X-Men Black #2
Mojo - “Mojo Rising”
Mojo is beneath the Empire State Building, going off on a diatribe about how for too long, new mutants who seem designed to cater to changing demographics have overshadowed the classic ones, and how he – as a true fan – determined to bring the classic X-Men back to the forefront. Before he implements his plan, though, he has to go on a recon mission into the city of New York to make sure that there are no heroes around who can disturb his plan. Mojo’s right-hand man, Major Domo, mentally notes that this is yet another recon mission, and from his demeanour, it’s obvious that this isn’t like Mojo’s usual behaviour.
Presumably, neither is throwing on a form-fitting trenchcoat and top hat, but there he is on the streets of New York, trundling along on his spider-leg seat, which tends to get a lot of attention and just as many compliments. As he makes his way to a coffee shop, he goes over a few pick-up lines, each one absolutely awful. He gives up once he’s inside the café and, after acquiring his ludicrously complicated order (under the name Shlomo), finds the subject of his recon mission – not a hero, not even someone powered – just a young woman with a hot pink pixie cut and contrasting purple undercut, drinking coffee and working away at a laptop. That’s right, Mojo isn’t actually doing any recon, he just has a ginormous crush. One which renders him at a loss for words, because instead of using any awful pick-up lines on her, he simply asks if she’s ever seen a pencil before. It’s his duty as part of the Pencil Patrol, he explains.
Realizing that his pick-up line did nothing except weird the woman out, a dejected, embarrassed Mojo turns away...only to be recognized by Glob Herman, who’s there in all of his pink goo and skeletal glory, without a disguise. He recognizes Mojo – because what student of either the Xavier School or the Jean Grey school wouldn’t - and offers to be Mojo’s wingman. When he asks Mojo how he met the woman, Mojo explains that he had bumped into her two weeks earlier and she’d gone off on him, which had led to instant attraction on his part. While Glob thinks that’s not the most romantic way to meet someone – and he would be absolutely right – he does offer some sage advice on getting to know her, and giving her the chance to look past his challenging characteristics. Once the talk is over, they realize that the woman has left, and Glob consoles Mojo, telling him there’s always tomorrow.
Unbeknownst to both of them, Major Domo is spying on them as they leave the café and walk through New York. Mojo is surprised that so many humans are friendly to Glob – despite the fact that he looks the way he does – and while one person does go off on Glob, Glob explains to Mojo that he tries not to let things like that bother him. Glob’s influence doesn’t take long to rub off on Mojo because before they realize it, Mojo’s saving a little girl from being hit by a car. He may not do it in the most heroic fashion – picking the car up by the front and telling the driver off – but it’s something. They arrive at the Xavier Institute before long and Glob offers to hang out again sometime – weird looking dudes need to stick together, you know?
Before Mojo can leave, a sentinel-looking thing called the Half-Sentinent lands on the lawn of the school. Mojo realizes that Major Domo had sent the thing to attack the school. X-23 and the students at the Institute – including a delightfully disgusting new one named Mukus, who can spit some sort of mutated mucus – attacks the killer machine. While that’s happening, Major Domo arrives with what he believes to be the second part of Mojo’s plan – dangling his very human crush to use as leverage, because why else would Mojo have been interested in her? While he may have been okay with the X-Men being attacked, his crush is a completely different story, so Mojo interferes with a surprise cancellation, saves his crush, and actually manages to ask her out.
Two weeks later, Mojo is planning another attack on the X-Men, but is distracted on his new social life – both Glob and his crush – whose name we find out is Ann N. - want to hang out.
Apocalypse - ‘Degeneration Part 2 of 5’
Having just discovered that he’s become human, or something akin to it, and lost on an alien planet, Apocalypse is absolutely lost in a number of ways. As he treks through the alien landscape, trying to find answers, he finds himself dealing with a number of things he’s never had to deal with before – including how uncomfortable a hot landscape can be, and what dehydration feels like. Unfortunately, the first water source he comes across is undrinkable.
Thirsty, unsure of how long he can go without water, Apocalypse deals with the deafening cry from some animalistic plants and comes across a group of giant insects. They, like everything else around him, has been blooming rapidly, which he finds unfair. The insects detected Apocalypse and, thinking him a threat to their home and spawn– which is far more civilized than the crude architecture insects on Earth are capable of – they attack Apocalypse. He falls and, losing the last of his armor – all of which he’s steadily been removing as the story has progressed – he falls into a deep valley. Losing even his intellect – he crawls into a cave and drinks from a red pool of liquid, not caring if it’s safe. He’s regressing, and he’s not sure what he’s turning into, or what will he survive. He wonders, though, if he even deserves to live if there are others who are above him.
Mojo – “Mojo Rising”
This was a FUN story. One of the most striking things about it was the addition of Glob Herman – what an unlikely but fitting supporting character for a story like this – and he really shone in this issue as a friendly, happy-go-lucky people person. It’s an interesting friendship angle to play, but it’s one that would be interesting to see continued, to see how Mojo and Glob play off each other, and how it affects both of them as people, villains, and heroes. Seeing Mojo as part of the real world, interacting with it in a way that he usually wouldn’t, is incredibly interesting shows off a little-seen side of him.
There’s some smart, relevant jokes woven into the story, starting with Mojo’s anger about new heroes supplanting the old ones (though he does learn the value of new heroes in befriending Glob) and moving on to things like Mojo’s belief that a trenchcoat would actually help disguise him and his spider-leg chair. Just because it works for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn’t necessarily mean it would work for him, and it’s great that a trope that so often works in pop cultural media is subverted here, even if unintentionally so, by a character whose entire life is media entertainment. The little shoutout to the name of Mojo’s crush – Ann N. – is also a nice little nod to his creator, Ann Nocenti.
The art in the first half of the issue is great – Nick Bradshaw was born to draw Mojo and, if anything, this is a team that should come together to write more Mojo, while possibly incoprorating the likes of Longshot into the proceedings. While Mojo is appropriately creepy-looking, he also emotes really well, and he comes across as more of a real character than just a ratings-obsessed villain. There’s a flatness that sometimes accompanies the character, but he’s far more well-rounded and interesting here, and it’s such a nice break from the grim and grittiness that comics sometimes get pulled into.
Apocalypse – ‘Degeneration Part 2 of 5’
This continues to be a fascinating look into the psychology of Apocalypse when everything he has been and everything he identifies with is stripped away from him. Powerless, human, with his intellect slipping away, forced to deal with things like fatigue, dehydration, and heat, Apocalypse is dealing with all of his worst fears coming for him at once. In all of his years he’s never regressed quite this way, and it doesn’t seem as though anyone is going to be able to save him this time.
Even though he’s a villain, Thompson and Nadler manage to make Apocalypse a sympathetic lead here. He’s never been quite so helpless, and as he treks through the landscape, he’s stripped of all of his identifiable characteristics, leaving behind just the man beneath the armour. You feel for him as he’s attacked by the wild life, thirsty, and alone, and it’s made all the worse when you realize that he might lose all of himself and die alone. He will, undoubtedly, get out of the pickle he’s in, but there’s no clear hint as to how that might be yet.
An unexpectedly fun, bright, heartwarming story with some great art, followed by an intriguing psychological look at a classic X-Men villain, this book has something for everyone. Whether or not you're a fan of Mojo or Apocalypse, this book earns a high recommendation.
X-Men Black #2: A Crush and a Crash
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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