Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Scanned Thoughts: Origins II #1

I know I give Wolverine a hard time on this blog. Sometimes it seems like I take an extra bong hit and jerk off every time Wolverine makes an ass of himself or gets upstaged by Cyclops in the comics, but that's not the case. I take an extra bong hit and jerk off for whatever the fuck reason I want, thank you very much. But lately, a lot of Wolverine's story has been tied up in his work with the Jean Grey Institute, his constant bickering with Cyclops, and a supremely shitty movie that basically turned him into Edward Cullen without the sparkling. It's easy to forget that Wolverine is still one of the most awesome comic book characters ever. I certainly haven't forgotten and given all the brain cells I've killed over the years, nobody has any excuse. So I did even more extra bong hits when I heard that Kieron Gillen was returning to the X-books to write a sequel to Wolverine Origins, a mini-series by Paul Jenkins that any self-respecting Wolverine fan needs to own. It basically goes back to the very shit that made Wolverine so awesome in the first place. For that and many other reasons, reading and reviewing Origins II #1 was a reminder that awesome still exists in an era where Bryan Singer has fucked Wolverine up for a generation of comic book fans.

At this point in his life, James Howlett, the man who would become the Wolverine that Hugh Jackman would use to soak the panties of female X-men fans, has ditched a typical human life. Wolverine has just killed Rose, the woman who established the precedent for him falling in love with pretty redheads that didn't love him back. It also set the precedent for him stabbing pretty redheads, but that's not the point here. Her death basically drove him batshit with guilt because at this point in his life, he hadn't gotten used to killing people. Just wait until he tears through hoards of Weapon X soldiers and Hydra agents. He'll learn to kill with a goddamn smile and a boner, but he's just not there yet. It follows closely after the events of the first Origins, which may be jarring to some since that shit came out over a decade ago. But it's not Marvel's fault that many people have attention spans only as long as Miley Cyrus's last music video.

Now in the wild and wiping his ass with leaves, he spends his day hunting down other weaker animals for food in the wild Canadian wilderness. And he even does it while wearing nothing but a fucking loin cloth. At temperatures that would cause most peoples' nuts to fall off, he's as comfortable as Pamela Anderson at a fake tits convention. He's not Weapon X yet. He's not an X-men yet. He's not even Wolverine yet. He's living as an animal, ruled by instinct and survival. He's basically a proto-Wolverine and yet he's still as awesome as the man he later becomes.

But the story isn't just pre-Wolverine hunting for food in his underwear. That would be a pretty boring ass story, except for women who are tired of masturbating to Tarzan wannabes. Throughout this issue, there's sort of an over-arching narration. It's not Wolverine's thoughts. It's not clear who the fuck it is, but it doesn't have to be anyone. It helps explain a situation that would otherwise be just a guy hanging out with a pack of wolves. This isn't the fucking Jungle Book. This is Wolverine and his story with these wolves would not make the cut in a crappy Disney G-rated movie.

These wolves are basically Wolverine's new family. Having reverted to his most primal instincts, he now gets along quite nicely with equally primal animals, like wolves. The wolf even has a name, Grey Scar. It sounds like the name of a heavy metal band, shady pharmaceutical company, or a fucked up scar that Jackie Chan probably had at some point in his career. But it's still a badass name for a wolf. And this wolf is basically the head of a pack that has adopted Wolverine as one of its own. So yes, it is a lot like the Jungle Book, but the Jungle Book never showed anyone gutting a dear and gorging on its blood. That shit is just too PG-13 for Disney's tastes, but it gets the point across. Wolverine has built a new life with a new family. That life is still violent and bloody, but it's awesomely fitting.

Everything seems to be going well. It's a simple life devoid of redheads incessantly cock-teasing him, asshole adopted fathers, and shitty adopted brothers like Dog Logan making his life miserable. It's one of those "back to nature" moments that's meant to make us long for a simpler existence that doesn't require us to pay taxes, work in cubicles, or stand in line at the DMV. It sounds good on paper, but it sucks for everyone who doesn't have Wolverine's ability to heal and his ability to be a badass hunter.

However, in the same way he tends to give the finger to Cyclops, Captain America, and anyone else who tries to give him orders, he goes against the sentiment of his pack when they come across a large white bear. His pack leaves it while Wolverine decides to investigate. Considering a bear is big and strong enough to maul three normal men and six adult wolves, its a clear sign of human stupidity that would make Charles Darwin himself bang his head against the wall. Wolverine just has to tempt natural selection and look into this mysterious bear. It's clear what's so fucking special about this bear. The narration is a big vague and nobody even says a fucking word in this comic. So it's a story that has to be processed with a sober mind sadly.

As Wolverine stalks the bear, he makes Charles Darwin bang his head against the wall for another set of reasons. He finds out that the bear isn't exactly Winnie the Pooh or a disgruntled circus bear for that matter. It's just hungry as fuck and apparently a really shitty hunter. Natural selection is already poised to send this bear to the same place it sent a T-Rex, but Wolverine took pity on it in a way a pack of hungry wolves never would. He tried to help it by leaving it fruit, but he might as well have tried to serve light beer to Ozzy Osborne. It just wasn't going to do the trick. He eventually gives up and returns to his pack, but it shows that he's still more man than wolf, albeit with some of the stupider tendencies in men.

I don't know if this is a metaphor for how shitty human beings are at fending for themselves in the wild or if this is just a sign of Wolverine's capacity for making shitty mistakes because of his instincts. This is where not having any fucking dialog sort of makes the story confusing. The message is still clear and it's still much more compelling than a typical story of Wolverine decapitating several Hydra henchmen. It's just too vague, especially for those of us who don't read comics sober. And I'm pretty sure that counts as discrimination in some states.

Whatever the message, the story continues to play out through the eyes of a wolf pack. A few days go by. All is happy with Wolverine and his wolf family. They cuddle, lick each other's hair, maul unsuspecting prey, and mark their territory with their piss. I imagine Led Zepplin used to do the same thing with their groupies. But then one day they're out in the forest hunting when one of the wolves howls out a distress call. Remember that bear that Wolverine took pity on? Well that bear didn't have much pity for him or his family. Once that bear found their den, he helped himself to all the sweet, succulent meat of the other wolves.

It's bloody, it's tragic, and it's definitely the kind of shit that would never make the cut in the Jungle Book. It's one of those things that shouldn't have an impact. I'm sure there are bears out there right now mauling entire packs of wolf cubs, but this has an impact because so much time has been spent making readers give a damn about Wolverine and his wolf family. And it fucking worked. Anyone who saw Bambi as a kid might have painful flashbacks, but that's nothing a few extra bong hits can't help.

Needless to say, Wolverine is pretty pissed off. He just got done killing a pretty girl he really cares about and who may or may not eventually let him touch her boobs. Now this new family that he cares about just got mauled by some douche-bag creature that he actually tried to help. It's as if karma took the form of a hooker and an IRS agent and proceeded to fuck Wolverine over in the worst possible ways. It leads to some much more visceral action that we're supposed to all associate with Wolverine. It's still the kind of bloody shit that Animal Planet goes to great lengths to water down, but it highlights a basic primal reaction from a guy who runs on basic primal action like I run on whiskey. It seems a little too basic, but it works because this is still a man in the process of becoming Wolverine.

That process gets sped up pretty damn quickly. This isn't as simple as just pouncing on a deer, slitting its throat, and gorging on the bloody flesh that comes off the bone. This is a fucking bear that just got its fill of baby wolves. It's like fighting Mike Tyson after he has done six lines of blow. And this is a Wolverine that doesn't have adamantium bones or any significant combat training. So it's not as fair a fight as it would be if it took place on one of Wolverine's off-days from pissing off Cyclops and Captain America. He gets more bloodied than Rocky after 10 rounds with Ivan Drago. It's bloody, but it's pretty fucking awesome. It goes on for multiple pages with some very graphic and very very well-drawn carnage. Again, it's basic and detailed to the point of being excessive. There's no words or narration. It's just Wolverine fighting a bear. That's pretty damn awesome in and of itself, but it's not going to soak anyone's panties.

When the fighting eventually ends, there are no winners. It's like getting Rick James and Chris Brown high on crack and unleashing them in a Tijuana whore house. Nothing good could possibly come of it. The bear is dead. Wolverine is more bloodied than the entire cast of Saving Private Ryan at the end. And his wolf family is still dead. Maybe this is another metaphor for Wolverine's life. He fights and bloodies everyone that fucks with him, but in the end it doesn't undo how badly he is fucked over or bring back the loved ones he has lost. It's pretty fucking depressing in the grand scheme of things. Then again, Wolverine has had a pretty depressing life and this isn't even top 10. But it still gets the point across. It's a little esoteric for those just wanting to read a story about Wolverine fighting and killing things. Those are the same people that give Michael Bay no incentive to include some actual fucking story in his movies. So fuck those people.

It is depressing, but it still feels satisfying. While Wolverine is lying bloodied and battered, the lone wolf that had been stalking his family's den earlier dropped by to scavenge on the corpses. He stabs the little shit in the head before he can get the satisfaction. That lone wolf is probably the least sympathetic character in the entire story, but one that might as well be Wolverine in the future. Given all the lone wolfing he's done, he is setting himself up to really hate himself. It ends in the same way the previous Origins ended, with him surrounded in a pool of blood from his loved ones. It's the all too tragic story of Wolverine's life and while it's hard to feel too bad for a guy who grows up to bone Mystique and Storm, it's a story that should remind people why Wolverine is so awesome in the first place.

So there was no talking in this comic. There was only the kind of narration that came off as a mix between Morgan Freeman and Martin Sheen. But that's okay because this issue was a massive exercise in action speaking louder than words. I know everybody hears that shit from their boss, their girlfriend, their parents, or their parole officer. More often than not, it's just a polite way of calling someone a lazy dipshit. However, in this instance, it conveyed a special kind of insight into the twisted psyche that is Wolverine. At his heart, he is an animal. He functions like an animal and this was a period in his life where he ditched the human world completely and embraced the animal. And in many ways, being an animal offered many parallels to being human. I don't know if that's just a hidden message that humans are a pack of blood-thirsty wolves at the end of the day, but it makes for a great story and one that has a touch of heart. PETA lovers may cry and vomit. Wolverine fans may cry and cheer. For that reason, I give Origins II #1 a 7 out of 10. It doesn't do much or do anything for Wolverine's character that hasn't been done before, but it does make him awesome again. It's like reminding someone it's still possible to jerk off to old episodes of Charlie's Angels. It's not just nostalgia. It just shows that some shit never stops being awesome. Nuff said!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Scanned Thoughts: Cataclysm - The Ultimates' Last Stand #2

In every major comic book event or blockbuster movie, the world always seems to be on the brink of coming to an end. Earth is like that crazy drunk in a bar who fights every night, but in the context of events like Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand he might as well be picking fights with an army of ninjas and Chuck Norris clones. The guy is asking for it because Ultimate has already distinguished itself as that sandbox all the retarded kids shit in because the powers that be thought it would be a good idea to just let stupid ideas run wild in this once awesome comic book series. Now Cataclysm is like that same drunk trying to flirt dry hump the President's daughter. It has finally gone too far and now Galactus has arrived to put Ultimate Earth out of its misery. Cataclysm: the Ultimates' Last Stand #1 brought Galactus to Ultimate Earth and pretty much everyone was more overmatched than a squirrel fighting a hungry wolf. Now in Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #2 they have to make sense of it before Galactus destroys more than New Jersey. Because if they could limit the destruction to permanently destroying memories of every season of the Jersey Shore, I think that would count as a win.

This whole event reeks of disaster porn, but at least there has been a concerted effort made to give it a personal touch. And since Brian Michael Bendis is the one piloting this crashing jet, it makes sense that Miles Morales would provide that touch. Like the previous issue, he provides the insight and the point of view. But unlike the previous issue, he puts himself in a position to make some ridiculously stupid decisions, like swinging from a helicopter to attack Galactus. He might as well be a flea trying to take down Mount Rushmore. The rest of Ultimate Earth's mightiest heroes are tempted to join his foolishness, but Iron Man urges them to stand down. Being the one of the few smart guys who hasn't lost his fucking mind, he encourages SHIELD to stop annoying Galactus so they can come up with a smarter plan. I don't know how much smarter it can be against a force like Galacuts, but at least it shows they're smarter than fleas.

The only one who doesn't seem to get the message is Miles, foolishly rides the helicopter all the way to Galactus's head. He doesn't do much damage in the same way spitting in the ocean doesn't cause flooding outside Al Gore's head. It would be funny if it weren't so futile, but it's not pointless. It still adds that important personal touch that the Ultimate comics have been missing more than castrated bull misses his nuts. He's still the perspective of sorts through which the story is told. It doesn't make it any less futile.

He ends up having to be saved by Thor before Galactus casually flicks him off like a booger. He then meets up with the Ultimates and the Fantastic Four. But they don't exactly have an attack plan. They just know from Iron Man that shooting at it is about as effective as teaching calculus to a brain damaged cat. They're all pretty pissed that they just lost New Jersey and the possibility of a Clerks 3 movie. But they understand that it's probably a good idea to listen to the smart guy who makes the fancy suit of armor.

We then get a nice mix of action and narration, which is something else that the Ultimate Universe has been lacking more than a logical argument from Glenn Beck. While the Ultimates are busy saving as many civilians as they can from Galactus's rampage, Iron Man explains to them that they're not just dealing with some giant man who hated everywhere Snookie ever lived. They're dealing with something from another universe. He knows this because he was involved when Peter Parker from 616 crossed over with Ultimate in Spider-Men. It not only provides a logical connection to this story and Spider-Men, it ensures that he doesn't just pull this knowledge out of his ass like Bill O'Riley.

It's actually pretty detailed, which is something I haven't seen in an Ultimate comic since President Obama's approval rating was over 50 percent. He points out that Galactus has an energy signature similar to the one he detected when Peter Parker from 616 entered their world. From this information, he logically infers that Galactus came from the same universe as Peter Parker. It's so logical that a creationist would burst into tears. All the while, there's some awesome heroics going on in the background that makes it sound less like a quick lecture in alternate universe physics and more like an epic fucking battle.

Since they can't just shoot Galactus with bombs, they decide to look for more information. And once again, the story connects nicely with Spider-Men in that Iron Man and Monica Chang pay a visit to Quentin Beck from 616, who was stranded in Ultimate after the events of Spider-Men and thrown in prison. Seeing as how he was an asshole in both world's, it's hard to feel bad for him. But at the very least, he does identify Galactus and lets them know that the Reed Richards in his world saved them from Galactus. This pisses Iron Man off because Reed Richards in Ultimate is the kind of colossal douche who blows up Washington DC. I'm sure if he just blew up K-street and Congress, it wouldn't have been as bad. But he just had to go for overkill.

Now as nice as these connections are, it may be confusing for those who didn't read Spider-Men or don't know the circumstances surrounding it. Anyone who smoked too much weed may be like, "Whoa...Mysterio is in prison in the Ultimate Universe? My carpet looks like my ex-girlfriend's pubic hair? Green Bay isn't even Green?" It's one of the trade-offs with making these sorts of connections. Dumb-ass stoners or casual fans who ditched Ultimate after it started sucking elephant balls might be confused. However, I still think it's a trade-off worth making.

After getting some badly needed information from Mysterio, they decide they'll need to venture into 616 for help since this is their monster. They venture to a special site where the Ultimate version of Amadeus Cho, who looks like a Krillen rip-off from Dragonball Z, has been studying the portal that Mysterio used to enter Ultimate. It was bound to happen at some point. Ultimate is going to cross over with 616 again. Now there was a time when Marvel was dead set against ever crossing over the two universes. Joe Quesada himself once said if they did that, then they would be out of ideas. Well considering how badly Ultimate has sucked so much ass, I think those words were nothing short of prophetic. Now I could list all the ways a crossover story with Ultimate at this point would just shovel more shit on the shit pile. But I think the pile is so big at this point that it's pointless.

There's a big debate of sorts as to who gets to go to 616, a world that isn't in the process of being destroyed. Iron Man first makes the argument that he should go and it makes a pretty decent amount of sense, but they then logically argued that he needs to stay in Ultimate because he's their top egghead now. And they can't afford to lose him. Again, it's another instance of logic that would give Richard Dawkins a boner and make creationists cry. So then someone else has to go and Miles Morales volunteers.

This is hardly surprising. Again, it's Brian Michael Bendis who is writing this shit. And it's Miles who is providing the narration and perspective for this story. It makes sense that he should be the one to travel to another world to help save his own. Plus, Peter Parker already came to his world. It's only fair that he return the favor. It's the perfect plan. But in Ultimate, there's no such thing.

Before Miles can boldly spark yet another crossover in a world where so many are already sick to death of them, Ultimate Reed Richards shows up. Like I said earlier, he's a colossal douche in Ultimate, so much so that Thor hits him with his hammer the moment he shows up. Now that's not to say that Reed was always like this in Ultimate. The story of how he became said douche is a long, horribly written story that's right up there with Adam Sandler's last movie in terms of how bad it is. And for that reason, I'm okay that they're somewhat glossed over.

But Reed didn't just show up to become an even bigger douche. Sure, he blew up Washington DC. But he has a vested interest in Galactus not devouring the planet. He also points out that at the molecular level, he is still Reed Richards and he would be recognized as such in 616. So if he went there, he could access all of 616 Reed's hardware and intel. The rest of the Ultimates hate the idea of trusting him more than the Tea Party hates the idea of watching President Obama succeed. Again, the use of logic here is uncanny. That and they're kind of working on a time limit here with Galactus attempting to devour their world. Under these circumstances, they have to be willing to work with a colossal douche-bag.

So the Ultimates now have a plan. The only ones missing from the action are the X-men, or what's left of them. That's the fucked up thing about this event and Ultimate in general. There are no X-men. There are just a bunch of mutants basically going through the same stories we already read when Matt Fraction told them five years ago with his Utopia story. The difference here is that this version sucked much worse. For some reason, Ultimate Jean Grey is standing with them after mind-raping and trying to kill some of her friends. And for other reasons that make no fucking sense, they still act like they're X-men when they might as well be cos-players.

This is one part of the story where the logic breaks down. All these X-men wannabes do is just comment on how it looks like the world is about to end and nobody really gives a shit about mutants in the Ultimate universe. It's not wrong. But all they do is just stand around and look more deadpanned than a stoner at a 7-Elevan that just ran out of chips. I get that Marvel wants to involve every aspect of the Ultimate universe. This is just a piss poor way of doing it.

There's a good reason why I don't usually review Ultimate comics on this blog anymore. I hate having to grade them on a curve because Ultimate has been built on upon a foundation of soft, steaming pile of whale shit for the past four years. Grading Ultimate is like grading Paris Hilton's IQ test. That said, I'll still concede that Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #2 was an improvement. But saying its an improvement is like saying the sewer water in India is cleaner. It's a shitty reference point so to speak. But what made this issue better than the first was that it took a step back from the flashy, end-of-the-world bullshit that we've seen in every Michael Bay movie ever made and added some personal touches. Some of it was random, like Ultimate Reed showing up and Ultimate Jean Grey being among the people she recently tried to murder and mind rape. But given how fucked up Ultimate is to begin with, I think it's too much to ask to be that refined. Like a pool with a big turd in the center, the best anyone can do is swim around it. I give Cataclysm: The Ultimates' Last Stand #2 a 8 out of 10. If this took place six years ago, it might be on the level of a young Jenna Jameson. Now it might as well be on the level of Liza Minelli. Nuff said!

Friday, December 27, 2013

X-men Supreme Issue 91: Starcrossed Part 1 PREVIEW!

I hope everybody had a supremely awesome Christmas. And I hope everybody's holiday spirit is still strong enough to enjoy the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. For the X-men, it has been anything but festive. The Cambrian has ravaged the planet and the X-men, the Brotherhood of Mutants, and the governments of the world are still dealing with the consequences. As the world recovers, the X-men are trying to deal with some of their own personal issues. The departure of Rogue and Nightcrawler along with the arrival of Colossus has caused plenty of drama throughout the team. But the biggest issue that has been festering for a while has been the health of Professor Charles Xavier.

When I started the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, there were a number of things I wanted to do to make it truly unique. One of those things was Charles Xavier's backstory. In the comics and movies, the story of how he became confined to a wheelchair is pretty varied. But I wanted something that would humanize him in a profound way. Cancer is something that is very real and something that affects millions of people in the real world. I thought that by having Xavier deal with cancer and losing his legs over the course of his battle with this disease, it would do more than humanize him. It would make every second of his life more precious and help fuel his determination to build the X-men. Well now that time is about to run out.

Not long ago in X-men Supreme, Charles Xavier admitted that he knew he was on borrowed time. And he has been lying to his X-men the whole time as the cancer has returned. This time, he's not even fighting it. He has resigned himself to his fate. This comes at a very difficult time for the X-men and the world of X-men Supreme. Can there be an X-men without Charles Xavier? That's something they'll have to figure out soon because the next arc, which I have dubbed "Starcrossed," will force Charles Xavier to confront his mortality. And at stake is the life of the woman he loves, Lilandra Neramani. In the same way he has kept secrets from his X-men, Lilandra has been keeping secrets as well. It all starts to unravel in the first issue of this emotional arc. I've prepared an extended preview of this issue that will offer a hint of what the X-men are dealing with.

“Explain it to me again, Miss Maximoff. This time ditch the subtext. You know how much I hate to beat around the bush.”

“I’m not being coy here, General! I’m telling you exactly what I know. That anomaly you detected came from a mine on the west side of the island. It was an old project of my father was forced to abandon so I sent my brother to check on it. Needless to say, he screwed something up.”

“Now you’re just dancing around the truth and doing a very bad job of it I might add. Not to be disrespectful, but your father was a much better liar. Probably a better poker player as well.”

Wanda Maximoff hid her frustration in a stoic glance. This was why she despised politics. She hoped she would never have to do it again after her father took over. Since his mental health was still questionable, she was the only one on the island who could handle this fragile incident.

It was an incident that Pietro, Lance, and John were supposed to prevent from happening. They were supposed to bury that alien ship so nobody could ever get to it again. Somehow, they found a way to make it an international crisis. As soon as that ship took off, it left a trail that nearly every country in the world with halfway decent space monitoring systems could pick up on. Since then Wanda was having to constantly reassure international leaders that it wasn’t another weapon of sorts. She tried to explain it away as some bizarre accident involving some of her father’s old equipment. It wasn’t the best cover story for an alien ship so it came as no surprise when General Grimshaw didn’t buy it.

“Allow me to share with you some of the facts from our end. Our people at NORAD detected this so called project the moment it took off. It shot out of the ground at speeds exceeding Mach 50. To give you an idea how fast that is, the space shuttle’s top speed is Mach 25. It was only on the radar screens for a few seconds, but in those few seconds it radiated with enough energy to power the entire Western Hemisphere for a month. Now are you going to sit here and tell me this is something we shouldn’t worry about?”

“You’re assuming I know more facts than you do, General. This was a product of my father…not the nation of Genosha. If I could have him explain it to you, I would.”

“Right…because he left too much of his sanity inside the Cambrian to tell the truth.”

“If you’re trying to get me to cooperate, insulting my father isn’t winning you any leeway!” said Wanda firmly.

“Seeing as how I was the one who contrived the cover story for the Cambrian, I think I’ve earned that right. Your father would have been executed by now had the other half of the truth come out. I may value peace more than vengeance, but I’m not above using leverage. So work with me here and make this easier on all of us.”

Wanda scolded General Grimshaw over the encrypted video screen. This man was difficult to deal with. He was no anti-mutant crusader like President Kelly. He wasn’t even a typical Western war-monger. He was reasonable to a point while having an extremely low tolerance for nonsense. If they were to avoid a major incident, she had to compromise.

“General, you have every major army in the world walking the streets of our country,” Wanda explained, “You’ve intruded on every aspect of our society, combing through all our records and taking all our technology for yourselves. I shouldn’t have to tell you how much tension that’s causing with our people.”

“You’re getting off topic, Miss Maximoff. I don’t much appreciate having my time wasted.”

“Then I’ll cut to the chase,” she said stoically, “If you really want the truth, don’t settle for my word. Go ahead and send your forces into the mines and investigate yourself. I’ll even provide you with the coordinates and a schematic that should make your job easier.”

“That’s generous of you, but it’s still dodging the question.”

“I’m sorry, General. But I have too much pride to just sit here and squeal on every little detail. I’m not your puppet even if I have to behave like one. You’re people are clearly smart enough to figure it out. For all I know, you’ve already picked up rumors. Don’t make me humiliate myself by just reinforcing what you already suspect.”

They were stern words from someone who wasn’t in a position to debate. General Grimshaw’s gaze hardened over the video screen. Wanda matched him every step of the way. She may have little regard for politics, but she understood the value of appearing strong and competent. That was the only thing men like General Grimshaw respected.

“I’ll relay your message to our Special Forces units. They’ll make their way towards the mines and conduct a covert investigation. This all, of course, is contingent on you providing me and my soldiers the information you promised.”

“Can I take that to mean we’re ready to compromise, General?” said Wanda.

“Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, Miss Maximoff. Compromise requires sacrifice from both sides and neither of us is sacrificing nearly enough. You’re smart to assume that my people know more than our competence shows. For instance, I know the advanced technology your father has been toying with didn’t just come from his brilliant mind. I also know that this planet has encountered extraterrestrial beings in the recent and distant past.”

This revelation surprised Wanda, but not overwhelmingly so.

“So you know about that too? Should I assume you’ve known much longer than my father?”

“Assume what you want. The only detail you need to know is that very few people are aware of this other-worldly issue so to speak. And if it’s all the same to you, I would appreciate it if your people don’t blather it to the public.”

“That won’t be a problem, General. Very few people know about it on my end as well and I’ll see to it the truth doesn’t get out.”

“I appreciate that. I would appreciate it even more if I discovered you’re father wasn’t hiding a cache of alien hardware and using it against us, but we both know how unlikely that is.”

With this post, X-men Supreme will be done with 2013 and move forward in 2014. It has been an amazing year with many major developments for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. In both X-men Supreme and the comics, the X-men celebrated their big 50th anniversary. So many changes took place and there will be plenty more changes in the coming year. And I always strive to make every year better than the last. But do this, it's incredibly important that I continue to get feedback for this fanfiction series. So please take the time to post your comments in the review section for each issue or just contact me directly. Either way is fine. Thanks again to all those who made 2013 such a great year for X-men Supreme. Again, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and on behalf of X-men Supreme, I wish everyone a happy New Year! Excelsior!


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Scanned Thoughts: X-men #8

When it comes to being devious and evil, I agree with the feminists for once. Women are every bit as capable as men. Not having a penis does not prevent anyone from torturing and maiming others while dancing to Kids Bop music. That’s not to say there aren’t some variations. Like shopping for clothes and choosing a shade of paint for the living room, women have a different approach. So it makes sense to explore their approach in a series that focuses on all the major X-men who don’t have a penis. Brian Wood’s adjectiveless X-men has kept the testosterone to a minimum since he began this series. Now he’s in the process of introducing some estrogen powered evil with a new Sisterhood of Mutants. He already brought Lady Deathstrike and Typhoid Mary into the mix. How much more sinister can he get? Is it enough to give feminazis a pussy boner? I’ll be the judge of that with my review of X-men #8.

That’s not to say that Brain Wood has given up on giving male fans traditional boners. Why else would the story pick up with Psylocke chasing down an intruder in a tank top and shorts? It’s as sexy as it sounds. Plus, she’s wielding a katana. For some reason, that makes her even more sexy. She coordinates with Rachel Grey, who apparently sleeps in her uniform if she even sleeps at all. They don’t know who would be stupid enough to break into the Jean Grey Institute, but they apparently know what they’re after. Psylocke finds the intruder in the mainframe room, most likely stealing Kid Omega’s internet porn stash. It makes for a nice sexy chase, but sadly it doesn’t pan out as most lesbian pornos do. The intruder, who happens to be Typhoid Mary, gets away and Psylocke decides that since she’s probably not going to get any more sleep tonight, she goes after her.

While Psylocke prepares to exercise her ninja skills in a way that will probably trigger more boners for male readers, Rachel reveals that the intruder stole the Box, a very badly named thing that apparently holds all their sensitive files. It’s like a bunch of Nigerian scammers stealing all the bank account numbers and pin numbers for a certain bank. It’s bound to cause a lot of damage. And Psylocke also makes it clear to Rachel that she needs to keep Storm in the loop. That may sound reasonable, but Rachel and Storm have been getting along about as well as Cowboy fans and Eagles fans lately. The whole setup of this all-female X-men team is still in flux and Rachel Grey isn’t exactly on board with Storm’s leadership after what happened with Omega Sentinel. And sadly, they’re not going to resolve these issues with nude oil wrestling.

As Psylocke tracks the intruder, Rachel Grey has to call in an old favor from John Sublime and not the sexy kind either. She tells him that the Jean Grey Institute had a break-in. I doubt he was surprised. Hell, I doubt he would have been surprised if he found out someone blew up the institute again. But she adds that among the shit that was stolen was a sample of his sister, Arkea, who took over Omega Sentinel and had a pussy boner for wiping out all life on Earth. It was actually the first mission this all-female X-men team had so it offers some nice connection to the rest of the series. However, that connection might be too concise because when Rachel calls, he happens to be meeting with Lady Deathstrike. He’s kind of an ass is what I’m saying.

And that’s a bit of an issue because there have been some vague hints that Rachel Grey might be looking to jump Sublime’s bone. They have been very poor hints that are more devoid of chemistry than Kristen Stewart’s acting. I get being subtle, but there comes a point where subtlety just become bullshit. I expect that from politicians, traffic cops, and probation officers. I don’t expect or enjoy that in comics. And like I said, Sublime is kind of a dick. He’s rubbing shoulders with Lady Deathstrike and not in the fun way either.

I’m really not sure why he’s even meeting with Lady Deathstrike unless he’s interested in boning her and Rachel together. That might just be too much even for an ancient pack of sludge. All he really does is just warn Lady Deathstrike that Arkea is not something to toy with. Lady Deathstrike thinks it’ll help upgrade her systems. It makes some sense after Arkea made Omega Sentinel so deadly. It also makes sense that smoking lots of meth will help someone lose weight. That doesn’t make it a good idea. Don’t get me wrong. I want to like John Sublime. He hasn’t exactly been a complete asshole since this series began, but he couldn’t be any less trustworthy without changing his last name to Madoff. He has done nothing in this story to make him compelling or likable. When Typhoid Mary arrives with the sample in hand, Sublime freaks the fuck out. But I still find it hard to root for him.

It also doesn’t help that Sublime can’t fight worth a shit or persuade devious women to listen to him. He must suck at picking up hookers. Lady Deathstrike unsurprisingly ignores his warnings and opens the container that has Arkea. It’s not much of a fight. He’s more a pretty boy than a fighter because the two women subdue him in ways that probably would cost extra at a German S&M club. But he’s not completely inept. He’s still able to take the containment device. That’s when he realizes that he got all pissed off for no reason. Now I guess he knows how PMS feels. It turns out Arkea wasn’t in the hardware that Typhoid Mary stole. So Lady Deathstrike can’t use her to upgrade herself. It seems like her plan is a complete failure.

But like Donald Trump’s fiancĂ© seeking a prenup, Lady Deathstrike doesn’t give up that easily. She goads Sublime into revealing that he suspects that Arkea may have shown up in other locations. He thinks he has leverage. He knows the locations and Lady Deathstrike wants to know so she can do exactly what he told her not to do. They seem to be at a standoff. But Sublime seems to forget that Typhoid Mary is psychic. She’s like Emma Frost in that she’s not going to ask permission to rip vital information out of his head. So she does just that and probably damages his bladder control in the process.

Armed with this information, Lady Deathstrike and Typhoid Mary leave Sublime to drool mindlessly into the floor while they go seek out Arkea. He probably would have lingered on the floor in an expanding puddle of piss like me after a bad night in Tijuana if Psylocke hadn’t showed up. She managed to track Typhoid Mary to their base and helps troubleshoot Sublime’s damaged brain, saving his bladder control in the process. Now he’s stuck helping the X-women again. If it gives him a chance at seeing Rachel Grey naked, I don’t think he’ll mind.

And if the X-women are going to get reinforcements, then Lady Deathstrike and Typhoid Mary will need them as well. Women can be just as competitive as men, last I checked. Just go to a clearance sale at a Victoria’s Secret for proof of that. They find help in Enchantress, a hot blond who made it her mission in her immortal life to manipulate Thor with her magic and her vagina. However, neither were powerful enough because she ended up getting exiled and de-powered. She’s understandably bitter and doesn’t take too kindly to Lady Deathstrike and Typhoid Mary at first. But when they promised to help her give a giant middle finger to all of Asgard and become more powerful than before, she gladly offered her help. She knows a little something about another meteor that might contain pieces of Arkea. So that means Lady Deathstrike and Typhoid Mary have a hot, vindictive blond on their side. And just like that, they become both deadlier and sexier.

I would have loved to learn more about how much deadlier and sexier these devious women planned to be. Instead, we get more of a somewhat random side-plot that has been going nowhere faster than Anthony Wiener’s political comeback. Jubilee hasn’t really been involved with the main plot. She has just been making friends with Roxy, who happens to be gay and got an overly Christian reaction from Mercury when she flirted with her. I’m not sure what to make of this, but Roxy seems to be very horny because she flat out kisses Jubilee. It really doesn’t make much sense. I usually don’t care when two pretty girls kiss, but for this story even my penis can’t make sense of it.

It’s almost a relief when Monet drops in and tells Jubilee they have a mission. So at the very least, this scene connects with the larger conflict at hand. It’s still somewhat confusing. I’m not sure why this side-plot with Roxy has to be part of a story about the Sisterhood. I’m also not sure why Jubilee has to be the one that Roxy wants to pick carpet cleaner with. They’re two wildly different sub-plots that don’t fit together particularly well, but it doesn’t take away from the main story.

That story escalates when Enchantress leads Lady Deathstrike and Typhoid Mary to the crater where the meteorite fell. But once they find it, things get a little less friendly between the three deviant women. I know it seems hard to believe, three unstable women with a history of anti-social behavior not getting along. But now Typhoid Mary feels she’s entitled to more than just being a hired gun who looks hot in skin-tight pants, although I would strongly argue that point. She wants Lady Deathstrike to help integrate her diverging personalities in addition to helping Enchantress regain her power. It could have become a hell of a cat-fight that could only be more awesome if they did it in their underwear. Unfortunately for my penis, Lady Deathstrike is more than happy to sweeten the deal. She says she has the resources to give them both what they want, thereby strengthening the foundation of the new Sisterhood of Mutants. And everyone with balls would be wise to take notice. I certainly did.

This was a solid issue. It wasn’t all that exciting, but it did move the story forward in a compelling way. It also added a hot blond in the Enchantress. That’s just a bonus in my book. There were a few minor skirmishes and some unexpected tensions, but this issue wasn’t meant to be epic. It was meant to set the tone for the Sisterhood of Mutants. And in that sense, it succeeded. Now I’m still not sold on John Sublime or him having a boner for Rachel Grey. I’m also not sold on this sub-plot with Jubilee and Roxy. These details are interesting, but they don’t fit into the narrative in a concise manner. It’s like mixing cocaine and booze without effectively blending them. It’s going to mute the effect and it also wastes perfectly good booze. The Sisterhood is shaping up to be pretty damn awesome, but it needs to be more cohesive. It doesn’t need duct tape or crazy glue. Just a little spit and scotch tape will do. I give X-men #8 a 7 out of 10. A very powerful female force is steadily emerging. As someone with a penis, I’m both horrified and aroused. It’s a strange feeling, but that’s part of what makes it awesome. Nuff said!

Friday, December 20, 2013

X-men Supreme Issue 90: Subversive Secrets is LIVE!

Secrets have a way of coming back to haunt all those who keep them. Numerous well-known X-men stories and Marvel stories in general are predicated on secrets becoming exposed. In the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, many secrets have been kept and many more have been revealed as the story progressed. But recent events in X-men Supreme, most notably with the Cambrian, have made it impossible to continue concealing these secrets. As X-men Supreme Volue 4: Politics of Fear nears its end, a number of secrets are going to be revealed, which will subsequently set the stage for the next era in this fanfiction series.

As such, this latest issue of X-men Supreme is going to get the ball rolling on exposing these secrets. Right now, the most well-known secret involves Professor Charles Xavier and his battle against the cancer that took his legs from him. This struggle has been one of the unique plots I've developed for X-men Supreme. I feel it helps give Charles Xavier a very real and very human battle to endure. And like real life, that battle can't always be won. He has kept this struggle from his X-men, but he can no longer hide it. And in doing so, the very future of the X-men in X-men Supreme is at risk.

But Charles Xavier isn't the only one with a secret. A much bigger secret has been kept from Lilandra Nermani, a vital ally for the X-men and Charles Xavier's current love interest. I've been waiting to develop her character in a big way since I introduced her in X-men Supreme Issue 45: Hearts and Minds. She hasn't had much of a role in the X-men comics in recent years, but she's about to get a much bigger role in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. And it all begins with a major revelation about her past that will change her and Charles Xavier forever. It promises to take the X-men to conflicts that won't be restricted to the planet Earth anymore. But I won't drop too many hints. I prefer that a new issue speak for itself.

X-men Supreme Issue 90: Subversive Secrets

There are so many secrets in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series that I hope to explore. It's part of my effort to help set X-men Supreme apart from the comics. While I want to keep utilizing classic X-men elements, I also want to make it so X-men Supreme offers readers something that they won't find anywhere else. The unique twist is part of the appeal of X-men Supreme and I'm always trying ot refine it. With that in mind, it's very important that I continue to receive feedback for each and ever issue of this fanfiction series. So as always, I urge everyone to take the time to read and review this and every other issue of X-men Supreme. Either post your comments directly in the issue with my review system or contact me directly and tell me what you think. I'm always eager to chat. Thank you very much to all those who have supported X-men Supreme. I hope it continues as more secrets are revealed. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

All New X-men #22 Preview - Colors And Not Much More

I try to make every post in this blog as substantive as it is vulgar. I get that people these days have attention spans only as long as Lindsey Lohan’s latest arrest so I have to make them count. But every now and then, I can’t be too groundbreaking. I’m usually more than happy to smoke a couple joints and overlook a few details that probably won’t set anyone’s panties on fire. But with things heating up in All New X-men, namely the sexual tension between X-23 and O5 Cyclops, and the Trial of Jean Grey set to begin, I can’t be as lazy as usual. That’s painful for any stoner, but I like to think I’m more motivated than the stoners that fall asleep on Friday night and wake up Sunday because they played a Grateful Dead album on a loop.

Earlier this week, I did a post on a preview for All New X-men #22, which is the first issue of the Trial of Jean Grey. It thought it was a pretty big fucking deal, even if it was unlettered and in black and white. It left me drooling like a pervert in a panty factory, but it didn’t reveal much. Well it didn’t take long for Marvel to evoke even more drooling. Newsarama released the exact same preview. But this time, it was colored. So I guess readers can stop feeling like they’re back in the 50s and enjoy the exact same shit in all its colorful glory. I’m sorry, but there aren’t any words that could make that less underwhelming.

“The Trial of Jean Grey”

The arrival of the original X-Men in the present sent shockwaves through the Marvel Universe, but we’ve only seen the effects on Earth. When alien races learn that Jean Grey, host of the destructive Phoenix Force, is back on earth, they do something about it. Now it’s up to the rest of the All-New X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy to save Jean Grey from twisted intergalactic justice! Don’t miss two of Marvel’s biggest franchises crossing over for the first time!

I really don’t have much else to add other than this is a preview where I don’t have to take LSD to make it more colorful. So I guess my brain is grateful, but that’s really all I can say. I would love it if there was a better clue as to what O5 Cyclops and O5 Jean are yelling at each other about. For all I know, they’re yelling at O5 Angel for putting mayonnaise and ketchup on a bacon burger. I guess we won’t know until we finally get a preview with some fucking letters. Then I’ll finally know if I should be excited or hungry. Nuff said!

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #15

So how does a drunk go about reviewing a comic where the previous issue contained some very powerful emotional moments along with gratuitous death? The answer is usually the same answer for the day after I find out my rent check bounced. I get even more drunk. Rick Remender kicked up an epic shit storm with Uncanny Avengers #14 when he apparently offed Rogue, Wonder Man, and the Scarlett Witch. It's not yet clear whether he offed them in a permanent sort of way. Given that the permanence of death in the Marvel comics is akin to the permanence of a promise by Dick Cheney, that's hard to determine. So I'm going to approach Uncanny Avengers #15 in the same way I approach the day after the first day of school. The last one sucked, but it was as bad as it can get without running short on whiskey.

After reading the last issue, it’s easy to forget that there was much more going on than the murder porn that seemed to converge around Wanda. There were actually other parts of this conflict, namely with Havok, Wasp, and Captain America. While the others were busy getting themselves killed, they were trying to destroy the time dampener that’s keeping Kang and his time-displaced army from traveling back and giving the Apocalypse Twins a good spanking. The problem is the Scarlet Witch successfully cast her spell before she was gutted in a completely non-sexual way. So Havok, being a mutant and all, disappeared and left Captain America to fend for himself. So now he has to take on the Apocalypse Twins unilaterally. I’m sure Donald Rumsfeld would be proud.

And Havok is not the only one. He gets plenty of company because that spell was intended to affect the entire mutant race. That means every fucking mutant on the planet gets transported on a free trip to a stasis chamber in the Apocalypse Twins’s ark. Still beats a free trip to Detroit in my opinion, but it basically purges the entire planet of all mutants. I imagine the Purifiers, the Neo-Nazis, and Rick Santorum supporters all rejoiced. But in the context of the story, it’s a big moment because this is what the Apocalypse Twins wanted all along. They’re not like the previous Apocalypse, who just wanted to filter everyone and everything through Charles Darwin’s asshole. They want to save the entire mutant race from a future they know sucks elephant balls. It’s part of what makes them a much less annoying villain than the Red Skull. For a generation that has been shooting Nazis in every Call of Duty game, I think it’s a welcome change.

It’s not quite as welcome for Wasp. She’s not only trying to destroy the temporal dam. She’s trying to hook up with Havok. That’s a lot of motivation for a woman, but it isn’t enough. Once the Apocalypse Twins have every mutant in their midst, they have no more reason to stay on this horrible planet that gave them Andy Dick, reality TV, and tweets from Amanda Bynes. So they just up and take off before Wasp can reach them. It sucks for her because she also happens to be a major target for Sentry, who is now the Horsemen of Death. That’s like giving the Hulk a metric ton of crystal meth. She’s overmatched to say the least. But again, she’s motivated. There’s some nice inner monologue, which has been a common theme for various issues of Uncanny Avengers. And like those other issues, it’s nicely done here. She even reflects on just how much she wants to jump Havok’s bone. I guess women just can’t resist the power of a Summers brother penis.

But to get to Havok’s penis, she still has to go through Sentry. There aren’t a whole lot of forces in the universe that can stop a beautiful, determined woman. But I think a Horsemen of Death version of Sentry is fairly qualified. He roughs her up in a way that isn’t quite on the same level as Chris Brown. He also goes on his own little “I am death so fear me while I compensate for my small penis” rant. Maybe this would have worked better as internal monologue or maybe the Sentry is just mentally fucked up no matter what form he’s in. Wasp still tries to fight back, going so far as to blow his fucking face off. This makes for a nice little visual where Sentry manages to regrow his flesh like a Wolverine zombie. It’s not quite as terrifying as it sounds, but it gets the point across.

As tough as Wasp is, she’s very overmatched. And some might actually have a problem with this. Putting Wasp up against Sentry is like putting a puppy up against grizzly bear. She really has no hope of winning and being pretty much the only female member of the team left alive, there’s something wrong with that. It may give Rush Limbaugh a boner, seeing a much stronger male character dominate a female character. Or maybe I’ve just spent too much time in Dutch S&M clubs. I’m more inclined to believe there’s no such thing as too much time in a Dutch S&M club so I’ll just say that this scene basically made Wasp out to be an appetizer for Sentry.

In another moment that Rush Limbaugh would probably enjoy, the overmatched Wasp is saved by the ultimate alpha male in Thor. Despite getting roughed up by Sentry a few issues ago, he’s back and ready to get him back for wounding his godly ego. That means hitting him with a big ass hammer and some big ass lightning. It makes for more awesome visual that I didn’t even need LSD to make awesome. That alone should show how great the art is in this book. Yet despite taking a magic hammer to the head, Sentry still won’t go down. He still re-assembles his flesh with the same ease as most of us would clip off a hangnail. I imagine it would still be uncomfortable, but it still probably beats getting thrown into the sun.

Thor keeps trying to knock the flesh off Sentry’s corpse of a body. He might as well be trying to make Wolverine give up whiskey. The Sentry was already grossly overpowered before. That’s why I never liked reading battles involving him when he was still alive. He’s like that guy in a porno with a really big dick who just stands around, strutting it as if to mock everyone who never needed to buy extra large condoms. He’s a douche, but he gets the job done. And now that he’s evil, I don’t really care much about how inadequate my penis is compared to him. I just want Thor to shut him up.

However, it isn’t Thor that ends up beating him. I think Rush Limbaugh’s boner would be officially killed because Wasp is the one who ends up subduing him, although she definitely doesn’t kill him. She uses her ability to coax animals and insects into helping her, courtesy of her ex-husband of all people, and summons a big ass worm that looks like a more horrifying version of the Sarlac in Star Wars. It effectively devours Sentry and burrows underground. Given that Sentry is basically a walking corpse, I don’t know who this punishes more, the worm or Sentry. I’m leaning more towards the worm.

While Thor and Wasp catch up, Captain America continues his unilateral approach to stopping the Apocalypse Twins. Their ship is now off the planet and they’re probably feeling pretty damn confident. Who wouldn’t be after transporting and containing every mutant on the planet? Hell, I would be partying with booze and strippers in a pool full of blow if I had a much success as they’ve had in the past few issues. But like a grandfather who just hid his porno stash somewhere else, Captain America tries to be a huge buzzkill. However, the fight here is even more lopsided than the fight between Wasp and Sentry. The Apocalypse Twins take on Captain America with so much ease that they even start reciting bible versions. And this isn’t even a Charlie Brown Christmas special.

Now I’m not against lopsided fights. A part of me still would still get a kick out of seeing a team of body builders beat up Glenn Beck. But pretty much every battle in this issue has been ridiculously lopsided. Thor and Sentry were really the only fair fight and even that didn’t feel very balanced at time. I’m all for epic battles, but when they’re lopsided they don’t feel that epic. They certainly still contribute nicely to the story, but it would have been nice if it seemed like Cap or Wasp stood half a snowball’s chance in Hell.

As Captain America is getting his ass kicked, Thor and Wasp try to catch up. Along the way, they get a visitor in the form of a fucking Celestial. It’s not quite as fucked up as it sounds. When this story began, the Apocalypse Twins killed a Celestial. Apparently, the other Celestials had a big fucking problem with that. So they sent Exitar the Executioner, which I guess is the Celestial version of Mike from Breaking Bad. He goes in to clean up messes and kill any motherfuckers that were stupid enough to survive. Thor knows that in terms of shit hitting the fan, this is basically thermonuclear diarrhea. It’s basically an unfair fight by default. It’s a wounded butterfly trying to beat Galactus. There’s no chance whatsoever that anybody can beat this thing.

After the battle against Sentry, they wisely don’t pick another fight. But they are understandably confused so they go and try to get some answers from Uatu the Watcher, which is kind of short-sighted. If they could just drop by and visit the Watcher at any time, couldn’t they have just gone to him the second the Apocalypse Twins showed up and asked what the fuck was going on? Wouldn’t that have given them the foresight to fix this shit? I guess that would make every conflict in the Marvel universe too easy to solve and we just can’t have that. But the explanation he gives is just as valid. As far as the Celestials are concerned, Earth committed a pretty serious crime when they killed one of their own. And Thor knows he done fucked up because the enchanted axe he stole, Jarnbjorn, was used to do it. So there’s really no taking Exitar to court or hiring Sol Goodman. Earth has been judged and it’s basically fucked.

This is some pretty dire shit, but it also highlights another awesome element of Uncanny Avengers. Like Uncanny X-Force before it, Rick Remender does an awesome job of forging connections within the narrative. He has made it so the events from issues in the past, such as the one depicting the epic ancient bar fight between Thor and Apocalypse, with the events of this story. It ensures that no character is the main focus. Sure, the Scarlett Witch cast the spell and Wolverine goaded Rogue into killing her, but they’re not the only major characters in this plot. These details all fit together in a nice, cohesive manner that if it were a boob job, it would be Pamela Anderson. That’s what has set this series apart and what has helped make it one of the most awesome rides anyone could take without the aid of crystal meth and magic mushrooms.

I feel as though this issue is like that act in a talent show that has to follow up an act that passed out on stage, threw up, and cried. Uncanny Avengers #15 had a lot of shit to make up for after the death and destruction of the previous issue. And I may not be completely sober when I say this, but it fucking worked. This issue was exactly what the story needed. It took a break from all the death and destruction and focused on moving the plot and the characters forward. The Apocalypse Twins are not like the Red Skull in that their plan isn't just a more competent version of whatever Dr. Evil would conjure in an Austin Powers movie. They have an actual vision and that vision is pretty damn awesome. The whole No More Mutants crap was nauseating. But no more humans? Fuck, sign me up. And coming from a human, that's a testament to just how awesome this story panned out. Now once again, Rick Remender has stepped up the scale. He's moved up from weed to crystal meth. My brain and teeth say no, but my heart says fuck yes. Uncanny Avengers #15 gets a 9 out of 10. The cohesive story and detailed connections are what make this series epic. If only hookers were this thorough, then mankind would go extinct. I'm sure that was one of the Apocalypse Twins backup plans, but this works just as well. Nuff said!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Scanned Thoughts: All New X-men #20

Let's not kid ourselves. Teenage hormones scare the shit out of us. Everyone at some point remembers a time when they were at the mercy of hormones and instincts that overwrote every logical portion of the brain. Every repressive culture on the planet tries their hardest to contain teenage passions. That's why they're forcibly locked up in public schools like prisoners and segregated on the grounds that some mystical desert god will torture them mercilessly if they give into these desires. Because the only thing more terrifying to grumpy old fucks than change is the thought of teenagers having sex and enjoying it. The horror. Many teenagers have hooked up over the history of the X-men. Some have led to epic love stories. Some have been so casual they might as well have been ordering a pizza. All New X-men #20 got a lot of people talking, including yours truly, when it revealed O5 Cyclops and X-23 swapping spit on the cover. Well now we finally get to see if that cover was just another bullshit ruse. Given the power of teenage hormones, I'm sure those old fucks I mentioned earlier are absolutely terrified.

As for most regular fucks, they would be more terrified by the notion that they now have a clone of Wolverine in their midst and they took her to a former Weapon X base. That's like taking Jason Voorhees to a camp counselor convention. No good can possibly come of it. Kitty Pryde and the rest of the O5 X-men don't seem to realize that until after she wakes up and looks at them the same way I look at a plate of freshly cooked bacon. They try to talk to her in a calm, caring manner. They also don't seem to realize that she's a fucking teenage girl who happens to be related to Wolverine. She might as well be Charlie Sheen in a Tijuana whore house. There's no calming her down. At the very least, she healed from that horrible Sinead O'Conner look in the previous issue. She also says outright that she knows who she is so we don't have to deal with any of that amnesia shit. Lord knows Wolverine already milked that cow to death and wiped his ass with the udders.

It's only at this point that Kitty and the O5 X-men figure out that bringing X-23 to a former Weapon X facility was a shittier idea than mixing laxatives with sleeping pills. She storms out, wearing only a pair of shorts and a tank top. But it's too late for them to apologize for being more short-sighted than George W. Bush on a relapse. And to X-23's credit, she doesn't make them feel any dumber by trying to carve their lungs out and shove them up their asses. She just bolts, not even taking the time to change into something more appropriate than a pair of shorts and a tank top. By Miley Cyrus standards, she's still overdressed.

But Kitty Pryde and O5 X-men aren't about to let their short-sighted stupidity piss off another temperamental mutant with adamantium claws. O5 Jean reveals that she picked up on a few thoughts that showed X-23 picking up pretty quickly that she was in a Weapon X facility, as if her threatening them and running off wasn't a clear enough sign. The reaction of the rest of the O5 is actually pretty funny. They can't imagine why the fuck anyone would want to clone Wolverines. Obviously, they don't work for Marvel's marketing department or Fox because clone Wolverines to them is basically like having their own printing press for money. But regardless of why anyone would want more Wolverines running around in the Marvel universe, O5 Cyclops takes it upon himself to go talk to her. If anyone is going to get through to X-23, it might as well be the guy whose penis one day satisfies Jean Grey and Emma Frost.

But even before he reaches her, O5 Jean picks up that he "fancies" X-23. I'm not sure if that means he just likes how her tits look or if he wants to be her personal gigolo. But she doesn't seem overly upset about it, which is somewhat strange considering she freaked the fuck out when she sensed O5 Cyclops and O5 Beast entertaining thoughts of hooking up with other women. It doesn't seem to fit the ongoing narrative of O5 Jean being very sensitive to other women that draw the attention of her other teammates. Did she just suddenly stop giving a shit? When did that happen? It's a strange inconsistency and one I hope doesn't get forgotten along with Wesley Snipe's tax returns.

O5 Cyclops let's his teammates speculate on just what "fancies" might imply and goes after X-23. He catches up with her when she apparently figures out that she's horribly under-dressed for this weather, although she could probably still be a cheerleader for the Green Bay Packers. O5 Cyclops tries to talk to her in a calm, understanding tone again. Naturally, X-23 isn't buying it. She just got done battling Arcade's nightmares in Murderworld. She's not exactly going to trust someone who looks like a teenage version of a guy she didn't really care much for the last time she was with the X-men. But she sniffs him to confirm that this is actually a teenage Cyclops. I also imagine that she's glad it's so cold out because it effectively conceals her panties, which would probably be soaked if they were still in Florida.

X-23 hasn't apparently been keeping up with the X-men's Twitter feed. She doesn't know that the O5 X-men have traveled from the past and are stuck in the present for a while. She's understandably confused, as were so many other fans when it was first announced. I know where she's coming from and she doesn't have the luxury of knowing where to get awesome weed. She also has to contend with the notion of having two Cyclops's to deal with. I imagine that's too much for any girl's panties to contain. But beyond the novelty of dealing with another Cyclops, there's still the issue of what the fuck happened to her in Florida that made her an amnesic Patrick Stewart cos-player.

The conversation that follows is pretty well-done despite having some very disturbing topics. It's still a bit inconsistent though. At one point they're talking about her being chased by religious zealots that gave way too much money to Rick Santorum in the last presidential election and the next X-23 is floored by the notion of being around Jean Grey, who she never got to meet before she joined the X-men. It's like a conversation between a couple of teenagers with ADD and damaged short term memory, but they still manage to stay on track for the most part.

And once again, O5 Jean cheats a little by reading more of X-23's thoughts. She, O5 Beast, and Kitty Pryde happen to be evesdropping, probably because they're curious to see if X-23 is going to jump O5 Cyclops's bone. However, O5 Jean's voyeur fetish is effectively killed when she senses just what happened to X-23 in Florida. But before she can probe deeper, Kitty Pryde scolds her. She still hasn't quite learned why it's not polite to read someone's thoughts without permission. She's proving to be a slower learner than Lindsey Lohan at rehab. But seeing that she's more disturbed by X-23's thoughts than she is at the notion of O5 Cyclops wanting to bone her says a lot.

After the novelty of talking to a time-displaced X-man wears off, X-23 finally starts filling in some blanks. Apparently, she just happened to be visiting Florida at the worst possible time. She was a mutant and the Purifiers were looking for mutants. They found her and tortured her in ways that would probably make the Spanish Inquisition vomit uncontrollably. She was so wounded that it took her a while to heal and her memories didn't exactly heal fast enough. It's as good an explanation as anyone could have hoped for. She was just really fucked up by the Purifiers and like Wolverine after an orgy with an army of Lady Deathstrikes, it took a while for her to recover.

But it doesn't just stop with a concise yet disturbing explanation. Despite them taking her to a fucking Weapon X facility, X-23 shows some gratitude for the O5 coming to her rescue. She and O5 Cyclops even have a nice little moment. However, there's no kissing or copping a feel, despite what the cover shows. The most that happens is that O5 Cyclops tries to hug X-23. It sounds creepy, but honestly, who doesn't needs a hug more than X-23 at this point? It's a perfectly innocent gesture and I don't usually get to say that about a couple of teenagers. And X-23 finds it a little awkward, but not because she doesn't appreciate it. She points out that Kitty, O5 Beast, and O5 Jean are still watching, which leads me to believe that if they were in private, she might be more receptive to more than just a hug.

That's pretty much as close to sexy cover we're going to get with this issue. I still won't put it on the same levels as the cover for Astonishing X-men #44, but at least a connection has been established between X-23 and O5 Cyclops. And that connection is more important than just whether or not they'll swap spit because now X-23 is inclined to help the O5 hunt down the Purifiers. And that's what the rest of this issue focuses on.

They return to Florida and track down the Purifers to what looks like an old carnival. I'm pretty sure the Joker could sue them if he wanted because it looks like the same exact place where the Killing Joke took place. I think somewhere out there Alan Moore getting more cantankerous than he already is. They track them down just as the son of William Styker is giving one of his Ted Haggard style speeches, condemning mutants and Cyclops's newfound celebrity. He even touches on the presence of the O5 X-men, criticizing them for giving the finger to the laws of nature. It may be the most reasonable criticism ever offered by a religious zealot, but I still have a hard time taking seriously anyone that uses a scientific argument who thinks the Earth is only 6,000 years old and the sound of a condom opening makes Jesus cry.

Kitty Pryde, X-23, and the O5 can't bust up this sermon fast enough. O5 Jean even fucks with it a bit, tweaking the mind of Stryker Jr. to order that his men take their clothes off rather than prepare to fight mutants. I'm sure it gave them the disturbing impression that they had joined the Catholic church by mistake. But before it turns into something that will give the Vatican more migraines, the X-men bust into their church and start kicking their asses. As satisfying as it is to see them beat up religious zealots, I'm somewhat disappointed that they didn't wait a little longer to see if Stryker Jr.'s men would actually get naked and start doing the kind of shit that would make Elton John blush. Then again, maybe they didn't feel comfortable fighting a bunch of naked religious men. I'm sure plenty of ex-Catholics would feel the same way.

The battle that follows is pretty standard, yet still nicely detailed. It's very similar to the action we saw in the previous issue. The O5 show that they're not just time displaced X-men who still haven't figured out how to destroy an army of Sentinels with one hand tied behind their back. Plus, they now have X-23 on their side. That's like bringing an army of pitbulls to a fight against a pack of hungry squirrels. It seems to be going so well. They're beating up a bunch of religious zealots, they're helping X-23 get a little sweet vengeance on the people that fucked her up, and they get to go to a carnival. That's like the perfect Friday night for Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher.

But of course it can't be that easy. Like debating with creationists, religious zealots always find a way to keep fucking with people. Despite Stryker Jr.'s rant against mutants, he reveals that he has a little mutant mojo of his own. Now it's not clear if this is a mutant power, a product of the recent shit involving the Inhumans, or something he stoke from Tony Stark's dumpster. But he unleashes some big bright light and since LSD is not involved, that's a bad thing because it knocks out almost the entire team. So now it's not just X-23 who is at the mercy of the Purifier's torture. Now it's the whole team. It's like dropping a dozen tied up supermodels into Ted Bundy's basement. It's going to get disturbingly messy.

Well once again, we are the victims of a deceptive cover. If only All New X-men #15 had been so deceptive. My penis was somewhat saddened by how the story played out, but it wasn't discouraged. The main purpose of this issue was to bring X-23 into the mix and it fucking succeeded. And thankfully, there was no amnesia involved and that's a huge relief. Because let's face it, O5 Cyclops hooking up with an amnesiac girl would just be too creepy even for a guy that makes a living pwning Wolverine. And whereas the last issue was just mostly fighting, there was much more talking with this issue. And while X-23 and O5 Cyclops didn't kiss, they did seem to form a connection of sorts. That connection helped fill in some vital blanks and given all the loose ends we had with X-men Battle of the Atom, that's more refreshing than a cold beer at a hot wings eating contest. And all that talking was nicely balanced with some visceral action at the end. Sure, it ended with the whole team getting captured and they're likely to be tortured horribly. But seeing as how the enemies involved are religious zealots that actually take Pat Robertson seriously, is anyone really more disturbed than they would have been after listening to one of Ted Haggard's old sermons? I say thee nay. All New X-men #20 gets an 8 out of 10. It's not epic and it's not going to soak anybody's panties, but it'll encourage everyone to keep a bottle of lube and a box of tissues handy for the next few issues. Nuff said!