I don't have a goddamn clue what to say about the Guardians of the Galaxy crossover story The Black Vortex. I really don't and I won't waste my time or yours trying to explain that because I didn't read the issues from Guardians and I had to skip through the pages of #39 because nothing about what I'm reading makes any logical sense to me. I tried to focus on the parts that interested me, though, and that happens to be the Return of teen Scott Summers who left his friends after The Trial of Jean Grey to travel space with his estranged father Corsair. I bet he had wonderful adventures and now it's time to come home with the rest of the OCF which comforts me because the OCF has been incomplete without their Cyclops. The only part of issue #39 that made me feel something again was that scene with Scott and Jean almost sharing their first kiss (the shipper in me got excited!) which was so beautifully interrupted by no other than Hank. That was gold and an awkwardly humorous moment to see unfold for all parties, including myself. Hence, the moment is worth the screencap so here it is:
|Hank McCoy: The Purposeful Cockblocker|
What I do want to talk about is issue #40 which brought us back to the actual roster of Bendis and artist Mahmud Asrar whose illustrations I never got a chance to truly compliment in the previous issues because I was far too busy criticizing Bendis' storytelling directions. Asrar's work on the sixth volume's arc, Ultimate Adventure, were beguiling; filled with life and warmth, infusing each of his panels with delightful landscapes and color. His work for issue #40 is just as visually appealing, particularly when Bendis had written two great conversations among a pair of characters in this issue which reminded me that he is a very capable writer who knows how to pack a wallop when he does take his time actually establishing an emotional element to his characterizations which has been sorely missing in the last five issue or so, discounting that fucking Black Vortex crossover. Before I started reading ANXM, I've received the news about Bobby Drake's "coming-out" from my twitter feed (much like everyone I know did last year) so actually reading the conversation he had with Jean was not surprising anymore, but I was still eager on how Bendis handled such a delicate topic. I decided to post the complete pages of that scene below in case you want to read the conversation yourself and simply could not, either because you have no access to a digital copy or one in print.
Now I've had a problem with teen Jean Grey reading people's minds willy-nilly since she started manifesting powers of telepathy. It's invasive, irresponsible and just plain douche-y. I was able to look past it after a while because that was also when I'm beginning to dislike Jeanie just a little bit, combined with the general lack of any interesting progress in the stories for a good six or ten issues right after Battle of the Atom. That being said, this enlightening conversation won me over just enough to stop being annoyed by teen Jean. I recall that my first reaction last year after finding out about Bobby coming out of the closet was asking a friend through SMS why he didn't come out as "bisexual". There is a gross under-representation of bisexuals in pop culture and media especially when it comes to bisexual male characters (NBC announced before that their version of John Constantine played by Matt Ryan in the now-cancelled series Constantine will not focus on his sexuality ergo not even imply that he also has the hots for other men) so I didn't think Bobby identifying as gay was as progressive as Marvel is trying to depict. Now, after much distance and reading their entire conversation firsthand in comics, I suppose I didn't have the same problem with it as I had last year. They did, after all, bring up the possibility that Bobby might be bisexual, with Jean commenting that "everyone is" but then asserting that he's "full gay". It's good for Jeanie to acknowledge that sexuality is not a fixed thing but a spectrum of attraction and gender preferences, but I wasn't fine with her labeling Bobby herself as "full gay" because that's none of her business. Just because she has been in his head, it doesn't give her the right to define Bobby's sexuality for him. But then Bobby agrees with her so I'm getting annoyed again which made me kindda forget why I'm suddenly okay with this again. Maybe I'm not. All I know is while I'm typing this right now, I feel very uncomfortable about the fact that Bobby is "full gay". His future self has shown genuine interest in women so it's still possible he is bisexual in his preferences OR maybe this Bobby of the past is more adamant in claiming he prefers one gender only over the other. Fuck it, I don't know.
The reason why I seem extra sensitive about this is because I AM A BISEXUAL WOMAN. It took me a while to identify as such, though. I was more comfortable explaining to people that I'm a lesbian because all the serious relationships I've been in were all with women. It took me some grueling self-reflection and conversation with trusted people to figure out that I still want to be with men sexually and even emotionally (although the latter admittedly scares me because I relate better and much comfortably with my own gender), so perhaps I'm biased over that and therefore want Bobby to also identify as a bisexual person because it makes me feel that him accepting homosexuality as his identifier further reinforces the negative idea that bisexuals are 'non-existent' and that a man or a woman can either be straight or gay...and that's a pretty tough spot for me to take here. So I won't. I'm not going to accuse Bendis and Marvel for white-washing anything because I'm sure their hearts were in the right place when they decided to make one of the original X-Men from the sixties identify as gay. I do believe that it is a progressive step towards the right way. I admire and congratulate them for that. I wasn't happy about the fact that Jean practically forced Bobby to come out to her, though, but that's a separate issue about her character altogether so I will disregard her role in this for now. I'm just glad Bobby did accept that he's gay and that he finally has someone to talk to about it. It's an important and meaningful stage in his life.
Speaking of another meaningful stage, we get a very moving conversation between Warren and Laura where Warren explained his situation regarding the Black Vortex thing. From what I understand, he allowed himself to consume its power and it messed him up. Now he lost his original wings and got this awesome pair instead. This worried Laura so he explained that he never wanted to be here in this timeline especially after finding out what happened to him. He got scared and felt like he had no free will anymore which was why he made choices that were a bit chaotic but at least they were his choices. He wanted a change, not just a physical transformation. So, as a changed man, he is also more willing to admit that he is in love with Laura. Laura, a genetic clone of Wolverine who has been experimented on and is therefore distrustful of people, claimed he doesn't know who she really is. Warren fervently disagrees and his justification for that won me over as much as it did Laura, and it definitely solidifies why I think their relationship is interesting and why they make the perfect match.
In the middle of these heartfelt confessions among friends is Agent Maria Hill, effectively expressing my overall reaction for All-New X-Men since Battle of the Atom ended and I got served with half-baked and bland issues after, the worst offenders of which have to The Trial of Jean Grey and that forgettable arc about Baby Xavier and Raze attacking the OCF in their secret bunker. I'm posting the panels because it speaks to me. I myself am mentally banging my forehead on a desk over and over because of the mixture of boredom, frustration and bafflement I've felt in the last two weeks. But hey! I have my first 8-star rating for this series in weeks!
|Me in a nutshell|
ISSUE #40 RECOMMENDED: 8/10