Chuck Austen’s X-Men: Rules of Engagement

We all had fun with the werewolves last week, right?  Now it’s back to the mansion for some mutant love angst and a taste of numerous stories to come!  In part four, we look at the two-part Rules of Engagement.

Took Place in
Uncanny X-Men 421-422

Team Line-up
Archangel (Leader), Husk, Nightcrawler (Leader?), Iceman, Northstar, Stacy X

The Villain
Alpha Flight?

Others you should be aware of
Nurse Annie, Cyclops, Havok, Polaris, Sammy the Squid Boy, Juggernaut, Carter, Chamber

In a nutshell
Everyone from Archangel to Stacy X has relationship issues, Alpha Flight shows up to take the school’s students into custody and Professor X is really bad at his job.

Now, since that’s out of the way, let’s begin.

Since Havok just came out of his coma, Professor X takes a minute to bring him up to speed on all the things that went down in his absence.  Unfortunately, rather than trying to give it to him softly, Xavier basically chucks everything at him really quickly, giving Alex a crash course on secondary mutations, the 9/11 attacks, the death of Colossus, Cassandra Nova, the destruction of Genosha and the recent addition of Juggernaut to the staff.  All that was lacking was a “Isn’t it great to be back?” to make the scene complete.

That coma doesn't seem so bad now, huh?

Outside the office, Nurse Annie, Nightcrawler and Juggernaut are all waiting to speak to Xavier, but the original team of X-Men show up and go right in, with Phoenix letting Annie know that Xavier summoned them mentally to greet Alex.  Apparently Xavier didn’t feel the need to let the others know, but by this point we should all be used to Professor X being a healthy mix of oblivious and dickish.  As they walk in, Polaris takes a moment to be a complete bitch to Annie – it’s a running theme that will keep going as we, the readers, become engaged in a desperate attempt to want to root against the age-old relationship of Havok and Polaris in favor of the logic-be-damned love of Havok and Nurse Annie.  You’ll see it more as we continue.

Lorna, thoughtfully leaving the door open, very audibly greets her once and future love and then proposes to him.  Before Alex can answer one way or the other, Beast congratulates them, but he seems the only one amuses as Cyclops, Archangel, Iceman and Professor X have all seemingly joined Team Annie.  As you, the reader should have by now.  With that revelation, Annie says to hell with talking to Xavier and runs off.  As the crowd disperses, Iceman speaks to Archangel about his budding relationship with Husk and reminds him that it’s both creepy and possibly illegal.

 

And if anyone would know, it's him.

Back in the coolest place in the mansion infirmary, Husk begins rambling about how wonderful Warren is, seemingly oblivious to Annie’s sarcastic attempts to blow her off.  The sarcasm gives an opening to remind everyone that Warren has developed healing blood and then we learn a previously unknown tidbit: mutants can’t get AIDS.

 

Wait...what?

I would love to know what kind of scientific research was done to come to that conclusion, but it’s evidently because of the X-Gene.  Prevents AIDS.  The conversation comes to a halt when Havok shows up to thank Annie for keeping him “clean and odor-free” during his coma, which actually has thus far been the extent of their relationship.  Annie, being a woman, completely puts her foot in her mouth and lets Alex know she enjoyed wiping his naked body down.  Then she tries to fix it, but being a woman, again botches the situation by saying she’d have been the naked one could she have been, and then finally gives the whole thing up and changes the subject.

 

Oh, stupid Annie. I want you so.

Meanwhile, Professor X finally gets around to talking to Juggernaut who asks to join the X-Men.  Turns out he really enjoyed fighting the werewolves and as long as he’s with the good guys, he can do a ton of damage and not get arrested for it.  Xavier decides that his desire for his step-brother’s affection outweighs the memory of Juggernaut repeated trying to destroy the X-Men and agrees, though tells him that he has to get permission from one of the team captains to join.  Juggernaut asks Nightcrawler, but he says that he’s taking off for an archaeological dig with Havok and Polaris for a while and will be giving up his role as leader of the X-Men.  Me, I thought Archangel had been leader of the Uncanny crew for the past three stories, so this was news to me.  But whatever.

Finally, Alex and Lorna take off, but not before he takes a moment to stare lovingly at Annie before Lorna yells at him to move.  Because she’s a huge bitch.  And then as he leaves, Alex quotes an earlier line from Annie perfectly, which makes Annie believe that he is somehow connected to her.  I suppose anything to keep hope alive.

 

My thoughts exactly.

But before any more logic can be tossed around, Alpha Flight busts in and demands that “you” relinquish custody of all the children in “your” care.  I word it like that because Husk and Annie are the only ones present to hear the line.  Personally, I wish no one had been around so Guardian would have been stuck yelling his line to an empty room.

Now you may be wondering how Alpha Flight, Canada’s premier super-hero team, has managed to get the authority to take custody of any kids from the school.  As the story goes, Sammy the Fish Boy called his mother to tell her that on their way back to the school when he was first recruited, Xavier and Beast took a detour to Ireland to bail the X-Men out of the Black Tom debacle of Sammy himself dived into danger to rescue Juggernaut.  This was a lot for his first day in the school, so Sammy’s mother tried to call Professor X to talk about it.  Xavier, being both oblivious and dickish, decided not to return any of her calls, and thus Alpha Flight got involved as Sammy’s a Canadian citizen.

But that’s one child.  Why the whole school?  Recently over in New X-Men (or “the good book”) the storyline Riot at Xavier’s had come to a close with at least two students being killed.  Long story short, it’s not a very safe place to be.  The governor of New York decided to use Alpha Flight’s attempt to get Sammy as an opportunity to shut down the whole school so here we are.  But we’ll get back to Alpha Flight and their own personal ineptitude.

Remember Stacy X?  Oh come on – scaly skin, prostitute – you remember.  No one had bothered to check on her for a while so Archangel does, finding a note to him to turn on her VCR.  On the recorded message, Stacy tells Warren that she’s not sticking around to see his relationship with Husk blossom, but before she leaves, she records herself naked.  Because she’s a slutty woman – and that’s what slutty women do.

 

And she even has props!

Class act that Archangel is, he stands there watching the tape until Husk stumbles into the room looking for him.  Seeing no other way to get himself out of the situation, Archangel declares his feelings for Husk and she eats it up, but the two neglect to kiss as the tape of a naked Stacy jumping rope is still playing.  But that’s okay, the two still hug until…Husk’s ex-sort-of-boyfriend Chamber shows up!  Really, what are the odds?  Husk runs after him and Archangel destroys the naked Stacy tape.

And thus the story of Stacy X ends.  She will never again appear in Uncanny X-Men for any reason.  That whole matter of her skin falling off back in Moving Day?  We’ll never know what that was about.  Her seduction of Nightcrawler that put his faith in doubt?  Nope – no further acknowledgment from anyone about it.  She swapped back over to Archangel and decided his thing with Paige was enough to take off over.  At least it means something to someone.  Stacy would lose her powers during M-Day and would eventually be killed off as a member of the new New Warriors.

 

A fitting end.

One more sidetrack story before we get back to the main plot.  Havok, Polaris and Nightcrawler travel to an island in the Bermuda Triangle and are shown a wall sketching apparently depicting a being with a striking resemblance to Nightcrawler (we’ll get back to this in the Draco, god help us all) and then an unearthed grave of a bunch of mutant skeletons, apparently 15,000 years old, suggesting that mutants predated humans by thousands of years (we’ll also get back to this).  Havok and Nightcrawler are amazed by the matter – Polaris spends the entire time on the phone with her mother arguing about seating arrangements for the wedding as she apparently hates everyone.  Conveniently enough, just as the revelation comes up, the site is attacked by several religious zealots wielding laser blasters.  But before you have an opportunity to think “That’s stupid”, Polaris magnetically pulls the pins on their grenades and they all die.  The end.

 

My face after finishing Dominant Species.

Back at the mansion, Alpha Flight evacuates the student body from the school while Professor X calls his lawyer to see whether the whole matter is legal.  Alpha Flight starts off respectful of the scenario until they find that Juggernaut is indeed staying at the mansion and things get a little tense.  And then Puck tries to take Carter away from Nurse Annie and things blow up.  Despite Carter’s mother being right next to him, Alpha Flight still decides the boy has to be yanked to…be returned to his parent?  All of the canucks seem to be on board with the idea, so they go after Annie as she desperately tries to keep her only child safe.

 

Canadian logic, eh?

The inevitable fight breaks out and rather surprising events transpire.  First, Sasquatch manages to knock off Juggernaut’s helmet with a single blow.  Back in my day, the X-Men used to have to spend an entire issue or two to pull that feat off, but here we get it in one lone splash page.  Second, Northstar manages to disable Guardian’s tech suit, explaining that Mac should never have told him who to do so.  But by “disable” he means ripping it into shreds and leaving Guardian in a field almost completely naked.

 

Imagine the training sessions.

Chamber and Husk also join the battle, though they use the time to talk about their former kinda-relationship.  This story seems to assume that their connection from Generation X was much stronger than it actually was, but both characters had long since moved on.  It seemed rather forced, especially since they had the conversation in the middle of a battle.

As the fight intensified, Professor X remained on the phone with his lawyer rather than, you know, putting the mental whammy on the combatants.  Well, he is both oblivious and dickish after all.  Finally they find their loophole – the governor of New York who approved this whole mess is an anti-mutant bigot who has been taking contributions from the eeeeeviilll Church of Humanity!  With blackmail now on the table, the whole plan goes to hell, but Sammy still agrees to return home to his mom and the whole fight simply goes away.  Quite saddened by the loss of his only friend, Juggernaut gives Sammy his helmet as a memento of their friendship.

 

Because who really needs protection from mental attack anyway?

And thus the story ends.  Next week we’ll be looking at Holy War in which we get a whole lot of hate for the Catholic Church, several retcons, a few deaths and yet another member added to the cast!  And how fitting that it’s on April Fool’s Day!  See you then!

Missed a week?  Glutton for more punishment?  Click here for the rest of the Chuck Austen’s X-Men series!

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