Tuesday, September 1, 2015

All-New X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis #3

While the second issue delved on the OCF and the current X-Men's side of the story, this third installment focused more Scott and his team's part of the narrative. It's still very engaging for me especially when you have the brilliant visual work of Stuart Immonen to back the story up. Honestly, the overall illustrations for this title, especially the action-heavy ones present here, were to die for!

I consider myself a fairly loyal Cyclops fan. It's a love-hate relationship at the beginning considering his archetypal role in the X-Men as a whole and his often closed-off personality. While he may inherently be a decent and noble person with heroic motivations--the "golden boy" to be exact--he is often alienating because he tends to be guarded even around people he is supposed to trust. It's only when he's with Jean (and later on, Emma) that we see the more sensitive and human side of Scott Summers, and, naturally, those are the stories where I enjoy reading him most. In contrast, Wolverine (Logan or James Howlett) may be of a pseudo-anarchist "black sheep" but his outsider status even among other outsiders heralded him as a quick fan-favorite because everyone roots for and sympathizes with the moody guy who may talk back against authority and challenge the one in charge (Scott, mostly) but is also ultimately the one you can depend on because once you earn his loyalty, he will go to hell to cover your ass.

It's only an intriguing progression then to see him become the headmaster for the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning alongside Ororo and Kitty Pryde. Unlike Scott who readily accepts the leadership role from the get-go, Logan has had a complicated avoidance issue about it but has always had the potential and providence to lead and teach. But this is about Scott and we see that all the grooming from Charles Xavier; all those years of expectations and preparation, as well as the betrayals and trials of trust he experienced with said father figure, has all led to this. 

He has now become the ultimate outsider trying to forge a path that goes against everything he used to believe and stand for. He even has freaking Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) on his side! He never would have worked with the guy, let alone form an alliance with him. But these are desperate times and although his methods have drastically changed, Scott still wanted to serve and protect his own mutant species even if it meant murdering humans along the way. So, I guess it makes sense that Magneto signed up and allowed Scott to take the reigns.

The most baffling thing about this, though, is Scott doesn't really hate humans unlike Magneto. Scott has become completely apathetic of humans unlike when he was young and hopeful and wanted to live in peaceful co-existence with humanity. Now he commits atrocities with human casualties as if he was merely stepping on an insect that happens to be on the pavement where is he walking. For this issue, we see Scott forming his team which was not an easy thing to do given the stubborn personalities of each and one of them--especially Emma who literally hates her ex-boyfriend's guts since the Phoenix Force debacle where he betrayed her and almost killed her as he siphoned all the powers to himself. Scott kept making excuses that it was the Phoenix who made him do it and Emma was not having any of that B.S. Magneto, in a very heartfelt yet chilling conversation with Scott below, argues the same point:

IN LAYMAN'S TERMS: "Don't kid yourself, asshole. Don't blame some cosmic force for your crimes. That was you who chose to do those awful things. You killed your father my lover and destroyed the dream that you and your friends worked hard for. Congratulations, you've replaced me as the most hated person in the X-Men storylines now. Own up to it, dammit!" 

Also, Erik's mad at Scott because Scott as the Phoenix messed up with his magnetism powers to the point where he's struggling to control metal now, and wants Scott to do something about it or else. And can I just say...WHY ARE WE NOT ADDRESSING THE FACT THAT ERIK IS TOTES COOL ABOUT SCOTT KILLING HIS LONGTIME FRIEND CHARLES? Is the man still in denial? Does he simply not want to deal with it? Is dealing with it going to fill him with so much rage that he might just strangle Scott with his bare hands? I just can't believe for the life of me that he didn't grieve Charles Xavier? Is it done off-page? Is he doing it during his private time? Address this puzzling out-of-character moment, Marvel writers! I'm just not buying Erik's stoic and lackadaisical treatment of the death of his best friend. It's been established time and time again in the X-Men canon that Charles and Erik love each other in the most unhealthy, co-dependent way possible. Nobody recovers from that type of abusive relationship that fast, certainly not someone like Erik who tends to hold onto things. But whatever.

So Magik and Emma found them another mutant whose powers were just re-awakened somewhere during a pro-mutant protest. He's some type of shape-shifter and of course Scott and his team tried to recruit him but were shocked to come face-to-face with the past X-Men of the First Class in a very Dickensian fashion ever imaginable. Young Scott tells off Present Scott: "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!" (insert WTF GIF here). Now I've read the next issues after this one already and, trust me, Scott's thought process as he tried to make sense of what he is seeing is HILARIOUS and a bit sad too. Check out this cool spread:


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