Thursday, 24 January 2013
XMM #2: "Into The Abyss!"
(With friends like these, who needs their own series?)
Onto issue 2, and it turns out this comic is structured much as its predecessor was; eleven pages of the Micronauts getting into trouble, and eleven pages of the X-Men trying to figure out what's going on, whilst Karza is a jerk in the background. It lends more credence to my theory that much of the series was written concurrently rather than collaboratively. That said, some of the torments the Micronauts undergo seem very Claremontian in nature, though I'd like to think that even at his worst he wouldn't write a scene in which a strong female character is mind-controlled into dancing lasciviously for a baying crowd.
So, yeah, I'm not going to go into much detail again regarding the Micronauts' half of the action, but in brief; they're screwed. After being swallowed up by their foe's power last issue, they've found themselves in some kind of freaky alien world/mindscape, where each of them are subjected to various forms of individualised torture, until they're so mentally scarred they're only too happy for "the entity" to brainwash them. Also, dress them up as the X-Men, for some reason. Presumably this is connected to the entity's own connection to Xavier - it turns out the invader of the Microverse can only operate at peak capacity when the professor is asleep, and not being disturbed by scantily clad teenagers fighting with towels (I never thought I'd see that much of Rahne's lower half; at least not until the '90s) - but if this series was indeed intended to reverse the flagging fortunes of the Micronaut's own title, having them pussy out, volunteer for brainwashing, and donning the costumes of much more famous, competent heroes seems a damn strange way to go about it.
On to the X-half of the issue, and our heroes have run into a bit of a moral conundrum. To whit: Baron Karza is clearly an intolerable mass-murdering turd, and the X-Men are apparently expected to fight alongside him, in order to ensure that the worlds he's stolen from their rightful rulers stay in his steel pockets. There's a limit to how far we can take this, because we're discussing such a hyperbolic example, but it might be worth spilling a little ink on the topic of international intervention. Essentially, the X-Men are being asked to forcibly intervene in a military conflict taking place in a different reality. The question of what gives them the right to do so is an interesting one, as is whether getting into bed with Baron Karza is necessarily the best idea. The Kosovans wanted us to bomb Serbia. Iraqi insurgents wanted us to kick out Saddam Hussein. Libyan rebels wanted the same treatment for Qaddafi, and forces in Syria still want our assistance in their own struggle for freedom, despite seeing the corrupt mess of Kosovo and Iraq we left behind, with Libya maybe not shaping up to be any better, even if we ignore the knock-on effect for Mali.
I'm not trying to make a political statement with that, by the way, just noting that a) international intervention is far from without cost to those areas intervened within and b) that doesn't seem to have stopped the requests from coming in. Nor, as here, are those requests uniformly from people we'd be happy to see retain or increase their own share of power. How much contemporary and future damage are we willing to stomach, and who are we prepared to help out, in order to answer calls for help from those oppressed?
Like I said, we can't go too far with this, because the questions here are already pretty much answered by the construction of this situation. The idea that any amount of post-war fallout and domination by Karza is worth it in order to stop the Entity destroying every inhabited planet is so reasonable that it can't really be assailed. There's some interest to be had in watching the X-Men work through to this conclusion, in watching them decide that they disgust at Karza's nature and deeds has to be put aside, but the correct conclusion is never really in doubt. The heroes of this universe have already made that choice, so there's no way for the X-Men to choose differently without announcing that their earth-born morals take precedence over those who actually have a stake in this war. That might also answer the question of what right the X-Men have to interfere (I'm not sure "the Entity is powered from earth" necessarily cuts it, any more than "the government is getting its weapons from Russia and China" does in this world); if we accept that heroes can legitimately represent the people they protect, then a request of assistance from the Micronauts is all the X-Men need.
(Whether that representation is legitimate is a bigger question, and one we'll return to years from now when we hit Civil War, if not earlier).
Once the X-Men agree to help out, Karza teleports his armour back to his base, and so keeps his body safe, at least - the X-Men won't let Kitty stay behind even though "she" asks to be. Frustrated, Karza projects his mind to check up on his armour, to find his chief scientist and minister DeGrayde gloating over his inert form, announcing loudly that "if my suspicions are correct -- and the armor is now merely an inanimate shell - then the moment of DeGrayde's triumph is at hand!" You'd think DeGrayde would at least consider the possibility that the Baron is just having a nap, and not loudly announce his intention to start a coup right in front of his master's faceplate before running a few tests, but who knows how the scientific method works in the Microverse. Fortunately for DeGrayde, Karza needs a fresh supply of genetically engineered soldiers rather more than he needs a rebellious minion squished underfoot.
Elsewhere in the Microverse, Bioship has found the planet where the Micronauts are being held, and ensures the quickest deployment for the X-Men possible by just slamming straight into the ground. Efficient. Nobody is particularly impressed by this display, but it turns out to not be Bioship's fault: he's been robbed of power. The link he used to find Commander Rann is reciprocal, and the Entity clearly knew they were coming. Not only has he set up the device that has now rendered Bioship inert, but he's built a replica of Xavier's mansion, a dozen times too big, for the X-Men to find, and when they get inside, he's taken Xavier's form, and throws the X-costumed Micronauts (also twelve times bigger than our heroes) at them. I'd say that this was the third big clue that the entity and Xavier are linked, except that Karza explicitly said that last issue, and nobody seemed that bothered. It may be that the X-Men rather deserve the pounding they take here. Once the mutants are knocked unconscious, "Xavier" reverts to the entity's conquistador form, and he gloats over his defeated foes. Next step: to "shake the universe to its very foundations!".
It's not all bad news, though. Or at least, not bad news right now: Karza's been knocked out of Kitty's unconscious body and back into his own. It's time for some murderous dictator payback!
The events of this issue apparently take place over a few hours, though it's impossible to tell how long the voyage aboard Bioship takes.
Monday 27th December, 1983.
The Grateful Dead play for three hours at the Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. Whether they even realised they had an audience is open to debate.
"As the phantasmic (sic) crowd stare silently on... this strong-willed warrior-woman finds herself losing control -- until she performs a lewd dance for the edification of the mob..."
Ugh. No. No, thank you.