Monday, March 16, 2015

X-Men: Excalibur III by Chris Claremont issue #7

Dark X-Men is a thing. What is a Dark X-Men, you ask? Just read this. And this. I don't have time to explain everything to you, you know. The reason I bring this up is because a character made a surprise appearance last issue and I didn't feel like mentioning it in that review so I finally decided to reveal here who it was...and it's no other than Dark Beast who is pretty much a blue-furried Hannibal Lecter with his courteous manners, classy tastes in things, and eerie countenance in general. I find him rather refreshing to read at this point of the story because he actually has a personality even if he is a villain. OH AND CHARLES XAVIER IS STILL TOPLESS AND ONLY WEARING MAGENTA-PINK BOXERS.

Bad Moon Rising is the third instalment of the bafflingly and ridiculously entitled story arc, Food Fight. The pages open with Dark Beast (who I will now refer to as Sir D-Beastie from now on) beating the shite out of Shola who was left to fend for himself against Unus the Untouchable as the husbands, Callisto and Wicked made their escape. They didn't have any choice so poor Shola was taken to the same place the Omega Sentinel Karima was kept and Sir D-Beastie starts admiring his prisoners, particularly taking a special interest on Karima. He was going to dissect her, I believe, while listening to some Schubert. Just because Sir D-Beastie is an atrocious monster, it doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy some good ol' classical music. That's a thing now too. Apparently, a villain with such a fine taste is even more fucked up than one who listens to, say, rock music. Classical music is the mark of a more evolved and intelligent monster and Sir D-Beastie fits the bill.

Meanwhile, it's raining outside where Mags, Calisto, Charles and Wicked are just chilling. Mags hears the music and was instantly nostalgic about his time at the Nazi camps, specifically about a certain scientist who gives sweet treats to Jewish kids and also listens to classical music. In spite of the sudden grimness of the next scenes containing Mags' flashbacks, there was a great moment here where Charles (TOPLESS, MAGENTA-PINK-BOXERS-WEARING AND NOW SOAKED IN THE RAIN) asked him if he was all right. And I'm like, "I bet he wishes somebody would ask him that" because Chuckie is basically sprawled half-naked in the muddy ground while still handicapped. SOMEBODY OFFER THIS MAN A FUCKING COAT OR SOMETHING, GOD! But it gets worse and more hilarious: Freakshow, who was shot by the trolls in the previous issue, was shaken because of that experience, and Charles, being an astute teacher, offers him comfort. Nothing wrong with that...except, this is how he phrased it:

In case YOU ASSHOLES just STANDING AROUND there didn't notice--Freakshow is freezing cold! HE IS FREEZING COLD, NOT ME! AT-FUCKING-ALL. Okay?!

I don't know if this is unintentional comedy by Claremont but it's gold.

So anyway, time for more serious matters. Once again, Chuck and Calisto (but at least now joined by Freakshow) go off by themselves while leaving Mags behind. Charles says that Erik should help by comforting Wicked which he proceeds to do as soon as the other three were gone. We get these great panels that made my chest ache a bit. Leave it to Claremont to expertly shift in tonality:

 "I've tried rage. I've been mad. That's what led me here. I need another way."

Oh, Erik. Reading about him clutching a scared teenager as he contemplates his regrets from the past and hope for the future--it's just so sad and sweet. One of the reasons Magneto is such a compelling villain in the first place is because sometimes you can't help but root for him most especially when you know he's fighting for the right things no matter how wrong and violent and cruel his methods are. Next to Charles, he may seem like the devil but only if you think Professor X is a saint and he clearly demonstrates throughout the comics that he is not beyond erroneous judgment. Both men are flawed in their approach, both are uncompromising in achieving their goals even if one if more optimistic in fulfilling them than the other who always chooses to reinforce his ideologies through brutal means instead.

Another lovely moment occurs when we get flashbacks again, this time concerning Wicked's past as contrasted with Magneto's. In Erik's flashback, we see him unable to save his daughter from the fire which took her life. Meanwhile, we get Wicked in the middle of a fight with her parents when an explosion occurs, possibly killing her folks while she survived instead. The theme of powerlessness and guilt are strong in these flashbacks and I think Charles might have sensed Wicked's pain before which was why he asked Erik to stay behind and comfort her. I want to know Wicked some more after this issue, and I definitely liked her and Erik together since they're both people who feel as if that they can never take care of the people they love even if they posses powers.

On the flip side, Calisto and Charles are a great duo. This issue showcased their teamwork and chemistry during battles. Sure, Charles has to be carried around in a piggy back by Calisto (which would be emasculating but hey, MAGENTA-PINK BOXERS, people. Charles is beyond caring about his dignity at this point), but he is the brains to Calisto's brawn and they're functioning quite well together. Now I would be infuriated about the fact that these two are being consistently paired up for three issues now but I honestly don't mind it, even if Erik is often not present in the picture. I'm not threatened at all about this because Charles and Erik ALWAYS FIND A WAY BACK TO EACH OTHER, and Calisto is not necessarily an obstacle but a rather welcome addition to their tandem. She's actually fun and reliable, and always ready to kick ass. Said ass-kicking commences when she and Charles were able to infiltrate the secret lair where Shola and Karima were held captive. I mean, really, blasting Schubert has given them a certified clue as to where they were hiding in first place so it was really dumb of Sir D-Beastie to do that. A few scenes later, Karima was able to set herself free and apprehend Sir D-Beastie herself while the rest of the trolls and thieves were gathered up to be imprisoned. All is good, basically. The husbands close the issue with this moment:


"Not every battle is with a super-villain," Charles offers. And no truer words were spoken than that.

Chuck follows it up with a "take my hand" and Erik seems rather taken aback by this. And then they shake hands and Chuck announces: "This is all it takes. TWO HANDS CLASPED IN FELLOWSHIP, PLEDGING TO BUILD SOMETHING BETTER."

The take-my-hand thing, of course, reminds me of this:

Which, then, heads to this:



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