot. She reflects on the rush the power gives her. Wait...a redheaded mutant being overwhelmed by the rush offered by the Phoenix Force? Where have we seen that shit before? It doesn't help that Greg Land's artwork truly shows the extent to which Hope is a Jean Grey ripoff, but it nicely reflects the transformation she went through.

While Gillen's insight here was as enjoyable as can be expected, it didn't exactly fit with what happened in Avengers vs. X-men #2. Maybe I didn't read enough into the scene or maybe I was more drunk than I should've been when I read it, but Hope's demeanor in that issue was very different compared to what was shown here. She almost looks like she's a hooker trying to seduce some Arab oil sheik out of his weekly allowance in this. In Avengers vs. X-men #2 she looked more overwhelmed. It really doesn't seem to fit and it doesn't make clear whether Hope really understands what she's doing or if the Phoenix Force is just fucking with her like it does to all redheads.

The fight with Colossus and Red Hulk is a bit more basic so fortunately it's an isolated incident. It wasn't shown how the battle between Colossus and Red Hulk panned out. Again, this is the kind of shit readers don't like leaving to their imagination when they don't have enough good acid on hand. Gillen does a nice job here of showing Colossus's continued struggle with Cytorak. He also shows that while Red Hulk may not look as badass in the light of other monsters, he's still a full fledged general and you don't get to be a general without knowing a little strategy. Red Hulk pulls a rope-a-dope style move on Colossus, allowing him to pummel his ass until he starts damaging the support columns to Utopia. This is where Colossus shows that he's still capable of controlling his unstoppable nature and allows Red Hulk to beat his ass before he beats Utopia to a pulp. It's like admitting your dick is small when a douche-bag challenges you, but it shows that Colossus still has a sense of humility behind that unstoppable shell.

After word gets out that someone stopped the unstoppable Colossonaut, Cyclops goes into a "we're fucked" mode. Not only did one of their strongest fighters get beat, but they lost the mutant messiah. With the Avengers still understandably pissed, he's forced to try a different tactic. It involves contacting the X-men's PR person, Kate Kildare, that they hired shortly before the events of Schism. He has her issue a press release that essentially calls the Avengers fascists for storming onto their self-proclaimed country and demanding they hand over a girl that may be the key to burning the planet to a crisp. I'm not sure I got the memo where one press release is enough to turn public sentiment against Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but I'm pretty sure it's bullshit. Otherwise Rupert Murdoch would have been crowned emperor of the United States years ago.

This may be the start of a disturbing new trend and for once it doesn't involve my tastes in fetish porn. Marvel is actually churning out some high quality tie-ins with Avengers vs. X-men. You would think that an event built around the premise of the X-men beating up the Avengers wouldn't have much room for depth, but both Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen have essentially given the finger to traditional tie-ins and found a way to make them awesome. This issue follows the similar path established in Wolverine and the X-men #9. It takes some scenes from Avengers vs. X-men and expands on them. Gillen's inner monologs with characters have always been his strength. He really showed them off here with his take on Colossus, Hope, and Namor. It's like having an 11-inch cock. What's the good of having one if you can't whip it out and show it off?

While Gillen's knack for dialog is readily apparent, this issue is lacking in some areas. The events surrounding Hope when she bolted from Utopia in Avengers vs. X-men #2 seemed inconsistent. In the main comic she seemed less coherent. In this she seemed to make a conscious choice. It doesn't quite fit, but it doesn't change too much either. In addition the transition from scene to scene was a bit spotty. Some parts took place before the big clash in Avengers vs. X-men #2. Some took place after. There was no logical flow to them. It didn't tell the same coherent story that Wolverine and the X-men #9 told. It was still a solid expansion of sorts on the characters, but it just didn't fit together as well as it could have.

I can be pretty damn dogmatic in some things. Certain brands of beer are one of them. However, when it comes to tie-in comics being awesome I'm more than willing to change my beliefs. I'm not a creationist. I don't live in a world of willful ignorance and magical fairies. I can accept that tie-in issues can be just as awesome as the main event. Jason Aaron showed it. Now Kieron Gillen has reinforced it. This gives me hope that future Avengers vs. X-men tie-ins won't have to be overlooked. It also means I'll have to sell a few extra bags of weed to have enough money to buy all these new comics, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. I give Uncanny X-men #11 a 4 out of 5. I would have Cyclops's woman as well. I would also enjoy stabbing a blatant Jean Grey ripoff in the gut with adamantium claws. When your that much in tuned to a comic, it doesn't mean dick if it's a tie-in issue. Nuff said!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Uncanny X-Force #24 - Vengeance Is A Dish Best Served Awesome

In the spirit of Easter, we often reflect on the values of love and forgiveness preached by some Palestinian hippie rabbi that got nailed to a cross. His name escapes me. But in the world of comics, love and forgiveness is more boring than a documentary on arm pit hairs. Uncanny X-Force takes the much more entertaining road of blood-soaked, hate-fueled vengeance. The X-men may be more inclined to go on Dr. Phil and talk out these deep-seated issues of hatred and disgust, but X-Force is a bit more direct. They're not afraid to hunt you down, shove a gun/claw/sword in your face, and use your blood toppings for their burgers. It sounds cruel until you consider that the enemies they hunt down considerably stretch the definition of what it means to be humane (or even human at times). X-Force has a strict policy of only killing people that deserve it. It doesn't always work out, but it makes for much more interesting stories than hearing some lame sermon on a mount.

Uncanny X-Force is one of the few series not caught up in the hurricane that is Avengers vs. X-men. The very nature of X-Force requires that it pull off this shit in secret and for the most part they have. Sure, they had a hard time explaining the whole Tabula Rasa world that formed out of nowhere over a town in Montana, but they try to be discrete when possible. Their most recent arc, Otherworld, made discretion largely unnecessary because they had to do their killing in another world. It still ended with Psylocke having to kill someone from her own family, but at least they didn't leave a giant fucking ecosystem in the Midwest. Now that they're finished in Otherworld they can focus on some of the other lingering issues from the Dark Angel Saga that have yet to be resolved.

It seems so long ago, but there are still a few story elements that the Dark Angel Saga has left unbutchered in the pages of Uncanny X-Force. It's worth noting that the main reason why AOA Nightcrawler stayed behind was because he wanted to hunt down the remaining AOA crew that went AWOL. AOA Beast is at the top of their list, but others managed to slip by as well. Uncanny X-Force #24 tells the story of X-Force finally getting around to those minor details. They start off easy by seeking out AOA Iceman. In the Dark Angel Saga, he was a titanic douche both literally and figuratively. He not only ran when shit got heavy. He decided to shack up with as many hookers as he could find in Madripoor as a means of enjoying a non-dystopian world. I admit I would probably do the same thing, but X-Force doesn't think a such cowardly douche-baggery should be rewarded. So once again using this as an excuse to put on a dress, Deadpool sneaks into AOA Iceman's den of depravity and decides to kill his boner amongst other things. But AOA Iceman places a lot of value on pussy so he's willing to fight for it.

From angry vengeance to something less inhumane, we get a brief glimpse of Psylocke and her family in Otherworld as they lay Jamie to rest. It's part of the lingering aftermath from the previous issue where Psylocke had to kill Jamie in order to stop a Goat-Headed monster from tentacle raping the omniverse (if only that were a joke). It is an emotional moment, but Psylocke is surprisingly nonchalant about it. The reasons for this are revisited, but the highlight here is how Brian Braddock essentially scorns Psylocke without saying it directly to her face. Fantomex offers his condolences. However, it's impossible to read anything he says and not think of it as being said in an overly douchy tone. Psylocke leaves Otherworld with Fantomex knowing she's probably never welcome there again. It's going to make for some pretty rough holidays moving forward. Guess that's why we have eggnog. When you don't have family, sweet lady alcohol is always there to deliver holiday cheer!

But enough of this boring family drama. If I wanted family disowning people, I would go to a family reunion organized by my born again Christian uncle in Texas. The main story in this issue is vengeance. AOA Iceman's little romp with Madripoor hookers was rudely interrupted by Deadpool, Wolverine, and AOA Nightcrawler. Since he doesn't take kindly to being denied the pussy he never got in the Age of Apocalypse reality, he quickly fights back. Just as he did in the Dark Angel Saga, he takes on his giant Iceman form. We can only assume he uses that opportunity to make his dick much bigger once he gets back to the hookers he had to leave behind. However, Wolverine and Nightcrawler didn't pull him out of a den of naked chicks without a plan. Granted, that was probably the hardest part of the plan, but the challenge known is to bring him down to size. Thankfully, that's nothing a grenade can't fix. In the world of Uncanny X-Force, grenades are as useful as duct tape.

As hookers and bombs are going off in Madripoor, Psylocke and Fantomex return to Cavern X. Once again, Fantomex uses this as an opportunity to sneak into Psylocke's panties. It's also a way of clearing up an unresolved plot from the Otherworld arc. In that story, Psylocke made a sacrifice to save Fantomex's ungrateful and phony Frenchman life. It wasn't revealed just what that sacrifice was. Now that Fantomex pushes the issues, he finds out that Psylocke sacrificed her ability to feel any remorse for the killing she did. That may sound like a real hippie thing to give up until you consider that Psylocke has been the unofficial conscious of Uncanny X-Force since the series began. She was the one that refused to kill Kid Apocalypse. She was the one that fought to save Angel (and failed). Now she's killed someone from her own family and the fact she no longer has the ability to feel guilt about it is pretty fucked up.

It may not be the same as having to go on a date with a convicted sex offender, but it's enough to hit her on a very personal level. She's just lost the man she loves. She lost a family member. Now she can't even feel sorrow about it like she should. I may not be Sigmund Freud here, but even I know that shit can't be healthy.

The capacity to feel sorrow is something that comes at a premium in the world of Uncanny X-Force. It can either motivate someone or make them whine like a girl who just saw her big brother throw her My Little Pony doll in the microwave. For AOA Nightcrawler, sorrow over the friends he lost in the Dark Angel Saga is more a motivator. It shows in the way he leaves Wolverine behind after he gets a blown up into a giant scab (again) just so he can hunt down Iceman. The battle that ensues is pretty epic. AOA Nightcrawler fights off hoards of Iceman's own Icemen minions to get to him. Along the way, Iceman tries to justify being a coward and he's not entirely wrong here. He says he doesn't want to fight anymore. He just wants to kick back, lay by a beach not littered with dead bodies, meet a pretty girl, and enjoy a world that isn't being routinely torched by mutant tyrants like Apocalypse. I can't honestly blame the guy, but Nightcrawler has a big problem with a friend of his just running from a conflict and living it up while others suffer.

Whether due to his cowardice or sloppy skills, Iceman lets Nightcrawler get the better of him. He teleports him into an industrial factory of sorts, the kind from Terminator 2 where liquid metal and blazing heat make it about as inviting as a trip to the planet Venus. Not only is it a bad area for the T-1000. It's also a bad area for mutants with ice powers. Iceman quickly wears down and Nightcrawler shows that he's far less forgiving than his 616 counterpart. All those Christian morals just don't work with a guy who spent most of his life in a dystopian world. It's actually a pretty emotional moment. These two were friends and Iceman's desire to enjoy life in a world that isn't fucked is completely understandable. Yet in a very un-Nightcrawler-like way, Nightcrawler throws him into a furnace and effectively kills his cowardly ass.

Even though the premise of Uncanny X-Force revolves around a greater willingness to kill, Rick Remender has done a great job of making these very unheroic acts dramatic in their own sense. Nightcrawler isn't just out to kill a guy who killed some of his friends back in the Dark Angel Saga. He's out to stop someone from living a happy life that he doesn't deserve. It's a different kind of twist on a very simple act of vengeance. There's something to be said for such a twist. A story where a coward gets his ass killed by someone he screwed over is simple enough. It's the purpose behind it that makes it awesome and Remender certainly made this moment as awesome as it needed to be.

That's one AOA runaway down with plenty left to go. But back at Cavern X, another issue from the Dark Angel Saga is addressed and this one doesn't involve throwing people in incinerators (although it probably should). Fantomex has a brief check-in with Genesis at the Jean Grey Institute. He's still technically the kid's uncle, but that's not his main concern. Hot Asian women who are emotionally damaged take a far greater priority. So after he ends his call with Genesis, he catches up with Psylocke. At first, he wants to talk. Then without saying a word, she just strips naked in front of him and pretty much offers herself to him. Now Fantomex may be a raging douche-bag whose nuts should be thrown into the nearest grinder, but when a hot Asian chick gets naked and offers herself to you the only logical thing to do is shut the fuck up.

Now I have a problem with this even though to this point, the issue has been pretty damn awesome. I understand that Rick Remender has sewn the seeds of sexual tension between Fantomex and Psylocke since the early days of the Dark Angel Saga. For the most part, Psylocke has rebuked him because Fantomex has come off as an unapologetic douche who cares more about getting into her panties than her emotional well-being. I also understand that Psylocke is vulnerable after losing Angel and Jamie. But just throwing herself at Fantomex? That just doesn't seem to fit with all the shit she's done lately. I get that some people have a fucked up way of coping, but this is just too fucked up. I don't blame Fantomex for taking her up on her offer for hot Asian pussy. I blame Psylocke for effectively vindicating Fantomex's douche-baggery. The world is full of assholes like Fantomex because women like Psylocke fuck them. Until that stops, both the comic book world and the real world are doomed. So for Psylocke, both her character and the human race as a whole is damaged.

Rick Remender has done a lot for these characters since this series began. He's taken characters like Angel, Psylocke, Fantomex, Wolverine, and AOA Nightcrawler down some very interesting paths. This character development is almost as striking as the action. He's better than most writers at making those developments feel logical and dramatic. In this issue, he succeeds in playing up those dramatics with AOA Nightcrawler. He hasn't forgotten that Nightcrawler considered Iceman an ally at one point and it's not like Iceman was looking to piss him off. He just wanted to know what it was like to live in a world that wasn't fucked worse than the Greece's credit rating. That's understandable. What isn't understandable is Psylocke's inability to keep her pussy dry around Fantomex. She's called the man an insufferable asshole on more than one occasion and been completely right. Then she just decides to bone him and after the man had his face ripped off no less. There's being vulnerable and then there's just being stupid. Psylocke has lost a lot lately, but how she goes from loss to boning Fantomex is simply without excuse even under the best LSD trip.

This unusual balance or lack thereof may only be the beginning of more elaborate drama with Psylocke. Or maybe it's just one of those one-time things like Wolverine boning Domino on top of a pile of money (which is every bit as awesome as it sounds). The point here is we really don't know and Remender really hasn't been very keen on developing the subtleties between Fantomex and Psylocke. We get he wants to bone her. That part is understandable. It's everything else in between that makes no fucking sense. While I'm confident he can develop this story as he has so many others, it's still somewhat disappointing that he hasn't done a better job of it with this issue.

But my aversion to the Psylocke/Fantomex scene is mostly due to personal taste. I don't let that take from the fact that this is still an awesome comic with many awesome elements that strike at the heart of what makes Uncanny X-Force great. There's sex, there's violence, and there's a lot of bitter vengeance in between. There's a potential for backstabbing and a potential for hate sex. You don't get that with many other comics and Rick Remender continues to pull it off masterfully with this series. So with only minor dramatic inconsistencies aside, I give Uncanny X-Force #24 a 4 out of 5. If you can get over your disgust about Fantomex getting laid, you'll find plenty to enjoy in this issue. We can only hope that Psylocke will rip his face off again and use it to kiss that perfect ass of hers. Nuff said!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wolverine and the X-men #9 - Betting On Cosmic Awesome

It's late April boys and girls so you know what that means! The NFL Draft is just around the corner, school is almost over, and pot smokers everywhere are assembling their best buds for the big 4/20 celebration. So it's only appropriate that a school like the Jean Grey Institute is facing what promises to be their biggest exam to date with the events of Avengers vs. X-men looming over them like sadistic nun armed with a metal ruler. After all, they're named after the woman who is most readily identified with the Phoenix Force. It's like naming a veterinary school after Michael Vick. It's bound to attract some uneasy connotations.

Avengers vs. X-men was billed from the beginning as an event that would carry over into various ongoing series. Wolverine and the X-men is just one among many. Even though the Avengers vs. X-men series itself is 12 freaking issues, that's still not enough space for Marvel to tell every part of the story they want to tell and I have no problem with that. I consider it an embarrassment of riches. Saying there's too much story to an event like this is like saying there are too many exposed breasts at the Playboy mansion. Jason Aaron is an established X-men writer who has made Wolverine and the X-men one of the best new X-books in a long time. He's used living islands, homicidal children, alien casino planets, and pregnancy scares in the span of 8 issues. I'd say he's more than qualified to contribute to an Avengers vs. X-men tie in.

Wolverine and the X-men #9 is an issue that plays off events that already played out in Avengers vs. X-men #1, albeit briefly. In that issue, Captain America visited Wolverine to recruit him in the Avengers's mission to seize Hope before the Phoenix Force arrived. That visit seemed glossed over, but I didn't go on a drunken rant about it because I knew from comic solicitations that it would be expanded in this issue. It may not be required reading to know what's going on in the main story, but it's still an issue of Wolverine and the X-men. There had to be a more elaborate conversation between Cap and Wolverine aside from "Want to go pick a fight on Utopia against your former friends and capture the next vessel for the Phoenix Force that happens to look like Jean Grey?" Unless Wolverine was drunk, he probably needed more convincing than that.

The issue begins by revisiting the decadent casino world of Planet Sin. A few issues ago, Wolverine and Kid Omega tried to cheat this casino out of cash so they could fund the Jean Grey Institute. Never one to leave an awesome concept like an alien casino behind, Jason Aaron revisits this amoral world of gambling and alien hookers. Except now they've discovered a new way of gambling. They're betting on which planet the Phoenix Force is going to destroy next. A giant planet-killing firebird is bound to attract a lot of attention. While some scramble and search for ways to stop it, others are looking for ways to bet on it, make money, and pick up hookers. Why do I get the feeling that Charlie Sheen is somewhere in the background?

At the Jean Grey Institute, shit is still becoming less shitty after Wolverine had his legs broke and Sabretooth dropped in and tried to kill Beast's girlfriend. Wolverine and Beast take some time to reflect and create a nice beach scenario with the Danger Room while recalling the joys of seeing Sabretooth get shot to the moon, but such simple pleasures are bound to never last in the world of the X-men. Captain America is on his way to visit the school, which was already shown in Avengers vs. X-men #1. But what wasn't shown was the typical activities at the Jean Grey Institute that take place whenever a killer cosmic entity is coming their way. Which is also known as shit that happens every other Thursday, but I digress.

Whether by coincidence or paying homage to the hot redhead NOT named Hope Summers that Wolverine named the school after, Kitty Pryde and a number of students are giving reports on the Phoenix Force. It offers a quick insight into what this cosmic parrot is, but unlike the description offered in Avengers vs. X-men #1 the more creative aspect is played up. Now granted, the Phoenix has proven to be 99 percent destruction and only 1 percent creative over the years, but you can't say the X-men aren't balanced. That or they're just siding with the Occupy Wall Street movement and this is Jason Aaron's subtle way of giving the finger to Goldman Sachs.

Captain America enters the school and like a hippie in North Korea, he's greeted rather harshly by the institute defenses. That's to be expected. This school is named after a woman who can't fucking stay alive so do you really expect their security systems to stay function? Wolverine manages to save a little face by shutting down the defenses, but earlier in the issue Beast's tech toys already revealed that the Phoenix Force is on its way. So Wolverine knows what Cap has come to bitch about. Thus we have a nice little convergence between this issue and Avengers vs. X-men #1. Since the scene in Avengers vs. X-men #1 was barely half a page, this already comes off as far more interesting.

While Cap and Wolverine are meeting to discuss the impending doom that often comes with cosmic forces, the rest of the school is still carrying out normal classes. Cannonball is leading a quick little course with Husk on the vital mutant skill of flight. Granted, most students would probably use it to spy on a nude beach over the coast of France, but what are you going to do? It's another scene that gives Kid Omega and Kid Gladiator an opportunity to be arrogant pricks and they make good use of it. Then in yet another instance of the Phoenix sticking it's cosmic dick where it shouldn't go, Rachel and Kid Omega get hit with a psychic seizure. It forces Toad, the institute janitor/punching bag, to save Kid Omega. But in the process he impresses Husk so there's a chance he may get a little action. That still depends on the world not coming to an end due to the Phoenix, but at least the guy can die with his dick not hating him.

Now aside from Toad possibly getting laid for the first time since he tricked a blind chick with an animal fetish into licking his balls, the sheer ease with which Rachel Grey was pushed to the side is somewhat disturbing. She's the daughter of Jean Grey for crying out loud (albeit from a different universe). She also used to carry a piece of the Phoenix. Yet she just gets knocked the fuck out and hasn't even been on the same panel as Hope Summers since she came back? There are plot holes and then there are fucking parking lots where you can hold a Marylin Manson concert. I know there's still plenty of time for her to get involved, but casting her aside so casually is just plain undignified. She's not a condom at Kid Rock's house.

Even if Rachel isn't involved, the key plot in this comic is still Captain America meeting Wolverine. In this they have a much more extended conversation compared to Avengers vs. X-men #1. They don't just talk about the Phoenix. They talk about where Wolverine stands. Yes, he's an X-man running a school for mutants. Yes, he's also a card-carrying member of the Avengers. So where does he stand? This has been a pretty key issue since Avengers vs. X-men began. Jason Aaron does a great job of playing up the more personal aspects of this conflict. He knows Cyclops much better than Cap and when Cap says he's going to take Hope from him, Wolverine knows better than anyone that Cyclops is not going to let that shit stand. Now maybe he's still bitter about the whole Schism affair, but it's still clearly a tough decision to go against the X-men. Yet Captain America doesn't paint it like that. He paints it as saving the world. That along with fighting Cyclops again and he has an easy decision, but one that's not set in stone.

So the events in this issue are set to catch up with the events in Avengers vs. X-men #1, but before this issue starts copying and pasting there are some more personal elements to handle. Before Wolverine gets ready to take on the guy who used to stick it to Jean Grey regularly, he meets up with Idie at the statue of Jean Grey herself. It leads to a nice little moment where Idie admits that despite the constant threat of destruction, she likes it at the Jean Grey Institute. Maybe she's a masochist, but it's home to her and in many ways that gives Wolverine all the more incentive to protect it. This may not be a major factor in the overall scheme of the Avengers vs. X-men event, but it's a nice way of adding a personal touch to the story.

With the news of the Phoenix's approach confirmed, Wolverine gathers his staff before he runs off with the Avengers to kick Cyclops's ass. He doesn't ask for their help or even their good wishes. He tells them their focus should be on protecting the school. Don't worry about the giant firebird of death that's on it's way to use the planet as a skillet. Don't even worry about that girl on Utopia that looks strikingly similar to Jean Grey who has shown the kind of volatility that Gordon Ramsey would find excessive. Just protect the kids, give them their daily tests, and teach them the values of good nutrition and using condoms. It's a rather unsettling way to leave his school, but he's Wolverine. He's good at stabbing things, not motivational pep talks.

But it isn't just the Jean Grey Institute that's going to be indirectly affected by the Phoenix. Kid Gladiator has already made a name for himself at that school by being a colossal douche. That's to be expected given who his father is, but his father also happens to be responsible for the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. Anybody who knows dick about the Phoenix mythos or has access to Wikipedia knows that the Imperial Guard has been on the receiving end of the Phoenix Force's shit like diarrhea at a bad Mexican restaurant. Gladiator was among those who battled Jean Grey when she first mixed it up with the cosmic parrot and now the Phoenix is back. On top of that, the Shi'ar butchered Jean Grey's family. So even though Gladiator is one of the toughest motherfuckers in the galaxy, he's inclined to shit his pants and worry about his son making a bone-headed decision. Which is probably a safe a bet as the Browns not winning the Superbowl.

And so a moment that was glossed over in Avengers vs. X-men #1 is fully fleshed out in Wolverine and the X-men #9. Given the timing and circumstances surrounding this issue, it fits more perfectly than Jenna Jameson at a dick sucking contest. There wasn't the same kind of epic brawl we saw in Avengers vs. X-men #2 and why should there be? The point of this issue wasn't to throw more disaster porn into the story. The point was to set the stage for said disaster porn. Like any good porn, you need to set the mood to help inspire the best boner. The mood here was one of heightened drama, one where Wolverine has to wrestle with the decision to oppose his fellow X-men in this conflict. It also set the tone for some additional side-plots. Not only does it look like Toad might be getting laid, but psychics like Kid Omega and Rachel Grey may be feeling the effects of the Phoenix's approach in the same way herpes acts up every time groupies see old footage of Tommy Lee. It's not a terribly ominous undertone, but it does set Wolverine and the X-men up as the centerpiece for a unique blend of conflicts that can't be squeezed into the main Avengers vs. X-men storyline.

While the circumstances of this issue fit nicely into the greater scheme of Avengers vs. X-men, that doesn't prevent this issue from feeling a bit too much like a setup issue. Now I know that there have to be issues like this for the story to progress. However, some scenes such as Rachel Grey and Kid Omega weren't really fleshed out. Given Rachel's history with the Phoenix Force and the mere fact that she's a Grey it seems as though she's been unreasonably cast aside. If this shit involves the force that killed her mother and a teenage girl who looks strikingly like her mother, I would expect her to be more involved here. She may get her chance in later issues, but to have her fall flat on her face like Kid Omega just seems denigrating to her and her history.

If there are any additional flaws in this issue, they're too minor or I'm too stoned to give a skunks ass. Wolverine and the X-men is an awesome series and Wolverine and the X-men #9 is an awesome issue. Say what you will about tie-in issues, they still serve a purpose and this issue nicely demonstrates how a tie-in issue can be pretty damn awesome. Jason Aaron has a lot to work with here and it'll be interesting to see how he works it out with that twisted imagination of his. For now, he's off to an awesome start. I give Wolverine and the X-men #9 a 4.5 out of 5. So start studying for your final exams, boys and girls! The Phoenix Force is almost here and unlike those sadistic nuns I mentioned earlier, she'll beat your ass with more than a ruler. Nuff said!

Friday, April 20, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 52: District X Part 1 PREVIEW

It's been a busy time for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. After my last early update, I'm trying to get back on schedule. As some of you may know, I've been recovering from surgery. I haven't recovered as quickly as I hoped, but that hasn't stopped me from moving forward with X-men Supreme. I understand that Marvel fans and comic book fans in general loathe delays. I do too and I'm doing everything in my power to make sure that they don't happen with this fanfiction series. With that in mind, if my recovery slows me down I will let everyone know. As it stands, I plan on updating on time. Through the process, X-men Supreme has kept me busy and I have a few important updates to announce.

First and foremost, I've prepared the standard preview for the next issue. I'm still a bit behind, but this is an issue I can't rush unfortunately. It is the first issue of a three-part arc that will introduce a number of new elements to the world of X-men Supreme. The ongoing political struggle with Senator Robert Kelly's presidential run has created numerous upheavals as Issue 51: Stirring Outrage revealed, he's willing to make some rather shady deals to earn his ticket to the White House. This new arc, entitled District X, will add a new dimension to that conflict while also introducing a slew of new characters. Some were already revealed at the end of the last issue. More will be revealed as this arc unfolds. As such, I've prepared an extended preview to show what you can expect with this new arc.

“How much longer?” asked Sebastian impatiently.

“We’re almost done, Captain Gilberti,” said one of the scientists, “We’re powering up the neural interface and charging up the weapons system.”

“Well hurry it up! Mr. Creed will be here any minute,” he urged, “And how many times do I have to remind you? When I’m in the prototype, call me Bastion!”

He was more forceful with his tone than when they started off. The scientists with Worthington suspected it was a result of the prototype. They claimed he was having some sort of psychological reaction to it, but the Friends of Humanity brushed it off. To them, it was a side-effect of success. Since Graydon Creed had that chat with him, the good captain had been more focused and less compromising. It was a good thing too because they were going to need that focus for what they had planned.

The prototype was almost ready. Sebastion Gilerti, or Bastion now as he thought of himself, was ready for action. As the final systems acame online, the main door to the area opened and Graydon Creed stepped in.

“Mr. Creed!” said Bastion intently, “Is it time for the test already?”

“Indeed it is. And we’re stepping up our timetable,” he said in a dark tone, “We’ve had an unfortunate development. See for yourself.”

Graydon tossed him a copy of today’s paper. On the front page was the headline “Mutant Mayhem in the City.” Just below the text were a series of pictures. They all depicted a number of men in Friends of Humanity attire being chained to street posts in East Harlem. From the looks of it, they had been beaten and humiliated. The graffiti painted on their bodies made it clear that mutants were behind this. It would have been almost humorous if it weren’t so egregious.

“Those deviant monsters!” scolded Bastion, “How did this happen?”

“Don’t concern yourself with the details. All you need to know is that this occurred in a lawless patch of land in New York City where mutants live by their own laws and shun humanity. They call it District X and in wake of this incident the entire mutant populace is up in arms. They’re prepared to march down the streets of New York, unleashing untold destruction on innocent humans.”

“And you want me to use the prototype to stop them?” surmised Bastion.

“By any means necessary,” said Creed strongly, “Make no mistake. This is not just a test. This is a mission. Your success here may very well determine the fate of human affairs.”

“I understand,” he said strongly, “As Sebastian Gilberti, I can’t make any promises. But as Bastion, you have my word that I will stop them!”

There was that burning intent again. It was the kind of tone he used only when he had the prototype on. Graydon Creed couldn’t help but admire such determination. It was the kind of grit they would need if they were to oppose the mutant onslaught.

“That’s all I need to hear,” said Creed, “My team will now enter the coordinates into the prototype. Once you’re in the air, all communication will be severed.”

“I understand,” said Bastion, “Will the Worthington staff know?”

“My people have already taken care of them,” he assured, “They think it’s your night off and the prototype is undergoing maintenance.”

“And they bought it? Guess these Worthington Industry people aren’t as attentive as I thought.”

“They serve their purpose. Now it is tome we serve ours,” said Creed strongly.

The founder and leader of the Friends of Humanity took the paper and stepped back behind a protective barrier with the rest of his scientists. The final checks had been completed and the launch sequence was underway. The wires and tubes going into the prototype were released, leaving the determined young Captain to stand on his own in preparation for the next step.

A series of sirens went off as blast shielding went up to protect the men and equipment from the ensuing ignition. The scientists worked feverishly while Graydon Creed watched with a calm yet determined focus. A lot was riding on this mission. He promised Senator Kelly that his people would deliver the trust and faith of humanity. This was him making good on that promise while earning what he hoped would be a place in the very upper echelons of power.

“Opening launch tunnel,” said one of the scientists, “T-minus 30 seconds to ignition.”

Right above Bastion, the gears and machinery that helped him put on the prototype moved out of the way via hydraulics. Up above, a series of gates in the ceiling opened. Bastion looked up at the now open tunnel above him. He could see the clear afternoon skies above him. It was the first time he would be venturing out into the open with this prototype. Now the world was going to see what he could do.

Everything was set. Each scientist gave the go-ahead for the next and most crucial step. Graydon Creed would have the honors. He stood over the main console ready to initiate this pivotal test. One of the main technicians began the final countdown.

“Ignition in 5…4…3…2…1.”

These new characters will also mean more updates to the bios section. I know I can't prepare a bio for every new character that emerges because doing so would mean revealing too many spoilers, but for some characters I understand it's important to provide more information about who they are and where they've come from. As such, I've prepared a new bio for Charles Xavier's new business partner/love interest, Lilandra Neramani. She's an important character both in the comics and in this fanfiction series so be sure to keep an eye on her because you know Xavier sure will!

Bios - Lilandra Neramani

Lastly, I know it's also been a while since I added a new commission to the pics section. Well thanks to my old friend, Brian Brinlee, X-men Supreme finally has another commission to add to its ever growing catalog. Once again, Mr. Brinlee has brought a scene from X-men Supreme to life. In this case, he took a scene from Issue 26: The Ties That Terrorize where Piotr Rasputin made his X-men Supreme debut. As always, I thank Mr. Brinlee for his generous contribution and if anyone out there is interested in submitting artwork for X-men Supreme, please contact me at any time.

I know this is an extensive update. I would have posted the bios and pics sooner, but my health just won't allow me. I don't plan on having it affect X-men Supreme too much, but if it does I'll be sure to inform all the generous readers who have made X-men Supreme such a wonderful success. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact me at any time. Until the next update, take care and best wishes! Excelsior!


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Avengers vs. X-men #2 - D-Day Style Awesome

Pop quiz. What kind of comic book review do you get from an admitted drunk recovering from surgery still hoped up on pain killers? Answer, we're about to find out! I know my doctor probably wouldn't like this. I'm supposed to be bed-ridden while my nose heals. But if given the choice between reviewing awesome comics and risking my health, I'll have to go with the comics. Call me a reckless drunk with more fucked up health care views than Ron Paul, but this is one week where nothing short of the Ebola virus can keep me from going on my drunken rants.

Why am I defying doctors orders here? Well it's all Marvel's fault. They're the ones that decided to put together this uber galactic mega event, Avengers vs. X-men, at the same time I decided to go under the knife. Avengers vs. X-men #1 came out a mere two weeks ago and hit the comics world harder than the IRS hit Wesley Snipes. The Phoenix Force is on its way and torched a planet in the process just for shits and giggles. The Avengers found out about it courtesy of Nova, who saw fit to crash land in the middle of a post-9/11 New York City just to warn them. Well the Avengers got the message and decided to pay the X-men a visit on Utopia and by visit I mean they brought their whole fucking helicarrier with them with the sole intention of taking Hope Summers, the mutant messiah in which the X-men have placed all their faith. That's like strolling into the Vatican and asking the Pope if you can arrest Jesus. Cyclops and the X-men didn't respond kindly to such a request. Therefore, this big epic battle that Don King probably wishes he could put on pay-per-view has officially begun! Avengers vs. X-men #1 did an excellent job of setting everything up. Now it's time to see some bones break, some blood spill, and some friendships utterly destroyed. It's like a party at Charlie Sheen's house, but with less hookers.

Avengers vs. X-men #2 doesn't offer any preludes or flashback or any of that shit that only distracts from the carnage we all paid four bucks to see. The issue begins without any last ditch effort for a peaceful solution. Everyone is officially taking the George W. Bush approach to diplomacy with the X-men playing the part of Dick Cheney. While the Avengers may have Hulks, the X-men have Magneto and a metal-skinned Colossus armed with Juggernaut powers. Is it overkill? Possibly. Do we care? Fuck no! If you're going to strike the first blow in an epic crossover battle, you might as well lead with your top guns that aren't related to Emma Frost's boobs.

After Colossus makes himself at home on the Helicarrier, the Avengers are forced to get some fresh air and take a quick dip in the San Francisco Bay. It may have just been easier to put every Jets fan on board and have them fart at the same time, but I guess this works just as well. The Avengers have only a nanosecond or so to be shell-shocked. For those like Thing and Luke Cage who are unlucky enough to land in the water, they have to go up against Namor. The man isn't just fighting to defend Utopia. He's fighting to defend his chances at boning Emma Frost. Granted, the looming danger of the Phoenix Force is pretty pressing, but I'd still argue that pussy from Emma Frost is a much better incentive.

For those lucky enough to escape Namor's libido, the Avengers land on the beaches of Utopia. Cyclops attempts to rally his X-men for what is probably going to be the biggest battle Utopia has faced since Wolverine's last drinking binge before Schism. He looks like he's ready to flex those epic nuts of his that are probably stained with Emma Frost's lipstick. However, Captain America makes it a point to knock him down a peg by hitting him upside the head with his shield. Since the case can be made that Cyclops was quite an asshole in the last issue, I'd say it is more than deserving. Now the anti-Cyclops crowd will probably jerk off to this, but beyond Cyclops getting hit in the head it effectively establishes the battle lines between the Avengers and the X-men. Now instead of destroying floating aircraft carriers, they can get to beating the shit out of each other. Ladies and gentleman, this is exactly why we were so excited about this event!

As the battle unfolds, the reason behind this hero spat goes on the move. The whole purpose behind the Avengers bringing their entire army to Utopia was so they could take Hope Summers, the presumed vessel of the Phoenix and blatant Jean Grey ripoff. Despite her having more than enough power in her pinkie toe to fuck the Avengers and the X-men several times over, Emma Frost drags her into hiding with the Lights and the New X-men. She tells her to stay away while they work things out with the Avengers and by work out she probably means beat up until they decide the world is worth getting burnt to a cosmic crisp. I don't think anyone who has ever known a teenage girl in any capacity should expect her to listen and to Emma Frost of all people, the same woman that slapped her across the face in Generation Hope.

Even if Emma is being overly trusting, she ends up having to content with Iron Man as soon as she re-enters the battle. Why is this a big deal? Well she and Iron Man kind of bumped uglies back int he day. I know that probably shouldn't be too startling. It would actually be more striking if Emma Frost was attacked by a man she hadn't fucked six ways till next Tuesday, but it makes for a more interesting dynamic as she and Iron Man clash. Because as anyone who has ever been thrown out of an apartment in his underwear knows, fights between two people who have fucked are so much more interesting.

As the battle unfolds, the spectacle grows. And in this day and age where a cat playing the piano gets a billion hits on youtube, news of this clash is sure to spread. As the Avengers and the X-men battle, news cameras start picking up the action. We can all probably assume that Fox News will use it as a means to blame Obama for some sort of conspiracy to destroy rich, white people, but for those who aren't card carrying members of the Rush Limbaugh fan-club it's more personal. Among those watching this footage are Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. They haven't shown up since Avengers vs. X-men #0, but now that shit is hitting the fan they've decided to take a whiff. Quicksilver makes the first move, running 300 miles to Utopia just to punch his old man in the face. For everyone who has ever had daddy issues, this scene should make you cry tears of joy. It should also make you curious because Wanda Maximoff seems to know that the Phoenix is coming and while she doesn't join her brother, it's clear that she's not going to sit back on the couch and let Sean Hannity report this shit to her.

While the battle between the Avengers and the X-men is quickly escalating to scales not seen since Rosie O'Donnell quit weight watchers, the key aspect of the conflict is articulated by Cyclops and Captain America. Now you would think that a comic based on the Avengers and X-men beating each other to a pulp wouldn't care much for dialog, but like the Vatican on birth control issues you would be dead wrong. Even as Cyclops and Cap duke it out, they keep talking smack. Cap tells Cyclops that his scrotum is getting too weak to contain his balls in that he's willing to risk the entire planet to protect Hope when he's just trying to take her into custody. He even goes so far as to mention Jean Grey, which marks the second issue in a row for Jean Grey getting a mention. That has to be a record of sorts, but all it does is piss Cyclops off even more. Because if you expect a guy to be reasonable by bringing up his dead wife, you might just be better off by saying you fucked his mother.

Like the last issue, the anti-Cyclops crowd will probably use this scene to say that Cyclops has gone batshit crazy. And yes, he has acted like quite a douche in this issue as well as this entire series. But once again, it helps to know the context. If you read X-Sanction, you know why Cyclops is so adamant about keeping the Avengers from Hope. I know I've brought this up many times before, but the anti-Cyclops people are like creationists in that facts aren't enough. I have to belabor this point in that Cyclops isn't just trying to protect Hope. He's trying to stop the future that his son told him would happen if he failed. Cap doesn't know this, but like being arrested for getting a blow-job on the highway ignorance of the law won't make you any less guilty.

As Cyclops and Captain America duke it out, the issue takes time to highlight all the ongoing battles. It's a nice way of showing just how big this conflict has become. There's some nice narration as well as more pertinent dialog. Battles between Dr. Strange and Magik break out, adding a more mystical element to the battle. Even characters that are supposed to be supporting one another, like a husband and a wife for instance, turn against one another. Storm is siding with the X-men, but Black Panther is with the Avengers. Now I usually don't like it when Marvel insists on fucking up marriages just for the sake of it, but since the Storm/Black Panther marriage was more forced than a confession in a Russian gulag I'm all for these two fighting. Just as I'm all for each side beating the shit out of each other with increasing ferocity. It's not just a mindless brawl. There are serious emotions involved here and that's part of what makes it awesome.

Lost in this epic struggle is the inherent need to get to Hope. While the Avengers and the X-men are roughing each other up, Wolverine and Spider-Man slip away from the chaos to sneak into Utopia. It makes sense given that Wolverine used to live on this rock and Spider-Man has a way of fucking with redheads. So they attempt to go for Hope while she's being held back. But like I said earlier about rebellious teenagers, she's already in the process of defying both sides like the bratty little bitch she is. They arrive to find her already flashing fiery flares like Madonna when she's PMSing. Wolverine attempts to end this conflict by stabbing it (his solution to everything that can't be solved with beer) seem logical until Hope stops him cold in his tracks and lays his ass out. Seeing as how this is a guy who either kills or fucks redheads in all the wrong ways, I think Hope just struck a blow for redheads everywhere.

Now that the Phoenix is getting closer, Hope's powers are more volatile. That means she can use them to knock everyone in the room out and ditch this battle like a pregnant teenager at their senior prom. She's definitely showing more Jean Greyish type flare. By the time the Avengers and X-men catch up to her, she's already gone. It's probably going to make for a really awkward moment since she's the one they're both fighting over. That or it just means this battle just became a race to find the fiery redhead that looks and dresses like Jean Grey. If this means there's a chance at a car chase battle that doesn't involve transforming robots, I'm all for it!

The battle against the Avengers and the X-men is evolving, but Utopia isn't the only site of the conflict. In the previous issue, Captain America announced that a group of Avengers flew off into space to confront the Phoenix Force before it reached Earth. They probably figured if they couldn't handle a volatile teenage girl, they would have better luck with a cosmic planet-eating firebird. Personally, I think the battle in space is much less dangerous. But with Beast leading the charge and Thor wielding his walking penis-joke of a hammer, they're poised to confront this cosmic menace with the full knowledge that their buddies on Earth probably won't convince Hope to help them out. Go figure.

The first battle has been fought and I think it's safe to say that nobody can say they won. If anything, I think both sides have only exchanged a few kicks to the balls to help piss each other off and I say that's a good thing! If you're going to have an event where the X-men fight the Avengers, it's important that they have a damn good reason to hate each other. This issue did more than just show the Avengers and the X-men engaging in a heated dick-measuring contest. It provided reasons for both sides to really want to beat each other to a pulp. It took the already touchy issues surrounding Hope and the Phoenix Force and piled on top of it like a broken toilet at a spastic colon clinic. The marriage between Storm and Black Panther was hit. Tony Stark's desire to bone Emma Frost was hit. Magneto's already tenuous relationship with his children took a literal blow to the jaw. And Hope once again gave her own Lights reasons to despise her by breaking noses. It's not just a heavyweight battle between two sides with massive amounts of balls swinging between their legs. This shit is personal and like a Sorority house with PMS, it makes for a very hostile environment.

Now for years now, fans and writers have been bitching about event fatigue. A lot of people like to bitch and moan about how companies like Marvel and DC just like to throw all these events at fans like a monkey that was force fed laxatives. Well beyond the bitching, there's another important element to events. They can be pretty fucking awesome when done right. There's a reason why this shit sells like free samples a titty bar. It's big, it's action packed, and it's just plain fun. Now Marvel could have channeled too much of their inner Michael Bay here and just relied too much on their top characters beating the shit out of each other. I think they showed some restraint. They were able to fill the issue with the kind of mindless action that a brain dead squirrel could enjoy while still including the more dramatic elements surrounding characters, relationships, and the looming presence of the Phoenix Force. This issue was heavy on action, but threw in plenty of extra dialog as well. Maybe I'm still doped up on my meds, but I could find no flaws with this potent mix.

Avengers vs. X-men still has a long ass way to go. Two issues in and the Phoenix Force still looks like it's ready to punish the Earth for harboring bullshit Jean Grey replacements. Hope Summers once again showed that she's an immature brat by taking shit into her own hands and essentially running for her life. Last I check, running isn't very messianic. But other elements such as the looming space battle with the Phoenix Force and the inclusion of the Scarlet Witch were put in place, offering more than enough reasons to want to steal Dr. Who's time machine and travel two weeks into the future to see what happens. Since I'm in no condition to fight, I'll have to rely on my meds to help me pass the time. Until then, I'm content to give Avengers vs. X-men #2 a perfect 5 out of 5. So for all you fans who love to bitch and moan about how comic companies are plugging too many events, I say give it a rest. If shameless gimmicks mean more comics like Avengers vs. X-men #2, then gimmick away Marvel! Nuff said!