Uncanny X-Men #423
January 12, 2009
The people who paid 25 cents for this comic were profoundly ripped off.
(Open on Linkara sitting on his futon)
Linkara: Chuck Austen is a fairly controversial figure in comics. He transitioned from pornographic comics into mainstream work, but while I could make a joke about that, sometimes his work wasn't that bad.
(Cut to several shots of a comic series called "Exiles")
Linkara (v/o): For example, I really enjoyed his work on the series "Exiles", a book that's kind of like "Sliders Meets the A-Team". I think he and some other writers work a lot better when they're working with characters either of their own creation or that have smaller backstories to them.
Linkara: Which is why it probably wasn't a good idea to hand him a book like "X-Men". As such, let's dig into (holds up comic of topic) "Uncanny X-Men #423".
(The cover for the comic is shown)
Linkara (v/o): This cover is awful and it makes no sense. It's a token shot of Wolverine coming out at the camera all badass-like with broken chains behind him. However, while Wolverine is in the issue, at no point is he chained up. Neither are chains featured, for that matter. And his outfit is apparently so tight that we can see every sinew of muscle on his body – even in places I didn't realize there were smaller muscles! Oh, and when did Wolverine pick up the anchored goatee? It just makes him look like a thinly-disguised villain and certainly not one of the most popular characters in comics. Surprisingly, this comic is priced at 25 cents. I'd like to think that was an indicator of how much faith Marvel Editorial had in the issue, but it was apparently done as a special promotion. One would think that Marvel would want to promote better material than this. (the comic opens to the first page) There's a recap page, but let me sum it up in one sentence: Teenagers have really complicated and crappy soap opera-like lives. (the comic proper begins now) We open the actual story with a montage of various scenes across the world. Included in this is a battle of Christian soldiers versus an unknown foe, a group of unidentified black people wearing islander wear and holding books... um, okay... a concentration camp, and an unidentified scene of a mass open grave with several dead individuals within it.
Linkara: (looking up) Bad comics kill.
Linkara (v/o): And on their own, these could've been somber scenes – except for the odd scene of the islanders holding books; what the hell was that about? But the narration captions ruin it all right from the start.
Text box: More people have died in the name of religion than have ever died of cancer. And we try to cure cancer.
Linkara: Okay, just how many stupid things can I count with just those lines? While it's certainly true that religious fanaticism, in one form or another, is responsible for countless death, trying to compare it to the amount of cancer deaths is not only ludicrous, but offensive!
Linkara (v/o): Cancer is a disease, and we have treatments for cancer. There isn't really a surgical procedure at the moment for "being blown to several million pieces by a suicide bomber" or "getting stabbed in the face during the Crusades". Trying to compare premeditated murder with a horrible disease is the height of insensitivity!
Linkara: (looking offscreen, deep voice) Gee, Billy, sorry you have a tumor, but at least you weren't made an example of by those wacko religious fanatics.
Linkara (v/o): On top of that, "And we try to cure cancer," is just terrible writing! Is the guy advocating that we should try to cure religious extremism?! Again, it's trying to say that a disease and a murderous belief system are somehow on an even keel! But anyway, we haven't even gotten to the actual story yet, so let's continue.
Text box: What is it about our specific belief in God and His wishes that make us so angry at the specific beliefs of another?
Linkara (v/o): Um, it isn't belief in God that does it; it's believing that God doesn't like other people's beliefs that does it.
Linkara: (smiling sarcastically) Some of us believe in God and don't have a problem with other people's beliefs, (becomes angry) unless those beliefs are the ones that say you should KILL PEOPLE FOR YOUR BELIEFS! (points at camera) BELIEVE IT!!
(Cut to a black screen with the following message on it: "My apologies to Naruto fans everywhere."; cut back t the comic again)
Text box: What makes us take arms against those who pray to the same God with different words--and make "Holy War" against them?
Linkara (v/o): Oh, now I'm seriously calling bullcrap on this! I can assure you that the general beliefs of Christians tend to not match the general beliefs of Muslims, nor do they match the general beliefs of Hindi, Buddhists, Shintoists, and etc. Saying that they are "the same God with different words" is unbelievably offensive to those who hold their beliefs and just ignorant of all the tenants and differences among the world's religions!
Linkara: Well, congratulations, Chuck Austin! I gave you the benefit of the doubt, and on the first page, you already FAIL!!
(The opening page is displayed in full, and the word "FAIL." flashes on the screen to a buzzer sound)
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, we switch to a two-page spread featuring a group of X-Men staring in shock at the fact that several members of their team have quite literally been crucified on their front lawn. The one closest to them has a sign on him that says "Evolution is not the will of GOD." I could also point out that it's not His will to nail people up on crosses, but I'm sure I'll understand the logic of this, thanks to this quote from Deuteronomy that often provides us with, "Do not follow other gods. God is jealous."
Linkara: If there's a Biblical scholar watching this, any chance you could explain how jealous God equals crucifixion? (looks at comic) Hey, wait a second. (he notices that it's a quote from "Deuteronomy 7:14") Guess what, people? "Deuteronomy 7:14" doesn't even say that! In fact, the quote comes from "Deuteronomy 6:15"! Did no one bother to double-check this?!
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and the crucifixions themselves?! The artist screwed up big time! Each X-Man that's nailed up has the spikes being driven through their palms and feet, and they're hanging limply from the crosses. This is quite impossible!
(A stick figure drawing of someone nailed to a cross is shown, illustrating what Linkara says below)
Linkara (v/o): The weight of the body can't be supported just from the palms. It'd rip the hands clean through! The only way this would work is if they had some sort of stool or something for their feet to stand on. Otherwise, the Romans would traditionally either tie the hands around the cross by the wrists or simply stab the nails through the wrists!
Linkara: Or maybe these X-Men have super weight reduction as part of their superpowers.
Linkara (v/o): On the next page, the narrator, now revealed to be Nightcrawler, gives a breakdown of the members of the team. First is Jean Grey, who by now must have a rotating coffin for popping her back up again with as many times as she's died.
Linkara (v/o): Sorry, sorry, I'll stop making references to the book's past. Jean announces that she's not picking up any thoughts or heartbeats, declaring them all dead. Next is Logan, whom Nightcrawler says is...
Nightcrawler: (narrating) "...often called Wolverine because he's short, tough, and has these hundred-inch claws that shoot out of each hand."
Linkara: Okay, religion and animal life – two things that Chuck Austen didn't do any research on.
Linkara (v/o): Wolverine yells at the group to get them down as we're introduced to Chamber and Husk. Chamber, according to Nightcrawler, is "a walking ad for how mutant ads can ruin a good jawline." Don't catch the mutant gift, kids; otherwise, it'll ruin your jawline! As for Husk, he'd "explain her mutant power, but it disturbs me too much." This from a guy who once appeared on a painted cover of a comic, butt naked in front of Wolverine without any intended comedy about the situation. For those wondering, Husk's ability is to shed her skin into a different element, which really isn't that disturbing compared to the guy with the energy coming out of his mouth, or the telepath of the cosmic bird for a soul!
Linkara (v/o): Sorry, sorry, sorry! To make a long story – too late – Cyclops agrees with Wolverine to get them down, and Iceman objects, thinking the police will want to see it. In turn, Cyclops has what we can an aerobic spazz attack, once again yelling to take them down. By the by, the X-Men tend to go through a lot of uniforms, and right now, they're wearing their worst: matching blue and yellow jackets, and Cyclops in particular has it worst, with a huge-ass X across his torso. It looks like they're going on a ski trip than trying to fight evil mutants.
Linkara: (dramatically) The X-Men, performing death-defying snowboarding stunts in a world that hates and fears them!
Linkara (v/o): Cyclops tells Jean to contact the new nurse, Annie, and she complies, sending a telepathic call to her.
Jean: Annie? Annie, it's me, Jean. I need-- Annie, please stop screaming, it's just telepathy, it's not going to hurt-- well, when you pull yourself together, can you join us in front of the school?
Linkara: You know, if this is how they treat a regular human who is rightfully panicking when she's hearing a voice in her head communicating with her her, I've got to say I understand why Homo sapiens are afraid of these guys.
Linkara (v/o): Nightcrawler makes the comment that the police are going to be unhappy that they're tampering with a crime scene, but Wolverine proclaims...
Wolverine: When it comes to mutants-- we are the police.
(Cut to a shot of the made-up title for the show Law & Order – Mutant Division)
Linkara (v/o): Well, so much for Law and Order – Mutants Division.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): I certainly agree with Wolverine in this one, but it makes me scratch my head as to why Nightcrawler is so adamant about such a thing, since we know that the X-Men have more advanced technology available to them than local law enforcement.
Linkara: (frustrated) Oh, come on, it's part of the group's entire premise!
Linkara (v/o): The others see that Jubilee has also been crucified, and Wolverine runs to her. He and Iceman pull her down while Wolverine screams for help.
Wolverine: WHERE'S A HEALER?!
Linkara: (looking around) Where's a healer?! We need to travel into an instance!
Linkara (v/o): All of a sudden, Nightcrawler has his own spazz attack, looking up at the sky and screaming...
Nightcrawler: Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?
(Linkara is seen with a phone to his ear)
Voice on phone: This is God. Your call is very important to us.
Linkara (v/o): Jean telekinetically carries two bodies back into the school as Nurse Annie asks who could do such a terrible thing to them? Iceman responds that it was by people who don't like mutants, saying her name sanctimoniously to make her feel bad about her own prejudices. Nightcrawler's narration pipes in with...
Nightcrawler: (narrating) Annie the human. Annie the "enemy."
Linkara (v/o): Erm, maybe I haven't read any X-Men books in a while, but I was under the impression that Professor Xavier thought that humans and mutants weren't supposed to be enemies!
(The buzzing heard for the continuity alarm malfunctions, as Linkara reaches offscreen and grabs and pulls something; he pulls away a disk drive, silencing the alarm)
Linkara: (looking into camera with annoyance) Oh, come on! You were all sick of that joke!
Linkara (v/o): Once again being a flip-flopper, Nightcrawler on the next page says in narration...
Nightcrawler: (narrating) Don't go there, Bobby.
Linkara (v/o): ...and then spouts out more Bible quotes, since, you know, that makes this whole thing more deep. Deeply stupid, mind you, but deep. In the next scene, Angel is lying in the middle of the medical bay with wires hooked up to him and all the dead X-Men. Apparently, Angel had healing blood that they hope will bring them back to life. Wolverine, still screaming, asks how long it's going to take. Angel tells him to calm down and reassures Husk that he'll be fine.
Angel: You go worry about Jubilee and Angelo.
Linkara (v/o): And, you know, the four or five other dead friends of yours, too, perhaps?! Cyclops pulls Nightcrawler aside, starting to give him instructions about assembling his squad. Nightcrawler interrupts, saying it's not just his team anymore. Cyclops states...
Cyclops: It is your team, Kurt. You wanted more responsibility and Xavier gave you the second squad. Whether you choose to follow up on the responsibility given to you is your business-- but you are the team leader.
Linkara: (confused) So... wait, he's the team leader, but he doesn't have to follow up on the responsibility of it if he doesn't want to, and if you're barking out orders to him to take the responsibility of it... Is anyone following this logic?
Linkara (v/o): Nightcrawler states that he split his leadership responsibility with Angel, but Cyclops interrupts him by saying that he...
Cyclops: ...found it easier to be liked if you didn't have to make the unpopular decisions. So you left those to Warren in order to continue being everyone's happy-go-lucky best friend.
Linkara (v/o): He continues by giving a speech about leadership.
Cyclops: Being a leader isn't about being a friend, or being liked.
Linkara: Well, I guess that explains why most fans think Cyclops is a stuck-up asshole. He is.
Cyclops: It's about making the right decisions no matter how tough they are-- or how unpopular they make you. So get your team in the conference room-- and do it now.
Linkara (v/o): Look, I agree with Cyclops here, but is now really the best time to be giving lectures? Annie warns they're getting close to a pint of Angel's blood, and he tells her to keep going. Nightcrawler shows up to bring Husk to the meeting. She refuses, but Angel tells her to go with Nightcrawler, saying...
Angel: You're really just wasting your time, anyway.
Linkara (v/o): Geeze, why is everyone on this team a complete asshole?! Cyclops gives lectures about leaderships while some of his friends just died, Iceman is more worried about the police being upset than his friends dying, Jean Grey just rolls her eyes when someone panics about her telepathic messages, and Angel's telling Husk that she's wasting her time caring about him! This team really needs a weekend retreat or something! Annie scolds Angel for his statement, defending Husk and saying that she suspects that she likes him a lot. Angel responds that he knows, but that she loves Chamber. Annie, reacting with a wonderful bedside manner, responds...
Annie: What? The kid without a mouth? Please! There's nothing to kiss!
Linkara: Would it help if I told you to kiss my ass?
Annie: If you knew anything about women, handsome, you'd know there's nothing more important than a man who can kiss.
Linkara (v/o): Because his personality has nothing to do with what a woman likes in a guy. Switching scenes over to "The War Room", we once again find Nightcrawler reciting Bible lines. I'd talk about them here, but frankly, they're the only good pieces of writing in the comic – in the sense that they were written by someone other than the comic's writer. Cyclops wants to know who's responsible for the attack and that he wants...
Cyclops: ...hints, clues, rumors, psychic impressions, whatever you've got-- and then we're going to find these monsters!
Linkara: Um, Cyclops, you see all that technology around you? How about you punch up some camera footage or something that might show you the people who DID IT?!
Linkara (v/o): Havok brings up the idea that, with the crosses and all, it's likely that it was the Church of Humanity that attacked them. Cyclops doesn't know what he's talking about. Nightcrawler explains...
Nightcrawler: ...a bunch of clowns who think mutantkind is against God. Our team has faced them a few times in different circumstances.
Linkara (v/o): Cyclops quickly asks several questions at once.
Cyclops: How many times? What's their background? Where are they located and why weren't we briefed on them?
Linkara (v/o): Nightcrawler starts to answer, but as soon as he brings up how we assume Angel had briefed him, Cyclops goes nuts, yelling at him!
Cyclops: Dammit, Kurt! Are you brain-dead?! DID YOU or DID YOU NOT ask Xavier for more responsibility at this school?!
Linkara: I mean, I should maybe adopt a pet or something, Cyclops! Geeze!
Linkara (v/o): Again, is this really the best time to be giving Nightcrawler a lecture about the finer points of command? Some of your teammates may have just died, and it was due to a terrorist attack! Worry about that kind of crap after you've captured the killers! But no, Cyclops rants about how it's Nightcrawler's responsibility to keep the other teams afraid of potential threats.
Cyclops: Especially if your team has failed to effectively deal with them.
Linkara: Gee, Cyclops, you're right. Say, how's the Hellfire Club these days? Or "Apocalypse"? Or "Mr. Sinister"?
Linkara: Oh, pipe down, you.
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, back in the medical bay, Angel is getting lightheaded from all the blood being drained from him. Or maybe it's just confusion about why Wolverine is still in the room when he told Husk she was wasting her time. Annie tells Angel that there's no change in the conditions of the others, and Wolverine confirms this, sadly ordering Annie to cut off the feed. Angel objects, trying to get them to hold off a little longer.
Annie: Warren, I can't. Your healing thingie isn't replacing your blood as fast as I'm draining it.
Linkara (v/o): "Healing thingie"?! You're a trained nurse in a universe that includes gods, mutants and aliens, and "healing thingie" is how you describe it?!? Jubilee suddenly wakes up from being dead. Wolverine goes down and grumbles to her that she had just died. Jubilee responds...
Jubilee: Dude. You ever hear the words "Mouth Wash?"
Linkara: Ever hear of "You just came back from the dead and no one is the slightest bit overjoyed or asking about the theological implications of ALL THIS?!?!?!"
Linkara (v/o): Back in the war room, Cyclops wonders why the Church of Humanity in other fights at first didn't want to fight the team, but then began directly engaging them. He asks what changed about the circumstances with Nightcrawler specifically. Wait, why Nightcrawler? Sure, he's an important part of a plot point later on, but Cyclops doesn't know that. Nightcrawler says that the only major difference was that he renounced his priesthood. Havok is shocked to discover that he was a priest, and Nightcrawler wonders why it's so hard to believe.
Havok: Well, no offense, but look at you, pal. How would that work? Are you talking about being a priest to just mutants?
Linkara: Nice work paving the way for a peaceful future between mutants and humans, Havok. Real smooth.
Linkara (v/o): Iceman's more surprised that the X-Men weren't invited to the ceremony. Nightcrawler says that they were invited and that they attended. Everyone stares at him in disbelief... or rather, with apathy, shock, confusion, boredom and surprise. Back in the infirmary, most of the others who had been dead are getting up. However, all is not well, as Angelo is still dead.
Linkara: (distraught) Oh, my God! Angelo is dead! No! NNNOOOOOOOOOO!!! (crying) WHY, CRUEL WORLD?!? WHY DID YOU HAVE– (stops crying abruptly) Wait, who's Angelo?
Linkara (v/o): For some reason, we have a single panel of Nightcrawler holding his head, as Havok asks him what the Church could gain by making him think he was a priest, with Nightcrawler answering that he doesn't know. The scene switches to St. Michael's Church in Brooklyn, and from the looks of the page, the X-Men landed the Blackbird right in the middle of the flippin' street! Nightcrawler explains that this was the place where he thought he was doing his priestly duties under a man named Father Whitney. It was also where he remembers his ordination ceremony taking place. The others confirm that they don't recall ever being there, and Jean informs us that...
Jean: There is some psychic residue of someone tampering with your mind, Kurt.
Linkara (v/o): Oh, gee, thanks, Jean, for telling us this rather useful bit of information NOW! Honestly, would it have been that difficult to clue Nightcrawler into the fact that it was likely his brain was getting screwed around with?!
Linkara: (dramatically) The X-Men, being complete and utter jerks in a world that rightfully hates and fears them!
Nightcrawler: In a way, I'm almost relieved to hear you say that, Jean. I'd begun to question Father Whitney recently, in spite of his warmth and friendship toward me. It's funny how kindness is often more truly just a pleasant act of selfishness, isn't it?
Linkara (v/o): Wow, real deep, Kurt. Oh, I get it; that's why everyone is a jerk – kindness equals selfishness, and using the law of inverses, being an asshole equals altruism. Oh, and he also narrates another Bible quote*. Look, you can't just inject random quotes and expect it to be deep and meaningful! Cyclops tells Wolverine to cover their backside and for Polaris to go in from the back. Let's see, guy who can regenerate from any injury, and girl who can control metal – like, you know, the stuff that tends to be in a lot of churches – can cool their heels while a group that isn't exactly indestructible goes headfirst into an unknown area with the potential of multiple engagements against forces that can tamper psychically with your brain. Remind me again why Cyclops is the leader? Oh, yeah, he has to make those "unpopular but necessary moves that nobody else likes to do."
- NOTE: The quote is: "'Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel are smooth lips with an evil heart.' --Proverbs 26:23".
Linkara: Maybe they're so unpopular because they're downright stupid!
Linkara (v/o): In any case, the group enters and finds the church empty. Nightcrawler believes that he was indeed at the church, since he knew people saw him leave the mansion, and that he never made a secret of the fact that he was training to be a priest. Havok, once again demonstrating how Xavier's lessons of tolerance and sensitivity are not wasted, says...
Havok: But how, Kurt? I mean, come on. Look at you. You're a devil in a house of God.
Linkara (v/o): No, he's a mutant in a house of God who somewhat resembles a demon. And you're a moron who somewhat resembles an egg whisk! After a smattering of irrelevant dialogue that reveals that Havok knows the Book of Revelations– wait, Revelations?! There's no S in it!
Linkara: Dang it, Austen, did you even look at a Bible when you were making this thing?!
Linkara (v/o): Jean indicates that there's blood on the floor and that they should all stand back. She has her phoenix bird thing come out of her and wreck up the floorboards beneath them. Nightcrawler's narration, for one last time, recites a Bible quote, with this one making even less sense than before as it references God making humanity in His own image, and that they should fill the Earth and subdue it. We end with a double-page spread of a laboratory beneath the floorboards, where dozens of dead mutants are in various positions, be they on tubes, in beds, in wheelchairs, or shackled to walls. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why you need to check of the house you want to buy before purchase.
Linkara: (shocked; gasps) It's to be continued! (dramatically) Will Cyclops continue to be a moronic asshole to his teammates? Will Nightcrawler act like a rookie when we know he's been on the team for years? Will Polaris actually get to say a line?! Will Nurse Annie read a medical textbook and learn that "thingie" is not something a licensed CAREGIVER should be saying?!? (calmer) Well, tune in next week, because this is a two-part story, (holds up comic) and both parts suck!
(TO BE CONTINUED)
Dedicated in loving memory to Angelo.