Wednesday, March 26, 2014

X-Men #12

I have had something of an interesting relationship with the new X-Men series. There are times when I thought it was groundbreaking, there are times when I thought it was cloying and simplistic, but I have never stopped wanting it to be good. And so, I'm very pleased with the conclusion to the past story arc.

There were two unique and interesting things going on here, and the first was pragmatism. A lot of time in comics, there's a lot of this get to the fight mentality that really doesn't make a lot of sense in the context of the universe, where the ultimate goal is to protect people and not wage war in the middle of a city or something. Or, what's worse, is when the fight scenes are contrived from misunderstandings instead of conflict, where they could solve their problems easily if they just took two seconds to explain themselves.

Another problem one encounters in comics fairly often is what I'm going to call the "Joker Problem" where you have a dangerous character who kills people and a hero who refuses to kill. The end result is a lot of dead innocent people because the hero refuses to kill just one guy. (Not that this is something I think is wrong per se, because a good writer can handle this situation well.)

X-Men #12 goes straight to these problems and solves them. First is when Storm encounters two villains and suggests that they stop fighting. The villains really don't have a need to fight, so they agree and walk off. And that's it. Fucking, makes so much sense it's crazy.






This also highlights Storm's character. She seeks non-violent solutions first. This is important because we see Karima go straight for the kill in the next scene, and saw Monet curb stomp Enchantress is the previous scene. Storm don't roll like that.

The second instance is when they come to Arkea, the primary antagonist thus far. They decide that she is too dangerous to live and so they just...Well...





And that's it. Let me assure you that there is a dead body lying on the ground in the next panel. She didn't fire a bullet up into the air or anything like that. She straight up shot her in the head. But again, I feel that this is not brutal, but pragmatic. Whether it's a moral choice is another thing entirely, but nobody can say that wasn't a safe choice.

The second thing that this book is doing really well is the tensions and relationships within both teams. As you just saw, two antagonists weren't too heavily invested in their team, one committed suicide, one takes a single hit and then gives up. One hangs on until the end. The dynamic between Storm and Phoenix gets more interesting with every issue, and I'm interested to see where this goes. I'm also very happy to see that it is balanced. You can find yourself siding with Storm that Phoenix is frequently acting ridiculous and childish, or that Storm is taking her command too seriously and making too many harsh decisions. A lot of times when this dynamic is shown, you can easily say something like, "Well, Wolverine's the cool one, so I guess Cyclops is just being a dick." Not so here.
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