Friday, May 4, 2012

A Blast From A Past You've Never Heard Of (Issue #22 and #23)


Here we are, back in the Danger Room, watching the X-Men expose new readers to their powers while on one of their endless "training" sessions. I will now call this "Danger Rooming" ... until I come up with something better, snappier, and more hashtag-able. #DangerRoom

This month, we're treated to a giant robot that teaches the X-Men a lesson in teamwork ... and in love. "I never thought I'd find true happiness ... but then I found YOU, TeacherTron 3000!"

If this were a poorly-written TV show, the lesson the X-Men learn while fighting this mechanical man would directly apply to how they should defeat the bad guy, in the end. But since [SPOILERS!] the bad guy isn't a giant robot, there is no WAY the Xes will be able to apply their new-found knowledge. NO WAY. These lessons are for robot-applications only.

The training session is notable for this:

Menace II Society II: Mutants II Society

Most tragic? Cyclops?! Yeah ... I guess he kinda is, right? I just didn't even think about it until now. Before, I'd hear him voice his concerns and think, "PFFT! What I wouldn't give for power eyes!" - after all, he has special glasses to prevent accidental discharge.! But yeah, a deadly beam shooting from your eyes whenever they are open makes most social situations pretty awkward. "Oh, and what do YOU do, Mr. Summers?!" VZAAAAAAP! "Well I NEVER!"

I feel more sorry for Slim Summers than I ever have before. [Are we not calling him "Slim" anymore?] Iceman can de-ice, Beast looks relatively normal, Angel can hide his wings under a suit (and his wings don't kill if they are accidentally unloosed), and Jean's telekinesis isn't out of control, like Carrie's or anything. I call a big pity party for Scott, and you're all invited.

After the lesson-instilling robot is defeated, the X-Men are treated to ANOTHER vacation. If these guys have a good benefits package, I'm gonna be REALLY mad my mom didn't stand closer to the microwave when she was pregnant with me (thus mutating me and enabling me to join the X-Men for said benefits package and time off perks). But there is one guy who's not all pumped about the X-Men's free time:

Face Palm: The First Stage of Grieving

Face palm!!! Wow! It's like that meme of that guy who would later play Professor X, as illustrated by the illustrated Professor X! That is too GREAT! (Except for the fact that the words he is saying is setting back the "differently able" movement by about 50 years. [It's not just women that are inferior in these comics! Bigotry loves company!])

While on "leave" Beast and Iceman go looking for their girlfriends in New York City's Greenwich Village, where this happens:

Dudes with slightly long hair?! Greenwich Village, you the CRAZIEST!

At some point in all the goofing off and coffee-housing, Warren mentally declares his love for Jean, too. For those keeping score, that is now Cyclops, Warren, AND Professor X who have all expressed interest in Jean's shades of Grey. The X-Men need to recruit some new women, and fast.

But all fun aside, here comes Count Nefaria, Plantman, The Scarecrow, The Porcupine, The Eel, and The Unicorn! Each of them is from marvel comics of yore, and each of them you have never heard of. It's like "old timers day" at the baseball arena-park, except with more evil (or less, if you're a Yankee's fan [BOOM! BURN! I know NOTHING about sports, but I'll bet that STINGS!]). This collection is LIKE the Brotherhood Of Evil Mutants, in that it's a "Super Group", but unlike them because none of these guys are mutants, just dudes with fancy suits. OLD SKOOL STYLE. They look like this:

That is a LOT of words for a visual medium, right?
These guys start lurking around Central Park trying to get noticed. [Central Park: Where people go to see and BE SEEN ... also: to mug joggers(TM)] And noticed they get:

Warm up? Soon no one but me, the elderly,
and "tube enthusiasts" will understand this panel.

The X-Men head to the park to check it out and each of them are captured one by one (since the super heroes SPLIT UP instead of TEAM WORKING like the lesson-bot taught them at the beginning! Oh, TeacherTron 3000, I knew your hypothetical situation would apply to real-world situations! I never lost faith!)

But why were they captured? So that Count Nefaria can offer them a spot in his super villain team. And if they don't join? Well, Count N will ... take an entire city hostage!!! Don't do it X-Men, the benefits package is way better at Professor X Corp!


Taking a city - which turns out to be Washington DC - hostage sounds way cooler than it is revealed to be. Count Nefaria merely places a dome over the whole thing and threatens to destroy the oxygen inside unless he is paid ... 100 million dollars! [Thanks, Austin Powers, for forever ruining ransom-demand line-deliveries, even when they are read in your head-voice!]

Then the plot becomes a jumbled mess. Check it: The X-Men escape captivity in Count Nefaria's dungeons only to immediately turn around and pretend to join Nefaria. Mixed messages. Like when a woman cries after you ask her to marry you. [That's right, guys. Women are not supposed to cry in that situation, and if they do, you've done something terribly wrong. Oh, your future wife will SAY they are "tears of joy" ... but are they? Are they?!]

The newly evil X-Men are sent into the domed city to pick up the ransom cash, but are waylaid on their return by Nefaria's cadre of super villains who are out to double cross everyone and steal the money for themselves. Then the army shows up and start shooting everything and everyone, regardless of costume. In the confusion, the X-Men manage to escape and send the money back to Nefaria, but the super villains get away, too.

Since it seems like double-crossing is the thing to do, Count Nefaria says "me too!" and tries it on the X-Men, but is, in turn, himself double-crossed by a mysterious stranger.

When first I appear I seem mysterious,
but when explained I'm nothing serious. 

Can you guess who the mysterious stranger is? That's right, it's Xavier, walking around on his own two legs using the special fancy leg braces he built for himself while no one was watching. The Prof uses his super smarts to remove the dome from around Washington DC and all is well with the world.

Until Xavier takes a second to deliver a letter that arrived for Jean. The contents of the letter are SO TERRIBLE that next month is Marvel Girl's turn to leave the X-Men foreverUntilTheEndOfTheStoryArc!

This issue was terrible. No stars. 

This is how they choose to end their third year of publication? Though, to be fair, I'm probably thinking about that as an "occasion" more than the writers were. It's not like TV seasons, where there should be A Big Cliff Hanger or something. Maybe these two issues would have felt less flat had I not been expecting something more grandiose from them. I guess I'll have to re-adjust my comic book expectations to: "Expect nothing but disappointment in everything and everyone! Trust no one! Suspect everyone!" [So, you know, my de rigueur.]

BONUS: Somehow I managed to get through my on-phone note-taking for these two issues without having "Nefaria" added to my auto correct dictionary! It's the minor victories that we need to cling to.

Want to read along? These stories are contained in:
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men Volume 3