Tuesday, June 30, 2015

X-Men: Messiah Complex by Ed Brubaker

I had a month of laidback fun because of Jeff Parker's X-Men: First Class and I will always be thankful for that break. I almost forgot what was waiting for me once I get back to more serious works down the pipeline. As a natural progression, I was once again reading the House of M aftermath where mutants have become an endangered species and there are less than a thousand of them globally. This thirteen-issued arc with a title so shamelessly foreshadowing is where I rightfully find myself, and it wastes no time bitch-slapping me in the face in reminding me that the X-MEN universe is a collection of varied clusterfucks that I will never get tired being caught up in and incessantly discussing about said abuse in my reviews.

Messiah Complex encapsulates that experience. This is also my last story before I take a two-month hiatus to make way for Batman comics diet this July, and then Hellblazer: John Constantine on August. I've been away from these beautiful men and their compelling stories for far too long and I need to give them a chance to shine again. Originally, I wanted to end this month with the follow-up arc, Second Coming, but decided that I simply have no time to absorb another big-event arc. Messiah Complex after all has proven to be time-consuming enough. Wisely so, I timidly tucked in my raging hard-on and chose not to waste my jizz in one place. I thought it best that the Second Coming (pun intended at this point) will be my opening act once I resume in September.

So, until then, you can enjoy this particlar jizzfest below instead. Reading Messiah Complex was exhilarating but it also had me freaking out slightly on certain aspects. There is a central conflict that holds together a series of subplots within it and it could get wonky tracking them all down so I decided to illustrate them in a diagram for my convenience so I can touch upon all of them in this review. I will be taking a two-month hiatus so I better wrap up this month with a special post and nothing fits that bill perfectly than Messiah Complex. It span for three separate X-titles, namely Uncanny X-Men, X-Factor, New X-Men.

First off, though MC is ridiculously rife with subplots, it doesn't get bogged down by its varied ensemble of characters unlike, say, the first two volumes of that forgettable Age of Apocalypse big-event in the nineties which I read last month and was barely happy about. MC was written by Ed Brubaker and is a direct follow-up to Brian Michael Bendis' House of M, and though it is just as all over the goddamn spectrum of what you can expect from a soap opera, the narrative has much more focus and fluidity than AoA. The contrast is just apparent to me because all the subplots lead back to the main plot even two or three of them can be considered distant enough to be standlone events--and everything still makes sense together as a whole. Unlike AoA. Srsly, fuck AoA. I'm a child of the nineties , sure, but FUCK AoA. It was a seventy out of a hundred percent waste of my May. BUT I DIGRESS. 

To demonstrate the breadth of this clusterfuck, behold my handwritten diagram below which I will discuss by point for the rest of this review. Please bear with me. We are going to get through this. Take note that I will only discuss the content of the first six to seven issues because I don't want to spoil the second and final act for the latet issues so you can enjoy those for yourself. Besides, the six to seven issues have already enough material to fill up an entire entry here. Now, I drew this diagram and wrote the notes around five in the morning even though I had a class at noon. And it was a compulsory need to make sense of it all which actually helped me process what to type here.

There are TEN ATTRACTIONS. Two of those are divided into halves. I will write down my shorthand notes first and then expound of them. Reading them, I realize that they look like tabloid headlines, and therefore should be treated as such. So here we go.

"Aka-chan" is the Japanese term for baby. I just want to use that name from here on because it's cute. So, presently, things are escalating shit upon shit since mutants got depowered while a few retained their powers like the X-Men. This is all thanks to Wanda Maximoff's curse to punish daddy Magneto so she remade reality so that there will be no more new mutants to manifest powers. But then a baby was born somewhere and it instantly manifested a mutation of some kind which was powerful enough to haywire Cerebra. The first issue opens with the X-Men (Cyclops, Emma, Wolverine, Nightcrawler and Angel) tracking down this little miracle of life only to discover that two nihilistic groups of unforgivable assholes have beat them to it. Tough luck.

Orgies are fun. Also, unsanitary. Massacres are only fun depending on whether you're the killer or the one being killed. But to be black and white about it, massacres are bad. Also unsanitary. The Purifiers and the Marauders, in their pursuit for aka-chan, collided in one place and fucked each other up. Both sides had casualties in their short-lived, terrifying hatemaking but now the X-Men (the police who arrived late and only have to inspect the scene of the crime) need to figure out which one of these cunts have aka-chan. The Purifiers are anti-mutant cunts who want to eradicate mutants because we all know by now that genetic cleansing is historically justifiable especially for religious purposes. Aka-chan is the new antichrist, the Purifiers believe. Meanwhile, the Marauders are followers of mutant militant leader but fabulous fashion trendstarter Mr. Sinister who is still worse than Magneto on an ordinary bad day. He also just abducted Rogue, being a douchebag, and now he is after aka-chan. If his name isn't a dead giveaway already then there's no other way to stress that he cannot have that baby. Purifiers might just kill it but Mr. S will find a way to weaponize it for his own stupidly immoral agenda.

Cyclops takes his leadership role more seriously especially in the light of recent events as well as his personal issues about Professor Xavier's deception concerning his long-lost brother. Now I like Scott. I belong to the faction of fans who had always favored him even during the moments when he's less emotionally relatable.

(3.1) RICTOR, PREVIOUSLY DEPOWERED, INFILTRATES PURIFIERS so Cyclops can gather intel and keep tabs.


This is one of the standalone subplots I was referring to but it is still covered for the rest of the issues. Time-travel stuff. On Cyclops' orders, Forge helps out Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox) as he sent duplicates of himself to possible futures where mutants are still endangered or what could happen if aka-chan ends up in the wrong hands. Something like that. But Layla Miller (first introduced in House of M) tags along which was not part of the plan. They have their own spin-off going on but their scenes are still relevant to the present arc.

Some time ago, the Purifiers attacked Xavier Institute of Higher Learning and killed 45 students. The pupils themselves who are now deemed the New X-Men were left to fend for themselves and a few survived. Cyke kept the Purifiers' participation a secret in the current mission to keep the kids out of the picture, but it got out anyway and now the Xavier Institute Pupils go on a reckless field trip to get back on the Purifiers and maybe secure aka-chan if they do have it. What these kids didn't anticipate is that the Purifiers hired the genetically-modified mercenaries Reavers who would have killed them all if Rictor didn't blow up his cover to intervene and order Pixie to teleport them out. Said teleportation scattered all of them in different places, barely alive.

Wolverine, Storm, Angel and Nightcrawler butt heads with the Marauders while Gambit slinkers away. Wolvie confronts him and finds out the real whereabouts of aka-chan (SEE ITEM #7 below). Mr. Sinister was pleased to know that the X-Men have yet to acquire said aka-chan after all so he is still in the game. Well, fuck.


Meanwhile, the human pilots inside the Sentinels were converted into some sort of creatures using the Nano-sentinels strain developed by Cassandra Nova, Charles' evil twin sister who has never forgiven him for eating her when they were still in their mother's womb or something. Said nano-bastards started attacking Emma, Scott, Bobby, Beast and the other students inside the mansion. This is something of another subplot that might get a larget role in the series later. Oh, and the only person who has a strain of that nano-virus is Cable so Scott is determined to get to hin since he both has the baby, and he might have triggered the conversion of the nano-sents.

WTF, Scott. It's your OWN SON. Led by Wolverine, the X-Force go on a mission to get to Cable before anybody else. If they can manage.

They haven't seen him in a while so they're not so confident if Cable has all his eggs in the basket. Meaning, if he's now a nutter. One is simply careful. But Scott, come on, it's your son. Please talk to him. And Chuck. He's kindda your dad. Stop ignoring him!

Bloody confrontations ensue. 

A monster that resembles something from Aliens vs. Predators, this hungry motherfucker eats mutants. Because that's what an endangered species needs: more creatures above them in the food chain. Predator X is a living example that things will get so much worse…with an off-chance they might get better…I guess. I pray. This is a subplot I am really hoping will not reach aka-chan.

For reference, check out the events in Deadly Genesis. His banishment is justifible. Scott has trust issues with Xavier now so he is literally telling the Professor to go to his room because he's grounded. The younger ones accuse him of passivity, neglect and abandonment which is all true because Chuck had eloped with Mags in Claremont's Excalibur III so they can rebuild Genosha. It's sad to see Chuck forced out into the sidelines as he sees that he is no longer needed or respected. In retrospect, both he and Erik let down their children and now they are suffering the consequences of those failures. There you have it. A summary of the first six or seven issues. Excited to check it out? Then go right ahead. It's engrossing enough to maintain your interest and attention span and quite an important arc since it precedes Second Coming which is another game-changer arc. See y'all back by September!!


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