Pretty Ugly

19 Jun

By Ayo

“Septic Beauty”
Weapon X: The Draft – Marrow
Marvel Comics, 2002
Christina Z. & Brandon Badeaux

For some strange reason, this comic begins with the modern Marvel Comics recap page, telling you the concept of the comic and a quick bio of who the main character is. Even though the main body of the comic is written in the old style which has enough narration to provide the same information in-story. It made sense that comic book writers (and editors) hadn’t adapted to the recap page in 1998. It’s totally inexcusable that they were still unequipped to handle this storytelling tool in 2002.

Anyway, this comic is a true classic. A one-shot lead-in to a planned series of Weapon X comics, this particular comic took one of the few interesting late-1990s X-Men characters (Marrow) and turned her into an uninteresting character.

The first page of this comic is the protagonist hung on a science/torture machine (in her underwear, naturally) while some Weapon X scientist narrates about how awesome Mengele was. Yes, the famous Nazi scientist. That’s where this comic goes from page one: straight into the mind of an unseen mad scientist who idolizes Mengel. That’s when I stopped even pretending that this would be anything but two scoops of soft-serve diarrhea.

More narration over the two page spread. Why do mad scientists talk so much?

What does the protagonist want? The protagonist isn’t the mad scientist, it’s Marrow (real name “Sarah.”) A person who has jagged bones sticking out of her and just wants to be pretty. Evil science has made her pretty. Now, evil science demands that she assassinate people, starting with her old (evil) buddy.

Fuck that, Sarah is pretty now. She goes to someplace called “New York’s Upper East Side,” to party with some tropical villa themed club, but in my experience, the Upper East Side, while wealthy, is largely residential. I guess. I’m probably wrong, right? Our friend Sarah reminisces about the last time she visited the area (when she was ugly) and killed everybody in sight (a thing that ugly people do–you wouldn’t understand) and today, she is suddenly given the Beautiful People Treatment. Being pretty is awesome, everybody wants you to come into the club for free.

Anyway some smooth, charming gentleman named Junichi (who would never have been let into a club dressed like that) picks our buddy up and “Hours Later,” they are hanging out at his Really Japanesey apartment. And by “hanging out,” of course I mean “saying stupid post-sex things at each other.”

Ahem:

Sarah: “I don’t want this night to /end/, Junichi… if someone told me yesterday I’d have a night like this tonight… I’d have /never/ believed them.”

Junichi: “Mmm… Can’t say I’ve had a night quite like this myself.”

I don’t know how to say this without sounding crass but listen: if you have ever uttered some shit like this in real life, that’s your answer to why s/he never called back, you horrific cornball.

It gets better/worse:

Sarah: “I… I don’t know how to say this without sounding corny, Junichi… but you’ve really helped me to feel… well, “normal.” And I just want to /thank you/ for that.”

By the way, this is a comic book and they are supposed to be kissing in bed but their expressions look like she’s giving birth and he’s taking a MySpace self photo. Only it’s 2002 and MySpace hadn’t been invented yet. I think he’s kissing her shoulder.

Anyway, Junichi is a Cylon (no, just another bullshit supervillain in disguise)

Sarah: “But–but–you /touched/ me. We were /intimate!/”

Jesus Christ.

Then Sarah/Marrow and “Junichi”/Mesmero have a naked shower fight like the movie “Eastern Promises.”

There is a panel that implies that Marrow kills the shit out of Mesmero but unfortunately it is later revealed that “with some minor rehabilitation” he will “recover easily.” To make matters worse, the story ends with Marrow walking up to the mad scientist and cutting off her ponytail because she has no feelings or something.

“Septic Beauty” feeds into a societal idea that turns my stomach: the woman whose prime (sole) concern is beauty. One who would make any deal, betray anyone just to look good. In life, yes, there are plenty of women for whom beauty is the highest concern. I’m not saying these characters shouldn’t be written about at all. I just wish that someone did not write a superhero book about how becoming pretty is worth killing your best friend over. I’m saying that’s not the character of Marrow and that’s not what a comic called “Weapon X” should be about. Wolverine was a Weapon X. He never cried because he wasn’t handsome. Really bad thematic values on this one.

One Response to “Pretty Ugly”

  1. ross campbell June 26, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    ugh

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