Collecting Uncanny X-Men #421-427
Writer: Chuck Austen
Artists: Ron Garney, Philip Tan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
“If you knew anything about women, handsome, you’d know there’s nothing more important than a man who can kiss.”
As if this writer knows anything about women. Irony, thy name is Chuck Austen.
We kick off volume three of the worst X-Men run ever with a two-part story called "Rules of Engagement." The first part is actually a pretty decent issue that gets readers caught up with the recent changes to status quo. Then the last page remembers it’s part one of a two-part story, so it throws Alpha Flight in at the last second. They’ve come to take Sammy back with them, because he’s a Canadian citizen – and they got permission from “the governor” that they could take Sammy back to Canada only if they also take every kid at Xavier’s with them. Breathe in, rub your eyes, and read that last sentence again, and then please try to make sense of it, because I sure as hell can’t.
Next comes Holy War, in which more women are revealed to be crazy, and a few male characters too. Havok is an insensitive dick who won’t stop mocking Nightcrawler and Cyclops is a raging prick who won’t stop berating Nightcrawler. Meanwhile, readers learn that religious figures in comics are always psychotic and evil, as the leader of the Church of Humanity wants to replace the current pope with Nightcrawler wearing an image inducer, only to later reveal to the public that Nightcrawler really looks like the devil, so maybe they’ll think the devil became the pope or something. Why not save themselves the trouble and just use an image inducer to stage a revelation that the current pope is actually a devil? Ah, it’s idiocy either way.
Sacred Vows brings to the fore all the terrible melodrama Austen’s been building from the beginning of his run. Northstar hangs out with the X-women at a bachelorette party as Polaris takes home with her a nobody dressed up like Gambit the night before the wedding. Iceman suddenly reveals that he’s been in love with Polaris after all these years (since the ‘60s issues) and then instantly decides to make out with nurse Annie. Cyclops gives inane romantic advice as Juggernaut skips a wedding ceremony to play pinball. And the reader knows from the outset exactly how things are going to end. Yawn.
The last story is a stand-alone piece that pretty quickly sums up everything that’s wrong with Chuck Austen’s sex obsession in two lines between Jubilee and Husk, the latter beginning by talking about her feelings for Angel: “I don’t want space, I want to get naked with him.” “I wish I could be naked with Angelo.” Did I mention that they have this exchange while standing on Angelo’s grave? Necrophiliarific! Oh – and in this story, yep, religion is still evil.
Can someone tell me why the cover of an X-Men series that takes place in the main Marvel Universe features Ultimate Wolverine on the cover? Anyone? Mike Marts? Oh, whoops, why would the then-editor of the book have any answers?
I really don’t get it. These are the X-Men, mutants who fight to protect a world that hates and fears them, right? So why does Austen make them act as ignorant, intolerant and offensive to each other as the very things they stand against?
And yet . . . in sinking so low, Austen has actually reached true Ed Wood levels of crap, at which point the reader actually gives up taking the stories seriously and they become somewhat entertaining as one of the most pyrotechnic car wrecks on this side of the road. Just how insane is Polaris? Just how weak is Alpha Flight’s reasoning? Just how evil is the Church? God forgive me, the stories are so brilliantly terrible that I have to nudge the score up a little for their shameless sensationalistic entertainment value.
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