Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Kwazy Side Jobs! (Issues #36)

JUDGE THE COVER!
To say "Mekano Lives!" implies that Mekano was around at some earlier time, thought to be dead, but OH-HO-NO, he's BA-ACK, BABY, right? Cuz that's not what this issue is about. At all. Nope. This is this Mekano fellow's first (and last) appearance. Though, maybe now, in 2012, it's time for Mekano to "Lives!"? X-Men writers, if you are hearing me, bring back Mekano. Or, on second thought, don't, actually, as he's pretty boring.

SUMMARY!
Having found that Professor X is in the Alps, the X-Men SPRING into action ... as if their mutant powers were the ability to spring into action. Like a spring. Only - wah wah - they realize that that don't have any money, nor has Xavier had the forethought to open a joint checking account with any of them. Not even boring, by-the-books Scott who is more trustworthy than ... so things that are trustworthy... (I could say "than BANKS" here, but being hot button is not what I'm about, people ... HOT BUTTON!) In fact, maybe Scott is TOO trustworthy to trust! What's your game, Summers?! I'll bet he's embezzling. Or at least bedazzling. [That stream-of-consciousness flowed better / meant more in my head.]

Now we are treated to a couple of pages of the X-Men looking for money. Jean and Warren drive their ROLLS ROYCE to the welfare office [NOT KIDDING!] to ask for a hand-up (not a hand-out [Boom! Twice-times used that joke in two posts! [and it's not getting better with age!]]) When the city worker is all, "Is this a joke?", Jean, Warren, and Scott then hit up a construction site to see if super-mutanting applies to blue-collar work, too. Meanwhile, Bobby and Beast head to Washington Square Park to put on a show and pass around the hat.

In MY day, Washington Square Park was less "enjoyable" and more "full of drug dealers".

It is in these ways that they hope to earn enough money for airfare to The Alps.

Wearing their uniforms, Marvel Girl, Angel, and Cyclops show the construction-site foreman what kind of work three mutants can do with little effort. The fact that they're much better at this than human construction workers means that all the regular workers could possibly be fired and replaced with mutants does not occur to them. Luckily for the normies, this class-war issue is a non-starter because none of the mutants have union cards! 

Effing Scabs!

The fact that mutants can't work to earn money to save their unconscious and captive professor from an enemy hideout in the Alps is the best argument against unions I've ever heard! 

Even worse, not even one of the construction workers cat-called or whistled at Marvel Girl. Nor was she forced to doll out a sassy, psy-power-based comeuppance! Who is writing this issue? Honestly. You have the team begging for money in the streets and the old "whistling at a girl with superpowers turns hilarious for the whistler" trope is too lame for you to use? 

Anyway. To add insult to injury, while they were off wowing the construction guy, their Rolls Royce has been towed. Luckily, some student in a VW bug sees the injustice (?!) and offers them a ride. Immediately NOT sending up any red flags to the super team: The fact that this mysterious bug-driving stranger has a) a queerly heavy box in the back seat that he screams at them to KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF! and b) a serious chip on his shoulder against the world.

Mad On, apply it directly to your rage.
Mad On, apply it directly to your rage.
Mad On, apply it directly to your rage.

Bobby and Beast's busking goes bust when the boy who drove the VW Bug puts on a costume - A MEKANO COSTUME (HE LIVES!) - and promptly says that he is going to destroy some new Memorial Library (Thank for the spoilers! God!). He also shows his improv classes are paying off, because he - in the moment - works the X-Men into his act, implicating them as cohorts in his about-to-be crime. 

Also, I want to thank my mom, my agent, and Jesus.

So now this issue gets a mistaken identity AND a two-bit hack of a crook added into its cavalcade of laughs. Hilarity is about to ensue! (Meanwhile, somewhere abroad, Professor X is being tortured by Factor Three. Lol.)

Fists can hurt like words, Mekano!

After a battle that ends with Mekano (not "melanoma " as my auto correct thought it should be) trying to escape, only to fall short of a rooftop and plummet to his certain death -except that Marvel Girl steps in to save him - a well-heeled swell shows up and reveals that he is the benefactor of the library that Melanoma had sworn to destroy. Unmasking the villain ... Melanoma is the rich dude's son! Whoops. Looked like its another "daddy never loved me, boo hoo" stories with the son crying out for attention ... as a super powered villain. THAT old chestnut!

"Wait! Wait... no. No YOU'RE still the guilty one. Lock my son up, officer."

On the upside, for not killing his boy and for turning a blind eye to his terrible parenting, the Richey Richerson wants to reward them. But Cyclops, ever the goody goody, says they don't want a reward, just a LOAN so they can buy their plane tickets. He's totally the ass-kid who raises his hand to let Professor X know that he forgot to assign them homework. Mutant homework! [2 + 2 = SNIKT!]

SO, all's well that ends well. We swell the laugh track. Freeze the frame. Fade to black. Roll the credits. Everything's back to normal. Except for Xavier who is a prisoner of a deadly band of mutants, of course.

FINAL THOUGHTS!
It is just kind of weird to put a mostly goofy episode here, amid the panic over the Professor's capture. It's like Schindler doing the old "ladder bit" mid-movie.




Wanna read the source materials? Have fun with THAT! It's here in:
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men - Volume 4

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Amazing Spider-Man Tie-In (Issue #35)

A story in which the X-Men meet Spider-Man?! Could I have planned this any better, since there is currently a movie in theaters which includes that character?! No! The answer is no! This coincidence will get my blog an extra dozen clicks, over the next year or so! Thank you Spider Gods above (and below) and all involved with the movie (above and below). I shall retire on the extra pay-per-click advertising revenue ... if ... if only I'd signed up for that. DAMN YOU SPIDER GODS and your lack of pay-per-click advertising programs!

SUMMARY!
The Banshee has located the hide-out of Factor Three. [The evil global organization bent on the destruction of the X-Men. Also: They kidnapped Professor X - cleverly abducting him while he was unconscious and while the X-Men were out taking care of more important business (more important than caring for an old man in a coma?! What HAS mutant health care come to?! Death Panels.)] Anyway, the location of F3 (as I shall call Factor Three, despite their name having only two "f"s in it - I'm playing on the factor math joke) is in a mountain and protected by a giant robot spider.

It's humming because it doesn't know the words...
or it's equipped with a DEATH RAY. Either or.

The metalo-arachnid (that's Latin! [Well... Latin-esque (which is French! [well... French-esque. Esquire.])]) ZOTS (blasts) Banshee with a ZOT-O-RAY and almost paralyzes him. Luckily, he escapes by toppling off the cliff. But he has JUST enough energy left to save himself from becoming a stain on the rocks below ... then fly back to his headquarters ... then place a long-distance call to X-Men headquarters. As he's making the call (arguably the least strenuous part of his ordeal), THAT'S when he truly runs out of steam and passes out, but not before delivering a half-message of, "Beware of the spider!"

The fact that Spider-Man is on the cover tells me that we are heading towards a misunderstanding of Lucille-Ballian proportions. ["Wah! Why won't Ricky put the giant spider in the show? WHA!" "Oh, giant spider! Sometimes you make me SO MAD!") Meh.

Obviously Banshee skipped out the day his journalism class learned about the inverted pyramid. Or he didn't attend journalism school at all. But, honestly, maybe he should have started with something a little more helpful? like a location? Or something IMMEDIATELY important. Though, I guess we're lucky he didn't begin, "My dearest X-Men. How does this day find you ..."

So, Banshee passes out and is captured / possibly killed by Factor Three.

Meanwhile some unimportant kid named Peter Parker is out for a joyride in Westchester when a flying saucer lands and spits out a giant metal spider who immediately attacks him. Also: Peter Parker is Spider-Man. [Sorry, didn't mean to ruin the new movie for anyone!]

A Day-Trip Ex Machina, eh?
Also: Isn't a "lost weekend" what alcoholics have?

Now, let's rejoin the X-Men as they jump to conclusions! They get a warning from Cerebro about some new threat on New York soil and head out to investigate. BUT, by the time the X-Men arrive on the scene, Spider-Man has taken care of the spider robot. (And, in the way that all giant metal spiders do, it self-destructed, leaving nothing - not a trace! - behind. At least Factor Three uses clean, green technology. (Take only lives, leave only spider footprints.) Now! Lest the audience forget, Angel has kindly reminded us during the drive out to investigate, that Banshee CLEARLY mumbled something incomplete about "Beware of the spider." Remember? Good, because that's the reason why: FIGHTFIGHTFIGHT!

"Hey guys! What's up?" Spidey says, before he sees the murderous intent in the X-Men 's eyes and wisely goes on the defensive-maneuvers. Despite Spider-Guy continually asking, "What's this about?!" they keep attacking! Then Cyclops gets the brilliant idea that he could unleash a particularly nasty eye-beam that would kill Spider-Man. "Whoa!" says the poindexter side of him, maybe we should talk it out? So he stops and the do what they should have done - what mother has always told you is the first stage in conflict negotiations - sat down and talked it out. (Making sure there were ample dye-packs in the stacks of bills.)

Meanwhile, back at X-quarters, Marvel Girl's been left behind, presumably to do some laundry and "tidy the place up while the men folk are out working, eh, toots?" Good thing she's eager to fill that stereotypical roll, because while cleaning, she finds a post it note from Professor X.

From the brain of Professor X: Ha! That cracks me up EVERY
TIME. Anyway, must remember to tell the X-Men about the secret
communicator I put in Banshee's headband when he wasn't looking.
Do this before I get kidnapped or something silly like that. Lol.

So she tries to raise Banshee on the headband-o-phone, but he doesn't answer. This is not surprising to us, the audience, since we know he's unconscious and in a cell in the Alps. "ALPS"! Now THERE'S a terse one-word message that Banshee could have sent, instead of "Beware of the spider..." Whatever. This issue sickens me with it's all-too-convenient misunderstandings, mcguffins, and Egg McGuffins [McDonalds's new breakfast sammich that is just a BIT too convenient, if you ask me].

Also revealed by Stay-At-Home-Jean: IMMEDIATELY after the X-others left, Cerebro quieted down and went to sleep. So either Jean has the woman's touch that can calm a colic Cerebro or Spider-Man isn't the person they should be worried about. Also, what kind of dolts just blindly follow the word of a computer?! Even back in the 60s we were afraid of the computers taking over, yet here is a group of youngsters following whatever a machine says. These are the same type who would follow their GPS into a lake, then tell the cops, "I vas just followink orders!" Whoa, I'm mixing all sorts of metaphors, now. Better wrap this up.

She decided to pass this valuable information along (after enough time has passed to give the audience a thrilling couple of pages of hot Man-on-Spider-Man action, natch) and they all have a good laugh about it. Not really. What really happens is that the X-men try to apologize and Spidey tells 'em to get stuffed. And good for him! Then he swings off back to his own comic where only bad guys are trying to kill him. 

Don't give Spider-Man a handout ... give him a handUP.
[NYC Subway anti-homeless poster from the 90s.]

The only important thing to come from these many pages is that Marvel Girl has located where Prof X is (using the headband of Banshee to triangulate... or something). Turns out, they're being held in a "central European mountain range". So it's Vaguestan again!

OH! I guess the other important thing revealed in this issue is that X-Men sales were starting to flag, so they gave their monthly totals a boost by injecting the Spider-Dude in there for some lucrative crossover dollars!

God! What another waste of an issue. I'm starting to doubt my life choices. But I know the three of you who are reading would be absolutely CRUSHED if I stopped. So I must soldier on! It's all for YOU, Damien! [Also: I assume all of my followers names are "Damien".]

Added to my auto correct dictionary: Spidey




Wanna read the source materials? It's covered in:
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men - Volume 4

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mole People Are People, Too (Issue #34)

SUMMARY!
With Xavier abducted and Cerebro ONCE AGAIN smashed and unusable, the X-Men are working tirelessly, around the clock to fix the mutant-fining computer before anything serious can happen to the professor. (Anything serious? Like being captured by a shadowy evil organization called "Factor Three" and possibly killed?!)

The boys are working so tirelessly, in fact, that ONCE AGAIN Jean has to step up and fill the "mother role" that all women were expected to fill, back then, no matter how young they were, when mixed in with a lot of men.

Hot.

So, progress goes along on Cerebro until Jean receives a phone call from Ted. Remember Ted? Of course you don't! Ted is the brother of the guy that got bonked on the head and became Cobalt Man [See ish #31]. Now you remember! It's like a terrible nightmare you tried to forget, isn't it? Anyway, this happens:

He's REALLY into The Karate Kid.

Ted just called ... to say ... his brother's gone missing. (And he means it from the bottom of his heart.) [I've been making a lot of lyrical references lately, haven't I? Weird. DEAL WITH IT!] Ted's brother, having put his exploding Cobalt armor behind him, has been working on a digging machine that would carry people to the core of the Earth. A way more sensible pursuit, in some ways. In others, a terrible idea because of kidnapping by mole-men reasons! 

SIDE QUEST TIME!

Having learned all they know about helping people from the Zelda line of Nintendo games, The X-Men are willing to carry out any request made of them, by any NPC. ["I WOULD move out of your way, so you can go kill Ganon, who I know is making everyone's lives - including mine - terrible and sad, but ... I'm just so thirsty. Get me a barrel of carbonated rainwater from the mountains, first!" God! Gorons are assholes! THERE! I SAID IT!]

Jean, Iceman, and Angel head off to investigate while Scott and Beast stick around to keep fixing Cerebro. Since they refuse to follow the instructions that came in Cerebro's box, it's slow going. Men, right?! Ladies? You feelin' me, here, right?! [Mid-90's sexist comedy left us too early, so I'm trying a revival. Also: WAZUUUUUP?!]

The chasm AND the audience, by this time.

But what IS up?! [SEGUE!] Well, the X-Men use Ted's brother's fancy digging car to drill underground where they immediately get stuck between a rivalry between two equally awful underground dwelling despots: The Mole Man and Tyrannus. Each has built a giant robot to destroy the other's giant robot. It's like the missile race meets RoboJocks, but with more cobalt. [Yes, COBALT makes its triumphant return to the pages of X-Men! Is this series sponsored by the Cobalt Commission? "The touch, the feel, of COBALT!" (TM)]

Tyrannus is the one who captured Ted's brother (Ralph) [I'd just like to point out that I did not have to reference the comic to remember his name was Ralph. These names are now taking up space in my brain along with Pythagoras's theory, how to tie my shoes, and the words to "The Lumberjack Song". ALL IMPORTANT INFORMATION!]. Tyrannus is forcing Ralph to use his knowledge of advanced cobalt-ing to cover a robot in ... cobalt! [Man, I have to try some of that cobalt, it sounds GREAT!]

Mole Man: From a time when Super Villains could look like
your chubby guidance counselor.

Meanwhile, the other awful despot of the underground world [vote for the awful underground ruler you hate the least, lest you find yourself ruled by the one you hate the most - THIS is the major flaw in the two-party, underground-kingdom system], The Mole Man, uses a stinky river to wipe the minds of the X-Men and make them slaves that he will employ, along with his DIAMOND-covered robot, to destroy Tyrannus.

Contact High Creek
(Behind old man Willie Nelson's place)

Now, round about this time, Beast and Cyclops are descending the tunnel that Jean, Angel, and Iceman had previously made with their borrowed earth-car. Um. Since in the scene when they were originally drilling, someone mentioned that they were 20 MILES down, it's hard to believe that Cyclops and the Beast used a ROPE to get down there - and do it in record time. [I will believe that a man has grown wings to fly, and that another man can shoot force beams of variable strength from his eyes, depending on the situation, and that another man can turn into ice, despite the very rigid laws of thermodynamics, and that a woman can use her mind to move objects yet cares not a wit about gender equality, and that yet another man can be a beast [according to my spinster aunt, all men are]. I will even believe in Santa Claus way past when all the other kids in my class have stopped to do so and it becomes somewhat awkward for my family in group social situations around the holidays! But I will NOT believe ... wait ... what was I saying? Something about vertical distances, right? d=1/2gt2?

Let's move this thing along, as it's getting late! So the two giant robots are activated and they start to fight. Who are we routing for? The bad guy or the other bad guy? Does it matter? NOPE! Then the mind-controlled Angel throws dirt in the face of the Cobalt Robot and it gets confused, trips, and explodes. [See over there --->]

But why did it explode? Because Ted's brother, Ralph, has more stones than all the X-Men combined. See, even though he was threatened with death if he didn't coat Tyrannus' robot with indestructible cobalt, he went ahead and inserted some explod-y particles, too. That's the kind of guy Ted's brother, Ralph, is. (The kind that'll sneak explosives into your high-end electronics. Hope you weren't attached to your hifi system...)

Further more, he then socks Tyrannus on the jaw in a last ditch effort to sock Tyrannus on the jaw. Looks like the X-Men weren't needed, this week. Maybe they should have continued looking for Xavier, instead of side-questing? Prioritizing is not taught at Xavier's School.

Well, hope you X-Mens had a nice vacation ... down, in the underground. You'll find someone true. Down in the underground. A land serene, a crystal moooooooon. DANCE MAGIC!

Oh, and to wrap up, both Tyrannus and The Mole are punished by having to sniff that weird river so that they lose all their memories. Yeah.

FINAL THOUGHTS!
This might be the worst issue in a long, long time. It was just drab. It seemed to be treading water. No real story movement, and it ends with the X-Men in the same place they were at the start: Having to fix Cerebro to find Professor X and Factor Three. "Two steps forward, two steps back" -DJ Scatcat.



Wanna read the source materials? It's covered in:
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men - Volume 4

Monday, July 9, 2012

Juggernaut 2: Electric Juggaloo (Issue #33)

Here's a weird thing to notice, being that I'm a 35 year old (young!) man ... and certainly not some pimply adolescent with ridiculously raging hormones that would cause me to notice such a thing in a COMIC BOOK .... And it's probably making it even weirder for you all, now that I've pointed that out, too, but I think it bears mentioning:
This issue is, as far as I can tell, the first time that we've seen Jean Grey's cleavage. 


Either this man is dead, or my boobs have stopped.
(Classic gag)


Look, the uncomfortable perviness of making you, good reader, stare at drawn woman cleavage aside, I think it bears pointing out (pointing out like her BOOBS, up there! Yowza! She could put someone's eye out!), though, because it reflects not only the social attitudes of the time, but also showing a possible shift in who the audience is for these stories. For the first time in history, kids are expecting to see cleavage. (Well, either that or a more adult audience is reading the comics, at this point. Either way works for me!) [Weird that one thin, straight line can spark so much prurient interest!]


Though, I could be assigning too much cultural meaning to this, and the real answer is that the artists are just getting more randy. Well, I've spent way too much of this post's word-budget (I pay for everything over 1,000 words) on talking about this subject, so let's get on with the story:


SUMMARY! 
So, while the X-Men flaunt their chests while running tests on Xavier ("Weird, his heart-rate goes up the farther I lean over" - Jean) to make sure he is still alive, Juggernaut is off looking for a plane to hijack. Remember: He has been mentally contacted by the evil organization "Factor Three" and asked to join them in their diabolical mission. What is it? I doubt the writers even know, at this point. But alls Juggsy knows it that there is a Factor Three meet-up in Europe, and he has to get there. As he would have to pay for a second seat (Follow @ThatJuggernaut for updates on his "too Jugger to fly" saga), stealing a plane is the only way he can get there.


Back at the X-Mansion, Jean puts away her breasts and takes out a silly headband. A gloriously silly headband that will a) make Pat Benatar jealous and b) help her mind receive images from the unconscious Prof. 


Due to contractual dispute, DishHeadband will drop
AMC. If you want to keep seeing such quality
shows as Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The
Walking Dead, contact DishHeadband today!


What Jean learns is that someone named "The Ancient One" once defeated the guy who was guarding the gem that turned Cain Marko into the Juggernaut. So the X-Sleuths fire up the ole Cerebro to try and mentally find this "The Ancient One" to enlist his help. 


Since Cerebro is a rotary model (kids, ask your parents) it's easy to miss-dial, so they accidentally reach the ghostly-form answering service of Dr. Strange. ("If this is a strange emergency, please go to the emergency room.") But IS it a miss-dial, after all? 


"Despite what arriving, in ghost form, through a wall might suggest,
they call me "Strange" because I like putting potato chips on my sandwiches."


Turns out, The Strange One says that he's absorbed the essence of The Ancient One. Ew! But anyway, super-absorbent Strange teaches Cyke and Jean some type of chant (Here We Go MU-TANTS, Here We Go! *clapclap*), then uses his magic powers of vanishing (vanishing and absorbency? "Dr. Strange Brand Paper Towels: They clean up the terrible messes .... from BEYOND!!!"TM) to send Cyclops and Miss Grey off to where the Cyttorak ruby lives. It's amazingly easy to find, so they start their chant right away ... but something must be wrong (oh dear, don't things ALWAYS go wrong when you chant an incantation around a mystical ruby! Honestly, if I had a dime for every time I accidentally called up the wrong demon with my chanting....) because instead of whatever was supposed to happen (which we are left unsure of what that was supposed to be) this crazy pair of will they / won't they love birds are pulled into the gem where they must face ... The Outcast! [Some people thank that their sh@t don't stank...]


Attack, my Delfa Roll minions!
ATTACK WITH RED  LICORICE FLAVOR!


Meanwhile, in the Real World (Where Puck just stuck his finger into a jar of peanut butter - truuuUUUuue stoh-hor-rays!) the other Men of X are doing the best they can at delaying the Juggernaut from reaching an airplane. And by "best they can" I mean "making a farce of it and demeaning themselves as well as everyone else who calls themselves a super hero". 


Oh, that Bobby! Always so polite when declining
an invitation to his own murder!


Now back to the inside of the Ruby of Cyttorak (where, presumably, the Crimson Cosmos is stored?) Jean and Cyclops defeat The Outcast with a ticking watch. For reals! The ticking, like, reminds him of his own mortality and what-not... Which it SHOULD because hearing a ticking watch makes him age, rapidly, before our very eyes. It's especially cruel because Cyclops is like, "That's enough" and Jean is all, "I'm trying to stop it, but the watch has a mind of its own!" (she then followed it up by taunting, "Stop aging yourself! Stop aging yourself". Cruel.) Once The Outcast implodes, the kids are free to grab the prototype Ruby of Cyttorak, which is stored here, inside the Crimson Cosmos, which is stored inside the Ruby of Cyttorak v2.0. For clarification: It's like storing your cuff links inside a cuff link-shaped box - which also happens to contain ANOTHER UNIVERSE.


Once the gem is obtained, Jean and Scott (Marvel Girl and Cyclops) are returned to the real world [where people stop being polite]. Specifically, at the Mansion. I point this out for no specific reason, other than that the writers pointed it out, too. I suppose they did it because then, right after the kids scamper away to help defeat Juggernaut, we see a pair of shadowy figures break into the mansion to do ... SOMETHING! Really driving it home how unlucky / bad at being superheroes these kids are.


What do the break-in-ers do? We don't know! But we do know that the Professor is in there and still unconscious! Are the invaders stealing him? killing him? Drawing phalluses on his forehead and posting the pictures to Facebook? How will he ever get a good job with those floating around out there?! 


You know the expression, "Never bring a ruby to a Juggernaut fight?" Me neither. And there isn't such an expression, because it turns out to be an exceedingly GREAT thing to do! It has the effect of weakening Sir Juggs A Lot. But, though big, Juggyboy isn't stoopid, he realizes what's going on and he grabs the ruby away  from Cyclops. (Presumably to see if there an "off" button?) The final laugh is on Irresistible Force Man because once he touches it, the gem engulfs him and pulls him into the Crimson Cosmos ... FOREVERuntilsweepsweek! 


Is he vanishing, or is this a meat chart of the
"Common Cuts of the North American Juggernaut"?


Upon their return to the mansion Xavier is gone! But we already knew he would be, right, so no surprises here. Wait. I mean: Dunn Dunn dunnnnnnn!! SHOCKING!


FINAL THOUGHTS
So, here we are, exactly half way through the original run of the X-Men. Half way through the "Silver Age" stuff. I'll admit, faithful readers, some of it has been really tough already. Some of it had been slow going. But most of it has been fun. It really might be like watching your kid grow up [I dunno, I don't have kids ... and now that I have the X-Men, I don't wanna em! [Marvel should use that as a pull-quote: "Jeff Somogyi raves: A comic so good, it males people stop having kids!"]] But, I'm assuming, like having a child, no matter how messed up it becomes, I'll still love it. And, like a child, I can't wait until it grows up so I can have an intelligent conversation with it. And, like a child, I'm sick of changing its diapers. And, like a child, I can't wait until it grows to resent me.



Wanna read it in its entirety? Hey, that's your prerogative! This story is covered in:
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men - Volume 4

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What's Behind Door #1?! (Spoilers: It's Juggernaut) (Issue #32)

The scene opens on a normal, American pass time: Eating and self-celebration! USA!USA!USA!

Look in the back, there. Feel the disdain in the eyes of those looking on.
"Typical American excess! I wouldn't eat a piece of that
cake even if they offered one ... not that they offered one."
Normal?! HOW NORMAL IS THIS?!:

Look at the shadow, there. Feel the disdain in its eyes!
"Typical American excess! I wouldn't eat a piece of that
cake even if they offered one ... not that they offered one." 
How normal IS a shadow with white eyes?! Is Juggernaut wearing those glasses with lights on the sides that you see spelunkers, tinkers, and the insane wear? Otherwise, how are we seeing a shadow with eyes? Maybe since last we met him, he's drilled diabolical-eye holes through his head, and he is standing in front of a spotlight? Maybe! Also: How normal is this scene when five sixths of the table are mutants ... mutants who both sass the "normie" at the table ("Wait until you taste it!"? Bitch) and who don't mind doing the clean-up afterwards. That's the freakiest thing about them, ever. Though, that is coming from Scott, and we all have our suspicions that he has some form of neatness OCD, right? "I used my force beam to fold my clothes!" Freak.

So, this is Bobby's 18th birthday, is it? Either he started out at age 14 in issue #1 ... or there is such a thing as "Marvel Time". The hateful, brain-hurtful answer is that Marvel Time is a real thing and that people discuss it here. You can read about it, but it'll give you a headache (or, like me, you'll simply toss it aside with a dismissive "that's some nerd shit, right there" before you get even a couple paragraphs into the explanation). For the easiest way to continue to read these comics without worry about why Bobby Drake never gets much older than he is right now, just try and not be so worried about such things. These are, after all, COMIC BOOKS. Ok? Just hang loose, man. [HangLoose Man will make a brief appearance in the 80's when the X-Men visit Hawaii. His powers: Like, whatever, man? But he'll defeat the evil tiki and the Bradys'll be safe once more.]


One more thing about this first panel of the comic book, before I move on: Though I cut it off in the screen grab up there, there is an apology from the editors for this story being a two-parter! You don't see THAT these days! "Oh, sorry we bilked you out of twice as much cash to line out pockets and buy gold-plated 12-sided dice with!" Where was this apologistic outpouring in the mid-90s, when I was spending more than I earned in allowance money to buy the six or seven X-Men titles that I'd need to keep up with the story?! Weren't so concerned THEN, were you Marvel?! [Patience. Patience, Jeff. Save this anger for when we start recapping those issues. Don't waste all your righteous indignation now!] [ Good idea, Jeff.I'll calm down.] [Good. Now stop talking to yourself, the readers will think you've gone mad.] [Moreso than they already do, considering I'm a 30-something blogging all 50 years of the X-Men?] [Point taken.]


AND, I'm back!


ANYHOO! [Like "anyhow", but said by your dad] While bobby and the gang celebrate with their beatnik friends at the Coffee A Go-Go [which is what I shall be calling Starbucks, from now on, thank you], Professor Xavier is back at the mansion finishing work on ... something! This Something will finally allow him to confront another SOMETHING that is hidden behind that secret door in the basement. [Remember when Cyclops had to run down there to get another O2 tank, because they needed to capture Banshee and he was all, "Hey, there's a mysterious door down here?!" Yeah. That door. [Also: God help you if you remember that. I HAVE to, because of my weird X-Men obsession. Why do you?!]] 

That must be some key, to open a door with no keyhole.

I'll choose to see what's behind Door Number Mysterious, Wink! OOOH! It's a brand new ... 


Chained man in your basement? Nothing weird about that!


OK, so NOT brand new ... more like bruised, battered, and comatose Cain Marco! (Prof X's half brother and the dude known as the Juggernaut.) Sure. I guess the last time the X-Dudes put him down, they never did say what they did with the remains. Turns out, Prof X is a BIT of a hoarder, and stuffed him down in the basement next to boxes upon boxes of Ziggy comic strips, cigar boxes, old clothes ... and a few mummified cats. (Don't throw them out, they have MEMORIES! [Shout-out to JG for that joke!])


Now back to the party which is rudely interrupted by a biker gang called Satan's Saints and their leader, Rocky Rhodes. Things ALMOST get tense, until we remember the party attendees are all EFFING MUTANTS WITH SUPER POWERS! But, wait! Hark! Alas! They can't USE them, lest they blow their mild-mannered squares-ville alter-egos!

What are they rebelling against? WHAT'VE YOU GOT ... in your pocketses?!
(Scene from "Gollum Without a Cause")

Despite remaining incognito, they STILL easily handle these two-wheeled terrors by doing their mutant-ing on the sly. All is well, and the coffee house crew doesn't dig their scene, nor is hip to their jive, or something.


STOP! LAB TIME!

It was an awkward moment when they both realized they'd show up to
the party dressed as Sputnik.

Meanwhile, Prof EX [FORESHADOWINGnoSPOILERS!] thinks it's a good idea to hook his brain up to Juggernaut's using an elaborate system of vintage hair-driers. [I know it's silly to call them vintage hair driers, because back then they were state-of-the-art.] The hope, here, is that Xavier can use his superior brain-age to drive the demon Cyttorak from his half brother's brain, freeing him from being Juggernaut. Instead, something else fights back and the machine explodes. The result is 3-part: 1) it frees the Juggernaut and 2) knocks out Xavier AND 3) gives Juggernaut mental powers of telepathy. Great. If there was a "worst case scenario" here, this is it. (Unless it also spontaneously generated a storm of sharks. Smart sharks. Ones that knew math and when to stop wearing white slacks. Chilling scenario.


Returning home from the party, the X-Men sense something is amiss, even before Cerebro starts shrieking. Which it does (shriek) because it's doing a Bjork impression! ZING, non-relevant singer! But, seriously folks, it's shrieking because Juggernaut has re-wired to detect not evil mutants, but the X-Mans themselves! Social commentary: Who are the REAL monsters?! Juggernaut. Juggernaut is the real monster, especially because he then attacks them, in just bit.

But before that happens, Cerebro falls over and breaks. Seriously. Like, the X-Men get to the Cerebro room (which unlike the movies is not a super-cool holo-room, but just a well-appointed study) and it just explodes. It's like Juggernaut rigged that to happen - and you KNOW he'll say he did - but it was clearly totally an accident. Hey, sometimes Evil-doing is all about taking credit where none is due. Though how Juggs claiming he can make heavy furniture fall over, from afar, will strike fear into someone's heart is hard to say. (Maybe if he wants to terrify a Chippendale collector?)

True to the pattern of these books, beats the crap out of the x-men.  Though,before he can bring the whole mansion down on them all, killing them, he is stopped by a mental contract from "Factor Three"

Juggernaut's motto: Why kill today what you can kill off tomorrow?
It was Factor Three who caused the explosion of the hair-dryer mind-machine and they who want to ally with Juggernaut. The Jugs-man checks his Google calendar and is all, "Sure, why not? I don't have nothing scheduled until Thursday." Then he leaves without killing any of the X-Men, even though it would have been no thang at all. (AND, c'mon! Killing the exes is probably what Factor Three's end-game is, anyway. Dunno why Juggerman didn't just finish them off now and save us all a couple future conflicts. Honestly, Juggernaut. Your biggest enemy is your inability to complete the projects set to you by your own brain. Also: you don't work well with others. I'm sorry, but we're going to have to let you go. Please turn in your key.)


[Are you wondering what Juggernaut has on his Google calendar on Thursday? Then you have a fine attention to detail and an inquiring mind. You're hired. Please accept this slightly used key that used to be Juggernauts.] [Also: It was Must-See TV. He loves Ross and Rachael's will they / won't they.]


So, this is a two-parter that I am also splitting up into a 2-part blog post. Partly because this was already getting too long and partially because I just want to post something, lest I put myself at risk of going another month without an update to the site. I WILL disappoint you again, some day ... but NOT TODAY!




Wanna read it all for yourself? This story is covered in:
Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men - Volume 4