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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More X-Back Issue Reaction

One thing I'm realizing reading all of these back issues?

Iceman annoys the fuck out of me. It's so weird, because I remember liking Bobby Drake when he was the cute little prankster of the group. And I liked him in the X-Movies before they all went to hell. But as I think about it, his sole appearance in the 90s cartoon series annoyed me too.

He does have neat powers. But really, how much of an asshole can a guy be? I mean, take the whole love triangle with Alex "all the downsides of my big brother without any of his redeeming qualities" Summers, and continually and regularly comes out as the worse option!

How do you look like the worse option than Alex Summers? In the immortal words of my good friend Matt, "All he has to do to look better than Alex Summers is say 'Hi! I'm not Alex Summers!"

That said, I kind of like Alex in a weird way. If nothing else, I like him for this bit from Uncanny X-Men 57:

Alex Summers Is A Tool

Um, yeah, Alex? You can see. You still lose the sucky power sweepstakes.

I also kind of love him for X-Factor 39. In brief: they're fighting Sinister. It's not going well. Not in the least because the only team member who can actually hurt Sinister is currently paralyzed by a combination of mental conditioning and scary abuse flashbacks:

Traumatized Flashback 1

Traumatized Flashback 2

So yeah, there's a legitimate problem. The team figures out that Sinister went out of his way to neutralize Cyclops first because he's the only one who can damage him. So somehow this ends up with Havok volunteering to deal with his brother.

So how does our intrepid hero, now apparently a prodigy in the study of repressed memory, adult survivors of child-abuse, and PTSD flashbacks deal with the situation?

Alex Summers - Trauma Counselor

Verbal abuse and blasting the crap out of him! (Okay, yeah, it won't actually HARM him but STILL!)

And what the fuck are you wearing? Aren't you usually the slightly more macho Summers' brother? Are you trying to establish a rapport with your brother's time living on the streets by acting like a streetwalker?


Maybe I just have a thing for assholes.

At least the assholishness comes honestly. See, my favorite Corsair scene ever from Uncanny #391!

Corsair wins Father of the Year

Okay, granted, I'm sure we've all wanted to bitchslap Cyclops once in a while. But there are a few factors to consider in this little scenario: 1) It is pretty much right after the whole presumed-death/Apocalypse un-possession thing, so Scott's not really at his best at the moment; 2) this entire issue involved Corsair demonstrating the multitude of ways he's never tried to find out jack shit about his kid in the years since they had the whole "Oh wow, neither of us are dead" revelation, 3) Corsair decides after two unfortunate faux pas (namely "Why don't you light the fire with your eyes?" and "Isn't this sunset pretty and red") both of which Cyclops actually took fairly well, to go "Fuck it," and start walking off, and 4) Well, let's face it, there's at least some merit in the complaint. Considering that even in the real world people DO occasionally survive long falls from planes without parachutes, and neither brother is exactly going by a pseudonym, it probably wouldn't have been that hard for Corsair to take a few minutes out of his busy space-pirate schedule to just, y'know, come back and double-check.

I mean granted, Cyclops isn't much of a father either, but as far as I know anyway, he's yet to bitchslap Nathan, Rachel, or whatever umpteenth extra-dimensional brat he ends up with this week for complaining about it.

Congratulations, Corsair. You're now in the running for "Worst. Non-Villain. Father. Ever." Hopefully you'll be resurrected in time to collect your prize.

The sad thing is that, ultimately, even WITH this bit, he's still the best father-figure Cyclops has. No wonder he's fucked up.


  • At April 28, 2009 9:02 AM, Blogger Jer said…

    Since, oh, the late 80s or so I've liked Alex a bit more than Scott. They're both messed up, but Alex is almost always written like he knows that he's messed up. It doesn't seem like anyone ever really wrote Scott as recognizing just how screwed up he was until around 2000 or so - prior to that Scott was always written with almost no self-awareness of what an asshole he is. Alex, on the other hand, knows he's a jerk (especially towards his brother) and feels angsty about it, but of course doesn't really do anything about it even though he knows it.

    And yeah, Corsair was an asshole too. You can feel kinda bad for the kids in the Summers family - until they start acting like assholes, and then you just want to punch 'em in the mouth. I felt bad for Vulcan for the first few pages he was on camera too, until he turned out to be more screwed up than the rest of them. And Nathan too - more often than not I want to smack Cable upside the head. In fact the only Summers I don't want to punch in the mouth with any frequency is Rachel, who's supposed to be the most messed up of them all, given her background, but often doesn't seem like it.

  • At April 28, 2009 9:16 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I kind of disagree really. In the issues I've read (most before 1980, so far), Scott seems to be pretty much aware that he's fucked in the head. :-) And every so often he does TRY to do something about it. Even though 9 times out of 10 it just backfires completely.

    I'll agree that Alex is probably more aware though, but to be fair, he's got less to be fucked up over too. I kind of like that bit in X-Factor 39 that I didn't scan/upload, where he rants at Sinister for screwing up his life, his brother's life and the two women he loved. Which, okay, Madelyne and Lorna were pretty screwed, Scott's over in a corner losing his mind, but Alex? He happy family in Hawaii and a college education? Gasp!

    I find Nathan hilarious. Especially whenever they try to address the father-son thing, and he starts vacillating between grizzled old guy and angsty teenager. Added in the reverse age dynamics, and it's comedy gold.

    The assholishness really makes all of them work for me. It's just one big seething cauldron of nature vs. nurture fucked-up-ness that amuses the hell out of me. :-)

  • At April 28, 2009 1:17 PM, Blogger James Ashelford said…

    I remember being really naffed off when they brought Scott back from the dead. mainly because it had forced the writers to try other leaders for the team including giving Jean Grey some long-overdue steel but mainly because I really hated the character back then, he never seemed hard enough for a man who'd been basically a career solder since the age of fifteen.

    But it was all worth it for that bitchslap, y'know?

  • At April 28, 2009 2:51 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Actually, James, I think you've hit the nail on the head about why I DO like the character so much.

    I think a lot of writers given a character with that kind of backstory would make a very "hard" "badass" character with it and just leave it at that. But honestly, that's kind of lazy and not terribly realistic.

    I find Scott interesting because he's not hard or badass. (Though every so often, he has his moments.) He's just fucked up in a lot of ways that are actually perfectly believable given his back-story. His personality flaws are practically a textbook list of common adult symptoms of chronic childhood abuse.

    He's kind of like Hank Pym for me, in that while I'm not sure if it's intentional or just serendipity, but somehow Marvel ended up with a few characters that actually seem to have actual, almost realistic psychiatric problems.

    I get why that's not everyone's cup of tea, granted, but I find him fascinating. :-)

  • At April 28, 2009 2:53 PM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    "he never seemed hard enough for a man who'd been basically a career solder since the age of fifteen. "

    Have you actually seen or read anything with Scott "I Will Show No Emotion and Think Only of the Team Every Waking Moment" Summers in it?

  • At April 28, 2009 4:38 PM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Poor Scott. The only member of the Summers clan that I can actually tolerate. Corsair is a piss-poor example of a father, but let's face it, in comparison to Sinister and Xavier,he looks a little bit better.

    Alex just sets my teeth on edge, and I've never really cottoned to either Rachel or Nathan for some reason.

    But getting back to the original premise, Iceman COULD be written a whole lot better.

  • At April 28, 2009 11:15 PM, Blogger CalvinPitt said…

    OK, that panel where Alex starts berating Scott, what the hell is that pose? Is he doing Riverdance?

    'I'm sure we've all wanted to bitchslap Cyclops once in awhile' Truer words have never been spoken.

    The only time I've been interested in Iceman was during the Casey/Austen (early Austen, like, the first six issues) stuff on Uncanny, where Bobby was kind of the team's Guy Gardner. being a jerk, puttin' his foot in his mouth, disrespecting the newbs on the team. He was the character I figured I wasn't supposed to like, and that was okey-doke with me, since I liked or was indifferent to all the others.

    Actually, I think Havok plays that role for me too, but it was more that he was so scared of his powers he was useless. There's a stretch of Uncanny I like where he's on the team (~Uncanny #220-230 or so), and he keeps not using his powers because he's afraid he'll hurt the people that are, you know, trying to kill him. And I'm reading this thinking "Do something, you wank! I've never had much interest in him after that, so I guess they both work as targets for my ire.

  • At April 29, 2009 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "OK, that panel where Alex starts berating Scott, what the hell is that pose? Is he doing Riverdance?"

    I think its a cheap version of the Moulin Rouge, if they ever made a dance called the Moulin Rouge.


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