Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Xtreme X-men #1 - Xtreme Multiverse Awesome

It's no secret that Marvel has an abundance of alternate universes. Hell, Marvel has alternate universes in the same way Homer Simpson has a drinking problem. It's as broad and diverse as whatever the brilliant minds at Marvel can come up with and/or whatever exotic substances they can get their hands on. We've had alternate realities where mutants are shoved into concentration camps and hunted by sentinels (Days of Futures Past), another alternate reality where mutants are shoved into concentration champs and hunted by sentinels (Ultimate X-men, which is basically just one prolonged rip-off of Days of Futures Past among other things), and another reality where mutants rule over humans under Magneto's magnetic personality (House of M). You would think that would be enough alternate realities for Marvel to explore, but I'm sure everyone at Marvel would only laugh at the notion before calling security for stalking them in a Hulk costume. Like naked photos of Jessica Alba, you just can't get enough.

A new and exotic alternate universe was recently birthed from the womb of Greg Pak. While he's best known for having the Hulk wage war on the entire Marvel universe, he also had a brief run on Astonishing X-men where he introduced a universe where Magneto has decimated the world to the point where it's literally falling apart and Charles Xavier has lost his fucking mind in his effort to hold it together. During his brief run, Pak had 616 Cyclops travel to this crumbling world and free end Xavier's plan to hold the world together by sacrificing mutants from parallel universes. It's exactly as twisted as it sounds. He also took some time to swap spit with Storm, but that's another story.

Now Greg Pak is back to revisit this crumbling world he birthed in the pages of a relaunched series, Xtreme X-men. That's right, the series where Chris Claremont explored subtle hints of lesbian attraction between Storm and Jean Grey is back and with a new premise. I'm not sure how much lesbian attraction Pak will employ, but I'll assume it'll be no more than the required allotment dictated by their Disney overlords. The world that 616 Cyclops left behind is still falling apart. Now Xtreme X-men promises to follow Captain James Howlett (alternate Wolverine), Emmeline Frost-Summers (alternate Emma Frost), and Kurt Waggoner (alternate Nightcrawler who looks suspiciously like the Nightcrawler in X-men Evolution) as they fight to save a world that Magneto fucked up.

Mr. Pak doesn't skip a beat in picking up where he left off with his Astonishing X-men arc. Wolverine and Emmeline are rallying what few X-men they have to protect the petrified human population as their world prepares to fall apart faster than Tiger Wood's squeaky clean image. They try to get some form of guidance by linking up all the floating heads of alternate dimension Charles Xaviers that were used to bring mutants into this broken world. Again, it's as fucked up as it sounds. They either need to find a way to fix this crumbling world or find a new universe to crash. It's like having a choice between fixing the toilet that's overflowing with shit in your apartment or crashing with a friend. I think we all know which we prefer.

And like trying to fix an overflowing toilet by repeatedly flushing it, these alternate world X-men manage to overload the elaborate array of Xavier heads. It seems like an inefficient and foolish way to solve a global problem, but when the world around you is literally falling apart sometimes the smartest thing you can do is bang on the machine you're relying on to save you and hope it does something. I'm sure it fails 99.99999999 percent of the time, but in this instance it "works" to a point. That is, if you call "work" creating a new portal that's supposed to accommodate over 6 billion people that are probably still in the process of shitting themselves.

So this alternate world is more fucked than a porn star in a dildo factory. But 616 for all it's schismed X-men and regularly besiged Avengers is still in one piece. Like his Astonishing X-men arc, Greg Pak seeks to link up 616 with this new world he's created. But instead of utilizing Cyclops when he's in an emo mood, he focuses on a pretty blonde with a beautiful singing voice who also plays guitar. For some reason, I'm pretty sure most of the male readers won't disagree with that. Dazzler, who has been somewhat of a tertiary X-man in the X-books, is enjoying the normal sights of San Francisco, which include a man dressed in drag with very little shame to spare impersonating her. But she doesn't seem to mind and uses it as an opportunity to flirt with a cute guy. Because let's face it, even special clams need a few pearls inside them every once in a while.

Unfortunately, Dazzler doesn't get a chance to measure the bulge in her new beau's pants. She's called upon by Cyclops to help Madison Jefferies and Danger with an experiment involving the Ghost Box. You can probably see where this is going. You might as well put put the Grateful Dead in a room full of cocaine. You know what's going to happen. For those of you who skipped the Astonishing X-men arc that introduced the Ghost Box (and you would be forgiving for doing so), all you need to know is it does to the space time continuum what Michelle Bauchman does to the credibility of the Tea Party. Madison Jefferies needed an influx of energy and he figured he would have better luck if a beautiful woman was the source. I can honestly find no flaw in such logic.

Even with sound logic, the Ghost Box does what it does best and anally rapes the space time continuum. Since this is the same gizmo that transported Cyclops to the crazy realm of a million Xavier heads, it's not entirely coincidence that it links up with that other massive glory hole that was torn in the other universe. It causes Emmeline, Wolverine, and Kid Nightcrawler to tumble into the 616 world. However, it also causes a tentacle monster to follow them as well because apparently tentacle monsters are attracted to dimensional portals in the same way Donald Trump is attracted to European models. It's not quite as random as it sounds. It would be if there was a shitty explanation for it, but that comes a bit later. For now, Dazzler decides that since no one in the other X-books will let her demonstrate her awesome, she'll try to close the dimensional portal herself since she's the one that opened it. Again, it's not flawed logic. But even sound logic can be pretty fucked up.

It ends only slightly as messy as you would expect. No, it doesn't cause the universe to explode or cite any Back to the Future references for the 285983474239875th time. It just pulls the three dimensionally challenged X-men back into the portal and Dazzler goes with them. This is where we actually do get an explanation for that tentacle monster that looks like it was lifted from the set of a Japanese anime porno. That creature isn't just any phallic-metaphor monster that strikes fear into all girls who dress in school girl uniforms. It's actually Charles Xavier from one of the other universes. That's right, there is a universe where Xavier is a giant squid-like monster. I'm assuming it's the same universe where Magneto is a massive collection of vaginas, but I suppose they can't show that at Marvel. What with being owned by Disney and all. But since this version of Wolverine is immune to telepathy (that's another trait this squid-Xavier has), he's able to send him back to that big sushi bar in the sky.

Once girls in school uniforms everywhere can safely uncross their legs, Dazzler gets to know her new alternate reality X-men. This is where Greg Pak's knack for dialog and wit really shines. We get some interesting hints that the Dazzler that Emmeline knows is less dazzling and more lurid. Perhaps she has a nickname like the Squirter, Assplug, or the Titonator. Okay, those are all titles in my porno collection, but infinite universes mean infinite possibilities, right? Kid Nightcrawler's world seems slightly less lurid. He claims his world is called the United States of California and Dazzler is a world famous accordion player. Picture that for a minute. Not just Dazzler playing the accordion, but a world where California runs the government. I imagine it's run by celebrities and rapidly defaulting on debt. Wait...okay, maybe it's not that different anyways.

I bring this up because it's a novel and much smoother way to explain these details without turning the story into a documentary narrated by Morgan Freeman. One of the things consistently awesome comic book writers tend to do is actually work the exposition into the story in between action scenes. It's not an easy thing to do, but Greg Pak (who kicked ass on Hulk for years mind you) shows off his ability to do so right here. Now it would have been much nicer if he included some of the other alternate characters he introduced like Storm and Armor. They just seemed to flat out disappear after the first page. But it's good he's exploring some of these characters and putting Dazzler in an awkward position in the process. But then again, she recently saw a guy in drag singing her songs. I imagine awkward is a relative term for her.

They eventually settle down and address the floating head Xavier that Kid Nightcrawler has been carrying around with him since the initial jump. He claims that by overloading all the dimensional gizmos that were used to keep their world in one piece, they've awakened countless other evil Xavier's not unlike the walking tentacle rape monster they just faced. And they need to hunt those Xaviers down and kill them before they start nosing around the dimensional gate. Dazzler is a little uncomfortable with the prospect of killing other Xaviers, but given her limited options and being at the mercy of a floating head she has to go along with it. I think there's a message here about following disembodied heads. I'm not sure how useful that message is, but I'm sure it's somewhere on Disney's list of morals to teach young children.

With guidance from the Xavier head, he takes his new team of dimensional hopping X-men through another gateway. Having just faced a tentacle monster, you would think they would be ready for anything. They end up in a world where Xavier and a few other notable Marvel figures have gotten way too much into Greek mythology because they welcome these dimensional travels with the same warmth as a North Korean envoy welcomes democracy protesters. How much worse is it than a tentacle monster? Well, we'll have to wait until the next issue to find out.

Xtreme X-men is not billed as being the same book it was under Chris Claremont. It's a unique book with a unique premise that allows it to operate without diving too deep in the shit storm continuity of the other X-books. In that sense it's a lot like Uncanny X-Force in that it involves 616, but it doesn't deal with the events in 616 directly. The added universe hopping also gives it a very Exiles-like feel, which if you're a fan of that series that was painfully canceled in it's prime should have a deep appreciation for what Greg Pak is doing here. You don't even have to read his Astonishing X-men arc. The first few pages pretty much set you up with the premise and the story unfolds from there. And by and large, it's a pretty awesome story.

It's a story that combines universe-hopping sci-fi with some clever wit, stunning visuals, and memorable dialog. The mental image of Dazzler playing the accordion or the state of California running America is enough to make this comic worth buying alone. It's a little disorganized at times. If you skip just one page of this issue, you'll be more lost than Paris Hilton at a lecture on quantum mechanics. In addition, the very premise of there being infinite universes makes it seem as though the solution to the problem with this broken Earth is too easy. Anyone who can even begin to wrap their head around infinite (a hit of acid helps) understands that there are more than enough prospective worlds for this broken world to inhabit. You don't get the sense that there are other sub-plots developing or any deeper friendships forming. That and the absence of Armor and Storm were a little off-putting.

However, Xtreme X-men #1 is still a solid introduction to an exciting and exotic new X-book. Greg Pak's talent for telling more sci-fi type stories really shines here. The characters are lovable and the action is engaging. You just can't go wrong with tentacle monsters. It's not a series that will overshadow the big events currently going on in the regular X-books with Avengers vs. X-men. It's also not a book that will match the drama or grit of Uncanny X-Force. But if you love alternate worlds, universe hopping, or just have an itch that only Exiles used to be able to reach then there's plenty to love about this comic. I give Xtreme X-men #1 a 4 out of 5. Greg Pak has undergone the labor pains of birthing a new X-men universe. Now it's time to wipe away the placenta, cut the umbilical chord, and enjoy this beautifully Xtreme baby. Nuff said!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Uncanny X-Force #28 - Time Twisting Awesome

Quick! What's bloody, brutal, disturbing, and doesn't involve Sarah Palin giving live birth in a slaughter house? If you voted Uncanny X-Force, then congratulations. You're not a right-wing douche-bag and you have a soul. But even if you lost your soul in a bet with the devil on Ricky Martin's sexuality, you could still find plenty to enjoy with Uncanny X-Force. Even without major tie-ins to the other X-books or big line-wide events like Avengers vs. X-men, it's been one of Marvel's most consistently awesome books. It's one of those rare comics that is like pizza or an orgasm. Even when it's lousy, it's still pretty fucking awesome.

Uncanny X-Force has been about as bloody as you would expect lately. It started disturbingly enough with Psylocke boning Fantomex. Then your rumbling stomach was replaced by a rock hard dick (or pussy boner for you ladies out there) when Mystique entered the picture and screwed over Fantomex in ways that are as literal as they are awesome. It all built upon a new threat that X-Force had been investigating called the Omega Clan. This group of Omega Red knock-offs not only roughed X-Force up. They led to the disturbingly awesome revelation that a new Brotherhood of Mutants had formed. Apparently, the X-men's enemies were tired of X-Force's whole secret kill squad policy and decided to give them the finger in ways that are as painful as they are explosive. It started when they managed to kill Fantomex, leaving his digital fuck-buddy EVA to save Psylocke. Then she met up with the rest of X-Force just in time for their base to be blown to hell by a fucking nuclear blast, courtesy of Fantomex's pet Ultimaton. It may sound like the freakin' apocalypse, but for X-Force it's still the equivalent of a bad hangover on a Monday when you're late for work.

Uncanny X-Force #27 ended with a bang. Uncanny X-Force #28 goes back a little further to show what happened in between the big boom. With the threat of instant vaporization imminent, X-Force had to improve and get Psylocke to mind-fuck Gateway (for some reason he's still hanging out with X-Force) into using his powers to transport them away before the big nuclear blast on the final page of the last issue went off. No one should have had any doubts that X-Force would find a way to escape, but one that involves mind-fucking a dying friend is pretty brutal. But then again if that shit bothers you, then clearly you haven't been paying attention to the last 27 issues of this series. That or you've got some kick-ass shrooms and we should talk.

So where does Gateway take them? Last time, he took them to a dystopian future run by Apocalypse. It was a future so fucked up that being incinerated by a nuclear bomb almost seems more appealing. But Wolverine got to see a live Jean Grey again so that was worth it. But as fucked up as that was, Gateway shows that he nor the Marvel universe have much originality left to spare because Gateway ends up transporting X-Force into yet another dystopian future. If you're done rolling your eyes, bear with me. It's 30 years in the future and for reasons not entirely clear, X-Force is immediately confronted by a future team of experienced killers in Cable, Hope, Deadpool, and a horribly aged Frank Castle. But before they can get to them, a future Deathlok approaches X-Force and tells them to follow him. Deadpool is immediately inclined to make a Terminator reference, but for once he restrains himself. That's something you might want to chalk up to memory because who knows when that shit will happen again.

Now I know Uncanny X-Force is supposed to be a grim and gritty book, but in a Marvel universe already crowded with dystopian futures this was especially groan-worthy. Granted, this dystopia isn't as bad as futures where super-intelligent apes treat humans like pets or hoards of angry women roam the land looking for men to castrate. It still reeks of the stench of cliche. Rick Remender has been pretty good at using novel approaches to Uncanny X-Force since it began. This just feels too underwhelming, but thankfully it's only one aspect of a much larger story.

The threat of ending up on the business end of this new dystopia's dystopian mojo leads X-Force to follow Deathlok into the sewers. Apparently every dystopia still thinks nobody is stupid and/or desperate enough to wade through raw sewage to escape such tyranny. And they wonder why they fail so often. But X-Force isn't too interested in learning about all the ways this new shitty future has gone to hell. Wolverine tells Deathlok there's enough shit to deal with back in his world and they need to get back, if for no other reason than to give his son the kind of discipline that doesn't give him a boner.

But aside from the logistics, there's also a nice moment with Psylocke and EVA. The big moment of the last issue was Fantomex's big sacrifice to save the woman who was generous/cruel enough to let him into her panties. This resulted in EVA taking over in Fantomex's absence. She reminded him that Fantomex knew what he was getting into when he sacrificed himself. Her pussy was just that powerful. However, Psylocke reminds her that she gave up her ability to give a damn in the Otherworld arc and it's still fucking with her.

These nice character moments that also lead to AOA Nightcrawler and Deadpool discussing why losing a healing factor sucks balls are part of the natural preservatives that make Uncanny X-Force so delicious. But the book at it's core is still about a more brutal side of the X-men. So once X-Force gets tired of smelling raw sewage, Deathlok takes them on a little tour of this tyrant's wet dream, which also happens to be a rip-off of Minority Report. That leads to some disturbing links between tyrants and Tom Cruise, but that's for another blog post. Deathlok shows them how the world has basically adopted X-Force's policy of killing people before they stir up shit. They witness some dystopian forces basically ripping a husband away from his wife and children to be killed because they've determined that he's going to kill those children. It sounds good on paper, but the way they do it is still a real dick move.

But how did all this happen? Why did the world suddenly determine that this whole freedom of choice shit was for pussies? Well, Deathlok explains that too. He tells them that X-Force basically failed with Genesis and he became the new Apocalypse. So X-Force expanded their ranks to other Marvel heroes and somehow convinced them that killing was okay. They were able to kill Apocalypse and the world was so grateful that for some reason they asked X-Force to use that policy to kill all the bad guys, which they did. And when there were no more left to kill, they started killing preemptively. And the mastermind behind this kill-and-fuck-due-process policy was none other than Psylocke, who in her future form looks strikingly similar to my 4th grade math teacher. Excuse me while certain parts of my body shudder in horror.

While the whole dystopian future may be cliched, this explanation actually makes a very compelling and disturbing point for Uncanny X-Force. It shows what happens when their policy of preemptive killing goes too far. It ties in nicely with some of the doubts Psylocke has been expressing in recent issues, leading to both a crisis of confidence and a willingness to bone Fantomex. Put that together, and it leads to a dystopian future. So while you may still roll your eyes at another alternate world for Marvel, at least Rick Remender made one that sent a clear and powerful message that helped refine the story.

Unfortunately, they don't get to debate the merits of preemptive killing. This is Uncanny X-Force after all. That means someone's going to start beating someone else to a bloody pulp. After telling X-Force that their shit is going to lead to a future dystopia, he skips the part where he tries to channel his inner Jehovah's Witness and tries to preemptively kill them so this future won't happen. So he's trying to end a murderous future through murder. That's at lot like doing shots of tequila to end alcoholism. Plus, it misses that whole part about Apocalypse rising to power. But then again Deathlok has never been known for being the most logical creature. How can you when your dick has been replaced by a machine with no vibrating function?

It doesn't really matter in the end because Deathlok makes such a racket that he gets his ass killed by the same dystopian police force they ran from when they arrived. Given Deathlok's tendency to make decisions that only make sense to a schizophrenic, it's not too surprising. Cable, Hope, Deadpool, and Frank Castle arrive to greet the time travelers. They seem to understand that just shooting them will take a massive shit on the space time continuum. But while Deathlok is now an even greater rip-off of the Terminator, the future dystopian police force end up facing another problem that threatens to re-enact some of the most fucked up non-incest scenes from the Back to the Future trilogy.

Psylocke somehow managed to slip away during the commotion. Unlike the others who thought Deathlok's whole rant about the morals of preemptive murder sounded like shit Glenn Beck would say when he was still a drunk, Psylocke took it seriously. Upon finding out that she was the cruel, sadistic bitch that led this future, she decided to slip away so she could do what needed to be done to end this shit. She fucking kills herself. And she doesn't do it in the quick, painless way that involves a shotgun to the head or auto-erotic asphyxia. She stabs herself in the stomach with a katana, a traditional method of Japanese suicide. It's messy, it's painful, and it's ridiculously badass. But like the death of Fantomex, it's somewhat underplayed which indicates this is one of those deaths that probably won't stick. Marvel simply can't kill a hot, sexy Asian chick that they've already killed once before. They know every teenage boy with an Asian fetish will revolt. But it's still a powerful scene from a character that has been on an emotional roller coaster for many issues now.

Rick Remender has always had a flare for the dramatics in Uncanny X-Force, if by dramatics you mean excessive violence, sex, and melodrama. With every arc of Uncanny X-Force, he tries to up the ante and do it in exotic locales. You can't claim he isn't making a similar effort with this arc. He's taken X-Force to alternate universes, miniaturized world's, and Montana. But taking them to yet another dystopian future in a world that has as many dystopias as the Duggers have broken condoms seemed a bit underwhelming. That's rare for an issue of Uncanny X-Force. Rick Remender does an admirable job of making this twisted alternate reality compelling by tying it directly to the recent events with Psylocke and Genesis. However, it still feels somewhat bland in a way that's only made up for by the heavy drama at the end.

Uncanny X-Force has very high standards and Rick Remender met most of those standards with this issue. Even if the whole dytopian future plot is more overdone than a romantic comedy with Hugh Grant, the story here still measures up to Uncanny X-Force standards. It just doesn't measure up as well as some of the other recent issues. The whole notion of the X-men beating Apocalypse and essentially making X-Force the military dictators of the world is every bit as cliched as it sounds. Considering what's been going on in the pages of Avengers vs. X-men, it almost seems like a poor man's version of the events in Uncanny X-Force. But while it may be underwhelming, it's still like saying one supermodel wasn't as hot at the other. This twisted future is still a big part of the story and one that fits nicely with the arc Remender is building.

Uncanny X-Force #28 was as solid an issue of Uncanny X-Force as you could ask for. It had the dark, gritty style that Rick Remender has made so distinct since this title began. There's some colorful wit with characters like Deadpool and Wolverine. There are also some notable twists. While these twists may not require that you re-insert your eyeballs, they'll still give you pause in a way that only seeing a naked old woman dancing on your lawn will. It's not the strongest issue to date, but it's yet another issue that continues a tradition of awesome that has made this series one of the best X-books on the market. Uncanny X-Force #28 gets a 4 out of 5. So Psylocke is going through an emo phase after losing Angel and boning Fantomex. Under the circumstances, that's probably the healthiest thing she could do. Hell, it could be worse. She could have been a hooker that accepted a free drink from Charlie Sheen. Considering what she's been through recently, I think we can all say that Uncanny X-Force is nothing if not a case study in extreme coping skills. Nuff said!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

X-men Legacy #270 - Prisoners of Awesome

There are many different interpretations of Hell. Whether you're religious, non-religious, or one of those new age hippies that thinks trees can write poetry you have some idea of what a shitty death would entail. For a guy like me who has done as much as any drunk to reserve a spot Satan's anus, Hell is being stuck in traffic on a hot summer day while listening to Rush Limbaugh for all eternity with no weed. Some still prefer the fire and brimstone classics as depicted by middle eastern goat herders or Italian poets, but the Marvel universe has always offered a colorful blend of hellish imagery. While Marvel does plenty to ensure they don't piss of the Ned Flanders's off the world, they do know how to paint a pretty hellish image.

The latest Avengers vs. X-men tie-in with X-men Legacy didn't start with any hellish imagery. It involved two powerful women, Rogue and Miss Marvel, beating the shit out of each other over a petty disagreement involving the merits of the Phoenix Five's whole Pax Utopia policy. Or maybe they were arguing over who Johnny Depp would go down on first. It could really be either, but it made for an epic brawl between two characters that had a long list of reasons to beat each other up. It was so entertaining that it was more heavenly than hellish. But then at the end, Rogue was basically smacked upside the head with the equivalent of a bloody dildo when Magik showed up and revealed what the Phoenix Five was doing to captured Avengers. They weren't throwing them in jail or giving them any of that due process shit that the pussies at the ACLU whine about. They were throwing their asses into a little slice of Limbo they had brought to Earth.

Now for those of you playing the home game, Limbo isn't the Marvel equivalent of Hell but it's pretty damn close. It's hot, desolate, dangerous, and full of monsters. Hell, it's not unlike Lady Gaga concert, but with slightly less wailing screams. This is where Magik, who now possesses a part of the Phoenix Force, got her soul fucked up to the point where she might as well let an army of devils gangbang it. So of course she would be okay with throwing Earth's Mightiest Heroes into this pit. Rogue, however, doesn't quite agree to say the least.

X-men Legacy #270 involves Rogue coming to the harsh realization that maybe a cosmic force will fuck up your notions of justice, especially if you give it to a teenage Russian girl who used to hang out in Limbo the same way most girls hang out in Robert Pattinson's bathroom. Whether through arrogance or to just rub it in the face of a woman that had to see Magneto naked, Magik gives Rogue a tour of the prison she's created for the captured Avengers. It's not so much a prison as it is a slice of Hell. And I'm not talking about John Wayne Gayce's basement type hell. Magik has the Phoenix Force. She took a literal slice of Limbo, which would qualify as Hell by most definitions, and set it up so that the Avengers were trapped in special cells where they could only contemplate about escaping yet never achieve it. This proves my theory that I formulated back in middle school. Teenage girls truly have the capacity for the greatest amount of evil.

If you think I'm overstating my theory, consider what Illyana tells Rogue about her little slice of hell. She claims they're not suffering. The prisoners are just in a hell of their own making. Each cell has a torment tailored specifically to keep them from ever escaping. So if your Hawkeye, you can't use your agility because your limbs have been turned into snakes. If your Spider-Woman, you can't charm your way out of it because you're stuck to the web of a giant spider. I imagine if your Northstar, you have your dick surgically attached to the assholes that run Chick-Fil-A. How this isn't causing them suffering is logic so twisted that only a teenage girl could find a way to justify it. It's like that girl back in high school that convinced me to stick my dick in her father's shotgun. And even if they escape, she has endless hoards of Limbo monsters to keep them inside. It's almost as bad as having your dick stuck in a shotgun.

Needless-to-say, Rogue exceptionally pissed that the Phoenix wielding friends she trusted have turned into such cosmic-sized douche-bags. Moreover, Magik's little tour essentially proved Miss Marvel right. She went through all the trouble to tell Miss Marvel she was full of shit in the previous issue and now she just found out she's wrong. That's like convincing yourself you just fucked the hottest chick in Mexico only to find out immediately after that she was a tranny all along. While you may spend the next day or so vomiting uncontrollably, Rogue doesn't have that luxury. After talking to herself for a while and saying what an idiot she was, she decides that she has to basically go back and apologize for all that hot girl-on-girl action in the previous issue. I can think of few harsher conversations that don't involve me without my pants on.

Magik leaves Rogue to find another way back home so she can go off and haul more Avengers to her new hell. She might as well have left a recovering alcoholic tend a bar during happy hour at the Hard Rock casino. Rogue storms right back into Limbo and confronts Magik's monstrous pets. In order to fight through, she decides she has to absorb one so she can become that much less doable and sneak into the prison. It sounds like a good idea on paper just like the Iraq war, but she quickly finds out that absorbing a monster means fighting that monster both externally and internally. So she doesn't just have to search for Miss Marvel. She has to wrestle for control of her body. In that sense it's not unlike being a woman trying to get an abortion in Mississippi.

It's a somewhat overly drawn out struggle against the monster, but she does manage to make her way to Miss Marvel. When she arrives, she finds a very disoriented Miss Marvel. For all she knows, she's been stuck in this hell since bell bottoms went out of style in the 70s. She also reveals that she's had numerous encounters with friends claiming to want to help her escape, but they all ended up being illusions (a little fail-safe that was explored in another tie-in that you should totally read). It takes a moment for Rogue to convince her she's not another hallucination. For me, unless she has green skin and a tail, it's hard to convince me of anything when I'm tripping. But she just tells Miss Marvel that she was wrong for kicking her ass and follows her lead.

I get that Rogue had to admit she was wrong. I get that she had to really humble herself in some very bad circumstances. However, this moment was completely lacking in any sort of drama or impact. Rogue spent an entire issue proving her case with the Phoenix Five. Now she just says, "Oops, I fucked up!" and that's the end of it? Miss Marvel didn't even make much of a scene. Given her temperament in other comics, I find that to be a missed opportunity and a gross oversight for a comic that has prided itself on being driven by melodrama.

Instead of drama, we get Rogue and Miss Marvel fighting off hoards of Limbo monsters. Okay, so it's not that bad a trade-off. I'll gladly exchange a little bit of drama for two beautiful women fighting their way out of Hell. It's not a completely fair trade though. It's akin to trading Phillip Rivers for Alex Smith. You're not getting much value out of it. The action here is still pretty sweet. Miss Marvel even lets Rogue borrow some of her power, which given their history would be like letting your ex-boyfriend buy you tampons. But it still makes for a fairly epic struggle with plenty of awesome visuals. And yes, they're awesome enough to jerk off to.

However, this struggle really doesn't last that long or get to the kind of epic scale you might be hoping for. Magik, having spent more than her share of time in Limbo, senses that someone is trying to fuck with her domain and teleports back to see that Rogue has taken advantage of her generous trust. Although trust from a teenage girl is akin to stock tips from Bernie Madoff, she's still marginally bemused. Rogue and Miss Marvel attempt to take her on. They might as well try reasoning with a creationist because they fail miserably. Magik still has the Phoenix Force and she's on her home turf. She's not going to get beaten. So it's not terribly surprising or compelling for that matter when she restrains Rogue and tosses Miss Marvel back into her cell. So all this struggle that was so enjoyable might as well have been akin to taking a shit in your own bath tub.

But rather than throw Rogue in a cell next to Miss Marvel's where she has to relive the sensation of Magneto's scrotum on her face for eternity, Magik shows a touch of mercy for a fellow X-man. Unfortunately, mercy for someone of her age means throwing her into some parallel world where she can just keep fighting random monsters. It's not quite a prison cell, but it is a rather disheartening turn for her and for the story as well. Now this means that Rogue is basically locked in the basement while an awesome party is going on upstairs. That party being Avengers vs. X-men. And the idea of not seeing Rogue inject her sass into Avengers vs. X-men is about as appealing as going to a strip club and not seeing any tits.

Like Wolverine and the X-men #14, X-men Legacy #270 offers yet another compelling if not overt sign that the Phoenix Five are letting this cosmic shit fuck them up in ways that all the booze in Las Vegas couldn't match. Rogue spent all of last issue thumbing her nose at Miss Marvel for claiming that the Phoenix Five were going to become to superheroes what Enron is business ethics. It was a pretty epic battle between two beautiful women. It had some very valid arguments between the two sides that if you could stop masturbating for more than a few seconds you could find yourself seriously contemplating. This issue was much less basic and much harder to jerk off to. Rogue was essentially proven wrong and Miss Marvel was proven right and Rogue tried to make up for it. That's pretty much the jist of this issue.

It sounds basic, but Christos Gage did find a way to make it compelling. The action was the main selling point here. Rogue fighting to both free Miss Marvel and contain a Limbo monster that she tried to absorb made for the kind of inner and outer struggles that make Rogue someone that's as compelling as she is doable. However, her basically having to eat her words from the previous issue was really underplayed here. I get that Miss Marvel was trapped in her own slice of hell and probably wasn't too inclined to boast about being right. But then again, when has that stopped any man, woman, child, or animal in the history of time? If someone could find an example, I'll quit drinking. That philosophical debate and the drama behind it that made the previous issue so compelling was lost here. While the action was good and the imagery finely detailed, it still lacked the same impact as the previous issue. Even with two beautiful women as the lead character and an evil teenage girl, your brain won't be anywhere near as satisfied as your dick.

X-men Legacy has had it's share of awesome tie-ins for Avengers vs. X-men. The past few issues have been solid while fitting in nicely with the larger scheme of the story. This issue definitely adds another element by showing where all these Avengers that the X-men have captured are being housed. It's been referenced in other comics and blends smoothly with the plot here in X-men Legacy. That smooth transition really helps make the story feel solid, but the shallow interactions with Rogue and Miss Marvel along with the weaker dialog keep this issue from being as awesome as its predecessor. For that, I give X-men Legacy #270 a 3.5 out of 5. The Avengers are literally in hell. Rogue is stuck swallowing her pride, but seeing as how she's probably swallowed Magneto's semen I think that's not terribly difficult for her. What worries me at this point is that she's basically been set aside to flex her feminine fortitude in a place away from the Avengers vs. X-men and in a story that could always use more beautiful women, I find that a disturbing prospect. Nuff said!

Friday, July 27, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 59: Proteus Part 2 PREVIEW and Pics Update

I have high hopes for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It's been over two years since I began writing it and I have so much I want to do with this fanfiction series. Lately, the reviews haven't been coming on in this site or the other fanfiction sites I post at. I hope that changes because I have a big event planned soon that I hope will coincide with the end of Marvel's Avengers vs. X-men event and the subsequent Marvel NOW! relaunch. I know I ask for feedback every week with every post, but I mean it because I want this series to be successful. I want its appeal to grow as the series continues to grow. So if anyone out there has any comments or criticisms, I would love to hear them. It will definitely be vital as I tell a very important story in the pages of X-men Supreme.

One of the major themes in X-men has always been about the nature of power and how it corrupts. What truly happens to someone when they gain god-like power? A number of characters in X-men history have experienced such power. Well that's something I've only slightly touched on with X-men Supreme and now I've finally brought in a character in Proteus who now has that god-like power. It presents not just a daunting physical challenge for the X-men, but a daunting challenge to their entire mutant philosophy. The first issue set the stage for a battle against a truly distressed young mutant. Now one of the most dramatic battles in X-men Supreme to date is set to begin. As always, I've prepared a brief preview of what you can expect in this high-drama issue of X-men Supreme.

Senator Robert Kelly rubbed his throbbing temples as he stormed though his campaign center. He just returned from a speech at a local university in downtown Atlanta. It was his latest effort to salvage his plummeting numbers in the polls. Charles Xavier’s media blitz and Lilandra Neramani’s constant badgering had really disrupted his campaign. It should have been an easy ride to the White House in wake of the Genosha incident. Now it seemed less and less certain.

“Come on, people! Get me some solid numbers here!” he barked to his staff, “I don’t care that Xavier’s events got higher ratings! I want to know how it’s affecting the polls!”

“We’re trying, sir! But we’re not showing any major shifts,” said one of his staffers.

“Then run them again! Call for more ads! Get more contributors on board! And for the love of God, would someone keep an eye on that damned Wikipedia page on me! If I see one more edit claiming that I’m secretly a mutant, every last one of you is fired!”

The presidential hopeful was asking a lot. The strain Senator Kelly endured was felt by everybody. Nothing seemed to be going right for them lately. People like Charles Xavier, Lilandra Neramani, and every mutant sympathizer in the country were hampering their efforts. If something didn’t turn around for them soon, then the election was in serious doubt.

Senator Kelly took a moment to catch his breath in a nearby conference room. His head was still throbbing. All these setbacks were taking a toll. His resources were being pushed to the limit and so was his patience.

‘Damn these rallies! I’ve laid out my stance on the issues in every way. I’ve countered every point Charles Xavier has made thus far and people still don’t get it! What will it take for them to see how dangerous mutants are?”

The presidential hopeful collapsed in a nearby chair to rest for a moment. He was working on his 18th hour without sleep. He should have been used to such hours, but this kind of frustration was testing his tolerance stress. Taking deep breaths, the frustrated politician closed his eyes and tried resting for a bit. He didn’t get to rest long though. His cell phone started ringing, forcing him back into his distressed state.

“Ungh, this better be God himself looking to grant me a miracle,” he groaned.

Rubbing his temples again, he looked at the caller ID and saw it was from Reverend Stryker. Not feeling too hopeful, he answered it begrudgingly.

“What is it, Reverend? It better be good,” he said.

“Are you near a TV, Senator?”

“Why? Did Fox News play that cartoon with me as a monkey again?”

“Turn it on and you’ll see. I think it’ll lift your spirits.”

The senator’s was now intrigued. With Stryker still on the line he grabbed the remote to the projection TV for the room, which was hooked up to basic cable. They usually kept it on CNN or Fox News so as soon as he turned it on he saw what the reverend was referring to.

Immediately, he was bombarded with a stream of terrifying images. The caption at the bottom of the screen read “Terror in Liverpool. Suspected Mutant on Rampage.” Just above those words were images of what appeared to be a glowing monster casually walking down the streets of Liverpool. Along the way buildings were being destroyed, streets were being ripped up, and people were being maimed. It was a horrific image, but to Senator Kelly it was a sight to behold.

“My God…” he gasped.

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing, Senator? Do I even need to describe the implications?”

Senator Kelly put down his phone and watched the broadcast in a daze. Anyone with a weak stomach would have had to turn away from such images. But to the aspiring politician, it was just what he needed.

“Guess I’ll be getting that miracle after all!”

Also, I have a minor update of the pics section to announce. I know it's been a while since I updated the Jean Grey section for X-ladies. I try to wait until I have a certain number of new pics to post. Well I've had them for a while and now I've finally found time to update. They're posted and remember, if you want to submit something please feel free to contact me and we'll discuss the particulars.

Jean Grey Pics

Once the Proteus arc is complete, I plan on doing some updates to the bios page. I'm trying to keep up with the influx of new characters into this fanfiction series and rest assured, there are plenty more to come. However, I can't make these new characters and these upcoming stories awesome without feedback. A while back someone did actually say my dialog needed improvement. I took that to heart and I have made an effort to improve it with subsequent issues. But I want to improve more! Please contact me with your suggestions and I'll try to use them to make X-men Supreme them most awesome fanfiction series it can be! Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wolverine and the X-men #14 - Flirting With Awesome

When I was still in college, I went to some pretty fucked up lengths to impress women. Show me one guy who hasn't and I'll show you a guy that habitually jerks off to gay porn when he's sure his roommate's webcam isn't on. One time I met this incredibly hot chick at a party and I had the misfortune of snorting chilli powder on a dare to impress her. Since I also had no fewer than eight beers in me, I ended up puking on her shirt. Sure, I got to see her take it off and show off the purple lace bra she was wearing, but she still yelled at me as if I ran over her cat and then pissed on the corpse. And I really liked this girl so I tried to make it up to her by dressing up as Johnny Depp, covering my arms in fake tattoos, and buying her a gallon of chocolate marshmallow ice cream. Needless to say, those panties got wet mighty fast (after a few shots of vodka of course).

Men will go to ridiculously great lengths to impress a pretty girl. That's the sheer power of pussy and it should never be underestimated. That leads to some very disturbing possibilities of how far a man will go to match the power of said pussy once imbued with a god-like cosmic force. In the pages of Avengers vs. X-men, a select few have that opportunity. While Cyclops can already boast access to the top tier pussy belonging to Emma Frost, Colossus and Namor have plenty of opportunities to seek other sources of pussy. When you've got a cosmic power, beautiful women simply have no excuse for not being impressed anymore. When a man has the power to turn shit into diamonds while flying through space with the same ease that 15-year-old boy jerks off, women are literally obligated by the laws of physics to appear at mildly impressed and just a little extra horny. While Namor could probably use his Phoenix powers to literally bathe in the pussy of a billion European supermodels, Colossus has the opportunity to seek the pussy of the one that got away. Well, she didn't really get away. She cut her losses after he decided to throw himself at Cytorak and become the new Juggernaut. That's just one of the many instances where a woman has every right to be pissed and seal her panties indefinitely, but that's besides the point.

Since the events of Schism, Colossus and Kitty Pryde haven't even been on sexting terms. Colossus fucked things up so much with her that Kitty started to explore the possibility of swapping a little spit with Iceman. Because ice just isn't as stimulating as metal to her. Makes me wonder what kind of dildo she has and who the fuck would sell it. But now that Colossus has the Phoenix Force, he has the ability to seek out his former lover and make amends in a way that you just can't manage when Cytorakk has you by the balls at every waking hour. Now I know that Kitty and Colossus are an old school X-men couple. I always had a soft spot for them, despite the early jailbait connotations. But there was definitely some love between them. It's just not clear that even the fucking Phoenix Force can rouse those passions or soak those panties like they used to.

Wolverine and the X-men #14 is yet another tie-in to Avengers vs. X-men that at least attempts to take a break from showing the Phoenix Five taking a cosmic shit on the Avengers or Sinister, revealing instead how certain X-men use this cosmic power for more personal reasons that don't involve creating the perfect strain of weed. Or maybe that's just me. Instead, Colossus tries to use it to accomplish an even more impossible task than creating a worldwide utopia...winning back his ex-girlfriend. He attempts to do this by taking her out on a date and having dinner with her between a parted Red Sea. He remembers she's Jewish and I guess he has to make up for not being circumcised in some way. One might say it's an over-the-top way to impress an ex-girlfriend, but at least this way Kitty can never accuse him of doing things half-assed. And believe me, when dealing with ex-girlfriends that shit goes a long fucking way.

But before Kitty got roped into an over-the-top date with her ex, she was dealing with problems that didn't involve the X-men and Avengers beating the shit out of each other if you can believe that. She was among the few staff folks that stayed behind to keep the Jean Grey Institute school running, as if teenagers could ever learn when there's a big juicy fight going on. She might as well ask them to learn quantum physics while an orgy of supermodels and male body builders is going on in front of them. But while it's frustrating for Kitty, it actually helps put this story into a better context than the previous issue. Gladiator getting his ass kicked isn't overlooked. That shit still happened and he's still eating his steak with a straw in the Institute infirmary, but that's not the big story here. The story is how Kitty Pryde runs a school in the middle of an Avengers/X-men war.

This may sound somewhat menial, but it's ties into what goes into an awesome tie-in issue. Like that little extra bit of hot sauce you pour on bacon, a good tie-in focuses more on the little things and not just the story that involves the main characters being engaged in a dick-measuring contest. Kitty here is overwhelmed not by the ongoing battle, but by her job to run the Jean Grey Institute. It's one of those little things that I like to highlight in an issue when I'm not making a dick joke out of it. It explores areas of the main story that don't get explored often enough and help paint a much more detailed picture. It's like seeing a high-def image of Jenna Jameson's tits as opposed to one that's overly pixilated. It's much more pleasing to the senses.

It isn't all melodrama, though. While Colossus pulls Kitty out from the Jean Grey Institute for an impromptu date, the battle between the X-men and the Avengers is still going on. Some of the Jean Grey Institute staff is still helping the Phoenix Five take down the Avengers. Iceman was one of them and while he was all for helping Cyclops's crew before they had the Phoenix Force, he's starting to have a little doubt over their "capture and imprison the Avengers" policy. He's able to help subdue Thing, but when he confronts Cyclops about his doubts he just gets brushed aside with a remark that essentially says "Quit your bitching. Now excuse me while I go make the world a better place and maybe get a blow job from Emma Frost while I'm at it."

Cyclops's sentiment about making the world better and fucking with the Avengers in the process is shared by Colossus. While on his date with Kitty, he boasts about how the Phoenix Five are making the world a better place. This may be the only instance where a guy bragging about his achievements actually has some merit. Colossus isn't that guy at a bar claiming he once banged Lindsey Lohan before she became a poster-girl for crack whores. He has a cosmic force that allows him to flex his nuts as much and as audaciously as he damn well pleases. Kitty shares some of Iceman's concern and wonders if he's the same lovable Russian that once regularly soaked her panties. He claims that he is. But Kitty isn't convinced. She shares Iceman's concerns about her locking up the Avengers and acting like he's a god without making it a dick joke.

For Colossus, who went to such extensive lengths to show that he still wants to be her Russian stud, that's quite a slight. And unlike normal douche-bags who just shrug it off and try to bang the nearest cocktail waitress, this shit is unacceptable. While I usually work under the assumption that there's no such thing as overreacting when your ex-girlfriend gives you shit, this is one instance where the presence of a cosmic force completely fucks up the standard laws of physics. Now pissed that Kitty isn't embracing his new Phoenix-powered awesomeness, he ends their date and takes her back to the Jean Grey Institute. But unlike other bitter ex-boyfriends that just crash their cars into their garage or front door, Colossus threatens to destroy the whole Jean Grey Institute because she's choosing it over him.

This isn't the first time the Phoenix Five have overreacted in a way that makes you question whether the Phoenix has given them a nasty dose Ted Kazinsky's brain cells. However, Colossus's switch from hopeless romantic trying to get his girl back to vindictive asshole looking to blow up a school full of children is pretty stark. For the past few Avengers vs. X-men tie-ins, the corruption of the Phoenix Force has been gradual. That's part of what makes it compelling. But here, it's about as gradual as a rocket powered dildo. You would expect that shit from someone like Magik who has a history of being volatile, but not Colossus.

Colossus doesn't apologize for being a cosmic asshole. Even as Kitty summons the remaining X-men to protect the school, he brushes them off with the same ease that Donald Trump brushes off imported caviar from his imported suits. It's a short, but flashy battle that you never expected the Jean Grey Institute staff to really do much in. What it lacks in grandeur, though, it makes up for in drama. After Colossus subdues Karoka, Husk, and Toad he has to go through Kitty next. She threatens to phase through his heart, but he brushes that off too. I imagine brushing off an ungrateful ex girlfriend is only slightly more satisfying than bathing in chocolate with Scarlett Johanssen, but it once again allows Colossus to flex his cosmic nutsack.

But before he can destroy the institute, he comes across the crumbled statue of Jean Grey that has been so prominently standing outside the front door since the first issue of Wolverine and the X-men. He's in the process of repeating those famous first words Jean Grey herself once uttered when she became the Phoenix. In doing so, he has what we in the drinking world call a moment of clarity. He realizes that he is becoming the monster that Jean Grey once struggled against for so many years. He probably also realized it's a dick move to try to destroy your ex-girlfriend's home when she hasn't boned your brother, best friend, or both. So with his dick tucked between his legs, he abruptly just leaves. He doesn't apologize to Kitty or the students he just roughed up. He just disappears. I guess having cosmic power also means never having to admit when you're a douche.

Time moves on and once again, the institute staff is left to pick up the pieces. But in terms of the damage done to the Jean Grey Institute in previous issues, they got off pretty damn light here. However, Kitty Pryde still looks more pissed than a diabetic in a Krispy Kreme factory. When Iceman later returns from his own unpleasant encounter with his Phoenix powered buddy, she makes clear that she still wants to jump his bone. He just better not gain a cosmic power and use it to try to sneak into her panties. That shit is now officially a turn-off. It's understandable and offers another little hint at additional drama. But for Colossus, the issue ends with an ominous sign that his scrotum might not be strong enough for his cosmic balls after all.

What does this comic tell us about dating, women, and trying to win back your ex-girlfriend?  Well for one, it shows that even the power of a cosmic force isn't enough to win over some women. Seriously ladies, you need to adjust your standards. But in this instance, Kitty Pryde's feminine instincts served her well because she understood the universal constant with all men trying to prove themselves. They often make a total ass of themselves in the process. That's what happened with Colossus and it provided yet another instance of the Phoenix Five letting all this god-like power go to their heads. You knew it was coming. Hell, I lost twenty bucks on a bet with the guy who sells me blow over this issue. But considering how well Jason Aaron told this story, I say it was worth it! Plus, I stole some of his blow so that helped.

What made this issue a major improvement over the previous issue was the emphasis on the little things. Stories like Warbird's backstory really didn't amount to shit in the grande scheme of the Avengers vs. X-men epic. But how the Jean Grey Institute was run in the absence of their fellow X-men along with Colossus reaching out to his ex-girlfriend actually did fit into a larger context. The shit from the previous issue wasn't completely forgotten, but it wasn't overly dwelled upon either. This was all about mixing the melodrama of a man trying to win back his ex and looking like a cosmic-level douche-bag in the process. It may not have the same impact as seeing Namor ride a tsunami into Wakanda while giving Storm multiple orgasms, but it definitely adds a powerful element of story to the greater Avengers vs. X-men landscape.

If there's anything that bothers me about this issue, it's that Colossus didn't even try to walk that fine line between just being overpowered and being an overpowered douche-bag. I can see others like Magik not attempting to walk that line because she has a history of being a little hellraiser, both literally and figuratively. But Colossus became a cosmic douche way too fucking quickly and it seems like something that's out of place in a tie-in issue. Even so, Jason Aaron does plenty to make it feel relevant, compelling, and awesome. It's not quite at the level of bacon dipped in chocolate, but it's right up there. I give Wolverine and the X-men #14 a 4.5 out of 5. So a cosmic powered date wasn't enough to win Colossus a place back in Kitty Pryde's panties. This marks another important lesson for guys everywhere. Pussy is more powerful than any cosmic force. Nuff said!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Aurora Shooting and the Assholes That Exploit It

I've avoided talking about the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. It's the main reason why I haven't posted a review of the Dark Knight Rises on this blog like I did the Avengers and Amazing Spider-Man. I wish I could, but there are just some things too tragic to make dick, poop, and tit jokes about. This is not one of them. A tragedy like this is a truly horrendous event and one that captures the country's attention in ways that Columbine and Virginia Tech once did. While the loss of life is horrific, I never cease to be amazed by how people come together in the face of tragedy. Say what you will about how fucked up this world is, but people as a whole can be pretty damn awesome in ways that will never be shown in a movie or a comic book. Even the celebrities we think are assholes can be heroes both in and out of costume. Christian Bale showed that recently and he deserves the same praise he got for playing Batman so awesomely.

This is how celebrities prove they're not douche-bags.

Now I refuse to simply recap on the details of this tragedy. By now, most everyone knows what happened that left 12 people dead and dozens more injured. I refuse to even mention the name of asshole who did it without a shred of remorse. On this blog, I'll simply refer to him as Loony Microcock. Mr. Microcock has horrified the public in ways that no movie or comic ever could. The scariest part is he did it in a place most people feel safe. A movie theater ranks right up there as one of those places where you don't expect some baby dick psychopath to just start shooting people. And there's no reason or larger plan behind it. The guy was just fucking crazy. Even his own parents didn't doubt that when word of the tragedy broke out that he was the one responsible. That indicates he was just not right in the head. There's nothing we can do about shit like that. No amount of violence in media, video games, comic books, moral decay, or godlessness would have changed that.

Yet as people attempt to heal from this tragedy, there will be assholes that seek to exploit it. That happens after every tragedy. The talking heads of Fox News, the religious right, and the moral crusaders of this country will stand on the highest podium and shout at the top of their lungs that the reason this happened was because everybody didn't think and act exactly like they do. There are a great many dick moves in this world, but that's very close to the top. It's already happening. Some are already attempting to tie the shooting to the affect of comic books, often referencing an old Frank Miller story called the Dark Knight Returns.

This is a great story that didn't cause any violence for over 20 years.

The same thing happened after Columbine when parents and men who pander to voters or the Rush Limbaugh crowd blamed Marilyn Manson and violent video games. It's happening again with assholes like this massive douche-bag who tries to die the shooting to abortion. Then there's this Olympian dick cheese who thinks liberals are to blame. There's also this brain dead eunuch who tied the shooting to a lack of (his) god in the public. These people are always going to be there to exploit tragedy. As much as most normal human beings with a sense of decency would like to see them keeled over a toilet with explosive diarrhea, they aren't worth the attention.

Over the next few weeks, we an expect plenty of drama about this tragedy. We can expect every major news outlet to cover the trial of Mr. Microcock and all the talking heads to offer their input over what and who is to blame and which politicians they should support to avoid it in the future. CHances are the whole gun control debate will erupt again with the Michael Moore's of the world picketing gun shops and condemning America's gun-loving culture. Let me spoil it right now and tell you that they're all full of shit. You could take all the guns away tomorrow and that's not going to change what happened in Aurora. It won't do any justice to the victims or their families. It won't even prevent future tragedies because psychopaths like Mr. Microcok will always find a way.

People shouldn't let this tragedy scare them from going to movie theaters or watching violent movies. I'm not being ferocious this time, but I'd like to offer some perspective. In the year 2010, 30,196 people died in traffic accidents. That's approximately 82 a day. You're far safer sitting in a movie theater than you are at the wheel of a car. So try to remember that before thinking a movie theater is such a dangerous place.

The best anyone can do is show sympathy and compassion to the victims and their families. You can help them in other ways by donating to them through the fine folks at Giving First, who have already set up a special section for the Aurora shooting victims and their families. Above all, don't let the talking heads distract from the tragedy. Shit like this happens and people are going to try and exploit it. You can't avoid it. You can only ignore them and follow Christian Bale's example by consoling the victims and remembering this tragedy. Nuff said.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Deadpool Video Game: It's as Awesome as it Sounds

I normally don't go out of my way to make a blog post about a video game trailer. Between reviewing comics, getting drunk, and putting strippers through college I really don't have a lot of time for video games. But every so often a game comes along that simply demands I set aside my joint, tell the stripper to go home, and zip up my pants to take notice of an awesome game. But unfortunately for the comic book lover in me, video games based on comic books tend to suck worse than Rosie O'Donnell at a blowjob contest. Do I need to relive the horrors of that shitty X-men game that tied into an equally shitty third X-men movie? Or what about that horrendously shitty Fantastic Four game that tied into yet another shitty Fantastic Four movie? Then there was that ridiculously shitty X-men Destiny game whose only destiny belonged in a trash compactor, a microwave, or Tim Tebow's anus. I could go on, but at the risk of my soul decaying and being expelled along with the explosive diarrhea that these games often induced I'll skip the rest.

Now that's not to say Marvel can't make an awesome game. X-men Legends and Ultimate Alliance had their charm, but they were hardly awesome on the same level as a God of War III or Legends of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Given Marvel's vast cast of characters and equally vast catalog of epic stories, they have no excuse in an age where breast physics have been perfected. So it makes you wonder why they never tried something as logical as a Deadpool game. I mean think about it, what comic character is better suited for a video game? He's crude, he's rude, he's violent, he's witty, and he doesn't mind the fact that he's a fictional character that inspires shitty cos-players at every comic convention. He's shown up in some games like Ultimate Alliance and X-men Legends 2, but he's never had a game to call his own. That oversight ranks right up there with Mel Gibson's oversight regarding when he's being recorded.

But I'm always willing to forgive such oversights so long as they're addressed eventually. That's why I was so excited to see that a Deadpool game trailer was released during Comic Con this year. At first I thought someone spiked my drink again or someone sold me some bad weed. But for once, I'm glad I was sober because it was very real. That's right! A Deadpool game is in the works for 2013! That means I'll have to get drunk an awful lot for the time to pass by fast enough, but if this trailer is any indication I think my liver will forgive me. Nuff said!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

X-men #32 - Secrets, Lies, and Awesome

When I was in middle school, there was this gym teacher that everyone agreed was a complete douche-bag. For the sake of argument, let's call him Coach Babydick. Every day at gym class, Coach Babydick would find new ways to torment us. He made us do push-ups over piles of dog shit. He made us run laps while he blared Barny songs from a boom box. He made us throw eggs at the car of the cute history teacher that wouldn't go out with him. I'm pretty sure there was no information whatsoever regarding the value of physical fitness, but I also know that every now and then a student wouldn't take his shit. That student often got punished, sent to the principal's office, or humiliated by having to sing "We Built This City" while wearing a dress. But our class always looked up to that student because we knew they were doing what was right and just. I'm not sure if Coach Babydick is still teaching, but I would be shocked if nobody planted weed in his office yet.

Now I wouldn't go so far as to say that Cyclops is worse than Coach Babydick in the X-men comics. However, I think it's more than reasonable to say that he's let his leadership role and the constant influx of Emma Frost's pussy that he enjoys has gone to his head. Sometimes, it's not a bad idea to go behind his back and do what you think is right. Sometimes that's a piss poor idea as well because as I said, this guy is boning Emma Frost so he has the balls and the resources to royally fuck your shit up. Someone has to have a damn good reason and Olympian sized balls to do that. That's exactly what Storm has in abundance in Brian Wood's ongoing adjectiveless X-men run.

Wood's first arc has taken this series into a different direction. No longer the series that Marvel uses to shamelessly milk withering teat of vampires. Instead, Wood has been telling a story using a unique cast of X-men led by Storm. They're supposed to make up Utopia's security team. However, they're also Utopia's de-facto CIA, minus the illegal torture facilities. For the past few issues, they've been investigating an unusual uptick in mutant activity in the form of monsters that crumble faster than Mitt Romney's support with the NAACP. That activity yielded the discovery of an entire new race of proto-mutants that for some reason are pissed off at natural selection for not picking them. Now they seek to take it out on the X-men and anything that gets in their way.

X-men #32 has Psylocke chasing down a suspected proto-mutant that looks like a guy who lost a battle with a blow torch and wants to take it out on the nearest den of baby rabbits. He also happens to be 80-feet tall, but since the X-men regularly battle giant robots his name might as well be John Smith. Storm uses her powers to create a little cover from nearby populated areas, hoping that these people don't get their power from Pepco. Then Psylocke tries to attack the creature and to her surprise, it actually shrinks to that of a normal-sized man who just looks like his ex-girlfriend threw him out and burned all his shit. But unlike the other proto-mutants they've encountered, this one doesn't turn into mush. He actually remains intact long enough to meet up with the rest of the X-men for a little chat.

Now when monsters start threatening to stomp over major cities, that is usually a good time to contact your fellow X-men buddies and let them know they should have their spandex cleaned and pressed for action. But just as she did in the previous issue, Storm makes it clear that Cyclops is not to know. She makes this clear even as Colossus, who has the power of the fucking Juggernaut mind you, tells her that it's a bad idea. It's another great scene that shows Storm asserting herself in a way that reminds readers that she was once and probably still is considered a top level leader with the X-men on the same level as Cyclops. But she does make a compelling argument in that she's not trying to serve Cyclops with this team. She's trying to serve the cause. And Cyclops is NOT the cause even if he is boning Emma Frost.

This is a great moment for Storm fans of all stripes and for all the Cyclops haters out there that would French kiss a goat if that goat somehow undermined Cyclops. However, at this point in the story it still doesn't quite explain why the hell Storm has it out for Cyclops. I get that she's trying to lead her own team, but at this point in the arc just fighting for the cause doesn't exactly explain why she's doing this. Is it just because she wants to prove she can lead as well as he can? Fine, I can get behind that. But at least make that shit clear. Don't make us just assume that she's doing this because Black Panther isn't buying her enough Wakandan brand panties.

This rather extreme aversion to enlisting help from Cyclops is made even more apparent when she gets a call from her human buddy, Dr. Hunter. In the last issue, she was enlisted by Storm to study some of the gunk they gathered from the dissolved monsters they faced. She was the one that helped them uncover that these creatures were actually proto-mutants. Well now it turns out that someone doesn't like her helping Storm. She tells her that her lab was trashed like a frat house on St. Patrick's Day. It sounds like another good reason to call Cyclops and Colossus points that out yet again, but Storm continues to refuse his assistance. She goes so far as to tell Dr. Hunter to keep working, lay low, and put herself in even more danger with no guarantee that they'll be able to protect her. There's undermining Cyclops and then there's just being reckless and Storm is dry humping it.

When she's not undermining Cyclops, however, Storm is still investigating these proto-mutants. At first she thought Pixie would be able to talk to the creature because let's face it. No matter what type of humanoid you are, the presence of a teenage girl helps you relax in a way directly proportional to the size of the thong she's wearing. But it turns out this creature speaks Russian so Colossus takes a stab at it, eventually getting Magik involved as well. As in, the same Magik that has to be locked up in a cell when she's not helping the Extinction Team. I would ask whether Storm was willing to call Cyclops now, but I'm pretty sure she would use a bolt of lightning to give me a circumcision.

With Magik's help, they find out that this proto-mutant has a name and it's called Ister. It sounds like the name of an 80s metal band, but he's actually a mutant that's over 600 years old that lived in the equivalent of a hippie commune back during a time when people thought that thunder was actually God farting. But like any commune of minorities back then, they were blamed for a plague that swept through a nearby village and probably for bad weather as well. So they were slaughtered, which is basically akin to complaining about it on the internet in medieval times. And Ister's own sister was taken from him so the humans could kill her, drink her blood, and hopefully cure themselves. It's basically akin to pre-modern homeopathy.

While tragic, this whole story was rather cliched. So he's a mutant that was the victim of pre-modern people who didn't know shit about shit. You could say that about every Jewish community in Europe at that time so it's really not all that compelling on the surface. At least it offers some insight on where these creatures came from. In the first issue of this arc, we saw that this shit began in a lab with a scientist of questionable ethics as so many X-men arcs often do. They don't know why someone sees fit to just resurrect these beings and sent them out to die. It may just be for shits and giggles, not unlike the CEOs of major banks when they buy vintage cars they know they'll never drive or marry women they know they'll never willingly fuck. Storm makes it clear their mission is to find that lab. Again, she says no Cyclops and no fucking time travel as Magik suggested. Storm is old school like that. If you can't kick it's ass in the here and now, you might as well put on a dress and sell yourself at the nearest club in Bangkok.

The mention of the lab finally sheds some light on something that was overlooked in the last issue. We even get a brief glimpse into what's going on while the X-men are uncovering more secrets. Apparently, Ister's sister was next in line to rejoin the world of the living and offer more shits and giggles to the nameless lab jockey. We still don't know much about him. He's no Sinister. He looks only mildly more insane than the guy that invented crazy glue and the snuggie. Again, the revelations about why he's doing this isn't as ground-breaking as you wish. He reveals that those first monsters were basically his method of trial and error. I'm sure there are more efficient ways to test your army of monsters, but I guess that's just not as much fun.

At this point he seems to be minimizing the errors because he also reveals that he has control over when the creatures turn into mush. So before Ister's sister can awaken and have a tearful reunion, he uses what looks like an app on his cell phone that's far more devious than the Shake a Baby app that causes Ister to start dissolving. This surprises and frustrates the X-men, who are still trying to get answers form Ister. But before he can return to that cozy little pasture we call death, Psylocke is able to get the necessary answers in a way that's not even as exciting as it sounds. She reveals that the name of the Sinister wannabe is David Michael Gray. She also reveals she knows where his lab is and he's a pretty sick bastard that's in need of therapy that includes a few severe concussions. It's a rather contrived way to get the X-men to source of the conflict and it wasn't all that exciting either. But it offers the promise of more monster battles so I guess we have that to look forward to.

Usually when an issue is more dialog than action, I find plenty to rant about. I tend to have a short attention span, depending on how much weed I have on hand. However, I am capable of enjoying a story that doesn't rely on blowing shit up every third panel. If the dialog is awesome and the story is compelling, I can do without the explosions and bad one-liners. Brian Wood is clearly setting up a very different style for his first arc. He's not relying on big, flashy battles like Gischler did with Curse of the Mutants. He's telling the story that revolves around a mystery and a dramatic struggle with Storm. At times Wood came close to overblowing Storm's intent on keeping Cyclops out of this comic at all costs. However, he was able to walk a fine line here and make this issue extra dramatic by having the proto-mutants do more than just dissolve into mush.

While I like what Wood did with Ister and Storm's leadership dramas, there were still a few areas that left me scratching my head as to why this is part of the story. I get what Storm is trying to do by keeping Cyclops out of the loop. I just don't get why the hell she's doing it. I know this shit takes place before Avengers vs. X-men. I can't recall too many instances where Storm and Cyclops were really at each others' throats and I can't recall when Cyclops really gave Storm a reason for wanting to go behind his back like this. In addition, the whole story with Ister just seems a little cliched. So he was a monster back at a time when even Jews were considered monsters. That's really not much different from every minority the Spanish Inquisition ever assaulted. It could have been more exotic, but Wood still found a way to make Ister lovable even if he's not someone you would want to invite to a baseball game.

Brian Wood's run hasn't been spectacular, but it's been interesting enough to keep me reading. He definitely has demonstrated the ability to tell compelling stories. He's set up plenty of interesting elements here. He just hasn't made them resonate on a sufficient level of awesome. This issue didn't have a lot of action, but it had plenty of melodrama and did fill in a few blanks that had been lingering from the previous issue. It's still a bit too subtle for the sake of being subtle though. I give X-men #32 a 3 out of 5. Now that the enemy is known, this arc has the chance to do more than just fight monsters that dissolve into dust. It also has the potential for Storm to make Cyclops's oversized balls shrivel somewhat and that's always makes for a fun story on some levels. Nuff said!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Uncanny X-men #16 - Victorian Era Awesome

I often look back at the Victorian era with mixed emotions. Sure, they were the most uptight and repressed culture since Christine O'Donnell's bid for Congress. But if you actually look into these folks, you'll find that while they were repressed publicly, privately they were more perverted than an pervert in a panty factory. They wrote massive amounts of porn, set new standards in sadomasochistic fetishes, and came up with exceedingly inventive ways to control their junk less they abuse it outside the proper S&M dungeon. For that reason and many others, I'm glad that Sinister used this era as a model with which to build his secret underground kingdom. We haven't seen the S&M dungeons, but if he's made a true representation of 19th century England I can only assume they're hidden next to the stores that sell chastity belts.

You would think that a guy who is also his own species that creates his own little slice of the past in an underground cavern would be pretty fucking twisted. And you would be right without even having to take a bong hit. But for Sinister, twisted and tact are like peanut butter and jelly. They go so well together, but when you deep fry it you feel like you're biting into a slice of heaven (I just bought a deep fryer by the way and I'm still finding new ways to use it). The deep fryer in this instance is the Celestial technology that he acquired in the first major arc of Uncanny X-men after the relaunch. In the pages of Avengers vs. X-men, he's put that technology to use powering his Sinister version of London. However, now he has to use it in a slightly more pragmatic way.

Uncanny X-men #15 had the Phoenix Five take a quick break from pwning the Avengers to take on another threat that could potentially corrupt Hope and the Phoenix. Sinister already has a sordid history of sticking his dick in Phoenix plots. He created Madelyne Pryor and laughed his ass off when Cyclops was gullible enough to marry her. He also was the first to tell Hope about the Phoenix Force. So they know he's a threat and thanks to the Phoenix, the Phoenix Five look to neutralize him before he can wave that sinister dick of his in their faces any further.

Uncanny X-men #16 has the Phoenix Five receiving a warm welcome from Sinister. By warm I mean armed to the teeth with Celestial style weaponry. It's the kind of weaponry the Church of Scientology probably wishes they had when they're not trying to subversively destroy pharmaceutical companies. It makes for the kind of flashy battles that we've come to expect in Avengers vs. X-men, but this time it happens in a hidden underground cavern of Victorian style England and the targets are all creepy, pasty faced psychopaths. It means the Phoenix Five can afford to be mindlessly violent is what I'm saying.

The Phoenix Five's strategy is simple. Since Sinister is his own species, they need to attack his little tribute to the second most repressive era in modern history after Rick Santorum's presidential bid to completely neutralize him. They take to that strategy with their full Phoenix powers with the kind of enthusiasm you would expect, but Sinister remains as calm as Tom Brady on Valium. While his city is being attacked, he's casually dining with some Madelyne Pryor clones while enjoying a fancy feast that probably features water that's $50 a glass. Madelyne expresses some mild concern, but Sinister shows that he not only has a plan. He has a plan designed to make the X-men shit their pants.

Part of his army included clones of his Marauders. Sinister has a long history of using clones so it stands to reason that he would clone more than just cannon fodder for his Celestial powered weapons. How about cloning something bigger, badder, and shocking enough to make the assholes of cosmic beings clench? That's when we find out that Sinister didn't just build his castle in some dank cavern. He cloned Karoka, as in the fucking living island of Karoka that holds such a special place in the annuls of X-men lore. You can never accuse Sinister of doing anything half-assed. Even the Phoenix Five admit that they're surprised by this shit. The Avengers could learn a thing or two from Sinister, provided they cast aside little things like ethics and sanity. But then again, you can't argue with the results. Just look at the sheer ballsiness of his castle and your colon should tell you all you need to hear.

The surprise of Sinister's castle being built on the back of a living island only offered a prelude of things to come. The Phoenix Five try to flex their Phoenix powers with Colossus using it to grow like the monsters in those old Power Range cartoons. It seems like a good strategy until Sinister unleashes a wave of Gambit clones, each charged up in a way that makes them a walking suicide bomber. It seems like a waste of a perfectly good Cajun, but it effectively does to Colossus what pouring a batch of fire ants onto your roommate's bed does. It leaves him annoyed, pained, and threatening to cut your nuts off with a butter knife. Okay, that was just my ex-roommate.

Gambit isn't the only one Sinister took the time to clone into an army either. To take down Namor, he unleashes hoards of Cannonballs (the mutant and not the spherical thing you chuck at bowling pins and/or windshields of people you don't like). Like the exploding Gambits, they serve to annoy and frustrate Namor. He handles it somewhat better than Colossus, but even his exceedingly bloated ego can only handle so much. Seeing as how Sinister went through the trouble to clone so many mutants and build his castle on the back of a living island, you have to assume this isn't just because he wants to record it and post it to youtube to compete with cats and nut shots.

Even Emma isn't immune from Sinister's madness. He actually unleashes waves of killer cows at her. No, that's not a metaphor for a weapon powered by the Octomom's baby fat. Sinister actually used exploding cows to attack Emma Frost. For a woman that probably prides herself on wearing underwear that costs more than a car, that's pretty damaging. This attack leads the Phoenix Five to actually look like they're struggling for the first time since they got their Phoenix powers. Magik even suggests they pull back before Sinister throws exploding sheep at them next. But then she, Emma, and Colossus are hit with some mysterious blast that causes them to disappear. And by mysterious I mean fucking confusing because it's almost as if they disappear off-panel. I expect that kind of shit in an Ultimate comic written by Jeph Loeb, but not an issue of Uncanny X-men written by Kieron Gillen.

Now this battle is a major shift because it's the first time the Phoenix Five have faced a villain like Sinister. It's also the first time they've actually struggled to contain a threat. I've seen how some fanboys love to bitch and moan on message boards about how the Phoenix Five are too powerful. These are the same fanboys that probably bitch and moan about Wonder Woman wearing pants too, but now they have to admit for once that their bitching has been addressed because they're taking on a villain that has the resources and bravado to take on the Phoenix Five. It makes for a battle of a very different yet equally great awesome compared to the ones they've had with the Avengers.

But as nice as it is to see the battle against Sinister give the Phoenix Five a run for their money, the action gets a bit choppy. The other members of the Phoenix Five just disappear and not much explanation or hints are given as to the source. You assume there is one, but there's really not much to go on aside from maybe they had to go take a cosmic shit or something. It allows Sinister to unleash some extra Celestial firepower to down Cyclops. And since humbling him in front of his Phoenix-powered buddies isn't emasculating enough, he has to bring in an army of his ex-wives clones. You would almost rather go skinny dipping in a pond full of those fish with a taste for human testicles. It's implied that they're the source of the disappearances, but again it's really hard to tell with or without weed.

The battle between Sinister and the Phoenix Five has now devolved into a state between a Mitt Romney speech and a Jerry Springer rerun. The Phoenix Five have been humbled and even they have to admit that they could use a hand against someone who likes to throw ex-wives into a war. I'm pretty sure that's on par with genocide under the Geneva Convention, but I doubt Sinister gives a shit. Luckily, the Phoenix Five hasn't alienated all their teammates with their world-shaping utopia policy. Magneto, Storm, Danger, and Psylocke got bored waiting around on the surface and raiding Wolverine's old liquor cabinet. They show up at the end of the issue seeing that the battle against Sinister has become too fucked up for even a cosmic force to handle. So they'll need either help from the rest of the Extinction Team or a cosmic sized dildo to help unfuck this battle whichever comes first. Personally, I was looking forward to the cosmic sized dildo.

For most of Avengers vs. X-men, the Phoenix Five have faced all kinds of threats. Most of them involve being careful because the threats they were facing involved friends and allies. Well there are no allies here. The Phoenix Five could afford to exercise all its depraved cosmic fetishes of death, destruction, and bondage it wanted on Sinister. Because like a sadomasochist with a self-emoliation compunction, he can take it. Yet despite having the power to unleash this cosmic wrath, Sinister still found a way to fuck with them. What sounded like a lopsided battle became lopsided in the opposite way you imagined. You almost forgot that Sinister is the same crafty son-of-a-bitch that hot wired a Celestial. Why shouldn't he be able to measure up against the Phoenix Five.

The struggle of this battle was the real highlight of the issue. However, it was a bit choppy at times towards the end. It really isn't clear why or how Emma and Namor just flat out disappeared. It wasn't clear why Cyclops started panicking. And while it was nice to see Magneto, Danger, Storm, and Psylocke show up in a limited role, nothing was done with Unit sub-plot and nothing really added any drama to them being left out. That didn't mean this issue wasn't awesome. You can't have an issue that involves exploding cows and walking castles that isn't awesome on at least ten different levels. It's an issue that really started strong, but just became more incoherent than a sorority girl at a frat party after a few too many shots.

Kieron Gillen has done more than any writer since Chris Claremont to make Sinister a compelling and disturbing villain again. He's the kind of villain that will give you nightmares, but at the same time he's the kind of guy you want to have a beer with if for no other reason than to see if the beer turns to blood. The biggest accomplishment of this issue was that he finally gave the Phoenix Five a real run for their money with Sinister. That's something event he mighty Avengers couldn't accomplish. For that, Uncanny X-men #16 gets a 4.5 out of 5. The Phoenix Five have been humbled and smothered in cows blood. They now have to prove they can pull a Carrie on Sinister and wipe that creepy grin off his face. But hopefully, they save some of those Madelyne Pryor clones. Because if there's one thing the Marvel Universe has shown over the years, it's that you can never have enough hot redheads with a leather fetish. Nuff said!