Monday, December 20, 2010

Uncanny X-Force #3 - Moonlite Awesome

When a new comic comes along and blows your mind there are many ways in which readers react. It goes without saying that like a murder conviction against OJ Simpson, new comics are hit or miss. Some may start off good. Some may even be good for a few arcs before going down faster than Paris Hilton at a male strip club. When a book really sets itself apart as something special, it's almost like Christmas and Mardis Gras rolled into one. It makes you feel so warm and fuzzy like Christmas morning yet it also makes you want to run out into the streets naked, flashing your tits, and drinking until you're taking a dump in no fewer than three different public areas.

Uncanny X-Force is only three issues in and already it's establishing itself as one of those special comics. Now I haven't gone running out into the streets naked yet like I did with Brightest Day (the charges haven't been dropped yet), but after the first two issues I'm definitely getting oiled up! Rick Remender has really set up something great here. He did what the Miami Heat did and got together a group of all stars minus Lebron James's douche-bag factor. Wolverine, Arcangel, Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fantomex are all heavy hitters. And their first fight is against Apocalypse no less. It's like the Heat are going up against Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls in his prime at the beginning of the season. It's taking no chances, sparing no expense, and throwing everything on the table like a pathological gambler trying to recoup his losses when he's behind on his payments from his loan shark. So far the results have been awesome without the mob having to break your legs.

The last issue took the action all the way to the moon. No, that's not a metaphor. I mean it. Apocalypse's base is actually on the dark side of the freakin' moon and that's where X-Force has to go to take him out. In terms of setting the mood, it's right up there with candles and Barry White music. When X-Force attacked, they were met with Apocalypse's new Horsemen. They were not familiar faces this time. They weren't mind-controlled X-men or villains. They were brand spanking new, ranging from an ancient Greek minotaur to an innocent looking Asian woman (one who could easily be the victim of tentacle rape in anime porn). These guys end up packing quite a punch and give X-Force a spanking that would give even the most hardened sadist a boner.

Uncanny X-Force #3 starts off by explaining the origins of these new horsemen. Each get a full page of history to show that Remender isn't doing a Hugh Grant and pulling stuff right out of his ass. War was once a begger in Ancient Rome who transformed himself into a mutant that became a brutal, half-animal gladiator that enjoyed all the orgies Rome could throw at him. Famine was once a boy for the Confederate army in the American Civil War who was deemed a traitor by a somewhat stupid mix-up by his peers, causing a latent mutant power that fed on human flesh to activate. Pestilence was once a woman in medieval Japan who was jealous how all the other women in her village, so she sent swarms of bugs to disfigure all the other women. Death was once the bastard son of an ancient Persian king who developed a mutant power to spread disease, which he used to destroy his father's kingdom. It offers a basic yet compelling background for these horsemen. Together they are Apocalypse's new A-Team and they show their worthy by schooling X-Force in the mean Catholic nun tradition.

This isn't just narration either. This is the history Psylocke senses. She and X-Force are essentially rendered helpless and the kid Apocalypse (who still haunts my nightmares for his Justin Biebeir style creepiness), is given a choice by his handlers on how they're to be killed. Oddly enough, the kid Apocalypse hasn't developed his asshole side yet and he hesitates. That doesn't matter thought. His handlers, like shitty parents, decide for him. It almost has the makings of a John Huges movie, may he rest in peace.

That hesitation buys some time for X-Force. It allows Wolverine to pull himself together and attack Death despite looking like a patient worthy of two episodes of House. He gets in a few solid shots, showing some of the classic grit we've all come to expect from the cunnucklehead. Wolverine can kick ass even when he looks like a victim of the Black Plague, but he's as handicapped as the rest of X-Force to say the least.

It also allows Psylocke to do some tweaking with Fantomex, allowing him to stop sensing how much pain he's in so he can fight. It beats the shit out of morphine, but the horsemen still put up quite a fight. He takes on Pestilence, who gets right in his way. It doesn't seem like a fair fight, a womanizing French man against a Japanese woman. However, Fantomex still has to resort to trickery. He makes Pestilence believe he's her asshole father and for messed up young woman, that's worse than kryptonite mixed with PMS.

All the disease and blood is starting to get gruesome. At this point, most would be in need of comic relief. Enter Deadpool, the very embodiment of comic relief in the world of X-comics. Normally that relief involves blowing shit up or shooting the hell out of some other shit. This time it's actually a bit more heroic. Deadpool comes to Arcangel's aid and pitches a quick emergency tent. Now how he got such a tent and how it can work in an atmosphere like the moon makes no sense in the real world, but it's Deadpool. He's earned the right to break the laws of physics.

He's going Arcangel again and good old Angel needs a kick start. So what does Deadpool do? Does he use a grenade or shock therapy? No, he uses pop rocks and soda. Anyone who knows anything about urban legends and shit knows you never mix pop rocks with soda. Only those as crazy as Deadpool need apply.

While this is going on, War is getting away with Psylocke. Because what's a struggle against an evil mutant tyrant without a hot Asian woman being taken hostage? Since Wolverine has a soft spot for Asian women (even if they end up dead), he fights just a little bit harder against the sickness Death is inflicting on him. Granted he looks like something the Hulk ate and shat out during a bad case of diarrhea, but contrary to what David Lee Roth says winning the battle is more satisfying than looking good doing it.

So they fight off the attack and lucky for them the horsemen don't stick around to finish the job. It's not a very sound tactic, but then again Apocalypse is still probably wetting the bed at his tender age so tactics shouldn't be quite as refined. They didn't come away empty-handed though. They did capture Psylocke and hot Asian women are like currency to comic book villains it seems. She wakes with War looking over her the same way a pedophile looks over old footage of the Olsen twins. Oddly enough, the hideous creature has somehow fallen for Betsy. A hot ninja woman with a British accent is just too irresistible. Say what you will about such methods, about 55 percent of the men reading this book would probably do the same.

It's all a psychic ruse of course (it has to be if Marvel is to keep the perverted Asian market). Psylocke uses the ruse on War to basically knife him in the face, which can be construed as a feminists response to all the tentacle rape every teenage boy has ever jerked off to. It puts Psylocke in a much better position than the rest of X-Force.

The only other ones in a position to come to her aid are Wolverine and Fantomex. They're still trying to work their way inside while Deadpool continues his pop-rocks treatment with Arcangel. Their little intrusion is cut off because rather than stick around and play defense, the horsemen are choosing to teleport away. It's a bit of a cop out, but it adds further complications to X-Force's mission and makes for good witty dialog between Wolverine and Fantomex. In a comic full of action and hot Asian chicks, it's nice Rick Remender takes at least some time to make some memorable one-liners.

So the bad guys are getting away. It's like the end of every episode of Inspector Gadget. The kid Apocalypse is in his room playing with his action figures (not a masterbation joke by the way), still showing that he has some innocence behind that exceedingly creepy exterior. Just because he looks like Apocalypse doesn't mean he's grown into the douche-bag tyrant that has caused so many migraines with the X-men. This makes for a very awkward moment because before the ship teleports away, Psylocke confronts him. This being the guy she was so intent on killing in the last issue, the kid is in a perfectly reasonable position to shit his pants. It's also an annoyingly fitting way to end the book.

The stage is set for the kid Apocalypse to get a permanent time-out from an angry Asian ninja chick in a completely non-pornographic way. Throw all that together with the death, war, pestilence, and famine of the horsemen battle and you've got all the elements that make Uncanny X-Force #3 so awesome. It doesn't drag at any point yet it still has a certain depth to it that makes it feel less like a Michael Bay movie and more like a Peter Jackson movie. There's wit, charm, and hot ninja chicks. If there's another way to make a comic awesome, I don't know of it.

Now in criticizing this book, I think it says a lot when I have to actually think about things that are wrong with it. I would need several hits of acid and a few spirit quests to really find something that Rick Remender did wrong here. The first three issues of Uncanny X-Force have been masterfully done. They've had personal elements with the Betsy/Warren plot. They've had plenty of action elements with the battle against Apocalypse. They've had plenty of depth too as was demonstrated in this issue when the four horsemen were given some background stories. If there's anything really wrong here it's that the art was a little dark at times, lacking some refinement in some areas. Some of that may be because it takes place on the freakin' moon, but there really isn't much else. This issue continues and refines what is set up in the first two issues, adding polish to a product that was already shiney enough for stoners to stare at to begin with.

This lack of flaws make the scoring fairly easy. I simply can't give it anything less than a 5 out of 5. This issue was another solid piece of comic book awesome from Rick Remender. Uncanny X-Force #3 helps to further solidify this series as one of the best new series to come about in the X-books in quite some time. I've few other ways to describe how awesome it is, so instead I'll just end this review with a hot shot of Psylocke. Nuff said!

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