Thursday, May 31, 2012

Wolverine and the X-men #11 - Awesome Battles and Daddy Issues

When I get a burger at a burger joint, I like to stuff that burger with enough meat and toppings to feed a bulimic sumo wrestler. By the same token, when I read a comic that's part of a major event I want it to be akin to an extra layer of cheese and/or hot sauce on said burger. The main issues of the event, such as Avengers vs. X-men #4, are the meat patties of the vent. The tie-ins are the toppings. As such, they can never be as meaty or juicy as the burger and we shouldn't expect them to. But both toppings and tie-ins can be dangerous. Sometimes you don't know if what you're tasting is ketchup or the result of the chef spitting on and then rubbing his dick between the buns. In my experience most of of the tie-ins are akin to either an extra leaf of lettuce or a glob of semen. I would go on, but I'm a little stoned right now and I'm making myself hungry.

The Avengers vs. X-men tie-ins have been well above whatever goodies you may find in a burger. Compared to recent events like Fear Itself and Secret Invasion, these tie-ins are like dipping the whole Avengers vs. X-men event in hot sauce. It hasn't been good enough to say it's being dipped in chocolate, but it's getting close! These tie-ins don't always add new elements to the Avengers vs. X-men story, but they do expand on details that were not sufficiently covered in the main story. Some fill in the blanks like how the hell Wolverine got from Antarctica to Westchester. Others just show Namor flaunting his panty-soaking manliness. Both have been wildly entertaining, but with the Phoenix almost arriving on Earth to take its cosmic dump on the planet where a red-haired, green eyed woman screwed it over.

Fittingly enough, some of the best tie-ins have come from the series that stars someone else who was screwed over by a red-haired, green eyed woman that would send his dick into fits of rage. Wolverine and the X-men has been a case study in how tie-ins should be done for big mega events. Jason Aaron has had everything from Wolverine and Captain America playing nice until Wolverine got thrown out of a plane to Wolverine and Cyclops reminding one another that the events of Schism still makes them want to beat each other senseless. Moreover, it has also shown that the loyalties of the Jean Grey Institute staff are not exclusive to Wolverine's whole I-hate-Cyclops agenda. Wolverine and the X-men #10 set the stage for a major test of loyalty among those seeking to help the X-men as they battle the Avengers. Wolverine and the X-men #11 is poised to show how loyalty can be more risky than getting a blowjob from a Tiger Shark.

The issue begins with a fairly small plot that was only lightly touched on in the previous issue. It involved Kid Gladiator, whose old man had the misfortune of going toe-to-toe with Dark Phoenix back in the day when Marvel didn't resort to shitty red haired, green eyed replacement characters. Since the Shi'ar are quite high on the Phoenix's shit list, Warbird sees fit to fly Kid Gladiator home just in case the Phoenix isn't satisfied just torching Earth. It means he can get away from all us puny Earthlings and go back to whatever spoiled narcissists do in the Shi'ar Empire. I imagine it's not unlike what Charlie Sheen does on a Saturday night. But Kid Gladiator isn't quite ready to just relax, do some space crack, and bang six alien chicks. There's a fight on Earth and fuck it if he's not compelled to stick around. So much to Warbird's dismay, Kid Gladiator ejects from the space ship that Warbird borrowed (ie stole) and heads back to Earth to partake in the fight. Yeah, he's a real douche-bag. But he's a loyal douche-bag and that makes him pretty awesome.

The battle Kid Gladiator is diving into head first was made a lot more hectic in the last issue when a number of the Wolverine's staff decided to join Cyclops's battle against the nosy Avengers that don't know how to handle red haired, green eyed women. Iceman, Angel, and Rachel each picked a battle and started kicking ass. Rachel got to mix it up in sunny Wakanda while Iceman and Angel went to Wundagore in hopes of kicking ass and scoring some Eastern European hash (that last part being implied). Now it seems like Iceman and Angel got the raw end at first, especially since Angel still doesn't remember shit about who he is and only a few issues ago actually believed in the divine more than Tim Tebow. But given Iceman's powers, a trip to a snowy mountain is probably like a weekend in Jamaica complete with complimentary weed. However, no matter what the locale, Iceman still gets the worse deal because he has to go up against Red Hulk. That would kill any vacation, no matter how much weed is involved.

Now to this point in the Avengers vs. X-men saga, there have been more than a few Jean Grey references and flashbacks. And to be brutally honest more so than I usually am, that shit is getting old and annoying. Marvel already went through the trouble of replacing Jean Grey in every meaningful way with Hope fucking Summers. Flashbacks are only a reminder of just how blatant a rip-off character she is. Yet that's what we get when we catch up with Wolverine and Hope on the X-jet, who are on route to an AIM facility. It's a scene ripped from between the panels of Avengers vs. X-men #4, which fills in the sizable gap of how Wolverine passed the time with Hope during the long flight without stabbing her. What we didn't need was recaps of the Dark Phoenix Saga where Jean begged Wolverine to kill her when she was going Dark Phoenix. That was a great moment in comics history that wasn't tainted until Brett Ratner took a fucking shit on it in X3. We don't need it being tainted any more in a story about a Jean Grey replacement character.

Yet as annoying as these flashbacks are, they do have some purpose. They follow along as Wolverine gives his little monologue gig at how Hope is fucking retarded if she thinks she can control the Phoenix. He tries to convince her otherwise, but she's a stubborn teenage girl. He has a better chance at teaching a headless chicken quantum physics. He keeps contemplating on how he's going to have to be the one that kills Hope when she inevitably goes batshit from the Phoenix. So he's probably somewhat relieved when a distraction comes along in the form of Shi'ar assassins crashing the X-jet in hopes of killing the new Phoenix host. For those of you newbies or those of you with damaged brains, these are the same assassins that slaughtered Jean Grey's family in the End of Greys arc. Yes, Marvel isn't content with keeping Jean Grey dead. They had to kill her whole fucking family. How many other characters get that treatment outside the Sopranos?

Conversely, flashbacks aren't needed to enjoy watching Iceman grow in ways that would make an awesome penis enlargement commercial and humble Red Hulk in a way he's probably not used to. Even Angel, the same Angel that's got more holes in his memory than a bowl of fruit loops, gets in on the action. There's only so far you can push a pacifists before he says "Fuck Ghandi! It's Ghengis Khan time, bitches!" Angel finally shows flashes of his former self in the way he lays out Hawkeye. Even other characters like Magneto get in on the act with Strange. Rachel also shows Iron Fist in Wakanda that no matter how strong your fist, it doesn't beat the mind of a psychic redhead with a nice rack. Hell, even the nice rack is sufficient at times, but unfortunately she doesn't get to use it in this battle. Her telekinesis is sufficient. Oh well, maybe she can save her rack for Thor. Pretty please, Mr. Aaron?

The battle against the Shi'ar assassins doesn't go nearly as well. The Shi'ar don't fuck around when the threat of the Phoenix looms over them. It was enough of an excuse to slaughter Jean Grey's whole (innocent) family. It's more than enough to warrant them playing extra rough with Hope. They're not trying to help or protect her like the Avengers or the X-men. They just want her Jean Grey-ish ass dead. Even though they're aliens, I can honestly say I know how they feel. But Hope fights back like any rebellious teenage girl, arming herself with Wolverine's claws and healing factor to both survive the crash of the X-jet and take on the assassins. Like other teenagers, she kicks and screams for a while. Then humility and cosmic justice catch up with her and she gets fucking gutted. Since that's exactly what Wolverine tried to do in Avengers vs. X-men #2, it makes you wonder why the hell he was so pissed about it. Was it really that important that he be the one that kills Jean Grey's ripoff character? Actually, that's not all that improbable.

Well even if he did want to be the one that forever ended yet another horrendous Jean Grey rip-off, Hope showed that being stabbed in the gut is like kicking a grizzly in the balls. It only makes things worse. While it looks like she's about to go to rip-off character hell, she has another Phoenix Force flash. This time it's much more potent. And by potent I mean she uses it to beat the piss out of these family-killing assassins. It sounds good on the surface until you remember that she's still the fucking Phoenix. Wolverine seems to understand this and has another shitty flashback with Jean Grey going Dark Phoenix. Yet even as he's poised to stab her again, he stops. I'm hoping he's since learned that stabbing a red haired, green eyed Phoenix wielder works about as well as an open window on a submarine. Hope does managed to get a hold of herself, but Wolverine appears to have learned something far more profound and he didn't even need LSD for it.

This is the point in the tie-in where Wolverine decides that he fucked up more than just a little when he opposed Captain America's plan to contain Hope. For once, stabbing something isn't going to fix the problem. In Avengers vs. X-men #4, he pretty much betrayed Hope by calling Captain America and telling him with probably the most humbled voice in history that he was right and he's ready to lead him to Hope. It's an important moment in Avengers vs. X-men. It was a sudden twist in the main series, but here we actually see the reason behind that twist and you know what? It makes perfect sense! Wolverine saw that he couldn't be the one that killed Hope. His poorly thought out plan to solve the Phoenix affair by stabbing it just wasn't going to work. And since he's still pissed off at Cyclops, his best bet is with the Avengers.

This fateful decision coincides with Kid Gladiator finally returning to join the battle. Being a kid who thinks things through about as well as horny monkey goes right for the Avengers heavy hitters, namely Red Hulk. After taking some early shots from Iceman, he got his red ass together and started pounding into Iceman's icy shell. Since this is a guy that bends metal with his pinkie toe, busting up ice isn't too big a stretch. But before Iceman gets too scattered, Kid Gladiator comes in and lays him out. Now Red Hulk has to go up against the arrogance of a teenage alien. That may be too much for even the Hulk's strength.

Kid Gladiator's return may have come just in time to aid the X-men, but not everyone is thrilled with his participation and I'm not just talking about Red Hulk's jaw. The reason Kid Gladiator was being rushed home was because his dad understands that the Phoenix is bad news for the Shi'ar and his dip-shit hormonal son is too young to understand that. So when he doesn't show up, the non-Kid Gladiator sees fit to fly all the way to Earth and give his son a good spanking. Since he doesn't know where to find him, he arrives at the Jean Grey Institute just as all the students are crowded around watching footage of the Avengers/X-men brawl (who the fuck is filming and how much free Apple shit does Marvel get from these product placements?). And like any parent whose kid broke curfew, he's pissed. Not quite as pissed as the father of my junior prom date was, but definitely in the same zip code at least.

It takes a special kind of talent to mix super-hero mash-ups, alien attacks, and daddy issues into one story. Jason Aaron's mind may or may not be more twisted than the last five Tim Burton movies, but it successfully delivers in making what appear to be ridiculous concepts and making them fit together in an orgasmic mesh of awesome. The theme of Avengers vs. X-men is pretty basic. A giant space bird is coming to take a cosmic shit on the Earth and the Avengers and X-men are pissing themselves trying to figure out how to stop it. This theme somewhat clashes with the more light-hearted, cartoonish themes that Aaron set up in Wolverine and the X-men, yet somehow he finds a way to make it fit. Kid Gladiator, his royally pissed off royal father, and battles with Red Hulk add a twist to the Avengers vs. X-men story that will make you smile more than it will foam at the mouth in anticipation. Fanboys with a heart condition or who do way too much blow owe Jason Aaron their thanks.

In terms of tie-ins, this issue does more than just give Marvel an excuse to do more mindless battles between heroes. That would be too much like Michael Bay buying just a few more cars to blow up in his next movie. This issue actually tells an important part of the story, namely how Wolverine came to decide that stabbing Hope to stop the Phoenix was a shitty plan and he might have been a bigger asshole than usual with how he handled the Captain America situation. There were a few holes though. The Dark Phoenix flashbacks were lousy reminders that Marvel sucks when it comes to red-haired, green eyed women that take on the Phoenix Force. In addition, the battles in Wakanda and Wundagore really offered little effect or plot to the overall story. They were like cut-scenes from the Avengers vs. X-men VS series. That's all well and good, but Aaron usually does a better job with tying together plots like this. They remind me too much of the poor cars that Michael Bay destroys.

Even if it didn't always fit together, every part of this issue was still sufficiently awesome. It is yet another worthy addition to the ongoing Avengers vs. X-men mythos. It is also another pleasant display of Marvel's newfound ability to craft tie-ins that are actually worth a fuck. I can't remember an event where the tie-ins added so much more value to the main event. Then again I can barely remember to lift the toilet seat with all the brain cells I've killed so maybe that's not saying much. However damaged my mind may be, I utilize what few brain cells I have left to grant Wolverine and the X-men #11 a 4.5 out of 5. Jason Aaron, you've made your point. You can write kick-ass tie-ins. Now stop trying to hypnotize me with that beard of yours and take my money for the next issue! Nuff said!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Avengers vs. X-men VS #2 - Rumbles, Jungles, and Latverian Stumbles

Whenever I go to see a Michael Bay movie, I never go in with lofty expectations of deep philosophical insight or profound character development. That would be like going into a crack house and expecting to find model Mormon. Comic companies like Marvel and DC are in the business of making their comics seem like they're on the same level of Homeric epics. Rarely will they ever market a comic with the intent of labeling it mindless, unapologetic action porn. Even if it fits that definition to the point where Webster threatens to sue them for improper word association, they'll avoid that label. So it was quite surprising when in the course of hyping up Avengers vs. X-men that Marvel flat out admitted that the Avengers vs. X-men VS series was pretty much just all action and no plot.

In many ways I actually applauded Marvel's admission. For once they don't even try to beat around the bush. They admit like anyone who has ever smoked a few joints on a word day that sometimes you don't want epic stories. You just want some pretty pictures that make you smile and maybe a little horny, depending on how shallow the writers and artists may be. For that very reason, I haven't read any of the VS titles with the expectation that I'll have my mind blown like the first time I watched the Matrix while stoned. It's also the reason why I haven't reviewed any of the titles yet. There's not much to review. It's like a WWE wrestling match. Two fighters enter the ring, they put on a scripted show, and beat the living shit out of each other. Yet it's not completely meaningless. These battles do actually have a purpose. They expand on the battles that the main series has established and adds some glorious detail to a battle so that those among us that have killed too many brain cells need not use our imaginations.

With all this in mind, I think it's only appropriate that I at least try to review one VS title. Just like I've reviewed an Avengers title, it's important that I try to capture the breadth of the Avengers vs. X-men event during what few hours of sobriety I can afford. There is a story to be told here...a mindless, apologetically shallow story, but a story none the less. Avengers vs. X-men VS #2 follows battles that emerged after the Avengers and the X-men split to butt heads in five different locales in search of a red-haired, green eyed Phoenix wielder NOT named Jean Grey. Those locales included exotic places like the Savage Land and Latveria. And wouldn't you know it? That's where Avengers vs. X-men #2 takes place!

The first major battle of Avengers vs. X-men VS #2 isn't the kind of epic battle you would get into fist fights over in a school yard. I remember how me and my stoner buddies would often argue over who would best be able to beat up Captain America in a bar fight. Characters like Thing, Wolverine, Rogue, Colossus, or Juggernaut often came up. We would need an extra special strain of weed to wonder how Cap would fare against Gambit, an unapologetic metrosexual who has as much patriotism as an investment banker has sympathy. But in the underbelly of the Savage Land, that's where these two meet up and start butting heads. They're supposed to be looking for Hope (the Jean Grey ripoff and not the concept), but Gambit decides that he might get more pussy if he can beat up an American Icon. Go figure.

Gambit tries to strike the first blow, offering little of his usual wit and humor. It seems as though if he's not fighting someone he wants to fuck, he's just not all that charming. If nothing else, he's still flashy. When Captain America responds by throwing his shield, Gambit does his thing and charges it up. A shield made out of rare inorganic metal makes quite a boom, but like the IRS it's impossible to take Captain America with sheer defiance. Despite not having his shield, Captain America lays into this smooth-talking, womanizing, thief in a way that would give any card-carrying republican a boner. He even goes so far as to break Gambit's bow staff. It basically the same as taking away a fat kid's half-eaten chocolate bar. It's messy and doesn't send much of a message.

You know what does send a message? Blowing up a man's inorganic shirt. Even for a womanizing, Cajun, metrosexual that's pretty badass. But if the Nazi's couldn't blow up Captain America, what makes you think Gambit ever stood a chance. Now when your shirt usually blows up, that kind of shit usually leaves your ears ringing and a good chunk of your flesh in another zip code. Captain America is a super-soldier, not a fucking tank. Yet he looks no more wounded than the designated driver for a frat party. I know these versus titles are supposed to be light on plot, but that's not an excuse for completely forgetting the limitations of one of the most iconic characters in comics or sparing us loyal readers some glorious blood.

As is often the case when you attack America, you usually get your ass kicked. Captain America carries on this proud tradition that George W. Bush took way too far and lays Gambit out with one good punch to that pretty boy face of his. I admit it's a pretty satisfying. Not because I get patriotic when I'm semi-sober, but because the guys with the accents always got more pussy than I did in college. Plus, there was actually a little blood this time. That's right. A punch from Captain America spilled more blood than having a fucking shirt blow up. No, it makes no fucking sense. It doesn't completely discredit a book that is billed as being light on plot, but it's still a lack of attention to detail. I'm willing to overlook it and just take a few more shots of vodka, but it's still no excuse.

So the battle between Captain America and Gambit was satisfying enough. It essentially drew out the battle while even finding a way to link things up with what would later happen in Avengers vs. X-men #4 when Captain America re-summons the Avengers to find Hope. It's a very weak tie-in that somehow found time for him to get a new shirt, but it does show effort on Marvel's part and unlike my asshole English teacher I do give credit for effort. It may not have the kind of impact that the old Thor vs. Hulk battles have, but at least it's satisfying and it felt like a fair enough fight. So for the second battle, we would hope that it stay fair. Right?

Again, channeling my old English teacher I say your ass is wrong and you get slapped across the wrist with a ruler and an extra page of homework. Apparently, Marvel thinks fair fights are more out of style than bell bottoms and tie-dye T-shirts. They decide to pit Spider-Man, the wise-cracking everyman who sold his marriage to the devil, against Colossus/Juggernaut, who sold his soul to a demon so his already messed up sister wouldn't have to. It's every bit as unfair as it sounds and yet Colossus is still the more sympathetic character.

This battle doesn't even pretend to be fair, logical, or even coherent. Spider-Man doesn't even make many wise-cracks. He just talks while trying to fight someone imbued with unstoppable power. It sounds like it should be more entertaining, but it isn't. Spider-Man just tries to frustrate Colossus by throwing webs at him and punching him in the back, but he might as well be pissing into the ocean at high tide. It's not going to change a damn thing. At no point is there any sense that Colossus is in danger of being defeated, but the sadder part is there's really no sense that Spider-Man will get too roughed up either.

Now that's not to say he doesn't take a few shots. After getting webbed up a bit, Colossus shows off his unstoppable strength by throwing Spider-Man around like the pesky arachnid he is. Somewhere out there, Mephisto is masturbating furiously. Yet still, you don't really get the sense that Spider-Man is in any danger. Even if you know the fight is unfair, Marvel will never let one of their top cash-cows get too hurt. Especially when he has movie coming out in a few months (okay, it's a reboot, but still a movie). Yet it's not completely ill-conceived. At one point when he's roughing Spider-Man up, Colossus flat out tells him to get away before the power goes to his head. It implies that he's actually holding back, which would help make some sense of the cheesy nature of this fight. But that struggle or that threat is less explored than Tim Tebow's scrotum. So it's flashy, but still boring.

The battle really doesn't play out as smoothly as the battle between Gambit and Captain America. In fact, there isn't even a real winner this time. Just like the Captain America fight, they all get word that Hope has been found and they need to make like a hockey team and get the puck to the moon. Again, it's a nice way to tie the events of this issue into the events of what happened in Avengers vs. X-men #4. But Spider-Man just walks away after word gets out. He doesn't even say anything memorable in the process. It couldn't be more forgettable if it came with a free joint. So while it does fit into the larger Avengers vs. X-men story, it still leaves much to be desired.

I'm not going to pretend like there was a narrow margin for error in this series. Marvel did not market this book as such and I'm not going to hold it to a different standard. I may be a drunk, but I'm a fair drunk. The Avengers vs. X-men VS series is exactly what Marvel made it out to be. It's a handful of pages that's just pure fighting. It's like a compilation porno with none of the annoying plots and just pure fucking. It caters to a certain segment of fans and is painfully shallow, but it gets the job done. Sometimes you're just not in the mood to think. You just want to be entertained and that's what Avenger vs. X-men VS #2 did to an extent.

However, while the theme of this series was largely maintained, the choice of battles and the way they played out certainly left plenty to be desired. When you have a series that's just fight scenes, you have plenty of incentive to make those fight scenes memorable and awesome. Battles like Cyclops and Wolverine during Schism or even Wolverine and Captain America in Avengers vs. X-men #3 show that even mindless action can be made more awesome by having some depth behind it. However, there wasn't much depth or purpose behind Gambit fighting Captain America or Spider-Man fighting Colossus. I'm not saying there needed to be a lot of plot, but the battles left something to be desired. While I think the fight with Captain America and Gambit played out nicely in terms of detail, it wasn't that much of a spectacle. The battle between Spider-Man and Colossus was even more disappointing. Not because of the lack of spectacle, but mostly because it just seemed mismatched. It was hard to imagine it panning out in a surprising way. It's not even a fight you would bet on in Vegas, even after someone spiked your vodka. It was flashy, but not blinding.

Overall, Avengers vs. X-men VS #2 offered plenty of enjoyable moments, at least partially. If you're willing to overlook the poor choice in match-ups, the Captain America and Gambit fight is plenty satisfying. The battle against Colossus and Spider-Man, however, will probably leave you rolling your eyes in the same way you do every time you hear Newt Gingrich give a speech on family values. It may or may not be a book worth getting. There are probably other match-ups in the VS titles that are far more appealing and you might be better off giving those a shot. I give Avengers vs. X-men VS #2 a 3 out of 5. No, it's not going to blow you away. Yes, it will entertain you. No, it won't win you any bar bets. Yet it's still nice to give my brain cells a rest in reading comics. Gives me more of them to kill later on! Nuff said.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Avengers #26 - Suicide Missions Can Be Awesome

There was once a time when I reviewed a greater variety of comics on this blog. There was also once a time when I didn't drink before nine in the morning, but circumstances change and so do people. What doesn't change is the annoying fact that God was too lazy to make the days longer or at least set another day of rest aside so that there was more time to review comics. But I'm not about to argue with God. He already cursed me by giving me a penis and a brain, but not enough blood to run both. He also cursed me with only one liver that can barely get the job done. Never-the-less, I did my best to review many different comics until the time came where I just couldn't reasonably deliver and still have enough time to get sufficiently drunk. That is why this blog has been exclusively reviewing X-men comics for months now. Plus, it's called X-men Supreme. I hoped that part would be obvious.

However, changing circumstances require that even drunks adapt. Avengers vs. X-men is an event that spans more than just the X-books. The events of this series have crossed a myriad of titles, including the regular Avengers titles. Now I don't talk about them much on this blog because again, it's called fucking X-men Supreme. However, I do keep up with them. Brian Michael Bendis has been the top dog on the Avengers books for a while and for the most part, the guy whose balls were big enough to kill Ultimate Spider-Man have carried this series. But now like the X-books, the events of Avengers vs. X-men have caught up with it.

This leads to a particular aspect of the Avengers vs. X-men story that hasn't been addressed all that much in the main series or the X-books, yet it was clearly established in the first issue. If you're sober enough to remember that far back, you should remember that before Captain America ventured to Utopia to calmly discuss with Cyclops the treat posed by the Phoenix (which is not unlike the way George W. Bush calmly discussed with Saddam Hussein his questionable regime in Iraq) he sent a team of Avengers into space to intercept the Phoenix. Well that story hasn't been overlooked. It just hasn't been told on the books that I've been sober enough to review. Well I'm in between bottles of whiskey, so I might as well step outside the traditions of this blog in the same way I often step outside the traditions of my country's drug laws. Except this time, I hope it doesn't end with me getting sodomized in a New Mexico county jail.

Avengers #26 takes the events of Avengers vs. X-men #1 and follows them into that cold, dark bitch we know as deep space (or Ann Coulter's vagina depending on the context). It begins by briefly expanding upon the scene with Captain America and the space team he assembled. He doesn't mince words, which might have saved him an optic blast to the head in confronting Cyclops. He tells them they're going up against a cosmic force that looks upon them with the same callousness as an elephant looks at the undigested seeds in it's shit. He calls it a suicide mission, but one they really need them to go on because they need to buy time. It may sound pointless and reckless, but when you know you're about to get flash fried by a cosmic bird you gotta take a few chances and be a bit of a douche.

Like anyone about to go on a suicide mission, there are two inclinations. One is to go on the bender to end all benders in Las Vegas with a stolen credit card from a absent minded hedge fund manager. The other is to hunt down your favorite gal pal and try to squeeze in a last minute romp and maybe see if you can convince her to try anal one last time. Noh-Varr, aka the Protector, decides to do the latter minus the anal (or so it seems). He meets up with his girl, Annie, who looks like the kind of girl you find in a biker bar and who gets her labia pierced on a dare. So why wouldn't she date a Kree? But like any girlfriend, she gets upset when she find out her boyfriend is going on a suicide mission and not even giving her enough notice to extract an expensive date from it. I don't know how vindictive Annie is. She appears to be much more forgiving than most of my exes, who always used that "the world is ending" routine as an excuse to run up my credit card debt.

Thankfully, Brian Michael Bendis is a lot more tasteful than any shitty meal my ex-girlfriends ever ordered. The Protector offers Annie his sincere affection and even does a nice little light show for her as they kiss, without slipping her a tab of acid no less. Leave it to an alien to upstage over 95 percent of us normal men in our never-ending efforts to get laid. It's still a relatively sweet moment. It doesn't have the same emotional impact of more notable Marvel relationships. These two are a long ways from being Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Give the Protector a chance to make a deal with the devil and maybe it'll be more gripping. For now, it's just something to put a smile on your face before shit starts blowing up.

And shit does blow up and not just because of the Phoenix. The initial attack already played out in the pages of Secret Avengers, another book I didn't have the time or blood-alcohol content to review. You don't need to know much other than it failed miserably. Apparently, flying head first into the teeth of a pissed off cosmic entity isn't the best strategy. It's like running into boxing ring naked with a target on your scrotum. You're not going to last long. For some reason, this upsets Beast. Even though he's dealt with the Phoenix before and should be the least surprised among everyone that they got their asses kicked, he still sees fit to destroy what is probably some very expensive piece of Avengers equipment. This is the same guy that criticized Cyclops for acting irrationally. Go figure.

But they're not quite ready to just admit they're specks in the Phoenix's shit just yet. The Protector, most likely emboldened from swapping a little spit with his girlfriend beforehand, helps Beast with his analysis and comes up with a potential strategy. The Phoenix Force is a power that doesn't operate under the traditional rules of physics, even by comic book standards. It rips through the universe and scoffs at the laws of physics in the same way Newt Gingrich scoffs as the parts of the bible that condemn adultery. So they need something else that makes Einstein roll over in his grave, namely Thor's hammer. The mystical metal, Uru, already has some pretty exotic properties. The Protector theorizes that they can use some of that mystical potential to wound or even contain parts of the Phoenix. I'm tempted to say it's a long shot, but when you're dealing with the Phoenix Force a plan to use Thor's hammer is as much a long shot as having every being in the universe spit on it.

Despite having been roughed up in the first battle, Thor pulls his Asgardian ass together for round two. What follows next is cosmic onslaught between Thor and the Phoenix Force. You've got an actual demigod against a cosmic force armed with power that would turn most solar systems into salad dressing fighting one another. It sounds epic and guess what? It is! For several solid pages, it's every bit the battle you imagine it would be.

Now we've all had those arguments in the school yard with the kid who likes to eat his own boogers. We argue endlessly on what would happen if two comic book characters fought/teamed up/fucked/or had a baby. I normally stuck to the arguments that involved who would fuck who and how fucked up their fucking would be. But occasionally, I argued about how epic certain battles would be. The Phoenix Force and Thor are a couple of characters that definitely came up on more than one occasion and without the need to sniff the glue. I won't say that the scene that unfolds in this comic is exactly how I imagined it (I often imagine the Phoenix with bigger boobs), but it's pretty damn close!

It's by far the most satisfying part of the issue and unlike before, it doesn't end with a horribly lopsided victory for cosmic forces. Thor actually manages to wound the Phoenix somewhat if that term even applies. He actually proved the Protector's theory right. He was able to capture and contain some of the Phoenix Force's energy in what is the equivalent of a Ghostbuster's backpack. For a moment it seems like there's actual hope in this struggle. There may not actually be a need to throw a phoney Jean Grey into the teeth of this cosmic parrot. Of course, that shit would make too much sense. It turns out the Protector isn't too interested in preventing the planet from being charred like a buffalo wing. Even though his gal pal is there, he's still a Kree and when the Kree come across great energy they gravitate towards it like a fat man to a Dairy Queen. That means the issue ends with the Protector screwing them over, taking the contained piece of the Phoenix Force and preparing to return to the Kree Empire. It's like paying a hooker to knock your junk around and then stealing her purse after you're finished.

While I've never been nearly as passionate about the Avengers comics as I have the X-men comics, I do consider them a guilty pleasure from time to time. They're usually the books I read when I don't feel like getting worked up into frenzy after downing one too many shots of tequila. I'm sure it's different for those who see the Avengers in the same way that I see the X-men, but for this issue and the Avengers vs. X-men as a whole I think we can come together in a moment of harmony. We're not the Crips and Bloods making peace or anything. The stories in our respective books are entwined for this event and Brian Michael Bendis accomplishes this with the same seamless efficiency that others such as Kieron Gillen and Jason Aaron have managed.

This issue really expands on the more cosmic elements of this event. While much of the conflict is centered around Hope and the threat facing Earth, the universe is still a big fucking place even in the pages of a comic. This event should take some time to add a few cosmic elements and it definitely works here. The Protector is in the most awkward position because he's not just about saving the planet where his fuck buddy resides. He's got some baggage with the Kree and why shouldn't he? The Kree have a history of sticking their alien dicks in the business of humanity and when a cosmic force like the Phoenix takes interest, why shouldn't they take interest as well? It makes for some nice drama on top of the cosmic battle between Thor and the Phoenix Force. The only major issue is that the emotions were a bit light, even in the end when the Protector gave his friends a royal fuck you. It didn't have much impact when it probably could have, but given the history of the Kree I guess it shouldn't be too surprising. It's like finding out that Nigerian Prince that promised to marry you in exchange for your credit card information turned out to be a fraud.

Avengers #26 was probably the most fun I've had reading an Avengers comic in quite some time. Marvel has really done all the right things in tying other series into Avengers vs. X-men. I honestly can't remember the last time any comic company did such a good job of making the tie-ins fit together so nicely, but then again I can barely remember the last time I didn't pass out drunk next to a dumpster on St. Patrick's Day so what do I know? Well I do know that Brian Michael Bendis deserves praise for making this comic both awesome and relevant to the greater AvX tapestry. For that I give Avengers #26 a 4.5 out of 5. Space is one big unforgiving motherfucker, but when the Phoenix Force is involved expect even suicide missions to suck in ways that make every hangover you've ever had seem tame. Nuff said!

Friday, May 25, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 54: District X Part 3 is LIVE!

The time has come for another important step in the course of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Today, the District X arc will come to an end and the world of X-men Supreme will enter a new phase. I know that in the movies and comics, the X-men often play the role of a typical superhero team. There's always that element of fear and hatred from humanity, but it doesn't always manifest in the stories. I know that's not always possible given how the Marvel universe has unfolded. I know it hasn't been possible in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series because there are so many conflicts going on at once. But it's important to remember that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-men as an allegory for minorities back in the 60s. That allegory continues to be important and that's what I've tried to capture with District X. Like the race riots of the era, the mutants of District X have risen up to make a stand. That stand was complicated by a killer human/robot interface, but the theme is still there. Now the dust must settle and the impact on humans and mutants alike is ready to begin.
Issue 54: District X Part 3

The end of every arc brings great change and District X is no different. Expect a new wave of stories to unfold in the pages of X-men Supreme. In addition, you can also expect more updates to the pics and bios section. I'm proud to announce that my good friend, Brian Brinlee, has submitted a new piece recently. It's a piece that takes place in Issue 27: Cajun Chaos Part 1 and offers a nice glimpse of Gambit's first entry into the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It is posted both in the issue and in the Official Panels section. I hope others will follow and please remember I'm always open to taking submissions for new pics. Please contact me if you wish to discuss this further.

Once again, I strongly encourage everyone to provide feedback on this latest arc as well as every issue thus far in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Feedback is vital to making this fanfiction series the best it can possibly be. I have such big plans ahead for X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope. Those plans will start to come together very soon so any feedback I can get would be deeply appreciated. Until next time, take care and best wishes! Excelsior!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Astonishing X-men #50 - Holy Matrimony of Awesome

I'm a man of simple tastes. Give me a comic book, a bag of weed, and a bottle of whiskey and I can entertain myself for a week. I feel a certain sense of pity for the miserable assholes who make a living getting pissed off about random shit. Zealous religious nuts, right-wing politicians, overly politically correct liberals, and anyone that ever had a job at Fox News are among the elite in this special brand of douche-baggery. Rush Limbauh, Glenn Beck, and Pat Robertson are all men that if they existed in comics would be Lex Luthor's prison bitch. That leads me directly to an issue that has gotten these humorless fucks more worked up than a monkey in a banana factory, gay marriage.

Now I consider myself a friend, ally, and enabler of the gay community. Homosexuals are the latest boogymen and booywomen that have haunted the closets of right-wingers since racism stopped being cool. Hell, sex between gays wasn't made legal in the United States until fucking 2003. So of course when gay couples ask for the right to cut back on having sex with their lover and get on their insurance plan, the men and women who make their living being pissed off at minorities fought tooth and nail to oppose it at every turn. Hell, even our last President supported a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, but that was the same president that thought it was a good idea to invade a country on intelligence that was as credible as the messages carved in the bathroom of a highway rest stop on the Jersey Turnpike. So his position on any issue is beyond fucked. Yet still Fox News and everyone who just can't wrap their heads around two guys bumping uglies insist on dedicating time and energy to acting like douche-bags and denying gays their basic human rights.

This is where I actually applaud Marvel and DC because they're willing to give the finger to the Glenn Becks and Pat Robertsons of the world that insist on following the whims of a sex-hating desert god. They already piss these assholes off regularly by showing ridiculously hot men and women dressing in overly revealing costumes and carrying out questionable acts of heroics that may or may not corrupt the youth of a nation. So why not piss them off a little more by throwing homosexuality up their asses? Okay, maybe that's a poor choice of words, but you get the idea. Archie comics already made headlines by introducing a gay character and then marrying him off. DC Comics also recently waved their dicks in the face of the Christian Right when they announced that the New 52 would result in a prominent character becoming gay. Not to be outdone, Marvel has been hinting that another wedding was in the works for the Marvel universe. Never mind the fact that marriages in their comics tend to end very badly, so much so that deals with the devil are deemed viable alternatives. It's still a big deal and wouldn't you know it? It's a gay wedding! Suck on that Rush Limbauh! I mean, after you're finished sucking on your prescription pain pills.

It was one of the least surprising revelations Marvel has done since revealing that Emma Frost's tits were fake. It spins directly out of the events that have been unfolding in Astonishing X-men, a series that was recently taken over by Marjorie Liu. She's been telling a story that involves Northstar moving in with his long time boy toy, Kyle, while a number of other X-men get caught up in a battle against someone who gets their kicks out of mind-fucking people. In the previous issue, Northstar joined Wolverine, Gambit, Karma, Warbird, Iceman, and Cecellia Reyes in a battle against Chimera. They found out that she was being mind controlled and while they were off searching for the source, Northstar and Kyle shared a tender moment. It could have been much sweeter, but then Karma had to go and cross paths with the crazy bitch behind the mind-fucking. It promised to be a major buzz-kill for any tender moment.

Astonishing X-men #50 begins by continuing a story that's not quite as likely to make Rick Santorum want to puke. In the previous issue, the X-men discovered a GPS tracker on one of the mercenaries that tried to repave a New York City street with their bones. The story picks up with them following the source of the signal to an old complex owned by the fine folk at Hatchi Tech, Inc, makers of creepy abandoned buildings with built in prison cells. Although I bet Goldman Sachs have nicer prisons, this revelation doesn't answer the more pressing questions like who thought it was a good idea to mind-fuck some mercenaries into randomly attacking? Along the way, Northstar starts talking about his relationship woes with Kyle and with Gambit no less. Taking relationship advice from Gambit is like taking driving lessons from Lindsey Lohan. Iceman rightly points that out and tells him he needs to find a more efficient way of dealing with relationship woes.

It turns out that finding answers about a creepy old factory/prison is slightly easier than dealing with relationship woes. Plus, you get to interact with a hot redhead. Fuck if that isn't the most unfair concept since the cancellation of Firefly. But Wolverine (or at leas this penis) has that kind of reach. When he wants more information on Hatchi Tech, he calls up a master spy with a great rack who was also written by Marjorie Liu if you can believe that. Black Widow is among the few redheads that can make Wolverine's scrotum shrivel. She agrees to meet with Wolverine in a restaurant and look pretty fucking hot in the process. Being a master spy, she like the Google of shady intel and she offers plenty in this instance. Hatchi was once a supplier of the more mundane products for shield like bullets, computers, and skin-tight outfits that show off boobs in just the right way. But then their owner, Susan Hatchi, became ill and/or dropped off the face of the Earth. In the Marvel Universe that's usually code for going evil or losing your fucking mind or both. She offers Wolverine some extra intel to follow the trail she left behind. Then Warbird comes barging in demanding that he either get her to another fight or let her sample the buffet. Neither the enemy or the buffet stands a chance.

While Wolverine is being a good X-men and following up leads, Northstar is trying to be a good boyfriend and patch things up with Kyle. Even though they shared a tender moment in the last issue, they're a long ways away from being the gay equivalent of Reed and Sue Richards. Kyle spends a good deal of time bitching about how he can't get internet in his apartment and can't run his business. In this day and age where internet is so important, that's a perfectly valid reason to be an ass to your lover. But Northstar tries to go the extra mile to show Kyle that he loves his perfectly sculpted and cleanly shaven ass. He flat out proposes to him in the middle of a busy park. The audience is either captivated or disgusted, depending on which presidential candidate they gave money to.

Now this is build as an emotional moment and it is for the most part, but the exchange between Kyle and Northstar is just really cliched here. It's the whole "I feel left out" vs the "I love you and I want to make it work" ordeal that has come up with straight couples. Hell, I think it may have been copied and pasted from an argument that Peter Parker and Mary Jane had (pre-devil deal of course). Maybe that was the point, to make it feel like a normal relationship. That's all well and good, but it certainly didn't feel unique. For Marjorie Liu, who has shown a talent for giving characters a great voice like she did in X-23, it's disappointing even if it does get the right message across. Northstar loves Kyle and wants to be serious with him. He's just taking it way too fucking far and thinking with the wrong head.

Perhaps that's why Kyle flat out said no. It made for a painfully awkward moment, but not quite as awkward when Kyle found himself in the cross hairs of a mysterious villain. It's exactly as cliched as it sounds. For something that was billed as such a landmark moment for Marvel, it really didn't feel that unique. There's not one line between them that's memorable and when you're telling a love story, that's going to kill one too many pussy boners. It leads to a sad moment, but one that really doesn't feel all that unexpected. Even if you're not into gay romance, it's a moment that should have a greater impact than it does. Even with the help of a few extra joints, you just can't feel like this is any different than the same love stories we've been fed since we first realized that being alone sucks our genitals hate us if we neglect them.

While the romance between Nothstar and Kyle was cliched yet meaningful, the ongoing mystery with Hitachi doesn't do much better. Wolverine leads Warbird, Iceman, and Gambit to a stereotypical abandoned warehouse. Seriously, what is it about warehouses that they have to be the site if every fucking conflict in every fucking comic? I don't mind comics that stick to formulas, but even if you have the best strain of weed you get sick of it after a while. It's pretty standard here. They encounter another Marauder. This time it's Blockbuster and he's more fucked than the video store he's named after. It's only a short fight. Warbird stabs his back and he actually seemed grateful. It was clear that whatever fucked up Chimura's mind in the last issue was in the process of sodomizing his.

Since someone tried to kill them, the X-men know they're on the right track. So they do the same dumb thing every hero does in this situation and barge right into the creepy abandoned warehouse. This leads them to make a very grim discovery. The Marauders apparently were forced to slaughter each other, presumably while someone watched with popcorn, a bottle of lube, and no pants. It's a grim sight, but one the X-men should be used to in their line of work. They should also be used to evil masterminds sneaking up on them, but again that's what happens when you go barging into a creepy warehouse. You either get attacked or mind fucked. In this case it's the latter. We don't see the source, but it's clear that whoever was behind the Marauders cage match just wasn't content forcing regular superpowered mercenaries to beat each other up. He/she wants to graduate to X-men and like most cliched plots, you can figure out where it goes from there.

It puts Northstar right in the line of fire. He might as well have camped out with the Westboro Baptist Church in a dark alley because when he finds out that Kyle has been abducted, he flies towards his fellow X-men with the urgency of Donald Trump to a toupee clearance sale. Along the way he continues whining about how he fucked things up with Kyle and not in a good way. It's still pretty cliched, but it does get the right message across that he's in a very emotional state. This only worsens when he arrives to find that Iceman is now being mind-controlled and doing his best impression of a giant ice cockroach that listened to one too many Jerry Falwell sermons. Northstar manages to knock some sense into him, but he's still no closer to saving Kyle.

This is where the cliches end and the storytelling talents of Marjorie Liu converge. For the past few issues, there have been brief shots of the near future showing Northstar running for his life while the X-men chase him. And it's not because he put a webcam in their toilets either. We now know why and we know the reason behind it. This helps tie the overall arc together in a way that goes a long ways towards making up for the cliches. It's always a great feeling when the elements of an arc fit together so nicely. It's like coming home and finding a beautiful naked women sitting on your couch with a fresh back of weed in both hands and this won't make you forget where you put your keys.

Once again, I applaud any piece of work that upsets uptight religious zealots or would be banned from the libraries at Liberty University. This issue certainly did that, treating a homosexual relationship with the same depth and passion as a heterosexual relationship. Somewhere out there a Catholic priest is weeping, Rick Santorum is dry heaving over his toilet, and Ricky Martin is shaking his hips with a little extra passion. However, pissing off bigoted assholes who need to get laid and smoke a joint is not enough to make a comic awesome. This issue did a good job of moving the story forward and following a logical progression from the events of the previous two issues. It also did a nice job of linking up the flash-forward scenes that were littered in the previous two issues to the end of this issue. However, it's the finer details that fell short.

The biggest issue in this comic wasn't that it offended bible thumpers. It was that too much of it was cliched. The abandoned factories were cliched settings. The emotional drama with Northstar and Kyle were cliched. There was no unique feeling to this issue. It felt as though you could cut and paste the setting and the sappy parts into other comics and it would still make sense. Marjorie Liu is usually very good at providing a special voice to her books. This was one instance where that voice was too bland. It doesn't bring the comic down completely or even halfway. It just makes it too easily forgettable.

Now I don't want to understate the important milestone this represents for Marvel. Taking on gay marriage at time when the talking heads of the political world are shitting themselves is a risky proposition and for the most part, it's handled nicely in this issue. It could have been handled better, but it still has the right impact. It may not undo the shitty ballot initiatives in North Carolina, but it does build around a solid story that still has the potential to finish strong once all the pieces are in place. Until then, I give Astonishing X-men #50 a 3.5 out of 5. Gay rights supporters, bigot haters, and fans of the Bravo network should rejoice! Marvel has joined your fight and what better ally to have than the same people that made their own messiah character not named after a Jewish carpenter? Nuff said!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Animation Abomination - Ultimate Spider-Man

A few months ago I did a post on the future of Marvel animation and based on my drunken assessment, I deemed the future awesome. Well much like the stock market, those futures crashed and burned harder than Vanilla Ice's rap career. In the time since the debut of Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes Season 2 and the debut of the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, shit has not only hit the fan. It's clogged the intake of a jumbo jet and spewed diarrhea all over every time zone in the Western Hemisphere.

I've avoided talking about it because it often leads me to go on benders that result in me waking up in another state naked with an empty bottle of whiskey shoved up my ass, but there's no use avoiding it now. Ultimate Spider-Man sucks dinosaur dick. It's the kind of show that even a mental patient off their meds would watch and say "What the fuck is this shit and why the fuck haven't the elves smashed the TV yet?" I won't go over all the ways as to why it sucks. Not because I don't have the energy but because so many people have already done the work for me. The fine folks at Comic Book Movie have already compiled some angry comments regarding how fucked this show is. But at the risk of just too much copying and pasting, I found a video from the fine folks at Bleeding Cool that offers a much more sober assessment than I could ever manage.

Is it harsh? I say fuck no. These are the people that Marvel actually wants to watch this shit and they're not satisfied. Now I flunked economics, but even I know that when your customers aren't happy that usually means you're doing something wrong. Apple fired Steve Jobs back in the 80s. Their company sucked for over a decade. And if it took Apple that long to figure out what they did wrong, what hope do we have for Ultimate Spider-Man?

The look on Peter Parker's face from seeing his own show is the same look a child gets when they walk in on their grandparents fucking.

I think most would have been okay with Ultimate Spider-Man being horrible. At least we still have Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heros, right? Right?! Well bend me over, shave my ass, and fry an egg on both my butt cheeks because Marvel has decided to cancel that shit. That's right. A show that scores a pretty impressive 8.2 on Metacritic is being canned in favor of the bastard love child of Family Guy and Spectacular Spider-Man. Instead, they prefer that the Avengers line up with the same 4th wall breaking, immature, plot-free bullshit that dominates the Ultimate Spider-Man universe. That shit may fly in Bizarro world, but in this cozy little place we call reality that's more fucked than Bankok whore on coupon day.

Naturally, fans aren't responding well to this news. In the past they really didn't have many options for venting their frustrations aside from writing strongly worded letters that Marvel or Disney probably used to roll joints with. Well this is the era of social media, motherfucker! That means fans have options and they know how to use them. So much so that the head of Marvel's TV division, Jeph Loeb, had to close his Facebook page because too many people were giving him the finger and then some. I imagine he already had his share of detractors after he flat out butchered the Ultimate universe, but when you fuck with cartoons then that's just going too far I guess.

Jeph Loeb. Will butcher your favorite comic characters and do it with a smile.

Yet in many ways, this is the ultimate act of cowardice. See no criticism. Hear no criticism. Accept no criticism. That appears to be Marvel's motto now. When the fans get upset, just ignore them and shrug your shoulders. I mean you can't please everybody, right? Well that's true, but that shit becomes a lousy excuse when you're getting the kind of crap that Ultimate Spider-Man is getting. Now I'm sure there were some assholes on that crossed lines that even I wouldn't cross on my worst benders. Comments about his son, who died tragically, are way over the line. But anyone who is in a position of power like Jeph Loeb has to understand that they are going to face asshole like that. They have a responsibility to go run and hide from criticism when the response isn't all hookers and cake. Great power and great responsibility...sound familiar? Those comments that cross the line can be flagged and deleted. But deleting the whole page is like fixing a TV with a few dead pixels with a sledge hammer. It causes more damage than necessary and generally sends the message to the fans that you don't give a shit about their sentiment. That may be okay when you're the only game in town, but when you have competition like DC's animation block with Green Lantern and Young Justice (two cartoons that are awesome by the way) then that's a problem.

It takes a special kind of arrogance to ignore fan outrage. It takes even more arrogance to pretty much toss it aside and continue this shit that really isn't jiving with the fans. Rumors that haven't been confirmed have already hinted that Marvel doesn't give a shit about the negative response from Ultimate Spider-Man. They're not only going to continue this shitty style of animation. They're going to use it in future cartoons like a new Avengers cartoon and a new Hulk cartoon. Albert Einstein himself said that the definition of insanity is doing the same shit again and again and expecting a different result. Marvel can justify all the shit they want, but they are NOT smarter than Einstein.

In the end, it all comes down to power and responsibility. Guys like me are just fans. We have zero power over how Marvel uses these characters we love so much. If we don't like it, we can't do anything aside from get drunk until Marvel does something different. Guys like Joe Quesada and Jeph Loeb have serious power over these characters. They have the licenses to do whatever the fuck they want with them. They can make Captain America a Nazi, they can make Spider-Man gay, and they can give Emma Frost a sex change. That is their right under the law. That right includes making a shitty cartoon that clearly isn't going over well with fans. But fans don't have the power to change this shit. Marvel has that power and like the shitty show says, with great power comes great responsibility. And as it stands, Marvel and everyone in their animation division is being pretty fucking irresponsible. That doesn't just make them assholes on a cosmic scale. That makes them hypocrites. We can deal with assholes. Hell, some of them get their own reality shows. But we can't deal with hypocrites. They are as close to real life super-villains as it gets and if Marvel doesn't understand this then they might as well send DC all their blow and hookers because it's game over. When the company that coined the phrase "With great power comes great responsibility" starts acting irresponsible, then shit has gone horribly wrong.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Uncanny X-men #12 - Innuendo and Awesome

Sex. Now that I have your attention I'm ready to begin my review of yet another issue of Uncanny X-men. Now I didn't just say sex to get your attention. I may have said it because I just finished watching three hours of anime porn and my dick is still hard or maybe I'm trying to set the tone for what this issue has in store. Or maybe I'm just a little drunk. Well, I'll leave it to you the reader to figure that out and save the rest for my parole officer. My point is that comics are full of sexy, ridiculously proportioned men and women. Why not celebrate it every now and then? When you have a great writer like Kieron Gillen and an artist like Greg Land who probably uses porn stars as tracing material, you're bound to do a little titillating and make some 13-year-old boys that haven't gotten around porn filters on their computers yet very happy.

You may think that there isn't much time for wanking and hanking in the pages of Uncanny X-men and you would have a valid point. Uncanny X-men is in the midst of Avengers vs. X-men and who has time to get their freak on when two superhero teams are mashing it up? Sure, beautiful women can get into those sexy uniforms with ease, but getting out of them to do a little boinking is just too much. But like every tie-in linked to Avengers vs. X-men, Uncanny X-men has it's own style and it's own theme. So far the tie-ins for Avengers vs. X-men have been above average. Most tie-ins are hit or miss with more misses than hits. Marvel seems to be getting it right this time and Uncanny X-men is one of those titles they probably don't want to fuck up.

Uncanny X-men #11 was the first tie-in and it didn't try to use sex to sell the story. It was essentially an extended recap, covering the points of view of several characters as we relived the events of Avengers vs. X-men #1 and #2. It's about as gripping as it sounds, but it did offer some intriguing new insight. However, it didn't really move the story forward in the context of the overall struggle between the Avengers and the X-men. Uncanny X-men #12 is poised to take a different approach and hopefully one that doesn't just act as an extended reminder. This is the 21st century. We have apps for that shit.

Uncanny X-men #12 picks up shortly after Avengers vs. X-men #3. It catches up with Cyclops and the team of X-men that slipped out of the Avengers grasp courtesy of a little trick from Magik. They've since surmised that Hope may be in the Savage Land, Tabula Rasa, Latveria, Wakanda, or Wundagore. Since the Avengers have sent teams to each location, the X-men are obligated to do the same less their collective dicks not measure up. Namor leads a team consisting of Sunspot and Hepzibah, two characters that have been in the pages of Uncanny as many times as my Aunt Pumpkin O'bigtits. It seems like a random team, but Kieron Gillen has fun with it by showing that Hepzibah clearly didn't get laid enough while she wasn't a major character because she hits on Namor from the get go. To be fair, he's a fucking king with the body of an Olympian. He is to women what Pamela Anderson is to men, minus the silicone.

Their chosen battleground, Tabula Rasa, should be familiar to anyone who has been reading Uncanny X-men for the past few months. Unless of course you smoked more weed than me, then you're lucky if you remember how to wipe after taking a shit, but I'll assume your dealer isn't that stupid. The X-men have been to Tabula Rasa, but the Avengers have not. So when Luke Cage, She-Hulk, and Thing show up they might as well be a transvestite hooker in Pat Robertson's church. They find out that the landscape is not very forgiving and while it may make for a good post card, it's like those berries you end up eating while stoned. They turn your insides to molten magma and give you diarrhea for the next three days. So they're already at a disadvantage.

This would be difficult enough, but for the reader it's a point of confusion. I'm not talking about the unforgiving landscape of Tabula Rasa. I'm talking about She-Hulk's presence. Now I understand why the Avengers would want a super strong woman with green skin that looks great in skin tight outfits on an unforgiving landscape like Tabula Rasa, but she was already playing a major role in the pages of X-men Legacy by making Rogue sexier with green skin. Now maybe this comic takes place sometime before or after the events of that comic, but it isn't very clear or very logical. I know tie-ins sometimes result in the writers or publishers just saying "fuck it, let's show heroes beating each other up" it's still one of those little things that make's it look like Marvel isn't trying as hard as they need to.

Inconsistencies aside, the Avengers quickly find out that the so-called intelligence they're relying on to find Hope is about as reliable as stock tips from Bernie Madoff. They make their way to a nearby cave and as anyone who has read more than two comics will tell you, caves in comics either contain unparalleled treasures or a horrific monster or both. Let's jut say that when Thing comes out of the cave, his net worth is the same. Tabula Rasa hasn't become any less forgiving since the last time Kieron Gillen and Greg Land visited it and many fans will probably appreciate that.

Unlike the Avengers, Namor's X-men team has it much easier. During the X-men's last trip to Tabula Rasa, Namor couldn't keep it in his pants and ended up fucking an alien underseas queen that looked like an overgrown tapeworm. Say what you will about Namor's inability to stop himself from humping anything that has a fuckable hole, but he knows how to make an impression on a woman or woman-like creature. That queen was nice enough to escort Namor's team through Tabula Rasa. It's the least she could do for getting freaky with a king. Hepzibah is even lurid enough to ask for details. She can't speak the language, but she can probably assume that whatever this creature considers multiple orgasms was a significant factor.

This time it's the X-men that get the drop on the Avengers. Namor lands the first blow, hitting Luke Cage and going right for Thing since their little scuffle during Avengers vs. X-men #2 didn't exactly go his way. The battle plays out with varying degrees of action, but the main factor here is the effectiveness of home field advantage. The X-men know this territory and it shows. They clearly seem to have the edge, but the Avengers do put up an admirable fight. Sunspot certainly shows his youth in his inability to hold up against She-Hulk and Thing. Hepzibah shows she may have skills with her guns (and I'm not referring to her boobs), but that only goes so far against three Avengers with bullet-proof skin. If she's trying to get into Namor's pants, she might have to plan on getting fresh batteries for her vibrator.

Despite some of these setbacks, Namor shows that he's still a freakin' king and he knows how to fight dirty. He goes so far as to grab Luke Cage and use him as a bat to knock around She-Hulk. I'm a bit surprised that he didn't offer to make She-Hulk die of multiple orgasms, but I guess he's not turned on by a woman that isn't a tapeworm queen or has blonde hair and big tits. Luke Cage and She-Hulk are definitely roughed up and it's a pretty satisfying way to see them defeated. Namor hasn't had a chance to shine in a way that doesn't involve making Emma Frost's panties wet, but this definitely helps.

He then turns his attention to Thing, the everloving asshole that was able to get the better of him back during the early parts of the Avengers vs. X-men brawl. This battle is much more thorough. They lay into each other like a drunk Ohio State alum against an equally drunk Michigan alum after a football game. As they're going at it, they're being watched by another familiar face from Uncanny X-men. His/her name is Apex, the lovable yet twisted creature that is the last of his kind in Tabula Rasa. He shows that despite having too much free time and no females to hump, he finds ways to get aroused. He actually goes so far as to stop Thing and Namor so he can get a better seat. He thinks this is a mating ritual for humans and as creepy as that sounds, he's still as lovable as he is perverted.

Now do you see why I opened this review with jokes about sex? First we had Hepzibah looking to jump Namor's bone. Then we have Apex trying to study the mating rituals of superhumans. Even though this is a serious tie-in that shows the Avengers and X-men fighting over who will possess Hope, there's still some room for dirty humor. Leave it to Kieron Gillen to make readers think superheroes fighting counts as foreplay. But in this day and age when you can get a boner from damn near anything, it's not as ridiculous as it sounds.

Before the battle ends with more awkwardness, Magik shows up to teleport Namor's team away. At this point the timeline catches up with the events in Avengers vs. X-men #4 where the X-men found out where Hope is going. That means Cyclops is recalling the Extinction team so they can take a quick trip to the moon. If you read Avengers vs. X-men #4, you know how that shit ends. For Uncanny X-men #12, it represents a nice ending that fits the events of the Avengers vs. X-men mythos into a much more complete picture. While some details may have been messed up and laced with sexual humor, it still feels satisfying and enjoyable in the end.

I once tried on a pair of nearly seamless underwear. My balls thanked me and my penis smiled. That's because a seamless piece of work is to be celebrated. Avengers vs. X-men is a big motherfucking event and it's full of a shit ton of tie-ins. They don't have to fit together perfectly. They just have to fit together. Yet Marvel has found a way to make it as close to perfect as possible without making my penis smile again. I say it's close because there are still some inconsistencies, but in the end it does succeed in doing what a tie-in issue is supposed to do. It tied in the events conveyed in this issue to the events that would later play out in Avengers vs. X-men #4. I know that may not sound like much. Hell, it sounds like wondering what the movie "Snakes on a Plane" is about. But it's remarkable how few comics get that shit right so that makes Uncanny X-men #12 special.

It's not without some concerns. The presence of She-Hulk on Tabula Rasa after her presence was such a big spectacle in X-men Legacy is confusing and a little fucked up. So is Hepzibah's sudden appearance after being MIA so so fucking long. Someone like Sunspot is acceptable given his role in other comics like New Mutants, but Hepzibah? How she entered the fray would have made for a nice aside, but she just happened to be in a position to get her panties wet around Namor. I'm all for throwing in a hot alien chick, but a little explanation here and there goes a long ways. But I guess that's just me.

Uncanny X-men #12 is still solid all the way through. It doesn't just recap shit like the last issue did. It actually takes one of the many battles currently unfolding in the Avengers vs. X-men conflict and expands on it. Moreover, it takes events from recent issues of Uncanny X-men and incorporates them into the conflict. Throwing in a little sexual innuendo along with some dirty jokes also really helps and Kieron Gillen's mastery of dialog is just icing on the crack of a strippers ass. I give Uncanny X-men #10 a 4.5 out of 5. Tie-ins are pretty erratic, not unlike Charlie Sheen when he hasn't had his daily helping of cocaine and hookers. Avengers vs. X-men is actually bringing some consistency into the mix. It feels like it should've been done long ago, like withdrawing from Iraq. At least this time we didn't have to elect a Black President to do it. Thank you for saving us the campaign ads, Marvel! Nuff said.

Friday, May 18, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 54: District X Part 3 PREVIEW

Whenever I'm close to the end of an important arc in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, I tend to have all sorts of mixed feelings. The end of every arc is an accomplishment, but at the same time it's also a staging ground for the next big shift in the X-men Supreme mythos. Part of good storytelling involves setting up the stories of the future with the events of the present. The journey the X-men are currently undertaking is long and tedious. It promises to have many twists and turns along the way. The events of District X promise to reverberate in a profound way moving forward. The X-men Supreme fanfiction series is in the midst of various plots, but they are all linked together within a single web. It may seem messy now, but I promise you it's building towards something big! That big moment cannot happen until the District X story is resolved. It is just about complete and as such I've prepared a brief preview here that should offer a hint of what you can expect with this latest installment of X-men Supreme.

“You did good, son. I knew I could count on you to make the right decision,” he told his son.

“Wasn’t too hard,” shrugged Warren, “Creed dug his own grave. I just made sure he fell into it face first.”

“You did more than that. You were smart, cunning, and focused. Yet you never lost sight of your laurels, something I know I lose track of one time too many. You did everything a good business man should do. On top of that, you helped your kind and your family company all at once.”

“Thanks, Dad. But I’m not sure how much this is going to help the company. We did sink quite a bit of resources into Creed’s prototype. I doubt we’ll recover it all in a single lawsuit.”

“Look at it another way,” his father argued, “He developed that technology under the Worthington name. As such, we own the rights. So we can not only sue and cripple the Friends of Humanity. We can make money off the fruits of their labor.”

“In other words we’ll be screwing them over in more ways than one?” laughed Warren, “I doubt the hippies will approve and I’m sure the lawyers will be all for it. But if it hurts the pro-Graydon Creed camp I’m all for it!”

The younger Worthington raised his glass in a toast and finished his champagne. He couldn’t stop smiling as he continued watching the news. But as they savored their victory, the older Worthington’s expression became serious again. He kept watching his son as he laughed and drank. As much as he wanted to celebrate with him, there were other important matters to discuss.

“As glad as I am to see you so upbeat, there are a few serious matters I was hoping to discuss with you, father to son.”

“Can it wait, dad?” groaned Warren, “They’re about to show the clip of Creed getting cuffed again!”

“I’m afraid it can’t,” said the older Worthington as he hit the pause button on his TV much to his son’s dismay.

“Oh come on! They were just getting to the part where his eyes looked like they were about to explode!” Warren complained.

“You can watch it later. We really should talk about what you’ve done here. This is a big deal for us and I’m not just talking about the company or Graydon Creed.”

“Oh…I see,” said the winged mutant, picking up on his father’s undertone, “Were you hoping to make a father/son moment out of this or something? As happy as I am, you can’t expect this to overshadow all the times you’ve messed up.”

“I’m not saying it should. I understand I still have a long ways to go in that respect. But I was hoping this could be the beginning of something new. Not just for us, but for our family as a whole.”

“What are you getting at, dad?”

Warren Jr. rose up and sighed. It was never easy talking to his son about these issues, even when they were both in a good mood. But he may not get another chance like this.

“Son, this whole endeavor to bring you into the company so you could watch over the Friends of Humanity wasn’t just about making amends. There’s another more pragmatic side to it,” the older man said.

“Why am I not surprised?” said Warren dryly, “Is it possible for you to not have ulterior motives for once in your life?”

“I’m sorry, but it goes back to that na├»ve notion I’ve been holding onto all these years. Even when we were at our most distant, I still have a sincere hope that you will one day take over this company and lead it as my father did before me.”

“You think after just one success like this I want to throw everything away with the X-men and follow in the family business?”

“I’m not asking you to throw anything away, Warren. I don’t want a repeat of what happened with Candy. I’m just leaving it on the table for you. Is it so much to ask that I be able to entertain such hopes?”

Warren looked at his father cynically. He set aside his wine glass and got up as well. He found himself looking away, having seen that desperate gaze in him before. It was usually easy to brush off. After he drove Candy away from him, he swore he would never follow the path laid out for him by his father. But with these recent events, he wasn’t so sure.

“I’m willing to take small steps here,” said the older Worthington, “For now, you can go back to the Xavier Institute and rejoin the X-men. But whenever you’re ready to take the next step, however small it may be, Worthington Industries will be ready for you. I have a number of positions you can take on at a moment’s notice.”

“Not that I’m considering it, but what kind of positions?” asked Warren curiously.

“Important kinds,” his father answered, “All have ties to our mutant research division. I know we have a shaky history in that arena, but we can’t afford to ignore it.”

“That’s going against karma in a big way,” said Warren.

“I know. But consider these recent events. If Graydon Creed didn’t use us to develop his prototype, he would have found someone else. And you never would have been in a position to stop them.”

The winged mutant was silent for a moment. He looked back at the paused image on the TV, which depicted Graydon Creed getting forced into a police car. It was humbling in a ways. Without his family company, this satisfying outcome wouldn’t have been possible.

“The same logic applies to every organization doing mutant research,” his father went on, “If we don’t do it, someone else will. For that very reason, it’s important we stay involved. You’re in a unique position, Warren. You’re the heir to the Worthington fortune. You have the resources to effect great change, almost as much as Charles Xavier. You can be part of this process. One way or another, science and business will find their way into the mutant issue. If you’re part of it, you can see to it that future advancements are for the good of everybody. If not...I suppose that’s a risk you must be willing to take.”

Also, I've been working hard to get my pics section for the Goblin Queen up to date. I know it seems like she's been getting most of the attention lately and there's a reason for that. I had a large number of pics stored before she was introduced into X-men Supreme and it's been tedious getting them all uploaded. Thankfully, I'm almost complete! Soon, the Goblin Queen's section will be up to date and I can dedicate more time to finding pics for other sexy X-women!

The end of the District X arc will lead to some major shifts that will open new conflicts while revisiting old ones. It will also allow me to do some work on the bios. I know I said I've been working on that for a while and I mean it. The first bio I want to post after District X is Alex Summers. I thought about posting it beforehand, but I didn't want to risk any spoilers. I generally try to introduce new characters after their first big arc. Once he's up, I'll see if I can develop other bios from the mutants of District X. The X-men Supreme fanfiction series is a big world and it's only going to get bigger. As always, I strongly encourage everyone to provide feedback by contacting me or posting it on each issue of the series. There's so much more to come so the more feedback you can provide the better! Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!