Saturday, September 29, 2012

X-men Legacy #274 - Past Relationships and Future Awesome

I just couldn't do it. I couldn't review another issue of X-men Legacy that involved the dongs of cat people. I'm sorry. I may be an X-men fan with a drinking problem, but I have my limits. I simply cannot bring myself to review a comic whose premise is too ridiculous no matter how much weed I smoke. It sure didn't help that X-men Legacy did such a great job of tying in with Avengers vs. X-men at first, only to piss it all away for fucking cat people dongs. I've been on the business end of some pretty shitty trades, namely one where I unknowingly gave a couple hundred bucks to a guy who sold me Flintstone vitamins and claimed they were ecstasy. But there's no fair trade for cat people dongs.

Thankfully, that story was over and t ended as predictably as it should with Rogue getting back to her world just in time for the shit storm in Avengers vs. X-men #11. That comic may have sucked, but at least it didn't involve cat people dongs. Sorry if I seem like I'm beating a dead horse here, but some shit is just too hard to forget no matter how many brain cells you kill. And as bad as that story was, I'm not inclined to just ditch X-men Legacy. The series is one of the numerous titles that will be relaunching as part of the Marvel NOW! non-reboot that Marvel is hyping. That means there are only a few issues left with which to tie up loose ends and I might as well check them out before the non-reboot brings in a different kind of dong.

As much as I've enjoyed X-men Legacy, there is one aspect aside from dongs that makes my asshole clench like a Rabbi in Iran. That's the Rogue/Magneto relationship. Now Marvel has a long list of shitty, downright toxic relationships in their comics. Hell, they've had Hank Pym beat the shit out of his wife for making a joke about how many Pym particles it took to make his dick big. But this relationship was like a two hungry cannibals drenched in steak sauce going down on each other. It was bound to go horribly bad at some point. So when Rogue left for the Jean Grey Institute and Magneto stayed on Genosha, my stomach rejoiced. Now it could save the vomiting for alcohol and cocaine benders in Cancun. However, they never officially wrapped up this abomination of a relationship. And that's what X-men Legacy #274 is expected to do.

Now in reading this comic, we do get exposed to a few spoilers for Avengers vs. X-men. But they're about as surprising as Ricky Martin's sexuality. The X-men lost. The utopian world the Phoenix Five created was blown to shit. And now everybody hates mutants again and not the assholes (the Avengers) who picked a fight with them. It means people are in danger, buildings have collapsed, and wi-fi signals are weak. So despite humans having more reasons to piss themselves around mutants, Rogue tries to help in Washington DC with rescue efforts. She gets a gun pointed at her, but it still beats cat people dongs. Okay, I promise that'll be the last dong reference.

Since it has been a while since Magneto used a tragedy to try and snake his way into Rogue's panties, he shows up and offers to help. He also gets a few guns pointed at him (and by a few I mean a shit ton along with automatic weapons) and more deservedly so. This is a guy who talks about wiping out the human race as casually as most people talk about ordering Chinese food. Yet for some reason that still got Rogue's panties wet. I'll never understand that in the same way I'll never understand why supermodels marry butt-ugly rock stars, but for the sake of this comic I'll hold back my nausea. Rogue also manages to hold back the guys with the guns, as if she really needed to against a guy who could have easily turned them on everyone and danced to the sound of their blood hitting the pavement. But he didn't. He's here for Rogue's pussy and not for killing humans. As such, he agrees to help her free the people trapped in the subway. Plus, it means being in an enclosed space with her and anyone who has been in a closet with a drunk chick knows how all sorts of crazy shit can happen in that environment.

But there's crazy and there's just plain fucked up. As they're sifting their way through the wreckage, Magneto gets down on one knee and not in a way that would lead you to believe he's trying out for gay porn. My stomach almost declared war on me on the spot, but thankfully Gage isn't quite that cruel. Magneto wasn't proposing. It just looked like he was, so much so that even Rogue got a little sickened. Magneto quickly tucks it back in his pants before explaining that since the world nearly came to an end (again and not by his hands for once), it's led him to reevaluate his priorities. And her pussy is now at the top of the list. He tells her this after he casually justifies what he did during Avengers vs. X-men as always doing what's best for mutants. And if humans get in the way, fuck them. Considering the casual way in which he talks about both subjects, I can't see how any sober woman that hasn't dated Charlie Sheen could take him seriously.

And this is a microcosm of why the Rogue/Magneto relationship is so utterly fucked. How can you take Magento's affections seriously when the only thing he takes seriously involve mutants dominating humans? I'm not saying he's incapable of feeling love. I'm just saying that love is only as deep as Michael Vick's love for dogs. That's why their relationship was like nitro and glycerine. Alone, they're okay. But together, shit is just bound to blow up and not in the way that makes for a good porno.

Thankfully, Rogue doesn't get a chance to respond to Magento's affections. Unlike him, she still gives a damn about innocent people. That includes the people whose blood Magneto would gladly use as anal lube if he was so inclined. So despite her panties remaining locked, he helps her free some innocent people who were trapped in the rubble of a subway car. Magneto even offers her some of his power to help, but she's extremely reluctant to touch him. I'm pretty sure she knows she's just going to get images of his fantasies of her in stiletto heels covered in Nazi blood and she doesn't need that when she's trying to rescue people.

But not everyone is lucky enough to just be trapped. Rogue comes across a guy named Richard who was unlucky enough to be impaled in the wreckage. Surprisingly, he has a good sense of humor about it. At this point the rubble is starting to give way and he's wounded to the point where even Dr. House wouldn't be able to save him. He seems to know this and while Rogue is trying to free him, he tells her about his own love story and unless you're a conservative Christian or Muslim it's a billion times more touching than Rogue and Magneto's relationship will ever be.

This guy, Richard, is a closet gay who works on Capitol Hill and presumably wasn't tweeted a picture of Anthony Weiner's penis. But he has a stud lover named Dale with whom he's been hiding his relationship. Now that he's dying, he's kicking himself for not giving the finger to the Christian Right and choosing to be with him. He also talks about heeding the decisions of those around him who think the asshole is only for shitting. Now he's realized how fucked that is and it's a beautiful thing. Again, if the whole homosexuality thing isn't for you, then you're probably not comfortable reading comics about minorities in the first place so go back to sucking Pat Robertson's dick.

Rogue manages to free him, but the tunnel finally collapses. It forces Magneto to give a damn about this dying man because Rogue is intent on saving him. He's able to use his powers to get them out, but it's too late for Richard. He's declared dead on the spot. It's tragic. A gay man dies while an old man with a history of supporting mass genocide against humanity lives and has the chance to bone a pretty girl. I'm pretty sure GLADD will send hate mail to Marvel for shit like this, but they already got a gay wedding in Astonishing X-men so I think Marvel can brush it off. It also clearly affects Rogue because Richard's situation was similar to hers, minus the sodomy. It only reinforces the notion that she needs to lock her panties from Magneto forever, but in the nicest way possible.

Rogue and Magneto finally have their overdue conversation in a park in the classic Hugh Grant moment. It gets to be sickening in some ways. They do share a kiss that should sit about as well as a stomach full of sulfuric acid, but Rogue makes it clear that she wants to take a lesson from Richard and not let other assholes decide her life for her. A part of her also understands that a guy willing to justify any atrocity for the good of his people is not someone she should be boning. In the end she makes clear that her decisions don't involve her and Magneto swapping body fluids. He seems to understand, but he doesn't give the impression that he's taken her pussy out of his list of priorities. It's a solid resolution, but not one that's absolute. So the potential for more of this stomach churning bullshit is still there, but far more tolerable and nothing a few shots of tequila and NyQuil can't fix.

Since Mike Carey's glory days on this series, X-men Legacy has been Rogue's journey. She's gone through her share of growth, drama, and tampons. She's one of the X-men's heavy hitters and this series has been a constant reminder why. But the Magneto relationship is like finding gay porn under Chuck Norris's bed. It's a rather disturbing aspect of an otherwise badass journey. Never-the-less, Christos Gage went out of his way to lay this shit to rest in this issue. And for that, my stomach and I thank him.

But this issue did more than just assure readers that they wouldn't have to endure any more thoughts of Magneto's wrinkly ball sack slapping against Rogue's chin. It showed how Rogue's journey had evolved. She's now in a very different place compared to where she was after Schism. She's at a crossroads in her life and ready to make her own decisions instead of letting others decide for her with some trying to snake their way into her panties. It also reminds readers that Magneto is still a tool who will justify all his bullshit under the guise of doing what's best for his people. He's not the kind of guy you want to bone sober and Rogue seems to finally understand that even if it took her way too fucking long. Even if these revelations were painfully obvious and long overdue, at least they've finally been addressed.

This alone makes the issue satisfying, but what definitely helps is the added drama of the gay couple that never got to say goodbye. If you're a registered Republican, it'll probably disgust you. But if you don't have that kind of evil in your heart, it'll add some extra emotion to the mix. Is it contrived? Fuck yes. But does it matter? Fuck no. The premise of this comic wasn't built around an epic struggle. It was a personal journey and each element linked up nicely in the end. For that I give X-men Legacy #274 a 3.5 out of 5.

So it's almost over. Just one issue left of X-men Legacy before the big non-reboot! Rogue is on her way to joining Uncanny Avengers while Magneto is on his way to justifying his next great atrocity. It's an exciting time for the X-books. Fuck Avengers vs. X-men and bring in Marvel NOW! Just leave out the cat people dongs. Nuff said!

Friday, September 28, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 63: The Phoenix Saga Part 1 is LIVE and New Jean Grey Commission

It's coming! I've been saying that for weeks as the X-men Supreme fanfiction series has neared its biggest event to date. It began back in X-men Supreme Volume 2: War Powers. It's been building all throughout X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope. Now it's no longer coming. It's here! The Phoenix Force is set to arrive in the pages of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series in a tale that will forever change the landscape of X-men Supreme.

The waiting is over. The moment has come. Jean Grey, the X-men, and the entire world I've created are now poised to cross paths with a cosmic entity. But as anyone who has followed Marvel's big Avengers vs. X-men event has seen or anyone who has ever followed a story involving the Phoenix Force knows all too well, the Phoenix is a very complex story. Over the years, it has changed both in nature and in scope. In some ways it has grown and in others it has become convoluted. Like many other classic X-men elements, I plan on making the nature and history of the Phoenix Force unique to the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. You'll notice elements from the comics, the cartoons, the movies, and even some that are entirely new. All I can promise is that it will feel like a true Phoenix story. And it begins today!

Issue 63: The Phoenix Saga Part 1

And since this story is so special to both me personally and X-men fans of every mold, I've made sure to include a special bonus with this issue that I haven't done with any issue beforehand. I've teamed up with my artist and friend, Brian Brinlee, to commission a special pin-up that shows Jean Grey in a distinct, X-men Supreme style Phoenix Force costume. It's something I've been hoping to include since I first planned out my Phoenix Saga. Now that it's here, I think it deserves something extra to convey the level of awesome. You can see the image both in the issue and in the X-men Supreme Official Panels section.

I'm very excited about the prospect for this story. I understand there are some very passionate X-men fans out there as well as some deeply devouted fans of Jean Grey. Rest assure, I intend to do those fans justice. That makes providing feedback all the more important. I know I say that a lot, but I mean it every time. One of the goals I set forth in establishing X-men Supreme was to acknowledge and account for feedback. If I'm doing something that readers think is wrong, I want to address it. I haven't received a whole lot of feedback through this website, but the little I have goes a long ways towards helping me make this fanfiction series better. I want to keep improving and the more feedback I get, the better it can be. So please be sure to post a review in each issue or contact me directly. Marvel may be done with their Phoenix story, but X-men Supreme is just getting warmed up! Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Xtreme X-men #4 - Old West Awesome

I've never been a fan of old westerns. There are only so many times I pay attention to a story that involves to cowboys standing in a dirt road, ready to shoot each other, and not realizing how utterly retarded it is to be standing directly in front of one another. All I know about old westerns is that there's a good cowboy meant to represent all the virtues that the Christian Right has been trying to shove down our throats for three decades and a bad cowboy meant to be Charlie Sheen's distant ancestor. It's fun the first time, but like jerking off to the same porno it eventually fails to get your dick hard again. So when Xtreme X-men is poised to go from a world of X-men demigods to a world of John Wayne ripoffs, I wasn't exactly thrilled.

That said, I'm usually willing to give cliched themes a shot just like I'm usually willing to give that old porno I mentioned a shot at getting my dick hard again. Sometimes it work. Sometimes it doesn't and I have to spend the next two hours on youporn finding something that will get me off when the blow still hasn't worn off. But given the recent success of Xtreme X-men, I think Greg Pak has earned the trust of both my dick and my tastes in X-men comics. He's done something that's not entirely novel by taking a B-list character in Dazzler and sending her on a universe-hopping adventure where she rubs elbows with all sorts of alternate reality X-men. However, he does it in a way that's just fun and enjoyable. It's not some radically stupid idea like trying to make an entire story about the Phoenix Force that doesn't involve Jean Grey. Okay, bad example.

Thankfully, Greg Pak is both able and willing to move a story forward in a coherent way without resorting to ADHD medications. The previous issue ended with Dazzler's X-men revealing that the Xavier in the world of X-gods was actually a divinely inspired douche-bag in that he cast an epic mind-fuck that made the X-men into holy assholes and the world into an unholy toilet. It's yet another instance of Charles Xavier being a universal douche-bag in a multi-verse of possibilities. Is it at all possible Dazzler and co. will EVER find a universe where Xavier doesn't make the reader want Cyclops to go Dark Phoenix and end his shit? Okay, another bad example. But you get the idea.

Xtreme X-men #4 introduces us to a world where the X-men live in a bad John Wayne movie. It's the old west complete with dusty roads, drinking, gambling, and presumably plenty of prostitutes. And like the old west, there's plenty of lawless shit going on. And wouldn't you know it? This world's version of Charles Xavier is the overbloated source of it all. He apparently still has telepathic powers in this world and rather than using them to get free blowjobs from the prostitutes, he uses them to cheat at cards. That in and of itself is pretty inane until he uses those same powers to make everybody's brain leak out of their ears when someone calls him out. Some men just aren't satisfied with blow jobs and in almost every instance, they tend to be evil.

Flash forward in time a bit so that evil Xavier has plenty of time to mind-fuck an entire town and time period. It's nowhere nearly as impressive as mind fucking a bunch of demigods, but I guess we can't expect every version of Xavier to be that badass. Dazzler, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, and their pet Xavier in a jar arrive just long enough to channel their inner Clint Eastwood. They also have time to steal some clothes that just happen to fit perfectly because apparently the old west offered a better selection than your average modern Wal-Mart. And after rolling into town doing their best to not look like inter-dimensional time travelers, they begin their mission to hunt down this world's evil Xavier. But wouldn't you know it? The old west tends to attract a lot of assholes and the X-men just aren't inclined to ignore assholes.

This time it comes in the form of a familiar looking kid named Jamie with a familiar set of claws. He and his mother get harassed by an old west style version of the Brotherhood, complete with a version of Toad that easily gets his ass kicked. They don't give much reason for harassing the kid and his mother. But the mere fact he has claws and a bad temper is enough to rouse Wolverine's inner Hamlet and attack these old west knock-offs.

It's a battle that's a fuckton more exciting than your typical shootout. Dazzler makes dueling look sexy for the first time since John Wayne's death by turning her light-show into a mini-gun. It gives Wolverine plenty of time to beat the shit out of this world's version of Sabretooth, which never gets old no matter what universe he's in. They also pick up on a few ominous quips about there being big bad boss of sorts. And since they've yet to come across a universe where Xavier isn't a douche, it's a pretty safe assumption who it may be. But since this version of Wolverine also happens to have childhood issues, he insists on taking on the whole damn down while Dazzler and Nightcrawler get the boy and his mother to safety. It's badass, but pretty damn stupid.

After Dazzler and Nightcrawler get away, Wolverine ends up in the pokey for stirring up so much shit. While he's presumably waiting for a cake with a nail file, he finds out he's got a cell mate that doesn't look inclined to make him his bitch. His mate is actually Jamie's father. This in and of itself isn't too jarring until it gives Wolverine some frat party style flashbacks of his own father. It sounds cheesy, but it actually adds a bit of heart to the scene and the overall plot because to this point there hasn't been much room for melodrama in Xtreme X-men. It's just travel the multi-verse, beat up evil Xavier's, and find reasons to put Dazzler in a sexy costume. That's all well and good, but a story about a kid whose father got wrongfully locked up that also makes Wolverine seem like less of an unfeeling douche-bag also helps.

We learn that this guy made only one mistake that landed him in a prison cell with a festering wound for over a year. He had the balls to tell the big boss in town to go fuck himself. In the old west, that's like a woman going on an ice fishing trip with Scott Peterson. It's not going to end well. But unlike this desperate father, Wolverine is more inclined to bust out. And since he's got a special skeleton that makes him immune to telepaths, he's in a much better position to tell the boss to go fuck himself.

That's actually a problem because in the same way that the Xavier of every world they visit is an asshole, he also happens to be pretty cunning. While the man is pleading with Wolverine to send his son one final message, we finally get to meet this big boss and this time there's no big twist. It is Xavier and he's not looking to pretend he's a nice guy. He just gets his kicks by mind-fucking people. And since Wolverine's skeleton is preventing him from doing that, he needs to employ all the sick shit from every Human Centipede movie to get it out of him, presumably without having to ingest as much shit.

While shit is getting bloody at the big house, Dazzler and Nightcrawler are working on finding Wolverine and Jamie's father. Dazzler employs some fancy tricks that involve her dressing up as a hooker, which is only slightly less revealing than her being in that Slave Leia costume she wore in the previous arc. If the next world they visit doesn't have her in a thong, then it would just be inconsistent at this point. But however slutty her clothes, she manages to find Wolverine using some creative sound tricks. Unfortunately, Xavier and his buddies already had their fun. They're still able to find Jamie's father though, who was more than happy to get paroled. It leads to a nice, emotional reunion with his family. However, they still haven't had a chance to tell this world's Xavier to go fuck himself and they just can't have that.

Whatever horrific shit this world's Xavier did, it seemed to work. Because after Dazzler and Nightcrawler succeed in freeing Jamie's father, Xavier sends his mind-fucked goons after them. And this time that includes Wolverine. This marks the second time one of their universe-hopping buddies has turned on them. Emma Frost did it in the previous arc. Now Wolverine has done it here, albeit after some presumably extreme coercion. But it implies the beginning of a rather disturbing trend. Now Dazzler may have to look for the moment when Kid Nightcrawler turns on her. At least he doesn't have metal claws, daddy issues, and an evil Xavier pulling his strings.

Whereas the previous issue was awesome because of Greg Pak's ability to throw a shocking twist into the mix, this issue found an entirely different way to be awesome. Contrary to popular belief, people are still capable of getting teary-eyed when they read a touching tale about a man trying to save his son and a son trying to save his father. Those tears are all the more sweet when one of them has claws. Pak took a break from showing Dazzler's team fight against gods that like to wash their hands in the blood of the innocent to set up a story that's more grounded, but with mutants and old west prostitutes. There's a struggle here with a family in danger and it offers a compelling pull that gives this issue a solid impact.

That said, the impact is somewhat lessened by the lack of details. We get that the story of Jamie and his father tickles your warm and fuzzy side in a way that probably would require another bypass for Dick Cheney. What we don't get is what the rest of the team should do about it and how this fits into their larger mission. That seems to be a growing theme in this series. It's getting tough to recall or keep track of their mission. And when you smoke as much weed as I do, you're not going to forget or have the necessary motivation to go back and read the earlier issues. I get that it's hard to keep a series coherent in the same way it's hard to beat a drug test while stoned. But that's what separates the good from the awesome.

However, this issue is still sufficiently awesome to rekindle your love of John Wayne movies. There's action, drama, and prostitutes. That's a complete story in my book! However, the increasing lack of coherence in Xtreme X-men is a distressing trend. I certainly hope that Greg Pak is able to throw in a few more twists because as much fun as it is seeing a pretty blonde hop universes and make friends with alternate versions of her friends, it gets old. There are only so many times you can see an alternate Xavier mind-fuck people before it loses its impact. However, that impact is still there and that's why I give Xtreme X-men #4 a 4 out of 5. Now if you'll excuse me, this comic has given me a sudden craving for whiskey and a hooker. Nuff said!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

X-men #36 - Half A Case of Awesome

How many times can you bullshit someone before they start smelling the stench? This is a question that has plagued 95 percent of businessmen and 100 perent of politicians since the dawn of time. In my own personal experience, some people are more prone to sniffing it out than others. That's why some guys will actually take you seriously when you claim the expired sugar you laid out for them is a fresh line of Columbian imported blow and why some girls will actually look intrigued when you claim to be Robert Pattinson's acting coach. Those gullible people may make for good customers and brain-dead bimbos at a club, but they make lousy leaders. If your job requires you to earn trust, you had best not be a dip-shit or an asshole with your own agenda because sooner or later the non-gullible people in your crew are going to sniff you out and look for ways to nip you in the ass.

This is the position Storm finds herself in with Brian Wood's adjectiveless X-men. Since Wood began his run, Storm has been flexing her leadership muscle in the same way Keith Richards tests his tolerance to morphine. She's been leading a team of X-men at the behest of Cyclops to act as a security team of sorts. They're like the X-men's version of the CIA minus the illegal torture, off-site prisons, and cover ups if alien rectal probing. However, like the CIA, they tend to secretly give the finger to their leader behind his back. Storm spent the entire first arc avoiding her teammates' pleas to get Cyclops involved as the plot with the proto-mutants started to get heavy. She told them to suck her taint in the nicest possible way and for the most part, the team listened to her albeit begrdugingly. Then in the previous arc, some were a bit less inclined to keep kissing her ass.

Brian Wood followed his initial proto-mutant arc with a solid story about a crazy cult run by a Jesus look-a-like who saw Dawn of the Dead six times too many. The security team's mission to infiltrate the cult and extract the samples of proto-mutant DNA was a success, but for some of the members going behind Cyclops's back got old. They're pertty much all just following Storm's agenda at this point and that shit only lasts so long before it starts to smell. Now as the proto-mutant arc continues to unfold, Storm has to deal with her own teammates looking to screw her over. And now that she's a single woman again, they don't have to be as poilte about it.

X-men #36 has Brian Wood's adjectiveless team working with one of Storm's lady friends again. This one is Sabra, who was mentioned in the previous issue. She's from Mossad, which is like the Israeli version of the CIA except they're actually good at their jobs. Storm must have won many pillow fights back with her in the sorority house because she managed to convince Sabra to help apprehend a rather mundane looking guy from an airport. Hell, this guy is so mundane he could practically walk into Congress and no one would bat an eye. Seeing as how they've recently dealt with glowing eyed Jesus look-a-likes and proto-mutant monsters, this qualifies as an upgrade.

Once Sabra has Mr. Boring and Bland in custody, she presumably endures a cavity search by the TSA before bringing him to Storm and her security team. They seem intent on extracting information from this man, but not in a way that gives Dick Cheney a boner. In fact, they talk to this guy almost with the same tone that I talk to my therapist and/or parole officer. It's all remarkably casual. Storm informs the man that they know he's a proto-mutant. His official name is Mr. Sheppard and for some reason he's never popped up on the radar for mutants. Yet they know he's 700-years-old. How a guy can live that long and not be subject to a witch-burning or an embarrassing youtube video shot with a camera phone seems pretty outrageous. They also bring up the name David Michael Gray, who was the mentally unbalanced asshole who first introduced Storm's team to proto-mutants. Yet still, the conversation is remarkably casual. The man is about as collected as Mitt Romney and just as boring.

Since they probably put him on the TSA's shit-list for the foreseeable future, the X-men offer to fly Mr. Sheppard to Chicago where he was planning on going, presumably to meet up with his overlords at Acorn to receive orders from Comrade Obama (or so says Rush Limbaugh). He remains painfully boring, so much so that Pixie brings it up to Domino. Being the curious teenager who hasn't yet been corrupted by Justin Bieber, she starts to speculate on who he is and what his powers might be. To this point all the proto-mutants they've faced have been as pleasant to be around as hungry wolf on LSD. So she's understandably curious. Domino encourages her to talk to him because since when has nothing bad ever come from a cute teenage girl talking to a mysterious old man? I'm pretty sure that's a porno genre in Japan.

And like Japan, shit gets weird pretty quickly when Pixie starts talking to the guy. The man calls himself Gabriel Sheppard and he claims to have a pretty fancy array of powers for a guy that dresses like a Mormon. He's strong. He can fly. It's pretty standard for someone who has a mutation that doesn't suck. But while he seems like a nice, boring guy on the surface, he reveals that he's pretty curious about the name David Michael Gray. And when hesitates to tell him, he turns from Norman Rockwell to Chris Brown. He also reveals his powers are more exotic than indicated because he gives Pixie a bad case of glowing pink-eye and does something that ensure Colossus and Psylocke sleep through this crazy shit like every guy dating a Twilight fan slept through the Twilight movies.

It's a pretty dramatic shift from a guy that seemed so boring. Granted, it's expected that boring shit tends not to last long in an X-men comics, but the subtle way in which Brian Wood built it up helped give it an extra impact. It's like pouring hot sauce on bacon. It gives something that's already awesome an extra kick.

But not all the talking in this comic has been completely bland. As I mentioned earlier, Storm has put herself in a dangerous position with her team and the X-men as a whole by undermining Cyclops. You just don't undermine a guy who's boning Emma Frost and not suffer consequences. During another Skype conversation, Cyclops reveals that he bugged her plane and has been tracking her. It sounds like a paranoid thing to do until you recall the many reasons Storm gave him in the first proto-mutant arc. Storm claims she's withholding information for the sake of the mission, but that's like telling your parole officer that you were just holding that bag of weed for a friend. That shit just doesn't fly.

Cyclops also reveals that he knows the old sorority girls Storm has been working with. He tells her he actually found one snooping around. Yet Storm still has the audacity to urge him to trust her. But Cyclops says outright that he can only take being given the cold shoulder for so long. Unlike Emma Frost, Storm doesn't have the recent history or the big tits to earn her that kind of trust. It's a nice culmination of the ongoing tension between them and it shows that Wood can make general chit chat interesting as well. That only ensures he'll never get a job at Fox News.

Unfortunately, the conversation with Cyclops is cut short when the commotion from Sheppard's hissy fit starts rocking he plane. Storm joins the others just in time to see this normal-looking guy exhibit a similar brand of crazy eyes as the Jesus wannabe in the last arc. He seems to know now that David Michael Gray took a big steaming shit on the graves of his fellow proto-mutants and he's not too happy about it. And when Colossus tries to restrain him, he shows that he was being overly modest when he described his powers to Pixie. That strength he mentioned is apparently potent enough to allow him to throw Colossus (who is still armed with Juggernaut power mind you) out the side of the fucking plane. He also jumps right out with him, presumably because there are no flight attendants to yell at. Storm and Pixie go after him while Domino and Psylocke stay behind to land the plane. But the mere fact they have to only shows that this guy went from 0 to fucked up in record time, even for a comic.

There's a fine line in storytelling that has been a lot harder to walk in this day and age where peoples' attention spans are only as long as their latest tweet. Brian Wood seems to be making a greater effort than anyone at Marvel to walk that line. He fell flat on his ass a few times in the beginning, but recent issues have him working with much better balance. I admit the initial concept of the proto-mutant story seemed about as interesting as an economics lecture. However, Brian Wood has made it seem almost as engaging as a peep show in Amsterdam. The encounter with Gabriel Sheppard might have been as bland as buying a pack of cigarettes from a gas station, minus having to work around an accent. But in the end, the man definitely had a few surprises that made the issue feel more exciting than it probably deserves credit for.

Wood almost fell off that fine line at first. The abduction and interrogation of Gabriel Sheppard was more uneventful than a church sermon delivered by Ben Stein. There was no struggle. Hell, we don't even know if anyone's flight was delayed more than usual when Sabra abducted the guy. There was a lot of talking and not much else. It wasn't even the very interesting talking. It's not a debate with Dr. House and Neil Patrick Harris. It reminded me somewhat of my last DUI, except I didn't throw up on a state troopers boots. There's no way around it. The first half of this comic was pretty freakin' dull and you would have passed out without the aid of powerful amphetamines had Wood not picked up the pace in the end.

The end is what saved this book. The discussion with Cyclops and Storm showed just how big the rift between them has grown. And Gabriel Sheppard's ability to throw Colossus out of a plane in mid-air was just shocking enough to remind you of the time your ex girlfriend poured a pack of dry ice down your pants. The man went from dull to a Quentin Tarantino character in a very short span and like Marcelas Wallace, you just can't leave that sort of shit unfinished. Overall, the issue is only half-awesome. However, that awesome half is awesome enough to tip the balance in the same way the state of Florida rigs elections. Therefore, I give X-men #36 a 3 out of 5. Hopefully, in the next issue Wood will stop walking that fine line. He should know by now that Alfred Hitchcock is dead Michael Bay is filthily fucking rich for a reason. He would be wise to follow his example, minus the killer robots. Nuff said!

All New X-men #1 Preview: Promise and Bullshit

Because I'm drunk and I'll probably end up writing about this topic in many a drunken rants, I might as well post some news and updates on this topic. I'm talking about All New X-men #1. I've already done posts on the covers that were recently released. Now Marvel has been releasing a few pages of All New X-men #1 along with some script. Is it going to make you shit your pants? Probably not. But it poses some interesting questions for which fans on message boards will bitch about.

Page 2-3
1- Ext. Jean Grey School for Higher Learning- day
Wide shot of the mansion from the front gate looking in.
It is a gorgeous day and it’s a calm day at the mansion.
Reads: the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning
I am mutating.    
And it is [REDACTED]. 

Page 16-17:
4- Iceman is next to Hank, who leans on the blackbird.  Trying to disguise [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]... And says it.
The thing is Ororo, I've known Scott longer than ANYONE.
Me AND Hank.
We've known him forever.  We were the ORIGINAL X-Men.
The Scott we grew up with - he would HATE this.

So the X-men think Cyclops's younger self would be appalled that he tried to create a worldwide utopia and was constantly attacked until he went crazy. Really? And Beast is mutating yet again. Really? I'm cynical yet intrigued. Avengers vs. X-men can't end fast enough.

Friday, September 21, 2012

X-men Supreme Issue 63: The Phoenix Saga Part 1 PREVIEW and Deadpool Bio

With the completion of the Partners In Madness arc, I can finally stop being coy. The biggest event in the X-men Supreme fanfiction series to date is upon us! That event is the Phoenix Saga. That's right! X-men Supreme is about to take on one of the biggest and by far the most influential event in the history of the X-men comics. No X-men series is complete with a Phoenix Saga of sorts. The emotional drama along with the cosmic level action are just some of the reasons why this story resonates with so many X-men fans. As such, I'm very excited to offer my own take. Chris Claremont set the bar very high with the original Phoenix Saga in the pages of Uncanny X-men. It has always been among my favorite X-men stories of all time and that's why I intend to work extra hard to make this the best arc to date of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series.

I'm also astonished at how well my timing is for my Phoenix Saga. Just as Marvel is preparing to end Avengers vs. X-men, a story where the Phoenix Force was a central theme, I'm prepared to begin mine. Now I honestly did not intend for it to work out like this. Believe it or not, it is just a happy conincidence that my work with X-men Supreme is coinciding with what Marvel comics is doing with Avengers vs. X-men. But anyone who has read Avengers vs. X-men or any Phoenix story for that matter knows that the Phoenix Force tends to be a convoluted story. It's been retold, retconned, and what not over the years. And I understand that there are many elements to the story. I intend to try and simplify some of those elements while capturing as many Phoenix themes as possible. I can't get into too many details, but I can offer my usual extended preview!

“Hnn…ungh! My head…augh! Can’t…keep it…ahhhhhhh!” groaned a pained and distraught Jean Grey.

“Hang in there, Jean! I’m almost done!” urged Professor Xavier, who was concentrating hard with his telepathy while clutching Jean’s temples.

“Damn it, Chuck! Finish it already!” barked a very upset Logan.

“Stay back, Logan!” urged an equally anxious Scott Summers, “He knows what he’s doing…I hope!”

“He damn well better!”

It was a difficult sight, watching Jean suffer so much through this so-called treatment. It had only been going on for nearly an hour, but to Scott and Logan it might as well have been a lifetime. Ever since the Professor returned from his debate in Las Vegas, he had been working with Jean extensively. Whatever overwhelmed her during the fight with Proteus was still affecting her in a profound and ominous way. Even extensive one-on-one telepathic therapy with the Professor wasn’t enough to stop this mysterious ailment. This ailment was symbolized by the flashing fiery yellow eyes that plagued her during this entire session.

Professor Xavier shared Scott and Logan’s growing concerns as he struggled to contain  Jean’s affliction. It stemmed directly from her powers. It began with the surge she experienced when she used Magneto’s machine to stop that asteroid. From there the migraines began, but it was Proteus that sent her over the edge. Now her psychic powers were flaring in ways he had never sensed before. It was as mysterious as it was disconcerting. The best he could do to help her was forge a series of mental blocks on her psyche. It was only a temporary solution, but it was all he could do for now.

Jean continued to struggle in infirmary her bed, groaning in pain as the Professor tried to sooth her chaotic mind. He stepped up his efforts, concentrating harder until sweat was forming on his forehead. Her eyes flashed a fiery yellow again, causing the bed to shake violently. Scott and Logan watched anxiously. This time Logan was the one that had to hold Scott back. After a few tense moments, she finally started to settle down.

‘That’s it, Jean…stay calm. Let me steady your mind. I made you a promise all those years ago, remember? And I’m going to keep that promise.’

His gentle telepathic voice seemed to further calm the ailing woman. She started taking deep, calming breaths. The fiery glow in her eyes started fading as Xavier fortified the blocks around her mind. But before they were solidified, he heard a strange voice.

“It’s coming…”

“Argh!” groaned the Professor as he finally finished the job.

“Professor?” said Scott anxiously.

“I…I’m fine, Scott,” he assured his student as he rubbed his tired head, “I was able to re-fortify the mental blocks. She should be okay.”

“Should be?” said Logan skeptically, “That ain’t a promising choice of words, Chuck.”

“It’ll have to do for now. I…still don’t know what’s causing this. Until I do, a permanent solution will have to wait.”

Logan still wasn’t convinced, but he wasn’t about to get into an argument with the Professor. Jeannie was still in pain and she needed their support.

With the psychic blocks now solidified, Jean was finally stable. She was sitting upright, conscious and without those strange glowing eyes. She was no longer pained by throbbing headaches or haunted by mysterious voices, but it felt strange. She was dazed and weak, clutching her tired head. She was coherent enough to feel Scott’s tender arms slip around her.

“Jean…I’m here,” he said softly, “That’s it, babe. Deep breaths.”

“Hnn…Scott,” groaned Jean as she gathered herself, “I feel like I’m gonna throw up.”

“Cyke hasn’t been showering regularly since you’ve been down here. That’s to be expected,” commented Logan as he sat down next to her.

Scott shot him a disgruntled look while Jean laughed somewhat. It was a good sign. If she could laugh at one of Logan’s dirty comments, that was a sign that she was doing better already.

“What day is it? It feels like I’ve been down here for over a month,” she said.

“More like ten days, but don’t worry. You didn’t miss much,” said Scott as he continued to embrace her, “Well…aside from a debate with Senator Kelly and Logan running off on a crazy mission in Panama with Deadpool.”

“Panama? With Deadpool?!” said Jean as she looked at Logan strangely.

“Long story, darlin’. I’ll fill you in later. It was a hell of a mess and should give you more a few reasons to yell at me. And you sure as hell don’t need that right now,” replied the feral mutant.

“I’m sure Miss Munroe did more than enough,” replied Jean.

“You don’t know the half of it.”

Jean smiled lightly, earning her a smile from Scott and Logan as well. The two men were both glad to see her looking better. As two very important figures in her life, they were dedicated to helping her just as she helped them.

While Jean sat comfortably in Scott’s embrace, Professor Xavier wiped some of the sweat off his face and approached his dazed student. He was glad to see her settled as well, but what he sensed from her mind gave him little reason for comfort. He had a feeling they had not seen of this mysterious ailment.

While my focus is now entirely on making the X-men Supreme Phoenix Saga as awesome as it can be, don't think I've negated other website updates. With the completion of the last arc, I have updated the bios section to include everyone's favorite Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool. I was reluctant to post it earlier because I didn't want to spoil some of his connections with Wolverine. Now that his history is more defined in X-men Supreme, I can offer more insight into his history within this fanfiction series.

Bios - Deadpool

Since this story is so big and so important to the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, I wan to do everything I can to make it special. With that in mind, I did attempt to contact my artist, artist, Brian Brinlee, to commission a piece of art that would act as a cover for my Phoenix Saga. However, I've been unable to reach him. As such, I would like to request anyone out there who is artistically inclined to assist me. I am looking for a simple pin-up that depicts Jean Grey in a Phoenix costume, but I want that costume to be unique to X-men Supreme. I have some ideas for how I want her to look, but I also am willing to be flexible. I'm also willing to pay. Please contact me if you're interested in helping me and earning a little extra money. The Phoenix is coming and the X-men Supreme fanfiction series will never be the same! Until next time, take care and best wishes! Excelsior!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Xtreme X-men #3 - Divinely Deceptive Awesome

We all like pleasant surprises and despite the unpleasant ones. To me, a pleasant surprise is like finding an extra bag of weed between my couch cushion or finding a whole bottle of vodka in the back of the freezer. But unpleasant surprises are less fickle. They are usually variations of a bad hangover. Sometimes it's as simple as a kick in the nuts from a hooker after you pay them for a quick hummer in a gas station bathroom. Other times it's as complex as an overhyped comic event falling flatter than Kristen Stewart's acting. I've practically run out of shit analogies for Avengers vs. X-men, but I try to take some comfort in that the X-books are a big, overbloated property that Marvel does anything and everything to exploit in order to suck out every last cent from consumers. It may get the Occupy Wall Street crowd's panties in several knots, but for fans like me it just means more opportunities for those pleasant surprises.

One X-book that has been largely unaffected by the shit tornado that is Avengers vs. X-men is Greg Pak's Xtreme X-men. This comic is a lot like that guy at a party who would just grab the prettiest drunk girl he could find, slip out the back, and say "So long you drunk dumb-asses!" before banging the girl in the back of a pickup truck. It's just as fun, but without noise and potential liver damage of the big events.

And as luck would have it, Xtreme X-men is a series based entirely around a pretty girl that isn't even drunk (okay, so nobody's perfect). Dazzler has been mixing it up in the Marvel multi-verse, rubbing elbows with alternate versions of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Emma Frost. They team up with a disembodied head of Charles Xavier on a universe-hopping adventure to keep the space time continuum from collapsing worse than the Libyan government. The last issue had Dazzler cross paths with a version of X-men that believe they're actual gods and act like divine assholes to prove it. It wasn't a terrible story, but it was no line of blow off a strippers tits. However, Greg Pak has been known to shine in unexpected ways before so I'm always willing to give him a chance, provided he doesn't do some crazy shit like send Rogue to a world of cat-people...okay, bad example.

Xtreme X-men #3 picks up shortly after Dazzler, Wolverine, and Kid Nightcrawler escape Storm and the X-gods wrath. In the last issue they made the mistake of not making them less bored so they decided to attack. It was a lopsided battle, but thankfully they got an assist from this world's version of Magneto and Xavier. Apparently in this universe, they're still BFF's and not in the slash fiction sort of way. They help Dazzler and her pals escape while creating a psychic illusion that has the X-gods take their divine douche-baggery on an unpopulated area. But Xavier and Magneto are keen to point out that these X-gods have killed millions in this world and have probably can't even get boners anymore without some mortal begging for mercy. Whether it's a guilt trip or a revelation, they make sure that Dazzler, Wolverine, and Kid Nightcrawler aren't comfortable letting that shit stand.

These alternate BFF versions of Xavier and Magneto take Dazzler and her team to an alternate version of utopia. However, it's about as utopian as downtown Detroit. It essentially contains the small minority of people who the X-gods haven't fucked over with their divine dicks. They're only about 5,000 strong and contain some familiar faces like Reed Richards and Hercules. It's somewhat tense because in this world Hercules is still part god, but he's only a demigod so he's cool. It's like being quarter Cherokee on a college admissions application. It's not much and it amounts to jack shit in the grand scheme of things, but it suffices. It also ensures that they have some muscle on their side to take on the X-gods.

But Dazzler and her team's arrival isn't all about forging inter-dimensional Facebook friends. Their presence has actually seriously fucked up a status quo that has already been gang banged more than Jenna Jameson. Not only that, they lost their Xavier head in a jar and they kind of need him back in order to ditch this Clash of the Titans knock-off X-men. But while using their own version of Cerebro to scan the X-god's Olympus-like palace, they learn that when Emmeline betrayed them in the previous issue she fucking meant it. She uses her own powers to give Xavier the psychic finger and that's a big fucking problem for reasons that go beyond Xavier getting schooled by a hot blonde. Now that the X-gods have a psychic, they can find Utopia and pretty much wipe their asses with if it they want. For that reason, Xavier says they have to kill all the telepaths working for the X-gods. Dazzler has a slight problem with that, but then he coyly points out that their pet Xavier in a jar tasked them with killing this universe's version of Xavier so that puts them in a pretty awkward position. It seems the least they could to maintain some form of dignity is to help out. Arriving in a universe to find out you're trying to kill the last hope for humanity to avoid being nothing more than a mild rectal itch to these gods kind of makes you obligated.

A night goes by and Xavier prepares to rally what's left of Utopia's army. They know they're basically akin to a bunch of grasshoppers trying to take down Mike Tyson wearing clown shoes so morale isn't exactly high. So Hercules gets Dazzler to do a little singing to inspire them. It's not much, but I think most people feel better about fighting to the death after hearing a hot chick sing. That seems to be another constant in most universes, comic book or otherwise.

But in addition to her singing, Dazzler also takes time to have a little chit-chat with Kid Nightcrawler. She actually tries to encourage him to sit out this battle because he's just a fucking kid. Throwing him into a battle against gods is a parenting tip right out of Michael Jackson's book. But Kid Nightcrawler isn't going to take that shit. He's going to partake in the battle regardless of how much it makes Dazzler's tummy hurt. It seems mundane, but it's actually a compelling scene in the sense that it shows Dazzler developing a kinship with these alternate reality X-men. To this point they really haven't developed much of a bond. Dazzler just got tossed in with them in the first issue. Now they're starting to get more friendly and that helps make for a more compelling narrative. It's like getting drunk with your best friend. It always beats getting drunk with a stranger that may try to pick a fight the moment you say something about their mother.

The next day, Xavier and Magneto march their army into battle. It looks to be a typical battle royal between a bunch of underdog mortals and gods who can't be bothered to listen to their bitching in between orgies. Storm and Thor don't seem too concerned, but as the army approaches the Xavier in a jar that they kept from Dazzler's team mentions some strange psychic interference. It may not sound like much and even if it means something, it's quickly lost once the battle begins. It's pretty standard at first. Kid Nightcrawler teleports them into the X-gods's domain while the main army harasses the rest of their godly army that is completely unlike what Pat Robertson probably imagines. Dazzler tries to get back at Storm for dressing her up like a stripper and trying to make her a Slave Leia of sorts. It seems like your typical battle where those underdog X-men reach deep down, channel their inner Braveheart, and overcome impossible odds. Well I'm sorry to say if you want that shit, you'll have to stick to Mighty Ducks movies because that ain't how this plays out.

Remember that point I made earlier about pleasant surprises? I'm asking because I don't remember it much either. You smoke enough weed and you forget the shit you write. It happens. But part of what goes into a pleasant surprise is a plot twist that's not so twisted that it gives the impression that the writer was stoned. It's a plot twist that's so unexpected yet so fitting that makes you feel like the hooker you paid to blow you didn't realize you paid her in monopoly money. I usually don't expect such twists from Greg Pak, but here he pulls something off that leaves me almost as shocked as the aforementioned hooker.

That minor warning from the Xavier in a jar that was glossed over earlier wasn't just a warning. It was a sign that something in this universe was more fucked up than your typical X-men as gods ordeal. It turns out that Storm, Thor, and the rest of her X-god buddies weren't just acting like douche-bags because it got their dicks hard. It turns out the Charles Xavier in this world was actually as big an asshole as they expected and then some. The Xavier in a jar reveals that this universe's Xavier drove the X-gods to being the assholes that took a giant shit on the world. And why would he do that? Well, he says it's because by having gods to oppose, he and Magneto could be the best they could be. Okay, that's about the second worse reason anybody ever went to war. At least George W. Bush only fucked over a country and not the world. Magneto didn't care for that reason either. He snapped this universe's Xavier's neck, which effectively frees the world from his douche-baggery while accomplishing the mission Dazzler's team set out to do. It's like a three-way at a whore house in that it accomplishes two goals at once.

Once this universe's asshole Xavier is dead, the X-gods begin the tedious process of unfucking the world. And in a shakeup that's expected in some ways and surprising than others, Emmeline decides to stay. Seeing as how she turned on Dazzler's team in the last issue, I figure it would be pretty damn hard to trust her at this point. Plus, the X-gods are nice enough to grant her a wish of not giving a damn anymore so she's pretty much bound to this universe. But even though she's Emma Frost from another world, she's still an Emma that gives only so many fucks. Not to leave on a sour note, Dazzler throws in a quick smooch on a hot guy before leaving with Wolverine, Kid Nightcrawler, and Xavier in a jar. They're not exactly leaving Las Vegas with a full bag of chips, but they're not leaving flat broke anyways. In terms of inter-dimensional hopping, I think this qualifies as a win.

This issue offered far more than I expected. From the get go, I've branded Xtreme X-men as a novelty that helps fill the void left by Exiles. It's a void not easily filled and one that I've done my best to fill with certain cocktails of alcohol and a few other exotic substances I dare not name less the fine folks at the DEA are X-men fans. But this issue goes beyond merely filling a void. This issue doesn't just carry the story forward. It throws in a remarkable twist that you won't find outside a Christopher Nolan movie, minus subtle anti-liberal propaganda. The issue began with one set of assumptions about Storm, Thor, and the rest of these X-men wannabe gods. Greg Pak effectively took those assumption, choked them with a piece of barb wire, and shot them with a 12-gauge shotgun in the head. Not only that, it tweaked the line-up in the story by having Emmeline stay while Dazzler continued her journey with Howlett and Kid Nightcrawler. That ensures the next arc won't follow the same formula. Now Dazzler and co. have to function without a hot blonde telepath on their side. Fuck if that isn't a challenge.

As great as the twist was, I still found Xavier's little justification for his deception pretty weak. And it wouldn't be the first time a version of Charles Xavier has had a bullshit reason to mind-fuck people. It appeaars to be another one of those trends that spans multiple universes on top of the trend that ensures Deadpool will always be batshit crazy. Charles Xavier comes off as this shining beacon of virtue, but behind the scenes he's a scheming, sleazy asshole who would gladly make you shit out your own brain cells if it made his mission a little easier. I probably shouldn't be too disappointed that Dazzler's crew came across yet another Xavier who spent too much time in Gary Busey's head. That is, after all, what set the stage for this crazy multi-verse spanning adventure going all the way back to Pak's Astonishing X-men run. But still, in a multi-verse that's infinitely big, is it too much to ask for at least one Charles Xavier that's not a total douche-bag?

Maybe Dazzler will find a universe like that in her journey. For now, her trip in this issue and the series as a whole continues to be wildly entertaining. Greg Pak continues to write her as a solid character, utilizing solid dialog while setting up some pretty amazing battles that involve gods, demi-gods, and psychics with way too much free time on their hands. Xtreme X-men is still a very different kind of book that some people will still bitch about because it doesn't really tie in with the other X-books. I consider these people to be the same assholes that double park their Hummers in handicap spots and refuse to take off that Bush/Cheney bumper sticker fron the back. These are comic fans that this series can do without. I give Xtreme X-men #3 a 4.5 out of 5. How can I give a book any less when it demonstrates an ability to twist my perceptions in a way that's entirely legal...for now. Mr. Pak, if you're watching this, keep an eye out for the DEA. You never know what kind of shit they'll ban next. Nuff said!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

X-men #35 - Brainwashing Awesome

At some point in our lives, we all join a cult of some kind. It may not be the kind of cult that requires you to shave your head, eat nothing but grass, and give your daughters and sisters to some charismatic leader that claims salvation flows through his penis. But it can be every bit as irrational. When I was a kid, I spent times in cults such as Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'm pretty sure there were fans that would have waged a second civil war on the merits of why Rapheal was cooler than Leonardo or why the Green Ranger could kick the ass of every Red Ranger that ever existed. Maybe we're just wired to take a nose dive into Lake Bullshit and savor the stench before it threatens to give us permanent brain damage. Unfortunately, there are cults out there like the aformentioned cult leader who tries to base an entire religion around his penis. And those peoples' brains are damaged beyond repair.

Brian Wood introduced us to a cult with more than their share of brain damage in his last issue. Fresh off the mediocre yet enjoyable proto-mutants arc, he has Storm and her security team investigating this freaky cult that's being run by this guy who looks uncomfortably similar to Jesus Christ. I'm sure Brian Wood has gotten his share of death threats from devout Christians with too much free time on their hands, but probably no more than I get on a weekly basis for the religion jokes I tell on this blog. This cult is basically a mix of Heaven's Gate, Mormonism, and Rastafarianism. They believe in seeking perfection with a capital P. And for some reason that Wood hasn't explored just yet, Domino has a history with them. Both she and Psylocke infiltrated a cruise ship full of followers in hopes of tracking down the leader and the exotic substances he's seeking to exploit thanks to guys you probably don't find on Craigslist. Now they have to channel their inner blasphemy to end this shit so these people can go back to slightly less crazy cults that only demand you worship books written by Bronze Age goat herders with epilepsy.

X-men #35 depicts a volatile situation involving a volatile guy with gullible followers and a shit ton of guys with guns. It's essentially David Koresh and the Branch Davidians all over again, minus any apparent polygamy. And in the post 9/11 world, the United States government is a little wary when it comes to crazy religious cults that don't fund the Family Research Council or support Rick Santorum. Storm tells Psylocke, who managed to tap the cult leader's Asian fetish in the last issue, that cruise missiles are on their way. And the cult leader doesn't seem to give a shit. He claims he'll become immortal by using the samples from the proto-mutants that Wood introduced in the previous issue as an energy drink. It's not unlike Pat Robertson's energy drink, but in this case it actually works without having to send him money. It sounds pretty fucked up, but it actually fits nicely because it ties this arc into Wood's first arc. And like having pot dealers that know good hookers, those connections go a long ways.

Whoever this cult leader is, he must have really done something to piss off the American government. Apparently, politicians and military folk are a bunch of pussies in the sense that a crazy cult leader with a bio-weapon derived from proto-mutants gives them a tummy ache. Rather than chug some Pepto Bismal like most normal people, they decide to fire a cruise missile at the cruise ship with all those innocent people who were just too gullible to stick to traditional Bronze Age mythology. Because if there's one thing George W. Bush taught us, it's that no problem can't be solved with the proper application of cruise missiles and children's do learn.

This forces Pixie to once again upstage every teenage girl who ever lived by flying out of the comforts of the plane and getting to the missile before it reaches the ship. Meanwhile, Domino managed to work her way up to the deck and look damn sexy while doing it. She's quite eager to shoot the cult leader, but Storm reminds them that they need that proto-mutant sample. And since the son-of-a-bitch drank it, they can't go blowing his brains out. I'm pretty sure Domino is thinking Storm is the biggest killjoy since Mitt Romney.

As you would expect, chugging a bunch of proto-mutant DNA like jello shots tends to fuck a guy up. The cult leader pulls a gun on Psylocke and points it right at her while boasting how creepy glowing eyes are his idea of perfection. Makes me wonder what he considers to be a the perfect size for a pair of breasts. But the man is clearly undergoing a fucked up transformation and Domino's plan to blow his brains out becomes increasingly more appealing. However, Storm reminds them that they need that sample of proto-mutant DNA. She talks about how this shit could do more than just give cult leaders boners after they're tired of marrying underaged girls. It could actually help mutants in the same way stem cells help the people who don't give money to radical anti-abortion nutjobs. So they have to be gentle with this deranged zealot and get a sample of his blood.

It turns out not to be quite as difficult as it sounds. Domino is probably disappointed that she didn't get to use her gun. I'm sure that dries her pussy up faster than a picture of Rick Santorum's anus. But with Psylocke, this battle is over with a quick psionic blade to the head. The cult leader demonstrates no crazy powers. He doesn't shoot fire from his nose or fart energy blasts. He just boasts for a while how this proto-mutant stuff has made his dick bigger, but then Psylocke takes him out. But while the fight itself may not be very exciting, something intriguing does happen along the way. It's not as fun as watching two beautiful women beat the shit out a Jesus wannabe, but it's still compelling.

While they're attempting to get a blood sample, Domino suggests they just throw the sample in the ocean and let sharks shit all over it. Now why would they want to do that after going through all this trouble and dressing like New Age nuns? Well Domino points out that Storm hasn't exactly been too honest lately. She's been lying to Cyclops and the rest of the team has gone along with her because she's fucking Storm. She's also a competent leader and can shoot a lightning bolt up your ass if you don't get with the program. But Domino points out that by continuing this lie, they'll only doom themselves to more missions like this. So it may be best to just nip it in ass right now and ditch the sample, despite all the help it could do. It may sound extreme, but it actually shows signs that Storm's lies and deception are having an effect. It's a different kind of drama that goes beyond which character is trying to bone the other. It hints at a larger internal conflict with Storm's team and one I hope Brian Wood pursues, if for no other reason than to see Domino, Psylocke, and Storm fighting each other, preferably while naked and covered in oil. What? Don't tell me that thought hasn't crossed your mind.

Eventually, Psylocke decides to risk taking the sample. That pretty much guarantees that Domino will get to say "I told you so, bitch" in a later issue. But once this little debate is done, we do get some more classic action in the form of Pixie stopping the cruise missile. It's not as visually appealing as seeing two beautiful women beat the shit out of crazy cults, but it helps fill the action void. Brian Wood may favor more subtle means of action, but there will never be a substitute for seeing a teenage girl teleport a cruise missile to the arctic circle and watching it blow up. It's like stoners with aluminum foil, minus the lower sperm count.

When all is said and done, Storm's team returns and they give a quick report to Cyclops. Storm continues to follow the same theme established since Wood took over in that she doesn't give Cyclops the full story or even hint at what her intentions will be from here on out. She only tells him they have the sample and aren't returning to utopia. But she does it in a coy, playful manner that any man with a functioning dick would find hard to ignore. It still confirms what Domino pointed out earlier. They're now pretty much stuck in Storm's little personal vendetta here and that's bound to get them neck deep in more shit. She already seems to have the next round planned as she contacts Sabra, who has been helping her since the previous arc. Now she wants to invite more shit into this conflict. Apparently, being neck deep just isn't enough for her.

The comic could have easily ended there, but Wood throws in a few juicy extras. It's not a coupon for a free lap dance at a strip club, but it's right up there. He shows that while Storm may have succeeded in her mission, she's starting to lose the loyalty of her team. Domino, who has never been one to just let shit slide be it a mission or a chance to get laid, is shown confronting Colossus who also hasn't been too fond of Storm keeping Cyclops out of the loop. Storm believes she's missing a piece of the puzzle and Domino knows they're going to be the ones that have to find it. So whatever this piece may be, someone is going to try and screw someone over and the money shot is bound to be extra messy.

For most new writers on a series, they try to start things out with a bang. They're like that guy that yells, "Sex! Now that I have your attention..." to open a speech.  Wood didn't use those tactics. At times, I think he should have. In reviewing his issues, I've often been underwhelmed. His proto-mutant arc wasn't bad, but it wasn't going to give anyone a boner they couldn't get from watching reruns of Nip Tuck. It never crashed and burned, but Wood clearly had a plan and he stuck to that plan. I think I can finally say it has paid off with this issue.

The story surrounding the proto-mutants linked up nicely in this short two-issue arc. It wasn't apparent in the previous issue, but Wood did a good job of tying up the loose ends in this issue. He didn't go light on the action either like he's done in previous issues. This issue had Domino fighting her way through a cruise ship, Pixie diverting cruise missiles, and Psylocke showing cult leaders that they'll need to find some other creative way to get gullible people to give them money and pussy. It all makes for a very satisfying conclusion that also continued Storm's growing theme of keeping Cyclops out of the loop. Since this shit happens before Avengers vs. X-men, it's clearly a prelude of sorts that Storm is prepared to turn on Cyclops, her husband, and pretty much anyone she damn well pleases.

The issue isn't without its faults. The ending was left a bit overly ambiguous. Wood is clearly not done with the proto-mutant story, but he doesn't really set anything up here. And overall, the mystery surrounding the proto-mutants really hasn't been explored any further other than showing that cult leaders love to take short cuts to becoming more crazy. Moreover, the cult leader was pretty damn inept. You never got the sense that he was a real threat that the X-men were going to struggle with. So while there was plenty of insight, there wasn't a whole lot of suspense. Your bladder and your colon are pretty much intact with every page.

None-the-less, this is by far the best issue of X-men that Brian Wood has written to date. He continues to show that while he may start slow, he's capable of catching up for those who have patience. In this day and age where peoples' attention span is only as long as their last Twitter post, that may not be a good long-term strategy. But for this issue, it works. I give X-men #35 a 4 out of 5. Let this be a lesson to all you folks out there looking to join a new shady religious group. If he demands complete devotion, walks around with body guards, and talks about perfecting the human spirit or some shit like that, he's either crazy or just wants to fuck you and is too cheap to get a hooker. Nuff said!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Uncanny X-Force #31 - Upbringing Awesome

I strongly believe that every child goes through a phase in their live when they're a complete sociopath. When I was 12-years-old, I went to school with this guy we'll call Dip Shitforbrains. Now I had known Dip since grade school. We weren't exactly close, but we grew up in the same neighborhood and stole pornos from the same hobo. For the most part, he was a normal snot-nosed kid. Then for a few years in middle school, he was a complete and utter douche. He would spit on your lunch, take a piss on your locker, and wipe his ass with your homework while smiling from ear to ear. He knew he caused the people around him pain and utter rage, but it didn't bother him in the slightest. I don't know what happened to Dip. I know he eventually got his ass kicked by some girl's brother who also happened to be a football player. I'm not sure how much he fucked him up, but let's just say his ass tensed every time someone dropped a book on the floor.

So what happens to a kid when they're already destined to be a douche-bag? That's the question that Rick Remender has been exploring in Uncanny X-Force. The first arc ended with a memorable moment that included an insanely creepy kid version of Apocalypse that still haunts my dreams and kills my boner whenever I watch a Friday the 13th movie. Well despite being shot in the head, Fantomex attempted to turn that creepy kid into someone who could contribute more than simply being a tyranical mutant douche. He seemed to succeed to an extent because that kid became Genesis and enrolled at the Jean Grey Institute where he was no less creepy Broo or Husk when she's trying to bone Toad. But a new Brotherhood of Mutants is trying to undo all of Fantomex's hard work and they got off to a great start by killing his ass via an underwear clad Mystique. Hey, even if he failed at reforming Apocalypse, you can't say the man didn't die respectably.

The previous issue of Uncanny X-Force basically explored what would happen if you let my old school buddy, Dip, hang out with Charles Manson for an entire summer. The Brotherhood, namely Sabretooth and Daken, abducted Genesis and began the arduous process of making him the asshole he was destined to be. They tormented him throughout the issue by putting him in moral dilemmas like forcing him to kill Sabretooth while he wiped the floor of a gas station with the blood of innocent people (and probably used it as anal lube with Daken afterward). That didn't work as well as they hoped, but they probably got some boners out of it so I doubt it was a total loss. They were still able to expose the truth to Genesis, revealing that his whole life had been an illusion ripped off from the Superman movie. Now they have to see if that's enough to turn him into an asshole.

Uncanny X-Force #31 once again shows that Marvel is willing to give the finger to Stephen Hawkings and the entire space time continuum by flash forwarding to the future. In the span of a mere three hours, readers are led to believe that Genesis will don his Apocalypse gear and start tormenting X-Force for making his entire life a bigger lie than George W. Bush's war record. The world is in ruin. Wolverine has once again been burned to a crisp and Psylocke looks dead. This could be a flash forward or it could just be Deadpool hallucinating again. Either way makes it a pretty awesome scene.

The present isn't quite as ominous, but just as urgent. After being absent for a full issue in Uncanny X-Force #30, X-Force returns from yet another apocalyptic future. They arrive in the ruins of Cavern X, which was blown up courtesy of the Brotherhood and Ultimaton. Given how many times the Xavier Institute has been blown up over the years, I hate to think what their insurance premiums are. But Deathlok shows up to say he'll take care of Ultimaton in case it gets any ideas. That allows X-Force go after the Brotherhood. Along the way they get a very angry call from a very angry Beast, who was present when Genesis got abducted. Now I find it odd that he's so pissed at Wolverine for getting Genesis caught up in X-Force's bullshit when he saw fit to fucking jump ship on Cyclops when he was running X-Force, but I've sense developed a tolerance to Beast's hypocrisy. May that overgrown furball get jizz in his hair that never comes out.

From one ugly create, we go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum to the kind of creature that even beast's want to bone. I'm talking about Mystique of course. Recently, she killed Fantomex by first fucking him and then poisoning him. Because to kill a man without getting her pussy wet first for Mystique is like going to a strip club for the food. Now she's celebrating by boning Sabretooth, the guy Wolverine hates the most. You have to believe she's soaked more than one pair of panties in this arc and even if you utterly despise Sabretooth, you can't help but envy the guy.

He and Mystique have a little post-romp chat about how they think Wolverine isn't dead. Given their history with the guy, they're wise to work under the assumption he's still alive. But Mystique never settles for screwing over one man. That's actually not as hot as it sounds because she reveals that she also joined the Brotherhood to kill Shadowking. So killing Fantomex and Wolverine just isn't enough for her. She needs to kill the guy who killed Destiny while she's at it. She may be a sexual deviant, but you can't say she's also not good at multi-tasking. What kind of revenge involves revenge killing and orgasms, you ask? The awesome kind! That's what!

But while Mystique is doing some subtle plotting in between orgasms, the bigger plot for the Brotherhood is still unfolding. At the end of the previous issue, Genesis learned that his entire life was a lie. It was just some illusion ripped off from Superman movies, courtesy of Fantomex. Since Daken and Skin Man haven't done enough to qualify for the child abuse award of the century, Skin Man decides to fuck with him even more by pretending to be Fantomex. This only torments Genesis further. And then Daken tempts him to get revenge on all the liars and hypocrites by dawning his Apocalypse armor. Now I'm not sure if Daken is somehow also flirting with the kid. Daken has already shown before that he's willing to fuck anyone for any reason. Pedophilia for him sounds like just another hobby, but I'm assuming someone at Marvel had a bad experience with a priest so I doubt they'll go that far.

Once they've sufficiently piled onto Genesis's trauma, they meet up with Shadowking and the Omega Clan. Along the way, Sabretooth does some encouraging to Daken as well. He essentially points out that Wolverine gave several hundred more fucks about this kid than he ever did about him. He also points out that Wolverine is just another killer, but somehow gets to parade around as a big hero with the Avengers and the X-men. And the saddest part is he has a point. Wolverine's track record has more blood on it than a junkyard of used tampons. Yet he's never held accountable while they're hunted. There's a strong message there and one that shows the Brotherhood actually does have motivations beyond being douche-bags. That and boning Mystique is probably an awesome plus.

But Mystique, as hot as she is and as tempting her pussy may be, is always plotting. After a nice hot shower scene that should have plenty of dicks crashing through the roof, she muses at how she intends to turn Genesis against Shadowking after he's done with Wolverine. Because again, she's the kind of sadistic bitch that loves to multi-task and she finds a way to look sexy along the way. But she already told Sabretooth about this and you can't expect that asshole to keep his mouth shut. So he somehow finds a way to not be tempted by her wet, naked body to take her aside to chat. He talks about how they need a plan in case someone like Shadowking screws them over. It sounds like an ominous hint of foreboding. And it is, but in a much more awesome way than you think.

Once again, Rick Remender finds a way to fuck with the minds of the readers. At times, he's fucked with them in ways that couldn't be matched without shoving a dick into your eye socket. In a story about shape shifters, telepaths, and French douche-bags with deception powers it's to be expected. Yet for some reason I'm still shocked when it's revealed that Sabretooth isn't Sabretooth in this scene. He's actually X-Force and Psylocke somehow found a way to mind-fuck Mystique in a way that didn't give her an orgasm. Well, at least not one we can tell.

By mind-fucking Mystique, X-Force is able to catch up on what they've been doing to Genesis. They quickly conclude that the Brotherhood has acted with their usual efficiency in fucking with the minds of innocent children. So now it appears Genesis is poised to become Apocalypse again. It essentially takes them back to the first arc of Uncanny X-Force where they had to wrestle with the notion of killing kid Apocalypse before he grew into the tyrannical mutant asshole they all knew and despised. Again, it's not an easy dilemma to confront...well, for some people I guess.

Remember how Fantomex was the guy that just said "fuck it" and decided that shooting a kid between the eyes was okay if you knew he was going to turn into an asshole? Well this time, Deadpool reaches that conclusion in his twisted mind. Of all the murderous members of X-Force, it makes sense that the most mentally unstable guy to come to a conclusion like that. So while X-Force is in the midst of a heated morality dilemma, Deadpool runs off and confronts Genesis as he's preparing to don his Apocalypse armor. It makes for such an awesome scene. The only bad part is that this is where Remender ends the comic. It's like losing power while watching a porno. It's so frustrating that you had the power company almost as much as your dick hates you.

Following Uncanny X-Force is a lot like following a hot chick minus the restraining order. Everything she does seems to give you a boner. Rick Remender has shown a remarkable talent for not just telling awesome stories, but making them flow in a logical, coherent way. As someone who is only coherent for so many hours of the day, I know the value of it. The events of the last issue really didn't involve X-Force that much. It was essentially a story that established what the Brotherhood was doing and didn't skimp on the details. Well those details along with what happened with X-Force in the future link up here in yet another coherent way. And once again, Remender finds and awesome way to tie the events of his first arc to this current arc. List for me other comics that do a better job and I'll go to an AA meeting sober.

Remender has always made every drop of ink count in Uncanny X-Force. However, this is one issue where it feels like he just ran out of ink. It started with a compelling view of the future that showed just how much X-Force fucked up by killing kid Apocalypse. But by the end we didn't come full circle. Granted, the stage was set for Genesis to become Apocalypse. The stage was also set for Deadpool to do only the 10th craziest thing he's ever done. The connection is clear, but we just don't get to see it through. It gives the impression that this comic ended too soon. Don't get me wrong. It's still pretty fucking awesome. It just doesn't feel as complete as other issues of this series.

Even if it doesn't feel complete, the insight into the Brotherhood's plot as well as the overtly titillating moments with Mystique make this comic more than worthy of it's awesome legacy. The twist with Mystique, the ultimate deceiver, being deceived herself, was just the extra shot of vodka in the coffee. Any time a comic shows Mystique naked and Deadpool doing something crazy within the same story you know that shit is special. The prospect of seeing Mystique naked again and seeing how X-Force handles Genesis makes the next issue all the more compelling. I give Uncanny X-Force #31 a 4.5 out of 5. Once again, a kid has a gun to his head and Mystique is getting screwed over in only the most awesome ways. Seriously, if this isn't awesome enough for you, you're either in serious withdraw or you're Donald Trump. Either way, you need serious help. Nuff said!