Monday, October 5, 2015

The Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon #6

I just finished binge-watching the complete first season of the critically acclaimed 2015 series Mr. Robot from the wee hours of Saturday morning to evening. I divided the 10-episode arc into half and that's an approximate 11. 5 hours of viewing where sleep and food were ceremoniously squeezed in the middle. I had the best of time watching such an incredibly rich and diverse storytelling whose main points of narrative were adapted from equally amazing stories such as Fight Club, American Psycho, Psycho and A Clockwork Orange while still making itself very distinct and original from those works. It's a cyber-thriller screenplay about a disturbed yet intelligent hacker and leader of an economic revolution, who slowly unravels as the story unfolds, revealing all his insecurities and flaws to the viewers while also celebrating his individuality and passion to make a difference in a world crowded with everyday naysayers, elitist opportunists and the zombiefied masses. Mr. Robot is also a cautionary tale on self-indulgence, on what happens to the human mind burdened with mental illness, cut off from any meaningful personal connections with loved ones, and how such people can often be the only ones who have a chance to bring down an oppressive regime because it's exactly the price that absolute freedom demands from a person and what he or she is fighting for. 

I highly recommend it. Watching it was a fruitful experience enough that made it acceptable to take a break from reading the next issues for The Astonishing X-Men, but I'm back again and this time I'm about to tackle the last issue for the Gifted arc which wasn't so much as a resolution but an open-ended conclusion that denotes that there are more challenges to come, more secrets to be revealed next time.


The issue opened appropriately enough with a flashback scene between Ord the Dumb-Dumb and Dr. Kavita Rao, touching upon the finer points of the give-and-take relationship between these two unlikely allies. 

Ord the Dumb-Dumb offered Dr. Rao an opportunity to save children like Tildie whose mutant powers manifested in such horrific ways. From what I can understand, Tildie can project her nightmares. She's a child so she has night terrors about monsters and these monsters can take tangible forms, and ended up murdering her parents and some police officers one night. It was traumatic and I feel sorry for her. 

Dr. Rao uses her case as the only means to justify her search for a cure to be rid of mutant children like her of their ailments, never minding the fact that there is a great number of children like her who can be taught to use their powers for the benefit of everyone in the future. But, like I kept saying before in my previous reviews, Dr. Rao's heart is in the right place. It's only unfortunate that she doesn't know what can happen if the cure falls into the wrong hands, and the sort of lengths that anti-mutant factions may do to use this cure forcefully on mutants, and how giving them access to such a cure will meant having the opportunity to weaponize what is supposedly an instrument of medicinal value.

Dr. Rao is just far too removed from the hatred and bigotry of the ignorant masses to figure out that for a number of children she is saving, she is dooming the rest. Hopefully, one day, she can see that.

Back in the present, Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D agents arrived to tell the X-Men that Colossus needs to stop pounding on Ord the Dumb-Dumb because the asshole has immunity since he is an alien citizen and is entitled to his rights. Wolverine dropped some amusing expletives after hearing that Ord the Dumb-Dumb has immunity which were sadly censored. A few arguments occurred between the two groups, namely Fury's displeasure upon discovering that Colossus is alive when he is supposed to be dead after he sacrificed himself to put a stop to the Legacy Virus. The X-Men assured him that the man standing in front of them now is indeed Peter Rasputin, and the reason why he was alive is because Ord the Dumb-Dumb was experimenting on him in the first place. Anyway, a few more dialogue exchange occurred before horribly disfigured mutants came so they can get the cure, resorting to violence just to acquire it. S.H.I.E.L.D and the X-Men have no choice but to fight and wound them. Meanwhile, one of the agents who assisted Ord the Dumb-Dumb in his quest revealed the reasons why it was important that mutantkind must be 'cured' because apparently, this will happen to Ord the Dumb-Dumb's planet, the Breakworld:

Okay, look, I understand. Jean Grey, back when she was the Dark Phoenix, destroyed an entire planet just because she felt like it. I understand the motivation of trying to prevent from another thing like that from happening especially when Ord the Dumb-Dumb and his fellowmen have access to the future where they saw another mutant laying waste to their own home planet. Still, I root for mutantkind and the X-Men and I will come off as a very cruel person when I say that I DON'T GIVE A SHIT WHAT HAPPENS TO BREAKWORLD, at least at this point because Ord the Dumb-Dumb is the best that planet can offer, apparently, and he is THE WORST. Because I hate him so much, I hope to all the gods he fails and his planet gets obliterated. Now this kind of mindset is the reason why there is racism and bigotry and I acknowledge that. Like I said, I know I will come off as a cruel person for saying such stupid things. I have to apologize for that, but I also think that subjugating another race just because you think one of them is going to be an evil person is also just as dangerously racist and stupid no matter how much you claim that you're doing it with the best of intentions like Dr. Rao, or to save your own fellowmen like Ord. You can't force someone to take a 'cure' if they don't want it, like the young boy Wing who was devastated when Ord stabbed him with a cure and now he will never be able to fly again or become a part of the X-Men. Perhaps Tildie does need that cure because her traumatic experience of murdering her parents has messed her up and if she continued manifesting mutant powers, she may not be able to control them and fully forgive herself when she grows up as an adult. But these are special cases unique to their own circumstances and after the Legacy Virus, now we give yet another means for anti-mutant factions to exploit, and they are certifiably going to use it to destroy mutantkind again.

Back to the story: Ord the Dumb-Dumb attempted to kidnap Tildie and take away the rest of the samples of the cure with him but he was stopped by Wolverine who was awesomely thrown on air by Colossus (it's their favorite thing to do, their go-to move, trust me) and landed on the plane where Ord the Dumb-Dumb was using to his haste escape. He punched Ord the Dumb-Dumb very hard on the face and then surrendered him to Fury and the S.H.I.E.L.D. So he doesn't die. Great. Meanwhile, the so-called cure has been disposed of...or is it? We won't know until the next story arc, I suppose. But at least we can take comfort in the knowledge that Hank realized something important about this whole mess. I'm very proud of his decision not to take the cure and to really stand up for his purpose as an X-Man:

And that Peter and Kitty are obviously getting back together because they will always belong together.

This is after all what the X-Men is all about when shitty things happen and life gets tough; they make the most of what they can, and hold on to their personal small victories to keep themselves sane and have another reason to fight for another day. So, Gifted at least ended in a positive note although this issue in its entirety wasn't as engrossing as the previous ones so I may have to remove a star from my final rating. The last shot of Emma Frost watching Peter and Kitty from a distance, and talking to some unknown figure in the background proves to be ominous. It would seem as if our reformed White Queen is still guarding secrets of her own...


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