Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon #11-12

Back in the game-changing epic House of M penned by Brian Michael Bendis, a deranged Wanda Maximoff, otherwise known as the reality-bending mutant Scarlet Witch, got so angry at her dad Magneto for being an overall dick that she decided to recreate the Marvelverse using one singular chilling phrase: "No More Mutants". This became known as the 'Decimation' where essentially the entire mutant race's numbers have been reduced to less than two hundred globally. Following a grueling two-parter saga entitled Messiah Complex and Second Coming, the mutant gene was eventually restored, thanks to Hope Summers, the so-called mutant messiah. However, as of January 2015, Marvel Comics announced that there will be no more new mutants for their universe. Sure, the X-Men will still be around...but the mutant gene will be extinct for good because they want to make way for their brand-new 'mutated' group of outsiders called the Inhumans. I have no problem with this. Personally, I love Ms. Marvel Kamala Khan, so I'm excited to get to know more about her as an Inhuman. Besides, X-Men has 50 years of stories; stories I'm struggling to read through as much as I could this year, starting with the notables and classics, and I think it really is time to tackle a contemporary group of superheroes for a newer, younger audience of comic book fans. 

For more information, check out the three links in No More Mutants. Now, let's talk about Dangerous.


The previous two installments were some of the best storytelling sequential art pieces I have ever read both as an X-Men story and as a standalone, and I've read quite a few and the entire Dangerous arc is definitely one of the greats for the X-verse. Issues #9-10 belong at the topmost part of Freytag's pyramid as the CLIMAX while these two issues are the denouement or the pay-off/resolution of the storyline and it might not be as ferociously exciting as the previous two, but they wrapped up the entire narrative using the right tone and context while also opening more possibilities regarding side stories and basic character developments with Emma Frost and Hank McCoy in particular. In Dangerous, the X-Men faced their most resourceful foe yet who knows their strengths and weaknesses like never before and it's no other than the Danger Room, a simulation combat place that became sentient since merging with the alien technology of Shi'ar. Angry and repressed after being used as a battleground to train the X-Men, Danger Room took a physical incarnate as a badass-looking cyborg and her name is shortened simply as Danger. After she defeated the Kickass Six of Cyclops, Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Wolverine and Beast, she goes to Genosha to confront her father/creator, Professor Xavier himself.

Professor X was patiently waiting for her and as soon as she landed using the Blackbird which she hacked into, the mind games began. Issue #11 explored that while the X-Men recuperate in the school and talked about a new strategy to shut down Danger once and for all and save the Professor. Chuck doesn't need saving, though, and was able to engage Danger in debates about the nature of their relationship and moral relativity in general long enough to disable her programming by literally ripping her head off. Kitty and Peter also had an enlightening conversation about the status of their relationship, with Peter asking Kitty not to come to Genosha with them because he knew that her father was one of the millions of people who died when the Purifiers and Sentinels committed the most massive mutant genocide ever in that place. Kitty puts on a brave face and claims she is an X-Man through and through and that she needs to be there for the Professor and especially for herself. She can't run away from the horrible place and pretend it doesn't exist. So the Kickass Six leave and arrive just in time as the Professor had one last talk with Danger who accused him of being a deceitful bastard, and that the X-Men themselves never really knew or understood him. Professor X gave that thought some pause and replied, "I'd like to think Jean knew...knew and understood." As the X-Men takes Danger's head from the Professor, they were shocked to find that Danger has hacked into the very Sentinel that laid waste to Genosha.

Meanwhile, Issue #12 the concluding piece definitely ad more action sequences and interesting revelations concerning two characters. As Danger takes control of the Genocide Sentinel who recognizes her as its mother, the X-Men now have to defeat the thousands of small Sentinels that were deployed from its system. Danger also uploaded her software into the GenSen which meant that she is safely tucked away and can take any form she wants again if she ever decides to return to finish dealing with her daddy issues with Xavier. As the battle progressed with Wolverine, Colossus, Cyclops and Kitty giving all their teamwork and best, Emma suddenly disappears to that stupid fucking hidden figure in the shadows. Last time, it was heavily implied that Emma Frost was the mole that Special Agent Brand of S.W.O.R.D has implanted but now I am not so sure. Meanwhile, Beast takes Professor X away to safety but Danger has another solid form and she and Beast get into a brutal fight where Beast allows his 'instinct' to take over completely. Even after destroying the vessel Danger took, Beast was...not himself. Professor X couldn't even reach him for quite some time. This was a notable thing because during the Gifted storyline, we learned that Hank has been worrying about 'devolving'. As his physical mutation keeps changing, he fears that he will lose every shred of his humanity and truly become a mindless beast. Now we see that manifesting here and it looks like it could be a real possibility.

Eventually, it was Kitty who found a way to put a stop to this battle with the GenSen. It's definitely a good thing then that she decided to stand her ground last issue and joined the mission. To show his trust on her abilities and decision-making, Colossus threw her across the massive expanse of the killer robot and by phasing into its inner workings, she began to make her way into its main circuitry and accessed the part of his 'memories' that even Danger suppressed. In doing so, he was overcome by what can only be deemed as 'guilt' over the genocide that it committed. It's sad. Also, it proves that Kitty is not just good with communicating with people but any living thing. She rocks, basically.

Meanwhile, the X-Men have a serious conversation about what Professor X knew all along about the Danger Room and why he didn't do anything about it. Peter was the one who confronted him which was really scary because these two had a bitter disagreement back in Fatal Attractions where Peter outright quit the group because he simply stopped believing in what Xavier is fighting for. Here, we see him once again addressing a flaw in Xavier's morality and leadership and I knew for a fact that Peter is hardly surprised at this point. I think among the X-Men he is one of the few if not the only one since Jean who acknowledges that there are dark facets to their sainted mentor that once you notice them, they get hard to cast aside. I feel bad for Kitty though because she loved and admired Xavier. Sure, there was a brief moment in X-Men Forever where she called him a jerk and she was outspoken about her disapproval regarding Xavier's friendship with Magneto once, but I think she forgave him fully for those things and hearing about his past sins again is just too heartbreaking for her.


Professor X justifies his choice regarding his treatment of the Danger Room, citing that he prioritized what the X-Men requires because it was more important in the grand scheme of things. His speech struck a chord in Wolverine who was quick to point out that he sounds exactly like Magneto. I finally figured out how the timeline for Claremont's Excalibur III fits here. I think his second marriage/honeymoon with Mags occurred right after getting confronted by his X-Men about Danger Room. It makes perfect sense. To absolve himself of his guilt, he wants to rebuild Genosha which was why he stayed behind and then contacted Magneto who was believed to be dead but only in hiding. The confrontation here wasn't even hostile; the X-Men were just collectively more put off and disappointed than angry at what Xavier has done. He was really put to shame here by Wolverine and Cyclops who unraveled what a terrible mistake he committed when Xavier chose to imprison the Danger Room which is basically enslavement instead of freeing her and treating her like the sentient being that she is now. If she comes back to kick his ass, the X-Men might not even get in the way. Xavier angst-ed about it later on in Excalibur ('Secrets come naturally to me').

So finding out your mentor is more dishonest than you give him credit for is a bummer. But the surprising revelation at the end concerning Emma's allegiance got me bothered. It turns out, the Hellfire Club and Sebastian Shaw are still around. Oh, merciful fuck, why them again? Anyway, I'm looking forward for something Emma-centric in a long while anyway, particularly about her awesome relationship with Scott. Joss Whedon has produced such great pieces so far and I hope this is sustained in the future issues.


No comments:

Post a Comment