March 8, 2010
X-Men is meant to be social commentary. I had no idea NASA had laser-shooting shuttles!
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. Today, we're gonna try something a little different. See, I get a lot of donations. Some of them are just a single comic, and some of them are entire boxes full of comics. And in one box, I got no less than (holds up three fingers) three copies of the exact same comic. I have no idea why they felt the need to send me three copies, but it's understandable why they had three of the same comic.
Linkara (v/o): As I have said in previous videos, the early '90s gave rise to the speculator market, where comic prices inflated and people believed that any issue 1 was going to be an instant collector item that needed to be preserved in an airtight mylar bag and sealed in a vault so that its appreciated value would make them rich. This is also called "You Are A Dumbass And Know Nothing About Economics". This is especially true when we consider that a short time before I released this episode, the two comics that featured the first appearances of Superman and Batman both went for over a million dollars each. But that's the thing: it's Superman and Batman! Even if you've never read a comic book in your life, they're both a part of pop culture and are enduring aspects of it. Most comic book characters don't get that luxury, and certainly not anything created in the past twenty or thirty years. Few copies in decent condition of "Action Comics #1" or "Detective Comics #27" still exist, so of course they have value. But the hype machine in the early '90s was on full drive, which brings us to today's subject.
Linkara: Ladies and gentlemen and others, (holds up comic of review for today) this is the highest-selling single issue of a comic book in history: "X-Men #1". The total sales figures seem to vary, depending on where I look, but somewhere between eight and twelve million copies were sold.
(The following words are displayed: "X-Men #1: 8 to 12 Million Copies")
Linkara (v/o): Just to put that in perspective, the estimated top selling individual issues of comics for both Marvel and DC for January were...
(Shots of said comics are shown, each with their own top selling figures, which are...)
Linkara (v/o): ..."Siege #1" at 108,000 copies and "Green Lantern #50" at 106,000 copies. And even then, "Siege" is an event comic for Marvel. And that's not only an anniversary issue of "Green Lantern", but a tie-in to their "Blackest Night" event. Yeah, a bit of difference in numbers, isn't it?
Linkara: You're probably all wondering where I'm going with this. Well, upon receiving three copies of the best-selling comic of all time, I had to wonder: is it really that good? Well, let's dig into (holds up comic again) "X-Men #1" and find out.
(Title sequence plays; title card has the X-Men cartoon show theme playing; cut to a closeup of part of the cover, as Linkara explains...)
Linkara (v/o): What truly contributed to the sale success of this comic was the comic – or rather, the covers. What you're looking at here is a four-part cover, meaning that if you wanted to get the full thing for a display or something, you needed to buy four copies of that comic. Taken together, it's a fairly standard group shot, but well drawn-out and dynamic. Well, except for Magneto, who's just looking at the reader and holding out his hand as if to say, "Give me your money!" However, individually, the covers aren't all that great. A few characters fill up the space and they look badass and ready to charge and all that junk. Also, everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, is suffering from Youngbloods Disease, with their eyes replaced by blank, white holes. Well, except for Cyclops, but that's to be expected, what with the laser eyes and all. (the comic proper begins) We open in space, or to be accurate...
Text box: Near-Earth space, on the shadow side of the Terminator...
(Cut briefly to a poster for the movie The Terminator before cutting back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): A space shuttle is under attack by another space shuttle. Yeah, little-known fact: NASA loves to have dogfights just outside the atmosphere. It's why they keep losing funding. This is actually a really good example of the head-scratching nature of technology in superhero comics. Sometimes they have space shuttles with laser weapons or giant robots with stun bursts and etc., etc., and other times, their tech level matches what we've got today. I really wish editors would just get together and figure out if their tech is futuristic, or if it's like our own. Anyway, the lead space shuttle is trying to locate Asteroid M, the home base for Magneto, though this is the third version of Asteroid M, this one being in geosynchronous orbit of Earth; the previous two were–
(Suddenly, he is interrupted by the Continuity Alarm going off)
Linkara: Oh, yeah, by the way, I finally fixed it.
Linkara (v/o): The people being chased, called the Acolytes to save us some trouble, manage to destroy one of the pursuit craft, who are Russian, by the way. The Russians get ready to open fire, but suddenly, all their ships are blasted apart by Magneto.
Magneto: I am rapidly losing interest in whatever you choose to do on the Earth's surface-- despoil the environment, slaughter yourselves to the last child, I no longer care--
Linkara: (as Magneto) As long as I have uninterrupted satellite TV, I don't care.
Magneto: --But I refuse to allow you to export your penchant for violence to my very doorstep.
Linkara: And if you come to tell me that my kids are doing each other, I sadly already know.
(The Continuity Alarm goes off again, frustrating Linkara)
Linkara: Reference to a previous episode of my show, plus an alternate universe!
Continuity Alarm: YOU WIN THIS ROUND. (Linkara nods)
Linkara (v/o): Magneto plans to just send them back to Earth, though how he plans to do so isn't clear, since I'm pretty sure his mastery of magnetism doesn't work from several miles away, or else he would have defeated the X-Men long ago. However, the Acolytes say that they're mutants like him and wish to aid him in his quest to prevent mutantkind. The Soviets contact the USA, since it was their shuttle that the Acolytes stole, and coordinate their plans to attack Magneto before he can attack them, since, you know, he has a giant rock sitting above their heads that he could probably send down at any time he wanted. Meanwhile, at Charles Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters, Adult Superheroes and Time-Traveling Children of Those Superheroes, the X-Men are preparing themselves for a training exercise. Two notes for this: the first is that the artist for this book is Jim Lee, who drew the excellent Batman series "Hush" and the not-so-excellent Batman series "All-Star Batman and Robin". So while the art is actually pretty decent here, it's suffering from a lot of the problems of early '90s artwork, including a new one that we haven't covered yet for women. This one's called "Why Won't My Hips Unsway?"...
(Cut to a shot of a web comic from whence this originated)
Linkara (v/o): ...named by "Shortpacked!" web comic creator David Willis, and while he may have been talking about artwork that was traced from real photos...
(Cut back to the X-Men comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...here, it's an example of how we can't have women standing up straight. Nooo, they must cock their hips to the side.
Linkara: Seriously, ask yourself if you've ever seen a woman standing in such a way so that their hips are pushed out so far that they've cleared their shoulders!
Linkara (v/o): The other thing to note is the costumes. I mentioned back in my "Uncanny X-Men" review how much I dislike the uniforms they were wearing, and this team is an example why. As a personal preference, I have never been a fan of matching uniforms. Sometimes, a team can pull it off, like the Fantastic Four, but superhero comics should be colorful and unique. So while the team still has the X motif going for them, they each have individual patterns, colors and looks to them. It also helps that I'm being nostalgic for the '90s X-Men animated series that introduced me to the team, which used these designs, though the one downside to this team is that Wolverine is wearing that ugly brown-colored version of his outfit. Anyway, the training exercise is simple: two teams invade the mansion and try to capture Professor X. Xavier himself is lamenting how the world still seems to not embrace tolerance and peace and all that hippie crap, and wonders, with the recent death of some of their members, if their peaceful world can ever be achieved. You know, character stuff. Rogue and Iceman...
(Cut to a clip of Top Gun)
Iceman: (to Maverick) You can be my wingman any time.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...are the first to attack. Of course, the School For the Gifted has missile emplacements and other high-tech defensive weapons.
Linkara: As an aside, how the hell did Xavier pay for all this stuff? I don't think they give Pell Grants for this sort of thing. (as a loan agent, looking at a document) Uh, Mr. Xavier, we were just looking at your proposed budget, and we have to raise an eyebrow for the (looks closely at document) "missile defense system"? And what's this about laser trip mines to defend your (looks at document again) "telepathic locator system for finding mutants"? (as Prof. X, struggling to come up with an explanation) Ah... um... We're very strict about our school's ("finger quotes") "no alcohol on campus" policy.
Linkara (v/o): Rogue, of course, is capable of giving an entire monologue to herself as she evades the missiles.
Rogue: Ah like this idea better. Ah call it "Return t' sender!"
Linkara: (as Rogue) This time I'm gonna put it right in her hand, and if it comes back the very next day, then I'll understand.
Linkara (v/o): With the missiles out of the way, Archangel tosses Colossus through the window, right to where Jean Grey is protecting Professor X. However, her telepathy manages to knock Colossus away. Down below, the other team goes the low road and tries to enter the mansion via the sewer system. However, they're confronted by a group of yellow robots.
Linkara: (as loan agent) And what's this item here about "sewer-based robots"? (as Prof. X) Look, I just felt that their education would be aided if they had sewer-based robots. For, you know, learning and stuff.
Linkara (v/o): While Wolverine and Psylocke take on the robots, Gambit manages to get into the mansion. And considering he's coming from the sewers, it makes perfect sense that he drops down from the ceiling.
Narrator: With a speed that defies description...
Linkara (v/o): Except for, you know, that motion arc that we can see drawn...
Narrator: ...and a smile guaranteed to melt the fiercest heart...
(Cut to a clip of Batman & Robin)
Mr. Freeze: It doesn't work on the cold-hearted.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): I love how, in some older comics, they felt the need to really spruce up the prose when it came to the idea of "throwing a playing card that explodes, thanks to his superpowers". With Jean knocked away by the blast, Gambit takes a moment to kiss Jean full on the lips. Aaaand she blows up.
Linkara: Geez, I heard of explosive kisses, but damn!
Linkara (v/o): Actually, both she and the Professor were robot decoys that I guess were programmed to explode when someone kissed them. Wait a second, if they were robots, how the hell did they use psychic powers against Colossus?
Linkara: (as loan agent) Mr. Xavier, this list is starting to get a little ridiculous. "Exploding robot duplicates"? (as Prof. X) Look, sometimes I'm sick and I need the day off, but I can't find a substitute, and sometimes the kids can get a little rowdy, so I stuff them with TNT to teach them a lesson.
Linkara (v/o): The real Jean Grey laughingly suggests to her husband that she could kiss him anyway, and Cyclops responds with...
Cyclops: Oh, really? When the next opportunity presents itself... remind me to drop a truck on him.
Prof. X: Cyclops.
Cyclops: A big truck.
Prof. X: Cyclops!
Cyclops: A really big truck.
Prof. X: CYCLOPS!
Linkara: (as Prof. X) Cyclops, how dare you engage in good-natured ribbing! You're supposed to be an asshole!
Linkara (v/o): Wolverine comes up through the floor and puts his claws up to Xavier to indicate that he won. However, Cyclops is back in his jackass mode and pulls Wolverine's arm away, berating him for being so careless with his claws, considering how dangerous they are. It's also revealed that they were actually in the Danger Room, which is now basically a big holodeck, which of course brings up all the physics problems from that little bit of Star Trek tech, but we'll ignore that for now. Later, Nick Fury contacts the X-Men to inform them of the situation with Magneto and the Acolytes. The team is split, with some thinking Magneto is planning something evil, while the other thinks he just wants to be left alone. See, it's because Magneto was once a good guy, leading the team in Xavier's absence when–
(Suddenly, the Continuity Alarm goes off again)
Linkara: I mentioned it once before during my Top 15 Worst Heroes Becoming Villains! Now you shut up or else I'll reprogram you like your predecessor!
Linkara (v/o): Xavier tells them that they need to be prepared in case Magneto has gone bad again and has the team split up and get ready to launch an attack on him if they need to. Up on Asteroid M, the Acolytes and the Russians aren't happy to see each other, and the Russians are pissed because of the shuttle they destroyed. Magneto comes in so he can show off his chest and tell them to quit fighting each other. One of the Acolytes tries to get closer to Magneto and ask for sanctuary, but a Russian decides to grit his teeth and shoot her in the back. Naturally, since she's wearing heavily-enforced body armor, the bullets knock her down at Magneto's feet. Magneto just kinda stares at her like somebody told him a joke he didn't get before he goes from zero to pissed off. Since, you know, he's the master of magnetism and all, he uses the Russians' armor to make him shoot himself. Another of the Russians apologizes for the situation and says that they're trying to apprehend the Acolytes because they're criminals.
Russian: We are officers of the law! We have every right to pursue and apprehend these criminals.
Magneto: Officers, major, of now law I recognize.
Linkara: My God, Magneto! Do you... (looks up from comic) betray the law?!
(Cut to the inevitable clip from Judge Dredd...)
Judge Dredd: You betrayed the law!
Linkara: (laughs) See, now I'm imagining Ian McKellen doing that, and it's, like, six kinds of awesome.
Linkara (v/o): Magneto sheds a single manly tear for the woman he knew for all of ten seconds, and Fabian Cortez, leader of the Acolytes, tells him that the world powers will no doubt try react with their own weapons against Asteroid M for taking them in. Cortez suggests that they should do something before the nations of the world retaliate. Meanwhile, back with the X-Men, Xavier detects that Magneto's entering Earth's atmosphere and dispatches one of the teams out to intercept him.
Wolverine: This isn't the Danger Room anymore, furball.
Rogue: And no false alarm, either; the psychic emanations I receive from Professor X are deadly serious.
Linkara: Oh, don't worry, we realize it's serious. After all, (points to his head) there's pink energy coming out of your forehead.
Linkara (v/o): Out in the mid-Atlantic, our wordy narrator decides to tell us what's going on.
Narrator: Moments ago, he stood at the bottom of the ocean... literally miles beneath its surface, in a realm of awful darkness and abysmal cold, as alien and hostile as any foreign planet. Stood and stared at his handiwork.
Linkara: (as narrator) It was then that he realized that building a sand castle at the bottom of the ocean wasn't his best idea.
Narrator: And remembered... days* long past when, in his arrogance, he commanded the great powers of the world to disarm their nuclear arsenals.
- NOTE: It's actually "A day", not "days".
Linkara: (as narrator) The great powers subsequently laughed at him, since Superman had already come by a few days earlier to get them to disarm their nukes.
Narrator: His goal was noble, or so he thought, to remove forever from all people--mutants and baseline humans--the threat of nuclear annihilation. The governments he challenged didn't see it that way.
Linkara: (as narrator) Turns out there was a practical joke being played in the translators' boxes. The governments thought he was saying, "Honk if you love pancakes."
Narrator: The Soviet Union ordered an immediate counter-strike... from the fleet ballistic missile submarine Leningrad. He deflected the attack... and then, as an object lesson... sank the vessel that launched it.
Linkara: (as narrator) On the second try, anyway. The first one, due to a miscalculation on his part, accidentally sank the Exxon Valdez.
Continuity Alarm: (going off) THERE'S SOME TIMELESS HUMOR FOR YOU.
Linkara: Hey, shut up!
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, the point being that he's come to grab the nukes from the submarine which is relatively intact. The X-Men arrive, with Rogue talking to him first because they used to work together and all.
Linkara: (as Magneto) Uh, Rogue, why are you cocking your hip to one side? (as Rogue) Oh, that's 'cause I'm like a fish; when I'm up in the air flyin', I have to push my hips from side to side in order to move. (as Magneto) But then why are you standing like that? (as Rogue) Ah don't know!
Linkara (v/o): As the group briefly debates with Magneto, the Blackbird jet swings in towards Magneto, who promptly stops it in its tracks. Though, what the hell it was doing so close to Magneto is anyone's guess. Did Cyclops plan to ram him with their new plane? Cyclops sends Gambit and Beast out to– HOLY CRAP! When the hell did those two get possessed by demons?! Anyway, our heroes that desperately need an exorcist try to fight Magneto, but of course get their asses thoroughly kicked. Magneto wants to know why they're all attacking him when he didn't do anything to them. Maybe it's because you're swiping nuclear weapons, dork. Cyclops thinks to himself how shocked he is that Wolverine was going for a killing attack and that he is on the verge of a berserker rage. Huh, I guess this explains why he didn't give a crap about him being homicidal in "Uncanny X-Men #424"; you just get used to it after a while. Magneto gets blasted into part of a nuclear submarine where he discovers the skeletal remains of the submarine crew that he killed. It's a pretty haunting character moment, but it lasts all of a single page before he retreats with the missiles. Rogue flies off to try to talk to Mangeto.
Beast: She may have a point, Scott. Our natural tendency to view Magneto as our enemy... may well have helped precipitate this confrontation.
Linkara: Or maybe it was because you and Gambit jumped at him, looking like something that Satan spawned in his free time.
Linkara (v/o): Rogue tries to convince Magneto that all he's gonna do is justify everyone's fear of him as a terrorist. What, just because he stole nuclear missiles? Nah! But Magneto says that while he tried to follow Xavier's path while he was a good guy, ordinary humans made it clear that peace was impossible. His point is made all the more valid when the Soviet Air Force comes in and attacks.
Magneto: ROGUE! There is your answer, child, and mine! Whatever we decide, the world will never accept us.
Linkara: (as Rogue, pretending to fall down) Can't hear you, falling to my death...!
Linkara (v/o): Magneto saves Rogue and decides that the best thing to do is to detonate one of the nukes. Yeah, I'm sure Rogue will be just fine, since I'm sure magnetic fields are so good at protecting people from radiation.
(Cut to a shot of the Hitler Clones from "Superman At Earth's End")
Hitler Clone: Of course. Don't you know anything about science?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Magneto reaches Asteroid M, but is weakened, thanks to some slashes of Wolverine's claws. He laments the fact that the X-Men attacked him, especially Wolverine, since the little Adamantium rager seemed to trust him during his tenure as leader. Cortez takes command while Magneto rests, using his healing powers on him. Rogue wakes up in the island nation of Genosha and is asked by the local forces to help, since the Acolytes are attacking seemingly random places on the island. However, the Acolytes suddenly attack the hospital Rogue is at, one of whom [Chere] is using the mutant power of big guns. Cortez tells Rogue that they've come to recruit her, but Rogue just punches them away. The X-Men arrive and demand that the Acolytes surrender.
Chere: TRAITORS! Genosha bred mutants as slaves. They tried to destroy you X-Men. Yet now you defend them!
Gambit: Genoshan gov'ment did those nasties, Chere. Gov'ment changed. Policies changed wit' it.
Linkara: Ah, Gambit: blows stuff up, wears a huge coat, is Cajun, and one of his lesser-known skills is his keen political insight.
Linkara (v/o): Beast apparently throws Wolverine at them. Hey, I didn't make this up; it's what it looks like. And of course, the two carry on a conversation in mid-air, with multiple sentences, meaning that it apparently took them like half a minute to reach the guy he was attacking. So, yeah, more fighting for another page or two before we get a two-page spread when Magneto arrives. At least, I think he does, but given that his speech is italicized, and the stems for his word balloons are jagged, it looks more like a hologram. Magneto announces that he is making Asteroid M a sovereign world and that he's granting citizenship to any mutant who wishes to join it. However, he also declares that if any harm is done to a mutant, he will respond in kind. And so, our comic ends back at the school, where resident scientist Moira MacTaggert, a supporting character who hasn't appeared in the book at all until now, is crying and saying that the situation that's occurring is her fault.
Linkara: (holds up comic) This comic... does not suck. I know, that may come as a surprise to many, considering I've said in the past this show is all about the sucky comics, but this was an experiment and what I'm happy with. But don't get me wrong: this comic isn't all that good.
Linkara (v/o): It's wordy as all hell, the coloring at times hurts the eyes, and the artwork contains a lot of flaws. But story-wise, it's actually fairly solid, and the characterization is pretty good, with lots of good moments.
Linkara: Now, does that mean that it justifies the millions of copies that it sold? Oh, hell no! I'll grant you some things, but not that. But yeah, this comic does not suck.
Continuity Alarm: (going off) YEAH, I'M SO CONVINCED YOU'RE NOT A HYPOCRITE.
Linkara: (infuriated) Oh, that is it, you stupid, beeping jackass! (reaches out offscreen)
Continuity Alarm: YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE, COPPA!
Linkara: I'M GONNA PULL YOU RIGHT OVER...!
(End credits roll)
If Magnetic Fields DO protect one from radiation, I apologize for my lack of scientific understanding. Nothing I could find supported the hypothesis.
Since people complained about not mentioning it last time I brought them up, check out Shortpacked!
(Stinger: Linkara is still playing the dual role of Prof. X and the loan agent)
Linkara: (as agent, looking at paper) And finally, this "hover wheelchair". I'm assuming every disabled student will get one, right? (as Prof. X) Uh... right! Yeah! (chuckles)