Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Cyclops #8

Men of all ages are often guilty of letting their penises draw them to a woman they shouldn't be drawn to. Teenage boys in particular are especially vulnerable to the overwhelming influence of their penises because they're still learning how to manage them and few realize early on when the brain should have veto power. O5 Cyclops is in a situation where he'll have to learn to mitigate the influence of his penis because in addition to being a secret crewmate on a ship of cut-throat space pirates, he's got a boner for the ruthless captain's pretty alien daughter. Now I don't blame O5 Cyclops in the slightest. Hot alien girls are at the top of any Star Trek or Star Wars fan's ultimate fantasies, usually just a few rungs below women in chain bikinis. But he's in more danger than most teenage boys in Cyclops #8 because he has to keep his penis in check while he seeks a way to help his captured father. And it remains to be seen if he can overcome his hormones and the lure of sweet alien poon.

So far, O5 Cyclops has shown some promise in his competence beyond controlling the whims of his penis. He's had to fend for himself on a ship called the Desolation, which is run by the kinds of pirates that would make Jack Sparrow shit himself. Surviving and being in close quarters to a cute alien girl has been hard enough, but O5 Cyclops showed he can multi-task. He was able to help out the rest of the Starjammers, who were thrown out into deep space aboard a capsule with no life support and no hope of rescue. He sent out a distress signal in the hopes that someone would find them. They're all in bad shape and they have only O5 Cyclops to rely on. Usually when all hope rests in the hands of a teenage boy who is barely old enough to shave his balls, it's not a good sign.

That's not to say that the aid O5 Cyclops gives them is perfect. The Starjammers are rescued. The distress signal he sent out did actually work...sort of. By that I mean he wasn't all that specific in terms of who should rescue the Starjammers. He didn't specify that other hostile space pirates need not apply. It would've been much nicer if the Starjammers were rescued by a race of teddy bears, but that would've been asking for too much of a teenage boy. So they end up getting captured again. It's still an upgrade from drifting hopelessly in space waiting for the air to run out, but not by much.

It continues the tradition this book has been following, giving O5 Cyclops a chance to show the competence that will one day lead the X-men and earn him a spot in Jean Grey's panties. But it's still a work in progress. He's able to help the Starjammers, just not as well as he probably wished he could. And the mere fact that this part of the story isn't glossed over or forgotten helps make everything feel more cohesive, showing that O5 Cyclops is now the one in the driver's seat. Sure, he just got his learner's permit and anyone in the passenger seat should be terrified out of their minds, but it's progress that's rare in any comic, let alone a solo series.

O5 Cyclops has no choice but to continue progressing as he's now tasked with storming what he thinks is a medical ship full of sick aliens. The captain's orders are clear. They're to plunder everything of value on this ship and kill anyone that gets in their way, be it a Stormtrooper or a sick alien baby carrying a squirt gun. This certainly doesn't sit well with him. O5 Cyclops is not like his older self in that he's not yet so eager to cross certain lines. And this would've made a hell of a conflict for him to address. However, he doesn't end up having to.

It turns out this ship isn't full of doctors and sick aliens looking for care. It's actually a hostile Shi'ar transport vessel disguised as an medical ship, sneaking through shipping lanes and full of hardened Shi'ar warriors. This makes the conflict a little less difficult for O5 Cyclops. Not long ago, he got a nasty introduction to the Shi'ar. They abducted O5 Jean Grey, they revealed that they killed O5 Jean's entire family, and they even revealed they murdered his mother. Needless to say, he's not quite as conflicted about shooting them.

While it makes for great action, it is somewhat disappointing that he doesn't have to face this conflict surrounding the lines he has to cross. This is exactly the kind of stuff that he's been trying to avoid since learning that his older self grew up to be quite the douche-bag. It's a conflict that has been explored throughout this series, but it falls to the wayside here. That said, it still makes for some awesome space pirate action.

While O5 Cyclops is exercising his inner Han Solo, Captain Malafect is just as shocked and not nearly as relieved. Being an experienced space pirate, he knows that something about a hostile Shi'ar ship disguised as a medical ship just don't seem right. It would be like seeing an old man at a One Direction concert. Something just isn't right here. He suspects they're hiding something of much greater value than sick aliens. Being the competent pirate he is, he orders his crew to find it and maim any Shi'ar along the way. This is one order that O5 Cyclops is more than happy to comply with.

O5 Cyclops eventually catches up with his crewmate, Zeeble. An issue ago, Zeeble gave him the kind of welcome that's typical on an episode of Oz, minus the sodomy. He's basically the mean, slutty cheerleader type in a slasher movie. He's the one with the target on his back. He still ends up doing something more useful beyond showing his tits and banging the lifeguard. He beats up a Shi'ar until he reveals where the precious cargo is. He also reveals that they had hoped to trade it for something called the Black Vortex, which makes it all the more valuable.

Now for those who don't follow comics on their Twitter feed or insist on getting all their comic book news from the guy at the comic book store who still thinks Smallville is on the air, this is a telling hint at the next cosmic event that O5 Cyclops is going to be part of. Marvel apparently liked teaming up the Guardians of the Galaxy with a bunch of teenage X-men so much that they're going to do it again through an event called The Black Vortex. It's already been hinted at in the Guardians of the Galaxy comics. Now we've got our first hint in the X-men comics. It's that kind of convergence that shows that synergy and crossovers don't just have to involve Wolverine teaming up with Captain America. There are other ideas that don't involve stories ripped from a Call of Duty game.

But it just isn't enough to find this precious cargo and valuable intel for Zeeble. Apparently, he didn't appreciate the way O5 Cyclops upstaged him when he tried to give him his Oz-style initiation. So rather than play by the rules and wait for another chance to get him back, he just flat out turns on him at what's probably the worst possible moment. They're on the brink of a big score. They're already surrounded by hostile Shi'ar. This would be like trying to have therapy during a cocaine binge in Cancun. It's a dumb move, but one that's not entirely unexpected from Zeeble.

It shows that teenagers aren't the only ones who can make dumb mistakes. Zeeble's attempt to take on O5 Cyclops after he's had a chance to warm up against a bunch of hostile Shi'ar proves to be a shitty move. O5 Cyclops, once again showing signs of the awesome X-men leader he'll become, shows off his ability to use his optic blasts to hit Zeeble and immobilize him. This allows another one of O5 Cyclops' crew mates, Kratyr, to finish him off. Apparently, Zeeble didn't make a lot of friends on the Desolation. He helped prove a valuable lesson to O5 Cyclops. It's important to be liked because acting like Zeeble means that friends and associates will take the first chance they get to kill assholes like that.

The death of Zeeble caps off as successful a mission as O5 Cyclops could've hoped for as a member of the crew of hostile space pirates. He got to rough up the Shi'ar and plunder what they believe to be a very valuable bit of loot. They even got rid of Zeeble, an asshole crewmate that nobody is going to miss. They couldn't have been more successful without finding a crate of space whiskey and space hookers. But O5 Cyclops being the overachiever he is, he finds a way to get a little more out of it.

During the raid, he managed to save Vileena a couple of times. She's the cute alien girl who caught his attention in the previous issue. She doesn't have red hair, fake tits, or telepathy, but she's cute and exotic. For a teenage boy, that more than exceeds the very low threshold it takes to get him interested. But Vileena adds to it even more by revealing she knows that he went out of his way to help her. She also notes that she notices how he goes out of his way to avoid killing people. On a ship with all sorts of harden killers, I guess that turns her on.

O5 Cyclops' reward for turning her on is a nice juicy kiss. Somewhere out there, Captain Kirk is smiling and giving O5 Cyclops a thumbs up. It's another step in the progression of O5 Cyclops from awkward teenage mutant to a competent space pirate capable of raiding a ship and attracting hot alien ass. They grow so fast. I'm sure Corsair would shed tears of joy if he saw this moment.

The problem is that Corsair is still a prisoner. O5 Cyclops is doing his best to keep up his ruse and help his father. Now he has to add a hot alien girl to the mix, which is sure to complicate his efforts. It's still worth it though and I think Corsair himself would understand. O5 Cyclops conveniently leaves that part out when he visits his father. In doing so, he learns that the loot they took is called a Starcracker. It sounds like a reality show for washed up celebrities, but it's actually a miniature death star in that it can destroy an entire star system. It's pretty fucking dangerous in the hands of the Shi'ar. It's even more dangerous in the hands of a bunch of space pirates. It also gives them a sense of just how valuable this Black Vortex is. If it's worth a planet-killing machine from George Lucas' worst nightmare, then it's worth being worried about.

It's a not a good sign for any of them. It gets even worse when Captain Malafect shows up and sees O5 Cyclops talking to Corsair. Thankfully, Corsair doesn't revert to Ben Stiller level awkwardness and manages to talk his way around it. He claims he's asking Corsair for information on the Black Vortex, which is perfectly believable. It shows that as awkward and goofy as he can be, O5 Cyclops is still competent and tactful. It's a skill he's going to need if he's to survive being the leader of the X-men and being married to Jean Grey. The problem is that Captain Malafect thinks it's a good idea. So rather than try the good cop/bad cop routine, he's going to go straight to CIA style tactics to get the information from Corsair. At this point, adults and teenage boys alike are perfectly within their right to start worrying.

I'm always weary of comic books that go on these long winning streaks of awesome. All too often, I've seen a comic be so good for a certain stretch only to take a nose-dive into the shitter. Just look at Avengers vs. X-men or the entire Ultimate line for proof of that. I thought Cyclops' solo series would eventually level out. But somehow, it's found a way to keep being awesome on a truly cosmic level. This issue continued that tradition. It told a solid, cohesive story that captured the right emotions. It even dropped a few hints about some upcoming events with The Black Vortex. That's quite a feat for a solo series about a character that some people go out of their way to hate.

At this point, I don't see how anybody who isn't a complete sociopath can hate O5 Cyclops after this issue. He bested an asshole who tried to kill him, kept up the ruse he needed to keep him and his father alive, saved the Starjammers, and even earned himself a nice kiss from a cute alien girl. I think Captain Kirk himself would give O5 Cyclops his seal of approval for his actions in Cyclops #8. That's why I give it a 9 out of 10. O5 Cyclops is playing a dangerous game, acting as a spy while getting cute with the captain's daughter. But if James Bond has taught us anything, it's that the risks are worth it when survival and alien pussy are the prize. Nuff said!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

X-men Supreme Issue #111: Divine Intervention PREVIEW!

Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas. I hope I can add one last-minute gift from the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. It's an exciting time in X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. It's also a dangerous time for the X-men, some more than others. The already-fragile peace established by the Genosha treaty has started to crack. When Professor Xavier met with General Nathan Grimshaw to assess how justice is being administered to mutants arrested by the Mutant Security Agency, he saw a lot of room for improvement. He also saw a new threat emerge in Toad, the former member of the Brotherhood of Mutants who had a reputation for being weak and inept. Well he's not weak and inept anymore. The Cambrian has made him powerful and he now has a new team of mutants burned by injustice. The X-men must now face the possibility of a new threat that will trigger a new round of conflict.

But as this bigger conflict is unfolding in the world of X-men Supreme, there are still numerous personal conflicts that have yet to be resolved. One such conflict involves Wolverine. Ever since he ended his romantic relationship with Storm, he's unstable to say the least. And it only got worse when he found out he had a clone running around who only went by the designation, X-23. He tried searching for her, but he came up with nothing. Professor Xavier and his fellow X-men helped him pull himself together again and gave him new duties on Genosha. However, he has not forgotten about X-23 or the conflict that led to her.

When X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths began, there were certain goals I wanted to accomplish. I've already succeeded to some degree, but the main goal is in the name itself. There are hidden truths in this fanfiction series that have been buried since it began. Now some of those truths are about to be revealed. But revealing those truths will require sacrifice and struggle from the X-men. They've already got a new conflict on their hands with Toad. But an old conflict involving Wolverine is about to enter the picture. The next issue will set the stage for the first of many revelations. As always, I've prepared a preview the conflict that's going to lead to these revelations.

Now stopped cold in his tracks, Wildside was levitated several feet into the air and turned upside down. Already fatigued from so much running, he was rendered dazed and disoriented. It didn’t help that Logan came charging in with his claws still drawn, ready to slice into him with reckless abandon.

“Ugh…you guys are making this the worst day of my life,” Wildside groaned.

“Pipe up, dirt bag! I can still make it way worse,” snarled Logan before turning to his teammates, “You girls must not know me as well as I thought. I don’t remember asking for backup.”

“Funny, you never minded a pretty femme savin’ your butt before,” Remy pointed out.

“I also don’t remember why anyone would wanna bring the Cajun along,” he added.

“Take it easy, Logan…as hard as that may be for you,” said Ororo in a calming tone as she approached her former lover, “For one, we know you didn’t ask for backup. We came here on to help with this investigation.”

“You forgot to add watching over me,” he said dryly.

“I thought that would be a given. It’s a good thing too because your lack of subtlety does not mix well with rush-hour traffic,” she said with a humored grin.

“Ain’t like anything mixes well with your methods, homme,” added Remy.

Logan snarled at the Cajun, who he wasn’t nearly as pleased to see. Ororo and Jeannie were welcome sights even when they got in his way. Remy’s only purpose in life seemed to be getting under other peoples’ skin, going deeper with some more than others.

“And he’s here because?” Logan pointed out.

“You searchin’ for a deviant. Remy is a former deviant. Ain’t that hard to wrap your head around, non?” he shrugged.

“And once you heard we were heading to LA, it would have taken more than any force of nature I could conjure to keep you away,” added Ororo, earning her a look from Remy.

“Now that I believe,” said Logan, “But in case you haven’t noticed, I don’t need any help. I found a lead and he’s gonna give us some answers.”

“I doubt that, Logan,” said Jean Grey, who was focused on the still hovering Wildside.

“Well I won’t know until I ask the question now, will I?” said the feral mutant as he menacingly held his claws up to the unfortunate figure.

“There’s no need. I already read his mind. He was more than willing to give me permission,” the young psychic pointed out, “He hasn’t been contacted by Toad. That friend of his with the pitiful hygiene he mentioned was just some guy he buys cocaine from…a guy who spends so much time snorting and selling that he often forgets to pay his water bill. Isn’t that right?”

Wildside, who was in no position to be defiant, continued anxiously staring down the angry Wolverine.

“It’s true. His name is Jumbo. I’ll even give you an address, his cell number, his Facebook password, and the corners he deals at!” the young mutant cowered.

“Sounds like quite a character,” muttered a disappointed and somewhat sheepish Logan.

“Who definitely isn’t the man we’re looking for,” Jean pointed out.

Having confirmed this guy didn’t know anything about Toad, Jean set him down. The minute Wildside was on the ground, he backed away from Logan. He then tripped over himself twice as he stumbled back into a light run.

“You X-men are traitors!” he shouted, “I thought you were heroes. Now you’re just a bunch of government thugs. To hell with you all!”

“Au revoir to you too, homme,” said Remy, rolling his eyes.

The X-men didn’t make much of his words. They had heard that sentiment before. Ever since they partnered with the Mutant Security Agency their standing with other mutants had taken a hit. Even if it was for the greater good, it was hard to see that when they were chasing down mutants who hadn’t done anything wrong.

This led Jean, Ororo, and Remy to scorn Logan doing little to help their reputation. He didn’t seem that apologetic as he retracted his claws. He diverted his gaze and started walking towards the exit to the parking garage while his teammates followed close behind.

“Come on, Logan. Don’t make us chase you the same way you chased that poor mutant,” said Ororo.

“Ain’t nothing poor about him, Ro. Even if he didn’t shit about Toad, he’s still a punk,” said Logan bitterly.

“Be that as it may, it couldn’t hurt to be somewhat careful,” said Jean, choosing her words carefully, “I know it’s not your style, but we won’t find Toad’s trail by harassing mutants like this.”

“Unless it ain’t Toad you be searching for,” added Remy in a more serious tone.

“Don’t start with the philosophy shit, Cajun. I ain’t in the mood,” said Logan as he reached the exit of the garage.

“It ain’t shit if it don’t stink,” argued the Cajun, “It seem like every job the Professor gives you, the only way you go about it is by overreacting and under-thinking. Whether it be Genosha or finding Toad, you clearly ain’t fighting to accomplish something. You just fighting.”

“What do you expect? I’m a fighter. Or have I not made that painfully clear by now?” snarled Logan.

“There’s fighting and there’s fighting for the wrong reasons, Logan,” said Ororo, placing a hand on his shoulder, “I can see it too. Everybody can. Something is still bothering you. Distracting yourself from it only goes so far.”

“You got a better way? I’d love to hear it,” he said, pushing Ororo’s hand off his shoulder.

“You’re in a team with people who love and care about you,” said Jean in an equally sincere tone, “On top of that, you have two of the most powerful psychics in the world living under the same roof. Would it really do too much damage to that ego of yours if you asked for help?”

It was a lot harder to ignore when she framed it like this. Jean Grey had a talent for making painfully obvious points. She and Ororo were among the precious few who could get around the frustration and pig-headedness that often blinded him. Seeing as how he also once dated these women, it was difficult to walk away.

He may have stopped his drinking binges, but that didn’t mean he was less tormented. He was still reeling from revelations surrounding Sabretooth, Weapon X, Mystique, and the Yashida Clan. Time and again, he refused to confront it. Jean, Ororo, and the rest of the X-men understood he couldn’t run forever. If it was going to keep affecting him like this, they had to confront it.

“There’s a time for work and a time reflection, Logan,” said Ororo in a kind tone, “We can help you with both or we can help you with just one. Either way, we’re not going to keep watching you suffer.”

“So you might as well save us the trouble of annoying you to death and give us a chance,” said Jean, “We can keep searching for leads, but at one point we should sit down and have a chat that doesn’t involve life-and-death struggles.”

Logan grumbled a few incoherent words to himself. Beautiful women had a way of humbling him. Jean and Ororo weren’t afraid to exploit that. In their eyes, it was for his own good. And they were right much to his chagrin. Shaking his head, he turned to face them. Then a new scent drew his attention.

‘No…it can’t be. X-23…she’s here?!’

Expect these revelations to lead to some significant changes in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. The X-men comics have already been dealing with such revelations with characters like Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. While I don't intend these revelations to be quite that extreme, I do expect them to generate a few reactions. Some may be good. Some may be bad. Whichever they are, I want to hear from them. I want to know how X-men fans feel about the changes I make in X-men Supreme as these revelations hit. So please take the time to post your feedback in the latest issues or contact me directly. I'm always happy to chat about X-men or comics in general. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #29

I'm convinced that if given the right circumstances and emotions, anyone can become an asshole or a supervillain. While some characters are inherently douchy, some are often products of their circumstances. And few characters have faced shittier circumstances than Cyclops. He's lost two wives. He's had to step up and lead when everybody lost faith in Charles Xavier. He's had to lead an entire species from the brink of extinction while battling both the Avengers and cosmic forces. If anyone has a valid excuse to be a dick from time to time, it's him. And the revelations from Charles Xavier's last will and testament have given him more. It's put him in a position where he might as well be a Magneto cos-player who put on the wrong costume by accident. That hasn't stopped some within the anti-Cyclops crowd from jerking off uncontrollably to this arc. But at some point, he has to make a hard decision that Magneto won't make.

He's at a point with Matthew Malloy where he can either do as Charles Xavier requested or do things his way. And he has to make this choice while Magneto has shown up to point out he's not nearly as good at being an asshole as an accomplished villain like him. It promises to change and/or undermine Cyclops' character for years to come. Anti-Cyclops fans will either need another several gallons of lube or a week's worth of meth so they can bitch about it on message boards. Uncanny X-men #29 creates yet another set of shitty circumstances for Cyclops to make this choice. Whatever he ends up choosing, I'm pretty sure nobody will applaud him for it. That would just make too much sense and we can't have that in the Marvel universe.

These circumstances don't just involve Cyclops though. As he's trying to find a way to help Matthew Malloy, Magik is trying to find another solution through magic. Because apparently she's never heard the name Wanda Maximoff and is fully confident that magic won't fuck things up even more. I'm willing to attribute that to her youth, inexperience, and being a demon child from Limbo, but I can only cut her so much slack. She ends up traveling back to the past where Dr. Strange doesn't know that Cyclops and his team are wanted fugitives.

She even manages to arrive at the most awkward possible moment where she catches Dr. Strange getting his freak on with a woman he probably impressed with a few magic tricks at a bar. It may or may not have involved a rabbit's foot in a bottle of gin, but it's probably best the details remain vague. The perverse imaginations of fans like me can fill in the blanks. It just adds a little extra humor to a story that hasn't had much of it since Mystique was revealed to be Xavier's wife.

Dr. Strange is understandably annoyed and embarrassed. This isn't one of those times when a pretty teenage girls walking in on two people in bed is a good thing. They start discussing ways in which to stop Matthew Malloy through magic. It doesn't help that Magik has to be vague on the details. She can't exactly reveal the extent to which the X-men have screwed themselves in the future. But eventually, Dr. Strange does come up with an idea. It doesn't involve hiring a hooker with magic panties. That's what I would've done if I had that kind of magic, but then again that's why I'm not the Sorcerer Supreme.

It's not nearly as awkward when Cyclops and Magneto meet. At least they're both fully clothed. They basically have the same argument Cyclops had with Matthew Malloy in the previous issue. Magneto thinks Cyclops is using him the same way he used plenty of powerful mutants in the past to serve his agenda. Cyclops thinks Magneto is being a flat out hypocrite and he's just trying to help a mutant in a way that will in turn help his cause. In many ways, they're both hypocrites. But it could be argued that Magneto is the bigger hypocrite because not long ago, Magneto would be doing exactly what Cyclops was doing now.

And it's not like Magneto makes a compelling case for an alternative. He says he wants to save the mutant race just like Cyclops. He just doesn't give details. He says he wants to help Matthew "end his suffering." That sounds a bit too much like a parent telling their kid they're taking their sick dog to a special doctor that'll put them in a happy place full off bones, toilets, and unsniffed butts. They make the same arguments we've been hearing since the Kennedy administration with Magneto justifying his atrocities and Cyclops wanted to give Matthew a chance to use his powers for good. There's nothing new here and neither of them comes off as all that Xavier-ish. But after finding out he married Mystique, that might not be a bad thing.

Eventually, Matthew Malloy gets tired of this argument and decides Cyclops' points are less inane than Magneto's. So he uses his powers to teleport Magneto back to the New Xavier School, causing him to fall flat on his face just as Cyclops did a few issues ago. It's another touch of humor in the classic Charlie Brown, which a story like this needs. It doesn't make the arguments he made earlier any less bland. It just puts him in a position to do something different. He still laments at how he helped ruin Cyclops, as though the bullshit the rest of his team gave him had no effect. His whining comes off as overly contrived, like everything Cyclops is doing is his fault when it's not. There were a lot of factors that put Cyclops in this shitty position and by ignoring that, it makes the situation way more simplistic than it should be.

The rest of the students at the New Xavier School are now convinced they're all totally fucked. If Magneto and Cyclops are at each others' throats, then chances are none of them are going to get a passing grade when all is said and done. This leads some students to come up with their own crazy ideas to fix it. And the craziest of all comes from Tempus, who was once the most lovable Australian since Crocodile Dundee.

She suggests traveling back in time and warning Charles Xavier about Matthew Malloy. Yes, this is what they've been reduced to. They're going to try more time travel bullshit to fix the present. Because apparently, none of them saw Back to the Future or Terminator enough times. Hell, did anyone at that school tell them about Bishop, Cable, or Hope fucking Summers? I doubt it. But this is really how bad it's gotten. They're relying on time travel.

This isn't just a problem in terms of concept. This is a problem in terms of overall impact. Time travel is right up there with evil clones in terms of bullshit ways to avoid dealing with the impacts of a story. This story put Cyclops and the rest of the X-men in a very difficult position against a very powerful mutant. The impact it could've had would've been huge. Instead, it might just get completely nullified and will matter about as much as a Dr. Who rerun in the end. It's a total fucking cop-out, but one that's not entirely unexpected.

At the Jean Grey Institute, the need for a cop-out becomes all the more vital when Beast reveals he done fucked up again. If anybody at all is surprised at this point, call the doctor and tell them to lower the dosage on the Prozac. This just adds to the predictability because it seems everything Hank McCoy does at this point just pours napalm on the problem. This time he attempted to call the authorities in hopes that they could help deal with Matthew Malloy. That's like calling the DEA to have them mediate a drug sale. Now they're going to attack Matthew Malloy and Cyclops in the same way, just with a giant fucking helicarrier. Can anybody at this point honestly give Hank McCoy a pass anymore? Seriously, the man just looks for ways to fuck up.

Cyclops and Matthew still have no idea about Beast's latest douche-baggery. Cyclops is still trying to convince Matthew that he can help him. Matthew is still fucked up that he killed a lot of innocent people with his powers. It's a debate that's been going on way too fucking long at this point. I want to feel sorry for Matthew, but he's just become too much a whiney bitch at this point. Sure, he's a sympathetic character in many respects, but it would be nice if he was a bit more complex than that. If I want this kind of whining, I'll watch Fox News.

Magik eventually shows up the end this inane debate. She has with her the Eye of Agamatto, courtesy of a mortified Dr. Strange. I imagine he just gave it to her so he could go back to banging his lady friend. She claims it can reveal whether Matthew can truly be controlled and become a positive force for mutants or if he'll just be a walking mutant bomb. It sounds like a great way to end this boring debate. But again, it's one of those things that would make too much sense.

Before Magik can work her magic, those helpful humans Beast called showed up. And like every other incompetent authority figure, they shoot first and skip the whole rule of law part. That would just keep them from playing with their fancy toy guns. It's pretty destructive and pretty damn brutal. It looks like that Cyclops, Magik, and Matthew Malloy are all vaporized. Considering how this comic didn't get anywhere near the same attention as Death of Wolverine, it's pretty save to assume that there's no way this shit will stick. It just gives the anti-Cyclops crowd something else to jerk off to.

The mention of time travel earlier should make those same people save some of their lube. Despite the criticisms of her classmates and the warnings of every Back to the Future movie, Tempus does decide to go through with her plan. She travels back in time to meet Charles Xavier during the innocent O5 X-men era. He's still alive. And maybe he hasn't yet developed the hots for a teenage Jean Grey, but that might be pushing it. He's now the only one who can end this bullshit once and for all. And like an overworked hooker who just wants to get her crack and go home, it can't come soon enough.

This story is starting to suffer from the same problems as the last Transformers story. It's heavy on action, destruction, an bravado. That's all well and good after the first hour. But after a about the 29th explosion and the 195th shot of some pretty girl's ass, it starts to get old. This arc was supposed to be a tie-in with Original Sin. Well that story ended back when Oakland Raiders hadn't been eliminated from the playoffs. Now it has dragged on for so long that it's gotten to the point where it's resorting to more time travel to fix everything. And between Age of Ultron and a new Terminator movie coming out next year, I think it's safe to say that dead horse has been beaten to the point where even a necrophiliac can't jerk off to it anymore. And in the process, it's basically going to make all this dragged out action mean about as much as a promise from Dr. Doom.

I want to like this story. I really do. It had Magik dropping in on Dr. Strange at a very awkward moment. It had Beast admitting he had fucked up. It had Cyclops and Magneto calling each other out on their bullshit. But in the end, it just started going in circles. It became so inane at one point that even an extra bong hit couldn't make it interesting. Now Matthew Malloy has just become another annoying little shit who is best left retconned out of existence. I can see where the conflict is coming from here. I can even see the merit behind it. But resorting to time travel just complicates it to the point where it's not worth the extra weed. I give Uncanny X-men #29 a 4 out of 10. The X-men comics need a lot of things to keep being awesome. More time travel stories isn't one of them. I'd much rather have more of Emma Frost's tits and Wolverine's drinking, but I guess that's asking for too much at this point. Nuff said!

Scanned Thoughts: Avengers and X-men: AXIS #9

In certain movies, there comes a point where some people just go, "Fuck it, I'm sneaking into the theater next door." These days, it takes a lot to get people to ditch a movie. Between the cost of a ticket and the challenge of smuggling in bottles of whiskey, nobody wants to admit they pissed away their hard earned money on this crap. I get the sense that if Avengers and X-men: AXIS were a movie, a sizable chunk of the audience would've left the theater by now. Between shitty retcons and disorganized pacing, it's been a hard story to like. But I would be among those who stuck around until the ending. That's because that while Avengers and X-men: AXIS hasn't exactly lit a fire of awesome under my ass, it has explored some pretty awesome concepts and even developed a few that are still pretty interesting. But even I'll concede that at this point in the story, it's unlikely that its flaws will be resolved in the final issue.

Avengers and X-men: AXIS is one of those stories that thrives on concept, but struggles with execution. If it were a football team, it wouldn't be in the playoffs. But it would still be playing meaningful games in December. The inversion stirred up a lot of crazy shit. It's lacked depth most of the time, but it's already leaving some pretty big impacts. And while it may be a foregone conclusion that many of these inversions will be reversed, there's plenty of aftermath to explore. Avengers and X-men: AXIS #9 is set to reveal the scope and scale of these impacts. While I understand and sympathize with those who already left this story for dead, I feel like I've got enough whiskey in me to absorb the impact, however big it might be. I still may end up feeling ripped off, but if I'm drunk in the end, I still consider it a win.

It's usually worth the price of a comic to see two versions of Captain America beating the shit out of each other. Sure, I would prefer it if they were two hot girls in a mud-wrestling pit, but I understand that's asking for too much. Instead, I'll settle for Sam Wilson beating up the old and grizzled Steve Rogers, who is trying to save an inverted Red Skull. The fight is actually more satisfying than it sounds. Sam Wilson is still pissing and moaning about how much he enjoys being a selfish inverted douche-bag. He's basically repeating the same speech that all the inverted heroes have been giving since this story began. It helps that Steve Rogers keeps on fighting as we would expect Captain America to fight. Considering what an asshole he was in Avengers vs. X-men, I find this refreshing and overdue.

While Steve Rogers is still fighting with a noble, non-inverted mind, he's still horribly under-equipped to battle Sam Wilson. This is a guy who is in his prime. He's like Aaron Rogers beating the shit out of Brett Favre. They're two heavyweights in their field, but one is way fucking past his prime and Steve doesn't have the luxury of going back to selling jeans. However, he does have the luxury of having an inverted Red Skull who happens to be a powerful telepath. That power allows them to sneak away with a nice psychic trick. There's even a nice moment where the Red Skull, who is now whiter than an albino's ass, to lament about all the horrible Nazi shit he's done. But that's one of the many details that gets glossed over. At this point, nobody should be surprised by that.

This leads Sam Wilson even more pissed off and maybe a little emasculated. While he's pondering the sudden shrinkage of his testicles, he catches up with some of his other inverted heroes. They've apparently succeeded in subduing most of the X-men and the inverted villains. Now they know that with Steve Rogers teaming up with an inverted Red Skull, he's planning to revert them back to the way they were. And they don't want that. They still want to keep being total assholes.

If anyone else is having a fuckton of WTFs going through their head right now, calm down. That's not the weed talking. That's just another one of those details this story has glossed over yet again. It's way too fucking rushed and a bit of a "fuck you" to the X-men and the villains that tried to be heroes. But that should surprise nobody. Marvel has already shown that they have a strong preference for the characters that their Disney overlords have movie rights to. So the best we can do is suck it up and take another bong hit.

Not all the inverted villains are completely down for the count though. Sabretooth and Mystique are still in it, albeit they both look like Rocky Balboa after one too many rounds with a meth-fueled Ivan Drago. They actually share a nice moment, one that speaks to their history of sharing the joys of being total assholes and fucking each others' brains out in the end. I still count that as a nice moment in the comics. These days, that's the most comprehensive romance we can expect from Marvel. But it's a moment that's short lived and a bit hallow because they both seem to know that they're about to get reverted. That doesn't stop Sabretooth from making one last romantic gesture by battling Rogue while Mystique gets away. It's not a box of chocolates and a new pair of lingerie, but it's fitting. I'm sure Mystique will pleasure herself to it for as long as her inversion lasts, which won't be much longer sadly.

Havok tries to throw in a romantic gesture of his own. Through this whole "take over New York City and exterminate the human race" endeavor that the X-men have undertaken, they've kept Wasp prisoner. Well Havok, who still harbors some love and a boner for her after the events of Planet X, decides that letting her die with the humans is too inverted for his tastes. So while the rest of the team is fighting the inverted Avengers and villains, he frees her.

There's just one big fucking problem with following his penis and his brain. And this time it doesn't involve cheap hookers and crack. She finds out that she and the X-men actually did try to detonate the gene bomb. They really did try to wipe out all of humanity. Needless to say, this pisses of Wasp and ensures Havok will never see her naked again. It's probably for the best. Given how forced and poorly developed this relationship has been, it couldn't have happened sooner. It only could've been better if Wasp kicked Havok in the balls and dry-humped Cyclops.

There are other far less romantic struggles going on. Hippie Deadpool, who stole the show in the last issue is still trying to get through to Apocalypse. Unlike the other X-men, an inversion with him might or might not make him evil. If I were to channel my inner asshole lawyer, I could technically argue that Apocalypse was inherently evil and the inversion actually made him good. There's still that issue of him making a fucking bomb to kill off humanity, but technicalities are supposed to be messy. It still doesn't make Hippie Deadpool's efforts to reach Apocalypse feel less forced.

But when it comes to the struggle between Thor and Loki, it rarely has to be forced. These two have fought in ways that have helped create two awesome Marvel movies. There really aren't too many ways it can't be awesome on some levels at this point. An inverted Loki follows Thor to the moon and tries to beat him without being a total asshole. This proves difficult so he finds Mjolnir, which is still on the moon and still has nobody worthy of lifting it (this takes place before Lady Thor took that title, I'm assuming). It might be the only time he gets to know what it feels like to wield a badass hammer and have the power to crush mountains and make the Enchantress horny. Inverted or not, he better fucking take that chance.

And he does. In his inverted form, Loki is worthy of lifting Thor's hammer and he puts it to good use. I want to say it's satisfying. It certainly is on some levels. However, it still feels somewhat hollow. Anyone who has seen the movies can probably surmise that it's not going to last. But like seeing Tom Cruise not come off as batshit crazy, it's something to enjoy and appreciate for however long it lasts. Just try to imagine Tom Hiddleston doing this while making out with Natalie Portman. It helps convey a much stronger message.

Back on Earth and without the aid of Tom Hiddleston's charisma, Steve Rogers gets the inverted Red Skull back to Avengers Mansion where they hope to undo the inversion with Onslaught's omega-level mind-fuck. However, the inverted Avengers find them first and decide to royally fuck that plan up as only they could. It gets messy and brutal to say the least. The same visceral action that began with Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson battling continues. It lacks the same emotional impact as Civil War did, but it's still somewhat satisfying. I won't say it's like the final battle in Lord of the Rings, but it's serviceable. It's not like every shot of whiskey has to come from the personal stash of the king of Scotland.

There's still some effort on Steve Rogers' part to get through to the inverted heroes. Apparently, he suffered a severe concussion because even a dictionary from the 1940s has a good definition of what inverted means. There was never a chance that he could touch Sam Wilson's inverted heart and make everything all peaches, cream, and whiskey again. But when Apocalypse and hippie Deadpool show up to fuck up the fight even more, that proves to be just as effective.

Don't panic. That new round of WTFs is to be expected. I'm just as confused as to how hippie Deadpool was able to reach Apocalypse and get him to help. I'm okay with that. I'm used to being confused. Normally it happens after I wake up in a crack house in another state, but it's still disorienting. It's another element that's more forced than Kelly Clarkson's continued relevance, but it helps keep the fight from getting too lopsided if nothing else.

Steve Rogers and the inverted Red Skull try to get away, using Apocalypse's contributions to their advantage. That doesn't last long. They barely make it far enough to take a bathroom break before the Superior Iron Man shows up. In another battle that's trying way too hard to copy Civil War, he battles Steve Rogers in an effort to prevent the reversion. He makes clear that he likes being superior. He likes being the kind of guy who turns an entire city into a population of addict supermodels full of orgies, drinking binges, and irresponsibility. Who among us here could blame him? It actually does ring with a touch of emotion because Tony Stark is one of those characters who has been most effected by the inversion. It just doesn't make up for all the other moments that were more forgettable than the True Blood finale.

It's now painfully clear that Steve Rogers is not equipped to protect the Red Skull or anyone to get an reversion spell going. Lucky for him, Dr. Doom shows up and he's got a mind-controlled Scarlet Witch at his disposal once more. He's there with Magneto and Quicksilver, which I imagine is still awkward as fuck considering the whole "You are NOT the father" issue that still has so many fans pissed off. But unlike last time, Dr. Doom isn't as inclined to use a mind-controlled Scarlet Witch to tear reality a new asshole and make Wanda Maximoff guilty of genocide.

With their arrival, Magneto subdues the Superior Iron Man. It's a lot more satisfying when Tony Stark is a bigger douche than usual. This even leads to another powerful moment where the inverted Red Skull helps hold Magneto back. It's a hell of a concept, a repentant Nazi telling Magneto not to kill a guy threatening to make Iron Man level mutant hunting Sentinels. It shows the true power of the inversion. It actually makes a Nazi opposed to killing. Let that sink in for a moment before bitching and moaning about the story as a whole.

With nobody left to stop them, Dr. Doom helps cast the reversion spell. It's not nearly as big a spectacle as it was early on in the story. But it's still plenty flashy for the stoner crowd to enjoy. However, there are some complications, as though spells cast by Dr. Doom and the Scarlet Witch are ever short of them. The Superior Iron Man, being the superior asshole he is, prepared for this and took precautions to make sure that he would stay superior. The details are lacking, but everybody who has been reading this story should be used to that shit at this point.

But it isn't just Iron Man who protects himself from the spell. Sabretooth and Havok are caught in his superior shit storm as well. That means these two aren't going to have the luxury of being reverted. So that ensures that everything won't go back to the way it was with Sabretooth taking a shit on Wolverine's grave and Havok looking for new opportunities to tell his brother to fuck off. It also means Iron Man will continue to be a lovably superior asshole. That may upset some, but I'd be way more upset if shit just went back to normal. That's too much like getting blackout drunk and not waking up safely in bed with no scars, strange smells, or naked women. It just defeats the purpose.

The spell is apparently successful. The heroes snap out of their inverted mind-fuck. Some don't even remember the crazy inverted shit they did. And villains like Loki go back to being assholes unworthy of lifting Mjolnir. There aren't a whole lot of details here in terms of showing how all the characters snap out of it. Nobody should expect something that refined and competent at this point in the story. But it does help make clear that Sabretooth is still inverted. And it makes painfully clear that Havok is still a bigger asshole than he was before, going so far as to threaten to kill Wasp if she doesn't get him out of this shit. So if anybody out there was a Wasp/Havok fan (all three of them I'm guessing), don't reach this scene. It essentially means their love is more dead than Hayden Christian's career as a Star Wars icon.

There are still a few big ass loose ends to deal with. The heroes may be back to normal, but there's still that little issue of the X-men taking over New York City and the Avengers fighting them in a way that caused more property damage than three Man of Steel movies. That's one detail that this story can't gloss over and claim it was One More Day style magic. However, there actually is a nice, semi-coherent explanation that helps absolve both the X-men and the Avengers. Before the battle, the inverted villains made a video claiming they were the ones responsible for taking over New York. They mind-fucked the heroes and got them to act like assholes. Given how mind-fucks are so common in the Marvel universe, it's not that far fetched. I'm sure the DEA comes up with way shittier excuses when doing a drug bust.

It's not the cleanest explanation, but I think it's plenty viable. I think it's even fitting. These villains became heroes. It's hard for anyone with a sober mind to wrap their head around that shit. But they did it and they showed the extent to which they had been inverted by actually making an overly heroic sacrifice to take responsibility for a crime they didn't do. They understood on some levels that if everyone blamed the X-men and the Avengers for what happened in New York, it would cause way more damage than any inverted hero or villain could cause. So they did what may be the most heroic act of all and took the blame. That's what a competent hero does. And more than anything else, I think that helps give this issue and this event some weight.

That's not to say there aren't still some loose ends. Some of them are partially addressed in an epilogue of sorts, which involves a still-inverted Sabretooth writing a letter about what he intended to do next. It's still hard to accept a version of Sabretooth that isn't an unrepentant asshole, especially after the events leading up to the Death of Wolverine. But in light of all these inversion sub-plots, it's somewhat palpable. Nobody should be too sick to their stomach at the idea of Sabretooth joining the Uncanny Avengers and attempting to be the hero that Wolverine was. Some still might require a barf bag and a shot of heroin, but the events of AXIS at least make it sound like an interesting prospect. It's just too bad Mystique couldn't join him because that would've been a way better romance than Havok and Wasp, even if that's not saying much.

So what can we say about Avengers and X-men: AXIS in the end? For an event that had such an interesting concept, but found a way to complicate it by giving a big middle finger to certain characters' history, it was complicated to say the least. Hell, this story was messier at times than a hotel room that Led Zepplin and Motley Crue used for a three-day orgy. But if nothing else, this final issue made AXIS feel like a complete story. It didn't completely revert everything back to the way it was before. Granted, it did have to sling a little bullshit to work around that whole bit about the X-men taking over New York City, but that's to be expected. Anyone not expecting a certain level of bullshit was expecting way too fucking much. But in the end, some of the same problems persisted.

If one flaw brought down AXIS, it was that it was just too damn rushed and too damn disorganized. There was no process to the inversion. There was little intricacy to the plan. And aside from the epic struggle at the end, some of the actions felt forced and unjustified. Maybe if this series had been a few more issues longer, it could've had more to work with. But in the end, it tried to do way too fucking much and had way too many fuck-ups along the way. I can't say it's bad. It was a lot more engaging than Avengers vs. X-men or Secret Wars. But it's not going to soak anyone's panties with its quality.

There are still some loose ends with certain characters, namely the Maximoff twins and Apocalypse. There are still some missed opportunities in that some characters just reverted back to themselves and this event might as well have not happened for them. But overall, I think there's enough gold around the shit stains to make this story worthy. It was lacking in heavy emotion, but it had plenty of ball-busting impact. Some are going to just hate this story because of the revelations surrounding the Maximoff twins. I can understand that, but that's petty. That's like hating the Guardians of the Galaxy movie just because Starlord's awesome mix didn't have any Lynord Skinner. If I were to recommend a big time Marvel event to a newbie, I wouldn't recommend something like Avengers and X-men: AXIS. But I still give Avengers and X-men: AXIS #9 a 6 out of 10. It's just slightly above mediocre. It's not the kind of event that'll make people want to shoot their TVs or gouge their eyes out. It's not the kind of event that'll make people hump their book shelf either. It's just a decent event in Marvel's long line of fucked up events. Take it for what it's worth. Just don't be an overly petty douche-bag about it. Nuff said!

Friday, December 19, 2014

X-men Supreme Issue #110: Supreme Justice is LIVE!

Throughout the history of X-men, there are plenty of noteworthy villains. Magneto, Sinister, and the Inner Circle are among the most famous. These characters have a lot of history. Whenever the X-men try to protect this world that hates and fears them, they often give them their greatest challenges. They often do this with a team of their own and many times, those teammates get lost in the spectacle. Throughout the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, Magneto has employed a diverse team of mutants in his Brotherhood of Mutants. Some have grown beyond their role. Quicksilver, Havok, and the Scarlet Witch are probably the most notable. But some of the other supporting characters of these major villains rarely rise above their role. Well with X-men Supreme, I intend to do something different and it's something that will probably never be seen in the X-men comics, cartoons, or movies.

Of all the characters who rarely rise above a supporting role in X-men, Toad is the lowest rung of that ladder. He has often been the butt of many jokes, teased and taunted relentlessly for being among the weakest members of the Brotherhood of Mutants. Whenever they battle the X-men, he is usually the first to succumb. There are characters like this throughout comics and X-men has had plenty of them, but few are on the same level as Toad. So I've decided to make Toad the centerpiece of a new upheaval in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

It sounds crazy on paper, making Toad a bigger villain. But that's exactly why I want to do it. And I'm not going to make it a gimmick either. I've already set it up. Back during the Test Subject arc, Toad was arrested and put in prison for breaking into a Worthington Industries lab. But during the events of The Cambrian Explosion arc, he was exposed to a piece of the Cambrian. That exposure had a reaction. And now that reaction is about to manifest in a terrifying new way that will create a daunting new threat for the X-men. And at a time when justice is at a premium in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, the timing couldn't be better. In this issue, a new threat will be born and Toad, as in the same Toad that so many have cast off, will be the leader.

X-men Supreme Issue 110: Supreme Justice

I understand this is a bold and somewhat strange move for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. I also understand it comes with risk. But I'm willing to take those risks if it gives X-men Supreme a more unique and special appeal. We've seen Marvel take risks in their stories. However, I think those risks have been restricted to killing major characters, bringing dead characters back to life, and turning some characters into villains. I find that too simplistic. I want to do something else with X-men Supreme. That's why it's so important for others to review and provide feedback for this fanfiction series. That way I know if these risks are paying off. So please, as I say every week, take the time to review and post feedback for X-men Supreme. Either post it in the issues or contact me directly. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Avengers and X-men: AXIS #8

We've become so accustomed to the whole good vs. evil struggle that we're practically numb to it. If this concept were heroin, it would take all the dope in Southeast Asia to get us the least bit high. That's why we've seen stories try more and more fucked up methods to make that struggle compelling. They could just come up with new ideas entirely. Isn't that the kind of shit they get paid for anyways? But that might make too much sense. They would rather find new ways to tell the same old story that's been told since the days when shitting in a ditch was considered sufficient plumbing. As inane as that is, Avengers and X-men: AXIS has found a way to make it interesting.

Setting aside for a moment the Hulk-level rage of fans regarding the Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch revelation, this story has explored new territory by inverting the roles of heroes and villains. It's still the same struggle we've seen since the Bronze Age. It's just turned on its head in a way that has a lot of appeal, but not a lot of refinement. And as the story has progressed, it continues to intrigue, albeit never as much as it could. But it's getting close to the end and Avengers and X-men: AXIS #8 is supposed to set up the final showdown between inverted heroes and inverted villains. It's already a foregone conclusion that most of the inversions will be reversed and we'll be right back where we started, but there are also supposed to be significant ramifications. I don't usually count anything other than Emma Frost coming out as a lesbian as significant, but I'll try to temper my expectations accordingly. Whenever bullshit magic spells that undo continuity, family ties and marriages are involved, there's really no other way to deal with it in a sober mind.

But before these inversions are reversed, there is still an opportunity for these inverted characters to do something with lasting impact. Now these are usually the opportunities Marvel throws away in the same way Donald Trump throws away one dollar bills, but some characters do take advantage of it. And remarkably, the character that makes the most of their inversion is the one who's crazier than a toilet of Gary Busey's shit.

At the end of the previous issue, Apocalypse and the X-men were set to ignite the Gene Bomb, thereby wiping out all of those annoying homo sapians who only ever seemed to sic giant robots on them. Spider-Man, being unable to fix his marriage and his reputation, had no chance of fixing the bomb. But Carnage, despite probably dropping out of high school, is able to stop it with a heroic sacrifice that involves surrounding it with his symbiote body. It's a powerful moment, yet at no point does Carnage seem out of character. It's by far the most powerful example of just how far this inversion has gone. Carnage, a character defined by his inability to take the right meds, made a heroic sacrifice. Something about that should put a smile on everyone's face in a way only matched by a good fart joke.

This powerful moment disrupts Apocalypse and the X-men's plan and they deal with it in the same way hockey players deal with disagreements. They fight. That's really as deep as it gets. They don't try to fix the Gene Bomb. They don't try to implement a backup plan. That might actually require some strategy and that shit's for World of Warcraft players only it seems. All they do is keep fighting the Astonishing Avengers/Inverted Villains and rough up Spider-Man. It's as effective as it sounds.

That ineffectiveness is further enhanced when the inverted Avengers show up. They already committed to killing the X-men in the previous issue. Now they're just getting around to it, completely ignoring the inverted villains that beat them to the punch. It sounds like one of those battles that should actually be pretty awesome because it means Thor is getting another chance to take on Apocalypse. And we saw in Uncanny Avengers just how awesome that shit could be. However, this rematch is about as pay-per-view worthy as a David Hasselhoff concert. All he does is say he's got a fancy axe that can crack Apocalypse's armor and that's about it. That's like Clint Eastwood giving a physics lecture on how a gun works before he shoots it. It's not information any of us need to know in a situation like this.

The fighting quickly becomes painfully generic. Most of it focuses on Thor dealing with his overwhelming rage boner. First he fights Apocalypse. Then he fights the X-men. Then he fights Absorbing Man. Then he fights Loki and the Enchantress. There's no rhyme or rhythm do it. If it were a rap battle, he'd have already lost. At the very least, it does have some sense of impact. As generic as the action is here, it's still pretty fucking visceral. There's a real sense of damage and impact. That in and of itself is pretty satisfying, but nothing that can't be found in a God of War game or a Mission Impossible movie.

Eventually, there is some method to the mindless fighting, but not on the part of Thor. In the end it's Loki and the Enchantress that end up utilizing the most effective strategy. Let me say that again for the sake of emphasis. Loki and the Enchantress are actually the most competent ones here. While that does help emphasize the impact of the inversion, it's still pretty fucking pathetic. And it's not like their strategy is worthy of a Bond villain. All they do is piss Thor enough to chase them into a portal that takes him to the moon. I guess it would've made too much sense to send him to the other side of the universe. I only said that Loki and the Enchantress were the most competent. I didn't mean to imply that competence went far.

This is the biggest shortcoming of all this fighting. It might be visceral, but it's lacking in depth. It's focusing on all the wrong things. This battle was supposed to be about stopping the X-men. Why the fuck does so much attention need to be paid to Thor? I get that he's one of the most powerful members of the team, but it's not like he steals the show in the Mel Gibson sense. There are so many other conflicts going on. Focusing on this just seems misguided. It doesn't help that they don't say much either other than, "I'm pissed! You pissed me off! You must die!" That might work during a Call of Duty co-op mission, but not during a battle like this.

There's still plenty of action unfolding beyond the fight. It's just the kind of action that's way too fucking late. So much of this began when someone broke the Red Skull out of SHIELD custody. But at this point, who the fuck remembers that? Eventually, the old and un-inverted Steve Rogers remembers. I guess old age hasn't fucked up his memory just yet. He also gets help from Jarvis, who has also been MIA since the Red Skull disappeared. It's taken way too fucking long for him to finally contribute to the story again. I guess he just had to wait until that gene bomb went off. Anything else would've made too much sense.

And even though his appearance is overdue, he only reminds Steve Rogers what has already been made painfully clear. The inversion has fucked everybody up. At this point, we don't another reminder. We need more details about how they're going to actually do something about it. Nobody needs to set the mood at this point. If this were a romance novel, it would be too much even for the Twilight books. Their role in this battle might be late, but at least they're not completely forgotten. Given the ADHD nature of these stories, it at least shows there's something of actual depth to explore here.

That depth still gets lost with more fighting. At this point, the Astonishing Avengers are even less relevant than before. More attention is paid to the battle between the inverted heroes because I guess Avengers vs. X-men didn't make us all sick enough of hero vs. hero battles. Some contributions are squeezed in, like Mystique shifting into Charles Xavier to try and convince Apocalypse to stand down. Seriously, did she really think that shit was going to work? Apocalypse is about as reasonable as Sean Hannity. She might have had a better effect by flashing her boobs at him. That would've made the fighting a lot more entertaining to say the least, but I guess that also would've made too much sense while being too sexy. And there's only so much of that my penis can take.

The fighting in Latveria is decidedly less sexy. This was the site of Marvel's latest bullshit retcon. Nobody's marriage got sold to the devil, but Marvel's lawyers did find a way to squeeze in a not-so-subtle "Fuck you!" to Fox when they completely rewrote the Maximoff twins' history. The Scarlet Witch seems to be the only one happy about it. And I guess happiness for her means going into a more murderous rampage. There are no more crazy revelations or retcons here. There's not even a hint at what the Maximoff twins' new history entails. It's just Wanda Maximoff being really pissed off and trying to kill her family while her brother pleads with her. It's as interesting as it sounds, but at least it won't crash the message boards.

It's easy to forget that this latest retcon shit storm began when the Scarlet Witch came to Latveria hoping to royally fuck Dr. Doom up for all the shit he did to her. I guess family issues take priority. I can respect that to some extent. But in doing so, she basically forgot about Dr. Doom and even in his inverted form, that's pretty fucking dumb. Somehow, while the Scarlet Witch was busy bitching and moaning at Magneto, Dr. Doom found the time to strike a deal to resurrect Dr. Voodoo so he could possess the Scarlet Witch. I'm not saying it's smart, getting someone to possess an overpowered and pissed off young woman who can fuck reality with a sentence fragment. I'm just saying that the bar for competence and strategy is very low at this point.

Again, it says a lot that the most competent characters here are villains like Carnage and Dr. Doom. That helps give the whole inversion concept its power. And while it had an emotional impact with Carnage, this one just feels a bit more contrived. Somehow in the middle of this battle, Dr. Doom is able to step away and cut a deal with one of Marvel's many mystical characters? That's a gross oversight that I would usually expect of George W. Bush, but not the Scarlet Witch. Maybe I'm giving her too much credit in her inverted state, but it still makes for an overly contrived strategy.

At this point, any kind of strategy would help the ongoing battle between the inverted heroes and the inverted villains. It's still painfully disorganized in that's only focusing on a few characters at a time and not giving a better understanding of the scope and scale of the battle, but it does move the story forward. At this point, the inverted Avengers are fighting both the X-men and the inverted villains. It's hard to really keep track of anyone. It's like paintball match that gets way out of hand once someone decides to use dog piss instead of paint, but far less entertaining.

Despite this lack of strategy and scope, the story still moves forward. At one point, Captain America (still Sam Wilson) finds out from Iron Man that they have a lead on the Red Skull. They're just now finding out that the X-men don't have him. So Iron Man decides to occupy himself with the Summers brothers while Captain America goes after the asshole who started this whole shit storm. I won't say it feels forced, but it's still way fucking overdue.

He eventually finds the Red Skull, but he's not so red anymore and he's made a new friend in the overly aged Steve Rogers. Now he's sporting a dull, gray look. He's now about as intimidating as a dust bunny, but that may only hint at the effect of the inversion on him. It may or may not be Charles Xavier. It may or may not be a guy who just had his Nazi-style douche-baggery inverted. At the very least, this chaotic battle is returning back to the source of the chaos. Sure, shit got way off track for a while. And sure, the entire human race almost got wiped out by a bomb that they needed Carnage to stop. But unless it involves Snooki's period, being really late is still better than being glossed over.

In my vast experience with bar fights and drunken brawls, I understand there's a fine line between fighting because someone made a "Yo' mama's so fat joke" that hit too close to home and fighting for the sake of fighting. The only thing the latter accomplishes is pissing off probation officers and jacking up health insurance premiums. As much as I hated how Avengers vs. X-men played out, I'll at least say the fighting was fairly meaningful to varying degrees. Some of those degrees were more contrived than the plot to the last Ninja Turtles movie, but that's besides the point. With this comic, the fighting isn't wholly contrived. But it's hard to understand the reasoning behind it.

I won't say it's as pointless as that time I picked a fight with a statue of Stonewall Jackson. In my defense, the statue was giving me a dirty look. But there really was no strategy or intrigue with this battle. The Astonishing Avengers really didn't do jack shit. The inverted Avengers just jacked up more insurance rates by getting involved. There were some powerful moments with Carnage's sacrifice. But beyond that, this kind of fighting only moved the story along ever so slightly. Not much really came of it. There was nothing about it that was egregiously wrong and there were no ball-busting retcons either. It was just mindless violence. I'm not against that, provided it's in a Michael Bay movie or a football game. I just like it to have a bit more depth and trash talk in a comic. I give Avengers and X-men AXIS #8 a 5 out of 10. It's not terrible. It's not going to soak anyone's panties either. Maybe for the finale, the inverted Avengers and X-men should get some trash talking advice from Richard Sherman. Nuff said!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: All-New X-men #34

Anyone whoever says that it could always be worse is usually the kind of person who deserves a traumatic head injury from a piece of heavy mining equipment. These people can somehow take a shitty day and find a way to make it shittier by saying the least effective, most contrived excuse ever conjured by guilt-ridden hippie liberal types. Nobody in the history of mankind has ever been told, "it could be worse," and felt better about it. But in the case of the O5 X-men, I think it deserves an exception. This is one instance where there’s a real, tangible example right in front of them just how much shittier their lives could be.

There’s no question that the O5 X-men are not happy with their future. They have every right to be a little disappointed. One of them ended up dead. The other ended up crazy. The other became a complete douche-bag whose only contribution to anything involves making snow cones. But the shit the O5 X-men endure in their future is nothing compared to the steaming pile of whale diarrhea that is the Ultimate universe. They’ve been stuck in it for a few issues and already, they’re finding out just how much shittier it could be and they haven’t even learned about Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch’s little venture into incest. I doubt that would make them feel any better in the long run, but at least they can never deny that it really could be worse. And All-New X-men #34 only gives them even more reasons. They probably won’t be enough to make Beast or Iceman lesser douche-bags in the future, but at least they won’t have to live with the disturbing thought of Maximoff-style incest in their world.

In that context, the meeting between O5 Jean and the Ultimate version of the pseudo-X-men isn’t as awkward as it could’ve been. I say pseudo because the X-men in Ultimate have been fucked up in ways that even make Brett Ratner cringe. They’re an endangered, artificial species that shrugs off typical X-men activities that don’t involve Galactus incursions. So I guess that just makes the situation more awkward. It doesn’t help that Ultimate Iceman claims O5 Jean is hotter than her Ultimate version. To be fair, Ultimate Jean does not do a good job pulling off the Lara Croft look. But it still leads to an interesting exchange that becomes way more than awkward real fast.

That tends to always happen whenever O5 Jean Grey dares to read someone else’s mind. First, she read Beast’s mind, which had to have been plenty disturbing with all the fantasies of how he would disembowel Cyclops. Now, she’s reading her Ultimate version’s mind in telepathic montage that’s not quite as epic, but still conveys all the right emotions. It essentially gives O5 Jean Grey a crash course in how fucked the Ultimate Universe is and how it fucked her up. And she didn’t even needed to die this time. So when both she and her Ultimate counterpart faint, it’s perfectly understandable. I’m just surprised they didn’t violently throw up first.

It’s a disturbing moment for both of them, but one that makes me feel like I’m covered in baby kittens. This is the kind of encounter I often hope for, but never see in comics. O5 Jean and Ultimate Jean have a lot they can learn from each other. And I’m not just talking about all the reasons why boning Wolverine is a bad idea. Both of these characters were once so loving, charismatic, and powerful. Then they were badly screwed over in ways I’m too stoned to describe. This exchange might not make the extent of such screwing any less egregious, but it should give them some badly needed perspective.

As much as O5 Jean needs it, I would argue Ultimate Jean needs it more. Few character got screwed over worse in Ultimate than she did and not from anything that happened to her in a major story. Her character was just so utterly butchered and fucked that nobody would think that she was once this caring, outgoing young woman that always found a reason to smile. And instead of dealing with it, she became a raging psychopath who tried to murder all her friends. Then for some fucked up reason that was never explained, they shrugged it off and let her join them. It’s way more fucked up than a drunk like me can ever describe. So for her to finally get a meaningful dose of emotion is really refreshing. It may be way too fucking late, but it’s still a great moment.

It’s not quite as emotional for O5 Iceman, who has been fighting one of Mole Man’s monsters in the streets of Atlanta since he arrived. He still doesn’t know he’s in a world way more fucked than one where Kim Kardashian is still relevant, which is quite a feat. He just battles this monster in a standard, yet still satisfying battle. He doesn’t do anything too spectacular. His powers are somewhat hindered by the Atlanta heat. Anybody who ever went streaking in the middle of summer on a cocaine binge knows what I’m talking about.

O5 Iceman still finds a way to have a conversation with the creature. The creature doesn’t really talk back, but for once he does more than just whine and make shitty jokes. He even points out how he’s changed the least since getting stuck in a shitty future. He didn’t even get a school named after him. The best he did was become some Ice Wizard in the future and bone Kitty Pryde. It’s not much, but I don’t think he should be complaining too much.

He eventually does defeat Mole Man’s monster. Again, it’s not all that epic, but it’s still plenty satisfying. Not many characters can say that in the Ultimate Universe these days who aren’t named Miles Morales. So what’s his reward for such a feat? He gets arrested by the cops. He’s a minority in a big city. In wake of recent tragedies, I’d say that’s painfully accurate. O5 Iceman is the lucky one. He puts his hands up and he doesn’t get shot. There’s no joke I can make about this situation. Police brutality is a big fucking deal these days and I’m the asshole who complains mostly about parking tickets. But as lucky as he is, O5 Iceman still a long ways away from knowing just how fucked he is.

X-23 and O5 Angel are a bit farther along. They managed to find the hidden Weapon X facility in Canada that they thought was their school. Turns out it’s just a typical Weapon X facility, complete with blood stains and shit-filled pants. Hillbilly Wolverine, also known as Jimmy Hudson, is with them. He’s the one that reveals another shitty detail of the Ultimate universe. Mutants aren’t a product of evolution. They’re a failed science experiment. Being a failed science experiment herself, X-23 knows how much that sucks. Being a rich pretty boy with wings, O5 Angel is just deadpanned.

It leads X-23 to remember that it was some random new mutant that O5 Beast thought was PMSing who brought them to this world. Now they have even more incentive to find her and get the fuck out of this universe. Hillbilly Wolverine is understandably confused. He inherited Wolverine’s claws and healing, but he didn’t get his intuition or brains. He just stands around like a kid watching a couple of dogs fuck. It’s awkward, but I can’t say it’s not accurate.

Just learning they’re in another universe is hard enough, but Dr. Doom has to make it even more uncomfortable for O5 Beast. Few characters can make Ultimate a shittier place. Dr. Doom is at the top of a very short list and he’s genuinely intrigued about the world O5 Beast comes from. He now knows some random new mutant brought them to the Ultimate Universe and Dr. Doom went so far as to feed O5 Beast truth serum to make sure he’s not fucking with him. If only the CIA was so merciful.

Dr. Doom is now learning a great deal about mutants, X-men, and a world where they’re not completely fucked. He also learns how O5 Beast is in love with Jean Grey and how she no longer gives two licks of a ferrets asshole about his emotions. Considering the bullshit he pulled in X-men: Battle of the Atom and its aftermath, I think she’s more than justified. She would rather put adult Cyclops in awkward positions. For anyone sick to their stomach at how this pairing even became possible, it’s very satisfying to see him so humiliated. I know I give Beast a hard time on this blog, but until he stops giving me reasons, I’m going to enjoy scenes like this. And Dr. Doom is sure to enjoy it as well.

The only problem is we don’t even get a clue as to what he has planned. The Ultimate version of Dr. Doom is a bit more of an enigma compared to his 616 counterpart and not just because had fucking goat legs for a while. He might be just as eager as the O5 to ditch this shitty world. It’s just no fun living in a world where Reed Richards is the bigger asshole.

I think it’s safe to say O5 Beast is now the most fucked of the whole team. O5 Iceman would be a close second, now that he’s been arrested for the horrible crime of stopping a rampaging monster in the middle of a busy city street. That’s not to say his arrest is nothing more than another exercise in police being assholes. They end up revealing to him, albeit unintentionally, that he’s not in the same world he remembers. They bring up that time when the X-men were on magazine covers back in an era when Ultimate didn’t suck elephant balls. It doesn’t just give O5 Iceman a clue. It gives him a chance to re-charge his ice powers in the nice air-conditioning of a squad car, which he uses to break out. He doesn’t even need to call an overpriced lawyer. He just ditches them. I’d say, leaves them unharmed, and fucks up their car. Seeing has how they arrested him for bullshit reasons, I’d say this makes them even.

So now everyone in the O5 X-men is up to speed in terms of being in a shitty alternate universe. Now they have to actually deal with that shit. It’s a step that’s often skipped in a story like this, but it’s not skipped with O5 Jean Grey. When she wakes up, she’s in the Cerebro chamber with her Ultimate counterpart. They then have another moment, but this time it doesn’t overwhelm them to the point of fainting.

It’s actually a lot more meaningful than that. They get a chance to point out just how difference their lives are and yet they’re still the same person. It’s one of those fucked up concepts that still brings out all the right emotions, so much so that it inspires another hug. O5 Jean has needed more than her share since All-New X-men began. This one might be the best yet, awkwardness aside. And it’s Ultimate Jean who needs it most. She even admits that O5 Jean is better at being Jean Grey than she was. And she’s the younger one. It’s a pretty powerful moment and one that almost makes revisiting the rotting corpse that is Ultimate Marvel worth it. Almost being the key word there.

Once the hugs are out of the way, Ultimate Jean helps O5 Jean activate Cerebro so she can find the mutant who brought them to this epic fail of an alternate universe. She even throws in a little tidbit about Miles Morales being in love with her. I guess she’s used to that at this point with teenage boys. But when she starts scanning, it doesn’t take long for her to find something. Once again, it’s pretty jarring. But we don’t even get a hint at what it might be. Is it Dr. Doom? Is it the mutant? Is it another Kardashian photo shoot? We have no fucking clue. Now I’m the one who needs a hug.

As five-year-olds, we all have to learn very quickly how to deal with not getting what we hoped for. There are too many cases where I go into a movie expecting to see Jennifer Lawrence’s naked ass, but I only end up seeing Hugh Jackman’s. Not to say that I think Hugh Jackman has an ugly ass. Most straight women would strongly disagree. It’s just not what I was hoping to see. But this issue gave me a big part of what I hoped to see in this crossover between 616 and it’s shit-stained counterpart. The story moved forward, but not by too much. Plenty of emotions emerged, but only to a point. But it was still more than enough to be awesome. Anything that results in Jean Grey giving someone (even herself) a hug has to be awesome to some extent.

This issue had action, heart, and attitude in so many right places. It’s only major shortcoming was the lack of details and not just because the ending was too damn abrupt. We didn’t even get a hint at what O5 Jean Grey saw. We didn’t get a hint at what Dr. Doom was planning. But it’s not like these details were completely ignored or thrown away. The story just got cut off before it could get to them. And so long as my weed supply holds, I’m willing to be patient. I give All-New X-men #34 an 8 out of 10. If nothing else, this whole series is showing that Jean Grey has yet another mutation that involves wanting to hug people. I suppose there are way worse powers she could have. I guess she needs lots of hugs after hearing the thoughts of Hank McCoy and Wolverine. They may not be the overtly pornographic hugs I’m used to seeing, but they still put a smile on my face and a boner in my pants for all the right reasons. Nuff said!