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Avril Brown Presents:









The only thing worse than a bad idea is a good idea gone bad.

Bad ideas are just that: all-around bad. But we can laugh at their terrible-ness. We can do a Mystery Science Theater on a bad idea and still have fun with it. Good ideas gone bad, however, had the potential to stay good ideas, but someone or something along the way fucked it up, resulting in an idea that ought to have never existed at all. Not in its mangled, pathetic bad form.

This may be a bit off the not-yet beaten path of comics and fashion, but it will be abundantly clear to you soon, gentle readers, that I have to rant.

Topping the list of ingenious ideas gone awry at the moment, partly because this is a fresh wound, is Ultimate X-Men #89, written by Robert Kirkman. What really gets my goat about this one is that I like Kirkman. I enjoyed the ‘Date Night’ story arc immensely. Following an act like Brian K. Vaughn, especially after the magnificent ‘Magnetic North’ story line, isn’t easy, but Kirkman had some great lines and plot twists. Having the Shi’ar be a religious organization rather than an avian alien race, and Kurt Wagner being a homophobe rather than an understanding, love-thy-fellow-man character were excellent Ultimized versions of classic characters. It is rare that I venture outside of the Marvel universe, and zombies really freak me out, but at a fellow geek’s suggestion I read the first six volumes of ‘The Walking Dead.’ Disturbing though they may be, they are also excellent, well-written comics.

Couple that impressive resume with the tantalizing hints of Ultimate Shadow King sprinkled in random stories throughout the years, and you’ve got yourself a nice build-up. Ororo’s random and increasingly disturbing dreams, not to mention the play she was writing named after a certain king of shadows, had me anxiously anticipating the coming story. It was with a sense of heightened anticipation that I opened the latest Ultimate X-Men issue. I was finally going to meet the Ultimate Shadow King, who was somehow connected/obsessed with Storm. Too cool!

I couldn’t wait. And then I read it, and I couldn’t believe my eyes.

The Shadow King in the mainstream X-verse is an extremely powerful malevolent psychic force who clashed with the X-Men on several occasions. He was responsible for one of Xavier’s bouts with paralysis, and it once took all of Psylocke’s psychic powers to contain him on the astral plain. The Shadow King in the Ultimate X-verse is an egotistical, pretty-boy ex-boyfriend of Storm’s, whom she defeats in her head in two pages.

WTF?!?!?!?!

I was looking forward to a refreshing new take on a serious Marvel bad-ass, and this is what I get? A hapless philanderer, a deleted play and a cheesy, soap opera line about being done with bad boys? For shame! (And are we really supposed to believe that Ororo and Wolverine haven’t been knocking boots for the past several months? Puh-leaze.) Instead of an impressive battle with an impressive foe, we get a story idea that’s so done, it’s not even retro anymore. Blast from the past shows up, blames hero for past hurts or misdeeds, the full sappy story comes out, hero is found to be not wholly responsible, villain is vanquished, hero learns a valuable lesson and gets a cookie.

Oh, Robert, I know you’re better than that.

Another blatant abuse of a well-thought out idea is the movie X-Men 3: The Last Stand. Once again, there was some amazing build-up to this movie. I liked the first X-Men movie, and there’s no debate on the awesomeness that is X2. And then we get X-Men 3, also known as the biggest pile of CRAP that has ever emerged from the land of Crapville. Directed by Crappy McCrapperson, and produced by the Crapper.

There were parts of X3 that I really enjoyed. The effects were pretty cool, and some of the plot devices were solid. The idea of the Phoenix Force being a second personality Jean manifested (with help from Xavier) as a way of dealing with her god-like powers was brilliant. I mean, let’s face it, Jean cooling her heels in a cozy cocoon at the bottom of the Caribbean while her genetic clone wreaked havoc in the sky above is most certainly a comic book story line, and not a cinematic one.

But then someone or someones had to go and fuck it up. Killing Cyclops – CYCLOPS – within the first five minutes of the movie? Now I’ve never been the hugest fan of Scott Summers myself; too much of a Boy Scout for my tastes. However, there’s no denying he’s the heart of the X-Men. And you can’t rip out the heart with a few lines and some vague special effects and expect the body to recover, especially if it only has two hours to heal.

While the audience is still trying to process the fact that Jean seems to have killed Scott off-camera, they go ahead and take the brain of the X-team: Charles Xavier. His overwhelming power and knowledge of how best to use that power meant he deserved a better send off than dissolving into a hundred thousand H2O droplets with “Don’t let it control you,” as his pathetic last words. (And since Jean had spliced his body into tiny little molecules, you’d think he’d notice ‘it’ was already controlling her to an insane degree.)

Then we have the whole Rogue/Bobby/Kitty thing. Scott’s been dead for thirty minutes, Jean’s been evil for a shade longer than that, Wolverine’s resisting her wiles and already we need a new love triangle to moon over? I guess it was breaking news, considering they felt so strongly about Kitty’s character they had to change actresses every film.

To top it off we have Wolverine giving an inspirational speech on how neat it is to be an X-Man. Wolverine is the best there is at what he does, but that does NOT include doling out pep talks to the next generation on how to be a good person. By this point, when we reach the end of the film and what should have been the most dramatic part of the movie (if not the most predictable), the audience is already tapped out on ridiculousness. So Wolverine professes his love while stabbing a grateful Jean in the stomach in order to save the world. Big friggin’ deal.

Fantastic, tension-mounting build-ups, followed by such spectacular let downs. We see and experience them throughout all aspects of life. At the risk of sounding like Ms. Psycho Pep Squad (to borrow a line from the spectacular Joss Whedon), we can’t let a few disappointments poison our love. There will always be disappointments. There will always be people, events, movies and comics that don’t live up to expectations. The trick is to keep faith that it will get better and to remind yourself of why you fell in love in the first place. Remember, some things are worth second chances.

So please Mr. Kirkman, make Ultimate Apocalypse ROCK.

Avril Brown





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