Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #4 - Villainous Badass Awesome

There are some world class drunks out there (like yours truly) that don't need a whole lot of excuses to get wasted. But some of those excuses are pretty fucking stupid in the grand scheme of things. When a guy gets fired from his job after his house is foreclosed upon because he spent too much money on a Brazilian stripper named Coochie Mocha, he's more than justified in getting shit faced. But when your name is Tony Stark, you have billions to your name, and you can build an army of robot Pamela Andersons to cater to your every perverse fantasy, you have no excuse. There was actually a time when Iron Man was a world class drunk in Marvel comics. He's not the first comic book character to struggle with real world addiction, but he was by far the least believable.

Iron Man's movies may be as awesome as Scarlett Johansen's rack, but in the comics he's about as sympathetic as Mitt Romney pleading for food stamps. He may claim to be sober, but I refuse to believe that some of the shit he did in Avengers vs. X-men wasn't the result of some mind-altering substance that just doesn't show up in piss tests. Only a drunk could determine that the best way to deal with the looming threat of the Phoenix Force was to shoot it with a big ass gun. And only a drunk would pretend that he was too fucked up to take any level of responsibility for shit that he caused. But Iron Man has faced absolutely zero scrutiny for his role in Avengers vs. X-men, just as he faces zero scrutiny for the shit he did in Civil War (thanks to a bullshit retcon). As such, I scorn him on behalf of all us honest drunks.

In both Avengers vs. X-men and the ongoing Consequences mini, Iron Man is still walking around as if he played no part in the bullshit surrounding the Phoenix. He didn't seem to give a damn when Cyclops was thrown in jail and he didn't get any shit from Captain America for his gizmos being responsible. He also pretends to have a new appreciation for the mystical aspects of life. There's a term for that as well. It's called being fucked up out of your mind, leaving no doubt that he was smoking something in Avengers vs. X-men. But I doubt Marvel will ever admit to it.

Whatever shit Iron Man is on, there's no indication he's sobered up. Cyclops, who we found out in the previous issue was working a plan with Magneto on the outside, is still taking all the accountability for what happened with the Phoenix even though he's only partially responsible at best. Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #4 continues by having Tony Stark pay a visit and not for a conjugal visit in the women's prison either. He's still high from his Joseph Smith style religious experience, but unlike Joseph Smith it isn't a complete fraud. He expresses a desire to understand the Phoenix while still deflecting responsibility for his role in fucking it up and having Cyclops take the blame. Whether out of boredom or pity, Cyclops humors his curiosity. There's really no indication here as to what Tony hopes to gain or why the fuck he's not taking responsibility like a good recovering alcoholic should. Either he's drinking again or he gave the finger to Alcoholics Anonymous. Either way, he's still a dick.

Whereas Iron Man's latest non-alcoholic obsession does nothing for the story other than remind readers of what a dick he is, there are other parts of the story that help actually move things forward. In the first issue of this mini, Captain America said he suspected that someone with a lot of access and too much free time was helping the Extinction Team. Unlike the CIA's suspicions about Iraq, this actually proves accurate because someone who definitely has that kind of access is Agent Brand of SWORD. She worked closely with the Extinction Team in the pages of Uncanny X-men. So it makes such perfect sense that she would be the one to help them that you feel like you were lobotomized in your sleep for not thinking of it. Apparently, she's been coordinating with Magneto because she's of the opinion that the Avengers and the X-men intent on sucking their dicks for approval aren't going to do what needs to be done for this new influx of mutants. Since she admits she's also a mutant, she decides to roll the dice with the Extinction Team. While she may be fucking Beast at the moment, her willingness to give the finger to both the Avengers and the X-men earns her plenty of points in my book.

So by now, we've caught up with every member of the Extinction Team except one. Of all the members that were forgotten faster than Vanilla Ice's movie career, Namor definitely got shafted the most. After he laid waste to Wakanda and set the stage for the glorious breakup of Storm and Black Panther, he was barely mentioned and never even seen. Well now that he's on the collective shit list for both Wakanda and the Avengers, he's been lying low. That's understandable, but still a dick move. Apparently, he's been hanging out in the old ruins of Utopia, which have since been shot to shit. This happens to be where Hope, everyone's least favorite rip-off bratty bitch, decides to travel to track down Cable. It makes about as much sense as the rest of the bullshit she's done outside of betraying the X-men. But I guess I've come to expect that from her.

But despite Hope's annoying presence and incessent intent on making everyone hate her, there's a nice moment to be enjoyed here. Hope goes out of her way to ask Namor what the fuck he was thinking when he laid waste to Wakanda. I imagine it's akin to asking someone what the fuck they were thinking when they fought that transvestite hooker over a half-eaten hot dog on a cocaine bender. But Namor basically describes how the Phoenix fucked him up and showed that being the king of Atlantis with access to all the hot mermaid pussy he wanted just didn't amount to jack shit in the grand scheme of things. Nothing else really comes of this other than Hope being an annoying bitch and Namor discussing why he took his sexual frustrations over Emma Frost out on Wakanda. But at least we finally get to see what the fuck he's been doing since the Avengers vs. X-men shit hit the fan.

Namor's handling of the events of Avengers vs. X-men is at least twenty seven times more mature than Colossus. In this series, he's developed the kind of hatred for his sibling that couldn't be matched outside the Baldwin family. Now free from the Cytorakk influence and made to feel like an ass for helping his sister, he's basically become one of those creepy hermits who lives in a cave, minus the occasionally spying on children at playgrounds. Storm, who received a message about Colossus's location courtesy of Magik in the last issue, paid him a visit. Since she's nowhere near the asshole that the Avenger strive to be, she doesn't turn him in. She just tries to talk to him. Colossus only tells her to fuck off and leave him alone in the most polite way possible. Of all the members of the Extinction Team, you gotta feel sorry for him the most. He went out of his way to save his sister and all along she was just fucking with him. That's like a homeless man finding out that the stray dog he's been taking care of was a stuffed animal all along. It's tough shit.

But Colossus isn't the only one Storm visits. After she's done chatting, she encounters Magneto. Now in nearly every other era of X-men, when Storm is on the same page as Magneto it's usually accompanied with a violent battle that involves magnetism and F5 tornadoes. But for a time, these two actually worked side-by-side during their days on the Extinction Team. I admit it always felt awkward, like having a pot head manage your stock portfolio. You know it couldn't last, but it was fun while it did and made work a shit ton more interesting. Storm and Magneto have what may be their last civil conversation. Storm tries to convince him that he can still be a good guy, but Magneto makes it clear that good guys don't make progress in this world. To get shit done, you need to be a little bit of an asshole of a villainous kind and that's something that he's willing to do that the Avengers are too chicken shit to try.

There's tension everywhere it seems. Siblings now want to kill each other and former allies are too fucked up to do anything. But some elements of Avengers vs. X-men Consequences have taken an approach that probably wouldn't make an episode of Jerry Springer. In the last issue, Cyclops met up with a fellow prisoner named Jake who happened to be a mutant. He was no Magneto. He was a dipshit burglar who happened to be among those who got mutant powers after the events of Avengers vs. X-men. Rather than whine about how he's going to be hated and feared, he actually made friends with Cyclops and expressed a desire to make his life better. Hell, he even got an X-men tattoo. He sounds like the kind of guy you want to have your back in prison and not in a way that will lead to severe rectal trauma.

Unfortunately, Cyclops doesn't get the chance to become prison buddies with this guy. In the previous issue, a bunch of other prisoners with poor impulse control and no fresh anuses to sodomize tried to shank Jake and Cyclops. They failed miserably. But this time, they succeeded in attacking Jake. Cyclops tries to help him, but the guards don't let him this time. Instead, they just subtly laugh their asses off and use his collar to shock him so he can't save the guy. It's a sad end to the most lovable prisoner since Tony Montana. But it has a strong impact and one that sends a message that goes beyond why you shouldn't give prisoners tooth brushes and nothing better to do with their time.

While Cyclops is left reeling by this latest injustice on top of the massive amounts of shit already piled on top of him, Wolverine pays another visit. To this point the only things his visits have accomplishes is making him an even bigger asshole than before. Maybe he's had time to sober up or maybe he's finally stopped drinking shitty light beer, but he actually comes off as decent this time. He finally tells Cyclops that he believes that he didn't mean to kill the Professor when he was fucked up on the Phoenix Force. He also has a very nice bromance moment where he tells him that while he may hate his guts for what he did in Avengers vs. X-men and for having access to Jean Grey's pussy, he still respects him and still thinks he can be the better man. Whether he's trying to dissuade him from this stupid martyr gig or trying to dissuade him from getting back at the prisoners who killed Jake, he sends a clear message.

However, I don't think Wolverine expected Cyclops to respond to that message by secretly contacting Magneto. In the previous issue, he revealed that he had been keeping in touch with him as part of some sort of plan. At the time, the plan didn't involve him being busted out of jail. Well after seeing how the world is treating new mutants like Jake and how few fucks people like the Avengers seem to give, he changes that plan. He's prepared to give a big middle finger to the justice system and allow Magneto to break his ass out. On behalf of everyone who has ever gotten a bullshit parking ticket, I say fuck yes!

The word badass and villain is thrown around a lot like herpes on the Jersey Shore. Marvel has done a great deal to blur those lines over the years, whether it's with their stories or with their characters. It's an inescapable fact of comics. If most of these characters existed in real life, we would think they were complete assholes. Tony Stark flies around in an Iron Man suit and doesn't share that shit with anyone. Wolverine is a drunken, sex-crazed dick with anger management issues. Fuck, if I want that I'll visit my cousin in Texas (if he hasn't broken parole). But every now and then, Marvel walks that fine line in a way that even if a character existed in real life you would be inclined to say, "Fuck yeah! Someone get this guy a beer and a hooker!" The end scene with Cyclops accomplished this feat in the best possible way.

This issue helped tie up a few more loose ends that were not addressed in the previous issue. With only one issue left, the mysteries are falling to the wayside in favor of setting the stage for All New X-men and all the rest of Marvel's overhyped relaunch that they'll never admit to being overhyped. We already knew Cyclops was going to bust out of jail, if for no other reason than to ensure the sanctity of his anus for mutant kind. But this issue actually presented an even better reason for him bust out if his asshole wasn't good enough. The death of that prisoner mutant, Jake, effectively conveyed the message that rotting in a prison cell isn't going to solve the problems mutants now face in the post Avengers vs. X-men world. And since the Avengers and his fellow X-men can't be bothered to deal with it, Cyclops needs to flex his nuts again. You couldn't give the man better motivation without serving it on Emma Frost's tits and Jean Grey's pussy.

Nearly everything in this issue fit together nicely. However, it did drag a bit at times. The whole notion of Iron Man wanting to understand the Phoenix seemed about as pointless as Mitt Romney's position on welfare reform. And while every scene involving Hope Summers is akin to smearing horse diarrhea on the page, her conversation with Namor amounted to less than Donald Trump's prenup. While there's definitely the potential for these scenes to expand in the final issue, they didn't really give much reasons for the reader to give half a shit about them.

Avengers vs. X-men Consequences is largely a transition series meant to bridge the gap between Avengers vs. X-men and Marvel NOW! As such, it has to wade through the river of shit carved by Avengers vs. X-men and somehow mask the stench. The first few issues did an admirable job, but the past two have taken it to some badly needed levels of awesome. While Avengers vs. X-men will always suck, the way in which Marvel is moving forward from it doesn't have to. I give Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #4 a 4 out of 5. Now if I can get serious for a moment, let's all have a moment of silence for Jake, the imprisoned dip-shit burglar who didn't stand a chance. Rest in Peace, Jake! May your last breath be accompanied by an intact asshole. Nuff said!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

MORE Previews of All New X-men #1 and Beyond

At this point, keeping up with all of the previews and teasers for the upcoming All New X-men series is like trying to keep up with Charlie Sheen on a cocaine bender. It's damn near impossible and somewhere along the way some hookers may end up permanently scarred. But you don't have to keep up with all the teasers, hints, spoilers, and hype Marvel is throwing behind this new series to be excited about it. Just seeing the Original Five X-men back in the present and imagining how awkward it will be for Wolverine when he has to keep it in his pants around a teenage Jean Grey makes this series more than worth knocking yourself out with heroin so you don't have to wait as long. But this past week, Marvel has gone into greater detail about what to expect with this series as if they haven't done enough to divulge the entire first issue. They did an entire liveblog about it in which Brian Michael Bendis and Nick Lowe couldn't stop soaking their panties at the prospect of writing Jean Grey again. To be fair, I've yet to walk out of a situation that involves talking about All New X-men where my panties haven't been soaked as well.

CBR: Bendis & Lowe Introduce All New X-men

There is so much potential for a series like this. It doesn't just bring Jean Grey back into the fold. It essentially takes what made Back to the Future awesome and applies to the X-men, minus the incest. It also has the potential to get back to the basics with the X-men. Since House of M, they've been less about heroics and more about being this mutant militia fighting for survival. Now I'm not going to deny that shit is pretty awesome and has made for some damn good stories, but it gets old after a while. There's only so many ways you can make a superhero team look like badasses before they become douche-bags.

And if time travel wasn't enough, Bendis and Lowe also promise a few hints beyond the overly spoiled All New X-men #1. Like who will be in a position to fuck with the Original Five more than Wolverine will fuck with Jean Grey's underwear? How about motherfucking Mystique!

Bendis also revealed who the major villain of the piece will be. "A very big, positioned antagonist is going to be Mystique," Bendis said. "She's going to be very interested in the past X-Men coming here."

So not only is one famous redhead coming back. Another is entering the picture again. Apparently, she's going to get tired of fucking Sabretooth in the pages of Uncanny X-Force and need to fuck with someone else. Given that Mystique was one of the first comic book women I've ever jerked off to, this is a wonderful revelation and I will buy Bendis a full brick of cocaine if he can make it sufficiently awesome.

He also says there are plans for the Original Five to cross paths with Hope "Jean rip-off" Summers. 

There are also huge plans for Hope Summers -- Lowe referenced "Cable and X-Force," but Bendis said there might be some interaction with Jean Grey and Hope later down the line.

I've already gone into many rants about how this bitchy ripoff character needs to die a 1,000 deaths and her grave be shat upon by a 1,000 fat men with irritable bowel syndrome. So I won't go into another and just say I hope Original Five Jean Grey is prepared to telekinetically bitch slap this pathetic excuse for a mutant messiah.

There's so much to look forward to. I've already made plans for when this series is finally released and Marvel stops spoiling the first issue. I've got a bottle of lube, a few bags of blow, some candles, and a new bong. I intend to lay naked on my bed, covered in baby oil while I read the book with my Grateful Dead collection playing in the background. My balls are already wet so November 7th can't come fast enough! In the meantime, here is some of the preview art that Marvel released for All New X-men #1 and beyond.

Not sure if Kitty and Iceman are doing something important or are just trying to enjoy a little thrill sex before the Original Five hogs the spotlight. Might be a little of both.

This image was already released months ago, but this time it's in motherfucking color! I was tripping on shrooms when I saw the first preview so I didn't notice.

Wolverine has clearly detected the scent of a live Jean Grey. His penis is taking it from there!

The Original Five confront Adult Cyclops, Magneto, and a lot of visibly confused people who probably think their drinks were spiked. Whereas Wolverine's penis will probably fuck with him upon seeing Jean Grey again, I imagine many other body parts will be fucking with Cyclops when he sees his dead wife as a teenager again.

Not sure what's going on here, but I think the reason they're focusing on their heads is because they may be in the process of shitting themselves.

Once again, teenage Jean Grey is overwhelmed and teenage Cyclops tries to help her. Is it cliched? Yes. Is it still awesome? Fuck yes.

Looks like someone got way too fucking wasted last night. It looks like me after my 21st birthday. A vision of the past or a prelude of what will happen on my next trip to Tijuana? We'll have to wait and see! Nuff said!

Friday, October 26, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue #65 - The Phoenix Saga Part 3 is LIVE!

At a time when many are celebrating all things scary with Halloween, the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is facing a great horror in the Phoenix Force. The cosmic power that has been known to destroy planets and entire star systems is inching closer to the world of X-men Supreme. Now, it's poised to take another step as the official X-men Supreme Phoenix Saga unfolds in a new issue! You've seen flashbacks into the life of Jean Grey which hinted at a connection with an unseen force going back to the darkest days of her life. You've seen her manifest symptoms during arcs such as Overlord and Proteus. It has left the X-men desperate for answers and in the previous issue, they may have finally found one courtesy of former X-man, Emma Frost.

The introduction of Emma Frost brought with it plenty of trouble. I always intended to introduce her into the X-men Supreme fanfiction series and that includes the drama she often brings. I've alreayd received a few questions about her life in X-men Supreme and the nature of her history with the X-men. I assure you all there is a story to be told here. Emma Frost does have an integral part in the history of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Unfortunately, I cannot divulge too many details without spoiling key stories. So her bio will likely not take place until after X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope concludes. In the meantime, Emma Frost has introduced the X-men to Jason Wyngarde, who they are told can help Jean Grey. But can he really? Check out the latest issue of X-men Supreme Phoenix Saga to find out!

Issue 65: The Phoenix Saga Part 3

I was hoping that someone would take me up on my request to do another variation of my Jean Grey Phoenix commission from Brian Brinlee. Ideally, I want a variant for every issue of the Phoenix Saga, however long it ends up being. Unfortunately, nobody has responded. So I have no new variations to include with this issue. I sincerely hope that more are willing to contribute. I think the variants really help add something special to this very special event in the lore of the X-men mythos. As such, I implore all my readers who are Photoshop inclined to provide another variant. I also implore everyone who reads this latest issue to take the time to leave a review. Feedback is extremely important, especially during such a major undertaking like the Phoenix Saga. Please contact me or post the reviews directly with each issue. Every bit of feedback counts and I'm always happy to chat! Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Xtreme X-men #5 - Cowboys, Cowgirls, and Awesome

We like to think that mankind has made a shit ton of progress since the days we burned witches at the stake, thought the sun was a guy in a chariot, and sacrificed animals to gods that looked like other animals to protect from all sorts of crazy shit...including animals. Looking back on history, it's hard to believe that people were once that stupid. But I'm of the opinion that gap of stupidity isn't as wide as we would like to believe. The only difference between us and our ancestors is that we have shit like Google and Wikipedia to check facts whenever someone comes at us with some crazy shit about some guy being born of a virgin or snakes talking. I'm sure if Socrates had an Iphone, he could have made everyone in Ancient Greece kiss his ass and sing a song about it afterward.

This narrow gap of stupidity extends into comics where it also extends beyond universes. Marvel comics, the X-men in particular, have never been shy about hopping universes with the same regularity that I make beer runs on a Friday night. Greg Pak has based his Xtreme X-men series entirely on this premise and for the most part, it has been pretty damn awesome. Dazzler and a team of alternate universe X-men have traveled to some pretty exotic universes, but for the most part the stupidity gap is the same. By that I mean in multiple universes, people are stupid enough to trust an evil Charles Xavier to solve all their problems.

The latest arc of Xtreme X-men has Dazzler's team traveling to a world of old west cliches where Charles Xavier is the anti-John Wayne. Rather than hold shootouts and let whiskey-fueled bar brawls rule the day, he used the same tactic that the Charles Xavier used with the X-gods in the previous universe they visited. He mind fucked everybody and probably jerked off while doing it. He managed to capture Wolverine while Dazzler and Kid Nightcrawler freed the guy who looks like Wolverine's father, minus the bottle of whiskey. While this series may have a pretty simple premise, it has found ways to be awesome and surprising. We know the Xavier of this universe is a total douche. So what kind of twists can we expect from such douchiness?

Xtreme X-men #5 attempts to answer that call by having the Xavier-in-a-Jar belittle Dazzler by pointing out that the cute guy she was just itching to bone in the X-gods universe ditched her for Emma Frost the moment she flashed her boobs at him. To be fair, a celibate priest would ditch Jesus at the sight of Emma Frost's boobs. But that doesn't stop Xavier-in-a-Jar from pointing out that Dazzler has been burned to the point where she enjoys universe hopping. I'm not sure if that's just him being a douche or a motivational tactic. Either works because she leads the charge against Sheriff Xavier's forces, which now include a mind-wiped Wolverine. It's as flashy as you would expect Dazzler aside from wanting her to do it topless, you can't ask for much more.

It's not a fair fight in the slightest and Sheriff Xavier knows that and won't wipe that goofy grin off his face either. He's got his own Wolverine, Colossus, Steampunk Danger, and Sabreooth to throw at a wannabe pop star and a kid Nightcrawler. You couldn't get a more unfair fight if you put Stephen Hawkings in an MMA ring. But Sheriff Xavier reveals that he's not just out to kill them. That would make too much sense. He wants the Xavier-in-a-Jar. Why? Hell, I don't know. But if you found an alternate version of your head in a jar, you would be curious too I imagine. But still, it would be nice if there was another reason aside from being curious, bored, and overly sober.

And once Sheriff Xavier has the Xavier-in-a-Jar in hand he does what he does best and tries to mind-fuck him. But in doing so, he actually does the readers a service of sorts. He reveals the circumstances in which this Xavier-in-a-Jar lost his head both literally and figuratively. Thanks to some telepathic flashbacks, we get some solid insight. Apparently, he wasn't all that different from the non-psychotic Xavier. But instead of taking five gifted mutants and forming the X-men, he took five gifted mutants and made them into a reality show. Okay, so he was psychotic after all. If not in part. But even if it was only partially, he went full psychotic when a bunch of guys dressed as Sentinel cos-players showed up and killed his cast. And the destruction of his reality show sent him over the edge and had him start mind fucking people.

It may not be the most elaborate story surrounding an alternate universe Xavier, but it does fill a blank that's been lingering in Xtreme X-men for a while now. While characters like Nightcrawler and Wolverine have had some backstory hinted at, not much has been done with the Xavier-in-a-Jar. So it was nice to finally get some insight into this disembodied head case. It took a while and it isn't the most ground-breaking twist, but it work without having Xavier look too much of a douche.

That's probably a good thing because the battle doesn't let up. Nightcrawler manages to get the Xavier-in-a-Jar back and teleport him away, leaving Dazzler to fight off Sheriff Xavier's mind-fucked army by herself. But she manages to hold her own, showing off a level of firepower and sex appeal that will keep you warm and give you a boner. Again, it's flashy and not overly drawn out. But it's still a sight to behold and a testament to what a hot blond chick with superpowers can do. God help us all of Miley Cyrus ever gets powers like this. It gets to the point where Sheriff Xavier's forces end up retreating. Despite all his "I'm awesome and you're just a hot chick who teenage boys with no internet connection jerk off to" speech, he just retreats before countering. It doesn't make a lot of sense. After Avengers vs. X-men, you would think I would be used to that shit. But sadly, it still hurts a story even if it involves a flashy hot chick.

Dazzler and Kid Nightcrawler go after him. They run into the old west version of Cyclops, who apparently was the actual sheriff before this universe's Xavier mind-fucked him. In that sense he actually has a reason to kill Xavier and since this is before that shit hit a great many fans, Dazzler tries to get through Xavier's control. For a moment, it seems to work. But unlike the Cyclops we know and love, he's too much of a pussy to break it. So he still tries to blast Dazzler, but she's able to work around that shit and use his optic blasts to rough up Sabretooth. It makes a slight bit of sense because Sabretooth can never get enough blasting. It's one of those classic X-men elements that need not make sense.

We eventually find out that Sheriff Xavier did have a plan of sorts. In order to get the Xavier-in-a-Jar back, he traveled back to the town where the kid Wolverine had been hiding with his family. He then has non-kid Wolverine in a position to gut them if they don't hand over the Xavier-in-a-Jar. It would be brilliant if it wasn't something they could have easily done beforehand and skip the whole Dazzler fight. Granted, it wouldn't have been as flashy, but it only means they didn't even have a coherent reason to do half the shit they did. And given the recent trends in Marvel comics, that shit is pretty disappointing.

Almost as disappointing is the way this illogical plan turns out. Before there can be any tense negotiations or shit like that, the whole thing just ends when Wolverine suddenly heals from the mind-fuck Sheriff Xavier did to him. And just in time to avoid killing his kid version no less. Once free, he proceeds to quickly end this shit by decapitating Sheriff Xavier. It's not as gruesome as it sounds. It just ends the battle in a way that is supposed to be shocking, but really just comes off as an overly and overly contrived solution.

While the conflict itself didn't end in a very exciting manner, Greg Pak does at least take the time to craft a solid ending to this little visit to the old west. He flashes forward about two weeks. In that time, Cyclops manages to round up all the criminals that Sheriff Xavier mind-fucked. Kid Wolverine's father made a full recovery as well. It seems everything is all hookers and booze again. That means Dazzler, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Xavier-in-a-Jar are ready to just teleport away in search of their next evil Xavier. It would be a rather bland way to end the issue, but thankfully Pak throws in a twist when he has Kid Nightcrawler fuck up their universe hopping. For reasons that also don't make sense, he sees an image of his parents. And like a fat kid that sees an overturned ice cream truck, his first inclination is to go after it.

This turns out about as fucked up as you would expect. That is, of course, if by fucked up you mean him ending up in a universe of bug-like robots. There are any number of crazy universes that Dazzler and her team could visit. They've been to a universe of X-gods. They've been to a universe where everyone acts like they're on the set of a John Wayne movie. Now they're going to a universe with killer robots. It actually seems logical while providing something that feels like a twist of sorts. It's an awkward yet enjoyable feeling. Like being caught jerking off at a porno theater, you feel like you get your money's worth either way.

Lately in my reviews, I've been making a big fucking deal about comics making sense. I know it sounds petty, a guy who regularly sees ninja rabbits fighting giant cockroaches when he's tripping on shrooms criticizing a comic for not making sense. Granted, there's only so much sense a story can make when it involves heads in a jar and people who can shoot lasers from their eyes, but I don't think it's too much to ask the people at Marvel who get paid to do the shit fanfiction writers regularly do for free to have their shit make sense. The premise of Xtreme X-men is as out there as the guy who watches the Matrix stoned. But for the most part it has been coherent. This issue wasn't one of those parts.

It had some good, solid moments. The most pertinent being the insight into the Xavier-in-a-Jar and why drove him to be the disembodied basket case he is now. Greg Pak hasn't explored those elements too much to this point so it was a nice addition to the story that has been unfolding in this book. But the area where it falls flat is the less-than-shocking twist at the end where Wolverine breaks free of Sheriff Xavier's control and cuts his head off. There was a time when decapitation was shit in a comic book. Now it's about as shocking as one of Rush Limbaugh's conspiracy theories about the liberal media. We're used to it. Not only that, the whole Wolverine breaking free from his control made for a rather boring end that didn't make much sense. So he just got mind fucked and healed from it? And Sheriff Xavier didn't even contemplate that it could happen after being competent enough to mind-fuck so many others? It doesn't make sense and there I couldn't do enough bong hits to change that.

It was a rather bland resolution to the arc, but at least it didn't follow the same path the previous arc did. Dazzler and her crew didn't just leave this crazy universe after promising to never watch another western ever again. There was a twist thrown in at the end with Nightcrawler breaking from the group like kids with alcoholic fathers tend to do. It may not have been too startling and his reasons for doing so didn't make much sense either, but it helped ensure that the next arc would have a different set of circumstances and a different set of conflicts that didn't involve horses, saloons, and whore houses. Hopefully, the next arc at least keeps the whore houses.

Xtreme X-men is still a fun ride with plenty of enjoyment elements. Xtreme X-men #5 wasn't the best issue to date, but it didn't fall flat on its ass and Greg Pak did close out this arc rather nicely even if it didn't make much sense. That's why I give the issue a 3 out of 5. It's solid despite its flaws. If you're sober enough, it should get you excited for the next issue. It won't blow your mind, strike your heart, or make love to you in ways that can only be described in a Barry White song. But it will give you something to read while lying naked on your bed with the heater going full blast. Nuff said!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #3 - Rehabilitating Awesome

I've been accused of being pretty damn arrogant in the past. I've also been accused of being forgetful. Every now and then I'll black out at a bar, wake up on the floor of my kitchen with my pants around my ankles and mustard smeared on my anus, and get a call from some random woman that claims I shaved her dog and drew dicks all over him with permanent marker. But at least when that woman shows me her dog with a giant dong drawn right over the tail, I admit that I was fucked up and someone was stupid enough to let me borrow their electric razor and a permanent marker. I don't just ignore that shit and claim it was someone who just looked as drunk as I do. I've come across one too many state troopers to know that excuse is bullshit. I make no exceptions for comic book characters either. Sure, they're fictional. But it doesn't give them an excuse to be arrogant assholes.

Anyone who saw the first Iron Man movie would never claim that Tony Stark is Mother Theresa. Hell, if arrogance was a disease, this guy would be fucking quarantined on his own moon. But he's usually pretty good at about shrugging his shoulders when he fucks up. Recovering alcoholics at least try to do that in between withdraw symptoms and insomnia. But in Avengers vs. X-men, Iron Man's arrogance took on a Freudian level of bullshit. This guy actually thought that it was a good idea to deal with a cosmic force by shooting it with a big ass gun. That would be like me saying at a bar, "Too many shots of tequila may kill me? Fuck, someone get tank! That ought to fix this shit!" Anyone who has any experience with tequila (may Galactus have mercy on your soul) knows why that shit is a bad idea.

Iron Man's so-called solution for the Phoenix Force was a bad idea for the exact same reason. Yet has anyone called him out on his shit? Fuck no! He's never even acknowledged that maybe he fucked up in causing the Phoenix Five fiasco in the first place. No one, Avengers or X-men, has even tenderized his ass for basically preventing something that ended up being the right thing after all. Hell, even he reached that conclusion in Avengers vs. X-men #12 when he conceded that the Phoenix needed to merge with Hope. But at no point did he admit he was wrong or full of shit or take any responsibility for what happened.

In the end, all that shit was lumped on Cyclops and he came out smelling the worst. Yet he was right. Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #2 nicely articulated this when he pretty much gave Wolverine the finger and proclaimed that he did the right thing while Wolverine came dangerously close to fucking everything up. He accepts responsibility for what happened to Xavier and for all the destruction. But he doesn't regret it. And why should he? He saved a whole fucking species and created a worldwide utopia. Some shit you need to apologize for. You take a piss on your buddy's boot, you fess up. But saving a species and creating a utopia? Fuck, you deserve a free blowjob from all the hookers in Vegas for that.

Avengers vs. X-men Consequences has only slightly explored these details that Avengers vs. X-men shrugged off in the same way George W. Bush shrugs off illegal torture. Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #3 continues that exploration with Tony Stark as he lends a hand in rebuilding K'un L'un. But does he mention at all that it was his alcoholic ass that split the Phoenix, led to the Phoenix Five, and the destruction that followed? Fuck no! He just talks about how awesome it was to finally walk that fine line between science and magic. Because like a creationist, science is hard. It's just easier to believe in crazy shit. It helps distract you from the bullshit your guilty of that everyone else seems to have forgotten. It's a pretty worthless scene that only amounts to Iron Man saying goodbye to K'un L'un and returning to rebuild the world that he indirectly helped fuck up yet isn't in jail for.

Iron Man has it easy. All he had to do was just believe crazy magical shit. For Cyclops, all the crazy beliefs in Texas wouldn't save his ass. At the end of the previous issue, he found himself at the business end of an improvised shank made by a guy twice his size who looks only slightly less menacing than Wolverine when he's hung-over. Anyone else in that situation would probably be able to forge a diamond out of coal from their clenched asshole, but Cyclops isn't just anyone. He's fucking Cyclops! His skills go far beyond controlling his optic blasts and giving multiple orgasms to the likes of Jean Grey and Emma Frost. He can also fight. He can fight well enough to beat the shit out of a bunch of prison thugs with too much free time, no women, and poor impulse control. I'm not sure if this counts as another instance of him giving the finger to Wolverine and the Avengers, but fuck standards! I'm counting it anyways!

But Cyclops isn't the only one in jail because of the shit storm that was Avengers vs. X-men. It's barely been mentioned in a few passing speech bubbles, but Emma Frost ended up behind bars as well. Because apparently it's a crime to have cosmic power, make the world a global utopia, and look inhumanly sexy. But her situation as well as her relationships with the rest of the team have been completely ignored. Hell, she hasn't even talked to anybody with her usual wit and lurid subtext for much of the Avengers vs. X-men aftermath. Well we finally get to hear from her and I'm proud to say that one thing I learned from prison porn turned out to be true. You can masturbate to a woman in prison garb.

Being in prison still hasn't hurt Emma Frost's edge. She engages in a brief conversation with Kitty Pryde. Unfortunately, it doesn't vindicate some of my other beliefs about prison porn, but if you close your eyes and use your imagination I figure you can still masturbate to it. As expected, Emma has no remorse for what she did. She just tells Kitty, who only shows a tiny hint of sympathy, that she regrets that new mutants won't be able to learn from her. Because somehow young mutants can only learn from someone with the capacity and willingness to use her boobs as often as her mind. I'm not going to argue with it. I'll just say it's a great scene that adds some long overdue context to Emma's assessment of her situation. Some issues remain clear. The status of her relationship with Cyclops wasn't addressed, but there was a hint that she may not be inclined to let him see her naked anymore. Then again, if I had a nickle for every woman that called me stupid, I would own every cocaine factory in Columbia by now.

Her sensual grit aside, Emma Frost did bring up one important issue. There's a whole new generation of mutants emerging because of what happened in Avengers vs. X-men. We actually met one of those mutants in the previous issue. Cyclops's cell mate, whose powers manifested while he was still in prison for planning a burglary as well as Todd Akin prepares for a gynecological exam, happens to be a mutant. After seeing Cyclops beat the shit out of a bunch of prisoners with his asshole intact, he's understandably intrigued. Cyclops actually talks to him about doing something with his powers. He even refers him to Wolverine's school. Again, I'm counting that as another middle finger to Wolverine. But moreover, he further explains why he has no regrets. It's because new mutants are emerging once again that guys like this failed criminal have a chance to be something more, be it a hero or a guy who ends up going batshit and killing his mentor. It adds a greater insight into how Cyclops is coping with this new world. And it makes him all the more awesome yet he didn't have to bone Emma Frost to do it. Need I say more?

Cyclops's awesome may be undeniable, but SHIELD and the Avengers are struggling with logistics like every other government agency that ever existed. Wolverine returns from his visit with Cyclops to report that not only did he get no information from Cyclops, but he got the size of his balls reduced by more than two thirds. The Avengers and SHIELD are basically stuck at a dead end. They know someone is helping Cyclops and the Extinction Team, but they have no fucking clue how to find out. It leads Maria Hill and Captain America to question whether Wolverine really knows how loyal his team is. Being a drunk womanizer with a tendency to juggle multiple superhero teams, it's not too crazy to think that maybe someone is pulling some shit behinds his back. It's a disturbing possibility for them, but an awesome possibility for the reader.

That possibility may or may not manifest with Magik, who finally pissed her brother off enough to make him want to snap her neck if they're ever in the same time zone. There's a memory of how much I pissed off one of my old teachers by posting pictures of his gay porn career in the school cafeteria, but I'll save that for another review. After prettying must cutting ties with her brother, Magik has clearly found some other means of occupying her time. She appears to Storm at the Jean Grey Institute telling her she knows where Colossus is. Does this mean she's the one operating behind the scenes? Or does it mean Storm is? SHIELD wants to arrest Colossus as well. Yet Storm doesn't seem to be in too great a hurry. It's vague, but it's a scene that has so many possibilities and I'm not just talking about the femslash fanfiction I know some fans are going to write for this scene.

Unfortunately, there are far fewer possibilities for the little redheaded rip-off character that Avengers vs. X-men turned into the most annoyingly bratty pissant since Honey Boo Boo. Yes, I'm talking about Hope fucking Summers. I know I've given her a lot of shit on this blog, but I maintain that I don't even give her a fraction of what she deserves. Because of her Mitt Romney-style flip-flopping, the events of Avengers vs. X-men were both royally fucked up and her likability fell apart faster than downtown Detroit. This little bitch has no redeeming qualities. Yet after the events of Avengers vs. X-men where she betrayed the people who sacrificed everything for her and shrugged her shoulders when others were sent to jail for that shit, all she wanted to do was live a normal life. Yeah, well after I was found naked in ball pit, I would love to go back to a McDonald's with a play house but that shit ain't happening.

In one of the least coherent scenes of this issue, we find out that somehow Hope managed to enroll in some fancy private school that isn't the Jean Grey Institute. She's basically a school girl in a Harry Potter-like uniform pretending to be a normal girl that fucks over anyone who sacrifices for her. She muses about how much school sucks and how much fitting in sucks. Well here's a news flash you little shit, you don't need to survive an apocalyptic future to figure that out! She's whined about damn near everything else so it's no surprise when she whines about this. Unfortunately, she's not going to be a character that Marvel just sweeps under the rug like a pile of dog shit on your grandmother's living room floor. She wants to find Cable, who apparently got sick of her bratty ass and ditched her in an earlier issue. But being the little rip-off character, she can't take a fucking hint and decides to go looking for him. With any luck, she'll get shot or contract an incurable rectal itch. I'm sorry if I'm harsh, but there was no fucking explanation for how she joined this fancy school and since she's already back to defying the wishes of everyone who cares about her it felt like a pretty pointless scene.

There's much more mystery surrounding the shit Cyclops is doing while behind bars. To this point, he hasn't shown that he plans to do anything in prison other than take responsibility for his crimes and protect the integrity of his asshole. But this is Cyclops we're talking about. Not only can he beat the shit out of a bunch of prison thugs, but he can formulate a plan under any circumstance. So we find out here that Captain America was actually right for the first time since Avengers vs. X-men began in that he did know something. Using some fancy looking powder that probably isn't the kind you buy from a guy in a Grateful Dead T-shirt on a street corner, he communicates with some unknown person in the form of powder messages. Is it Magik? Is it Storm? We don't know, but Cyclops makes it clear that he doesn't want to be broken out of jail...yet. He's more valuable as a political prisoner than he is a fugitive. So he decides to stick around. Score another middle finger against Wolverine!

Whereas most of the previous issue took place entirely in a prison cell and consisted mostly of Cyclops informing Wolverine that he acted like a complete douche during Avengers vs. X-men, this issue takes a slightly broader view. It not only continues the story of Cyclops in jail, but it finally catches up with some of the other stories that were established in the first issue while addressing others that have slipped through the cracks, namely the fate of Emma Frost. It also finds a way to deepen the mystery surrounding the so-called sympathizer that's helping the Extinction Team. Cyclops may be rotting in jail, but the man always has a plan and we finally found out what he's been secretly laughing about behind everyone's back. He clearly knows more than he told Wolverine, which I guess counts as yet another instance where he upstaged that wife-seducing furball. It also indicates that the Extinction Team is still active, as Magik's little visit to Storm showed. What does it all mean? Shit if I know. I'll need to do a few bong hits to come up with a sufficiently crazy idea. Or I can wait until the next issue, whichever comes first.

But what really sets this issue apart from the previous issue is that it finally felt like the story was moving behind all the characters pissing themselves as they tried to process all the shit that happened in Avengers vs. X-men. Ever since Avengers vs. X-men #12, it seems like the only thing anybody is doing is whining about how much the world is fucked up and blaming it all on Cyclops. Some manage better than others. Then you've got a shitty rip-off bitch in Hope Summers suddenly playing the part of the cute school girl that always gets tentacle raped in anime porn. Not all of it is coherent, but it all makes sense in a way that is very refreshing.

After reading the last few issues of Avengers vs. X-men, I was starting to worry that a Marvel comic would never make sense again. I'm glad I was at least partially wrong. This issue made a clear effort to move the Marvel universe forward while still exploring the aftermath. It worked for some, but not others. In that since it's like tequila. Some people can enjoy the brain-melting power of that shit and some can't even say the word without dry heaving.

Avengers vs. X-men Consequences has had to claw its way out of a pretty deep hole. It's success is basically akin to the chances the Cleveland Browns have at going to the Superbowl this year. It's not just an uphill battle. It's pretty much impossible. But after two solid issues and this issue on top of it, I can finally say that the Marvel universe is on its way to becoming coherent again. It's like that guy who goes on a week-long cocaine bender in Columbia and only finally starts remembering how many dicks he's had to suck along the way. It's incredibly disturbing, but it opens the door to rebuilding a new era of awesome. This issue did a great job in most areas in rebuilding that awesome while maintaining that fragile balance that every aftermath issue must deal with. It has some skid marks in its underwear, but it's nothing that'll get you kicked out of a public pool. For that I give Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #3 a 4 out of 5. Cyclops has a plan. Hope Summers is an annoying little brat. Wolverine is a douche. And Magik enjoys fucking with people. Take a deep breath, Marvel fans. Shit is finally getting back to normal! Nuff said!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Storm and Wolverine - Marvel's New Power Couple?

A while back, DC Comics proved that fans care deeply about who their favorite heroes are boning. Romance and love may not be cool in this day and age. We live in a world where every man tries to adopt the mentality of Charlie Sheen and every woman tries to adopt the mentality of Bella Swan. They're both equally deluded and possibly high on drugs that are only available from Hollywood agents. But it still makes us feel all warm, fuzzy, and horny. That was the main effect of this fateful cover for Justice League #12.

After decades of fans speculating how two super-powered beings go about humping without causing a 6.5 tremor on the Rictor scale, DC finally did it. They hooked up Superman and Wonder Woman. It's a romance that has been unfolding in the pages of Justice League and has been billed as more than a gimmick. DC is apparently serious about having these two be together. It's several steps up from the way Marvel handles romance. As evidenced by their handling of relationships like Cyclops/Emma or Hulk/Red She Hulk, they seem to derive much of their understanding of relationships from pornos and Two and a Half Men reruns. But could the success surrounding the hype between Superman and Wonder Woman's prospective boning inspire Marvel to do a shameless ripoff? Well, I think that question answers itself. But there may be a chance they'll actually put some effort into it.

Earlier this week, Jason Aaron posted a future cover of Wolverine and the X-men, a series he has been writing since its inception, on his Twitter feed. It hasn't made national news like the Superman/Wonder Woman hookup. Hell, it hasn't even generated as much insanity as the Northstar/Kyle marriage in Astonishing X-men. But it definitely has the potential to inspire many boners, soak many panties, and inspire a new influx of adult fanfiction that puts 50 Shades of Gray to shame.

That's exactly what it looks like, at least for the moment. Storm is kissing Wolverine in such a way that you would never suspect that Storm recently came out of a failed marriage. It's one of the few bright spots in the shit stain that was Avengers vs. X-men. Storm's loyalty to the X-men and the subsequent destruction of Wakanda led Black Panther to annul their marriage. It was long overdue for a marriage that was pulled out of the deepest recesses of Marvel's ass in such a way that I suspect it was basically done over a bar bet at three in the morning. It was a marriage more doomed than Vanilla Ice's comeback tour. And now that she's single again, she can get back to mingle. And who better than Wolverine?

Now I'm still partially sober so I'm not going to try assume too much. Usually with Marvel, the only assumptions you can make is that at some point they will fuck with readers. They're not afraid to tease, taunt, and flat out lie to get their kicks. Case and point, the cover of Astonishing X-men #44.

This was a cover that Marvel actually made a big deal of, probably because it ended up being more deceptive than a Mitt Romney campaign ad. Yes, Cyclops and Storm kissed. No, it didn't lead to jack shit. That storm in the picture is a Storm from an alternate universe where she and Cyclops did regularly exchange body fluids. It was part of Greg Pak's arc, Exhaulted (a story you should totally read by the way). But in the end it didn't amount to much. Cyclops was still boning Emma Frost by the end and the alternate universe Storm stayed back in her universe just in time to see it fall apart.

So with that in mind, this latest cover of Storm swapping spit with the guy who hates Cyclops the most could be just as deceptive. They could be under mind control. They could be Skrulls. Or they could just be drunk, horny, and lonely. Comic characters need to unwind too, you know? But since Marvel has yet to make a big deal out of this shit the way DC did with Wonder Woman and Superman, I'm not expecting it to be more meaningful than my last visit to a Tijuana brothel.

But if by chance Marvel does decide to not fuck with readers for once, they have a great opportunity here. The Storm/Black Panther relationship was more contrived than Glenn Beck's understanding of American history. But Storm and Wolverine actually do have a history. They haven't been official fuck buddies, but they have had their moments. First, there's scenes like this in the 616 comics.

Then there were scenes like this from the Ultimate comics before Marvel fucked them up beyond repair.

Then there was a whole fucking episode of them as a married couple in the X-men animated series. No, I'm not drunk even if I was stoned for most of the 90s. It really happened.

So like Superman and Wonder Woman, the idea has always been there. In fact, I've taken that idea and run with it in my own X-men Supreme fanfiction series. I hooked them up in Issue 56: District X Part 3. Hell, I'm so in favor of this relationship that I dedicated an entire fucking section of my website to pictures with them. I think it goes without saying that I support this relationship. It makes a lot of sense. These two complement each other in a way Storm never did with Black Panther and Jean Grey never did with Wolverine. They're both tough, determined, and have a spiritual connection with nature. That means they can relate to one another and bone in ways that would render every porno ever made obsolete.

But that may be the problem. It makes way too much fucking sense for these two to get together. And as we've seen with Avengers vs. X-men, Marvel is pathologically adverse to doing shit that makes sense. So while the idea is clearly there and clearly established, the chances of them actually carrying it out in the same way DC did with Superman and Wonder Woman is pretty slim. And even if they do go through with it, what are the chances that Marvel actually makes these two more serious than a drunken hook-up at a frat party? I guess that means the Wolverine/Storm shippers of the world are stuck with fanfiction stories like X-men Supreme. Oh well! Nuff said!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

MORE All New X-men #1 Preview Pages (And Cyclops Kicking Ass)

Just when I think Marvel has done enough to spoil a comic, they find new ways to get away with it. It's not enough that they like to leak spoilers for big issues to mainstream media the day before the issue hits. On some levels I applaud their foresight because someone at that company is smart enough to tell his boss, "Fuck it. This shit will be all over the internet anyways. Why not exploit the living hell out of it?" Well like that hooker I picked up at an S&M club last week, I say exploit me motherfuckers!

I've done a series of blog posts recently on the various pages of All New X-men #1 that Marvel has spoon fed the web. The first time was basically a glorified teaser, which is not too outrageous for a comic company to do. The second time took it a step further, spoiling the whole fucking ending. You would think by now that All New X-men #1 is more spoiled than a tun sandwich left in a locked car for three days in Phoenix, Arizona. Well what's a little food poisoning and violent diarrhea at this point? This past week, Marvel has spoiled yet more panels that spoil way more than the ending.

The biggest revelation, which is probably the least surprising revelation since Arnold Schwarzenegger admitted to banging Bridget Nielson when it was still something to brag about, is that Cyclops apparently got paroled from prison. And Emma Frost also managed to suck enough dicks to get pardoned. So they're free, they're hanging out with Magneto, and making it clear that the Avengers and the X-men that joined them can go fuck themselves.

And if the message wasn't clear enough, Cyclops gives them the finger in a very creative X-men style way.

It may be a cheap spoiler, but it is a major spoiler in the sense that we know how the shit unfolding in Avengers vs. X-men Consequences ends. Cyclops doesn't just break out of jail. He jumps right back into action and doesn't give a sliver of a fuck that he's still a fugitive. It's the kind of badass usually reserved for Wolverine, but Wolverine's badassery has been since replaced by douche-baggery as was so eloquently described in Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #2. So not only was Cyclops right, but he's also brazen enough to bust out of jail and continue fucking with the Avengers. Excuse me. I just teared up a little.

But as nice as it is to see Cyclops and what's left of the Extinction Team kicking around, it does raise some additional and possibly distressing questions. Namely, what the fuck is Cyclops doing that has the rest of the X-men thinking his younger self would be so disgusted? In the previews, it looks like he's saving mutants and/or throwing himself into anti-mutant rights to bust some heads. How is that shit against anything Xavier taught him? Is it because he's doing it with Magneto, a former stripper, and a teenage girl who was possessed by a demon? Fuck, why would anyone be disgusted by that. Hell, that just shows a commitment to teaching former villains to kick ass!

Another issue that hasn't been addressed is the Cyclops/Emma relationship. I've bitched about it a lot on this blog and made no bones about it. After the events of Avengers vs. X-men, these two should at the very least should take a break from making pornos. When Emma tried to convince Cyclops to burn the world to a crisp and when Cyclops ditched Emma to find Hope, that's shit that even Dr. Phil would say is unhealthy. Now Marvel has yet to clear up whether their relationship is over or if they're just going to sweep everything under the rug like they always do so they can keep pretending that these two somehow share a love that's deeper than your typical porno. But if these two are still together after the sheer recklessness with which they've handled them lately, it'll only prove that the writers at Marvel have stopped giving a damn.

I'm trying to be optimistic. Seeing Cyclops out of jail and giving the finger to the Marvel universe that screwed him over is more than enough to warrant buying multiple copies of this comic. We already know the Original Five are going to clash with their modern counterparts. This just promises to make that clash all the more awesome. Nuff said!

Friday, October 19, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue #65: The Phoenix Saga Part 3 PREVIEW!

The X-men Supreme fanfiction series is taking on a huge event in the Phoenix Saga and so far there have been only ominous warnings of the cosmic threat to come. Well the warnings are just about up! The Phoenix Force is closing fast and Jean Grey is at ground zero! So far, I've gotten a pretty positive response from the loyal Jean Grey fans of X-men. I hope it continues because as Marvel has shown over the years, Jean Grey is central to the mythos of the Phoenix Saga. But that mythos will have a few twists in the context of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. I've already shown a few of those twists and I intend to show plenty more!

Anyone who knows X-men or the story of the Phoenix Saga understands that the story itself has become quite convoluted over the years. As Marvel has told, retold, and retconned the events of the Phoenix Saga, the story surrounding the Phoenix has become difficult to follow. This has not been lost on me. I understand that stories as big as the Phoenix Saga are difficult to keep under control while keeping it compelling. I have a plan for the Phoenix Saga and I want it to be easier for fans to follow. I've already set up some elements. Sebastian Shaw and the Inner Circle have made their presence known. So has Emma Frost. All have strong ties to the original Phoenix Force, but the nature of those ties will be different as I'll reveal in the next two issues. The next issue is well underway and as such, I've prepared an extended preview for what you can expect in this vital turning point of the X-men Supreme Phoenix Saga!


The tired groans of Warren Worthington III echoed through the War Room as he stirred from his impromptu nap. Tired and groggy, he slowly rose up to discover he had been hunched over the main computer console. It definitely showed in his stiff neck and sore back. He hadn’t expected to fall asleep, but while obsessing over this mess involving Shaw Industries it easy to negate little things like sleep.

“Ugh…dozed off again,” he said to himself, “Guess I need more coffee.”

As he rose up he realized just how little progress he had made. The whole War Room was a mess, littered with stacks of papers he printed out and various data disks he had been going over. He couldn’t remember which ones were junk and which ones were important. At this point, he barely remembered what he was looking for.

Reaching across the table for his coffee mug, he looked inside to see that it was still half-full. It appeared to have been sitting on the table all afternoon, making it look less than refreshing to say the least. It also reminded him of how distracted he had been.

‘Boy, I am so not cut out for this sort of thing. This is Beast’s expertise, not mine. He’s got the inquisitive mind. I’ve got nothing but hunches and baseless speculation. Maybe he and the Professor were right. I am obsessing too much over this.’

Setting his coffee mug aside, Warren slouched on his chair and roughly rubbed his sore forehead. It hadn’t been lost on him that while he was chasing Shaw’s ghost, Jean was suffering. She needed the support of her friends and everyone else was going out of their way for her but him. Then there was the mission to save Emma Frost and those hostages from the Reavers. Everybody else was able to drop what they were doing and go after them, yet he couldn’t do the same. It had to be a bad sign when his obsession started getting in the way of his duty as an X-man.

‘I’m such a jerk! Why did I ever think this could be a good idea? Testing my wealth against my wings? What’s the point? I’m an X-man! If I’m going to obsess over which is more effective, my wings or my wealth, then maybe I’ve forgotten what Professor Xavier has taught me!’

Looking at the mess before him, Warren Worthington III shook his head and turned away. He had enough of this and it already cost him. If he kept it up then it would only drive a wedge between him and his friends. Right now, the X-men needed him. Jean Grey was ailing and needed all their support.

“Guess I’ll have to clean all this up later,” he sighed.

The winged mutant pushed the stacks of papers aside and prepared to power down the computer. He heard Rogue mention earlier that they had some guy visiting who may be able to help Jean. If he was to start making up for his recent behavior, it should definitely be present for this. But just as he was about to power button on the computer, something caught his attention.

“Hmm? What’s this?” he wondered.

On the screen, he saw something he didn’t expect. It was an email forwarded to him by someone at Worthington Industries. It was encrypted and sent to his personal email account, indicating it was serious. He remembered sending out a number of inquiries to various Worthington associates, but he hadn’t gotten much of a response from them. For a moment he debated whether or not he should answer it. There may be something inside that would only rekindle his obsession, but a part of him was just too curious.

“Someone actually responded?” he said curiously, “From Worthington Electronics?”

It sounded promising. It could be nothing. There was only one way to find out.

“Guess it couldn’t hurt to check it out.”

With the click of the mouse, he opened the email and decrypted it. Within seconds a brief message came up. It seemed bland enough. The subject line read “Requested Specifications.” The content of the email didn’t seem too shocking. Then Warren opened the attachment to the message. What he saw next filled him with dread.

“Holy Hell…Shaw, you despicable bastard! I knew it!” he exclaimed as he sat back down and started typing feverishly.

As he scanned through the attachment, more details became clear. Just when it seemed he was at a dead end, he got the break he was looking for.

“You think you can pull a stunt like this on me and my friends, Shaw? Think again! No more hiding! Time to see what you and your cronies are really up to!”

In addition, the variation on Brian Brinlee's commission for Jean Grey in her Phoenix costume went over very well. I know X-men uniforms are a popular subject and that applies to the X-men Supreme fanfiction series as well. So if anyone out there is Photoshop inclined, feel free to take the Jean Grey commission or any commission for that matter and give it a tweak. Contact me and I'll be happy to post it! Ideally, I would love to get a variation for each issue of the Phoenix Saga. But I understand that may be asking a bit much. I also would like to get more feedback on each issue. I don't think that's asking too much. So if you haven't already, please take the time to post your feedback in each issue of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series or contact me directly. Until next time, take care and best wishes! Excelsior!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Uncanny X-men #20 - The Awesome Is NOT Over

Not too long ago, I poured my heart and soul into a review of Uncanny X-men #544. That issue was the final issue of Uncanny x-men before a relaunch. That shit was a big fucking deal because Uncanny X-men had been one of those series that had been coming out in some form or another since the days when Jack Kennedy was bending Marilyn Munroe over a sink so she could help him solve the other missile crisis in his pants. It was a powerful, emotional issue that took place in wake of an awesome event in Schism where the X-men were divided. Some left. Some stayed. It send a message that the world of Uncanny X-men was forever different and there was no going back. I got so emotional writing that review that I got drunk, cried like a baby, and called up one of my ex-girlfriend to vent my feelings. It ended up with some awesome pity sex so for that I deemed the end of Uncanny X-men fitting and appropriate.

Fast forward less than two years. I still have enough brain cells to remember that review and that issue. In that time I reviewed every issue of the relaunched Uncanny X-men and for the most part, it was a joy that led to more drunken rants and more pity sex. But now it's ending yet again. Uncanny X-men is having yet another final issue, stopping after just 20 issues to make way for All New X-men. It sure as hell isn't much time to develop a history. Hell, this shit was all written during the same presidential term and I'm shocked nobody in Congress blamed Barack Obama for what happened to the X-men after Schism. But the powers that be at Marvel have seen that fanboys and consumers are stupid enough to buy extra copies of any issue with a #1 on the cover so they'll take any excuse to relaunch a book. It may take away from the impact, but fuck if it doesn't make great business sense.

The relaunch of Uncanny X-men may not have been long, but it had some pretty awesome moments. And some of those moments actually took place in the major tie-ins with Avengers vs. X-men, a shitty event that stunk up various X-men and Avengers comics over the course of six months. Uncanny X-men under Kieron Gillen's brilliant pen found a way to shine through the shitty smell. But now that Avengers vs. X-men is over, it's left to follow deal with the aftermath like so many other books. And it also has to close out its series yet again to make way for a new series that Marvel knows will boost sales because we consumers are just that stupid. I can be as cynical as I want, but the fact remains that shit works and Marvel is a business last I checked. You tend to do shit that works and makes you money. All that blow and strippers don't pay for themselves.

But thanks to Gillen's pedigree and past experience with closing out Uncanny X-men, there's plenty of reason to have hope and I'm not referring to the bitchy rip-off character either. Moreover, this is Kieron Gillen's last take on this title before Brian Michael Bendis takes over and Gillen heads over to write the Iron Man series. It's basically exchanging getting regularly reviewed by a drunk to writing a drunk. I feel both honored and used, making it all the more important that this review count! Mr. Gillen, if you're reading this, consider this my last drunken hurrah!

Uncanny X-men #20 focuses on three general plots. It shows Cyclops in jail (before he gets fitted with that fancy power-suppressing headgear we saw in Avengers vs. X-men Consequences), Danger paying a visit to Unit in the brig of a now defunct Utopia, and Colossus sitting in the ruins of one of the Phoenix Five's world-hunger beating greenhouses. It's not exactly the kind of shit you expect to focus on for what's supposed to be another final issue of Uncanny X-men. Granted, these are all plots that Kieron Gillen has dealt with in his run, but it's still leaving out some pretty significant details like Emma Frost, Namor, Magneto, Storm, Psylocke, and how hot the psychic sex between Emma and Namor was when they humped during the siege of Wakanda. Okay, maybe that last part was just my on perverse curiosity, but you get the idea. Gillen only focuses on so much with this issue, but as he's shown many times throughout his Uncanny X-men tenure he knows how to make each drop of ink count.

The first issue he addresses is the most pressing issue for the extinction team. Cyclops, the guy who put this ominously named team of X-men together, is now in jail for crimes against humanity and/or creating a global utopia. I still don't know when that became a crime, but I've given up trying to figure that out. This takes place before Avengers vs. X-men Consequences so it allows Cyclops to get a quick visit from Kate Kildare, who earlier in Kieron Gillen's run became the X-men's official PR rep. It was an impossible job, akin to head of tourism for Iraq. But she made it work to some extent. Now she visits Cyclops to inform him that he now is viewed in the same mold as Dr. Doom. Going Dark Phoenix will do that to a guy's rep, even though he tried to help the world in a way Doom could never be bothered with. But she didn't just visit to tell him how screwed he is. That would make too much sense. Gillen throws a major twist into this little story and one that involves the kind of gender bending you won't find outside a gay bar in San Francisco.

It turns out that Kate Kildare isn't exactly Kate Kildare. She's Sinister. As in, the same Sinister who made himself an entire species and tried to control the Phoenix Five during Avengers vs. X-men. That little stunt got him and his own little mock-up of Victorian style England burnt to a crisp by cosmic flame. But if a guy is smart enough to make himself into his own fucking species, he's smart enough to have a backup plan. Well that plan involved taking the form of the X-men's PR rep, boobs and all. It's not just shocking. It's surprisingly logical for a guy who has taken on a woman's body before and somehow made it sexy.

A slightly less shocking twist involves Danger and Unit, the walking dick-joke who was the subject of Kieron Gillen's recent Uncanny arc that led into Avengers vs. X-men. Since then, Unit has been secretly controlling Danger in the same way oil companies control the Department of Energy. Danger clearly isn't okay with this, especially since she's actually responsible for managing all the X-men's prisoners, Unit included. But now that the Extinction Team are fugitives and Utopia is just a tourist attraction for tourists who are amazingly cheap, there's no reason for Unit to be there anymore. So he basically taunts Danger, saying he's leaving and she can't do jack shit about it. But before he leaves, he will release her from his control and the control she's endured for much of her existence. On the surface, it sounds like a gift. But somehow Unit manages to make it sound like a final fuck you.

Unit certainly interprets it as such. After Unit causes her to shut down just long enough to escape, never revealing his true plan in the process, Danger awakens and is understandably pissed. So like one of Donald Trump's ex-wives that was stupid enough to sign a pre-nup, she goes off on an angry rampage worthy of any creature that bears boobs of any kind. She's effectively free and the first thing she does with that freedom is open all the cells in the brig to release the prisoners. That's certainly not what most people would do with newfround freedom. Usually a fresh cheeseburger, a bottle of Jack Daniels, and a hooker is the perfect epitome of freedom. But I guess freeing prisoners works. It doesn't just show how pissed Danger is. It shows how fucked up she can be now that she's free. I'm not sure what kind of stories this will lead to, but I'm pretty sure it's going to make for more shitty mutant PR.

Someone else who has a good reason to be pissed off is Colossus. This is another plot that Gillen has been developing for much of his run. During Fear Itself, Colossus refused to believe that his little sister, Magik, had turned into the kind of demon seed that in the real world would earn her a reality show on Bravo. So he sacrificed himself to the Cytorrak so that he could become the new Juggernaut. It cost him his girlfriend, his humanity, and his ability to look human outside a Raiders game. Yet he did it because that's just the kind of guy his is. Well Magik revealed during Avengers vs. X-men that she gave about as many fucks about his sacrifice as Rick Santorum gives about gay rights. She basically tells him she knew he would be fucked up by Cytorakk and just sat back, laughed her as off, and watched Colossus make an ass of himself. Now that he's also a wanted fugitive, he finally snaps and attacks his little sister. In any other circumstance, a guy beating up his little sister would be horrifying. When said little sister takes the fight to Limbo and openly taunts her brother, even the most ardent feminazi would root for Colossus.

In the end, Gillen throws yet another twist into the mix. While in Limbo, Magik reveals that she had the ability to remove the Cytorrak curse on him all along. That means he could still be swapping body fluids with Kitty Pryde, but she just couldn't be bothered to help him. She proves her point by actually doing it and then basically telling him she wanted to teach him a lesson. That lesson was simply to not sacrifice himself to someone who has since lost their fucking mind and that the little sister he once knew is as dead as Todd Akin's credibility. It all boils down to her not deserving his sacrifice and this is what she went through to prove her point. It's excessive, wasteful, and cruel. That kind of shit will get you promoted at Halliburton, but it isn't a very effective teaching tool.

This marks a pretty powerful moment for these two characters. For quite some time, Colossus has been a dedicated brother to his little sister. It's been one of the defining features of his character. But this scene essentially shatters that dynamic. Magik is not his sweet, innocent sister anymore. She's a demon seed who is beyond saving and she doesn't give a damn about it. On some levels, it's a metaphor for a little girl that was once so sweet, but then she discovered that she could manipulate men by wearing thongs and giving out blowjobs at the mall. In essence, she's not innocent anymore. Now we already knew that about Magik. Any reader that thought she could still be saved is high on something you can't get outside a Mexican pharmacy. But Colossus didn't realize it and the fact he has definitely leaves a solid impact.

The impact of Sinister's little revelation is just as potent, albeit less flashy. He spends some time essentially mocking Cyclops, explaining the failsafe he implemented while hatching his little let's-see-how-much-I-can-control-the-Phoenix-without-getting-burned plot. Before his Victorian kingdom got scorched, he paid a visit to Kate Kildare and did to her what Ted Nugant does to wounded deer. He then took her place, but made it so his persona was locked away in a manner that was undetectable even to the Phoenix. Once the Phoenix torched his kingdom, that persona activated. It wasn't just for his own survival. Sinister is also a man/woman who loves to just mock his enemies when they're utterly fucked. So even though his crimes and bullshit are too long to list, Cyclops is the one in jail. Paying him a visit just rubs it in his face in a way that has to be more satisfying than three way at the Playboy Mansion on Christmas.

In the end, Sinister sums things up nicely for Cyclops and for Kieron Gillen's run. Cyclops went to great lengths to protect mutants and ensure the survival of his race. Yet in the end, he lost everything. The world hates him, his friends hate him, and he's in jail. He won the battle, but Sinister is still free and in a new body with a nice set of boobs to play with. On a great many levels, that's a victory. He also indicates that he's got plans beyond playing with his new boobs. He doesn't give any clue as to what those plans are and that's a pretty glaring omission in a book that focuses on only a select number of details yet is still supposed to close out a series. Cyclops gets the message, but in the end it really doesn't have much impact. Of course it isn't over. Of course Sinister isn't going to cease his bullshit. Does yet another final issue of Uncanny X-men need to spell that out? I say no. Fans could have easily assumed Sinister survived in some way and found a way to give himself boobs. It's an unceremonious way for Gillen to end his run, but it gets the message across at the very least.

When Kieron Gillen first ended an era of Uncanny X-men, he had a pretty tall order. He had to wrap up decades of material in a way that both satisfying and appropriate to justify a relaunch. Against odds that would make a Las Vegas bookie cum in his pants, Gillen succeeded. But the odds for making the ending for this series after a mere 20 issues left bookies everywhere with relatively unstained underwear. There was clearly a conscious effort on Gillen's part to tie up a number of loose ends that he had been developing from his Uncanny X-men run. He managed to resolve a couple, but others were left untouched. Emma Frost didn't show up. Namor never showed up. Magneto and Storm didn't show up. They weren't even mentioned. So even though Gillen did an admirable job resolving the plots that he addressed, it still left the book feeling rather incomplete.

Even so, the book was still satisfying on some levels. It effectively filled a particular gap between Avengers vs. X-men #12 and Avengers vs. X-men Consequences #1. It also effectively resolved the Magik/Colossus conflict with an emotional yet devious resolution that should make anyone who ever had nasty siblings feel a bit better about their situation. It also threw in a fairly satisfying twist with Kate Kildare turning out to be Mr/Mrs. Sinister, but offered little in terms of implications. The scene with Danger and Unit was a bit less satisfying, but it got the job done. It still didn't address the future of Utopia, the Extinction Team, or the bigger picture Gillen had established in Uncanny. You get the sense that he just ran out of ink, but he did well with what he had to work with as he so often does.

In the end, the issue itself feels incomplete. It doesn't have the same feeling as Uncanny X-men #544, not by a long shot. The end does offer some sense of a new beginning that makes a relaunch for All New X-men marginally understandable. However, it lacks the definitive feel that Gillen so effectively established previously. It will raise an eyebrow, but it won't induce any boners. It will spark some curiosity for All New X-men and Avengers vs. X-men Consequences, but it won't make readers foam at the mouth in anticipation for what comes next. It's just a solid comic that doesn't have the feel of a comic that should cap off yet another volume of Uncanny X-men. As such, I give Uncanny X-men #20 a 3.5 out of 5.

I sincerely wish I could give Kieron Gillen's last Uncanny X-men book a perfect score. Hell, if I had to score Kieron Gillen's entire run on Uncanny X-men, I would give it an unequivocal 5 out of 5. Coming off what Matt Fraction established, Gillen took Uncanny X-men to a level of quality it hadn't seen since the days of Chris Claremont. I can honestly say that I haven't been more satisfied with an Uncanny X-men run in over a decade. It's hard to believe that this series was once a level below used toilet paper during Chuck Austin's run. Kieron Gillen didn't just make Uncanny X-men awesome again. He made every issue and every arc his own event. It was awesome enough to make readers become sexually aroused by any British accent under any circumstances. Now that Kieron Gillen is moving on to Iron Man, I bid him a fond farewell with a heavy heart and fresh bottle of tequila. Thank you for so much awesome, Mr. Gillen! You will be missed by the fans of Uncanny X-men! If our paths should ever cross, I owe you several rounds and two lap dances from the strippers of your choosing! Nuff said!