Monday, March 31, 2014

Half-Verdict and Half-Mistrial: Guardians of the Galaxy #13

The following is my review of Guardians of the Galaxy #13, which was posted on

When it comes to justice, most people who aren’t sociopaths or dictators adhere to a strict dichotomy. If justice isn’t served, then that means injustice had somehow prevailed by default. It’s a simple, neat, and comforting approach to a critical concept that keeps society from falling apart. But like the rules of the Matrix, the concept of justice isn’t such a tidy package. If it were, then there would be no such thing as a technically, a mistrial, or a wrongful conviction. This utopian idea of justice is rarely scrutinized in modern superhero comics, except when it involves a superhero civil war. Yet it’s this concept of justice that has been exceedingly obscured in The Trial of Jean Grey.

The Shi’ar take a very Machiavellian approach when it comes to justice. For them, technicalities aren’t the exception. They’re the standard. If they serve the Shi’ar, then that counts as justice by default. So taking a Minority Report approach to dealing with Jean Grey is perfectly legal by that standard. They went through the trouble of abducting her, fighting off efforts to save her, and putting her on trial for the crimes she committed as Dark Phoenix. It doesn’t matter that this Jean Grey is a time-displaced teenager. To the Shi’ar, that’s just another technicality.

This creates a brand of self-serving justice that isn’t wholly consistent with the ideal most associate with the concept. It sounds more like the kind of justice that is administered in North Korea wherein the potential for a crime is every bit as egregious as the crime itself. And in Guardians of the Galaxy #13, which marks the final chapter of The Trial of Jean Grey, this brand of justice comes back to haunt Gladiator and the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. By trying to administer this brand of justice, they invited a full-fledged attack by the X-men, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Starjammers. Maybe in North Korea they could get away with this sort of thing, but these are not typical dissidents that they can send to the gulags.

This attack and all the personal drama that comes with it has been the biggest strength of The Trial of Jean Grey. It helped set the stage for this final confrontation between the Shi’ar and those who do not care for their particular brand of justice. However, when this unfolds, the resolution is not very consistent with any form of justice. It’s not even consistent with any technicalities. The proceedings are basically stopped. And under the threat of a very upset Jean Grey with a new array of psychic powers, Gladiator basically agrees to defer the trial indefinitely. There’s no full resolution. It doesn’t address the crimes of Dark Phoenix or even the excessively unjust execution of Jean Grey’s entire family. It essentially tables the issue in a way where neither side wants to deal with it.

That’s not to say there isn’t some kind of resolution. The trail itself was filled with more drama than the O.J. Simpson affair. The Shi’ar shoved Jean Grey’s future crimes in her face. These were crimes that she herself didn’t fully and went out of her way to avoid since the early issues of All-New X-men. Well she can’t ignore it anymore. And by having them shoved down her throat in the most callous way possible, it allows her to come to a few important realizations about herself, her future, and the Phoenix Force. Through that realization, she pushes herself to reach a new power that allows her to fight back. And for once, this power is not the Phoenix Force. And given sick everyone on the Marvel universe is of the Phoenix Force, that’s probably a good thing.

With this new power, Jean Grey is able to subdue Gladiator on her own. She’s not overwhelmed. She’s not crying out for help. She’s basically the ultimate feminist, taking on her problems by herself and controlling her own fate. It’s marks a major shift for Jean Grey because for a good portion of her history, a lot of her power was contingent upon the Phoenix. She may have been a skilled psychic, but she often relied on the Phoenix Force for extra firepower. That often led to the instability that led to multiple deaths and resurrections. This time-displaced version of Jean Grey has already decided that she would rather not go through those rigors and would rather forge a new path. She even says it herself. This is “all new.”

However, this profound realization is undercut by the somewhat inane way the conflict ends. In the same way Jean Grey never gets a verdict for her crimes, Gladiator and the Shi’ar never get a verdict for the crimes they committed against Jean’s family or the X-men. They just agree to part ways, content to operate under the constant threat of mutually assured destruction should the Shi’ar attempt to exact this kind of justice again. That only worked to an extent during the Cold War so it’s hardly a sufficient resolution in this case.

In addition to the weak resolution, the drama surrounding The Trial of Jean Grey isn’t resolved either. However, this might be intentional. The story was never meant to resolve all the ongoing drama between Cyclops and Jean Grey or the drama with Starlord in his father. These are all much bigger stories that have spanned multiple arcs and will continue to do so. But in the end, The Trial of Jean Grey doesn’t give the impression that a whole lot of progress has been made. The decisions and discussions were lacking. And in instances where these details could have been added, there are only dry bits of humor like Groot and Rocket Raccoon getting uncomfortable around Earth’s flora and fauna.

The narrative of Guardians of the Galaxy #13 had some significant developments and some intense moments that helped bring the Trial of Jean Grey to an appropriate culmination. It wasn’t as elaborate as it could have been or should have been for that matter. But it triggered some promising new developments for the characters, none of which would have been possible if the Shi’ar hadn’t tried to exercise their perverse brand of justice. So while justice may not have been served, it didn’t lead to a more egregious crime. And for a brand of justice laced with technicalities, this is probably the best anyone can hope for.

Final Score: 7 out of 10

X-men: Days of Futures Past - Decoding Whether It Will Suck

I've avoided talking about the upcoming X-men: Days of Futures Past movie on this blog and for good reason. Every time I start talking about the X-men movies, I get so worked up I need three shots of heroin just to keep the veins in my neck from exploding. I've made no secret of my sentiment towards the X-men movies. I think they all suck more balls than Jenna Jameson in her prime. But I know I can't ignore this shit. It's going to give off a shitty stench no matter what I say or don't say. But I wouldn't be much of an X-men fan and this wouldn't be much of a blog if I didn't at least mention this movie. And at the request of someone from The Hollywood Reporter, I think I have something I can share with my wonderful readers that doesn't involve a shot of heroin.

Longtime X-Men fans have bemoaned the fact that this summer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past sends Wolverine back in time to prevent a particularly dystopian future instead of Kitty Pryde, who served that role in the original comic version of the story. But what if there’s more going on than people suspected?

Read More At The Following Link:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny Avengers #18

In the real world, conspiracy theories are as likely to be true as miracle cure for weight loss. Some people just can't accept the fact that the world is just way more boring than it is in their fantasies. These are the same people who watch Oliver Stone movies and think they're documentaries. They're probably the same people that watch porn and think the women don't fake their orgasms. That's part of why the unfolding story in Uncanny Avengers is so compelling and no, I'm not referring to fake orgasms. The Apocalypse Twins hatched a conspiracy to destroy the whole planet and transport every mutant to a new world without them knowing the truth. In the end they succeeded. Only Havok and Wasp know the truth. Every other mutant is probably content to accept that the human race just got tired of attacks by Thanos and cosmic birds and decided to off itself. Well now that conspiracy is set to unravel in Uncanny Avengers #18 with the arrival of Planet X. I just hope those same conspiracy buffs don't find some shitty way to link this story with the JFK assassination.

But the format of this story is not like a shitty Oliver Stone movie that takes way too many liberties with history. In addition, anyone who read the previous arc doesn't need Kevin Costner to go on some long-winded bullshit speech about grassy knolls and secret CIA operations. The conspiracy that led to Planet X is already well established. But most of the mutant population doesn't know this. They only know that a Celestial destroyed Earth and wiped its ass with the entrails. The official explanation is that Thor's balls just got bigger than his hammer and he got too drunk one night and picked a fight with the wrong Celestial. As a result, the entire fucking Earth got destroyed and all humans died with it.

Now all the mutants live in a comfortable, cozy utopia known as Planet X. There are no Sentinels hunting them down, no governments threatening to throw them into concentration camps, and no Fox News. It's practically paradise and it once again comes courtesy of the Scarlet Witch and her incredibly overpowered skills. I imagine most mutants are okay with not having to deal with us crazy humans anymore. But Havok, who knows how the Apocalypse Twins gave the finger to the Earth, the Celestials, and everything in between, is trying to undo it. Now years into the future as Planet X is now akin to a shitty Disney ride about the world of tomorrow, he's on the run for not embracing a world without humans. In addition, he's got some nice inner monologue as he's running through the crowds and none of them involve, "Bitch, get out of my way!" I guess he never walked through downtown Baltimore in the middle of a snowstorm. It doesn't reveal much. It just reveals he has a daughter and he's telling her how much he wants to undo the shit storm that the Apocalypse Twins unleashed. But first, he has to escape the likes of Blob, Pyro, and an old school Brotherhood of Mutants line-up. Except they call themselves X-Force. And they don't explain how the fuck Blob got his powers back either. Maybe he just went on a strict pig, steak, and cheesecake diet. Anyone who can go on that diet and not die of a heart attack has to be a mutant.

Yet despite his exceedingly unhealthy physique, Havok manages to evade Blob. He then blatantly rips off Star Wars Episode II by leaping out of a window and into a sea of flying cars. But I guess if he's going to rip off any Star Wars movie, it might as well be from one of the shitty prequels. It helps that Havok is a bit more sympathetic than Anakin Skywalker. Sure, he's been a bit of a douche over the course of Uncanny Avengers. But he's no Dearth Vadar. He keeps talking about his daughter and how being a hero in this instance means destroying this utopian world.

Now that may sound like a dick move and on some levels it is. If I were a little more drunk, I might actually root against him. But I'm only on my third shot of tequila so I can see why this does technically count as heroic. Havok knows, unlike every other mutant on Planet X, that this sweet little deal came at the expense of an elaborate practical joke that ended in mass genocide. The human race did nothing to deserve the bullshit judgment of the Celestials. It was all the Apocalypse Twins. And as nice as Planet X looks, it just isn't worth the death of 7 billion people. Maybe if it cost only Wyoming, South Dakota, and Afghanistan it might be worth it. But not 7 billion people.

In chasing down Havok, Blob reveals he probably went to a school in Texas that teaches creationism because he flat out fails a simple physics lesson when he jumps out after Havok. He probably thought just landing on Havok's squishy bones and flesh would cushion his fall. That or praying would turn off gravity. He probably didn't think that Wasp would show up and catch Havok before he became a nasty stain on Blob's ass. Even a douche like Havok doesn't deserve such a terrible fate. But in saving him, we also find out that Wasp is the last human alive. And of all the sexy mutants she could have hooked up with, she chose Havok. I don't claim to understand why women hook up with certain guys so I'll just assume alcohol is involved to some extent. I'll also assume that Havok at least inherited some of the power of Cyclops's penis. Wasp isn't Jean Grey or Emma Frost, but she's right up there on my list of female Avengers I want to see naked. So I'll give Havok points for that.

There's not much time for romance or even a mid-air quickie. In wake of Blob's failed physics test, Magneto shows up and he makes clear he's a man who didn't get his education from Pat Robertson. He's a bit older. He's sporting a Mel Gibson style beard now as well. Yet he doesn't look anywhere near as crazy. Rather than go on some anti-Semitic rant, Magneto shows his powers aren't broken anymore by whipping up a little metal storm. So that makes two instances where mutants affected by M-Day and Avengers vs. X-men somehow shrug off their side-effects. I know that's only a minor detail, but again I haven't had enough shots of tequila to make me overlook such details. It's not too jarring, but if a drunk like me notices then the sober crowd out there will probably notice as well.

The details may be lacking, but there are only so many details necessary for a chase scene. That's basically what this is. Instead of guns, this involves mutant powers and that's what makes it 10 times more awesome. At least they don't have to reload off-screen like they do in every Mission Impossible movie. With help from Wasp, Havok shows that his powers sure as hell aren't broken. He unleashes a nasty blast that probably gives Magneto one of those "I'm too old for this shit" moments. He even manages to get Toad caught in the crossfire. I guess that means that even on a mutant utopia, Toad is still a pussy.

Havok and Wasp buy time, but Blob is still not willing to let explosions or gravity stand in his way. I'm guessing this guy really hated physics class in school. I see why Bill Nye is so worried about shitty education now. But Blob has already proven to be more inept than a drunk storm trooper so it's really no contest now. Wasp goes to take him on while Havok tries to finish what she couldn't in the previous issue, which was to destroy the temporal dam that kept them from using any Back to the Future gimmicks to undo the Apocalypse Twins' handiwork. I imagine something like this would have been really handy for Age of Ultron, but hindsight is like a sobriety test. It only shows how fucked we are when it's too late.

Wasp is able to make quick work of Blob and even throw in a few fat jokes. Hell, I'm surprised she resisted for this long. But Havok ends up having to confront Magneto. And not surprisingly, he's not too keen on the idea of undoing this mutant utopia that his daughter died to create. I also imagine he's not too fond of having to deal with us annoying humans again. I can't say I blame him. One episode of Duck Dynasty is all it takes for a guy like him to be okay with mass planetary genocide. But Magneto shows that he still doesn't know the full story. He still buys into the whole "Thor fucked everyone over in a drunken stupor" story. Granted, that story is probably more believable than any of the shit involving the Apocalypse Twins, but Havok isn't buying it.

While it still amounts to a glorified chase scene, there is at least a touch of drama added into this struggle. It's hard to root against Havok or Magneto in this instance. Havok wants to undo a cruel, genocidal trick. Magneto wants to preserve this mutant utopia while making sure he never has to go back to a world of bigotry, prejudice, and reality TV. It's basically a "do the right thing" vs. "shit happens so let's make the most of it" type deal. I'm sure plenty of people would love to go back in time and kill Hitler. But that would mean we would have no awesome World War II video games and where would the world be without those?

That's another debate though. And there's not much debate here. Havok just shoots Magneto in the face and escapes. So the drama is somewhat muted. At least it highlights the inescapable fact that some people are perfectly fine with a world built on a foundation that includes mass genocide. But it doesn't stay completely muted. In blasting Magneto, Havok gets tossed around like a crack pipe at a Rick Jame concert. And while Magneto gets roughed up like a hooker at said Rick James concert, he manages to capture Wasp. That effectively ends the chase because now it's not necessary. Now Havok has a reason to come to him. This is why guys like Blob probably cheated off of guys like Magneto in high school. He works smarter and not harder. Hell, that's the old mantra of Enron and since there's no SEC in Planet X, I imagine it's not frowned upon.

With so much chasing mixed with explosions and fat jokes, the substance for the story thus far has been pretty light. Hell, it doesn't need to be that elaborate. Havok and Wasp are just trying to travel to the past so they can undo the shit that the Apocalypse Twins unleashed. They spend most of this issue trying to keep their asses intact with Havok's inner monologue providing most of the depth. But I imagine many unsober minds like myself probably overlook that monologue at times and focus on the pretty explosions and the pretty women in skin tight outfits. That means a little extra substance goes a long way.

A good chunk of Havok's monologue was addressed to his daughter. Well after escaping Magneto, he manages to catch up with his daughter, Katie. She basically lives a very Anne Frank existence, hiding with Beast who Havok is hoping can send him into the past. He fucked Father Time in the ass before when he brought the O5 to the future. I imagine he's okay with doing it again. But adding Havok's daughter to the mix adds in a bit more urgency. It's a tender moment in an issue that involves old men getting shot in the face and fat guys getting their asses kicked by Sir Isaac Newton's laws of gravitation. However, this tender moment is also somewhat muted because it's built on a relationship between Havok and Wasp that really isn't all that epic. Hell, these two only flirted a bit in past issues. They're not Marvel's new power couple. Their love isn't nowhere near the epic love story that made Stephanie Meyer filthy fucking rich. It's basically just put together for the sake of adding more drama. It works in this context. It's just not going to get anybody's heart racing like the sight of a baby playing with a kitten.

But drama and epic love stories aren't going to fix this shit storm that the Apocalypse Twins kicked up. The whole reason why they're working so damn hard to destroy the temporal dam is because their buddy, Immortus, has gathered an A-team of future Marvel heroes to travel back in time and kick a little Apocalypse ass. Well that might sound good on paper, but then again I'm sure making Battlefield Earth into a movie sounded like a good idea at some point as well. While they managed to destroy the dam this time, the help they get doesn't come from Immortus. It comes from fucking Kang the Conqueror. Havok might have been better off trying to get help from Magneto, but he's somewhat past that point. Kang was the one that took the Apocalypse Twins in the first place and turned them into fucked up little tyrants. Who else is in a better position to unfuck them in the worst possible way? Plus, he has Thor, 2099 Doom, and a whole host of future Marvel characters backing him up. Even on a world dominated by mutants with Magneto acting as its protector, that makes for a much fairer fight.

This issue is part Fast and the Furious, part Back to the Future, and part Mission Impossible. With a combination like that, it sounds like it has way too much potential not to be awesome. And don't get me wrong. It is awesome. It's the kind of comic that's easy to read while drunk, stoned, or strung out on these weird green pills I got from this guy in a hoodie outside a gay bar. What keeps it from turning this potential into liquid awesome that could be injected like a fresh batch of heroin is that is there's not as much substance to match the style. It's like heroin that has been cut with chalk instead of baking soda or sugar. I don't mind it being cut. Drug dealers need to make their money too. It just needs to be cut in the right way. And while this issue did mix in some nice moments of drama and heart, it didn't do so in a way that will get anybody's panties wet. I give Uncanny Avengers #18 a 7 out of 10. But for those whose panties are soaked by the thought of extended chase scenes and fat guys getting roughed up, that score might be higher. Then again, style over substance that involves shit blowing up and fat guys getting humbled sounds downright American in some respects. So I guess only those who are true patriots or from Texas will get downright horny from this. Nuff said!

Friday, March 28, 2014

X-men Supreme Issue 97: Uneasy Truce is LIVE!

The end has arrived. A very eventful era of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series has come to an end. I'm very proud of what I've accomplished with X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. This was era of X-men Supreme brought a very different kind of conflict to this fanfiction series. It wasn't just about fighting enemies like Magneto or Sinister. It was about making allies like General Grimshaw and President Robert Kelly. Winning battles is easy in the short-term. But winning the peace in the long-term is much more difficult. That's a battle that often gets overlooked in the annuls of X-men. I wanted to show just how difficult it is to create the peace that Professor Charles Xavier dreams of achieving. Now as X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear ends, the conflicts that have been raging are finally winding down and the world is ready for peace.

But even Professor Xavier understands that peace is incredibly fragile. He also understands that peace cannot be built on ideals alone. There needs to be an incentive to maintain that peace for everybody. Many times it requires compromise and sacrifice. The X-men and their allies in General Grimshaw have done more than their share of sacrificing since X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear began. Actions by the likes of Magneto, Colonel Wraith, and the Cambrian haven't made it easy for them. But now they've been given a chance to great the necessary incentives for peace. Ironically, Magneto provided those incentives during the events of the Time Bomb arc. He was able to re-activate recovered Shi'ar technology through Warlock, an AI that controls this technology. When he left, he left behind this powerful technology that happens to be in the hands of Genosha, which is now once again being run by Magneto's daughter, the Scarlet Witch.

Now in the final issue of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear, a new status quo is emerging. But this status quo isn't built around as many of Charles Xavier's ideals as the X-men probably hope. It's built around the hope that this alien technology, distributed and sold by Genosha, will create prosperity. And when there's prosperity, there are far fewer reasons to go to war. It's an overly pragmatic, if not downright hallow, means of achieving peace. But after all the damage that Magneto did along with the Cambrian, it's the only way the X-men can hope to salvage some level of peace and security. But before it even begins, some new threats to that security emerge. And the next stage of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is set to begin with this final issue.

X-men Supreme Issue 97: Uneasy Truce

In the end, X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear was almsot as long as X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope. The length and scope of this fanfiction series continues to grow. This makes developing X-men Supreme that much more challenging. And even as it has grown, the feedback has remained flat or declined. I really am hoping it'll increase with the conclusion of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. As I said in my last update, some of the emails that have been sent to me through this website have been blocked by my email filter. I have since changed it. I always respond to emails within 24 hours so if anyone has not heard back from me, then something is wrong. Please use Twitter or Facebook to contact me so I can fix it. But now that I've resolved this issue, I really hope to get some feedack now that the fourth volume of X-men Supreme is complete. I'm still committed to making Volume 5, but if support continues to decline it may be the last. So please take the time to provide feedback by posting it in the comments section of the issue or contact me directly. Either way is fine. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Amazing X-men #5

In this age of Dr. Phil and shitty self-help books, daddy issues have been the default excuse for someone being an asshole. A girl is too slutty? Daddy issues. A boy is a bully. Daddy issues. A girl is too meek? Daddy issues. A boy is too soft? Daddy issues. And people wonder why men are so eager to ditch their families and be content paying child support? Like President of the United States, they get all of the blame and none of the praise. And unlike the President, they don’t get to live in a fancy mansion and have the Secret Service at their disposal. But what about when someone becomes awesome despite their daddy issues? Does that make that person more awesome by default? I argue that Nightcrawler effectively proves that point and he’s been reinforcing it ever since Amazing X-men began. Here’s a guy whose father actually wants to attack Heaven itself. Hell, even the assholes on Jerry Springer are a cut above that. Yet Nightcrawler is still this awesome, heroic, lovable guy who has rallied his friends from beyond the grave to stop him. I guess my point is that Amazing X-men #5 doesn’t use daddy issues as an excuse so everybody who uses them needs to shut the fuck up.

Most of the action in this story has been taking place between Heaven, Hell, and the River Styx. If that seems like a pretty epic battlefield, it is and then some. But at the same time, it’s easy to forget that the Jean Grey Institute staff only ended up in this theological slug fest because they got pulled into a portal built by the bamfs. This also unleashed a whole hoard of red bamfs, who aren’t nearly as cute and don’t like whiskey. That makes them evil as fuck and in need of an acid bath. That means Rachel Grey, Warbird, and Angel, who got left behind, have to help the bamfs fight them off. It’s not on the same epic scale as the battle against Azazel, but it is linked and it is part of the same epic struggle. So for that, I deem it awesome.

That only makes the front lines of this epic battle even more awesome. In the previous issue, Nightcrawler finally succeeded in reuniting with all his friends. Together, they form the single greatest crew on the single most awesome pirate ship ever. Yes, I said it. Jack Sparrow can kiss my ass. They alone stand against Azazel’s fleet of demons, horrible goblin creatures, and dead Nazis. And with Nightcrawler leading the charge, they attack with the same enthusiasm as sumo wrestler attacks a buffet table. It’s a beautifully rendered struggle that involves Wolverine stabbing shit, Iceman freezing shit, Firestar burning shit, and Beast crushing shit. There’s basically a whole lot of shit to go around and a whole lot of ways to deal with it. And Nightcrawler’s crew of X-men do a damn good job of dealing with it.

Thanks to the efforts of his crew, it gives Nightcrawler all the space he needs to take on Azazel. It’s a lot like the final battle between Dearth Vadar and Luke Skywalker, but this includes teleportation. And that somehow makes it even more awesome, even though there are no light sabres to be found. There’s none of this “Luke, I am your father,” bullshit. Nightcrawler already knows this and Azazel makes clear that he’s pissed off that his son has chosen not to join him in the family business. But when that business involves raiding and pillaging heaven and Hell, there’s really not much that can be said. Seeing as how Azazel didn’t even bother to stick around after he knocked up Mystique, I don’t think there’s any family loyalty to speak of. Azazel is basically a dead beat dad who doesn’t pay child support and only visits his son when he wants to kill him. He’s actually worse than DMX and Evander Holyfield combined.

That’s not to say there isn’t any family drama in this fight. It has more impact than just a couple of guys trying to stab each other. Throughout this arc, Nightcrawler has gone to great lengths to show how far he’s willing to go to oppose his father. He doesn’t hide from the fact that he’s the son of Azazel. He doesn’t show that it bothers him either. He doesn’t even bitch and moan about it. That’s not who Nightcrawler is. He just fights anybody who dares threaten his friends and all that is good. That’s why this guy earned himself a place in Heaven.

It may be a family affair, but like any deadbeat dad with a good lawyer, Azazel is willing to fight dirty. He starts by setting all his boats on fire, making sure that Nightcrawler’s crew will go the way of the Titanic. Sure, that means his demon hoards will drown too, but he’s Azazel. He gives about as much fucks about his demon minions as Goldman Sachs gives about the working poor. And to add a little extra urgency to Nightcrawler’s efforts, he throws in an extra “fuck you” by teleporting behind Wolverine and stabbing him in the chest. And since Wolverine no longer has his healing factor, this isn’t something he can shake off with a curse and a beer. It is a dick move on Azazel’s part, but he’s a guy who supposed to fight dirty. It puts Nightcrawler in a tough spot because Azazel knows he’s going to put his friends before settling his daddy issues. That alone puts him above nearly half the strippers I’ve ever met.

Azazel’s douchebaggery forces Nightcrawler to make a critical decision. Since he’s technically the captain of this crew of X-men/pirates, he must be the one who decide how this ship is going to go down. He acknowledges that there’s nothing he can do to contain Azazel. They’re already in the land of the dead. Killing him would be the same as sending him to the back of the line at the DMV. That’s only going to piss him off even more. To stop him, Nightcrawler has to make a hard decision and a tough sacrifice. But this is a guy who is just so awesome that he’s willing to do it.

As he’s contemplating this sacrifice, he gets a quick visit from Professor Xavier. This is actually the second time he has shown up in this story. Apparently, he earned himself a place in Heaven too, despite some of the bullshit he did in the years leading up to his death. He warns Nightcrawler that the decision he’s about to make can’t be undone. He even reminds him that he’s already dead and he already earned himself a place in Heaven. At least someone should enjoy it rather than rotting away in limbo or any white hot room gimmicks. But for Nightcrawler, even Heaven isn’t enough to keep him from doing the right thing. When it comes to being a good selfless soul, this guy is basically Jesus and the Pope, minus the corruption and scandals.

Nightcrawler goes back to fighting his father. Azazel tries to taunt him Richard Sherman style, calling him a failure of a son who is going to doom his friends and his world. But Nightcrawler just shrugs it off. A shitty father isn’t enough to keep him from doing something truly awesome. So while he keeps his father busy with his sword, he summons the bamfs to attack Azazel. At the same time, the bamfs on the other side of the portal get together and form this big blue blobbish figure that looks kind of like a shitty piece of pottery I made in first grade. It gets blurry and flashy. That or the weed I got is just that good. Whatever he does, it both pisses his father off and shuts him up. That’s basically the ultimate therapy right there.

The end result is the bamfs carry Azazel through the portal and into the Jean Grey Institute. As for the big bluish blob, it eventually becomes much more refined than any shitty artwork I did in grade school and turns into the very alive and very naked body of Kurt Wagner. So I guess this means the bamfs somehow used their furry forms to help remake Nightcrawler’s body. And with his body, he does something with his blood to effectively seal Azazel in the world of the living once more. It seems kind of crazy, inviting a guy willing to invade Heaven and Hell to be trapped on Earth. But this just means Azazel is now stuck in a world full of reality TV, spray cheese in a can, and Glen Beck. I honestly can’t think of a worse hell for someone like Azazel.

Once Nightcrawler knocks Azazel out with one last punch, the other bamfs transport the rest of the X-men back to the Jean Grey Institute. But as soon as they arrive, the portal to the afterlife closes. This basically seals the deal and reveals the price Nightcrawler paid to come back to life and seal his father in this world. He basically had to give up Heaven and all the rewards he earned for being such an awesome guy to stop his father and save his friends. It’s somewhat bittersweet, but at the same time it feels fitting.

Now I think it’s worth pointing out that this kind of resurrection didn’t involve clones, time travel, or fucking magic. No retcons needed to happen. No bullshit secrets had to be revealed. Nightcrawler found a way to come back to the world of the living through a means that was actually novel, fitting, and satisfying. This is like finding a unicorn that shits chocolate. I honestly had to sober up and read this again because I didn’t think shit like this was possible outside an LSD trip. But sure enough, it actually happened. A character came back to life without it being contrived or shitty. I think X-men fans everywhere should take a moment of silence to soak in this beautiful moment.

Everybody done? Okay, now Nightcrawler needs a moment of his own. Because now he’s back in the land of the living and a lot of crazy shit has changed since then. Later on once he gets himself some clothes and gets used to the idea of being alive again, he has a nice conversation with Wolverine on the roof. It’s basically just a nice moment to celebrate Nightcrawler’s return. It also has Nightcrawler reflecting on what he had to sacrifice to save his friends and come back to life. It’s a beautiful moment. Sure, it doesn’t cover all the crazy shit that has happened since he’s been dead. That alone is its own hell. The main impact of this moment is that Nightcrawler has come back to life and has begun another life. And he did it in the most awesome way possible without the aid of any cosmic forces or magic. If ever there was a character deserving of such an achievement, it’s Kurt Wagner.

So Marvel’s latest resurrection is now complete. Nightcrawler has returned to the world of the living. And for once, it doesn’t fall under the category of a bullshit resurrection gimmick. Let me say that again. This isn’t a bullshit resurrection gimmick. Nightcrawler came back from the dead, but it was done in a way that was awesome and engaging. That shouldn’t sound like such a novel concept, but it is. With so many shitty retcons and resurrections in comics, this is more welcome than a blowjob and a free beer. The struggle against his father and the hard choices he had to make are just so perfectly consistent with all things Nightcrawler that it brings a tear to my eye and a boner to my pants. There’s so much emotional weight to his story and how it unfolded. And in the end it came together so beautifully that I must give Amazing X-men #5 a perfect 10 out of 10. I just can’t bring myself to give a lower score to a comic that brings a beloved character back from the dead in a way that doesn’t reek of bullshit. The Marvel universe is just a little more awesome with the return of Nightcrawler. And at a time when Thanos, the Phoenix Force, and the Apocalypse Twins have gone to great lengths to shit all over it, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Nuff said!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Guardians of the Galaxy #13

Going to public school, every teacher and administrator basically works under the assumption that every single teenager is a ticking time bomb that’s going to erupt at some point. So that basically means that everyone is guilty until proven innocent. And if there’s even a possibility that teenagers might show something akin to individuality, creativity, nonconformity, or (God-forbid) sexuality they’re immediately labeled criminals. Now I know I haven’t described teenagers in a very positive light on this blog. My experience with teenagers tends to could my judgment almost as much as weed, but I understand that a drunk tends to attract fucked up teenagers. I also understand that treating teenagers like criminals is the first step towards making them act like one. It’s like being surprised that Mike Tyson punched someone in the face after calling his wife a bitch. That’s why I have no sympathy whatsoever for Gladiator or the Shi’ar in The Trial of Jean Grey. They’ve been treating O5 Jean like a criminal even though she’s from the past and hasn’t yet committed the heinous crimes of Dark Phoenix. So it was only a matter of time before she finally snapped and decided to fight back. And for a girl destined to go Dark Phoenix, that’s pretty fucking dangerous. That doesn’t mean I won’t be cheering her on in Guardians of the Galaxy #13. It just means the Shi’ar will get as much sympathy from me as they’ll get sobriety.

For the first time in this bullshit excuse for a trial, O5 Jean gets a chance to take the stand and make her case. She admitted her guilt at the end of the previous issue, but only to the extent that Barry Bonds admitted he used steroid. She then points out in the most reasonably pissed off tone ever attempted by a teenage girl that while she did lose control under the influence of the Phoenix, it’s a fucking force of nature. Stopping it is like trying to stop gravity or trying to make Downtown Abby funny without weed. And not only did she fail. Everyone around her failed to stop her, including the Shi’ar. The big difference is that the Shi’ar dealt with it by slaughtering Jean’s entire family. She can take being treated as a genocidal monster by a bunch of pissed off aliens. She’s a teenage girl. She’s unhinged enough to handle that. But she can’t take those same pissed off aliens slaughtering her family. For her, that’s not just crossing a line. That’s driving a convoy of trucks full of elephant shit over the line and crashing it into a bus full of kittens.

Now I said I had no sympathy for Gladiator whatsoever and I fucking mean it. That’s why when O5 Jean enters this new level of pissed off and slugs Gladiator with a telekinetic bitch-slap, it put a smile on my face and a boner in my pants. But this is no ordinary telekinetic bitch-slap. In O5 Jean’s enraged state, something happens that puts her power on a level where she can deliver said bitch-slap in a way that even someone like Gladiator can appreciate. And for once, it doesn’t involve the fucking Phoenix Force. That put another smile on my face and an even bigger boner in my pants. It may end up getting me in trouble at my next job interview, but it’s worth it.

Now the nature of this upgrade isn’t clear, but it’s definitely got Phoenix-level punch. There’s no crazy cosmic bird. There’s none of that “I am fire! I am life incarnate!” bullshit. This is all Jean Grey. This is her raw potential turning into a massive ball of telekinetic ass-kicking. I find this as refreshing as a cold beer at a baseball game because for much of her history, Jean Grey’s power has been dependent on the Phoenix Force to carry that extra punch. Sure, she’s pretty damn powerful as a psychic, but not powerful enough to hold her own. Well this time, she doesn’t just hold her own against Gladiator. She kicks his ass in a way that honors and respects her dead family.

But what exactly is driving this badass new Jean Grey? I know teenage girls can get pretty pissed off, but even this is pushing it. After giving Gladiator 10 times as many concussions as Troy Aikman, Oracle tries to reach out to O5 Jean and figure out just what the fuck is going on. She finds out that O5 Jean has somehow unlocked a new kind of psionic power. She can basically take all the psionic energy around her and use it to channel the smashing power of an army of Hulks. Oracle makes it a point to note that she has never had this power before. This shit is brand new and something she never showed before. She worries that O5 Jean can’t control it. Then O5 Jean says in the most polite way a pissed off teenage girl can manage that the Shi’ar are the ones that kept pushing her. And this is the end result. She’s not the Phoenix. She’s just a super-powered pissed off teenage girl. I’m no judge, but I’ve been screwed over by enough to know that this is probably much worse. And after casting Oracle aside, O5 Jean unleashes the full force of this new power on Gladiator. And just like that, my face hurts from so much smiling and I need new pair of pants.

Even with O5 Jean’s level of pissed off, this attack does take it out of her. It forces Starlord to catch her and gives the rest of her friends time to rally around her. They’ve been fighting for her this whole time and she makes it a point to show her gratitude. That’s something most teenage girls never show until their parents bail them out of jail for getting drunk at a frat party. And they’re still committed to helping her. They’re ready to fight the entire Shi’ar Imperial Guard with her. And now that she’s armed with this fancy new power, it’s actually a pretty fair fight on paper. She’s basically a hulked out psychic and the Shi’ar are the assholes that attacked Earth, killed Jean’s family, and tried to exercise their bullshit justice on them. I guess in that context, it’s not a fair fight. Even someone as powerful as Gladiator has to realize at some point that he’s as overmatched as he is fucked.

This could have made for the kind of epic clash that could only be matched by pitting an army of Hulks against an army of Juggernauts after feeding them nothing but cocaine and bacon for three months straight. However, this is where the epic scale basically becomes unbalanced. O5 Cyclops is the one who ends it. He basically storms over to Gladiator, tells him to back the fuck off, and warns him that if he ever pulls shit like this again, then he would reign unholy hellfire on his ass with help from the entire Marvel universe. And keep in mind, this isn’t adult Cyclops. This is O5 Cyclops. He’s a teenage boy. Yet he’s making this kind of threat to Gladiator. And remarkably, it fucking works.

It’s a pretty inglorious way to end what could have been a gloriously epic battle. But at the same time, it does get one important point across. O5 Jean reminds them that she has never shown this kind of power before. Everything the Shi’ar think they know about Jean Grey no longer applies. She calls this shit all new, which I guess is pretty damn fitting given the whole All-New X-men mantra. At the same time, it does follow a dangerous precedent. She upgraded her powers as well during X-men Battle of the Atom and that shit didn’t turn out well for her in the long run. And in a world where new apocalyptic futures unfold every other day, nobody should get too optimistic.

This flat ending basically leaves only menial loose ends to resolve. The Shi’ar don’t go after O5 Jean. They don’t do anything more to try and rectify the crimes of the Phoenix Force. They just let them go. It’s as pathetic as it sounds. The trip back to Earth isn’t that eventful either. There’s just some banter between the O5 X-men and the Guardians of the Galaxy. O5 Jean repeatedly conveys her gratitude. Groot even gets a little horny from the sight of so many trees. I guess I can’t be the only one involved in this story that doesn’t get a boner or whatever trees get when they’re horny. They’re basically space buddies now. The O5 X-men and the Guardians of the Galaxy are allies and when entire alien races are looking to screw them over, I guess it helps to have as many allies as possible.

In addition to having new allies, there are also some new romantic sub-plots that emerge. On the trip back, Kitty Pryde gets a little friendly with Starlord. She seems to have a thing for handsome rebellious space outlaws who have shitty parents. I’m guessing she’s the kind of girl that had a Han Solo poster over her bedroom as a girl and it allowed her to touch herself every night before going to bed. So before the Guardians of the Galaxy leave, Starlord gives her the cosmic equivalent of an iPhone so that they can keep in touch. That’s probably code for Starlord sending her pictures of his dick. But given how uptight Kitty has been since striking out with Colossus and Iceman, I think she needs to get laid.

This could have made for a fairly sweet, albeit still pretty flat resolution. Then O5 Cyclops drops an unexpected bombshell that really fucks up the moment. He announces that he’s leaving the team to spend time with his father in space. Now this isn’t coming out of nowhere. It was already announced weeks ago that O5 Cyclops was getting his own solo series to chronicle a new space adventure with Corsair. It just wasn’t clear whether he would still be part of the team. Well now we’ve got our answer. O5 Cyclops is leaving the team, at least temporarily, for some father/son time.

Now this in and of itself isn’t going to make anyone’s nuts hurt. But it still comes off as pretty damn contrived. We never see O5 Cyclops discuss this with his father. We never see him talk about it with his teammates. It’s like he decides right then and there to go on a space adventure with his father. It’s like waking up at three in the morning and deciding to take polka lessons. There’s no progression leading up to this decision. It makes sense only in the context of what has been revealed about Cyclops’s new series. But beyond that, it’s pretty damn weak.

It does cause some drama. I would argue that O5 Angel’s departure from the team caused way more, but it does have some effect. It leads to a moment with O5 Jean, but one that’s incredibly under-developed and underwhelming. O5 Cyclops basically acknowledges their future together. He doesn’t show that he wants to change it and neither does O5 Jean. He just says that this decision to leave might be best for the both of them. So this whole sub-plot about their relationship basically gets put on hold so he can hang out in space with his dad. It doesn’t effectively One More Day the Cyclops/Jean relationship or do anything to revise its history. It just makes clear that the issues between them are still unresolved and they’re going to just put them on hold for now. So long as I have plenty of booze and weed to tide me over, I’m okay with that.

It makes for a somewhat hollow ending. O5 Cyclops leaves. The rest of the team worries about what this could mean and how this could affect them if they find a way to go back to their own time. And O5 Jean shows signs that she’s not quite as in-control of this new power as she claims to be. It looks like the seeds of Xorna have been planted and now she doesn’t have O5 Cyclops around to distract her hormones. That could be a pretty bad sign. But it’s all still somewhat flat. The trial is over, but it doesn’t feel like justice or injustice for that matter was served. It’s like only eating half a plate of bacon. It’s still delicious, but unsatisfying in the end.

The Trial of Jean Grey has been working on a pretty epic scale. It has to if it’s going to accommodate the Guardians of the Galaxy, the All New X-men, and the Starjammers in a full on brawl with the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. That’s like WrestleMania on crack, meth, and Red Bull. So much was made of holding O5 Jean accountable for the crimes she committed in the future. However, not much really came from it other than O5 Jean leveling up her powers. No verdict was ever rendered. Nobody really came to a resolution. O5 Cyclops just basically threatened Gladiator until he declared it a mistrial. Granted, he did so in the most badass way possible. It still left too many loose ends. But they weren’t too lose or too egregious. They could have easily been resolved. But for whatever reason, the ending was rushed and all we got out of it were a few jokes from Groot and Rocket Raccoon.

It’s not much of a payoff, but it does take the overall theme of All New X-men and Guardians of the Galaxy to the next level. It even starts a budding romance between Starlord and Kitty Pryde. And if there’s a possibility that a few new characters can get laid, I think that’s a bonus. I won’t say that the Trial of Jean Grey is an epic achievement. It had the potential to be, but it stopped short and on purpose. So in that sense it’s neither a success nor a failure. It’s just an overly open-ended resolution. It’s basically a mistrial, but the case isn’t being thrown out. For Guardians of the Galaxy #13, I give it a 7 out of 10. For the Trial of Jean Grey as a whole, I also give it a 7 out of 10. Justice was not exactly served, but it wasn’t pissed on either. That’s more than anyone can say about the criminals at Goldman Sachs and Enron. And in this day and age, just avoiding having a story go horribly wrong and falling completely flat counts as a win. Nuff said!

Scanned Thoughts: X-men #12

Some days it really feels like the world is conspiring against me and it’s not just the days I wake up in my ex-girlfriend’s basement handcuffed to a radiator with a strange burn mark on my ass. Sometimes it just feels like I’ve got a shitty luck streak going. I hit every red light, my internet connection slows down, or the liquor store is out of my favorite brand of whiskey. It’s like karma is a fucking Bond villain and I’m a much less coordinated James Bond. I imagine the X-men get that same feeling much more often. But I also imagine that their sentiment is based more on actual fact and less on just drunken brooding. In Brian Wood’s all female X-men, they’ve been dealing with an enemy that has been conspiring against them in Arkea and she has been doing a damn good job of it. She has reconvened the Sisterhood and she makes staying ahead of the X-women look way too damn easy. She now has Selene on her side and Goblin Queen is about to join her. In many ways that makes her better than a Bond villain because it skips the part where some creepy old guy has a woman way too beautiful at his side. Since there are enough creepy old guys, I’m willing to give X-men #12 some extra points from the get-go. But given the lukewarm results of the previous few issues, I won’t be giving much.

The less-than-shocking end with Ana Cortes saying “fuck this” and stabbing herself didn’t make too many waves. And maybe that’s a good thing because it didn’t need to be more chaotic or fucked up than it already was. She stabs herself, Arkea shrugs it off, and then she brings her back to life. Yes, it is a dick move even by her standards. But I guess it really is just that hard to find good henchmen these days, especially ones that look so damn good in skin-tight outfits. The problem is that she has basically revealed that there are cracks in Arkea’s control. If one spoiled Paris Hilton wannabe can break her hold, then what hope does Akrea have of maintaining that hold? She really doesn’t do shit other than bring Lady Deathstrike back into the fold and if Lady Deathstrike turns on Akrea, she’s definitely going to put up more of a fight than a fucking Paris Hilton wannabe.

In the end she may not have to because bringing Ana Cortes/Lady Deathstrike back from the dead is basically just a warm-up. While it was only a cruel cock-tease in the previous issue, the boners can finally rise freely this time. It’s official now. Madelyne Pryor is back. Her resurrection isn’t shown. Hell, the only thing we see is her walking around in a towel and putting on a sexy new outfit that looks like a cross between a stripper and Hillary Clinton. Honestly, I’ll gladly take that over any fancy resurrection scene.

Just like Selene, Madelyne Pryor shows her appreciation for being brought back to the world of the living. It doesn’t look like she’ll pull the same stunt as Ana. Having been a disembodied spirit previously who probably got sick of watching Cyclops hump Emma Frost, I imagine she’ll gladly kiss Akrea for bringing her back. My penis badly wants this to happen, but it doesn’t sadly. Even so, this issue is already worth its price to see Madelyne Pryor alive in the flesh again and not as some bullshit disembodied spirit. Now every penis not attached to Cyclops can rejoice. The Goblin Queen is back and she’s got some pretty dangerous bitches as her allies.

Her resurrection comes at a critical time as well. For the past few issues, Arkea and the Sisterhood have stayed a step ahead of the all-female X-men. They even managed to rough them up on a few occasions. If Arkea was a Bond villain, this would usually be the part where James Bond waits for her to fuck up and/or seduce her sister/daughter/wife/confidante/etc. Sadly, there’s no need for seduction this time. The all-female X-men don’t need the cunning of James Bond. They just need the vast resources of the Jean Grey Institute and help from Arkea’s brother, John Sublime, who has many reasons to screw her over. I said they didn’t need the same cunning. I never said it would be that impressive.

It’s a somewhat bland method of putting the team in a position to confront the Sisterhood. They just track Akrea to a single location, revealing that Ana Cortes tipped them off at some point that isn’t made all that clear. It allows them to finally catch up to the Sisterhood before they can slip away again and launch their attack. Now this isn’t one of those occasions where the details are sorely lacking. They’re there, but they’re just undeveloped. Had I read this comic sober, I might have had a problem with that. But my penis is too excited about the prospect of an all-female battle and I usually defer to my penis in these instances.

The all-female X-men lead with their big gun, namely Monet. She actually has a lot of incentive to be the first one to throw a punch and not just because she has the strength a million teenage girls with bad PMS. In an earlier issue, the Enchantress really fucked her up and not in a way I could masturbate to either (although I tried). She actually almost killed Monet. Well Monet made sure she regretted not finishing the job because when she lands, she knocks the Enchantress into a fucking crater. It’s an effective strategy, taking out the Asgardian who could really fuck up the battle with her magic. But that’s only secondary for Monet. She doesn’t just badly injure the Enchantress. She adds a few generous taunts that would probably get her ejected from a football game unless she was named Terrell Owens. Now I’m not much of a Monet fan, but this scene made me love her and fear her. And that’s a win-win for any beautiful woman, hero or villain.

With their hot blond magic wilder down for the count, Arkea is in half-fuckton of trouble. She probably didn’t anticipate Ana screwing her over like this so now she has to get through the all-female X-men. And these are the same all-female X-men that beat her once before in an earlier arc. But during that arc, she didn’t have allies in Selene or Madelyne Pryor. So when Storm and Rachel Grey confront her while she’s trying to slip out, they generously help repay Arkea for bringing them back to life. This means Arkea fucks with Storm’s lightning while Madelyne Pryor mind-fucks Rachel. I’m sure it doesn’t soak her panties as much as it would if she were mind-fucking Cyclops, but that doesn’t stop her from enjoying it. The battle itself isn’t really that epic or that flashy. But it’s Madelyne Pryror’s first real battle since Reagan was still President. It can’t exactly be Wrestlemania.

The fight between Psylocke and Typhoid Mary is slightly more epic and by that I mean lopsided. The battle began with Psylocke taunting Typhoid Mary psychically. This made her look more vulnerable than a wounded bunny in a den of hungry wolves. Then when Psylocke actually attacks, Typhoid Mary might as well be an anorexic cheerleader in a sumo wrestling match. It’s still a more detailed battle, filled with the kind of action that could only be more awesome if they did it in their underwear covered in bacon grease. Typhoid Mary does put up somewhat of a fight, but Psylocke overmatches her in way too many ways. She even reminds her that as soon as they beat Arkea, then she goes back to being just another obscure redhead with multiple personalities. And now that Jean Grey is back in the X-books, she has no chance.

For a while, it looks like the battle with Arkea will be more balanced. She is packing a lot more firepower than Typhoid Mary. However, any advantage she might have had against Storm and Rachel quickly disappears the moment a pissed off Monet catches up with her. And since the body Arkea is inhabiting isn’t exactly the Hulk, she’s also overmatched. She tries pointing out that she’s a fucking plague who has infested most of the planet. Then the all-female X-men team point out that they still have John Sublime on their side, who may or may not have a boner for Rachel Grey, and he has been all too eager to help them screw her over. So they have already neutralized her little infestation. Psylocke and Omega Sentinel even catch up, making sure she has nowhere to fucking run.

But what about the Black Queen and the Goblin Queen? Why aren’t they coming to her aid? Well this is where it doesn’t really take much cunning. It only takes a little mild diplomacy, namely the kind that gives George W. Bush and Dick Cheney migraines. Storm basically makes a deal with them. They’ll allow them to walk away and won’t bother them if they just let them fuck up Arkea. Seeing as how Arkea was looking to control them and that already lead Ana Cortes to stab herself, it’s not an unreasonable move. Since they both just came back to the world of the living, I imagine they’ll want to visit a few spas before they risk getting killed by the X-men and/or ex-husbands again. So they ditch Arkea just as Ana did, minus the stabbing. Hell, they come out as the only winners in this battle because they got resurrected and didn’t have to do a damn thing to repay it. They basically skipped the part where they had to become mindless zombies and like hitting a jackpot in Las Vegas, it’s best to quit while they’re ahead before they blow too much of their winnings on booze and hookers.

With no more Sisterhood to back her up, Arkea is defeated in an exceedingly inglorious way. Monet uses a special gun that John Sublime helped them make. It destroys Arkea, but doesn’t kill the host. So everybody else wins while Arkea loses. There are no hard decisions to make like the first time and there’s not much drama. It makes for a somewhat muted end. The only thing that does add some sense of drama is Omega Sentinel’s announcement that she’s not going back to the Jean Grey Institute. She would rather run off with Gabriel and probably reenact scenes from 50 Shades of Grey on a beach in Tahiti. None of the other X-women blame her. At least one of them should end up with a handsome man who isn’t as creepy as John Sublime. It might as well be Omega Sentinel, the first girl that Arkea screwed over.

While her departure isn’t all that heartfelt, it is fitting. Omega Sentinel was a major player in Arkea’s first attack. She also hasn’t really done much to distinguish herself in this book or any of the other X-books. She’s basically a D-list character trying to find an opening where there is none. With Monet back in the fold and the X-books crowded with kick-ass women, she might as well take a vacation. I’m sure the others will envy her. At least she won’t have to be involved when Selene and Madelyne Pryror come back around to make them regret being so diplomatic. She doesn’t need to be Vladimir Putin to know how that shit is going to turn out.

The ending to the Arkea battle wasn’t too spectacular, but it was satisfying. The same can’t be said for the other plot that has been convoluting the story for the past few issues. For whatever reason, a story about a bunch of C-list X-men fighting a bunch of rusted Sentinels is seen as a story worth telling. I can see that being a side-plot to a single issue, but this shit has already lasted three issues and I smoke way too much weed to pay that kind of attention. There’s nothing all that interesting here. Jubilee survives a surprise attack. Kid Omega shows up to flaunt his shit like Ron Jeremy in a locker room. The Sentinels just crumble in the most predictable manner possible.

The only real substance here is some poorly developed lesbian side-plot and not of the sexy kind. Roxy has been trying to cop a feel from Mercury the past few issues. It resulted with Mercury punching Roxy in the face. I’m sure if Roxy had balls, those would have been kicked as well. But not much comes of that. They just agree to get along. They don’t even try to make out. It’s by far the worst lesbian love story since Rosanne’s stint on The View. There’s no suspense and really no connection with the Arkea plot. It’s so forgettable that after a few bong hits, it might as well have never happened.

Once again, this issue was divided into two separate plots. One plot was awesome and the other was more forgettable than Dennis Rodman’s acting career. But this time, the plot that was awesome took up most of the issue while the plot that sucked was cleaned up like a crusted over scab. While I wouldn’t have minded if the whole rusted Sentinel battle was replaced by a single panel of Jubilee filing her nails and spitting on the wreckage, I do think there’s something to be said about a shitty plot actually being seen through to the end. A drunk like me would have just taken a “let’s not and say we did approach” before getting another case of whiskey. That way if I pass out drunk, I have an excuse. Well there were no excuses made for this issue. It bit the bullet and finished the story. And at least one of those endings was pretty damn satisfying and not just because it left the door open for Selene and Madelyne Pryor to run around in black lingerie. The story with Monet, Arkea, and Lady Deathstrike effectively ended. It wasn’t terribly epic, but it worked. I give X-men #12 a 7 out of 10. In the future, pitting Jubilee and a team of C-list X-men against an army of rusted Sentinels need not cut into an actual story. Just make it a Danger Room simulation or one of Wolverine’s hangover cures, and it works just as well. Nuff said!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Having It All And Wanting More: Captain Marvel #1

The following is my review of Captain Marvel #1, which was posted on

The concept of “having it all” is one of those fantasies that can easily become an unhealthy obsession. Sometimes it becomes so unhealthy that in attempting to “have it all,” the most common result is losing it all. The human mind and the human body can only handle so much. And while some are capable of handling more than others, few are ever satisfied with their limits. For someone with the superhuman limits of Carol Danvers, that creates a pretty distressing mentality. However, her desire and ambition to expanding those limits is what makes her persona in Captain Marvel #1 so appealing. She even manages to do this in a way that doesn’t come off as egotistical or petty. She’s basically the antithesis of the Superior Spider-Man.

Carol Danvers has already moved up in the Marvel universe. She graduated from her Miss Marvel moniker and adopted the title of Captain Marvel. This role didn’t just give her a more gender neutral title while reaffirming her role as one of Avenger’s heaviest hitters. Taking on that title also meant her skills and her power could no longer be restricted to one planet. Like the previous Captain Marvel, she had to see herself in a larger role with a much bigger mission. And it’s a role she’s eager in some ways to adopt and reluctant in others. The admitted Star Wars fan in her loves the idea, but the normal woman she used to be has reservations. It’s one thing to move to a new country for her job. It’s quite another to take it into the depths of space.

It also doesn’t help that Carol struggles to articulate those reservations throughout this issue. It shows every bit as clearly as her love of Star Wars. Even though her conflicts are drawing her away from Earth, she still maintains strong connections with family, friends, and a love interest in James Rhodes. In some ways it shows that Captain Marvel has done a pretty good job of “having it all.” She’s powerful, she’s beautiful, she’s an Avenger, and she has a family that she hasn’t alienated yet. That’s something even Bruce Wayne can’t say he’s achieved. Yet it’s still not enough for her. That’s why she wants to take her mission into space. She doesn’t give the impression that she’s bored with the constant Thanos attacks and Skrull incursions on Earth. She just sees this as the next logical step.

But even with the title of Captain Marvel, it doesn’t prevent Carol from being overwhelmed. If she weren’t overwhelmed by such a notion, she would be Lex Luthor and not the charismatic hero that has endeared herself to so many. But in conversations with both Iron Man and Rhodes, she shows a kind of restlessness that’s usually reserved for people waiting in line for the next Apple gadget. Even her own family notices this. She just can’t be content with her state of affairs and she realizes that on some levels. She just isn’t sure how to deal with it.

In that sense, the conflict Carol faces in Captain Marvel #1 is not unlike the conflict a lot of men and women face in their endless pursuit of “having it all.” TV, movies, and cheesy music have gone to great lengths to convince everyone that they can “have it all.” They can have a loving family, a successful and lucrative career, a body worthy of a supermodel, and a sex life worthy of its own lingerie line. It all seems so appealing and it is. What these gimmicks don’t say is that there are only so many hours in the day and only so many opportunities to achieve even one of these things. Being able to achieve them all is like hitting multiple lottery jackpots.

In that sense, Carol Danvers has already hit those jackpots and then some. She is young and beautiful. She has been imbued with great power that affords her the kind of stamina that stay-at-home moms and underpaid factory workers only wish they had. And in Captain Marvel #1, she is basically handed an opportunity to achieve even more. Yet at times, she still isn’t entirely sure of what she wants or what her definition of “having it all” even entails. For someone like her, the bar isn’t just higher. It’s in another time zone. But in the end, she chooses to go after it even if it means leaving other opportunities behind.

This is one of the most powerful messages within Captain Marvel #1. Despite all her reservations and her restlessness, Carol decides to shoot for the stars in both a literal and figurative sense. She doesn’t quite understand what she wants, but she knows how to go about finding it. This essentially sets the tone for the series as a whole. Captain Marvel is looking to go above and beyond to be worthy of her title. She shows the kind of ambition that makes her more than just superhuman. Despite all her power, she’s still very human and still very driven to be part of something greater. The Avengers may give her plenty of opportunities to flex her muscles, but they don’t offer many opportunities for personal growth. There’s really only so much growth anyone can achieve by fighting creatures like Thanos.

There’s a lot that goes into “having it all,” but everyone’s standard is different. Captain Marvel #1 shows Carol Danvers adopting a new standard for herself. That standard feels overdue in some ways. While her reservations may make her painfully human, they sometimes come off as excuses that cause her unfolding story to drag. But despite her hesitation, she eventually does make a few very important decisions that promise to affect the course of her character moving forward. It also gives her a chance to live out her every Star Wars fantasy, which may very well add to her ambition.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Friday, March 21, 2014

Amazing X-men #6 Preview - Awkward Re-Birthday Party

I’ve been to more than my share of awkward birthday parties and I’m not just talking about the ones that end with me getting drunk and picking a fight with a clown. That happens enough whenever the circus comes to town. Some parties are just so awkward that I have to slip myself a rooffie just to get through it faster. Sure, it sometimes ends with me being tied to a playground slide with no pants and clown makeup on my face, but some awkwardness is more tolerable than others.

I imagine this is the kind of awkwardness that Nightcrawler will experience once he returns to world of the living on a full-time basis. It has already been revealed in future solicits that Nightcrawler will not be sticking around Heaven, hanging out at Jimmie Hendrick’s concerts and smoking joints with Bob Marley. He can’t stay dead if he’s getting his own series written by the patron saint of X-men comics himself, Chris Claremont. But coming back to the world of the living means being reminded just how much the world sucks. And since Nightcrawler has been dead, the amount of suck has increased considerably.

When Nightcrawler died during Second Coming, the entire mutant race could live on one tiny little island in San Francisco. The team was still united under Cyclops’s leadership, Charles Xavier was still alive, and Rachel Grey was still stuck in space with Havok and Polaris. Since then, a whole lot of crazy shit has happened. First came Schism. Then came Avengers vs. X-men. Then the O5 X-men were plucked from the past, brought to the present, and eventually alienated to the point where they joined Cyclops, who happens to be a wanted fugitive. I know Nightcrawler is a man of great faith, but even God couldn’t give him the strength to process this shit.

But he’s going to have to find that strength because in an unlettered preview released by CBR, Nightcrawler is going to have a nice little re-birthday with Wolverine at a bar. But while he might be content to just get drunk and wait to catch up on all the crazy shit that has happened since his death, Cyclops decides to crash the party. Then Mystique decides to crash it as well. So now he, Wolverine, and pretty much everyone else on the team is going to have even more reasons to drink. That usually means the party will be even more awesome or it’ll be even more of a disaster. Either way should be pretty fucking entertaining.

This April, the journey comes to its end as the blockbuster Quest for Nightcrawler arc reaches its epic conclusion in AMAZING X-MEN #6. From critically acclaimed creators Jason Aaron and Cameron Stewart – they have battled the very forces of hell to return Kurt to his rightful place beside the X-Men, and his resurrection is within reach. But to defeat Azazel and his demonic hordes – Kurt will have to sacrifice everything! Plus – don’t miss the confrontation that will have everyone talking: Nightcrawler vs. Mystique on the grounds of the Jean Grey School. You do not want to miss the epic conclusion when AMAZING X-MEN #6 hits comic shops this April!

This is once instance where it doesn’t really matter if the preview is unlettered. It’s easy to tell that Cyclops showing up is going to be more awkward than Rush Limbaugh at a mosque during Ramadan. But what the hell can he possibly say to Nightcrawler? I don’t think either of them have forgotten that Nightcrawler died because of Cyclops’s efforts to rescue Hope fucking Summers from Bastion. In hindsight, I don’t think that was a fair trade in the slightest. Now Nightcrawler is probably the second most forgiving person who ever lived after Jesus. But how is he going to forgive Cyclops for that shit? Let alone what happened to the Professor. It’s already clear that Nightcrawler sides with Wolverine in the current schism. Is there any hope that this won’t end with a bar fight? I say it’s a 50-50 shot at this point.

Then there’s Mystique. Fuck me with a habanero pepper, there’s Mystique. Maybe 10 years ago, this encounter might be a bit more interesting. But for the past several years, Mystique has firmly established herself as an unrepentant psychopath who just enjoys tormenting her enemies and that’s about it. She has none of the depth or the charisma she used to have. She might as well be a fucking Terminator at this point. She’s still sexy as hell, but she has done nothing to show that she’s anything more than a psychopath. Now she has a chance to see her son again who she thought had died. And from the looks of it, this doesn’t change jack shit.

Now maybe it’s because I had a hell of a crush on Mystique during my awkward youth before I discovered internet porn, but I fucking hate what has been done to her. Now here’s an opportunity to change that and maybe make Mystique a little more than just some crazy psycho bitch. But instead, she’s going to just keep being that crazy psycho bitch. It’s probably not going to change Nightcrawler in the slightest. Hell, I think he’s used to having psycho parents at this point. But it’s a missed opportunity to actually do something better with Mystique and like my last drug test, any opportunity of it turning out well is all pissed away.

I still love that Nightcrawler is coming back. He gives some badly needed heart to the X-books at a time when the shit storm from Avengers vs. X-men still hasn’t settled. He’s one of the best parts of the X-men’s future and hopefully the O5 X-men get to experience that. There are so many awesome things that could come from Nightcrawler’s return and it all begins in a celebration full of beer and awkwardness. That couldn’t be more appropriate without strippers, but since Emma Frost is showing up as well I think they’ll have that covered. Nuff said!

X-men Supreme Issue 97: Uneasy Truce PREVIEW and Contact Notice

It's almost over. Another era of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series is nearly complete. The scale and scope of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear has taken the X-men, their allies, and their enemies in many different directions. At times, it has been downright chaotic. So many forces beyond their control have been bombarding them from every possible angle. There have been personal struggles like Wolverine's past in Japan and Professor Charles Xavier's failing health. There have been much larger struggles against the Cambrian and a mentally unstable Magneto armed with alien technology. Those struggles have led to new allies like Colossus joining the team while others such as Rogue and Nightcrawler have taken a leave of absence. Now with the final arc complete, there is just one issue left to close the chapter on this era of X-men Supreme and set the stage for another.

Since I began this fanfiction series, one of my goals was to establish a sense of progression with this incarnation of X-men. A common problem that the comics, cartoons, and movies often face is stagnation. There are only so many times that the X-men can triumph over Sentinels and the Brotherhood before it gets dull. The characters and the world they live in has to keep evolving. While Marvel has done a pretty good job of evolving their characters, I feel as though the world those characters inhabit doesn't evolve enough. I've tried to make the world of X-men Supreme react and change in accord with major events. From the uprising on Genosha to the election of Robert Kelly, I want to treat the world of X-men Supreme as its own character.

Now with the end of the Time Bomb arc, that world is entering a bold new chapter. Magneto attempted one last misguided attack using alien technology. While the X-men and the Brotherhood were able to defeat him, the hostility that has been building since the Cambrian attack has not abated. General Grimshaw and President Kelly have been eager to hold Magneto accountable for his crimes, but now he's gone. So how can any peace come from these circumstances? Well at the end of Time Bomb, the X-men and the Brotherhood were left with an important bargaining chip. Warlock, the AI from a crashed Shi'ar ship, has been activated and is ready for use. This technology is of immense value to a world that is still rebuilding from the Cambrian. And through this technology, a new foundation for peace can be forged. However, that peace will be fragile at best. And that's what I hope to convey in the final issue of X-men Supreme Volume 4: Politics of Fear. I've prepared an extended preview of what to expect from the end of this era of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

“This deal is going to come back to bite us. I know it,” he mused as he gazed out over the main balcony of the throne room.

“We know, Pietro. You’ve been reminding us at least ten times a day since it happened,” said an exasperated Wanda Maximoff.

“I wouldn’t have to repeat myself if somebody actually took it seriously.”

“We are taking this seriously, Pietro,” said Professor Xavier, who was right behind Wanda, “I’ve been interfacing with Warlock for the past few days. I’ve made sure that the data records I’ve been distributing are clean of incriminating information. That includes advanced Shi’ar weapons and information regarding alien races.”

“We’ve also gone over every little piece of gear we’ve made with Warlock before parting with it. They’ll be able to build skyscrapers, cure disease, and travel into space with this technology, but they won’t be able to make a bomb out of it.”

“Yet,” Pietro pointed out.

“We’ll mitigate those problems as they come along. That makes cooperation all the more important,” said Professor Xavier.

“Sure doesn’t feel like cooperation,” muttered the speedster, “Feels more like bargaining.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” scolded Wanda, “This technology is Genosha’s greatest asset. Trading it in exchange for peace and sovereignty seems like a pretty fair deal in my book.”

“Think of it this way…if goods and ideas don’t cross boarders, troops surely will,” Xavier added.

Pietro still wasn’t convinced. It all seemed so clean on the surface. Looking out over the city, they could see the peacekeeping troops marching towards their new base in the south. They could even hear the cheers of their mutant citizens, waving goodbye to the occupiers and celebrating their renewed sovereignty. That was just what was on the surface. Having been raised by Magneto, Pietro Maximoff always looked beyond the surface to see the potential danger.

“I know what you’re thinking, Pietro. And I’m inclined to agree. Father would certainly be against this,” Wanda conceded.

“It isn’t just about Father,” said Pietro, “As far as I’m concerned, what he thinks is about as important as what he has for breakfast. Sure, he went crazy. That doesn’t mean we should forget the lessons he taught us.”

“Which lessons are those? The ones about never trusting the outside world even if it means more death and destruction?” said Wanda with folded arms.

“I’m talking about the ones involving why we shouldn’t trust humans, damn it! We could give them all the technology in the world. They could use it to make rocket powered iPods and adamantium encrusted dildos for all we know. That won’t stop them from hating our kind.”

“We have more important things to worry about besides how much humans hate mutants, Pietro. I think you’re losing sight of what we’re doing here.”

“Yeah? Well maybe you’re losing sight as well! Ever since we forged this new mutant country, you’ve been a lot less inclined to stick your neck out for our people! Father’s goal from the beginning to was lead us against human oppression! Now we’re making deals with those same oppressors?”

“I’m trying to give them less incentive to oppress us, Pietro!”

“Well keep telling yourself that, Wanda! And I’ll keep worrying about the price we’ll end up paying if we try too hard.”

Wanda fought the urge to hex her brother right off the balcony. Professor Xavier helped her resist that inclination. Pietro was right on some levels. Her outlook had changed since they arrived on Genosha. She was no longer a champion of mutant domination as her father had taught her. She saw more merit in sheltering their kind and protecting them from oppression. However, she wasn’t willing to become an oppressor herself. It was a fine line she walked because she was bitter towards humanity to an extent. She just wasn’t bitter enough to support her father’s methods.

Sensing the escalating tension, Professor Xavier intervened. He expected Pietro’s attitude to play a part in this peacemaking process. However, this was one process with which Pietro refused to keep up.

“Please Pietro…your father’s goals, misguided or not, shouldn’t stand in the way of the goals we have now,” coaxed the Professor.

“Don’t ask me to forget about my father!” said Pietro bitterly, shaking of a gesture from Xavier, “It’s been hard enough watching him disappear. It’s been even harder on Lorna. Lucky for her, she has Alex Summers comforting her.”

“Let’s not get into that discussion, Pietro,” groaned Wanda, “We’re all upset by father’s departure and Lorna was the one who could reach him better than either of us.”

“Well now Alex is reaching her in all sorts of ways since then. And I thought he was supposed to lead the Brotherhood in wrestling the authority away from the troops.”

“He’s doing his part, Pietro. We all are,” said Professor Xavier strongly, “I’m not suggesting you should forget about your father. I’m not inclined to forget about him either. He’s still a good friend to me and I hope that wherever he may be, he has found the peace he desperately needs.”

“Spare me the pity talk, Professor. You know he’ll be back,” scoffed Pietro.

“I don’t doubt that. I know Erik is not the kind to stay away from something this important. With that in mind, we have even more reason to succeed in this endeavor. That way when he does return he will see a world that hasn’t lost hope.”

“As if hope was ever his biggest problem,” muttered the speedster, “Even if we succeed, that doesn’t mean we’ll prove him wrong.”

Pietro turned around from the balcony and barged past the Professor and his sister. He had enough of this pointless debate. They weren’t going to convince him this was right and he wasn’t going to convince them that this was dangerous. Even if it worked, that didn’t vindicate this deal or discredit Magneto. In the end it may end up proving him right.

“Pietro…” groaned Wanda.

“I’m through talking about this,” he said firmly, “I’m going to catch up with Lance and Quentin. Since Havok won’t get off our sister, someone has to pick up the slack.”

In a speedy burst, Pietro disappeared in speedy a gust of wind. Wanda sighed in frustration while Professor Xavier just shook his head. Nobody assumed there was no danger with this deal. Wanda understood these risks and took them into account at every turn. It didn’t seem as though Pietro would ever accept them. It was just one more challenge among many they had before them.

“Just once I wish my brother wasn’t such a headache!” groaned Wanda, “Why do we always have to fight at times when we should be supporting one another?”

“Speaking as someone who has clashed with family before, that may be something as basic as sibling rivalry,” said Xavier with a light-hearted smile.

“I hope that’s all it is,” she sighed, “Because what if he’s right? What if this deal does lead to something we can’t control?”

“Then we’ll deal with it,” said Xavier strongly, “This isn’t something you’ll have to face on your own, Wanda. You’ll have allies in the X-men and allies in the international community. This technology gives some very powerful parties a very strong incentive to maintain peace. We’ll need that incentive as we move forward.”

Only one issue remains for this era of X-men Supreme. As I've stated before, I already intend to pursue X-men Supreme Volume 5 and another entry of X-men Supreme Reflections. However, the future beyond that point is still tentative. I work long and hard on this fanfiction series. And lately, I've been pursuing other side-projects unrelated to X-men Supreme. And in recent times, feedback and reviews for X-men Supreme have been declining. At this current rate, it will get to a point where I can no longer justify the work I put into this fanfiction series. So there is a chance that X-men Supreme may end at some point. I will not say for certain, but those who want to see this fanfiction series continue can influence my decision by simply taking the time to provide feedback. Please contact me at any time or just post your comments in each issue. I am very good at responding and I'm always happy to chat X-men.

Please Note: I recently discovered that my email filter may have been blocking out messages sent through this website's contact form. I have since fixed this. But anyone who may have tried to send me a message before yesterday might not have gone through. Please re-send your message. It should go through this time. I apologize.

I have big plans for the X-men Supreme fanfiction series and I would hate to have to cut those plans short. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!