Thursday, January 15, 2015

X-Men Forever by Chris Claremont issue #5 (2009)

As of last issue, there are two versions of Ororo Munroe. One in the present timeline who turns out to be a double agent working for an organization called the Consortium and she's on the run from the X-Men after she brutally murders Wolverine; while the other one is a teenager from some alternate reality who may or may not be a clone--fuck it, I'm not even going to try and understand this part. All I know is that two of the most well-loved characters, Wolverine and Storm, are at the worst point in their lives here. Logan is simply dead and Ororo has become the X-Men's newest villain.

In other depressing news, Kitty Pryde has an adamantium claw sticking out of her knuckle and it fucking hurts while Cyclops comes to terms that Jean Grey is in love with Logan who is still dead. On more bad news: somehow one of the S.H.I.E.L.D operatives let Fabian Cortez go and the Consortium picks him up which probably means yet another screw-over-in-the-making for the X-Men. Basically, everything is viciously fucked. It has been a colossal fiasco and I believe it's only been two nights since everything became shit. TWO GODDAMN NIGHTS.

In those brief hours, we witnessed Storm blind Sabretooth, kick everyone's ass THRICE, and then turn rogue, Wolverine getting incinerated while Jean was linked to him, and the X-Men big ripped apart as tensions and conflict rise not just within their group but on the outside. Nick Fury believes that the reason why the rest of the world fears their mutantkind is because they've been operating in the shadows for far too long. It's time or the X-Men to be more visible about their activities. Talk about timing. Some people in S.H.I.E.L.D may also be in cahoots with these Consortium assholes and Fury doesn't even know. This Consortium entity worries me especially since they apparently employed Storm and embedded her as a spy in the Xavier Mansion for god knows how long.

To add more shit on the dog pile, Beast confirms that the Storm they have been fighting is the real one. She was not manipulated against her will. She was genuinely a rotten turncloak from the beginning. Powerful telepaths like Jean and the professor were even unable to discern her real motives until someone in their group ends up dead and Sabretooth exposes her. So basically she knows everything about them including their fighting styles since she trained with them, and is now on the loose which is horrible because Storm can pretty much take on all of them. That's how dangerous she is. But Hank also asserts that the teenage Ororo who is with them for now is also the real deal. FUCK THIS I GIVE UP. I can't believe Storm has been a bad guy all this time. She's one of my all-time favorites so this wounds me. I'm still in denial at this point. BUT THERE'S MORE. I'm not even going to try and explain it, so I'm posting the actual pages so you can just read and comprehend for yourself the magnitude of the game-changing discovery that Hank stumbles upon after doing some comprehensive research.

Tread carefully. It's the ultimate shocker for this story arc:

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST CAN YOU ALL JUST WAKE ME UP WHEN THIS IS ALL OVER?! The X-Men cannot have a good day of victory for this story arc at all. Just when they think finding out that Storm had been a foe in their midst all along and that she killed Wolverine while Jean saw it all and felt it happen, now they have to adjust to the shocking news that Hank delivers regarding the distressing probability that their mutation means each of them has a shorter shelf life than they thought. AND THAT THE PROFESSOR KNEW AND SAID NOTHING ABOUT IT. Charles Xavier was their mentor, leader and father figure and he withheld this information for their own safety as if they're not adults who deserve to know the truth and deal with it properly. It also calls to attention other several instances in the past when the professor deliberately kept them in the dark as a team or as individuals, justifying his secrecy as the only option to protect them from a much bigger crisis looming such as this discovery. I understand that Charles believes that they deserve better than the truth; that they deserve to hope. He didn't want them to resent their uniqueness as some sort of burden just because their fires can so easily be extinguished at a young age. But did he really think the X-Men would just stop caring about their noble goals once they find out that fighting for humanity and their platform for equality wouldn't matter because they won't live long enough to see that dream achieved? It certainly makes the X-Men feel as if the professor doesn't at all think they will still be able to make selfless choices by themselves unless he deceives them into it.
I think Claremont was amazing to showcase in those panels above the widening chasm of this power struggle and tension between Professor X and his X-Men who do not exclusively fight the evils of the world for Xavier's own goals alone; these are no longer the lost children he adopted and nurtured. They've all come to their own as adults and he has to give up some of his control over them, and start treating them like that or lose them for good--just like any parent should. Cyclops, the teacher's pet and team leader, is absolutely having a difficult time for this story arc. Not only does he have to deal with the fact that the woman he loves has fallen for someone else, he also has to look at the professor in the eye--a man he would follow to the edge of the cliff and have literally done so before--and see for himself that Charles Xavier is a flawed being who can make selfish decisions and lie to him even if it's for what he perceives to be good intentions. And that has to cut deep. The rest of them--Hank, Rogue, Gambit, Jean Grey--they've all lost their way and found a renewed purpose to live and go on because of the professor and I think finding out that he had taken advantage of their trust and desperation to belong to something bigger than themselves is very damning. And how about the young and aspiring members of the team, Kurt (Nightcrawler) and Kitty (Shadowcat)? It's bad enough that they need to cope from the grief of losing Logan and Ororo, now they have to deal with the fact that Charles Xavier is not always a forthcoming man. This is a frightening thing to know about your parent. LOVE AND LOSS INDEED!
But thank god for Nick Fury asserting some kind of authority and necessary rude awakening:

"The man who had the dream was flawed. The dream itself--of a future full of hope for all of humanity--is still good." YES. YES, YES, YES, YES, YESSSS!!! Thank you, Mr. Fury! I believe that the X-Men have been doing this for a long time that they should know by now that nothing is ever absolute or certain especially the actions you committed for the sake of the beliefs you have. And if any superhero team can survive and work together towards the common good, it's the X-Men. They have lost two of their most loved comrades and their image of a benevolent professor who is always admirable has been shattered, but it doesn't mean they give up and stop hoping--they have to fight more fiercer than ever because they still have one another and that should be comforting enough to pull through.

Of course, Jean and Scott's fractured relationship has to take a backseat first but they should take solace in the fact that they're doing it for something bigger than their own personal conflict. The world needs them whether it wants to acknowledge it or not. If they want to be treated as adults who can make their own choices then this is the best and probably the only time to prove it so.


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