Thursday, July 31, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Cyclops #3

I love vacations as much as the next drunk, but I’ve had more than a few go horribly wrong. Sometimes it happens because I stayed in a shitty hotel room that had no hot water, no cable, and more semen stains than towels. Sometimes it happens because someone accidentally brought light beer. I believe it should be legal to bludgeon those people with hammers, but there’s a difference between an honest accident and keeping a secret. For O5 Cyclops, he’s on a vacation that any Star Trek fan would gladly give their left testicle to go on. He’s cruising around the galaxy with his father, meeting hot alien girls and raiding Badoon space ships. It has made for the kind of quality father/son time that we don’t usually see in comics because apparently, quality father/son time is about as rare as vibranium.

But as well as Corsair has done for himself, he’s still keeping a secret from his son and that secret has to do with that lingering tidbit that has been touched on yet not explained: he’s supposed to be dead. O5 Cyclops isn’t old enough to understand that death is a revolving door at a discount whore house in the Marvel universe. He has no idea that his father has been beating off the Grim Reaper in secret. Sooner or later, he’s going to have to come clean and Cyclops #3 promises to leave him with little choice. I still say it’s not as egregious as bringing light beer to a family reunion, but that’s just me.

It might end up having to be sooner because while O5 Cyclops is a teenager, he’s not stupid. He’s going to pick up on signs that his father is keeping something from him. And being a teenager, he’s definitely going to pick up on it when it involves drugs. I’m not sure if he was subjected to the same anti-drug PSAs back in the past, but I imagine Charles Xavier made it a point to not have his X-men get high. In addition to his father possibly being a drug addict, he has also noticed that no matter where they go, some alien bounty hunter is there waiting to frame their heads and drink whiskey out of their empty skulls. Teenagers might not have the knowledge or experience of adults, but they’re smart enough to know when something just ain’t right.

O5 Cyclops, who had been documenting all the ways this shit ain’t right in a journal, hasn’t yet confronted his father about this issue. He doesn’t get much of a chance because while he’s still dressed in pajamas, their stolen Badoon ship decides to go batshit and they crash land on some planet with purple skies, blue trees, and three-headed cows. It’s basically the cover of a Jimi Hendrix album. But to O5 Cyclops’ credit, he doesn’t lose his shit. He’s an X-man. Planes and spaceships crashing is right up there will killer robots in basic X-men training. It’s a rough landing, as would be expected. Corsair assures his son that he has crashed plenty of times. Being a pilot and a space pirate, that’s not something to brag about. He even claims he has crashed on worse planets. Again, that’s nothing to brag about and O5 Cyclops is keen to remind him of that.

Once they emerge from the wreckage, they take in just how fucked they are. There’s no way the ship is going to fly again. They’re stranded on an alien planet with limited supplies and no hot alien women for them to seduce. It’s pretty bad. O5 Cyclops even admits that he’s scared. That’s saying a lot for a guy who recently got up in Gladiator’s face and told him to piss off. But it’s a nice way of showing that while he might be the leader of the X-men, he’s also still a teenager. That’s something we really don’t see much from adult Cyclops. It’s pretty hard when an adult Cyclops was doing things like leading the entire mutant race, fighting off Sentinels, and boning Emma Frost and Jean Grey. O5 Cyclops hasn’t become that man yet. He still leans on his father.

It’s pretty bad, but there’s another major reason why they should be prepared to shit their pants at a moment’s notice. Apparently, the reason why some alien thug bounty hunters were always waiting to pounce on them was because their stolen Badoon ship had a tracking gizmo on board. That means if someone is going to come by and rescue them, it’s going to be bounty hunters and not the space equivalent of the Coast Guard. It’s basically the premise of a much more exciting version of Cast Away.

This father/son road trip in space has now become an impromptu camping trip. It’s not the best circumstances under which to do a little father/son bonding, but it’s not the worst. Sure, it would help if they had some fishing poles and a six-pack of beer, but they find a way to make due. They set up a camp, start a fire, and learn the lay of the land. It’s not Bear Gryles in that they haven’t resorted to drinking their own piss yet, but there are no alien snakes or tigers yet. So it could definitely be worse.

Before the situation can get any worse, O5 Cyclops decides it’s probably as good a time as any to confront him about the drugs he’s been shooting up. He’s not in a place where he can just buy him some ice cream or a new X-box to shut him up. He has to come clean now. For O5 Cyclops, it’s overdue. But it’s even more overdue for everyone else because this has been an ongoing plot for a while now. Hints have been dropped, but explanations have been more lacking than the last two seasons of Heroes. Now Corsair, knowing a teenage son is prone to making some fucked up assumptions, comes clean.

He reveals that these drugs he’s taking aren’t the good kind that make people feel like they’re resting between Pamela Anderson’s breasts while sipping margaritas. These drugs are keeping him alive. He confirms what others pointed out during The Trial of Jean Grey. He was indeed dead. He was as dead as Adam Sandler’s chances of winning an Oscar. But he’s alive now and the only way for him to stay alive is to inject himself with illegal alien nanomachines that some alien authorities find scary as hell. That, or they just watched Termiantor and the Matrix way too much. It still sounds slightly less risky than some of the weight loss drugs I see advertised during football games.

But what gives this revelation emotional weight is the reason Corsair gives for keeping this from O5 Cyclops. He didn’t want to share the story about how he died. Seriously, who wants to tell that story? Who would even imagine that it would come up? For Corsair, this involves revealing more unpleasant stories about how O5 Cyclops has another brother, who happened to be ripped from his mother by D’ken before he killed her. It also involves revealing how his little brother went batshit crazy, went on a murder spree, and ended up killing him. O5 Cyclops just learned his father was alive. Now he has to deal with having a deranged little brother. That only promises to make it even harder around the holidays.

It’s not a bullshit reason to keep this sort of thing from his teenage son. It’s not like he kept knowledge about condoms and credit card debt from him. Corsair takes it even further though, saying that the rest of the Starjammers refused to just let him stay dead, another victim of his deranged son. So thanks to Hepzibah, they exhumed his body and brought him back to life with help from The Shrouded. I don’t know what The Shrouded is, but their work on resurrection must be sub-standard because they only brought him back to the point where he still needs drugs to keep himself alive. It’s either that or Corsair had a really lousy HMO.

This is a pretty important moment and not just because it’s touching in how a father comes clean to his son in a way that doesn’t involve one of them losing a limb like in Star Wars. It also closes a pretty gaping plot hole that had been lingering since The Trial of Jean Grey in that it revealed just how Corsair came back to life. There are enough egregious plot holes in comics these days. Each one that gets resolved, no matter how trivial, can only improve the tangled web of bullshit that is modern comics.

Now with this issue addressed, Corsair and O5 Cyclops and focus on more immediate concerns, namely Corsair’s limited supply of this drug that’s keeping him alive. He says he only has enough doses to keep him alive for another 27 days at the most. He basically has about as much time as it takes for someone to go through a typical play-through in Skyrim. That’s hardly enough time to help reassure a teenage boy that he’s not going to grow up to be a complete asshole, but that won’t stop him from trying.

Corsair doesn’t stop just at filling gaping plot holes either. He’s too much on a role, that or the drugs he’s taking are just that awesome. He goes onto explain why he never came back to Earth. He points out how being a slave in the Shi’ar slave pits and watching D’ken murder his wife in front of him fucked him up in ways that made him ill-suited to be a parent. It’s not an unreasonable excuse. When a man is that pissed off at aliens, he just can’t put in the time and energy necessary to raise his sons in a way that won’t scar them for life. It’s an emotional moment for Corsair and he hasn’t had many. It’s hard when he’s got a hot alien woman all over him, but it’s the kind of humility that goes a long ways, even with teenagers.

That’s not to say that O5 Cyclops shrugs it off. He rightly points out that as messed up as he was, his sons still needed him. He saw what his adult form became. That version of Cyclops probably could have benefited from having his father around. It’s a powerful moment and one that feels like it should have happened years ago because Cyclops has had moments with his father in the past. They’ve just never been done this well. But if seeing Gal Gadot in her Wonder Woman costume at Comic Con this year has taught me anything, awesome shit is worth waiting for.

It might be overdue, but it makes for a very satisfying moment. While this time didn’t involve hot alien women or epic battles against space pirates, it did something just as profound. It had a father/son moment full of painful secrets and unpleasant revelations that didn’t end in a Hamlet rip-off. Corsair and O5 Cyclops just had a nice, honest conversation in the midst of a shitty situation and it ended up with them getting closer. They may only have 27 days left so they don’t have time to be assholes to one another. It’s sad that it takes these kinds of fucked up circumstances for a father and son to share a meaningful story, but it’s still very satisfying. In an era where every hero and villain is so damn vindictive over some pretty petty shit, this is quite an accomplishment.

This had all the makings of one of those trips where someone enters the wrong address on a navigator, the car ends up running out of gas, and the actual destination is in the next time zone. Situations like this that involve usually end in the kind of yelling and death threats usually reserved for an episode of Jerry Springer. I’m sure most fathers would want to strangle their sons Homer Simpson style if they ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere and vice versa. But that’s not the situation we got with O5 Cyclops and Corsair. Instead, we got a quiet moment where Corsair comes clean to his son, revealing everything he had been keeping from him. In some ways this counts as a post-death bed confession of sorts, which I imagine is fairly common in the Marvel universe. Corsair tells his son how he died, why he didn’t return, and that he had a long lost brother that he never knew about. It’s some pretty heavy shit to lay on a teenager who already learned he grows up to be somewhat of an asshole. But it’s done in a way that is heartfelt and honest. This doesn’t lead to the usual, "You have betrayed me, father! I shall dedicate the rest of my life blaming you for all my problems!" It ends up bringing O5 Cyclops and his dad closer while also filling in some outstanding plot holes that have been lingering since The Trial of Jean Grey. It’s not going to astonish anybody with action or epic struggles. But it will give everybody that reads it a warm and fuzzy feeling inside in a way not found outside the ending of "Field of Dreams." Cyclops #3 gets a 9 out of 10. A story about a teenage boy hanging out with his father isn’t usually associated with great stories. But in this day and age where too many fathers end up becoming Darth Vadar and too many sons end up becoming George W. Bush, it’s epic in its own special way. Nuff said!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Uncanny X-men #24

I get a lot of shit for being brutally honest sometimes. I’ve been slapped in the face, kicked in the balls, and insulted in ways that would earn most people a hefty fine from the FCC. But I don’t apologize for being honest. If I think someone looks fat and ugly and should never take their shirt off in public, I’m going to point that out. I think I would be a much bigger dick if I just flat out lied and claimed they had the body of The Rock. Maybe it’s just the drunk in me, but I think keeping secrets tends to do more damage than any other illicit activities that people bitch about. Secrets can destroy families and ruin reputations. Hell, one President was almost impeached for lying about a blowjob. People take this shit pretty seriously. Now that’s not to say that Charles Xavier’s secrets are as innocent as a blowjob, but he got lawyers involved and whenever lawyers get involved in a secret, someone is about to get screwed over in ways that rival only the IRS. Original Sin has finally tied into the pages of Uncanny X-men and that means Xavier’s last will and testament is about to be revealed. Perhaps he knew it would piss a lot of people off so he made sure someone like She-Hulk was present to read it. I guess he didn’t trust a Johnny Cochran wannabe to defend himself from pissed off X-men. Now these secrets, which were only teased in the previous issue, are supposed to be revealed in Uncanny X-men #24. I’m going to assume that if Clinton can’t get away with lying about a blowjob, then Charles Xavier has no chance of not kicking up a shit storm.

The problem is that shit storm can’t even start to stink until Cyclops is present and at the moment, most of the staff in the Jean Grey Institute hate his guts and want to piss on his grave. But this isn’t as big a problem as it seems. Beast, who has since become the hairiest douche-bag not used on a 70s porn set, reveals that he knows where Cyclops’s base is located and he has always known. He just chooses not to do jack shit with it, even though he has been the one bitching and moaning that Cyclops should be thrown in jail.

Get ready because I’m about to go on another anti-Beast rant. I know some loyal readers of this blog are sick of that shit, but I can’t help it if this hairy dipshit keeps making it necessary. It’s one thing to just piss and moan about Cyclops for making decisions that nobody else could make while doing jack shit to give him more options. It’s quite another when he has the information he needs to get what he wants and he doesn’t do shit with it. The man could just text the info to Maria Hill and she would be on Cyclops’ ass within 10 minutes, probably with a bottle of lube. But he doesn’t because he doesn’t want his life to be dictated by Cyclops’ life? I don’t care how fucking smart he claims to be, that’s the dumbest shit ever said by someone not named George W. Bush. He’s not just a douche now. He’s fucking lazy too. Do we really need any more reasons to hate his guts?

I’ll ease up on the meth and get back to the more pressing issue at hand, which is Xavier’s will. There is another problem and for once, it has less to do with Beast’s douche-baggery and more to do with Wolverine’s douche-baggery. It turns out he didn’t think he would be too successful as the headmaster of a school. He probably figured no good headmaster ever succeeded with a drinking problem and anger management issues. So he decided to sign the Jean Grey Institute over to Charles Xavier when he was still alive, assuming he was going to fuck it up at some point. Given his history, I can’t say that’s an unreasonable precaution to take.

For some reason, this surprises She-Hulk. She apparently wasn’t watching when Cyclops went Dark Phoenix, waged war on the Avengers, and killed Charles Xavier in a rage. To be fair, the Phoenix tends to fuck people up and he was provoked, even by Xavier. Even Rachel tries to point that out, but with Hank McCoy in the room, his douche-baggery will completely overshadow that fact. I would think She-Hulk would at least have seen this shit trending on Twitter. Plus, she’s friends with plenty of Avengers who saw it. Hell, she’s even slept with a few. And she didn’t know? I don’t care how hot she looks in a pants suit, she has no excuse.

She-Hulk’s ignorance aside, this situation only became a problem when none of them considered the possibility that Cyclops might be the one that kills Charles Xavier. For that reason, everybody starts assuming that Xavier left the school to Cyclops. Again, it’s not wholly unreasonable. Wolverine already admitted that he’s not confident he’ll be a competent headmaster and at the time, Storm was married to Black Panther and queen of a whole fucking country. Why wouldn’t he leave it to his most trusted students? It makes too much sense, which is why it’s probably bullshit. But they don’t realize that and She-Hulk says they need to bring him over anyways because the law is nothing if not inconvenient.

While this legal clusterfuck is just getting warmed up, there’s another side-plot going on that may or may not be involved in said clusterfuck. In the previous issue, we were introduced to a new mutant whose powers involve just blowing the shit up around him. He’s basically a walking Mythbusters re-run. Naturally, this is the kind of mutant that everyone can point to and claim Sentinels are both necessary and less scary. The sad part is they might even have a point. I still argue it’s not as scary as having to deal with SHIELD and Maria Hill. After the previous arc, I’ve no confidence in her ability to deal with mutants.

That doesn’t stop her from trying to deal with this guy. His name is Matthew Malloy and he’s in the process of shitting himself after blowing up a busy street in North Carolina. He has no idea what’s happening to him and Maria Hill is talking to him like a fake news caster on Saturday Night Live via drone. She doesn’t try to befriend him or calm him down. She just starts asking him about all the damage he’s caused. She might as well walk into a doctor’s office and ask some guy about his explosive diarrhea.

Once again, Maria Hill fails miserably at containing a mutant issue. She even manages to lose a couple more SHIELD agents in the process. She might be qualified to run an organization like SHIELD, but she would suck as a counselor, a hostage negotiator, or a suicide hotline rep. It’s still not entirely clear who this Matthew Malloy is or why he’s losing his shit at a time like this. His new story doesn’t seem to fit a story that’s supposed to be about Charles Xavier revealing his deepest, darkest secrets. But if nothing else, this scene helps show why Dark Beast was able to fuck with SHIELD so effectively in the previous arc.

While Maria Hill is finding another way to fuck up mutant relations, the Jean Grey Institute staff arrives at Cyclops’ not-so-secret base in Canada. It’s not pleasant. It’s about as pleasant as a hangover on Monday. It’s so unpleasant that Cyclops thinks it’s a trick at first, which would be a new low even for Beast, but Magik verifies that lawyers have gotten involved. And even Beast’s douche-baggery hasn’t gotten to the point where he’ll get a lawyer involved just to fuck with him, although at the rate he’s going he’ll get to that point soon enough.

Lost in the midst of this bitterness is Dazzler’s new look. In the previous issue, she decided she was too fucked up by what happened with Mystique to be the preppy disco queen pop star. So she decided to go all Courtney Love, minus the heroine and yeast infections. And nobody fucking notices? I get that Xavier’s will is more pressing, but most people notice when a pretty blonde becomes a pissed off goth. Hell, I’m pretty sure half the movies on the Hallmark Channel are built around that premise.

At the very least, Dazzler doesn’t completely fade into the background. After the rest of Cyclops’ team voice concern about him traveling alone to an institute full of X-men who hate his guts, some decide to go with him. This includes Kitty Pryde, Magik, Emma Frost, and the new-look Dazzler. It’s not nearly enough to oppose the kind of douche-baggery that Beast will probably confront them with if shit goes south. But at least Cyclops can say he’ll go into battle with four beautiful women by his side. Even if he loses the battle, he can still say he wins on some levels.

Cyclops arrives at the Jean Grey Institute. She-Hulk is there waiting for them, probably eager to get this shit over with and collect her obscene legal fee. She starts reading the will and that’s where we finally get the first of Xavier’s ball-busting revelations. What could it be? Did he mind-fuck Jean Grey into wearing a G-string? Did he put a video camera in Emma Frost’s shower? Did he secretly water down Wolverine’s whiskey? It’s actually something way more fucked up. He married Mystique.

Let me say that again in as sober a tone as I can manage. Charles Xavier married Mystique, as in the same shape-shifting Mystique whose idea of a fun afternoon involves tormenting the X-men. Now this might not qualify as a completely WTF type revelation. It was already revealed in All-New X-men that Xavier knocked up Mystique at some point. While most people don’t bother getting married to get knocked up these days, much to the dismay of the Rick Santorums of the world, it’s not completely unreasonable to believe that they didn’t end up married, if only because of a few too many tequila shooters in Las Vegas.

This revelation has everyone in the X-men putting on their best WTF face while Emma Frost is laughing hysterically. They might not even have heard the part where She-Hulk mentions that because she’s legally Xavier’s widow, she by default inherits the institute. That’s right. Fucking Mystique now owns the X-men’s main base of operations. I want to say that’s fucked up, but I can’t stop myself from laughing and for once it isn’t because of the weed. Now this raises a lot of fucked up questions, namely how the fuck Xavier ended up marrying someone with a rich history of screwing over the X-men. But that’s probably a story that would require more lawyers than the state of New York could provide.

Yet somehow, this is not conveyed as Charles Xavier’s most fucked up secret. Maybe at the time, him being married to Mystique wasn’t as fucked up as he thought. The way he wrote it into his will, he was almost casual about it. He’s like, “Yeah, I married Mystique. So what?” I was expecting to have another reason not to respect Charles Xavier, but now I can’t help but respect him more. Anyone who can convince Mystique to marry him deserves Jay-Z style street cred. But there was another issue he considered more serious, which he recorded in a hologram. And it’s an issue that hints the side-plot involving Matthew Malloy might actually mean something after all. I still can’t bring myself to give too many shits about that guy. I’m still laughing my ass off at the idea of Xavier marrying Mystique and I’ll probably keep laughing for the rest of the week. Guess that means I’ll save some money on weed for once.

Well in the end, Xavier definitely kicked up a shit storm, but it wasn’t the kind of fecal typhoon anyone was expecting. A part of me was like, "Holy fuck, Xavier married Mystique?!" Then after a few shots of tequila, I was like, "Holy fuck, Xavier married Mystique...nice!" Let’s face it, Mystique is pretty fucking hot. She’s also an unstable, unrepentant sociopath. Now I’m not going to justify some of the sick shit she’s done, but I will point out that crazy bitches like that tend to be awesome in bed. And for a guy who used to be paralyzed, I can’t say I blame Xavier. This strikes me as one of those Kurt Cobain/Courtney Love type relationships, one where the circumstances are so destructive yet they find a way to make up for it. Only this time, there was less heroine involved. Now I know there will be a certain segment of fans that have already punched their computer screens or strangled a puppy in their rage, but let’s face it. This is not the most fucked up secret Xavier could have had. Compared to mind-fucking his students and lusting after a teenage Jean Grey, this should come as a relief. The man got to bone Mystique before he died. Nobody can say he didn’t live a complete, fulfilling life. It might not have been his worst secret, which STILL hasn’t been revealed, but it certainly made everyone’s asshole within a five mile radius clench. In addition, we now know why we should give a fuck about Matthew Malloy. There are still some inconsistencies, many of which have to do with Wolverine and Beast’s rage boner for Cyclops. But if nothing else, this comic provides some entertaining “Oh fuck!” moments that can be enjoyed both drunk and sober. For that, I give Uncanny X-men #24 an 8 out of 10. Just how bad can the secrets of a man who married Mystique end up being at this point? Xavier could reveal that he bathed in the blood of baby kittens on a dare. It still wouldn’t matter. He got to marry, bone, and knock up Mystique. That’s an epic win if ever there was one. Nuff said!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Fifty Shades of Jean Grey - Official Trailer (The Sexier Version)

Let's face it, somebody was going to do this sooner or later. I like to think that this was a nice summary of Jean Grey and Wolverine's relationship during their time together in X-men Supreme. Sure, it sucked in the movies and constantly fucks up the comics. But let's face it, it's still pretty fucking hot.

Monday, July 28, 2014

SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR - Comic-Con Red Band Trailer

Worthy of Worship: Storm #1

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

Mankind has worshipped a long list of gods, goddesses, spirits, and reality TV stars over the centuries. It can be argued to no end whether such entities are worthy of worship and some of those arguments have turned into all-out holy wars. But it’s not an unreasonable notion to consider, assessing what makes a powerful deity worthy of worship.

There are a great many characters in the Marvel universe that have all the defining characteristics of a deity, along with all the crippling personality flaws of former child stars. There are beings that can blow up buildings, control thoughts, and fly wherever they want without being harassed by the TSA, but not all are worthy of worship. Some are even worthy of the exact opposite because they end up abusing their powers in ways rivaled only by Zeus, minus the numerous illegitimate offspring.

Then, there is Ororo Munroe of the X-men. If ever there were a standard by which gods and goddesses would be deemed worthy of worship, she would be the one to set it. Storm has done a lot to endear herself to many since she was introduced as part of the All-New All-Different X-men. She is a leader, a friend, an ally, and a lover. She was even a queen for a time. She takes on these roles while wielding the power of the elements, something that would warrant worship by default in most eras of human civilization. And Storm #1 helps reveal that she deserves that worship and then some.

Storm has always had a high profile with the X-men and the Marvel Universe as a whole, but there are times when the responsibility of this profile obscure the personality that has become adored by so many. This story has her taking a step back from those responsibilities so she can just be the caring, compassionate woman she is at heart. For her, that involves more than just hugging random strangers, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or buying carbon credits to offset her carbon footprint.

Storm wields the power of the elements. That means she can visit some poor village in a third world country and use her powers to prevent an incoming tsunami that would have otherwise created a humanitarian crisis worthy of a celebrity telethon. She doesn’t do this because it’s part of a mission or because Hydra has somehow hijacked the weather. She does it because it’s the compassionate, moral thing to do. It shouldn’t be such a novel concept, but it is and that’s a big part of what endears her to others. The village cheers and embraces her. They stand ready to worship her for saving them and she doesn’t even demand that they sacrifice an animal in her name. It helps set her apart from far less compassionate gods throughout history.

But it isn’t just the amazing feats that Storm accomplishes that makes her worthy of worship. She’s also capable of far simpler acts that don’t involve manipulating the elements of nature. In addition to saving villages, she’s a teacher at the Jean Grey Institute and that often involves dealing with troubled teenage mutants who are in the process of figuring out that the world isn’t that compassionate. One of these students essentially calls Storm out, arguing that the X-men often blur the lines between training mutants to use their powers and just training them to be X-men. It’s not an unreasonable criticism to make. Not every mutant wants their lives to revolve around Danger Room training, killer robot Sentinels, and evil clones. It’s an issue that isn’t often raised and Storm does something that most worshipped beings don’t do in that she listens.

This helps reveal in Storm another defining quality not common among gods. She has an uncanny sense of humility. She’s not just willing to stop a tsunami using tornados without demanding worship or sacrifice of any kind. She’s willing to walk alongside the very people she protects, helping them clean up the damage done to their village and even taking time to pose for pictures. There are B-list celebrities that aren’t that generous to their fellow man, some of which even charge hefty fees for a photo. Storm earns every bit of adulation she gets, carrying herself both as a goddess and just an ordinary woman with a big heart.

However, all these demonstrations of power and compassion wouldn’t be complete without showing she’s still as tough as the weather she controls. What makes her feats in this village all the more remarkable is that it’s in a part of the world that seeks to do to mutants what Uganda is doing to homosexuals. Storm is beloved by the people, but not by the local government.

This government claims they can take care of their own people and don’t need someone who can control the weather. For some reason, they think that means forcing innocent villagers away from their homes to make room for an overpriced resort for rich people. Storm, despite protests from her fellow X-men, makes it clear that she is not the kind of goddess that takes kindly to such acts. She doesn’t wait for a rapture or a second coming either to make them pay for their actions, showing that even a compassionate goddess can be vengeful when necessary.

Storm has so many qualities, both as a person and as a hero, that make her worthy of worship. Storm #1 serves as a simple, concise story that illuminates these qualities in all the right ways. It provides insight into Storm perceives herself and how she is perceived by others. It effectively conveys all the qualities that make her such a great X-man and a great hero in general. It is a testament to a goddess that doesn’t need temples, worship, prayers, or sacrifice. Her own actions speak to her divine nature and this issue delivered her message loud and clear.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Friday, July 25, 2014

X-men Supreme Issue 100: Prison Break Part 1 PREVIEW!

The X-men Supreme fanfiction series is nearing its biggest milestone to date. I know there have been many over the five-year history of this fanfiction series, but this one is definitely special in its own right. Since comic books began, certain issues were recognized for being significant accomplishments and lasting 100 issues is one of the most notable. Very few series ever make it that far and even fewer make it without having to relaunch or reboot. When I began X-men Supreme, I set out to develop it with a singular, focused vision so that it could reach that milestone so long as I had the passion and support. Well after over five years of developing this fanfiction series, I’m set to reach this very special milestone.

A lot has transpired in X-men Supreme over the course of 100 issues. Magneto has launched his own uprising on Genosha, Senator Robert Kelly became President of the United States, new members have joined the team while others have left, and the X-men have saved the world from the likes of aliens, cosmic forces, and ancient creatures. Along the way, powerful relationships developed. Some blossomed into passionate romances while some ended. Entirely original characters have entered the series, complete with their own history and influences, to go along with more familiar characters that have a very different background. Yet despite all these uncanny developments, there are still so many stories I want to tell with X-men Supreme. And with this milestone, I hope to show just how far this fanfiction series has come.

I’ve already set the tone for X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. The X-men find themselves in a more complicated world, having to maintain a fragile peace that had been forged from the ashes of Magneto’s devious plans. This peace is built on the prosperity offered by the alien technology being exported by Genosha, which is now under the leadership of the Scarlet Witch. But as we saw in Issue 98: Tech Spec Terror, there are those who seek to subvert that peace for their own gain. And in this case, that effort is very personal.

This is where Emma Frost’s story comes in. She revealed to Cyclops and Jean Grey that Shanobi Shaw, son of her former mentor, Sebastian Shaw, has imprisoned two of her cloned daughters. These girls, the Stepford Cuckoos, were cloned from her without her knowledge and used as leverage against her by the Inner Circle, which led to her betrayal of the X-men during the Phoenix Saga. Now she seeks to atone and needs help from her former teammates. However, her desire to save her daughters is only part of a much larger conflict that Shanobi Shaw has been hatching and should he succeed, the fragile peace that has held the world of X-men Supreme together will be shattered. I’ve prepared an extended preview of this looming conflict that I hope will help celebrate this major milestone.

“As you can see, we’ve also refined how we package and ship this hardware,” Havok continued, “This stuff is pretty advanced, but it goes out in its most basic forms. The main components are Shi’ar power cells, quantum computing chips, and a few hunks of exotic metals that I couldn’t begin to describe.”

“We manufacture them at a secure location buried deep within the island. I’m sure you remember that mine where you first saw the alien ship,” said Quicksilver.

“Like I can forget being shot at by some glowing alien jerk-off,” muttered Wolverine.

“Then you’ll love what we’ve done with the place,” said Havok with a wry grin, “We’ve essentially turned that mine into an underground factory using the same Warlock program Magneto tried to control. Our people and a bunch of guys in suits from various countries work to mass produce the baseline components. It’s then carted to the port where we check it, load it, and get justly rewarded.”

“And I’m not talking just about the whole peace deal either,” said Quicksilver, “We don’t give this shit away for free. We sell it at a premium. That means Genosha gets to import all sorts of goodies from the rest of the world. Now we got TVs from Japan, computers from China, beer from Germany, fruit from South America, cars from Britain, and movies from America.”

“I’m sure you punks are thrilled,” muttered Wolverine, “Saves you the trouble of having to steal it.”

“Is there any chance you’re going to say something that’s remotely relative to this mission of yours?” said Havok with growing annoyance.

“That depends,” he said in a more serious tone, “I’m working out how much I’ll need my claws to carry out this mission.”

“We can deal with your claws. We just can’t deal with one more asshole in this very sensitive area during these very sensitive times. If you’re that eager to pick a fight, do humans and mutants a favor and choose another mission.”

Wolverine snarled in response, caring little for how much he annoyed Havok and Quicksilver. Even if they thought he was just here to push their buttons, he was still serious about this mission. Professor Xavier trusted him to be his eyes and ears for this operation. Even with all these safeguards in place, there were way too many ways this treaty could go wrong.

While Quicksilver and Havok simmered with frustration, Wolverine turned his attention towards the eastern portion of the port. In the distance he could make out the imposing military base that still dominated the south side of the island. This base was a result of one of the compromises that Wanda made with the United Nations. After the Cambrian affair, a large body of international troops occupied the island. This was a major source of tension and even with the treaty, a military presence had to remain. So instead of a full on occupation, the military presence on Genosha was concentrated onto a single base and near the chief port no less. Something about that did not sit well with Wolverine.

“That cozy little base part of the tour?” said Wolverine, pointing out towards the base.

“You wish,” scoffed Havok, “That’s where our authority ends and humanity’s begin.”

“That tiny hunk of human filth has been a major source of migraines for Wanda and everyone else on this island,” said Quicksilver, “The humans insist on keeping a military base on the mainland just in case. They say it’s a security measure, but it feels like an invasion force in the waiting.”

“Right, because every human in the whole damn world just loves conspiring against you,” scoffed Wolverine, “That all there is to it?”

“Conspiracy or not, it’s a big part of this operation,” sighed Havok, “The humans process the same data we do. They don’t trust us any more than we trust them so they monitor every piece of tech that gets shipped out. They’re also wired into the mines where we have Warlock so they can make sure we don’t use it to make anything fishy like an H-bomb or something.”

“Wait…so that base you don’t control over is linked right into that alien gizmo that’s the key to the whole damn treaty? And you’re assuming it ain’t a gonna be a problem?”

“We have to. The humans demanded transparency,” muttered Havok, “One wrong move and that base will pick a fight we can’t win. Wanda knows this and promised to hex any Genosha citizen who so much as flips the place off.”

“Heh…lucky for me I ain’t Genosha,” retorted Wolverine, “I’m guessin’ if there’s any funny business goin’ down on this rock, it’s gonna come from that dump.”

With his usual impulsive nature, Wolverine barged past Havok and Quicksilver. He couldn’t conduct a full investigation for Professor Xavier without checking every possible source of trouble. He was risking the wrath of the Scarlet Witch and several major military powers, but it was his job to find every weakness in this operation and his instincts told him that trouble would most likely come from this base.

Quicksilver and Havok were once again annoyed by Wolverine’s brazen attitude. Of all the X-men they could have dealt with, he was by far the most frustrating. However, they did not go after him or even try to dissuade him. Since they were in no position to find out what was going on behind those walls, they might as well leave it to a guy best known for taking foolish risks.

“We’re not going to try and stop him, are we?” said Quicksilver.

“Quick rule of thumb, Speedy. Sometimes the best way to win a fight is to have someone else do the fighting for you,” said Havok wryly.

“If he causes a scene Wanda’s still going to be pissed.”

“If she asks, he overpowered you while I was off taking a piss.”

“Hey! Why am I the one who gets overpowered?” Pietro complained.

“She’s your sister. She’ll believe it,” said the younger mutant as he started walking towards the opposite end of the dock, “So rather than risk any more of your go, what do you say we raid the latest shipment of vodka from Russia? As far as I’m concerned, Wolverine’s tour ended five minutes ago and we lost track of him.”

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working on the X-men Supreme fanfiction series for this long and come this far. Reaching 100 issues in this fanfiction series is truly astounding and I couldn’t have done so without the support and inspiration I’ve had from my readers. I hope this can continue for another 100 issues. But as I’ve stated previously, I am not yet decided on whether I will continue X-men Supreme after X-men Supreme Volume 5: Dark Truths. That’s why I urge everyone who follows X-men Supreme to submit your reviews and feedback to me. Either contact me directly or post your comments directly in each issue. Every bit of feedback helps make this fanfiction series more awesome. Until next time, take care and best wishes. Excelsior!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Storm #1

It’s an exciting time to be a minority in America and a shitty time to be a Fox News pundit. Against the wishes of uptight religious zealots and incontinent old white people, minorities are making progress. Some of it has shown in comics recently. Marvel celebrated its first gay wedding a few years ago. It has a black/hispanic Spider-Man and soon, there will be a black Captain America to go along with a female Muslim Ms. Marvel. I can already hear Glenn Beck bitching and moaning about it and it’s a beautiful thing. But with all these new developments, it’s easy to miss that Storm has been pissing off these uptight, racist, misogynistic assholes for decades. She is one of the most prominent characters in all of X-men. She’s a leader, a lover, a friend, and a badass weather goddess that nobody dares piss off. Yet she has rarely had her own solo series to call her own. Meanwhile, Wolverine has had a fuckton of solos where his biggest contributions to minority relations is boning foreign women. Now as Marvel finding out that there is a market for badass women, it has decided to give Storm another shot at a solo series. I want to applaud this move, but then I realize it’s fucking 2014 and this is one of those things that should’ve happened a couple decades ago. But since I was high as fuck for most of the 90s, I’ll look past it and embrace Storm #1 as yet another sign that the Fox News crowd are losing.

It seems everything Storm does is an affront to everything Rush Limbaugh stands for. She casually flies into a poor foreign country wearing clothes that show off her beauty. She does so with a grace and power that would make every man’s balls shrink in shame. And she arrives with the intent to stop a natural disaster that would irreparably harm dozens of innocent people utilizing a special power that only she wields. She couldn’t possibly be more opposed to right-wing assholes without including free birth control. What makes it all the more awesome is that there’s a nice string of inner monologue offering insight into how she wields this power over the elements and how she perceives herself. She acknowledges that she has been a goddess in the eyes of many, but that doesn’t stop her from maintaining her humility. I think that’s her subtle way of saying, “Kiss my ass, Zeus!”

She then proves that she’s capable of utilizing her god-like powers to do more than just seduce mortals and churn out illegitimate demigods. In a display that would probably make Greenpeace cry tears of joy, she single-handedly diverts an incoming tsunami. She doesn’t do it with creative engineering or rapid evacuations either. She does it with fucking tornados. It’s exactly as awesome as it sounds. And the villagers share my sentiment. As they watch her save their village and their lives, one of them even smiles and greets her.

It makes for a beautiful moment with the girl. After the tsunami is diverted and the village is saved, the little girl runs up to Storm and hugs her. But unlike every other god or goddess in the history of the world, she actually responds. She doesn’t even demand that she sacrifice a chicken. She just does this because she has the power and it’s the right thing to do. What a fucking concept, right? The whole village cheers her. I doubt any of the other gods they had ever worshipped ever did something like this and took the time to pose for pictures as well. It shows just how inadequate our gods truly are, but I don’t mind in the slightest because Storm makes it look so damn awesome.

This could have been the most awesome religious moment that Mel Gibson didn’t profit from, but like the Richard Dawkins of the world, a cold dose of reality ruins the moment. This time it comes in the form of some asshole in a uniform with a big gun claiming this place, which is apparently called Santo Marco, has a strict no-mutant policy in the same way that Uganda has a strict no-gays policy. It’s a real dick move to someone who just saved hundreds of lives. It would be like telling a doctor who just performed life-saving surgery on a thousand orphans to piss off, but that’s exactly what he does. Storm could have easily gotten Old Testament on his ass, but she chose not to because she’s not that kind of goddess. For her, fire and brimstone is so 18th century.

Storm returns to the Jean Grey Institute with her head held high and why not? She saved so many innocent lives and did a great thing for the world. It would take a monumental douche to not let her take the time to appreciate that. Unfortunately, the Jean Grey Institute still employs Hank McCoy. He just has to prematurely end her good mood, but not because she was rude to the asshole with the big fucking guns. One of their students is acting up. Considering how many teenagers attend the Jean Grey Institute, that’s like telling her that a skunk’s rotting corpse smells terrible. However, one student in particular is causing trouble and for once it isn’t Kid Omega. And since Wolverine isn’t around to solve the problems with his claws, he needs Storm’s help. I guess if anyone is going to deal with the shit storm of a teenager, it might as well be a goddess like Storm.

The teenager in question is a girl named Creep and she’s as much of a bitch as her name implies. Her powers involve turning everywhere she goes into a swamp, which sounds about as useful as body odor on date. And for some reason, she’s not fitting in at the Jean Grey Institute. I guess making everyone feel like they’re in a fucking swamp isn’t a good way to make friends. Storm tries to go from goddess to counselor, as she often has to do, but this is where it gets a little more personal and not in the ways that would make a good article in Hustler.

Creep goes off on this rant that puts into question the entire premise of the Jean Grey Institute. She claims they just take in mutants and indoctrinate them into this whole X-men ideology the way Rick Santorum wishes schools would do for his fucked up ideology. She calls out Storm for basically just being part of the X-men’s mission and not practicing what Xavier preached with respect to using their powers. She’s not entirely wrong either, although she does sound like she’s just bitching and pissed off. Normally, having a heated argument with Storm is a good way to get a few dozen lightning bolts up the ass, but when that argument has some merit, she will listen. It’s yet another quality that makes her better than any other god or goddess ever worshipped.

She actually takes Creep’s criticisms seriously and in an act that no god or politician ever dreams of doing, she actually decides to change it. So despite running the risk of pissing off some warlord who uses captured prisoners for target practice, Storm returns to Santo Marco and helps them clean up the damage done by the tsunami. Naturally, they’re all overjoyed to see her. And this time, she doesn’t just rely on her powers to make people want to worship her. She actually gets her hands dirty, picking up garbage and helping to rebuild homes. The idea of any god or goddess getting their hands dirty when they can be off starting wars or inspiring suicide bombers sounds so outrageous, but it shouldn’t be. And that’s the biggest impact of this story.

At times, Storm has been a stern leader who will inspire anyone to spit in the devil’s face and oppose any asshole who gets in her way. At times, she has been a loving caretaker that everyone turns to when they need a good hug and a pep talk, assuming Wolverine’s method of applying whisky and profanity to every problem doesn’t work for everyone. For a time, she was even a queen, even though it required a bullshit marriage that couldn’t end fast enough. But this story shows that at her heart, Storm is a just an overall loving, caring person that seeks to do the right thing for the right reasons. Again, that shouldn’t sound so outrageous, but in this age of fallen heroes and pissed off anti-heroes, it might as well be as revolutionary as it is awesome.

As expected, someone eventually comes along to put a stop to all this compassion and charity. For once, it isn’t Hank McCoy. The same asshole from earlier who kicked Storm out of the country because she happened to be a mutant wants her to leave again. And just because he has a death wish, he demands that everyone in the village leave to in order to make room for some fancy resort for rich people. For some reason, Storm has a big problem with that. And instead of respecting shady business deals and bullshit politics, she decides to kick their asses. An army of thugs versus a fucking weather goddess? That sounds about as fair as it needs to be. She already stopped a natural disaster and saved hundreds of lives. She might as well save more lives by beating the shit out of armed thugs in the process, as if she hasn’t proven herself to be awesome enough.

Her deeds should be celebrated. Of course, Beast finds a way to be annoyed by it because he has to deal with the authority figures bitching and moaning about how anyone could have the audacity to protect innocent people. He’s got his work cut out for him, but the rest of the X-men approve of her badass approach to helping the poor and needy. Even Creep, the girl who whined at her earlier is impressed. It’s probably not going to go over well with the Ugandas of the world. They’ll probably use this as an excuse to make even harsher anti-mutant laws and they’ll probably have the full support of the Pat Robertsons of the world, but that won’t stop Storm from being badass on a divine level. And if Beast doesn’t like it, he can kiss her ass.

And she’s still not done being awesome. After returning to the Jean Grey Institute again, she confronts Creep and admits something no god or goddess has ever admitted before: she has a valid point. Creep clearly isn’t fitting in. She doesn’t belong at the Jean Grey Institute. She wants to go back home to her family and Storm gladly escorts her. If at this point the gods anyone else worship don’t seem like assholes by comparison, I don’t know what more Storm can do without ending world hunger or erasing every season of the Jersey Shore from public memory. She’s not just a goddess. She’s a compassionate, badass X-man capable of being awesome on a truly divine level.

There aren’t a lot of people or things in this world I think are worthy of worship that don’t involve efficient means of delivering alcohol and weed into my blood stream, but I would put Storm right up there with Jack Daniels in terms of figures worthy of worship. This whole issue is a testament to why she’s not just one of the greatest X-men of all time, she’s a damn fine human being capable of the kind of compassion that would make Ayan Rand shit herself. She has the power and grace of a goddess, but wields the humility and heart of a thousand Mother Theresas. What other god, fictional or otherwise, warrants that kind of worship? And like some gods that demand a goat sacrifice just to stave off plagues, Storm doesn’t demand worship. She just sees suffering in the world and uses her powers to heal it. On top of it all, she has a great ass. That makes her a true goddess in every sense of the word. Storm #1 gets a divine 10 out of 10. Now I know I’m going to offend a lot of religious people by saying this, but it needs to be said. Compared to Storm, the gods of every other major religion suck. Not because of their power or how many adherents they have, but because Storm actually earns the right to be called a goddess and she does it while looking sexy as hell. Nuff said!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Wolverine and the X-men #6

Anyone who has ever been in a bar fight knows that at some point, everybody forgets what they’re fighting about and who deserves to have their ass kicked the most. This usually happens after the first three punches or after someone runs out of blow, whichever comes first. That doesn’t keep the bar fight from being epic. It just makes it more chaotic. In Wolverine and the X-men, it’s not quite as chaotic, but it is somewhat unclear on who we should be rooting for. Wolverine and Storm are trying to protect Genesis, who may or may not be destined to become Apocalypse, and the Phoenix Corporation is trying to prepare Kid Omega to take him down, which may or may not be a bad thing because death by Phoenix Force is just as shitty as death by Apocalypse. Some of this uncertainty stems from throwing yet more time travel into the story, which at this point is like asking for more explosions in a Michael Bay movie. It has long passed the point of absurdity, but that hasn’t kept the story from being engaging and compelling. There promises to be more time travel to help clear up who we should be rooting for. Even though I feel like punching Marty McFly in the balls, I’ll suck it up and try to enjoy the prospect of an Apocalypse/Phoenix battle in Wolverine and the X-men #6. In the same way some drinks are worth the hangover, some stories are worth the frustration.

I take some comfort in the knowledge that Idie probably shares my frustration. She boldly followed Kid Omega into the future only to find out that his adult self is just as much an asshole as his teenage self. There are reasons most people find it frustrating to deal with teenagers, which gives them plenty of incentive to grow out of it. That didn’t happen with Kid Omega. And the reason it didn’t happen had nothing to do with him being an inherent douche-bag. It was because of fucking time travel. Doc Brown and Doctor Who are probably banging their heads against the wall now because when Kid Omega saw his future self in X-men: Battle of the Atom, he decided he wanted to change himself because wielding the power of the Phoenix Force just wasn’t enough for him. Sadly, he succeeded and in this case, success means he loses his shit and decides to go Dark Phoenix. If it makes no sense, even after a few bong hits, then don’t freak out and go running to the DEA. This is a teenage douche-bag trying to tweak with things he doesn’t understand. He might as well be an Amish toddler trying to wire a supercomputer. It’s bound to get fucked up, albeit in a confusing way.

Not surprisingly, things are much less confusing back in the present. Faithful John, who became the most likable guy to attack the Jean Grey Institute in years, was finally subdued in the previous issue when he made the stupid mistake of pissing off Storm too much. He managed to get his ass shocked by enough lightning to give Larry King an erection, leaving him more burned out than Lindsey Lohan after a weekend in Las Vegas. But he’s not dead and his mind is still going strong.

So he figures if he can’t snap Genesis’ neck, he might as well make him want to snap his own neck. That’s the power of telepathy. And since Genesis is now hiding in Fantomex’s miniature version of Abu Grab, he’s got plenty to work with. It promises to be a pretty epic battle and Genesis stands ready to fight, even throwing in some Richard Sherman style trash talk. Faithful John has gone to all this trouble to kill him. It would be a shame if he didn’t make an epic effort to get the job done. He’s like the antithesis of Congress.

Sadly, we don’t get to see that struggle. Instead, the story goes back to the future to give me even more reasons to punch Marty McFly in the balls. That story just involves Idie and Kid Omega confronting Kid Omega Phoenix, who has decided to finally take a cosmic shit on the Jean Grey Institute and even rough up a horribly aged Wolverine. Hell, this sounds like the kind of shit he would do without the aid of time travel, but he has to make it more inane by trying to justify why he’s being such a dick.

This involves a horribly underdeveloped explanation as to how Genesis eventually became Apocalypse. Apparently, treating him like shit when he’s a teenager gives him plenty of incentive to become apocalyptic. He became powerful, only Kid Omega could stop him, and he managed to contain him, but not before he turned Idie into a horsemen. It should have been a heroic triumph that turned Kid Omega from a typical teenage douche-bag with a shitty haircut into a hero. But that just wasn’t enough for him. Even as an adult and armed with the power of the Phoenix Force, he still finds a way to fuck it up.

This is where my frustration with time travel stories turns into a full-blown migraine. Apparently, what fucked up Kid Omega and his future was going back in the past and seeing his past self in X-men: Battle of the Atom. Now I admit I would be pretty disappointed in seeing my teenage self again, but Kid Omega takes it a step further and does it in a way that makes about as much sense as the first half-hour of Inception. His past self was pissed off by his future self and his future self was pissed off by his past self, which meant his future self had to fuck with the past and manipulate the Phoenix Corporation into revealing more about the future. And at this point, I just grab an empty bottle of whiskey and throw it across the room.

I get that Kid Omega is a dick who isn’t known for doing shit that makes sense, but it doesn’t help when the extent of his dick moves are unrefined. This might just be a product of being way too burned out on time travel stories, but I couldn’t make sense of where the dick moves of the past and future began or how they related to one another. I get the sense the whole point of this inane conversation was to just piss off the Phoenix Force so that we could get another Phoenix battle because apparently, the shitty outcome of Avengers vs. X-men wasn’t enough for some people.

So instead of Genesis battling Faithful John in the World, we get a lot of bitching and moaning between the past and future versions of Kid Omega. That’s like getting a light beer instead of Jack Daniels. That battle, as epic as it might have been, ends before it can even be shown in all its glory. Faithful John ends up being manipulated by Fantomex’s deception powers, leading him to wear himself out while Fantomex and Genesis watch on, trying not to laugh their asses off at him. It’s not a very satisfying battle, but it does make for a nice moment between Fantomex and Genesis about not becoming the monsters they’re destined to be. That’s easy to say when they’re not the ones jumping into the future to see the assholes they become, but I find it hard to hold that against them at this point.

I can’t really say the same for the big battle against Kid Omega Phoenix. Given how poorly the battle against the Phoenix turned out in Avengers vs. X-men, I had a hard time getting too excited about this. It’s the same bullshit as before. Everyone struggles to attack whoever is tripping balls on cosmic power. There are a few emotional moments in between, mostly with Idie and Kid Omega. And someone has to end up making a sacrifice to stop the Phoenix Force. Since Kid Omega is such a dick and does little to make anyone give a shit about him, seeing him prepare to sacrifice himself has no impact. Thankfully, the future avoids getting fucked up even more because adult Kid Omega stops him. But still, at this point it really is hard to give too many fucks.

Eventually, the Phoenix is defeated to the surprise of absolutely no one. And unlike Avengers vs. X-men, there’s no emotional weight to it. Idie just stabs future Kid Omega and that’s pretty much the end of it. Future Wolverine manages to get in a few stabs, but he might as well be an extra on an episode of Star Trek because he really doesn’t do jack shit. I guess when the Phoenix isn’t a pretty redhead, he just can’t get that involved. I want to say that seeing Kid Omega’s future self get his ass kicked is satisfying, but I’m still too damn confused to enjoy it. He had to have known on some levels that he was only going to fuck himself up even more by messing with the past. Surely, as an X-man, he has experienced enough time travel to understand that. But no, he just has to go about it in a way that’s so devoid of depth that the only thing worth focusing on is how shitty his hair looks in the future.

As a result of this vapid plot, the battle against Faithful John ends without much refinement. Thankfully, this breakout character who did so much to endear himself in a way few villains not played by Tom Hiddleston can survives the final battle. He is now a prisoner in The World, which means it’s only a matter of time before he busts out and kicks Fantomex’s ass. That time can’t come soon enough, but for now he’s in the capable hands of Doop. So in that sense, this struggle isn’t a total loss because it isn’t definitively over. Faithful John is still alive and he’s still got a hard-on for killing Genesis. That gives me hope that we’ll see him again and he’ll find new ways to be awesome.

Things finally get back on track in terms of the timeline. Everyone is back where they should be in the space-time continuum. Faithful John may have upset plenty of students, but they seem pretty eager to shrug it off and get back to fooling around in the Danger Room. It’s another case of lacking details, but that’s not to say the events of the story don’t have a major impact. As the Jean Grey Institute staff tries to make sense of this shit, failing miserably in the process, they find out that the Phoenix Corporation had a bit of a power shift. Eden Younge just wasn’t working out and was more forgettable than Ryan Leaf’s football career. So they end up hiring Kid Omega as their new CEO. That’s right. They put Kid Omega in charge of a billion-dollar company. What could possibly go wrong there? Fuck, now I’ve got another migraine, but at least this one doesn’t involve time travel.

Reading the end of this story acted as a reminder/kick in the balls as to why I’m so sick of time travel stories. As if the increasingly convoluted and plotholed Terminator movies hadn’t proved it enough, this story showed just how fucked up time travel stories can become. At the very least, this story helped expand on the future that was first revealed in X-men: Battle of the Atom. The question for me is, did it really need to? Sure, it helped provide insight into why Kid Omega became the Phoenix and how it fucked him up, but we already know from Avengers vs. X-men how the Phoenix Force fucks people up. The story surrounding Genesis, Fantomex, and Faithful John was much more relevant, but took a back seat for most of the story and that felt like a mistake. In the end, this was a time travel story that showed just how fucked up a time travel story can be in wake of events of a previous time travel story. At least Back to the Future had the good sense to include an awesome soundtrack. This issue did a good job of creating new characters and expanding on previous stories, but in the end it felt too damn confusing and incomplete. And for those who don’t read comics sober, that really takes away from the enjoyment. I give Wolverine and the X-men #6 a 6 out of 10. This isn’t a bad story with a bad premise. It just tries to do too damn much and doesn’t do so in a coherent way. It’s like a teenage boy trying to fuck like a porn star on his prom night. He’s only going to make a mess and feel mortified in the end. Nuff said!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Uncharted and Off-Track: X-men #16

The following is my review of X-men #16, which was posted on

Even in the era of GPS and Google Maps, it’s easy to get lost. Even if the destination is clear and there have been successful trips before, there’s always a chance of getting off-track and those chances are worse than anyone cares to admit. It usually isn’t the first wrong turn that gets things going in the wrong direction. It’s the fifth, sixth, and tenth turns that changes the situation from merely being off-course to being in another time zone. For the situation surrounding the all-female X-men, it’s hard to know what time zone they’re in, but their watches are clearly not synchronized.

When this new, female-centric X-men series began, the destination for the story was fairly clear. And for the most part, it reached that destination safely on numerous occasions. This series wasn’t just about an all-female team of X-men. It created a unique team dynamic that gave the story a unique context. However, that dynamic has faltered in recent issues and X-men #16 is a culmination of one too many wrong turns and a few too many missed turns. If this story were on a road trip, it would be in the wrong state by now.

Initially, this story was built around one fairly simple conflict. The biological father of Shogo, Jubilee’s adopted son, has returned to claim him. It was a conflict that fit nicely into the overall narrative of the series because it began with Jubilee rescuing Shogo. That conflict might provide a simple foundation, but everything built on top of it lacks structure and refinement, like a gingerbread house that doesn’t have enough frosting. There’s a clear attempt to turn this conflict into something that explores other side-plots going on throughout the all-female team, such as the presence of Storm’s future daughter, Kymera, and the training of younger mutants like Hellion into a more capable team of X-men. While these are plots worth exploring, they end up detracting from the main conflict. At times, it feels like they’re in the wrong X-men comics.

Some of these plots, like Kymera, are appropriate to explore in some respect. There’s just only so much that can be explored while the main focus is supposed to be on rescuing Jubilee and protecting Shogo. Kymera’s foresight into the future should give her and Storm so many things to discuss. Who is her father? Who lives and who dies? Do Cyclops and Wolverine ever mend the Schism? Will Deadpool ever shut up? None of this comes up. Everything is centered around the conflict with Shogo and Jubilee. While this keeps the story focused, it essentially hijacks this unresolved story. It would be like someone having the power to see into the future, but the only thing they use it for is to check the weather for the next football game.

It also doesn’t help that Shogo’s father, who calls himself The Future, doesn’t come off as a character worth hijacking these other plots. He operates under the principle of shoot-random-people-and-wing-it-from-there. He’s supposed to be this extremely dangerous crime lord with access to weapons and personnel that would impress even the Kingpin, but he decides to go about retrieving his son in the most inefficient and messy way possible. There doesn’t appear to be any underlying motivation to his actions or his desire to get Shogo. He gives the impression that he just doesn’t like anyone taking things that belong to him, be it his Sunday newspaper or infant son that he did nothing to protect. He doesn’t even show the slightest affection for his son. He just wants him back because Shogo is his, not because he wants to know the joys of fatherhood.

This further limits the emotional impact of the conflict. The Future is painfully generic as a character and a threat. In addition, the all-female X-men don’t even go about attacking him in a very efficient way. They think they’ve done enough preparation, but when they encounter an exotic defense system that involves turning the vegetation against them. It’s nowhere near as epic as the walking trees in Lord of the Rings and only serves to slow the narrative down even further.

But it isn’t just the slow pace of the story that makes it feel lost and disorganized. Many conversations and actions are just too predictable. Jubilee’s argument with The Future could have been cut and pasted from an old Superfriends cartoon. The Future plays into every villainous stereotype, making no effort whatsoever to create any sense of depth. All Jubilee can do is give a typical Braveheart style speech, minus the painted face and mooning. It doesn’t create any strong emotions. It doesn’t create any tension either. It’s might as well be an excuse to get the X-men out of the Jean Grey Institute and fight something besides killer robots and resurrected enemies.

That’s not to say the conflict is without merit. While the plot might be slow and the dialog might be forgettable, the story never loses sight of the main theme of the story. The focus is still on the X-men fighting to retain custody of Shogo. It’s a conflict that offered plenty of reasons for excitement in the beginning. But as this story drags, the excitement wanes. That doesn’t make the conflict any less meaningful. Jubilee has undergone numerous conflicts in adopting Shogo as her son. Many of those conflicts have made for some of the most compelling stories in this series, but this one is just poorly developed and poorly organized.

The details might be lacking, but nobody gets mischaracterized and nobody does anything that completely undermines their established personality. X-men #16 certainly feels like an X-men comic, albeit a very disorganized and underwhelming X-men comics, but it doesn’t feel like the same X-men comic that had been built around this powerful, all-female cast. Like hippie protesters, it tries to do too much and only ends up next to nothing.

Final Score: 4 out of 10

Friday, July 18, 2014

All-New X-men #30 Preview - Romance or Fling?

I know I don’t come off as much of a romantic. My ex-girlfriends, my therapists, and most of my former pets will say that the most romantic I’ll ever get occurs around a bottle of Jack Daniels and a plate of bacon. But I do consider myself a romantic at heart. I enjoy that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when I see a good love story develop, be it in comics, real life, or a porno. It’s true, porn can be romantic if done correctly (and with the proper application of lube). But a good, well-developed love story is like a perfectly tender steak. It’s delicious as hell, but difficult to cook.

There have been many relationships developed in comics that have been epic love stories, but there have been many more that are built solely on the shaky foundation of WTF. I’ve gone on many drunken rants on numerous relationships on this blog from Cyclops/Emma and Jean/Wolverine to Superman/Wonder Woman and Wolverine/Storm. I don’t doubt that my rants are about as romantic as a prostate exam at times, but I feel there is merit when I say that most comic book relationships are hit-or-miss with far more misses. If it were a baseball player, they would be selling insurance in Alaska by now.

That said, Brian Michael Bendis has a solid track record when it comes to developing relationships. He has shown a rare talent to take established relationships like Peter/Mary Jane and novel relationships like Peter/Kitty Pryde and make them feel epic. This skill has translated nicely into All-New X-men with the way he has handled relationships like O5 Cyclops/O5 Jean Grey. However, he has had his share of misses, as anyone who read All-New X-men #15 can attest. And for a time, it looked like he was going to take another shot with O5 Cyclops and X-23 in All-New X-men #20. That didn’t pan out because O5 Cyclops felt that spending more time with his badass space pirate father was more important than hooking up with some hot teenage girl. I’m not sure which should take priority so I’m going to call that a push. But now Bendis is looking to try again, this time with O5 Angel and X-23.

Now when it comes to comic book romances, I’m of the opinion that they can all be made to work if done right. Some are just way harder than others. There really aren’t many universes where a relationship between Wolverine and Lady Deathstrike doesn’t end in a blood-soaked disaster. But O5 Angel and X-23 is one of those ideas that can either overdose on WTF or trigger a massive onslaught of boners. On the surface, it’s not that outrageous. It’s the circumstances that have the WTF. And in an unlettered preview released by CBR, we get our first glimpse of just how far Bendis plans to take this. From the looks of it, he’s going to piss off every abstinence advocate in the state of Texas.

• Past, present and future collide as the Future Brotherhood exacts their final judgment on the All-New X-Men.
• Plus, Angel takes control!

So in the span of 10 issues, X-23 goes from swapping spit with O5 Cyclops on the cover to swapping spit with O5 Angel. Granted, she never actually kissed O5 Cyclops. All they really did was hug. They never hit up a club, went on a date, or tried to cop a feel. They really didn’t get a chance because O5 Cyclops left before that could happen. But with O5 Angel, X-23 is jumping at the chance. They’re actually going out and doing the kinds of things that make televangelists cry. On the surface, this isn’t all that fucked up. They’re teenagers for crying out loud. It’s the characterization that will probably piss a lot of fans off.

Not long ago, X-23 was pretty fucked up and pretty traumatized. Now, after she recently got finished stabbing Xavier Jr. in the back, she’s hooking up with some guy she barely knows. For most teenage girls, that’s not too crazy. Hell, that’s the opposite of crazy. But X-23 isn’t normal. She does not have Taylor Swift’s history of going from guy to guy. Now she’s not just clubbing with a guy, acting way more normal than she really is. She’s getting cozy with someone who really has no fucking clue how to relate to her.

This is my main issue. Unlike O5 Cyclops, O5 Angel really doesn’t have much in common with X-23. He’s rich as fuck, never lost anyone, and doesn’t know much about hardship. Not only that, he’s been a total fucking pussy at times in this series. He’s the one that tried to go back to the past when he was outvoted. X-23 is one of the most badass characters in Marvel who doesn’t pack a big ass gun. Now she’s hooking up with this guy? It would be like Axel Rose hooking up with Carrie Underwood.

That’s not to say it can’t work. I think it’s kind of cute how things pan out. X-23 isn’t completely OOC. She gets into a fight at a club and rips a guy’s nipple ring off. That sounds like the kind of shit she does every Thursday night. But how romantic does it really get here? This is one of those developments that could either become what Peter/Kitty Pryde was in Ultimate or it could just be a brief fling like Wolverine seems to have with Domino every once in a while. It could go any number of ways and I’m sure X-23 fans will find some reason to be really pissed about it, not that I blame them either. But I’m willing to just grab a joint and a bottle of whiskey, kick back, and take a wait-and-see approach before I deem this new romance worthy of jerking off to. Nuff said!