One X-book this week doesn't have anything to do with either Venom or Deadpool, and this is the one!
Welcome, dear readers, to X-Men: Bland Design, the weekly multi-part recap column that strives to answer the question: "What if Ed Piskor had no art skills, a juvenile sense of humor, and less classic material to work with?"
Things have changed in the X-Men comics (and superhero comics in general) since the glory days recapped in Piskor's magnum opus. Gone are all of the thought bubbles, most of the narration boxes, most of the references to past issues, and perhaps most importantly, any trace of the idea that any comic could be some reader's first. Casting aside many of the properties that set comics apart as a medium, the modern superhero-industrial complex has instead chosen to treat comics as glorified storyboards, decompressed and written for the trade.
But for X-Men fans, it doesn't matter. We'll obsessively buy and read all of these X-Men comics until the day we die, no matter how bad they get! And if we're going to do that anyway, we might as well document the experience for you, our dear readers, brothers and sisters and non-binary siblings in suffering.
This week there are five regular-priced X-Books on the stands, which will cost you 20 bucks to buy, and, thanks to the aforementioned decompression, roughly 10 minutes to read: X-Men Blue #22, All-New Wolverine #31, Legion #2, Spider-Man vs. Deadpool #28, and Despicable Deadpool #295. Let's take a brief respite from all the Venom and Deadpool for…
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Wilfredo Torres
Colorist: Dan Brown
Letter: Travis Lanham
Cover: Javier Rodriguez
Our previous issue saw David Haller, the mutant son of Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller known as Legion who has hundreds of personalities, each with different mutant powers, inside his head, driven to New York to seek help from celebrity therapist Dr. Hannah Jones. Legion is under attack from an evil personality, Lord Trauma. Last issue, David arrived in New York just in time to save Jones from a psychic assault by Lord Trauma. Lord Trauma sounds like the name a really epic goth dude would choose for his AOL chatroom handle in 1997. That's pretty much all you need to know.
Jones isn't interested in helping David, it seems, as the issue opens with her insisting she has too many obligations to take on his case. However, she doesn't want to miss the chance of being famous for helping Legion, so she changes her mind and agrees. Dr. Jones begins examining David right away, determining that he suffers from an extreme form of dissociative identity disorder. Well she didn't need a degree for that! She could have just read the back issues. She also believes he's possessed by a demon, which must be Lord Trauma.
Dr. Jones wants to hypnotize David to get inside his head, but he has a better idea; he telepathically invites her in. That goes about as well as you might expect.
Dr. Jones's body is unconscious while she's psychically in the world inside David's head, so he calls 9-11 to take care of her. However, one of his personalities named Tami Haar shows up to slut-shame Dr. Jones, calling her a floozy. David says he needs Tami to help Dr. Jones because if Jones can't help them, it'll be all over. Back in David's head world, Doctor Jones explores some mildly weird environments before a bunch of ugly blue monsters climb out of the ground and threaten her.
Tami shows up and identifies the blue monsters as Lord Trauma's minions. They run, escaping into the "ancient cities" of David's mind (basically looks like a cave). Tami explains that they're travelling through a "guilt trip," created by dark memories David tried to repress. Here, they're safe from Lord Trauma, for now. They follow the passage until they come across one of David's old memories, forcing a psychiatrist to commit suicide when he was just a young boy.
Tami warns Dr. Jones not to bother the memory-boy, but Jones doesn't listen. Kid David is pissed and ejects them from the memory. They end up at a place called Nightmare Beach, which is officially the weirdest panel in the entire comic:
Yes, we know. It's not very weird, in the grand scheme of things. We have to admit, we would have expected more from this creative team and this comic. As the pair trek through the jungle to escape Nightmare Beach, X-pository dialogue reveals that the blue monsters are "alters," or alternate personalities, who have been "subsumed" by Lord Trauma and now do his bidding. Trauma is slowly taking over all the alters in David's head. Eventually, he'll take over all of David and that will presumably be very bad. The X-pository dialog starts to get a bit blatant…
Luckily, they're saved by another plot point, as they happen across what Tami describes as "bitter sweet spores." She tells Dr. Jones to leave them alone, but despite her tough working-class background, Dr. Jones is having a tough time learning any lessons around here. She touches them anyway, and becomes incapacitated by David's past heartbreaks. Tami bites Dr. Jones's hand open and sucks out the venom from the spores. She explains that Dr. Jones will die in the real world if she dies in David's mind.
Speaking of which, back in the real world, Dr. Jones's body is in a hospital room, which David is somehow allowed to be in. However, visiting hours are now over, and the doctors want him to leave. Before he goes, he suggests the doctors give Hannah some super-powered Marvel universe benzo, which they think is a good idea. Um, malpractice suit waiting to happen.
In the hallway outside Dr. Jones's hospital room, David has a confrontation with Lord Trauma, who is broadcasting onto the face of an elderly man in a wheelchair. Lord Trauma tells David that Dr. Jones has demons. Just then, orderlies grab David to escort him out of the building.
Later, inside Legions head, we finally get to see what Lord Trauma looks like, and he's exactly like you expect him to be:
We're pretty sure we used to be friends with Lord Trauma on MySpace. Now he probably frequents the MRA subreddit. Elsewhere, Dr. Jones wakes up (in David's mind) and tells Tami she wants to meet David's strongest alters. Suddenly, Doctor Jones starts becoming paranoid, which is interesting, because that's what David was talking about as he was being carried off back in the real world. Tami explains that when David has breakdowns, the feeling of paranoia can affect the alters inside his head as well. Hannah and Tami are swept up in a paranoia storm. Hannah starts to lose it, and the issue ends there.
The comic isn't bad, but it's not as good as it looks like it would be on paper. Ah well. At least it didn't have Deadpool. Speaking of which, next…
Ugh. Can we just read more Lord Trauma Adventures?