Sunday, June 12, 2011
Uncanny X-Force #11 - Otherworldly Awesome
Uncanny X-Force has been like that high-class call-girl that always gives you a discount when you're in the mood for a little something special. It's easily been the best and most consistent X-book on the racks since Second Coming. I've exhausted nearly every way of describing how awesome this series has been. There's just something about a secret group of X-men that actually kill the assholes they come across that puts a smile on my face. Between that and a cold beer, you've got the meaning of life in 24 short pages minus the dumb ads.
The first event of this series involved Apocalypse. It didn't do much building towards that moment. The book started, the team went up against Apocalypse, shit got real, Deadpool fed pieces of himself to Arcangel, Fantomex shot a kid in the head, and everyone went home in an awkward silence. It was such a great beginning to the series. It was almost like Natalie Portman covering herself in milk-chocolate before offering a free fuck. Since then Uncanny X-Force has had a number of smaller arcs, but many stem from the aftermath of the first. For some reason, killing a kid on their first mission fucked some people up. Even Deadpool wasn't okay with it and that's a guy who chases pink elephants in his dreams while jerking off with taco meat. Then their resident Angel (and rich fuck who pays the bills) had an identity crisis. The whole Arcangel persona that Apocalypse himself shoved up his ass started getting extra mean, so much so that it fucked up his rebuilding relationship with Psylocke after only ten issues of having been back together. I'm no Dr. Phil, but I'm pretty sure that if you start pushing away a hot Asian chick that loves you enough to be your psychic therapist then you're not just in need a therapy. You need to be partially castrated and half your frontal lobe removed.
Arcangel's Apocalypse transformation came to a head when he slammed the door shut on sanity and fucked his sister, Miss Crazy Psycho. He started ascending to fill the void left by Apocalypse when Fantomex put a bullet between his eyes. Now X-Force needs to save their friend (and their bank roll). They were so desperate to do this that they busted Dark Beast out of custody where he told them about this Life Seed that was supposed to free Angel from Apocalypse's influence. There's just one problem. In order to get it, they have to venture to Age of Apocalypse. It's a crossover so juicy that you could easily use it as anal lube.
Now as it just so happens, Dark Beat has a portal handy. I would say that's a little convenient, but this is fucking Dark Beast. He's an evil genius with a lot of free time and no friends to Skype with. He's going to put together shit like this over a weekend. Plus, he might get homesick. You never know with evil fucks like him. For that reason, the team thinks it's a bad idea. Even Deadpool feels that way and when even Deadpool has a bad feeling about something, you had best sew kevlar into your ass because it's about to get beat.
So despite the inherent lack of credibility in a guy like Dark Beast, X-Force ventures into a portal. They arrive in a universe so utterly decimated that it makes Afghanistan look like the fucking Rio in Las Vegas (which has it's own bowling alley mind you). That's what happens when you let an evil psycopath take over the world. It almost makes you think George W. Bush was right to execute Saddam Hussein. Then again the closest he came to dominating the world was as a stupid skit on Saturday Night Live.
They take a brief stroll through the dreary streets of Age of Apocalypse. They discover that it's not unlike downtown Detroit in that it's full of soup lines, diseased hobos, and nasty police that will beat you over the head for looking at them cross-eyed. They don't take in the sights for too long. They simply follow Dark Beast into his lab, which is just as he kept it when he left. He comments about how their world seems to be under 'new management.' That's something to keep in mind for later.
It's important because if you followed Age of Apocalypse to it's current point, it ended with Sinister trying to take Apocalypse's place. He ended up getting his ass killed, despite rising Jean Grey from the dead and giving her the Phoenix Force. Seriously, in what universe has that shit ever worked out? Since then, Sinister was defeated and everything seemed on the upswing. Then like the stock market, it crashes in ways that leaves everyone fucked expect the assholes driving the car. Why is that? If you were expecting a happily ever after, then you haven't been reading Marvel comics long enough.
Dark Beast is nice enough to retrieve the life-seed for X-Force, which surprisingly enough looks like a giant seed. But before he can kindly give it to X-Force and use it as leverage to friend them on Facebook, Nightcrawler appears. No, it's not a fucking retcon. He still died in Second Coming. This is Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler. He's part pirate and part freedom fighter. Plus, he uses a fucking sword. That actually makes him a bit of an upgrade when you think about it. Even though he's a friend in the eyes of guys like Wolverine, he's taking the seed and that means he needs to get his ass kicked.
Nightcrawler ends up teleporting away with the seed and X-Force goes after him. They track him down to find yet another character who has been dead since before we had a black president. Sabretooth and Wolverine are on the same page so that must mean they have to tear into one another. During the fight, Sabretooth reveals something. He says Logan is supposed to be dead. This time it's not some lame threat. He's revering to Wolverine's Age of Apocalypse counterpart. He's dead in this world. Now that didn't happen at the end of the last Age of Apocalypse story. This is breaking news on the mutant news network. Now Wolverine could kindly explain himself, but this is fucking Sabretooth. It's going to turn into a bloody ass battle that can only be visualized as a Wes Craven movie.
It isn't just Wolverine either. The rest of X-Force gets involved in the act. Deadpool and Fantomex use a little trickery to screw with Nightcrawler. Psylocke takes on Wild Child because it's a proven tactic that young mutant men just can't focus in the face of a hot Asian chick with a nice ass. During this whole time, Logan is narrating with some inner musings. He goes on about how these aren't the same people from his world and he's gotta shut it out. It shows an inner conflict that isn't typical of a guy who sole ambition in life is to drink another beer. It's a nice touch by Remender to add some narration to what could easily have been a gimmicky crossover.
Once the element of surprise wears off, X-Force gains the upper hand. They knock the life seed right out of Nightcrawler's hand. But before Fantomex and Deadpool can grab it, Sunfire swoops in (who by the way is way more badass in Age of Apocalypse than he ever was in 616). Since no one acts rationally in a world run by Apocalypse, he promptly destroys the life seed and any hope X-Force had of saving Angel. Sunfire's logic was simple. Dark Beast wanted it. So it's better off destroyed. It's not bad logic necessarily, but then Dark Beast does something unexpected.
Once his life seed is destroyed, he's not too disappointed. He comments on how it not only destroyed their hopes of saving Angel, but it destroyed so much more. Now given Dark Beast's sneaky nature, it's not surprising that he's keeping secrets and playing X-Force for morons. He does it with the skill of Russian loan shark. But he takes his douche-baggery a step further by leaving the Age of Apocalypse world through another portal. So he strands X-Force in this world, most likely waving his dick at them once he steps through. It's a sneaky yet not unexpected move. It adds some something extra to the mystery.
It's also at this point that the Age of Apocalypse crew realize they fucked up. When they see Dark Beast bail on his so-called buddies, it basically reveals that they did his ass a favor. So now they're the assholes and they're pretty much obligated to aid X-Force. So they offer to bring them back to their base and hopefully work something out with their leader. Either it's guilt or they're just worried that Dark Beast did something to screw them all over. It could very well be a little of both. But they fill in the blanks, revealing that they're trying to stop another Apocalypse from arising in their world. That's something the AOA crew can sympathize with.
They arrive at their base, which is located in Atlantis. It's probably the only place left untainted by Apocalypse's bullshit. Along the way they talk about how much of a bitch it is to keep Apocalypse from fucking up their world. Wolverine also does some more inner musings, lamenting over how he's in a world where dead friends aren't dead. He tells himself he's going to hold it together because these aren't the same people. Then they arrive to meet the leader, a wheel-chair bound Magneto who looks like an anorexic Santa Clause. But that's not what fucks Wolverine up. Standing right next to him is Jean Grey. No, she's not 616 Jean Grey. Marvel won't touch her with a golden dildo. Their policy is to never mention her and use only replacements and knock-offs. So here she is, but given that Age of Apocalypse Jean is pretty damn badass it's still an awesome moment.
It also puts Wolverine in a horribly awkward position. He's wanted to bone this woman since he discovered redheads are better than hot Japanese chicks. He's been a real douche about it at times, fucking up Jean's relationships and toying with her emotions. But this is Age of Apocalypse Jean. In this world, Jean never even met Cyclops until the day they both ended dead. So she hooked up with Wolverine and they made it work in ways that Chris Clarmont probably masturbates to every night. Now keep in mind that Sabretooth said that Wolverine in AOA was dead earlier. So now he faces Jean and she thinks he's dead. Yet in his world, he knows she's dead. If this doesn't fuck your brain up enough then you need more LSD in your diet.
It's a powerful way to end the book. Marvel just loves using Jean Grey to fuck with readers. At least this time they didn't throw a fucking clone or a rip-off character like Hope. This is as close to seeing Jean Grey in action again that any fan will get until Joe Quesada retires from Marvel. So you might as well enjoy it. It comes on the heels of an action-packed issue that showed 616 Marvel going head-to-head against Age of Apocalypse. It's not a bad match-up and it had a few great twists along the way, even if it involved Dark Beast being a total dick. But what would you expect? He's Dark Beast! In Age of Apocalypse, someone has to be the asshole and Dark Beast is the reigning champ.
There's a lot to love about this book. Yes, it is a crossover, but it doesn't feel like a gimmick. The story surrounding Angel and Arcangel led to this story. So it didn't come out of nowhere. That is a problem in another way because while Arcangel is at the center of this story, he doesn't even show up in this issue. We're not given any information on what's going on with him or how bad his condition is getting. It leaves this issue and the previous issue feeling a bit disjointed. To this point Rick Remender has done a pretty good job of keeping the issues cohesive. Here it seems he lets it drag on in Age of Apocalypse too long, relying on the gimmick aspect to carry the issue. It's done nicely, but it's still a little bumpy.
It doesn't take away from the impact of the issue. I know Jean Grey fans will buy this issue by the stack because it's the only bone Marvel dares throw their way anymore. But for X-men fans overall, there's a lot to love about this issue. It brings 616 and Age of Apocalypse together in a great way with a strong story. Even if that story isn't as cohesive as you would like, it's still pretty awesome. That's why I give Uncanny X-Force #11 a 4.5 out of 5. The apocalypse has begun! Together with Uncanny X-Force, the holy reign of awesome is sure to be of biblical proportions. Nuff said!