Thursday, October 31, 2013

Amazing X-men #1 PREVIEW - An Emotional Return

It usually takes me a few extra shots of tequila to make me really emotional. But once those shots are in my system, I’m capable of crying like a little girl who just dropped her lollypop and asking the pretty bartender in a short skirt to marry me. I’m capable of getting emotional with comics as well, but usually only to the extent that they piss me the fuck off or amaze the everloving shit out of me. It’s very rare that a comic will tap into the Old Yeller part of my brain and make me feel like Twilight fans must feel when they’re using their Robert Pattinson autographed dildo.

There have been a lot of emotional deaths in the history of the X-men. Hell, some of the biggest events in X-men history have been all about characters dying. Just ask Jean Grey. But when Nightcrawler died during the Second Coming event a few years ago, it was more emotional than others. Nightcrawler wasn’t host to a cosmic fucking bird, he didn’t have an insane healing factor, and he didn’t have a history of being cloned. He was the soul of the X-men, the one who never lost faith no matter how fucked up things got. Considering how fucked up things got after he died, I imagine his soul would be strained more than a Catholic priest at the little league world series.

But like so many other major characters, some of which don’t have red hair and green eyes, he’s coming back. Earlier this year, Marvel announced that Nightcrawler would be coming back to the world of the living in the pages of Amazing X-men, a new series by Jason Aaron that I imagine will help repair the reputation of the word “Amazing” after the ending of Amazing Spider-Man gave it some pretty shitty connotations. It forms a new team with members of the Jean Grey Institute staff and Nightcrawler is supposed to be part of that team. Given how he died and what he meant to the X-men, this brought a tear to my eye almost on the level of tequila. Next week, the first issue comes out and in anticipation of this release, Comic Book Resources released a preview.

I’m tied laying off the tequila before reading this preview, but I might as well store my liver to a bank vault because that’s not going to do jack shit. No matter how drunk or sober I am when I read this comic, I imagine it’ll be pretty emotional.

Excuse me, I just teared up a little. And maybe it is because of the tequila, but I prefer to think that even drunks are touched when a character is so fucking awesome that he’s willing to skip a blissful afterlife to finish unfinished business. How many other heroes in this day and age of grim and gritty bullshit can say that? Kurt fucking Wagner can say that and now he’s returning to a world where there’s a teenage Jean Grey running around, Cyclops is a wanted fugitive, mutants are no longer going extinct, and Wolverine is headmaster of a school. For something this awesome, I’ll need more than just tequila. Nuff said!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Scanned Thoughts: X-men Battle of the Atom #2

The end is here. Usually when someone says that, they're either suffering from irreversible brain damage or their doctor prescribed something awesome for them. But this time, it's just the end of another big Marvel event. I know that shit seems to happen more frequently than a meltdown by Amanda Bynes, but this isn't just any event. This is X-men Battle of the Atom, the event that's supposed to celebrate 50 years of X-men. It's one of those events that if it sucks, it's akin to taking a shit on Jack Kirby's grave and spitting in Stan Lee's face while pissing on Chris Claremont's foot. And with the somewhat sub-par showings in the past few issues, it's coming dangerously close to sucking. But X-men Battle of the Atom #2 is supposed to be the finale that won't just end the event, but set the tone for 2014. So what follows isn't just my review for X-men Battle of the Atom #2. It's a preview of how awesome 2014 will be or how much we can expect it to suck elephant balls.

I can’t say the setting isn’t appropriate. The past, present, and future X-men are all on the site of the X-men’s first battle against Magneto and the Brotherhood. Except this time, they’re also going up against a fully armed SHIELD fleet that Xavier and Xorna have made overly trigger-happy with their powers. So now they’re basically in an oversized target in Ted Nugant’s gun range. While it’s fitting, the attention to detail is about as focused as I am at four in the morning without my daily dose of coffee and blow. For some reason, O5 Cyclops and O5 Jean Grey found time to get into their X-men uniforms, which they threw away several issues ago. That shows me that someone didn’t give enough fucks or Marvel hoped most fans would read this book drunk. I guess they were half right.

It quickly becomes a two-front battle. On one front, the X-men have to stop the incoming missiles that are about to end them like Michael Jordon’s baseball career. On the other, they have to fight the future Brotherhood, who prove definitively that some of the X-men just lose their fucking mind in the future. Adult Kid Omega attacks Xavier and Xorna while the rest of the team tries to stop the missiles. Future Beast also gives a little speech that might resonate at a Rick Santorum fundraising event, but makes him an even bigger douche than before, which is like Chris Brown somehow finding a way to become more of an asshole. So it’s pretty satisfying at a level that may bring some fans to orgasm when he’s just fucking killed on the spot.

However, it wasn’t Cyclops who just decided he had enough of Beast’s bullshit. It was something far more fitting. It turns out that those missiles weren’t intended to explode. So in a not-too-big yet exceedingly appropriate twist, the true motives of the future Brotherhood become clear. One of the biggest problems with the previous issue was that even after several bong hits, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the fuck the future Brotherhood hoped to accomplish by taking the X-men on a trip to memory lane and inviting a trigger-happy SHIELD along for the ride. They’re from the fucking future, remember? That means they have future knowledge that the past and present X-men don’t know they should be pissed about and in this moment, they put it to good use.

It’s Sentinels. Seriously, what’s the 50th anniversary of the X-men without fucking Sentinels? They showed up in the first issue to get the shit storm going. It’s perfectly fitting that they show up here in the final showdown. But these aren’t just random Sentinels that some mutant-hating asshole forgot about and wasn’t smart enough to sell on Ebay. These are brand spanking new Sentinels from the fine folks at SHIELD. Because it’s not enough for them to spy on and harass innocent mutants without due process or any of that humane shit. They also have to stock pile a weapon that every mutant has a fuckton of reasons to despise. To be fair to Maria Hill, she didn’t seem to know about it. But it’s painfully clear that these Sentinels were meant for mutants and like rat in a cheese factory, they’re hungry to use them.

The conflict that follows is fittingly destructive, albeit under-developed. But the emotional impact on the X-men is the major focus here. At one point Psylocke points out that they seem to be going around in circles like a freshly neutered dog with brain damage. No matter what they do, they just have to keep fighting giant killer robots and I imagine that shit gets more frustrating than arguing with Michelle Bachmann on civil rights. It also makes a clear point for the future Brotherhood. No matter what the X-men do, the human authorities are always going to have a gun pointed at their head in the form of giant killer robots. This helps put the turning points in the future shown a few issues ago into a better context. This future Brotherhood just got tired of fighting for humanity when all they ever seem to do is attack them. Now they want to help their past selves get ahead of the curve. I’m not saying it’s a very good plan, but considering it wasn’t their first plan to begin with, it does make more sense.

As the battle against the Sentinels unfolds, the X-men crack under the strain of having to fight a two-front war. It’s still a bit chaotic, but that’s to be expected in an epic battle where the X-men have to fight both Sentinels and the future Brotherhood. And it’s also expected that there will be casualties in this conflict. The first two to fall are future Jubilee, who dies at the hands of a Sentinel, and future Colossus, who gets mindfucked to death by Xavier. These losses strike the X-men hard and the emotional aspects are nicely captured, even if the action itself is not really refined. Magik and Sentinel X (future Shogo) are understandably upset. But it still feels like not enough reactions were captured. Then again, Magik goes demonic at seeing her brother die (again) so I think she compensates nicely for everyone. Sure, Xorna shut her up, but again it’s the emotional impact that gives the battle its power and not just pretty pictures of X-men fighting killer robots.

But the most epic struggle by far in this conflict involves someone with red hair, green eyes, and who isn’t named Hope fucking Summers. Xorna/Jean Grey has been a huge driving force, both as a warning to O5 Jean and as a harsh reminder for Cyclops and Wolverine. And for her, revealing that SHIELD had killer robots waiting in the wings to throw at the X-men wasn’t enough. She has to be extra pissed off because in many ways, she is the one who lost the most. By staying in the future, she lost every element of that special passion that she once had. Now she’s an embittered yet overpowered old woman who would rather not exist than deal with this shit and that makes her more dangerous than a billion sentinels.

Xorna understandably focuses her wrath on Wolverine and Cyclops, the two men she blames for fucking up the X-men. And her outrage isn’t just simple psychic PMS either. She does make some valid points. These two are the reason why the X-men were divided. And she claims that their bitter conflict is what turned her into Xorna, which is like Lindsey Lohan blaming her car for getting her in trouble. But in some ways, her frustration perfectly echoes the frustration of fans who think the hate between Cyclops and Wolverine has gotten old. And for Xorna, it’s very emotional because she claims she’s so damaged that she can never love anything or anyone like she once did. It helps explain her motivations for sending the O5 back. She wanted things to go back to the way they were before she came to the future. It’s not a full explanation, but it’s an understandable explanation none-the-less. And since Jean Grey has been the driving force of so many events throughout the history of the X-men, including the recent comics, it’s a very powerful moment.

That makes it all the more fitting when O5 Jean leads the rest of the O5 X-men in a full-fledged attack against Xorna. And unlike the other battles going on that are glossed over or too easy to forget about while stoned, this battle is richly detailed in all the right ways. It nicely depicts Xorna’s anguish and O5 Jean’s determination to not become her. She makes it clear that she’s not going to stop fighting and she’s willing to kick her own ass to keep doing it. I don’t know if that counts as badass or sadomasochistic, but it’s pretty fucking awesome.

And while it ends up in a stalemate, Xorna offers O5 Jean some pretty ominous warnings that she won’t be ready or powerful enough to face what she’s going to face. I think Xorna must have forgotten that warning teenagers about the future is like warning a dog not to shit on the carpet, it’s a difficult message to communicate. At the same time, it offers an ominous warning for future stories.

A lot of what O5 Jean Grey has been dealing with since she arrived are overwhelming powers that seem to keep growing. That doesn’t even get into the danger she faces with the Phoenix. Xorna made it clear early on in the battle when she bitch slapped Adult Kid Omega by telling him that the Phoenix still craves her even as he wields it. That’s like taunting a woman’s new lover by saying she still thinks about her ex when they’re having sex. And O5 Jean will have to face this and being a teenager, she doesn’t understand how much it will fuck her up. It’s like the anti-drug programs I saw in school, but even less effective.

But Xorna takes her warning much further than anything those anti-drug programs ever did. When it becomes painfully clear that she and O5 Jean can’t beat one another without it becoming self-defeating, she makes her final stand. She didn’t want to even exist in the first place so she skips a couple of steps and decides to overload her power in classic Jean Grey fashion. In doing so she doesn’t just blow herself the fuck up. She effectively destroys the remaining Sentinels as well, ending the battle yet still making her point. So I guess in some respects, Xorna and the Brotherhood didn’t lose completely. Xorna got what she wanted. She no longer exists, albeit not in the way she hoped. And the Brotherhood made their point. The rest of the X-men just didn’t buy it. They probably should’ve tried a more convincing sales pitch, but again, it wasn’t their first plan. So I think they can’t be blamed for getting overly creative/destructive. I just hope this doesn’t give struggling pot dealers any ideas.

This climactic explosion leaves a hell of a mess and not surprisingly, the X-men escape with the help of Magik. SHIELD shows up as well to assess the damage, but they might as well be walking around with shit stains in their underwear. The damage has already been done for them. The Brotherhood just revealed that they were packing an anti-mutant arsenal that they didn’t tell anyone about. It would be like a gay Jewish transvestite hooker turning up dead in Pat Robertson’s bedroom with semen stains on his face. There’s just no effective way to explain it away.

As for the X-men, they return to the Jean Grey Institute where they keep tabs on SHIELD. They also make it clear that some of the future Brotherhood escaped since they’re probably not stupid enough to stick around during a big fucking explosion in the middle of a SHIELD and Sentinel attack. Yet there are still plenty of problems to deal with. The O5 are still stuck in the present and some of the X-men still have a raging boner to see Cyclops and his revolutionary team thrown in jail. It’s downright stupid considering that Xorna just pointed out to them that this schism bullshit is what led to the future being so fucked up. But that’s a conflict that can’t and shouldn’t be solved in an issue like this. They just found out that SHIELD is now packing Sentinels and that takes priority over arguing who got to bone Jean Grey.

At the very least, they do address their inability to send the O5 back. It’s not a completely clear explanation because they don’t know yet. But O5 Beast hints that there’s a force keeping them from going back. So some of my concerns about them just becoming glorified clones are somewhat eased. What they do still may affect the future, but it still isn’t clear enough for fans like me who don’t read comics sober.

What follows after this are a series of epilogues. There are still a number of loose ends to resolve, but there are also some new twists that promise to shake up future stories. One involves Kymera, the daughter of Storm and an unknown father who might be her ex-husband, staying in the past to hunt down the future Brotherhood. Because if the O5 X-men can do it and get away with not fucking up the timeline too much, so can she. At this point the thought of more time travel stories makes me want to dry heave, but I can’t deny there’s some logic to this choice. The future Brotherhood probably aren’t going to go back to a future they feel is already fucked and someone needs to stay behind to ensure they don’t fuck it up the way they want. It might as well be someone who will make things even more awkward for Storm and her ex.

But beyond just setting up future stories, there’s also room for some more emotional moments, such as a goodbye between Jubilee and future Shogo. Since Jubilee’s future self died, it’s a nice moment that has nothing to do with fucking up the timeline for once. Shogo even reveals that Jubilee eventually comes to embrace her new vampire powers, which she hasn’t really done much since she rejoined the X-men recently. He also reveals that she was a damn good mother to him and considering how many shitty parents there are in the Marvel universe, that’s more refreshing than a cold beer at a football game on Sunday.

As for the rest of the future X-men, they decide they’ve fucked up the timeline enough and decide to go back to the future. There are still some emotional moments, such as Magik mourning the loss of her future brother. Considering how her brother in the present wants to kill her and is boning Domino, I think it’s nice that she gets to show a little emotion. There are even a few hints offered by future Iceman, who goes by a much cooler name, Ice Master now, about Nightcrawler’s upcoming return in Amazing X-men. He even tells him to grow a beard because the ladies will love it. This may be the one message the O5 X-men remember most. And while they leave with some questions still unanswered, their departure feels appropriate even if it isn’t as refreshing as a cold beer.

The final epilogue, however, isn’t so heart-warming. X-men Battle of the Atom promised significant changes to the X-men. It was already revealed that the O5 X-men weren’t going to be sticking around the Jean Grey Institute. Now Kitty Pryde reveals that she’s not sticking around either. She doesn’t just say she’s leaving. She also takes the time to break up with Iceman. It’s a special kind of pissed off and while some of her reasons make sense, it still feels somewhat abrupt.

Earlier in the story, Kitty Pryde was okay with sending the O5 back. Then she changed her mind like Mitt Romney and was all for letting the O5 choose to stay. But now she’s pissed that the rest of the X-men didn’t listen to her. They decided to listen to the phony future X-men that ended up trying to kill them. Also, she was supposed to be responsible for the O5 X-men. And neither she nor the rest of the X-men did what they could to help them when they needed it. For her, that shit is a deal-breaker. And while I understand her decision, I still think it’s somewhat abrupt. Naturally, the O5 decide to leave as well and their decision is the exact opposite of abrupt. Everyone at the Jean Grey Institute seems to want to send them back to the past and decide their fate for them. And if they’re not going to get their help, they might as well do the most responsible recourse for teenagers and tell them to fuck off.

And they don’t have to go too far for a new gig either. Earlier in the story, one team of X-men did actually listen to the O5 when they wanted to fight to stay in the present. And that was Cyclops and his revolutionary team, as in the same team that Wolverine and the entire Jean Grey Institute wants to shut down and throw in jail. So this isn’t just a casual “fuck off” for Kitty Pryde and the O5 X-men. It’s full blown parade of middle fingers combined with a score by Hans Zimmer telling them the Jean Grey Institute to go fuck themselves in the biggest possible way. I won’t even argue how fitting this ending is. I’ll just say it’s an awesome moment and one that begins a new chapter for Kitty Pryde and the time displaced O5 X-men.

So after 50 years of X-men, this is the story that’s supposed to commemorate it. I was hoping to be astonished. I wasn’t. At the same time, I wasn’t disappointed. I didn’t read this issue and think I needed to give myself a lobotomy with a rusty fish hook like I did with Avengers vs. X-men. This issue didn’t resolve every little detail. However, it did have a huge, kick-ass battle that brought the past, present, and future together in an epic way that is undeniably awesome. And while the story may be over, the conflict it started hasn’t ended. Parts of the future Brotherhood are still out there. And now the X-men know that SHIELD are assholes who don’t seem to understand that having mutant hunting Sentinels at their disposal is not a good way to foster peace between humans and mutants. So some plot holes were filled while others were only partially filled. I guess in that sense half a blow job is better than none at all.

I’m genuinely uncertain of how to assess this issue and Battle of the Atom as a whole. It didn’t suck. That much I can say in the most sober way possible. Now that it’s over, certain elements that didn’t make a lick of sense in earlier issues make more sense now. It’s not as concise or cohesive as it could be, but it actually does make sense on most levels, which is more than I could say for a lot of other shitty stories. But more than anything else, this issue and Battle of the Atom hit all the right emotional notes. Some of those emotions, like Wolverine and Cyclops’s bitching, are old yet still relevant. Others, like O5 Jean and Kitty Pryde, are still very powerful. Taking all this into consideration, I give X-men Battle of the Atom #2 a 7 out of 10. And I give X-men Battle of the Atom as a whole an 8 out of 10. It had the potential to be so much better, but it just lacked the details that would tie it together. Yet it’s still a story that resonates with the entire history of X-men and for that, I deem it awesome in the name of Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, Len Wein, and Jack Kirby, may he rest in peace. Nuff said!

The Cheating Paradox: Uncanny X-men #13

The following is my review of Uncanny X-men #13, which was posted on

It’s human nature to take the easiest way out. Sometimes the easy way is dishonest, contrived, or irrational. That doesn’t matter for some people. Like gamers that use cheat codes and hacks to win, they offer a much easier way of navigating obstacles. And for a series that has over 50 years of continuity, the X-men present some pretty imposing obstacles. There are probably plenty of writers that want to tell certain stories with certain characters from certain eras, but in some cases they probably weren’t alive during these eras of X-men. Maintaining continuity from multiple eras remains one of the biggest challenges for any X-men story. It’s only a matter of time before a story comes along that seems to utilize the kind of cheat codes that would take the fun out of most video games.

Part of what has made “X-men Battle of the Atom” such a compelling and gripping story is that the actions of all the characters involved have the potential to impact the past, present, and future of the X-men. This story began with an event that literally rocked the timeline, reminding the X-men that anything that happens to the Original Five X-men could have significant ramifications. That has been the main driving force for the X-men of the future, who used treachery and deceit to try and force the Original X-men to go back to the past. Now that their deceit has been revealed, Battle of the Atom has become an action thriller that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger proud.

Uncanny X-men #13 focuses primarily on continuing the battle that began in X-men #6. For the most part, it succeeds in maintaining a race-against-time style tension. Unlike before, the fraudulent X-men from the future don’t have the element of surprise. They have to take on Cyclops and a team of present and future X-men directly. But fittingly enough, they do have time on their side. They only need to delay their attack so that they can send the Original Five back to the past. It’s like they have the lead in the final minutes of an American football game and they just need one more first down to seal the win.

This desperation leads to some pretty intense battles, especially those involving Colossus and Magik. For the first time in Battle of the Atom, characters start dying. But it’s only those belonging to the fake X-men that fall. And since they spent a good portion of the story using treachery to manipulate the X-men, their defeat is quite satisfying. The struggle at times is visceral and very personal. It’s the exact opposite of a battle between the X-men and Sentinels. These aren’t just killer robots with creepy faces looking to commit mass genocide. These are future versions of former X-men. That helps make the struggle meaningful.

But as visceral as the battle is at times, it’s detailed in the wrong places. A full page is dedicated to Magik and Colossus taking down Molly and Deadpool. However, there isn’t a single panel that shows how the young Beast and Iceman were tricked into being captured. There’s a very poor transition from the end of X-men #6 to the beginning of Uncanny X-men #13. It may actually take a few repeat reads to figure out what happened, but it feels like a scene that is glossed over. Seeing what Molly’s face looks like when Colossus punches it is only necessary when more important details are covered.

This unequal distribution of detail doesn’t make the battle less meaningful. However, the resolution is where the story takes a twist that calls into question the very merit of the plot to send the Original Five X-men back to the past while also potentially undermining future plots. For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, the Original Five X-men can’t be sent back in time. Beast even goes through the trouble of testing the time cube to show that it is working properly. It’s like they’re trying to cash a check in someone else’s name and the bank isn’t accepting their fake IDs.

Beast theorizes that a paradox has been created and unlike the ones described by Doc Brown in Back to the Future, this one doesn’t unravel the fabric of the space-time continuum. If there really is something keeping the original X-men from going back to the past, then that implies that everything the fake X-men did in Battle of the Atom was for nothing. The struggles and the drama that led to them convincing their younger selves to go back was completely unnecessary. It would be like Bruce Lee entering a Kung Fu tournament, fighting through every round, and finding out at the end that he had already won by default.

In addition, such a paradox also creates the possibility that future Marvel writers will have new cheat codes to work with. If there are no longer any consequences to the original X-men staying in the future, then what they do will have no effect on the past anymore. They might as well be clones, allowing new writers to do things with these young X-men that they couldn’t do before. And as events like the Clone Saga and One More Day have shown, being able to do something isn’t the same as doing it right. Anybody can walk barefoot over a carpet of Legos. That doesn’t make it a wise thing to do.

There may still be certain consequences to the original X-men staying in the present, but it isn’t made clear yet. It only makes clear that the efforts of the phony X-men were almost entirely for nothing. It doesn’t cheapen the overall story told in Uncanny X-men #13, but it does make the conflicts surrounding it seem more complicated and less meaningful. With only two issues left, there is still time to make this paradox less contrived. It would be an unfitting celebration of 50 years of history with the X-men to treat it only as an obstacle.

Final Score: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CBR X-POSITION: The X-Editors Answer One of My Questions

It has been a while since I was sober enough to submit some questions to CBR's weekly X-POSITION column. Don't get me wrong. I've had my share of questions and I read X-POSITION as regularly as I take a shit after eating an extra large spicy burrito from Taco Bell. And even when I submit questions, the decision to have them answered is at the mercy of the fine folks at CBR who are probably responsible enough to do most of their writing sober. But after a long period of time I just can't measure due to blackouts, one of my questions got asked and answered in a column featuring the editors to the X-books. Like seeing a puppy take a shit in the yard of that annoying neighbor who never mows their lawn, it's one of those little pleasures that make life more enjoyable.

MarvelMaster616 has a quick question about the relationship status of the X-Men.
Between what happened with Jean Grey and Beast and what might happen between Cyclops and X-23, what can you say about the future of the Cyclops/Jean relationship? Is Marvel looking to do to them what was also done to the Peter/Mary Jane relationship in Spider-Man?

White: Mary Jane? You mean Peter's former live-in girlfriend who he totally never married? 

Lowe: WONH WONH. The only thing Brian [Michael Bendis], Stuart [Immonen] and the rest of the "All-New X-Men" creators are trying to do is tell interesting stories that will take you all by surprise and get you talking and shocked and such.

That's not much of an answer. In fact, it's a dodge that's almost on the same level as Mitt Romney. My concerns are neither eased or worsened. Marvel's recent track record of just surprising and shocking fans is usually just code for pissing fans off. Because for reasons that I still don't understand, pissed off fans still buy these comics. It happened with Superior Spider-Man and I don't doubt it'll happen with the X-men comics. But at some point, pissed off fans have to get too pissed off about being pissed off. At least I hope that's what happens. I'm okay with being shocked and surprised. But if I want to get pissed off, I'll re-watch the Soprano's finale. I don't need to feel that in my comics. So whatever shocking and surprising shit Marvel has in store, I hope they're smart enough to do it for the right reasons in the right way.

This could be so right and so wrong in so many ways.
I know that's wishful thinking, especially for a drunk. I can only take comfort in the knowledge that Marvel never likes to fuck shit up too much before reverting it back to a certain status quo. A quick fix is just a deal with Mephisto away. Nuff said!

X-men Days of Futures Past Trailer - Needless Hope

I don't claim to be without flaws. I know my flaws are long enough to earn me a spot on the Jerry Springer All-Pro team, but I don't minimize my major flaws or trivialize my numerous minor flaws. I like to think that I'm an honest drunk. And because of that, I get pissed off at people who think their biggest flaw is some contrived bullshit that can't be used to beat them over the head. So naturally, I'm extremely pissed off at the X-men movies.

I've already made my sentiment about these movies painfully clear on this blog. I despise them on a scale that would make Uatu the Watcher shit himself in awe. I could do several blogs listing all the ways the X-men movies suck worse than anything Joel Shumacher could ever produce. There's the bullshit characterization, the shitty character deaths, the piss poor pacing, the horribly underdeveloped relationships, bad acting on the part of otherwise awesome actors, and stories that take a big steaming shit on some of the most iconic comics of all time. The X-men movies actually did something that I thought was impossible. They turned Wolverine into a total fucking pussy despite Hugh Jackman doing everything he could to look badass enough for the part. And any X-men story turns the one of the most badass characters in all of fiction into a whiney pussy who gets all weepy over a woman he barely fucking knows for a few days deserves to be treated with the same contempt as that asshole kid in grade school who likes to take a shit in other kids' backpacks. That guy knows who he is and we know why we should hate him.

But it's not enough that the X-men movies took a massive shit on the Phoenix Saga, also known as the greatest X-men story ever told. Now Bryan Singer is back and may potentially take an equally massive shit on Days of Futures Past, also known as the second greatest X-men story ever told. He's already given the finger to the source material, once again making fucking Wolverine the central character that goes back in time instead of Kitty Pryde. I guess Singer forgot how badly that worked out when X3 tried to shove Wolverine into Cyclops's role with the Phoenix Saga. He probably thinks that he can thrust Wolverine into more places than a lesbian sex addict ina dildo factory and past movies have shown that the results are more fucked than a used condom at Ron Jeremy's house. While this movie is being billed as a soft reboot of sorts in an effort to fix X3 while not admitting that anyone fucked up, I have very little hope for it.

None the less, a trailer has finally come out. And in this trailer, "hope" is billed as the most important component to the X-men movies. "We need you to hope again" is somehow supposed to be all it takes to make the X-men movies not suck. I say that adding hope to these movies is like trying to take a piss to put out a forest fire. It just isn't enough.

This trailer doesn't change my conclusion. It's basically a bunch of flat characters with iconic names being thrust into a story that is going to be centered around making Wolverine the focus of fucking everything with Charles Xavier and Magneto playing minor supporting roles. But that's just the sentiment of a drunken lifelong comic book fan. I'm sure this shit will make a fuckton of money and it'll be declared a success, no matter how many people it pisses off. That's by far the biggest flaw. I'm sorry young burned out 70s Charles Xavier, but hope just isn't going to cut it. Nuff said!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Uncanny X-men #14 PREVIEW - Unlettered, Confusing, and Awesome

Unlettered previews are like censored tits. They’re exposed yet the full extent of their beauty is purposefully shrouded by those who take a sick pleasure in cock-blocking eager fans. Yet like Sear’s underwear catalog in the pre-internet days, it’s better than nothing. Marvel has already previewed the shit out of X-men Battle of the Atom and every associated story. With only one issue left, it’s almost time to start teasing the aftermath. Because what good is cock-blocking if it doesn’t leave anyone curious to see what happens once the censors are lifted? Like the first day a boy discovers internet porn, it can be a magical moment.

Now some details about the aftermath of X-men Battle of the Atom have already been released in solicitations for January 2014. It was already revealed that the O5 X-men won’t be going back to the past. Hell, they may be stuck in the future permanently for all we know. But they are sticking around and apparently they’re getting awesome new uniforms as well. O5 Cyclops may even get to swap some body fluids with X-23 and find a new way to piss off Wolverine. It’s an exciting time, even if the story itself ends up having a fuckton of loose ends.

That's not the only thing that's loose.
But based on these same solicits, the immediate aftermath of Battle of the Atom will primarily be felt in books like Uncanny X-men and All New X-men. That makes sense. These are the books that basically set the stage for Battle of the Atom. But as is often the case after a big event at Marvel, certain characters are very pissed off and looking to take it out on others in a very unhealthy way. I guess there’s no Dr. Phil in the Marvel universe. And in the pages of Uncanny X-men, it has been hinted that Magneto will be the first one to post a hissy fit. But based on an exceedingly vague unlettered preview that was just released by Comic Book Resources, it’s hard to tell just how pissed Magneto is. All it really shows is that a pretty blond will make any preview more appealing.

CBR: Uncanny X-men #14 Unlettered Preview

For the record, I’m not against Magneto being pissed. I’m just not sure how he could possibly be more pissed than fans like me if Battle of the Atom has one too many loose ends.

Without any dialog, it’s impossible to tell just what the fuck is going on here. Hell, this issue looks like it could have come out before X-men Battle of the Atom. O5 Angel is still with Cyclops’s team and not in a kickass new uniform. Magneto is nowhere to be found. The students of the New Xavier School look like they wish they were taking a Calculus exam. The only saving grace is seeing a hot blond embarrass a guy who clearly just got out of the shower and probably has a hell of a boner. It’s hard to tell if that hot blond is Emma Frost, Dazzler, or an entirely new hot blond since Marvel can’t seem to have enough. It’s also hard to tell who the unlucky/lucky guy is. It could be Cyclops or one of the students. Either way, it’s pretty fucking hilarious and could only be more awesome with dialog about how cold the water was.

I try not to speculate too much since I’ve been so dead wrong lately. But give it another shot anyways since I’m sure some readers enjoy watching me fuck up in the same way they enjoy watching Johnny Knoxville get hit in the nuts. I think that first scene is a flashback where some of Cyclops’s new students start to openly doubt this team and their decision to stick with it. And that beautiful woman is Dazzler, looking to make another ally using her uncanny sex appeal to take advantage of a naked man. Yes, it’s cruel. But in the long run, most men probably wouldn’t mind stepping out of a shower and seeing a hot blond, even if she is fully clothed. As for the identity of the guy, I’m just going to say that it’s the mini-Mystique, Ben Deeds. He hasn’t done jack shit in a while and he seems to have an attitude problem. And few attitude problems can’t be made worse by a beautiful manipulative woman.

I’m probably wrong, but this is all I have to go on. Battle of the Atom isn’t over yet. We still have no fucking clue how pissed off or triumphant Cyclops’s revolutionary team will be when all is said and done. We also don’t have any fucking clue as to why this set Magneto on the path to becoming an asshole again. In other words, we’re clueless as fuck and will have to wait a month to see how this pans out. By then I should probably have run out of Halloween candy and out of a diabetic coma so I’m okay with waiting. Nuff said!

X-men Supreme Issue 86: Cambrian Explosion Part 3 is LIVE!

Throughout the history of X-men and Marvel Comics, the conflicts that do the most damage aren't always the conflicts that have the greatest impact. The X-men have experienced more than their share of destruction throughout their 50-year history. The X-men Supreme fanfiction series has had them experience plenty of destruction as well. But it's the impact on the characters themselves that make this conflicts resonate. Stories like the Phoenix Saga, Overlord, and Revenge of Weapon X involved many personal elements for many characters. For an event worthy of the X-men's 50th anniversary, the potential for destruction and impact must be fitting.

I feel like I have done just that with X-men Supreme's biggest event to date, the Cambrian Explosion. In the span of only two issues, this event has had a number of events converge from various segments of this fanfiction series. Leading this convergence is Magneto, whose vision has changed very little since the beginning of X-men Supreme. While his methods have evolved, his goal has remained the same. He seeks to ensure the survival and dominance of the mutant race. He believed that the Cambrian had the power to do that. But in his rush to tap that power before humanity attacked again, he unleashed it on the world. Now every human and mutant in the world of X-men Supreme is about to be affected.

This landmark event for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is about to reach its darkest hour. The X-men didn't just fail to stop Magneto from unleashing the Cambrian. Some of their own teammates consumed by its influence. Their only option now is to retreat. But they can't hide forever. The Cambrian has the power to reach every corner of the planet. The X-men and even the Brotherhood need to find a way to stop it or the destruction to humans and mutants alike will be immeasurable. And in this bleak issue of X-men Supreme, that destruction has already begun.

X-men Supreme Issue 86: Cambrian Explosion Part 3

The darkest hour for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series has arrived and at the same time Marvel is celebrating the X-men's 50th anniversary. These dire times will set the tone for how X-men Supreme will evolve. The stories that follow the Cambrian Explosion will deal with both the short-term and long-term consequences of what happens in this event. For that reason, it's very important that people take the time to leave a review. Feedback is very important to the health of X-men Supreme. If I'm doing something wrong, please tell me. Either post your comments directly in the issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine. Thank you all very much for helping me celebrate 50 years of X-men. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, October 24, 2013

X-men Battle of the Atom #2 PREVIEW - Short and Not Very Informative

I know I give the impression that I have a very short attention span. I could blame years of booze, weed, and cartoons. But that would be like Betty White blaming a calendar for making her old. I do get impatient with things like traffic, flights, and organ transplants. But when it comes to comics, I am willing to be patient. I understand that nothing good comes from rushing something. Any man who suffers from premature ejaculation can attest to that. It’s just that my patience with comics does have a limit and X-men Battle of the Atom has been testing that limit lately.

I’ve already done plenty of drunken rants about it in my recent reviews. X-men Battle of the Atom is awesome in concept, but lacking in details. We still don’t know what the fuck the future Brotherhood was trying to accomplish by sending the O5 X-men back. We don’t know what the fuck O5 Jean saw in Xorna’s mind that horrified her enough to agree to go back to the past. And we don’t know what the fuck is keeping the O5 X-men in the present. That’s a lot of fucks that aren’t known for a 10-part event that only has one part left. That part is supposed to come out in less than a week and the cynic in me is very skeptical that all these loose ends can be tied up in one issue.

I had hoped that a preview of X-men Battle of the Atom #2 would offer some clues as to whether we’ll get the resolutions necessary to make this event awesome in a way worthy of being the X-men’s 50th anniversary event. And like previous issues, one was released courtesy of Newsarama.

Newsarama: X-men Battle of the Atom #2 PREVIEW

However, this preview has about as much to offer as Paris Hilton at a physics lecture.

That’s really all we get. And it’s basically shit that anyone who read the last three pages of Wolverine and the X-men #37 could have surmised. It wouldn’t even take a bong hit, although I’m sure that would make it more interesting. The missiles had already been fired in the previous issue. This preview just shows the X-men looking deadpanned while Xorna and Xavier look like a 13-year-old boy that just discovered his father’s porno stash. The only hint it offers is Kid Omega beating the shit out of Xorna and Xavier. And if a hint like that can fit in a tweet, then it’s not much of a preview.

This leads me to a crazy theory that I came up with while sleeping off my last hangover. I think Marvel rushed this series. I think they had a much more coherent plan from the beginning, but plans often change at the whims and/or sobriety of the creators. And when a big event has multiple creators, like Battle of the Atom, then there are more cooks in the kitchen capable of fucking something up. Perhaps it’s because this is the X-men’s 50th anniversary and not just some other generic X-men event that Marvel is rushing it. They understand that delaying an anniversary event is like delaying a birthday. It looks pretty fucking stupid when they roll out a cake weeks or months after the date has passed. And all these loose ends and poor details lead me to believe that Marvel rushed way too much. In the same way that being drunk makes it easier to forget basic traffic laws, rushing a story makes it easy to overlook certain details. So perhaps this is why X-men Battle of the Atom has had more plot holes than O.J. Simpson’s alibi.

This is just me blindly speculating. I’m just trying to interpret what I’ve noticed after nine issues of story. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate Marvel’s commitment to avoiding delays. They’re basically taking the opposite approach that Congress has taken. But at some point, being on time isn’t a substitute for being right. It doesn’t matter how early I am to a job interview. If I’m not wearing pants, I’m not going to succeed. I still hold out hope that Battle of the Atom won’t crash and burn like Avengers vs. X-men. For nine issues, it has actually been very good in many areas. Despite plot holes, I can’t say any character is significantly OOC or that there have been any egregious fuck ups. If the event ends without adding such fuck ups, I’ll still consider it a success. But like a strip club with a three hundred dollar lap dance at a Mexican strip club, I’m expecting more. Nuff said!

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #13

I've always had a strange fascination with twins and not just the kind Hugh Hefner bangs every other Friday. They share so many things in common, but then there are times they go out of their way to be different because for some reason we all feel the need to be more unique than we already are. I usually just drink until that inclination goes away, but the Apocalypse Twins have been taking it fifteen steps further in Uncanny Avengers. They're about to re-enact Genesis in a way that creationists only jerk off to with the entire mutant race and the Uncanny Avengers are supposed to stop them. And I'm sure they're as experienced dealing with crazy twins as I am flying an F-15. What follows is my review of Uncanny Avengers #13 and like me flying an F-15, don't be surprised if someone gets trigger happy.

For a good chunk of Uncanny Avengers, Havok has been a hapless yet lovable douche. He’s the one tasked with trying to lead this team of X-men and Avengers that can’t seem to stop despising each other. And if he were a football team, he would be right there with the Jasonville Jaguars in terms of record. But he’s still fighting and now he has to fight yet another former X-man. At least this one isn’t his brother. It’s an evil version of Banshee. And as he’s fighting him, he also does some interesting musings about how being in the X-men has fucked people up. He’s not wrong either. Then again, how can someone not get fucked up after working with Wolverine, Emma Frost, and Beast for more than a day? This kind of insight is important because without it, Havok would just be throwing punches like a brain dead kangaroo while Banshee taunts him about the X-men’s failures. And in the same way the Jaguars don’t need to lose another starter on offense, Havok doesn’t need more reasons to be a total douche.

He eventually gets some much needed help from Wasp and Captain America. But since Cap’s ears got blown out in the last issue, Wasp does the heavy lifting by actually flying into Banshee’s throat and busting up his vocal chords in a way that most people wish they could do to Justin Bieber. This allows Havok to effectively finish him off. He doesn’t kill Banshee, but for the first time one of the horsemen are subdued. It’s a small victory that won’t improve his record, but it’ll at least make him seem more competent.

But they still have a pretty daunting task ahead of them. After finding out in the previous issue that the Apocalypse Twins are blocking Kang from traveling back in time to give them a badly needed spanking, they’re tasked with destroying the Tachyon Dam as they call it. This would be so daunting if Cap’s lack of hearing didn’t make it so hilarious. While Havok continues to try to assert himself as leader for this daunting mission, Wasp reminds him that she badly wants to jump his bone and even gives him some motivation to survive this. All I can do here is commend Wasp for understanding that pussy is still one of the best motivators to give a man. For that, I say bless her heart.

A mission like this would certainly benefit from having a heavy hitter like Thor. However, Sentry made sure he stayed out of the battle by punching him into another fucking galaxy. That’s as literal and as awesome as it sounds. In fact, Sentry hit Thor so hard that he fractured the surface of an alien planet and caused green lava to spew all over the surface. So despite knowing that his teammates are more overmatched than an ant in a shoe factory, he sticks around to help save the planet. But at the same time, some well-placed inner monologue reminds him that a lot of this was his fucking fault in the first place. He was the one that indirectly gave the Apocalypse Twins the power to kill a Celestial. And he has to deal with the consequences and be an ass about it.

I know it sounds like I’m making a big deal about inner monologue. Perhaps I was spoiled by reading so many X-men comics by Chris Claremont, but I feel as though inner monologue is a lost art in comics. It isn’t used as often as it should, especially in big team books like this one. I find it helps to understand what is going through a characters mind and motivating them. That way I don’t have to make too many assumptions and trust me, I make some pretty fucked up assumptions when I’m stoned.

For some scenes, however, there’s no substitute for refined dialog. There are very few assumptions to make with Wonder Man and the Scarlett Witch at this point. In the previous issue, they both agreed to help the Apocalypse Twins carry out their plan. The Scarlett Witch is ready to pull off another House of M style spell that will transport every mutant on the planet to an arc that would have made Noah himself pissed off with envy. The Apocalypse Twins continue to play nice, but still come off more creepy than a clown outside a preschool at two in the morning. They make it clear that they don’t just want to transport every mutant on the planet to their arc. They want them to be transported in a way that they’ll be nice and docile, like a dog that has been given a good helping of drugs before being put in a cage for a long flight. So I guess they’re not as nice as they should be, but Wonder Man and the Scarlett Witch still go along with it. I guess they figure it’s more efficient than anything Havok could organize, which isn’t saying much to begin with.

The Apocalypse Twins are much less accommodating to Wolverine, who has been at the mercy of Daken, the son he fucking murdered. For the past couple issues, he has been tied up in ways that even 50 Shades of Grey fans would find disturbing and been subjected to Daken’s most violent outbursts. For a kid who has so many daddy issues and seems very confused sexually, I imagine it’s more therapeutic than a 100 trips to a spa at the Four Seasons.

But Daken doesn’t just beat the shit out of Wolverine. He and the Apocalypse Twins reveal that they’re going to use him to turn the entire human race against mutants. Daken reveals that Sabretooth actually recorded them when Wolverine killed him. And like a sex tape with the Kardashians, it will create a PR shit storm that will make every mutant look worse than Tim Tebow at a Satanic orgy. This along with the Red Skull’s pending attack will create those mutant internment camps that were already shown in a previous issue. It’s a beautifully organized convergence of detail that also pwns Wolverine in a way that even Cyclops never could.

And the Apocalypse Twins aren’t content with telling Wolverine how his past misdeeds are going to screw the entire mutant race over. Like a classic James Bond villain, they reveal their plan to him about the Scarlett Witch. They even offer a glimpse of how she’ll be the savior of the mutant race while he’ll basically be the mutant equivalent of Hitler. Daken will even take over his school because beating him to a pulp isn’t a big enough “fuck you” for him. But beyond being a brilliant act of pwnage, it also nicely conveys the consequences Wolverine is facing for the shit he did with X-Force. Even though Charles Xavier helped him become a better man, he never stopped killing and this is what happens because of it. That shit is beyond pwnage. That’s downright cruel in the most effective way possible.

Time is running out for Wolverine and the rest of the team. Havok, Wasp, and Captain America are still trying to destroy the Tachyon Dam, encountering plenty of resistance along the way. There’s also some nice inner monologue with Wasp, who continues to be soft on Havok while not being entirely sold on the idea of trusting Immortus or Kang. But at this point, they would probably trust Dick Cheney for help. They seem to be doing okay for themselves at first. Then Wasp encounters Sentry and the fight suddenly becomes more unbalanced than Miley Cyrus on a cocaine binge.

But in addition to encountering obscenely strong obstacles, Havok and Captain America also come to a potentially important realization. Granted, it’s muddled by Cap’s continued hearing problems. It adds a nice bit of humor into a deathly serious situation, which goes well with the right strain of weed. More importantly, they recalled what Immortus said about being divided. And since the Uncanny Avengers began, they’ve been nothing but divided. Havok and Cap now believe that he wasn’t just referring to them either. If they’re to have any hope of a fair fight against the Apocalypse Twins, they need unity on a much bigger level. What could that mean? Again, the right strain of weed will lead to all sorts of crazy theories.

However, Cap and Havok aren’t the only one who have come to this realization. Wonder Man and the Scarlett Witch, despite being more comfortable than anyone else on their team, also figure out that just playing into the hands of the Apocalypse Twins is about as smart as trusting a Nigerian Prince with their banking information. The Apocalypse Twins may be good hosts, but they don’t trust them any more than they would want to fuck them. So the Scarlett Witch reveals that she doesn’t plan to cast the spell the way they want it. She intends to cast a spell that will bring the mutants to their ark, but not subdue them. Basically, the Apocalypse Twins will have an entire race of pissed off mutants staring them down. It’s as fair a fight as it’s going to get against a couple of brats that killed a Celestial.

And since they know the Apocalypse Twins are probably watching them, they hide their intentions in the most logical way possible. They have sex. It’s much less vague than Wasp’s innuendo towards Havok and much easier to jerk off to. They probably assume that the Apocalypse Twins will be too turned on to be suspicious and I can honestly find no flaws in their logic. Now it may or may not have major implications for the relationship between Wonder Man and the Scarlett Witch. This could just be one of those romps for the sake of romping. Or it could lead to something more. The possibilities are as vast as they are sexy.

The only possible way this brilliant yet sexy plan of theirs could fail is through a bad mistake coupled by a horrendous misunderstanding. And just such a clusterfuck is in the process because Rogue and Sunfire manage to catch up with thoroughly beaten and thoroughly pwned Wolverine. He’s already broken, admitting that he’s just a killer and an asshole. But he also knows what the Apocalypse Twins are planning. And he has no idea that the Scarlett Witch is going to screw the Twins over. So once Rogue and Sunfire figure this out, they take it upon themselves to hunt down the Scarlett Witch and gut her before she can finish her spell. It’s the kind of fuck-up that can only happen in a team as dysfunctional as the Uncanny Avengers. It’s also the kind of beautifully refined plot that helps bring the story together in a concise, compelling way. It couldn’t be more beautiful if it was tattooed on Emma Frost’s breasts.

So much of the appeal of Uncanny Avengers has been built around their inability to get along. It perfectly articulates the reasons why something as logical as an X-men/Avengers team-up didn’t happen sooner. They function so differently and have such different philosophies that it’s only a matter of time before they start trying to kill each other. Well now they have a plan to save the world, but they have to do it before they kill each other. Uncanny Avengers #13 was brilliant in putting all the pieces in place. And it looks like the bickering within the team could end up destroying the world before the Apocalypse Twins can succeed. The rich details, intense action, and sexual innuendo make this an epic convergence of everything that makes a comic awesome. Were it not for shitty transitions, it would be perfect. Overall, I give Uncanny Avengers #13 a 9 out of 10. It’s funny, sexy, emotional, intelligent, and refined. If it were a man, every woman on the planet would want to fuck and marry it on the spot. Nuff said!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #37

I admit I've used my share of cheat codes over the years. There's something inherently awesome about playing every mission in Goldeneye with infinite ammo and a grenade launcher. But like masturbation, there's a time and a place for cheat codes. Sometimes they can be fun and sometimes they can just be a dick move. Marvel has used their share of cheat codes over the years to fix shit they didn't like. The Spider-Man/Mary Jane cheat code that was done with Mephisto is the kind of shit that would get Nintendo to hire a hit man, but Marvel seems to think it's okay so long as they can regress the story to circumstances of their choosing. X-men Battle of the Atom is dangerously close to that kind of regression, but with two issues left there's a lot of room to make it less shitty. What follows is my review of Wolverine and the X-men #37, the penultimate issue of this 50th anniversary event. If at any point it sounds as fucked up as the Windows Vista beta version, then that's a sign that the cheat codes Marvel is using have fucked up the whole game.

But in some instances, playing by the rules just isn’t viable. Like being outnumbered in a bar fight, sometimes it’s necessary to sneak some pepper spray and brass knuckles past the bouncer. When Cyclops and his team of present and future X-men confronted the phony X-men, they had just bitch slapped most of their allies. It left only goat Beast and Xorna to oppose them and since the space time continuum just gave them the finger, they’re pretty much outgunned. So Xorna decided to fight dirty. I wouldn’t say she uses cheat codes, but she does the next best thing.

In a moment that was both a great act of pwnage and downright sexy, Xorna/Jean confronted Cyclops in his mind. While he was determined to stop her, she made sure his penis was equally determined to slow him down. She tempted him, playing on the same emotions that have been highlighted throughout Battle of the Atom. It’s still a dick move on her part, but in the best possible way. She also proves once again that bad girls are awesome kissers and when she uses this to escape, Cyclops is probably as pissed off as he is turned on.

The phony X-men’s escape (or Brotherhood as they’re now calling them) leaves in its wake another awkward moment and not just because Cyclops probably has a boner. He and his team of revolutionaries are still inside the Jean Grey Institute and facing down a bunch of other X-men who were all too eager to throw him in jail for such horrible crimes as creating a global utopia with the Phoenix Force and killing a man who kept attacking him. The hostility between the two teams is not glossed over and that’s refreshing in a story that fucked a lot of things up with time paradoxes. But it still has to take a back seat to this future Brotherhood escaping and taking the O5 X-men with them.

Speaking of that paradox, there is at least some attempt to explain it. And by attempt I mean an effort similar to that given by a grounded 4th grader on overdue homework. The only thing that is explained is how Wolverine managed to heal so fast and why he trusts these new X-men claiming to be the real X-men. One of them, Wiccan, used his Sorcerer Supreme powers to heal Wolverine. And while he’s trying hard not to vomit out his internal organs at the thought of having a kid with Mystique, he says that’s enough to earn his trust. But beyond that, the future X-men don’t offer much explanation. The future Kid Omega seems to know something. He says that they can’t go back because something is preventing them. So that gives some hope that it’s not just some time paradox that turned the O5 into glorified clones. There is an actual force preventing them from going back and it’s implied that what happens to the O5 could still affect the timeline. But it’s still pretty fucking vague and I can only do so many bong hits to wrap my head around it.

The future Brotherhood seems just as confused as me. They still don’t have a fucking clue about why they couldn’t send the O5 X-men back. However, they do have a backup plan. After Xorna and Beast escaped, they gathered the rest of their team, except Deadpool who is dead. It seems like a teenage boy on his prom night, I jumped the gun in assuming they were killed in the previous issue. Even Xavier, who got fucking impaled by the soul sword, survived. Granted, he’s in a wheelchair now that makes him even more like his grandfather. But they’re only one man short now and armed with an X-jet. And since they can’t send them back, they’re doing what they call “Plan B.” But I’m sure that’s code for, “We’re frustrated as hell so we’re just going to wing it.”

In addition to the ambiguity about the so-called paradox, it still isn’t clear what the fuck the Brotherhood hoped to accomplish by sending the O5 X-men back in the first place. They say that sending them back was the plan all along. Yet there’s still no clue as to why, leaving only the same WTFs to fill the void. But it is clear that they’re trying to change the timeline. Sending the O5 back was supposed to accomplish this, but now they can’t do that so they need to try something else. Since they’re already in the past, they’re in a great position to do so. I won’t say it makes perfect sense. Their reasons are still fucked up, but at least their motivation is clearer.

The only ones more confused than me at this point are the O5 X-men and they have the luxury of being sober. They’re still strapped with power dampeners and handcuffs, not knowing what the fuck the future Brotherhood is going to do to them. They only know they can’t go back in time. This is also an area where there’s an effort to reduce the amount of WTFs. O5 Cyclops asked O5 Jean what she saw when she looked into Xorna’s mind that was so terrifying that she changed her mind about staying in the future. All she said was that one of them would do something terrible. But that could mean way too many things. Something terrible could mean blowing up Mount Rushmore or stealing Wolverine’s whiskey. Even O5 Iceman points out that shit is incredibly vague. It offers a tantalizing clue, but only tantalizing in the sense that cold pizza is tantalizing when stoned.

Since the future Brotherhood is still intent on fucking up time, the present and future X-men have to make a concerted effort to unfuck it. That means putting aside the hostility between the Jean Grey Institute and Cyclops’s revolutionary team until they find themselves in a more appropriate time to needlessly bitch over who deserves to get thrown in jail. It also leads to a nice little aside between Kid Omega and his Phoenix-wielding future counterpart. With future X-men in the present, it would be a capital offense not to squeeze in an awkward moment with time displaced counterparts. But the main concern here is working together to stop the future Brotherhood before they make yet another apocalyptic future. Even they probably understand they have way too much of those.

And the setting for this potential apocalypse couldn’t be more appropriate. Newer X-men fans may not be able to appreciate it, but anyone who takes the time to Google the history of the X-men in between bong hits knows that the X-men’s first battle was what set the stage for their 50-year history. Back in the days when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were using their legendary comic book alchemy to create a generation of superheroes, they pitted the Uncanny X-men against the Brotherhood in their first battle at the Cape Citadel military base. The plot was pretty basic, even for the 60s. Magneto was going to launch a missile attack to proclaim that mutants were awesome and humans needed to fuck off. Now at that same base, which is still in operation for reasons that could only be blamed on aggressive bribes and lobbying, the future Brotherhood invite the X-men to join them in the ultimate battle between eras.

It’s a battle that actually feels meaningful, which is a step up considering all the shit they did to send the O5 back in previous clashes were for nothing. They don’t just attract the X-men. They attract SHIELD and every law enforcement branch that George W. Bush pretended that he created. The future Brotherhood acts like the cruelest cock-tease, tempting them with the opportunity to kick their ass by just blindly attacking the base and letting the shit storm come to them. As soon as the X-men arrive, they free the O5 X-men and they start fighting in a battle that can only be described as an orgy of X-men level awesome from multiple eras. It couldn’t be more appealing if they stripped down to their underwear, covered themselves in chocolate, and fought on top of a mountain of fresh bacon.

The battle is intense and emotional. Some have to fight future foes they don’t even know in the present like Molly. Others, like Beast, actually have to fight their future selves, taking the concept of self-immolation to a disturbing new level. If only they would use this as motivation to stop being such a total douchebag, but I guess that would be asking too much. The biggest target by far is still Xorna/Jean. She seems to be the one leading this attack now. And as the team around her starts to fall, she’s looking increasingly fucked and not in the way Cyclops was probably fantasizing about earlier. Yet even with that creepy mask on, she looks as confident as a woman who just convinced Donald Trump to not sign a pre-nup.

Despite getting their asses kicked, everything seems to be playing into the future Brotherhood’s hands. SHIELD arrives, late as usual. And Maria Hill is also as pissed off as usual. Since they showed up several issues ago, it’s easy to forget that they were even part of this story at any point. And while their presence finally gives a valid reason for them being mentioned in the first place, their arrival only promises to fuck things up even more. In a moment that will surely give anti-government Libertarians a boner, their presence only gives Xorna some extra firepower. So through means that are either horribly contrived or a testament to just how powerful she is, she launches a massive missile attack against the X-men. Yes, it’s incredibly basic for any superhero comic. But it’s the most appropriate attack possible.

Now the X-men of each era are staring down the same threat the O5 did during their first battle with the Brotherhood. A shower of missiles is coming right at them and they’re the main targets. But as fitting as this attack is, it still isn’t clear what the future Brotherhood hopes to accomplish with this. Xorna says that this is their future. They also mention that SHIELD doesn’t even exist in their future, indicating that they either got blown the fuck up or had their funding cut when Sarah Palin was elected President. It’s not like SHIELD has been very friendly with mutants lately. This could only speed up what ended up happening in the future, which is the authorities turning on mutants and making them the equivalent of deer on Ted Nugant’s front lawn. That’s still assuming way too fucking much and for those who don’t read comics sober, it leaves the door open to too many other confusing or disturbing conclusions. And with one issue left, it still feels like there are way too many details to addess.

This issue improved on the previous issue simply by not using any more cheat codes. It at least attempted to explain some of the WTF moments that occurred in the previous issue and the ones before it. It was just painfully vague at doing so. None-the-less, it set the stage for the final battle and used the same stage that was used all those years ago when I was just a glint in my father’s eyes, comics still cost a nickel, and weed wasn’t nearly as potent. And it did so in a way that was pretty damn awesome. If ever there was going to be a big battle for the X-men’s 50th anniversary, this is how it’s fucking done. I give Wolverine and the X-men #37 a 7 out of 10. I’m okay with there being loose ends in the penultimate issue. I just hope that in the end it doesn’t leave fans hanging like a twisted sex act gone horribly wrong. And until this “vagueness” is addressed, I’ll be keeping my pants around my ankles just in case. Nuff said!