Tuesday, January 6, 2015

X-Men by Chris Claremont issue #8 (1992)

Ah, X-Men by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee.

When I'm not busy self-inflicting the experience of masochistic thrills sustained from the Prof X/Mags scenes that you suddenly throw at my ovaries, you're making me wish I never met you. And just when I'm about to feign nonchalance as I desperately try to pull away from your unavoidable clutches, you give me an issue like Tooth and Claw which reminds me that what I'm reading is supposed to be fun even if this one proved to be a fickle bitch in tone and substance. Fluctuating from sitcom-like scenarios to serious-business-is-serious, issue #8 has plenty of character moments that made it worth all the troubling crossover bullshit that came after for the next issue. I giggled at the most inanely random stuff while I flipped the pages, especially when it came to the dynamics between certain X-Men.

The issue opens with Logan trying to put together his clusterfuck memories of the lives he had endured as a fast-healing almost-immortal mutant whose baggage of pain and regrets still has a discernible weight on him even if he doesn't exactly remember what they are composed of. Cyclops continues to keep tabs on him. After all, he did assert last time that he's here to help Wolvie, whether the other guy likes it or not. I've been enjoying their one-on-one encounters so far, honestly even if there's a tinge of condescension in the way Cyke expresses concern. It's not easy being a teacher's pet squad leader, you know. He always has to look out for everyone even if it's someone he's never always comfortable with, Logan especially--or when it's someone he's attracted to; like Psylocke, for example.

I'm sorry, did I say Psylocke? Yeah, we'll get to that later.

So exactly a page later after the Cyke-Wolvie conversation, Storm introduces Bishop to the group. Again, there's a backstory here I won't have to discuss because I think Bishop's appearance for this run was just a continuation from The Uncanny X-Men. Anyway, he's here and he's from the future where everything is grim and nasty so it takes him a while to adjust to the fact that he's actually meeting the original X-Men who are all dead and gone in his own timeline. He has an altercation with Gambit whom Bishop suspects is the one who turns coat and betrays his comrades in the future. Cyke and Rogue defended Gambit while Jean rationalizes that Gambit has done a lot for the group in the present so of course they have to give him the benefit of the doubt. Storm confirms this, and tells Bishop that he's a stranger to the rest of them so they are more inclined to believe someone who is a part of their family.

We get a nice little interaction between Wolverine and Professor X in the background too and I'd like to point out that I think it's great that Claremont is still making readers care about Wolverine's inner turmoil after all that has happened to him in the previous story arc. He's detached and reticent from everything around him right now and refuses Professor X's help as gently as he could, knowing he needs some solitude time to figure out what to do next for himself first. He stays behind while the rest of the gang goes out for a picnic because when you're a bunch of secluded mutants whom the rest of humankind fear and hate, you got to make the most of the small moments of privacy and relaxation you are allowed to have. Cyclops certainly was, much to Jean's chagrin. Boy couldn't help checking out Psylocke as she emerges from a swim in the lake, and I do not blame him. Aside from the fact that Betsy is no plain Jane especially not in that bikini (yowza), I've always thought that she has an impressive skill set especially her resourcefulness during combats. I would assume Cyke has been fighting alongside her far more than with Jean Grey who always seems to stay behind in the mansion with the professor. so I can't blame the man if his eyes wandered every now and then to another attractive teammate. It honestly makes Cyke more relatable that way. Personally, Jean shouldn't complain. She should check out Psylocke too. I know I would.

Bishop and Storm spend some time together because I don't think anyone else is willing to interact with the poor man. But said poor man brings a big gun to the picnic so who are we kidding, really? He was ready to shoot something when he thought Cyke was in danger (but the only danger that boy is in if he accidentally triggers the Phoenix SPOILER REFERENCE in his girlfriend for making her jealous like that). Storm appeases him in the calmest of manners, trying to make him see that nothing is certain when it comes to the events both in the present and the future, but his actions now in this timeline might affect the course of the future that is still up for some rewrite. After leaving him with those words of wisdom which I basically paraphrased and interpreted in my own quirky way, Storm flies off--I don't know why but she probably shouldn't have, considering what Bishop does next which is a crime in itself, interrupting fan-favorite ship Gambit and Rogue while he coquettishly tries to touch her and she giddily allows herself to get chased around. What a bunch of dorks. I may have shipped them when I was six years old but I guess I grew up more cynical since then, preferring hurtful and devastating parings like Prof X and Mags instead.

So a hilarious commotion plays out where Gambit, in the heat of the moment, decides to throw pie at Bishop but hits Rogue instead ON THE FUCKING FACE. All of a sudden, both men forget punching each other and start to laugh nervously, standing together in the most awkward panel ever drawn, as Rogue fumes, scolding Gambit for wasting that pie she baked with all her love and affection because rough-on-the-edges Rogue with her power-sucking mutation and Herculean strength is still a Southern belle at heart whose itty-bitty heart melts or breaks easily. GOD I LOVE ROGUE. I may still ship Gambit and Rogue too under the right circumstances, and I certainly enjoyed this slice of sugar fluff...which, of course, gets interrupted by the appearance of a femme fatale who attacks Gambit and all but then Gambit calms down Bishop from retaliating because the woman in question is his wife. Later in the mansion, Jubilee is greatly perturbed that a female actually agreed to marry Gambit willingly. I like that Rogue was quiet about all of this. She didn't look irritated or hurt. She listened carefully as Gambit explained his piece. And even then, she didn't judge. She even agreed to help out like the rest of the X-Men ever did. GOD I LOVE ROGUE.

Anyway, it turns out that Gambit marries this woman, Bella Donna as a way to unite the clans of assassins and twins in a reverse Romeo and Juliet fashion where the childhood sweethearts actually get a chance to end their families' feud by tying the knot officially. Still, Gambit ups and leaves his wife for some unsolicited reason. She tracks him down to explain that an invasion in their home is currently happening and Bella Donna was not clear on the details but of course the gang will help anyway. Because they're the X-Men, duh. Wolverine finally appears and decides to join in, most probably because he wants to make fun of Gambit and rip some motherfuckers in one fell swoop. He needs the exercise. As the team gets ready, some guy had the misfortune of stumbling upon the Ghost Rider in the middle of the highway and the issue appropriately ends on that note.

Fun issue. Claremont and Lee are obviously having some laughs themselves.


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