Thursday, February 28, 2013

Uncanny Avengers #4 - Propoganda-Filled Awesome

I try not to read too deeply into my comics. I'm not the kind of guy who will claim that Iron Man is a metaphor for Atlas Shrugged, mainly because Paul Ryan hasn't admitted to jerking off to it in the past. I'm also not one to argue that Batman: The Dark Knight was a metaphor for President Bush's policies of fuck-the-Constitution-let's-kill-bad-guys policies. When I read comics, I see male models and female porn stars kicking ass in awesome stories. But I understand comics can have a deeper meaning like any other form of literature.

That said, I'm really not sure what the deeper meaning of Uncanny Avengers is so far other than Nazis are assholes and so is Havok. This series from Rick Remender and John Cassaday was billed as the alpha dog of the Marvel NOW! relaunch. Aside from frustrating delays, it hasn't really done too much to establish itself in the new status quo other than assemble a rather hasty collection of X-men and Avengers just in time to see the Red Skull return. That's not to say it hasn't be awesome in its own right. A book that involves Nazis digging up the body of a fresh corpse and ripping out the brain is something that is meant to let you know that some serious shit is happening. The problem is that this book still feels too much like just another team book and not like a new series that involves a genuinely new team.

Uncanny Avengers has been slow at time, but Rick Remender raised the stakes in the previous issue when the Red Skull and his new team of bigots/Rush Limbaugh fans, the S-men, confronted the new X-Avengers in a big way. Armed with Charles Xavier's telepathy, the Red Skull began turning ordinary citizens against one another in a way not seen since Karl Rove was running George W. Bush's re-election campaign. He did such a good job of controlling the minds of others that he managed to make Thor his ideal Aryan agent of fuck-all-inferior-races. So if this really is supposed to be a new team, they're demonstrating the kind of incompetence you won't find outside of the post office or AT&T's tech support.

With the team pretty roughed up, the challenge now falls upon the douchy shoulders of Havok. He was anointed the leader of the team by Captain America and already he’s showing why his brother got to hook up with the hot telepaths and he didn't. Uncanny Avengers #4 has him wounded and severely concussed while the Scarlet Witch is left to take on a mind-controlled Thor, who the Red Skull mind-fucked into becoming his Aryan superman/bitch. It’s a very volatile fight between two obscenely powerful characters. One fucks reality on a whim. One has a big ass hammer that isn’t a metaphor for his dick. It’s a battle Havok has no business being in, especially while injured and concussed. But since he was tasked by Captain America to try and compensate for what a dick-cheese his brother was, he doesn’t have the option being the same whiney little bitch.

In a move that gives the finger to the NFL’s concussion policies, Havok flexes his nuts and helps the Scarlet Witch by hitting him with a healthy dose of cosmic ass-kicking. It’s nowhere near enough to subdue the freakin’ God of Thunder and he admits this. At the very least, it shows that Havok is capable of stepping up when his own teammates are being used against him. For the more inept leaders, they would just whine about how their enemy is not playing fair. Back in grade school, we referred to those people as “easy targets” in dodge ball. While this shot allows Havok to better coordinate with the Scarlet Witch, the Red Skull isn’t even mildly annoyed as he continues to mind-fuck regular people into brutalizing others for reasons that only registered members of the KKK can understand.

But the Red Skull doesn’t just use his talents to mind-fuck living gods into doing his bidding. He’s a fucking Nazi. If he’s not going for overkill with his douche-baggery, then he’s spitting in the face of the Furor. Instead, he opts to just mentally fuck with Captain America’s treasured ideals about America and democracy by using his psychic talents to paint a painfully vivid picture that most won’t see outside of a typical reality TV show. He talks of creating an eternal Riche, peaceful and orderly, while pointing out that the America he treasures has failed. He says that by rallying humans against mutants, they elevate the common man to something greater than the random bag of flesh he is. And if Captain America rallies with them, then ruling over them will be as easy as Mitt Romney winning the Mormon vote.

Traditionally, nobody bothers to let Nazis try and justify their lust for carnage. Most people don’t give a shit. They see a Nazi and treat them the same way they are treated in Call of Duty or Indiana Jones movies. They’re target practice. But Rick Remender isn’t content with just making the Red Skull an unapologetic asshat like he’s often portrayed to be. He actually gives the Red Skull a vision and it’s not a vision of 24/7 Hitler worship. He wants to create a more orderly world and mutants are the enemy to that order. It’s a very Nazi-like thing to do, scapegoating a minority. But the vision is not inherently evil. It’s the methods of getting it that makes you want to throw his ass in a Call of Duty game and empty a machine gun into his cranium.

Thanks to his Xavier-level telepathy, the Red Skull has Captain America subdued without lifting a finger. Havok and the Scarlett Witch realize this and figure they need to do something before he gets bored and starts making Cap do Nazi themed porn. There’s still the matter of Thor being in their way and still being mind-fucked. But the Scarlett Witch finally decides it’s time to step up her game and start making up for the whole mutant genocide shit that led to Avengers vs. X-men in the first place. This involves her going the extra mile and hexing Thor’s godly ass into the exosphere. It’s a nice demonstration of how powerful she is, but she’s still a long ways away from being that crazy bitch that nearly wiped out an entire species with a sentence fragment.

And while Havok is taking his sweet time helping the team he’s supposed to be leading, the Red Skull continues to mind-fuck Captain America by vividly pointing out what a shitty place America has become. He describes the culture as greedy, gluttonous, lazy, and wasteful. He basically read the entire first chapter of Ann Coulter’s last book to him. All the while, he’s making Captain America watch as he mind-fucks other civilians into maiming one another. The main point of his message is that the America he idealizes has failed and this is not the shit he fought for.

Let me say right now that I hate Nazis every bit as much as I hate murderers, pedophiles, bigots, and Rick Santorum speeches. I am not in any way making a pro-Nazi statement on this blog or in any of the drunken ramblings I write. But the Red Skull does have a point here and it’s a point that Rick Remender articulates beautifully. The America that Captain America fought for is not the same America he idealizes. All that greed, waste, and bullshit is very real. I look at shit like Congress, terrorism, reality TV, and boy bands and think to myself “This is America?” The Red Skull is not wrong for pointing out the flaws in America and Rick Remender is not wrong for giving the Red Skull a justification for his Hitler-loving bullshit. It helps give a deeper perspective of this unapologetically evil son of a bitch. That perspective won’t make you hate him any less, but at least he has a reason for being such a dick.

Eventually, the Red Skull is knocked off the soap box with help from Rogue and Havok. Rogue, who was completely MIA up to this point in the issue, shows up to reveal that she took the power of one of the S-men to turn off the Red Skull’s telepathy. This allowed Havok to hit him with another blast and I imagine few blasts are more satisfying than one that hits a Nazi. The Red Skull responds by mind-fucking Havok into fighting Rogue for him, but it distracts him long enough to allow Captain America to shrug off his Nazi propaganda and proceed with beating the shit out of him.

It’s classic Cap and a great “America! Fuck yeah!” moment. But the Red Skull isn’t one of those villains that will just throw himself into a battle and wait for it to beat him to death. He’s a Nazi and Nazis love to escape so they can live long enough to keep fucking with minorities. That’s exactly what the Red Skull does, using one of his S-men to transport him away before Captain America can beat that stolen brain out of his school. The whole concept of the villain escaping the hero may be old as fuck, but if it means more battles like this than I’m perfectly fine with it. Especially if it means more Nazis getting their asses kicked over a longer span of time. Like a session with a hooker, you want that shit to last.

With the Red Skull gone, everyone is freed from his mind-fuck. That includes the countless people who were turned into a blood-thirsty hate mob that would soak the panties of Ann Coulter. They’re all understandably horrified at what they just did. So is Thor when he picks up a very wounded Wolverine, who like Rogue was pretty much just a prop in the battle. Havok, still trying to prove that he can be the same leader as his brother without boning hot telepaths, gives a little speech. It’s basically ripped off from the “It’s not your fault,” speech by Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting. Then again, I’m not sure if being mind-controlled into committing a crime is a valid legal defense in the Marvel universe. So it wasn’t all that moving, but at least Havok tried to contribute something to the battle when in the grand scheme of things he didn’t do dick with his first opportunity as a leader.

I could probably right several pages worth of criticisms for Havok if I had enough time and a few cases of hard liquor, but I’ll save that for another review. In the end my criticisms of Havok don’t mean dick because later on Captain America gives him his seal of approval. And Captain America has way more credibility than a drunk like me. It makes for a fairly standard epilogue where he tells Havok that he can be the leader they need while the Red Skull is on the loose. This whole series began with Cap setting out to choose a new leader to replace the tainted image of Cyclops. And I guess by that standard, he succeeded because Havok has shown he can step up. But he’s still not as good as his brother. At least he can boast he boned both Emma Frost and Jean Grey whereas Havok only got to bone Jean's batshit crazy clone.

We also see some resolution with other members of the team. The Scarlet Witch tries to make amends with Rogue after being a complete bitch to her in previous issues. Rather than forgive and become BFFs, Rogue says she still hates her. However, she’ll stay on the team just to make sure she doesn’t fuck reality again. Wolverine is still more wounded than a guy who went 25 rounds a meth-addicted Mike Tyson, but Thor drops by to let him know their new team has become mainstream. He also tries to give the “It’s not your fault” speech regarding Charles Xavier, but at this point I’m sure even Robin Williams would say that shit is old.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end with the “It’s not your fault” shit. Instead, Rick Remender gives us a brief glimpse into the future in terms of what we can expect. I’m not sure if this is a preview or yet another apocalyptic future for the Marvel universe, but it involves Havok, Sunfire, and the Scarlett Witch running away from Nimrod sentinels run by Tony Stark and confronting a Red Skull and brain-less Charles Xavier in the form of Onslaught. That’s how fucked mutants are now that the Red Skull is back. They have to deal with motherfucking Onslaught. We thought his ass was buried all the other 90s shit like the Spice Girls, dial-up internet, and the Macarana. But it looks like he may be back and mutants may be fucked yet again. So I guess Captain America’s commitment to coordinating with mutants didn’t last.

When Uncanny Avengers was first announced/excessively hyped, it was billed as a different kind of Marvel book. If I were drunk, I would be more inclined to get excited about that. But when I’m sober, I can’t help but wonder how the premise of an Avengers/X-men team-up is any different than your typical team-up book. There have been so many over the years by Marvel, DC, Image, and damn near every other medium that the concept has become too bland for the sober mind. Now maybe it’s because I was somewhat stoned when I read this, but I think it’s safe to say that this issue and this first arc of Uncanny Avengers succeeded at least partially.

One of the lessons Captain America learned after the events of Avengers vs. X-men (in addition to not letting Tony Stark shoot their problems with big ass guns) was that occasional team-ups with mutants just aren’t going to cut it. He began this arc by recruiting Havok to be the face of the new team. And while he was a total dick and clumsy as fuck for most of this issue, he proved he can get the job done. He also proved that there is some merit to this team and it can work beyond being just another casual team-up. They can’t just coax around one another like every NFL player does at the Pro Bowl. They need to work together if they’re to take on threats like an Xavier-powered Red Skull.

Uncanny Avengers #4 proved that the proof of concept behind this series works, but as an individual comic it was inconsistent. The big fight with the Red Skull was clumsy at times and there were too many instances of characters just being thrown into the mix. It was like throwing a bag of weed into cake batter without stirring it. It’ll still make the cake, but not everyone who eats it will get high.

But what this comic lacked in consistency it made up for in details. Rick Remender showed the kind of gritty details in this issue that helped make Uncanny X-Force an enema of consistent awesome. The narration bits were very well-done and added an element of drama to the struggle. And the Red Skull’s Glen Beck-style rant was beautifully crafted. He seemed less like the typical evil Nazi and more like the kind of guy who listens to Rush Limbaugh too intently. He established the Red Skull as a different kind of threat and one that will definitely be fucking with the team in the future.

I’m still exceedingly disturbed at how valid some of the Red Skull’s points were, but in the end this issue made me more confident on the future of this book. It didn’t just help establish the Red Skull as a threat. It established some of the personal conflicts that this team will face. We have Havok’s inept leadership that will likely leave him pissing and moaning about his brother. We have Rogue hating the Scarlet Witch with a passion, yet still showing a willingness to share a pack of tampons with her. We also have Captain America trying hard not to make the same dick moves that lead to Avengers vs. X-men. Then there’s Onslaught. Fuck, we have to deal with Onslaught again. Like I need another reminder of how much the 90s sucked. But I suppose it could’ve been much more fucked up in a comic that involves Nazis and brain surgery.

Uncanny Avengers #4 firmly established this series as having a unique and appealing theme. It nicely capped off the end of the first arc, which didn’t exactly start out very strongly in the first place. It offered a perfect blend of action and drama. True to Rick Remender’s talents, he’ll blow shit up while making you shed a few tears. It’s a feeling you won’t get without a case of imported fireworks and several bottles of tequila. I give Uncanny Avengers #4 a 4 out of 5. All you need to know about the future of Uncanny Avengers is it involves Nazis, racism, and violent uprisings. And unlike the paranoid ramblings of Alex Jones, this shit will actually make some sense under Rick Remender’s pen. Nuff said!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Uncanny X-men #2 - Heart-To-Heart Awesome

I imagine having to work closely with your ex is more awkward than having your prostate exam filmed in IMAX and showed in 3D in front of your whole family on your wedding day. There's a good reason why God gave human beings the ability to feel bitter and scorned. When two people have loved, boned, and lost their capacity to coordinate is complicated to a point where you would have a better chance teaching a cricket advanced calculus than finding a way to make it work. Bitterness is nature's way of telling us shit isn't working out and you'll only make it worse by trying.

Unfortunately, Cyclops and Emma Frost don't have the luxury of moving to different hemispheres and expunging all memories of one another through bitterness, alcohol, and revenge sex. After the events of Avengers vs. X-men, their long-standing relationship that had Marvel had been pimping like a hooker with fresh breast implants for nearly a decade came to an end. There's just no coming back from lashing out at one another while high on cosmic force. I also imagine that Emma mind-humping Namor while he laid waste to Wakanda didn't help either. Brian Michael Bendis said outright when his relaunch of Uncanny X-men was first announced that Cyclops and Emma Frost would no longer be romantically involved. Yet they would be stuck on the same team because when you're a fugitive and your powers are fucked up, you don't have the luxury of not teaming up with your ex.

I admit I never thought Marvel would do this because for so long they seemed hopelessly intent on making Cyclops/Emma the number one fuck buddies in the Marvel universe. I wouldn't have had a problem with this if they actually did what they did for other famous comic book couples and built up their relationship. Instead, they decided to make it one long re-run of Two and a Half Men, consisting mostly of bed scenes ripped off from old pornos and one-liners that essentially robbed both characters of their romantic credibility. Now I'm all for tits, asses, dicks, and butts in my comic books. But if the intent was to make Cyclops and Emma's love more mature and powerful than Cyclops and Jean, then that's not the way to go about it. That would be like trying to make Jessica Alba hotter by rubbing shit on her face. I made many rants on this blog about how unwilling Marvel was to create any tension with this couple. Yet here I am, my jaw open and my dick hard at their decision to break them up. And for that, I applaud them.

But as surprised I was to see Cyclops and Emma break up, I was equally surprised to see them remain on the same team. All New X-men and Uncanny X-men #1 show that they are taking part in a new mutant revolution. In addition to ending their relationship, Avengers vs. X-men kick started the mutant race again. And Cyclops isn't dicking around. He's taking a far more revolutionary approach because he doesn't think the human race is going to react in a calm, rational manner in dealing with the sudden re-emergence of the mutant race after having gotten so used to dealing with them as an endangered species. He's not wrong, but he's still being a dick about it. That was the main reason why Magneto visited SHIELD in Uncanny X-men #1 with the intent of helping Cyclops lose more than his access to Emma Frost's pussy. So in a team with a bitter ex-girlfriend and a bitter teammate, Cyclops's revolution is already on shaky ground.

Uncanny X-men #2 takes plenty of time to explore these shaky grounds on which Cyclops is building his revolution. We first explore the inner musings of a pissed off ex-girlfriend. While I’m sure my ex-girlfriends probably thought more about where they would hide the dead bodies, Emma Frost dwells on how utterly broken she is. And Bendis doesn’t skimp on the details either. She reflects on how she fucked her powers up and how she fucked her relationship with Cyclops up by listening to the wet spot in her panties when she was around Namor. She really is broken in that the life she had before Avengers vs. X-men is in complete ruin.

But as dramatic as this musing is, a more striking musing is that she actually takes the time to blame Tony Stark for the shit that happened with the Phoenix Force. This is the first time any character has actually noted that it was Mr. I-Shoot-Shit-With-Big-Guns-And-I’m-Not-Referring-To-My-Penis who fucked the Phoenix up. And it comes from someone better known for her bra size than her brain. For that, I applaud Emma Frost for crafting the most rational musings of an ex-girlfriend in the history of humanity. That and she still has a nice rack.

Eventually, Cyclops confronts her before those thoughts of hiding dead bodies can enter her mind. From here, she and Cyclops have a true heart-to-heart. It’s a conversation that was long overdue and one that was building since the end of Avengers vs. X-men. They essentially clear the air in that they make clear that they’re not going to be seeing each other naked anymore, but they will make an effort to work together for the sake of these new mutants. Bendis doesn’t leave any Matt Fraction-style ambiguity here in that he has Cyclops and Emma make clear that they can’t get back together after the shit that happened in Avengers vs. X-men. And it makes perfect sense too. You just can’t go back from ripping cosmic forces out of one another and boning other people in your mind while they lay waste to a country. But having been together and exchanged an untold amount of bodily fluids, they trust each other and know they can help one another.

Reading this conversation gave me a tingly feeling I usually don’t get without a blowjob and a bag of premium Mexican weed. Having gone on so many drunken rants about the flaws in the Cyclops/Emma relationship that have emerged over the past few years, it’s actually a great relief to see them part ways in such a clean, amicable way. None of my post-breakup conversations with ex’s have ever gone this well. Hell, most didn’t end without some kind of property damage. But even though Bendis already made it clear that the relationship is over, there’s a certain power in seeing it truly end on-panel. While I know the Cyclops/Emma fanboys may be bawling like someone shoved a peeled onion up their ass, it is a historic moment. Cyclops and Emma as a couple are no more. Excuse me while I raise my bottle of Jack Daniels to commemorate this moment.

Like many powerful moments in comics, there’s an inevitable buzzkill and it’s not uncommon for a very disturbed teenager to be involved. This is certainly no exception. After Cyclops and Emma have their moment, Magik shows up to let them know their new students are ready for a little orientation. Unlike the others, her powers weren’t fucked up by the Phoenix Force and somehow she ended up becoming even more creepy. Even Cyclops and Emma concede she’s more fucked up than any teenage girl who hasn’t caught her boyfriend making out with her father. She too agrees that it’s good that Cyclops and Emma aren’t together anymore, but I’m not sure how much weight I would give the opinion of a pretty blond who rubs elbows with demons. I’ll overlook a lot of flaws in pretty girls, but Magik is one of the few that is more likely to make a man cringe rather than give him a boner.

We then shift from a dramatic and heart-felt conversation to something more pragmatic and less gay. Going all the way back to All New X-men, Cyclops and his team have recruited a number of new mutants such as Eva, Christopher, Benjamin, and the latest being Fabio (a Mexican teenager not to be confused with the hot guy women of the 90s wanted to bone). Having gone through the trouble of turning an old Weapon X Facility into a brank spankin’ new Xavier Institute, they give these new mutants a hint at what they’re in for.

They start by reminding them of the Sentinel attack in the previous issue, which offers a nice sense of continuity in the story. Then they point out that they’re not alone. They’re the first of a new generation of mutants that is poised to populate the world like Evander Holyfield’s illegitimate kids. It offers a nice overview of what these kids are now caught up in. Since this is still only the second issue of this latest forced relaunch, it’s a nice touch in terms of setting the stage for this series.

And beyond the bigger picture of mutant relations, Cyclops even gives them a brief overview of their new home away from home. We already know they’ve been constructing a new Xavier Institute since the beginning of All New X-men. We don’t know how the fuck they manage that when they’re powers are broken and they’re wanted fugitives. I guess when you’ve got Magneto, demon-loving teenage girl, a rich ex-girlfriend with big tits you can pull strings. But given how quickly Wolverine slapped his Jean Grey Institute together, I won’t belabor the how and just marvel at the finished product. It may seem like needless exposition, taking the time to depict the layout of the new base when most readers could give a milliliter of wolf piss about such details. But I think that kind of attention to detail is what separates good comics from awesome comics. You can accuse Brian Bendis of a lot of things like being way too bald for a white guy, but you can’t accuse him of not paying attention to details in a story.

But as nice as their new digs are, the new mutants express concern about their families and the lives they’re leaving behind. Some are all too eager to get the fuck away from their boring ass lives. Fabio mentioned he was selling corndogs on a stick before his powers kicked in. Who would want to go back to that? But others, like Eva, still have a family and want to stay in touch with them. Cyclops makes it clear they’re not prisoners and can leave whenever they want. And unlike the cult leaders that demand all the cute young girls sleep in his bed to find God, he actually means it. So with Magik’s help, they create a few portals so they can check in with some of the insanely worried families. Again, it’s the kind of detail you don’t usually see in an X-men comic. Usually, when someone becomes a mutant, it’s all “fuck the family and let’s kill giant robots!” It adds yet another nice personal touch that really helps give this comic a unique feel.

While visiting a family may give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, Magneto is in a position to fuck it up. At the end of the previous issue, Bendis revealed in one of the least surprising twists of all time that Magneto was secretly coordinating with SHIELD to bring about Cyclops’s downfall. And for some reason Cyclops wasn’t suspicious in the slightest when Magneto shaved his head and opted to stay behind while they left. While it’s reasonable to assume that his conversation with SHIELD took place before the sentinel attack in the first issue, we still don’t get any clarification on the sequence of events that led to him shaving his head. But it is another instance of Bendis not skimping on the details and taking advantage of an established plot, as unsurprising as it may be.

The team arrives in Australia and they manage to avoid being bitten by one of the many poisonous snakes that inhabit the County that God clearly wanted to keep uninhabited. The newbies are still getting over the novelty of teleporting through Limbo. One of the students, Benjamin, actually seems turned on by it and seems to indicate that he wants to be the pitchfork to Magik’s devil-loving fetish. That’s a very poor dick joke, but you get what I mean. Magik does tell him to keep it in his pants because the point of the visit is to talk to Eva’s family. It makes for another nice moment where Eva reunites with her mother. It looks like she may even invite Cyclops’s team in for tea. It’s as pleasant a visit as they could have hoped for.

But we all know where this shit is going. Anyone who has followed the X-men in any capacity knows they don’t have pleasant visits anywhere. At some point they’re going to be attacked by giant robots, evil geneticists, or religious bigots. They might as well a deer in Ted Nugant’s back yard. However, this time they’re confronted by a very different threat. Before they left, Magneto informed SHIELD of where they were going and before they could even get sun-burned by the Australian sun the fucking Avengers show up. It’s another stern reminder that Cyclops is still a wanted fugitive because nobody wants to blame Tony fucking Stark for shooting big guns and waving his dick in the face of a cosmic force. Now I could argue in several blog posts why the Avengers are total assholes for wanting to throw Cyclops in a jail cell while Wolverine and Wanda run free, but I’ll save that for another case of whiskey. I would much rather just entertain thoughts at how fucked up this battle is going to be in the next issue.

If the first issue of this ridiculously forced re-launch of Uncanny X-men was intended to offer a general taste of Uncanny X-men, this second issue dug deep into the shit-stained bowels of the personalities behind this book. And remarkably, what emerges smells less like shit and more like scented rose petals carefully placed on Jennifer Lawrence’s tits. Whereas the previous issue gave you giant robots and a pseudo-twist that was less surprising than the number of people Seth MacFarlane pissed off with his Oscar jokes, this issue addressed those smaller issues that usually get overlooked in between battles with giant robots.

The conversation with Cyclops and Emma was the highlight and taking the time to visit the families of their new recruits perfectly complemented the theme of adding a personal touch. In some ways it got a bit too personal, almost to the point that it feels like it belonged in a gynecology office. But Bendis made this issue awesome by presenting the characters in a profoundly raw manner. These aren’t just X-men. They’re people with issues too fucked up for Dr. Phil, Jerry Springer, and most (but not all) reality TV shows.

Beyond the personal elements, this issue was wonderfully concise in how it followed the events of the previous issue. In addition to recruiting new mutants, Cyclops’s new team has to go through the fun of teaching a bunch of hormonal teenagers how to manage their powers. When one of them seems to be fantasizing about boning a demon-loving blond, you know you’ve got an uphill battle. But as Cyclops pointed out himself, Emma Frost is a very good and very competent teacher. Her ability to reach young minds is only equaled by her ability to cause boners. In addition, Bendis even took the time to give readers a layout of the new Xavier Institute. Unlike Wolverine’s Jean Grey Institute, it doesn’t have the architecture or style of a Lady Gaga concert nor does it reinforce his obscenely unhealthy obsession with a woman he never got to bone. It may seem trivial, but it’s these little details that make good comics great and great comics ball-bustingly awesome.

I get that some readers will probably be bored senseless or not appreciate the decompressed, detail-oriented story-telling Brian Bendis is using here. I’m sure many of those readers will read this issue and say “To hell with all this talking shit! Either show us your boobs or fight more giant robots!” Look, if you want that kind of Michael Bay-inspired action, go drop some LSD and watch the Matrix. But it’s not inaccurate to say that this issue was a setup issue in some sense that it just set the stage for Magneto’s betrayal to lead the Avengers right to Cyclops. It just completely ignores all those special personal moments that actually make readers give a damn about what happens to these characters. But if some people can ignore laws, facts, and birth certificates I guess some people can ignore those special little things that make comics awesome.

At this point, I’m still of the opinion that All New X-men is superior to Uncanny X-men, but not by much. Uncanny X-men is still behind in terms of awesome, but so close that it could smell a wet fart. I still have some reservations about little details like Magneto being bald, where the new uniforms came from, and how Magneto got back from SHIELD custody. But those are not the kind of details that are necessary to keep this book from earning my highest praise. I give Uncanny X-men #2 a 5 out of 5. If nothing else about this comic appeals to you, at least celebrate that Emma Frost and Cyclops are now single and ready to mingle! The race is on. Who will they bone next? I’m sure Bendis has plans and I’m equally sure fanfiction writers will have something horribly depraved. Either way, it’s a great time to be an X-man fan and/or to have a boner. Nuff said!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Marvel's New #1 Teaser - What Could It Be?!

I'll accuse Marvel of a lot of crazy shit, but I'll never accuse their marketing and PR people as being lazy. It seems we can't go more than a few weeks without them teasing something that will tear the Marvel universe several new assholes. I've done posts on teasers before and usually they're just vague enough to get you scratching your head. But every now and then they do one that is so perplexing that if it were an anime it would induce lethal seizures. This is one of them and it is only summed up as a big ass #1.

Marvel Promises "HUGE Story" With "Marvel" #1 Teaser

So what the hell could it be? First off, let's state clearly what it is and that's another excuse for Marvel to slap a new #1 on a comic book. I've already pointed this out many times before and fans continue to roll their eyes for some reason whenever it's vindicated multiple times. Books with #1 on them sell and until they stop selling, Marvel and DC will continue to churn out books with this magical number that allows them to get more money without having to do any additional work. Speaking on behalf of stoners everywhere, I can say without hestiation that there is inherent worth to such tactics. The folks at Marvel need stripper and booze money too.

But beyond what we know, what the fuck could this #1 entail? It listed a wide range of Marvel characters, some major and some minor and some pissant little redhead that should be dead by now. Is this a new series or some new event spinning right out of Age of Ultron? It's hard to tell, but fuck if I'm not intrigued. I'm sure that's exactly how Marvel planned it. A big ass #1 is all it takes for us brainless consumers to get interested. I want to be ashamed, but I'm too intrigued to give a shit. Nuff said!

Friday, February 22, 2013

X-men Supreme Reflections: Robert Kelly PREVIEW and Pic Updates

Somethings things fall into place beautifully when you're not even trying. Some people think that I plan the X-men Supreme fanfiction series ahead of time to line up perfectly with current events. Well, that is simply not the case. I write X-men Supreme on an issue-to-issue basis and every now and then, the events in this fanfiction series line up perfectly with what is going on in the real world. Once again, the comic book gods have cast favor upon the X-men Supreme fanfiction series as the country celebrates President's Day and the birthday of George Washington. On this same week, I begin work on the next entry of X-men Supreme Reflections and the subject of this issue is none other than the President elect of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, Robert Kelly.

For most of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, he was known as Senator Kelly. He was the anti-mutant war-hawk who favored the policies of Cameron Hodge and ran for President on a platform that favored tougher policies on mutants. X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope told the story of that campaign, which also coincidentally mirrored the real world Presidential election. While one could argue that X-men Supreme had some much more volatile issues, it was certainly an election to remember. In the end, Robert Kelly won the election and now he goes by President Kelly. But while I spent the latter part of X-men Supreme Volume 3: Ashes of Hope giving some added depth to Robert Kelly's persona, I haven't really explored his history in the pages of the X-men Supreme fanfiction series. Well that changes with this latest entry into X-men Supreme Reflections! I know I've already done a bio for him, but this promises to explore what makes this man who he is. I've prepared an extended preview of what you can expect from the life of the President of the United States in the world of X-men Supreme.

Damn you, Magneto. Damn you for striking me where it hurts the most…my family. It wasn’t enough that you tried to wipe the entire human race out with your own brand of mass extinction. You had to make it personal. You had to make my son another pawn in your agenda. Now here I am worrying endlessly while my wife and daughter are downstairs managing the festivities. I should be with them, smiling for the cameras and being part of all sorts of pictures that will one day be part of history books. But I can’t. So much has changed and much more will have to change.

No matter how much I hate Magneto, what’s done is done. He wanted to give me a taste of empathy and he succeeded. My son is a mutant. He now embodies the very menace I’ve spent so many years fighting against. Because of this, I can’t think and reason as I once did. I can’t walk the same path anymore. Not without hurting my own family. The mutant issue is not so clear anymore and that could prove costly to all the promises I’ve made.

It’s always easier when the lines are clear and the choice is simple. Even if those lines are difficult to confront and those choices are hard to make, I prefer a world of clarity and not ambiguity. That’s how I’ve conducted myself all my life, even before my political career. I’ll take on the issues nobody wants to touch and I’ll confront them in a way that resonates rather than alienates. That’s what every great leader does and that’s what I hope to keep doing.

It’s sure to be a lot of work, but I’ve never shied away from work. I wasn’t born into a political class. I didn’t have a last name like Kennedy, Roosevelt, or Bush. My parents were both hard-working, blue-collar people. We weren’t poor, but the comfortable middle-class life we had was a result of hard work. My dad worked as a shipping manager and my mom was a skilled chef for this upscale restaurant in Albany. They both worked hard to get their share of the American dream and they certainly got it. They also made sure me and my siblings could appreciate it.

My parents made it so we always had to work for something we wanted. If we wanted a toy, a book, or some candy we had to earn it. Sometimes it was a small thing like helping with the groceries or doing the dishes. Other times it was more elaborate. When I wanted this fancy new watch, my dad made me get a paper route and if I stuck to it for more than three months he would get it for me. Except by then I managed to save enough money to get the watch myself and I found that a lot more satisfying.

I kept on working through school and college. I had the misfortune of going to a public school that had just come into a nasty gang problem. In the span of a few years the dropout rate and discipline issues soared. We even made the local news as being part of the most dramatic downturn in academic achievement in 40 years. I watched many of my peers get caught up with the wrong crowd, letting their grades slip and crossing all the wrong lines. I later learned that some of these gangs had mutants running the show, which was rare because mutants weren’t very well-known at the time. I’m not exactly sure what powers they had, but for many reasons that never sat well with me. If anything, it only motivated me to work harder.

Like my parents, the work paid off. I graduated near the top of my class with an advanced diploma. I also got accepted on a limited scholarship to Cornell University. I never slowed down. I kept plunging ahead, ready to make something of myself. In a ways I’m glad my scholarship was limited because it meant I had to work my way through college. I told my parents early on that I didn’t want them to give me financial support. They had the money, but I wanted to make my own way. They respected my decision. I’m pretty sure my dad almost cried tears of pride. Most kids that age will look for any loophole to get their parents to give them money. I had plenty in front of me, but that required me crossing certain lines that I refused to cross. I stuck to my guns. I worked hard and studied harder. It made me a better man.

While I was working, I got my first lesson in politics. It happened at this rough job I had in a hardware store off campus. I pulled double duty as a stock boy and an overall grunt who could do plenty of heavy lifting. It was a pretty rough job, but the worst part by far was the heat. The manager of the store for whatever reason refused to fix the air conditioning or set up fans. He was always busy scrutinizing other things…small things that didn’t affect us or the customers. By the end of one shift I would be sweating so much I looked like I just ran through a hurricane. My co-workers and I always complained about it, but we never to him. They were too scared. They didn’t want to rock the boat.

I was different. I wasn’t going to keep ignoring it. So at our next team meeting, we went through the same routine. The manager lectured and everybody gave their reports. But at the end when we were just about to break, I raised my hand and asked the manager one simple question.

“How come nobody wants to talk about the heat?”

I swear that manager looked at me like I had bats crawling out of my ear. I could see all my co-workers slowly backing away, not wanting to get caught in the crossfire. They just watched as the manager came up to me, looked me in the eye, and said something I’ll never forget.

“Kid…you’re new to this world called reality so let me give you a quick lesson they probably don’t teach at your fancy school. There’s a lot of complicated shit out there and only so many hours in the day. When you’re smart enough to sift through that shit or powerful enough to add a few more hours to the day, call me! Otherwise, don’t be a smartass and let me do my job!”

A lesser man would have cowered. This was someone who signed my checks and managed my role in this job. How could I oppose him? Well I didn’t flinch. I didn’t show any weakness. I just kept staring down my manager until he turned away and stormed back towards his office. My co-workers were too stunned to say anything. Some looked at me with admiration. Others looked at me as if I just shot my own hand off. I probably should have dropped it. Lord knows, most rational people would. But in this case, it pays to be a little brazen if not a little foolish.

While my manager was off managing, I took some time from my schedule to see what the fuss was about regarding the air conditioning. The system was in bad shape and it looked like it needed some serious repairs. Lucky for me, I worked in a hardware store. I had all the parts I needed. So over the course of the week, I fixed it. My dad was a real handyman so his teachings really paid off. Eventually, I got it working. I even took a few old fans that had been gathering dust in the storage room, fixed them as well, and set them up throughout the store in a ways to generate a cooling cross breeze.

All this came as a pleasant surprise to my co-workers. I remember them walking into work and seeing their faces literally freeze when they felt that the air wasn’t as stale as a swamp in the tropics. Even the customers took note and they actually thanked us for making the place a more bearable. It seemed like everybody had benefited. Then I heard that voice again.


That’s what my manager called me. As soon as he came walking in that morning, he ran up to me and literally cornered me at the front end of the store. He spent the next twenty minutes chewing me out for going behind his back and fixing something that he couldn’t. He went off on all these rants about how the air conditioning was a complicated system that needed a certified technician and special parts to repair. He yelled at me even more for using parts within the store. For all he knew, I just pieced it together with duct tape and chewing gum. The man looked ready to have a heart attack. Finally, he got to the point where he asked me how we were going to deal with this now and in the future. I had two words for him that rendered everything he just said meaningless.

“I quit.”

I’ve never seen a man shut up so quickly before or ever since. The man’s eyes hung wide open for a full minute as I handed over my uniform and badge, gave him a smile, and walked out. The way I saw it, if he wasn’t going to address the heat then why follow his example? Every one of my co-workers looked at me like I was Spartacus. Two of the girls who worked there ended up asking me out. That alone was worth the next few months I spent falling into debt. But that was the moment I got a taste of dealing with authority and immediately I was hooked.

I also haven't negated the pics section of X-men Supreme. I work hard on the fanfiction, but I know words can only go so far. This time around I've provided updates to the sections for Mystique, Jean Grey, and Emma Frost. Please remember that I'm always willing to accept new submissions. Please contact me if you're interested.

I try not to get overly political with the X-men Supreme fanfiction series, but since the core concept of X-men frequently parallels the struggle for civil rights an minorities it is sometimes unavoidable. Rest assured, I will do everything within my creative power to not make it too convoluted. But the very world of X-men Supreme is as important as the characters themselves. It's a fragile balance, which is why I'm somewhat distressed at the lack of reviews and feedback I've been getting. Have I been getting too political? Am I not doing it right? If so, please tell me! I really do want to know because it is important that I do X-men Supreme right. Only a handful of pepole take the time to post feedback and while I'm deeply grateful to those people, I would like to see more. Please take the time to contact me with your feedback when you get a chance either by contacting me directly or posting your comments on each issue. I'm always willing to chat! Again, thank you very much to all those who support me. Until next time, take care and best wishes! Excelsior!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Uncanny X-men #2 PREVIEW - Beautiful Women Freaking The Fuck Out

As someone who is often attracted, for better or worse (mostly worse), to beautiful women, there's a certain range of emotions to seeing them freak the fuck out. If they happen to be a woman who just agreed to dress up like Starfire and claim she's sad about not being able to sunbathe nude, you feel sympathy. If they happen to be a woman that boned your best friend and took it up the ass for a guy that paid her cable bill, you feel positively gleeful. The same happens in a comic book.

Enter Emma Frost, the bearer of Marvel's ultimate set of tits and someone who can bust balls in the best and worst possible ways. She recently suffered the kind of downfall usually reserved for athletes that followed OJ Simpson's career path. She went from second-in-command at the X-men and fuck buddy to Cyclops to a wanted fugitive who had broken up with Cyclops AND fucked her powers up. It's more than just a lousy day at the office. It's the kind of shit that drives most people crazy. So if anyone is entitled to freak the fuck out, it's her. And wouldn't you know it? That's just what she does in the latest preview of Uncanny X-men #2, which was released by Newsarama earlier today!

It's a beautiful moment and not just because Emma hasn't lost her fondness of showing off her rack. She actually takes some time to reflect on what she's done recently. She also is the first to actually point out that it was Tony fucking Stark who was responsible for the Phoenix Five. Yet his ass never got thrown in jail. Charles Xavier never blamed him for the shit that happened. So for once the hot blond is the smart one and I say fuck yeah! In addition, she reflects on her relationship with Cyclops and how it actually did involve love for more than just the power of Cyclops's penis. That's something that has been lost since the Matt Fraction era of Uncanny X-men. Yet she also acknowledges that he never truly got over Jean Grey. So maybe that will open the door to some nice moments with All New X-men. Who knows? Either way, I intend to be as prepared as I am drunk when this comes out to craft my review! Nuff said!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Savage Wolverine #2 - Baited Awesome

Beautiful women can be a confusing mix of contrasts to both a man's brain and his penis. Some of them claim they want to be appreciated more for their personality and intellect than their tits and ass. Some claim there's too much pressure for them to look beautiful, whereas butt-ugly rock stars and Hugh Hefner can still get more pussy than a door-to-door gynecologist. Yet I've often been extremely confused when some of the women make these arguments while wearing push-up bras and thong underwear.

Now I know I'm going to have my balls busted by angry feminists who think this generation of men should pay for the bullshit generations past, but men and women are wired differently. I know. That's not politically correct and anyone who says that is brushed off as someone who listens to Sean Hannity too much. But as someone who fantasizes about Sean Hannity and men like him suffering endless bouts of explosive diarrhea, I can say without hesitation that I'm not against all the tenants of feminism. I just acknowledge the cold hard fact that men are wired differently than women. They cherish the visual appeals of big breasts, a tight ass, and lips that you could use as a pool toy.

It's this visual appeal that makes characters like Shanna the She-Devil in the pages of Savage Wolverine so appealing. Wolverine's name may be in the title, but you can guarantee that the male readers of this book will scrutinize the images of Frank Cho's artwork on Shanna far more than they will with Wolverine. They'll do it for the same reason they'll buy a subscription to Sports Illustrated only to get the swimsuit issue. While the brain does most of the thinking, the penis has power of attorney. It's for that reason that the premise of a Wolverine story that involves him teaming up with Shanna has so much appeal and makes plenty of sense. Wolverine is a battle hardened survivor with a feral side while Shanna is a battle hardened survivor with a feral side and tits. Feminists may not like it, but you can't fuck with that sort of logical coherence unless you're a creationist.

Savage Wolverine #1 took Wolverine away from his duties at the Jean Grey Institute and the Avengers and brought him back to his roots. He found himself in the unforgiving landscape of the Savage Land where a couple of SHIELD agents enlisted help from Shanna to locate alien artifacts on a forbidden island. Well, this artifact clearly didn't want to be found because it led them to crash land in the middle of the fucking jungle where a tribe of blood-thirsty (and possibly racist) savages want to carve off their skin and sacrifice it to their bull god. The SHIELD agents didn't stand a chance, but Shanna and Wolverine's paths eventually crossed and now they're in it together. They hadn't had a chance to bone yet, but you definitely get the sense it's on their to-do list.

But before any boning can be contemplated, a new complication enters the conflict and that complication’s name is Amadeus Cho. If it sounds rather random to anyone who hasn’t been reading Hulk comics, it is. I guess the brutal slaughter of the SHIELD agents in the previous issue left a void that threatened Marvel’s usual slaughter quota. But Cho is a very odd and very different choice compared to the SHIELD agents and that’s a good thing. For one, it means we don’t have to read the same damn story of a bunch of unfortunate agents shitting themselves as they try to survive in a brutal jungle with racist archetypes chasing them in hopes of using their blood as anal lube. We don’t get much of an explanation on why he ended up in the Savage Land, but then again we didn’t get much explanation on why Wolverine ended up there as well so at least the plot gaps are consistent. And if you do happen to be racist or an avid listener of Rush Limbaugh, you should enjoy watching a bunch of jungle savages try in vain to beat Cho with sticks.

We then finally pick up where the last issue left off, which was basically Wolverine plummeting to the jungle floor after being mauled by a pterodactyl. I know it’s usually wrong to feel a certain level of glee in someone’s misfortune, even if they are fictional, but since Wolverine can heal I don’t think it will make Jesus cry. And like the previous issue, Frank Cho uses some internal monologues with Wolverine to help give a better description of the pain he’s in. For a man with serious anger issues and an inability to tame his penis around married women, his thoughts are pretty coherent. Wolverine may be in a fuckton of comics, but we rarely see this kind of narration so it helps give this series something unique. But as articulate as his thoughts may be, it eventually drifts back to hot women with nice tits. He remembers Shanna is in trouble and for her sake and that of his penis, he ignores the pain and runs off to help her.

This is usually where you expect to get all badass and be that character that so many fans complain is overexposed. You assume he’ll swoop in, save the day, shed plenty of blood, and soak the panties of any woman within a half-mile radius. In a comic with Wolverine’s name in the title, it’s hard not to expect that shit. But that actually doesn’t happen this time. Instead, Frank Cho adopts this radical idea that a guy who just fell from the sky with poor impulse control and no sense of strategy actually might not fare too well against an army of hungry pterodactyls. While he manages to catch up with Shanna, who is still in one piece while battling these hungry creatures that make creationists cry, he does a shitty job of fighting them off. He only manages to get himself hurt even more. It takes Shanna picking up a gun left by a SHIELD agent and shooting them before Wolverine’s ego and balls are permanently wounded.

This may sound like a rather unspectacular display of action, but it actually provides a different approach to Wolverine that doesn’t often get told in a world where so many of the writers at Marvel have a man-crush on Wolverine that would make any gay man jealous. Frank Cho actually shows Wolverine as being clumsy, incompetent, and overmatched. And this isn’t fucking Apocalypse he’s facing. These are just hungry dinosaurs. They’re just a level above the masked guards that James Bond uses as target practice. Yet it makes perfect sense that a man who vehemently hates guys like Cyclops who actually strategize and has serious anger management issues would struggle. It’s only here that we actually see it. I’ve berated Marvel many times, drunk and sober, about shit not making sense. This is one instance where they actually make sense in a way that is pleasantly surprising.

Back with Amadeus Cho, he’s clearly gotten bored with roughing up the angry natives. At least that proves he’s not a member of the KKK because they would probably never get tired of that shit. As he’s assessing his situation, he finds out about the dampening field surrounding the island that was mentioned in the previous issue by the SHIELD agents. It has negatively affected his ability to communicate with the outside or tap the full extent of his powers. His AI, Calvin (basically a more nerdy version of Jarvis from Iron Man), informs him of the artifact that’s causing all the disruptions. His best bet is to find it, get rid of it, and get his ass back home in time watch She-Hulk take a shower. He also notices that some of the natives have marks from dead SHIELD agents so he can expect to be as welcome as a bad case of herpes.

For Wolverine and Shanna, they don’t get to enjoy that kind of boredom. After they recover from their battle against the angry Pterodactyls, they begin to discuss their plan to infiltrate the temple and disrupt that artifact. And by discuss I mean coordinate with the same efficiencies as two drunk monkeys trying to hump a coconut. Wolverine can’t get Shanna to shut up and Shanna can’t resist pointing out how short he is, comparing him to Hugh Jackman in a very nice reference to the movies. She even finds a way to throw in a little poop joke about drinking jungle water. And whenever a hot chick makes a poop joke, it’s a very special thing.

These two clearly aren’t on the same page and the possibility of Wolverine getting into Shanna’s panties are dwindling at a surprising rate. It actually makes for some nice drama on top of the action to show that their partnership isn’t following the usual plot you would expect, given Wolverine’s luck with women. It’s another example of Wolverine not being depicted as the alpha dog he usually is. It also gets progressively worse when it starts raining (it’s a fucking jungle, mind you) and they end up falling down a cliff. And Wolverine, looking more like Homer Simpson than an X-man, tumbles down in a way that is as humiliating as it is hilarious.

When they land, both Shanna and Wolverine’s pride is almost as wounded as Mante T’eo’s credibility. But they don’t have time to sulk because they just happened to land in the den of some angry raptors and like an off-duty cop whose home you just stumbled into while drunk, they’re not too pleased. And this time, Shanna doesn’t have any big ass guns (not counting her tits) to fight off these aggressive creationist nightmares. It’s a fairly typical situation in the Savage Land. It seems like you can’t take a piss in a bush without it being home to some flesh-eating monster. But what makes it entertaining is how Frank Cho sets it up. It’s like the Three Stooges, except there are two and one of them has a great rack. It’s as entertaining as it sounds.

As Wolverine and Shanna are making the same mistake, Amadeus Cho is trying desperately to stop the angry natives from making more. He’s been remarkably patient with them, not using his power to slaughter them and use their bones to make dildoes. Yet they remain painfully slow at realizing that hitting him with fucking sticks isn’t working. It’s like trying to reason with Ann Coulter. It’s a losing battle. But eventually, Cho does manage to get his translator working. This allows him to communicate with the chief of the natives. It’s a little sluggish at times and the whole Elvish language used to depict the natives talking really doesn’t make for an interesting conversation. But when he does finally crack their language code, he makes clear that he comes in peace and is powerful as fuck. Their natural reaction is to worship him as a god.
Now I’m trying not to make too many comments on race here because I’m already on thin ice with Al Sharpton, but this is something that has the potential to piss a few people off. You’ve got a population of people who fit the stereotypical depiction of a savage and an enlightened westerner armed with superpowers shows up and they worship him as a god. Maybe some people won’t take as much offense to that as they will a speech about women’s rights by Todd Akin, but it is somewhat clichéd and a bit of a dick move. However, it could have been much more offensive so I’m not going to make a bigger deal of this than I need to.

The prospect of Amadeus Cho being worshipped by the natives as a god ends up being more exciting than Shanna and Wolverine escaping the raptor den. The action isn’t quite as entertaining as the earlier battle against the pterodactyls. They’re still comically uncoordinated, but they escape and continue making their way to the artifact. They continue to bicker as well. You get the sense that boning is now no longer as high up on their to-do list as initially thought. But it still makes for a rather bland ending to the issue. They just fight off more dinosaurs, struggle to get along, and basically continue down the same path they were when they began. But they don’t know that Cho beat them to the punch. So there are still plenty of reasons to look forward to the next issue and there are plenty of memorable moments in this one. The ending just isn’t one of them.

I often hear fans bitch and moan about how Wolverine is so overexposed. Those same people also frequently bitch and moan about how he’s made out to be too perfect in the sense that he’s a badass, he’s overly competent, and he gets to bone way too many hot chicks. To some extent they have a point. Wolverine does get almost as much love as Emma Frost’s tits at Marvel. But that extent is only as long as Tim Tebow’s passing stats last year. Because this comic, in what may be a subtle middle finger to the Wolverine-haters, tells a Wolverine story that doesn’t make him out to be Marvel’s alpha male. It’s a story where Wolverine is incompetent, clumsy, and downright stupid at times. Hell, the way he’s carrying himself, Shanna’s panties are getting dryer by the second. And you know what? It actually feels like this is how Wolverine is supposed to be depicted. This is how you would expect someone to carry himself who heals from anything, has poor impulse control, and couldn’t strategize even if Jean Grey’s pussy depended on it.

Savage Wolverine is quickly turning into a Wolverine comic for fans who don’t like Wolverine. It’s similar to how the movie Bad Santa was a movie for people who really hate Christmas. While that movie had touching messages like “Shit Happens When You Party Naked,” this comic has a clear message in that a beautiful woman will use your ass as bait for hungry dinosaurs if you’re going to be a dick. Both are good messages, but Wolverine’s new role as bait offers something different compared to previous Wolverine titles. When I first heard about this book, I made many of the same assumptions my fellow Marvel addicts made in that will likely be just another Wolverine title that tries to find new ways of making him seem awesome. Well, that’s not what Frank Cho is doing here. He’s showing a different side of Wolverine in that while he can survive in a jungle, he would have long since become T-Rex shit were it not for his healing. He gets pwned more in this issue than he has in any comic where Cyclops hasn’t shot him and given his recent actions, that’s saying something.

While I enjoyed Frank Cho’s approach to characterizing Wolverine, there were parts of this comic that dragged. The side-story with Amadeus Cho was a nice touch, but it seemed needlessly spaced out by having him fuck with the natives until he could translate their language. Aside from just flexing his powers, he didn’t really do much. In addition, there wasn’t a whole lot of progress made in Wolverine and Shanna’s mission to find that ancient artifact. They basically just tripped over their own asses for most of the issue. It was entertaining and all, but it really didn’t move shit forward. And the ending was pretty weak and pretty abrupt. So while the theme of the book and the action was enjoyable, it was poorly organized and didn’t come together very well in the end.

If you liked Savage Wolverine #1, then Savage Wolverine #2 will give you even more reasons to enjoy it. Despite the rather chaotic pace of the story, Frank Cho’s artwork is as beautiful as ever and the sight of Wolverine getting mauled by dinosaurs has yet to get old. The strong dialog also adds plenty of value to this issue and the movie references are a nice bonus and give women more reasons to want to bone Hugh Jackman. Savage Wolverine is quickly turning into a different type of Wolverine comic and for all the right reasons. I give Savage Wolverine #2 a 3.5 out of 5. At the rate this comic is going, Wolverine actually might not get laid in the end. That would be a monumental milestone in the history of Marvel and a clear victory for anyone whose girlfriend cheated on him with a tattoo laced biker wanted in four states. But most importantly, it also sends a clear message to the Wolverine haters that they can stop bitching and moaning now. And like shows sponsored by Glenn Beck, this world needs less bitching and moaning. Nuff said!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Xtreme X-men #10 - Axis of Awesome

A few years ago, some asshole judge thought I had anger management issues because beating up the brain-dead hipster who gave me a decafe mocha late instead of a double shot espresso at Starbucks was a symptom of “serious issues.” His words, not mine. I can safely say that the experience was akin to being strapped to a chair and being forced to listen to Barney the Dinosaur sodomize an elf for three weeks. The problem wasn’t the information itself. I honestly didn’t know visualizing Santa Claus could help calm someone down. It was the burned out hippie running the class who made me want to shove my balls into a broiler. He was this annoying, touchy feely type guy who wanted every man in the room to surrender their testicles, put on a dress, and slow dance to classical music for the rest of the day. Needless to say, I punched the guy in the face the last day of the class and my anger issues were solved.

This kind of touchy feely leadership, if done with the same incompetence as the anger management teacher that now has a black eye, is almost infuriating enough to make someone want to vote for Rick Santorum. On the flip side, those uptight drill-sergeant leaders that grow up to be drill instructors or gym teachers are just as infuriating, except you probably won’t get away with punching them in the face. These are the extremes of leadership and for the most part, leaders not named after a dictator or a cult leader are somewhere in between. For a new leader like Dazzler in the pages of Xtreme X-men, it’s a matter of determining where in that spectrum she wants to be and how willing she is to risk getting punched in the face.

Since Greg Pak revitalized Xtreme X-men from the ashes of Chris Claremont’s genius, he’s made this inter-dimensional mission to hunt down evil Charles Xaviers a Dazzler-centric story. Because why the hell shouldn’t a story revolve around a hot blond who can sing, kick ass, and put on her own light show without having to smear glitter on her tits? As the mission has unfolded, she has been thrust into a leadership position and must lead a ragtag collection of displaced alternate X-men against deranged Charles Xaviers that range from evil wizards to cute little ponies. It sounds pretty fucked up and it is. But Pak has found a way to make it awesome and he’s also found a way to make Dazzler more compelling than most generic blonds can ever hope to be without marrying Hugh Hefner.

In the previous issue, Dazzler successfully wrestled away a leadership role from an alternate version of her that was far more qualified on the basis of her zombie-killing skills. She even found time to knock off another evil Xavier. Now in Xtreme X-men #10, she’s free to exercise her new leadership skills. So what does she do first? Perhaps drill the hell out of her team, make them do push-ups, and threaten to unscrew their heads and shit down their neck? Nope! She orders that they all take a break from killing evil Xaviers and go swimming. Hell, if this is how my anger management classes were run, I might have actually come to a few meetings sober.

But not everybody chooses to partake in Dazzler's fun-loving leadership. Black Cyclops apparently wasn't forced into bullshit anger management classes in his universe so he basically stays back until Kid Nightcrawler teleports his clothes off and prompts him to take a dip. This sounds a lot less gay than you think because as soon as he's in his skivvies, Dazzler's mouth goes dry and all the moisture goes to her other mouth (by that I mean her vagina). I won't make a once you go black, you never go back joke. But it's the kind of scene that would piss off a member of the KKK so for that I find it extra enjoyable.

But the appeal isn't just seeing a pretty blond get moist for a big, strong black man not named Denzel Washington. In this suggestive scene that involves frolicking around in underwear, we actually get some long overdue details about who this Black Cyclops is. He showed up pretty abruptly with zombie killer Dazzler in the previous issue and his backstory really wasn't explored. But now that he's in his underwear and has a chance to bone a hot blond, he explains to Dazzler that he comes from a world where mutants were enlisted to help win a Civil War from a History Channel version of Nick Fury and Charles Xavier. He and another team of mutant powered soldiers were so effective at winning the war that both racists and his own allies started to fear him. He claims he killed 6,000 men. I'm sure that sounds like a lot, but I'm sure Wolverine would probably laugh at that figure. He kills that many people when his favorite hockey team loses.

And it isn't just Black Cyclops that gets some time to build his story. Hercules, who also showed up with Zombie Killer Dazzler, takes some time to discuss where he comes from as well. His story isn't exactly as big a mystery. We already know he comes from the same world as Wolverine and that he's playing hide the flesh rocket in the peanut butter cavern with him. We also know that he comes from a world where people like Rick Santorum are actually taken seriously because two men loving each other just doesn't fly. In his world, he and Wolverine were the best warriors, but they had to work under a Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. It was only after they killed the most powerful creature in their world, which appeared to be a T-Rex on crystal meth, that they revealed their love. Shit didn't exactly go over well. Hercules's father, Zeus, ended up throwing their bleached asses into Tartarus. I guess in his world Zeus wants his sons to favor vaginas or he's a registered republican from Texas.

Now I like that Greg Pak is taking some time to flesh out these characters. They all manage to really open up here, letting each other and the readers know they come from worlds that are pretty fucked up in their own unique way but still not as fucked up as a world where Cyclops is thrown in jail for making the world a global utopia. However, a lot of these details feel like details that it should have been revealed a few issues ago. It's nice that they can open up to one another while swimming in their underwear. I guess that may be part of Dazzler's team-building exercise, but it still seems out of place to the point of it being filler and filler belongs in a burger. Not a comic.

Filler aside, there's one aspect to Xtreme X-men that still sets it apart from every other X-book. It's one of those books where you can see twists on certain characters that aren't just unique, but they piss off the Fox News crowd. That's what happens when you make Cyclops black and Wolverine gay. But Pak isn't done pissing off the assholes who voted for Mitt Romney. He's fucked up the ethnicity and race of another beloved Marvel character. He made Namor Japanese! Okay, so maybe he's not beloved as much as he is desired by hot blondes, but it's yet another twist in a book that has had many good ones.

A Japanese Namor is just what Dazzler's team faces when their little bonding swim is interrupted by Sage, who informs them that they've discovered that this world has a nasty little alternate history that involves London being flooded. Before they could figure out how the fuck this could have happened, they're attacked by a Japanese Namor who has a hate-boner for Xavier. It marks the first solid bout of action in the comic and when Namor is involved, you can expect it to be destructive, egoistical, and panty soaking. So while he may be Japanese, he's still the same Namor. He may just care less for blondes and more for cute girls in revealing school-girl uniforms.

So if Namor is Japanese in this universe, what about Xavier himself? What could he be? What he possibly be in a series that has already had him appear as a freakin' pony? How about a fucking Nazi? If that revelation shocks you an any way, then clearly you haven't been reading this series or you've been reading it stoned. Because considering all the crazy, twisted version of an evil Charles Xavier we've seen, a Nazi Xavier actually isn't all that ground breaking.

He makes his big Naziriffic entrance after Dazzler's team battle Namor and manage to convince him that the Xavier-in-a-Jar that has been guiding them isn't the on he wants to rip apart. He shows up looking like every boss battle in every Wolfenstein game ever. Naturally, Dazzler's team reacts in the same way anyone would react if they saw a real Nazi. They try to murder his Hitler-loving ass. It becomes another glorious spectacle of a battle where Nazi Xavier flexes his Aryan superiority in ways that should make any hippie vomit. It's a fun scene, but feels a little condensed after the filler from the earlier parts of the issue.

But just like we saw with the creepy My Little Pony Xavier, this Nazi Xavier may not be what he seems. He uses his telepathy to inform Dazzler's team that he's not the same sinister Nazi that eats babies for breakfast and the innocence of little children for lunch. He claims Nazi's in this world aren't all that bad and he's trying to save the last remaining innocent survivors of a world that was drowned, presumably by Namor. It puts Dazzler's team in an awkward position because now they have to choose between helping a Nazi and helping Namor when he's got a rage boner. If ever there was a "we're fucked" situation, this was it. However, Dazzler is the leader now. She just showed she can be the nice, touchy feely leader by letting her teammates go for a swim. Now she has to show that she's also the kind of leader that can make a tough decision and make sure it's the right one. So what's it going to be Dazzler? A Nazi or a Namor? Even her tits can't help her escape this one and we won't find out what she decides until the next issue sadly.

There are only so many stories you can tell about killing Nazis before shit starts to get old. The video game industry has yet to reach this point and comics can’t seem to get enough of it either. However, as clichéd as it may be, it can still be a lot of fun and this issue proves it. The sheer diversity of Greg Pak’s universe-hopping Xtreme X-men makes it possible to create yet another world where a Japanese Namor and a Nazi Charles Xavier don’t feel like something a writer came up with while playing Call of Duty stoned one too many times. Like the evil pony of Charles Xavier, Pak is able to give this theme a unique charm that is just plain fun.

The only problem with that special charm is that it is somewhat buried in this issue. While it was nice to see Dazzler and her team get a little downtime, it had too much of a filler-like taste to it. This quiet moment was essentially used to help catch the readers up with some of the characters that hadn’t really been explored yet, namely Hercules and black Cyclops. I’m all for filling in the blanks. I’ve said numerous times before in a perfectly sober mindset on this blog that those kinds of details are what separate good comics from awesome comics. But another thing those awesome comics do is find a way to fit these details into the story. In this instance it just seemed squeezed into the story and really didn’t affect the plot with Nazi Xavier or Japanese Namor.

Because of this, Xtreme X-men #10 feels like two halves of a different book. One half is exposition and the other is the actual story. Both by themselves are decent, but putting them in the same book makes it feel disorganized. Plus, it’s a lot harder to read while stoned and I do think that’s an important issue to consider. And while the concept of a Nazi Xavier and Japanese Namor fits nicely with the theme of this series, it still comes off as more flat when compared to stories about pony Xavier’s and evil wizard Xavier’s.

But I’m still perfectly comfortable saying this book is pretty awesome. Greg Pak continues to make Xtreme X-men an entertaining interlude from the regular X-books. Where else will you find shit like Nazi Xavier’s, black Cyclopses, and Wolverine swapping spit with someone who isn’t a redhead with a nice rack? The artwork is consistently solid. The dialog is smooth and conversational. And the touch of drama adds a few extra sprinkles on the top. For that, I give Xtreme X-men #10 a non-racist, anti-Nazi 3.5 out of 5. There may never come a day where stories about killing Nazis gets old. There may never come a day where I don’t meet an anger management teacher I don’t want to punch in the face. But even if that day doesn’t come, we can still find ways to enjoy it every chance we get. Nuff said!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wolverine and the X-men #25 - Savage Lessons in Awesome

When I was a kid, I loved field trips in school. It didn't just mean getting out of a classroom where underpaid, overworked teachers read from a government-prepared lesson plan that slowly killed my will to live. It meant actually being in the world that I would later need booze and weed to cope with. And I always had a strong appreciation for that real world experience. Sure, some of them ended with me taking a piss on a fish tank at an aquarium or throwing oranges at a gorilla, but it beat the hell out of taking tests on material I would never have to use again in my adult life.

I imagine the field trips with the X-men are a lot more pragmatic, a lot more exciting, and don't involve getting suspended when you leave monkey shit in your teacher's purse. There's no way around it really. Aspiring X-men need to get out in the world and experience the fucked up threats that will attempt to wipe them out every other week. And since you can't exactly schedule a trip to a place where killer robots will attack (although I'm sure Wolverine is working on it), you can go to some of the more exotic locales in the Marvel universe to hone your skills. It's not the same as a trip to the zoo where you can sneak in booze, but it's right up there.

Jason Aaron's Wolverine and the X-men has attained a new level of awesome thanks in large part to its emphasis on the teaching aspect of the X-men's mission. Ever since the Jean Grey Institute was opened, he has taken time to show how Wolverine and his staff struggle to teach a new generation of mutants how to function in a world that enjoys throwing killer robots at them. In the most recent issue, that task gained some new complications as some of that staff can no longer keep it in their pants and started hooking up. Kitty is now swapping frosty semen with Iceman and Wolverine is now getting tipped in pussy after giving Storm a haircut. Yet as important as it is to get their loins wet, they still have students to teach.

But as with every great teacher, there must also be a great obstacle. Those obstacles usually involve having to deal with kids more interested in smoking pot and screwing everything with a pulse, but for Wolverine that obstacle comes in the form of one of the many relics from his past that want to see him die a terrible horrible death. That obstacle’s name is Dog Logan and anyone who has read Wolverine Origins knows why he wants Wolverine dead. But for some reason that isn’t clearly explained, he’s been biding his time by hanging out in a cabin, eating meat from animals he hunts, and presumably jerking off reruns of I Love Lucy. It takes a visit from his time traveling future self to get him off his ass to hunt down Wolverine, who he’s told is in the Savage Land. I won’t go off on another rant about how overplayed the whole time travel gimmick has been, especially since the events of All New X-men. I’ll just say that if Dog needs a visit from the future to become relevant again, either he has piss poor motivation or Marvel stopped caring about how much they fuck with the space time continuum.

This latest time fuck promises to complicate what Wolverine deems to be a very important mission to a select group of students from the Jean Grey Institute that include Idie, Kid Omega, Glob Herman, Shark Girl, Genesis, the eye guy, and some new chick with silvery skin that could fly. It may sound like Fox’s latest reality show, but it actually accounts for a nice slice of the student body of the Jean Grey Institute.

They arrive in the Savage Land where they’re greeted with the warmth of jungle humidity and hungry dinosaurs. He then explains to them that this is the ultimate pass/fail class. They’re expected to not just survive in the Savage Land, but to work together along the way. If one of them fails, then all of them fail. It’s enough to almost make algebra class appealing…almost. And Wolverine doesn’t make it easy for them either. Once he gives them their assignments, he proceeds to attack a T-Rex and ditch them. It’s a dick move, but still not as bad as my freshman gym teacher.

Now why is Wolverine doing this? In the previous issue, he got a kiss from Storm and possibly some pussy. He should not be feeling this vindictive in the slightest. Well unfortunately, the effects of Storm’s pussy is not really explored in this issue. But through a convenient flashback, we see Wolverine having a conversation with the new and improved Beast. He basically tells them that these kids need a trial by fire. Between Cyclops’s revolutionary team and the Hellfire Club, they need these kids to be ready to hold their nose when the shit starts hitting the fan.

It’s still a dick move, but Wolverine isn’t wrong. The pages of Wolverine and the X-men have already revealed some pretty fucked up threats and it would be fucking stupid to not prepare the kids in some obscene sort of way. In addition, we also find out what happened to Broo. While others were swapping spit with fuck buddies in the previous issue, Broo woke up from his coma and was understandably pissed. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Idie’s reaction or anyone’s reaction. We just find out that Broo is stuck in an angry, feral state and now Idie is lugging him around like a dog that needs to be put down. Bring him to the Savage Land is a questionable decision, but at least we get some connections to the previous issue. There really isn’t much mention of anything else from that issue otherwise. The issue still feels a little choppy as a whole, but those small connections help tie it together at least on some level.

But the point of this issue isn’t to dwell on relationship issues and who is boning who. The point is to show how this random assortment of students from the Jean Grey Institute handles themselves in the fucked up situations that only X-men encounter. It makes for some entertaining and colorful action of mutant teenagers fighting hungry dinosaurs. It an overly simple premise, but it’s still fun as hell. What actually makes their struggle even more fun is that they really don’t handle themselves like X-men. They handle themselves like teenagers, namely by incessantly complaining about how life isn’t fair and when their lunch break is. Some, like Glob Herman, actually enjoy it more than regular class. Others, like Kid Omega, are just annoyed as hell by it. It’s the full range of responses from immature teenagers and if you can get over the painful flashbacks they may cause from your own horrific teen years, there’s plenty to enjoy.

As the hapless students of the Jean Grey Institute continue to struggle, we get another quick flashback. It takes place aboard the X-jet on their way to the Savage Land. Along the way, Wolverine confronts Kid Omega who is being his usual douche-bag self. Here, we get another light tie-in to recent issues, namely the psycho circus issue. In that issue, Kid Omega actually helped save the X-men. And this is from a kid who regularly belittles them like a drunk Mel Gibson during Passover. Wolverine also pointed out that in one of his last living acts, Charles Xavier nominated Kid Omega to be class president. He essentially dared him to step up and be more than a raging douche-bag and you know what happens to douche-bags when somebody dares them. Hell, get enough liquor in them and you can get them to lick a tiger’s balls.

It’s another nice little connection to an earlier issue of Wolverine and the X-men and one that helps highlight Kid Omega in a way beyond what a raging douche he is. He’s a character that has played a major role in this series since it began. Usually, he’s just the asshole that reminds readers of the guy who always claimed to bang the entire cheerleading squad in high school. But while he has all the means to become a painful rectal wart for the X-men, he’s stuck with the school. Wolverine points this out to him and dares him to be the leader that Charles Xavier dares him to be. For a character whose sole purpose has been to piss people off since he was introduced, that’s a pretty big dare and one his character sorely needs.

Flash back to the present and Kid Omega tries to make good on the dare. He stands up and decides to take charge of his fellow students. He starts barking orders, taking on the role of a leader. He tells them to scout around, find food, and locate firewood. Overall, they’re not unreasonable requests. However, he makes them in such a way that his fellow students look at him the same way they look drunk hobo taking a piss in the middle of the road. He’s no Cyclops, that’s for sure. It’s shows that being a leader isn’t easy, but watching someone like Kid Omega fail at it is wildly entertaining.

Rather than listen to Kid Omega’s bullshit, they all separate. Genesis flies up into the trees with the new girl, Idie seeks shelter with Broo under a rock, Shark girl starts looking for food, and Glob Herman is in the process of throwing up the maggot-filled dinosaur meet he ate. Again, these are all reactions that are perfectly logical for teenagers. Some become all emo and hide under a rock. Some try to eat their problems. For some, it’s too much and they start throwing up. Maybe Jason Aaron is trying to send a message here about adolescence. I think most of us get that being a teenager sucks and these are pretty extreme examples, but that’s part of what makes the story and the whole premise of this assignment so much fun. Because no matter how old you are, seeing teenagers trip over themselves endlessly is fucking hilarious.

However, Wolverine has since stopped laughing. He’s been keeping an eye on his students from afar. I assume he was banging his head against a tree at times watching these kids fumble about in a land more unforgiving than a thousand calculus classes. He starts to question that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to throw a bunch of teenagers into the Savage Land. He of all people should know the only outcome could be that of a slasher or a porno. But as he’s contemplating cutting this lesson short, he gets shot and for once it isn’t from Cyclops. Dog Logan, following the advice of his future self, has finally caught up with his old rival. He’s prepared to draw out this twisted assignment even more and make sure Wolverine has all the more reasons to grade on a curve. If only all my old teachers had a homicidal family member from their past. I would have been a straight-A student in school and I might actually have a career that affords me more booze and comic money. Alas, we’ll never know.

Since it began, Wolverine and the X-men established itself as a book that is as ridiculous as it is fun. Jason Aaron has used this series to tell the kinds of stories that are high on absurdities while throwing in a touch of drama wherever he can. It helps make for a book that doesn’t get too serious or too convoluted. The whole premise of this issue revolved around a twisted survival class in a land where anything that doesn’t run fast enough is a dinosaur’s lunch. There’s no mutant revolution or world-threatening menace that needs to be destroyed. It’s just about a bunch of students who are forced to come together and screw up in a way you would expect of most kids when tasked with something so utterly ridiculous.

Whereas the previous issue helped refocus the story on some of the relationship dramas that have been unfolding between the panels, Wolverine and the X-men #25 refocused the story on the students. That was the whole point of this series and the founding of the Jean Grey Institute, to get back to the whole schooling aspect of the X-men. This issue nicely depicts the natural chaos that comes along with tasking inexperienced kids with any complex task, let alone a life-or-death struggle. Moreover, it helps bring into context some of the other recent events in the X-books such as the events surrounding Uncanny X-Force, Cyclops’s new team in Uncanny X-men, and the Hellfire Club attacks. The time for these kids to learn survival skills is now damn it! And while it was chaotic and disorganized, it was done in a way that was completely appropriate. Chaos and disorganization seem to be what Jason Aaron does best.

What wasn’t quite as good were some of the details that Aaron glossed over, namely with Broo and the events of the previous issue. Aside from Broo becoming an enraged dog in need of neutering, nothing from the previous issue carried over. There was no mention of any of the relationships that were developed. Storm wasn’t mentioned. Kitty and Bobby weren’t mentioned. I get that the main focus of this issue was the students, but the lack of continuity between this issue and the first is pretty jarring even by Wolverine and the X-men’s twisted standards.

Another detail that bothered me was Dog Logan himself. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad Jason Aaron reached into the deep bag of shit that is Wolverine’s history and retrieved this old story. It hasn’t really been touched on since Wolverine Origins and the Savage Land is the perfect setting for him and Dog to clash. But using time travel to get Dog off his lazy ass just seemed twisted for the sake of being twisted. Has he really just been sitting on his ass, eating deer meat, and watching TV Land all this time? Why the hell is a visit from his future self the only thing necessary to get him off his ass? I know from Wolverine Origins that Dog has his reasons for wanting to feed Wolverine to a T-Rex. What I don’t understand is why now of all times when not long ago he had his fucking legs broken for trying to cheat at an alien casino.

These details don’t take away from just how fun the issue is. The character interactions between the students was done beautifully. The way this twisted field trip played out was wildly entertaining. And seeing Kid Omega get frustrated to the point where he wants to melt Wolverine’s brain is always good for a laugh. The subtle details may be lacking, but the larger details that help make it so entertaining really make this issue work. I give Wolverine and the X-men #25 a 4 out of 5. However this story turns out, I think each student of the Jean Grey Institute will gain some valuable life lessons about survival and how not to deal with a hungry dinosaur. They’ll certainly get more out of it than I ever got in school. And they’re still probably safer in the Savage Land than they’ll ever be in my old gym clash. Nuff said!