Thursday, August 25, 2011
Uncanny X-Force #13 - Seeds of Awesome
Once again, I've put on a fresh pair of pants that don't have jizz stains on them so I can effectively review another issue of Uncanny X-Force. I'm at the point where I'm contemplating suing Marvel and everyone behind Uncanny X-Force for making me soil so many pants with what precious life seed I have left, not discounting all I wasted watching Cinemax at night when I was a teenager. But for the kind of awesome Uncanny X-Force has delivered lately, I would say it's worth spending a few hours every month blotting out semen stains.
The series has been awesome. I think I've made that abundantly clear in my reviews. But what has made the last few issues special has been the big event feel to what in many ways is just another arc. Fuck the whole Civil War of Siege model. This series doesn't need to create it's own mini with a fuck-ton of tie-ins to be big. This arc delivers something that feels as epic as Fear Itself or Flashpoint. It follows a distinctive narrative that sets Uncanny X-Force apart from the rest of the X-books. What makes the Dark Angel Saga special isn't just the scale. It's the ability to bring two worlds into one story and not fuck it up. If anything, the past few issues have been a model for all future crossover stories to follow.
The Dark Angel Saga followed a solid progression of awesome. First Arcangel started showing symptoms of becoming the new Apocalypse, thanks in no small part to Fantomex putting a bullet through the head of a kid. Then X-Force traveled to Age of Apocalypse to collect the special life see, a poorly named piece of Celestial supertechnology. Along the way they met up with some of their counterparts who are dead in 616. This includes Nightcrawler, Sabretooth, and Jean Grey. It was a big fucking deal when Wolverine met the woman he's been trying to bone for decades. It was an even bigger fucking deal when they found out that the new Apocalypse in the Age of Apocalypse universe was none other than Wolverine's counterpart, who actually had the privileged of tapping that sweet cosmic ass that he so pines for. Now they have to face him while hoping not to lose their only ticket back home.
It would be easy to have the first panel of Uncanny X-Force #13 showing the team just shitting themselves at the sight of Wolverine/Apocalypse. But keep in mind, there's sort of another plot going. Remember that life seed? The one that another group had to fly out and retrieve from the body of a dead Celestial? No? Then you drink more than I do and should get some serious fucking help. Led by Fantomex, Rogue, Gambit, and Sunfire they descend into the Celestial's rotting corpse only to find that Celestials don't like to be fucked with even when they're dead. They get attacked by a bunch of Celestial antibodies, which makes for a rough ride.
They descend to what I can only presume is the rectal cavity of the Celestial, fighting it's killer robot antibodies along the way. Sunfire has to be a badass and go out to buy time for his team. He's miles above a much more resilient son of a bitch than his 616 counterpart, who hasn't done shit in years. He buys enough time for Fantomex to find the life seed. Now it happens somewhat quickly and if you don't read closely, you may be left to wonder how the fuck they were able to extract something like this from the bowels of a fucking Celestial. Well Rick Remender does offer an explanation. He doesn't leave this shit hanging. Fantomex comments on how the technology is similar to that of the World, which if you'll recall was the site of a major story shortly before this one began. So not only does it provide a viable explanation, it hints that perhaps it may be the scene for another story down the line. If it involves dead Celestials, count me in! There are so many possibilities with super-powered alien space gods.
So they get the seed, they're still under fire, and now they have to escape. It's always the hard part. Escaping from the corpse of an alien supergod.. Along the way, Fantomex muses on the sexual tension between Rogue and Gambit. Then again, this is a guy who seems to adopt the European custom of seeing everything as a sexual innuendo. Seeing as how Rogue porked Magneto in Age of Apocalypse, that says a lot about her standards so sexual tension isn't too surprising. Especially now that Magneto is in a wheelchair and presumably needs a fuckton of viagra to get it up. But the tension is only secondary. In order to escape, Gambit goes all out to get Rogue's panties wet. By all out I mean he sacrifices himself so they can escape. He blows his sorry ass up, ensuring he'll never get laid and only leave Rogue behind to pleasure herself. Kind of a lose-win situation if there is such a thing.
Now ignoring how pathetic this is on Gambit's part, it's still sort of a bland way to end AOA Gambit. Granted, Gambit is kind of a tool no matter what universe he's in, that doesn't mean he's a character you just callously throw away. They don't even show him blowing up, as if the editors are afraid of being too graphic. I'm sorry, but in a comic where a kid got shot in the first arc I think that's a piss poor excuse.
So X-Force is already taking casualties. Never mind that in the last issue, Wolverine saw his AOA daughter get fried to the bone. So he and the rest of X-Force and their AOA allies are understandably pissed. They respond as you would expect, beating the everloving shit out of the Black Legion that Wolverine/Apocalypse has assembled. Wolverine even tries to go for his evil twin, but he's not having it. AOA Wolverine is just as badass as 616 Wolverine, he has Apocalypse's powers, AND he got to bang Jean Grey. He's basically superior in every way.
Eventually, all of X-Force tires to go for Wolverocolypse. However, AOA Jean Grey isn't having it. That's still her lover behind that asshole exterior. So like any good wife, she reaches out to him and tries to save him. Unfortunately, she discovers that AOA Wolverine has pretty much lost his humanity along with his fucking mind. But it's not because he's a total dick cheese. He became Apocalypse because someone needed to take the mantel. If they didn't, the Celestials would wipe them all out. So to save both him and Jean, he became Apocalypse. He's willing to become this tyrannical super mutant and accept a touch of genocide so the world can have a fresh start. And he wants Jean with him, which makes him somewhat sympathetic yet he's still an asshole.
Just like the previous issue, Rick Remender captured the emotions between AOA Wolverine and AOA Jean perfectly. This isn't the unrequited love bullshit that is so annoying in 616. These two were actually lovers in the Age of Apocalypse. So seeing Wolverine turn into this monster strikes Jean where it hurts most. Even though she's got another perfectly fuckable Wolverine from 616, she still wants to save HER Wolverine. That's Jean Grey at her finest and fans of hers should commit this to memory because you know Marvel isn't doing shit with her in 616 for the next few decades.
Unfortunately, AOA Jean's sweet talk and her overly exposed cleavage isn't enough to get through to AOA Wolverine. I know. I was just as shocked to see it as well. But even when Jean goes Phoenix on his ass, Wolverocalypse barely flinches. He basically swats Jean to knock her out the same way you would hear 50 cent describe in one of his songs. He then takes her and teleports away, ranting on and on about how they can still be together. He still comes off as an asshole, but you can tell he still loves her. That or the power of Jean's pussy is just that great.
Now left behind and thoroughly pissed, X-Force takes their frustrations out on the rest of Wolverocalypse's forces. It gets bloody. It gets gruesome. So much so that AOA Iceman runs away like a total pussy. That and AOA Blob gets thrown out a window and does the world's greatest belly flop. Along the way they pick up Gateway, who in case your brain has lapsed is the key to getting them back to their world since Dark Beast screwed them over. All the while 616 Wolverine keeps bitching about how they have to go after Jean. It's almost pathetic to see a guy so pussy wipped from a pussy that prefers his evil counterpart over him.
Once all of Wolveroclypse's goons are cleared out, X-Force gathers themselves and prepares to go after Jean. They don't know what's going to happen to her, but rarely has there ever been a case where an insane lover has done something to a woman that hasn't turned out disturbing in ways that require a gallon of Pepto Bismal. But before they make their attack, a shadowy figure shows up. It's not too clear and if you're a little more than tipsy, you may miss it. But remember it because it comes into play very soon.
Using Gateway, the team descends on Wolverocalypse just as he's putting Jean in a Snow White style coffin minus the midget jokes. What follows is an elaborately detailed depiction of how Wolveroclaypse brutally slays ever last member of X-Force and the AOA X-men. It's graphic. It's brutal. If that weren't enough, we see Wolverocalypse's inner musings as he kills them. He treats it the same way most people would treat pissing on an ant hill. It means nothing to him. Now does this mean that all these characters are dead and Marvel has just ass fucked themselves into a hole? Well if remember that shadowy figure that was so easy to miss? That should tell you why that's not the case.
In a much less startling surprise than it was probably meant to be, it's revealed that Wolverocalypse didn't actually kill anybody. That was Fantomex's misdirection powers. Not that it's a cheap way to get some brutal shots on a page (it is), but considering there's no apparent transition of time that shows Fantomex returning or how long it takes for them to even set up this attack is confusing as hell and more disorienting than driving drunk with Lindsey Lohan. It lacks any surprise and setup. It's the kind of shit that Rick Remender is usually good at setting up so this was a bit of a disappointment and I rarely say that in an Uncanny X-Force review so that's shit you should document.
During Fanomtex's misdirection, X-Force took AOA Jean and prepared to leave with her in one of Gateway's portals. But before they can drag her off so Wolverine can finally get that sweet Phoenix powered pussy he's been craving, AOA pushes back. She refuses to go with him. That would be too easy. She reminds Wolverine and the readers for that matter that she isn't his Jean Grey. She belongs to the AOA Wolverine, even though he's an evil genocidal maniac now. That's loyalty right there. It sounds like the kind of thing the wife of an alcoholic would say, but Jean Grey makes it sound heroic. So despite Wolverine's whining, she sends him and the others packing through the portal back to their own world so she can confront her deranged lover. It's probably the most heroic thing you'll ever see Jean Grey do and knowing Marvel, it will probably be the last heroic thing you'll see Jean Grey do for the next several decades.
It's an emotional scene, every bit as dramatic as all the scenes with Jean and Wolverine have been. Rick Remender once again shows he can do drama just as well as over-the-top action. Regardless of whether Marvel ever bothers to use Jean Grey again, Rick Remender really did her justice here and this kind of sacrifice speaks volumes to who Jean Grey truly is. It's by far one of the most powerful moments in Uncanny X-Force to date and that's like saying it's the best rack in an issue of Hustler.
As disappointing as it was for Wolverine to leave Jean behind yet again, he and the others return to 616 with exactly what they need to save Arcangel. There's just one big fucking problem. They're too late. As soon as they return, they discover that Arcangel has been waiting for them along with the horsemen we met in the first arc of Uncanny X-Force and Dark Beast. So that life seed they went through all that trouble to get may end up doing precisely dick because just as in Age of Apocalypse, someone had to take the mantel. This time it's Arcangel and he's prepared to be the same asshole that AOA Wolverine became when he put on the big A!
In the end all I can say is it sucks to be Psylocke! But seriously, it was an awesome way to end the issue. X-Force goes through all that trouble to find the life seed and escape the Age of Apocalypse only to find out they're a tad too late. Arcangel has become the new Apocalypse and he's gotten the band back together for a worldwide tour that will only be slightly less destructive than the last Ozfest. This after Wolverine has to watch the hot redhead he so deeply wants to bone leave him behind yet again for another. Granted, the guy is just another version of him, but it still sucks. You can tell he wanted to save her and get some thank-you sex out of it. Looks like he won't get that chance.
Rick Remender's brand of storytelling once again shines in the way everything comes together. He made sure that the loose ends were kept to a minimum. He covered what happened with Fantomex and he threw in a little deception later on. And just like the last issue, he did a great job of capturing the drama and the heartache of the Wolverine/Jean Grey scene. It won't make you bawl like the end of Old Yeller, but it will make you feel for these characters in ways you won't usually admit to unless you've had a few too many during happy hour. But even with the emotion and the drama, there were some shortcomings.
For one, the death of Gambit was a little callous. In a series where a kid gets shot in the head, it seemed a little underhanded that his death wasn't really shown and was fairly glossed over. In addition, it wasn't all that clear how Fantomex had enough time to reach the others, play his little trick, and get a cheap laugh out of it. Not that it couldn't work, but it's hard to tell when sufficient time had passed to allow this shit to happen. It's surprising, but it lacks coherence and that makes it come off as contrived.
None of these peeves detract from the sheer volume of awesome that Uncanny X-Force #13 delivers. It's as solid a comic as they come. It just has a few easily overlooked flaws. Easy or not, I can't really give a perfect score to a book that was choppy in the middle. The beginning was great. The end was great. It's just those little details that keep it from being perfect like the last issue. So for a final score, I give uncanny X-Force #13 a 4.5 out of 5. Without a doubt, Uncanny X-Force is the best X-book on the racks and issues like this demonstrate why. If you can't find something to like then chances are you're already a douche-bag and have no business enjoying comics as a whole. Nuff said!