Monday, April 18, 2011
Uncanny X-Force #7 - A World of Awesome
Let's face it, most comics that have an army of hype behind them fail to deliver. They're like a rich rock star with a billion dollars surrounded by beautiful women that you will never see naked, but then you find out that billion dollars came from a Nigerian prince and those beautiful women used to be men. If that weren't enough when you take a closer look at the guy in the men's room, you find out that all that boasting doesn't make his dick any less smaller. What's this have to do with Uncanny X-Force? Well it happens to be that rare comic where the hype is delivered and exceeded. Rick Remender has created a bold new X-book that has become one of the best comics on the racks right now. It has action, violence, hot women in skin tight outfits, and the occasional dick joke. Seriously, what more could you want in a comic?
Uncanny X-Force started strong and hasn't waned in the slightest. It hit the ground running with the Apocalypse arc, pitting X-Force against one of their most dangerous foes. But in a strange twist, said foe was in kid form and was likely still shitting his pants. In addition to the action, there's plenty of characterization and drama to go around. Angel and Psylocke used to be hot and heavy back in the 90s when boy bands weren't nearly as gay. They were separated for a while, mainly because Psylocke had to up and die for a bit and Angel wasn't into necrophilia. But in this series they're back together and already they're facing challenges, namely Angel struggling with his Arcangel persona. Having encountered Apocalypse as a kid fucked him up in ways that only tequila, vodka, and a dash of varnish could match. But that hasn't been the biggest source of contention in this new team.
In the very first arc X-Force was shaken when their trigger-happy French wannabe, Fantomex, put a bullet between the eyes of Kidpocalypse after everyone agreed that killing a kid was a no-no. In the last issue, the team was about as well-organized as the Oakland Raiders. So when Fantomex took a time-out, he ended up getting attacked by Deathlok cyborgs from the future. It's not quite as intense as a battle with Apocalypse, but you gotta admit Deathlok cyborgs from the future are pretty damn awesome. They wanted Fantomex to hand over The World, this tiny pocket universe where he became the snooty son-of-a-bitch we all know and love. They learned from one of the cyborgs that they're from a future where Earth was made into a Utopia by turning Earth's mightiest heroes into Terminator knock-offs. It's a dick move, but it worked. And the one guy who can stop this utopia from happening is Fantomex. So X-Force came along and helped this guy. Now they have to stop the guy behind this plan, who calls himself a horribly unoriginal name in "Father." Wait...they're STOPPING a utopia from being created? Isn't that another dick move? Then again, this is X-Force. Dick moves kind of come with the territory.
Uncanny X-Force #7 starts right where Uncanny X-Force #6 ended. X-Force has saved Fantomex's child-murdering ass and now they're helping him. If for not other reason to show that they're not nearly as dickish as him. There are only so many dick moves you can put into one arc. So to stop Father, they have to go into the World. To do this, Fantomex enlarges it. Deadpool manages to make a dick joke out of it. I'm sorry if the subject of dicks keeps coming up, but in a book like this with so much badassery it's only fitting that phallic symbology is rampant. So the team enters the World, which looks a lot like a compilation of shitty dioramas done by a third-grade history class, and sets off to give Father a faceful of lead.
Like Scooby Doo, the team decides to split up and cover more ground. Seriously, when has that shit ever worked? Could this be a rare exception? It's not clear, but it presents a good opportunity for some witty conversations between Deadpool and Fantomex. It's not so much witty as it is an argument as to who is the most despised member of the team. It's somewhat revealing. Fantomex has been watched and monitored his whole life and Deadpool points out how that may affect him. It feels like it should be a more personal moment for Fantomex, who is in serious need of sympathy after he put a bullet in the head of Kidpocalypse. But it doesn't come. Deadpool goes off on his own while Father, the guy they're hunting, is playing the role of the hidden camera in Revenge of the Nerds. Except this time there's no bush to speak of.
Once they break off, Deathlok and Wolverine have a much simpler conversation. Like Bugs Bunny, they suspect they're being watched. Like Bugs Bunny, they turn out to be right because they end up getting attacked by cyborg Wolverine and cyborg Deadpool. They don't have nearly the personality that the Avengers cyborgs had in the last issue, but it makes for some solid action that involves swords, guns, claws, and being thrown off what may be a cliff or may be a giant gumball.
Up in the air it's Angel and Psylocke trying to get a bird's eye few of things. That or Angel just want's an excuse to cop a feel from Psylocke's boobs. Or it could be both. In either case, they end up getting attacked too. But not before they have another revealing conversation. Like the conversation with Deadpool and Fantomex, it's a little short. Angel just says he wants to fight his Arcangel personality on his own sometimes and doesn't want to be mothered. Not a good thing to say to your hot telepathic girlfriend. But they don't get to argue about it on account of being hit by a missile. Not sure if that counts as another dick joke. We'll count it anyways just because!
The attack comes from Angel and Psylock's cyborg counterparts no less. It soon crosses paths with Wolverine and Deathlok's battle. It doesn't involve as many explosions for someone trying to cop a feel on Psylock, but it's gritty and harsh just as you would expect from an X-Force book.
While this is going on, Deadpool is out wandering around. Somehow he ends up wandering right into the lair of Father. Now he doesn't have telepathy or super-heightened senses. He's also about as stable as Afghanistan economy yet somehow he's able to find their target? It seems like a ridiculous stroke of luck on a character whose main appeal is being so unbelievably ridiculous. Then he actually confronts Father and it seems pretty clear that the guy let Deadpool find him. It's clear because he starts treating Deadpool like...well, he's his father and he's proud of him. If you're going to try and fuck with your enemy, you might as well do it with the one guy who's about as nutty as a sober Amy Winehouse.
While Deadpool is getting some much needed parenting, Psylock and Angel continue their air battle with their cyborg counterparts. It's like a scene out of Top Gun without the burden of Tom Cruise's acting. Psylock manages to show some flare that she hasn't shown in a few issues. She uses her katana to basically stab her cyborg self in the head. Pretty badass for a girl who runs around in an outfit that prominently shows off her ass (not that anyone is complaining). Cyborg Angel's defeat is much less spectacular. He just crashes. Yep, these cyborgs may as well have been made by North Korea.
Then during the fight, the cyborgs get new instructions. Apparently beating up X-Force isn't nearly as important anymore, which is another Scooby Doo inspired mistake. Instead of taking out the enemy directly, Father gets fancy. He sends one of the cyborgs to meet up with Fantomex. One of them disguises himself as Deathlok and reaches Fantomex just as he unlocks a little surprise. It's better than a Christmas present from High Hefner when he's drunk. It's Ultimaton, which sounds like a Transformer but it's actually Weapon XV. It also doubles as Fantomex's pet, which he promptly orders to destroy his cyborg counterpart. Beats the hell out of a pit bull!
That's another cyborg down, but another quickly pounces on him like a lobbyist for Goldman Sachs. This time he doesn't sick his super-weapon pet on him. He orders Ultimaton back into the lab to guard it. It turns out to be a dumb move because it would have made the fight against these two a lot easier. And really, what would he have lost by bringing it out in the open? You can chalk it up to a dumb mistake because the Wolverine and Deadpool cyborgs kick Fantomex's French-loving ass. They even stab him for good measure. It's the kind of brutal fighting you won't get in any other X-book aside from Deadpool! Plus, Fantomex has sort of had it coming so you don't feel too bad for him.
This entire scene is being scrutinized more than Ashley Olson's eating habits by Father and Deadpool. Oddly enough, Father sounds like the crazy one here. He sounds like a sadist masturbating to the last Saw movie as he's watching Fantomex get his ass kicked. Then he gets creepy, even by Deadpool standards. Deadpool is crazy, but only to a point. When someone starts saying he's going to kiss him and tuck him into bed, that's the point where you want to slowly back away or cut the guy's head off. Guess which one Deadpool does?
If you were surprised in any way, then the tumor in your frontal lobe has become too big. It's the kind of mindless Deadpool action that he hasn't really had a chance to do in Uncanny X-Force. He's shown so little craziness at times that it's made him seem out of character. Well this helps tip the scale in the other direction. Deadpool decapitating Father is a fitting way to take out the bad guy. His whole plan to turn X-Force against each other really fucked up when he started trying to exceed Deadpool's crazy. As any psycho off his meds will tell you, you just don't fuck with that kind of crazy.
The death of Father essentially ends the cyborg attack. Once they know the game is over, they do like my last X-Box 360 and flash the red light of death. So X-Force no longer has to fight and the whole cyborg policed utopia is no more. Wait...did the good guys win? Did X-Force just prevent a happy future for once? It's enough to leave the reader a bit conflicted. But then Deadpool presents Father's head with a nice joke and that helps soften the blow. But still, a future full of cyborg super-heroes would have been pretty damn awesome. I smell a spin-off!
That could have been the end right there, but there's one other loose end to tie up. Remember that Ultimaton that Fantomex released earlier? Why didn't Fantomex use him? Why did he have him guard this lab that was behind a massive safe? That could be a huge plot hole, but Rick Remender does not leave it unfilled. He reveals that the Ultimaton was guarding something very precious and something Fantomex didn't want the others to see. He was guarding a new Kidpocalypse. That's right. Another Apocalypse is being raised! This time it's an infant. So it would be infantpocalypse...okay, it doesn't have a very good ring to it. But still, you get the point! It was revealed a few months ago that Age of Apocalypse was going to cross over with Uncanny X-Force. Well this may be the beginning. If that's not enough to soak your panties, you need to get a little extra zinc in your diet!
So another arc of Uncanny X-Force is complete. Another enemy got the Jack Kavorkian treatment. This time it wasn't a bullet between the eyes. It was a full on decapitation. Unlike the Kidpocalypse battle, isn't exactly shocking. But it's still pretty damn satisfying. Not satisfying like a three-way with Playboy playmates on a bed lined with cocaine, but still pretty satisfying. It presented X-Force with a new enemy in Father and it wasn't the typical Bastion-like enemy who just wants to find the buttons that make the boom noise. He's the kind of enemy that's difficult for any team to handle. The normal X-men would have struggled against the guy because X-men are less inclined to chop heads off like voodoo animal sacrifice. It's remarkable how Remender is able to set this team apart, showing that they are not like the other X-men and they have to operate in a different way. Once again, he played perceptions in the way Keith Richards plays a guitar after a hit of smack. This time it was Deadpool who got to shine while Fantomex got some much deserved punishment. It was a fitting ending that lays the groundwork for the upcoming Age of Apocalypse story. You can't ask for much more aside from demanding that each page be drawn in the blood of a Unicorn.
This comic was heavy on action and excellent pacing. While I love a Michael Bay style string of explosions as much as the next guy, there was still a clear effort to flesh out the characters. However, that effort fell short. The scenes with Fantomex were underwhelming. No one really brought up Kidpocalypse and there was no sense of progress from this affair at least in terms of how the team relates to one another. The scene with Angel and Psylocke was also underdeveloped. You get the sense that Remender is trying to build some tension between them, but it feels half-hearted. It doesn't play into the action and it just seems like it's been done halfway. It's not a serious flaw in the book, but it still is a slight flaw that's difficult to ignore. Luckily, all the other positives such as the art, dialog, action, and pacing more than make up for it. Any self-respecting X-fan and even those who don't respect themselves can pickup this book and be as entertained as a porn addict inside a super-model's dressing room.
Uncanny X-Force continues to be the standard by which all other X-books are measured. It has raised the bar in terms of quality, style, and action. It used to be that if you only got one X-book, that book would be Uncanny X-men because that's where the action was. Well even with a new writer in Kieron Gillen, that role has been usurped by Uncanny X-Force. If you're a cheap bastard who will only buy one X-men comic a month, this is the book you should get. Uncanny X-Force #7 continues this growing tradition of awesome, earning it a 4.5 out of 5. It has everything you could ask for without having to take your pants off. What more do you need in a comic? Nuff said!