Saturday, September 17, 2011
Uncanny X-Force #15 - A New World of Awesome
Put on a new pair of underwear, boys and girls! We're about to review another issue of Uncanny X-Force. This series, which needs no hyping up like Fear Itself or DC's new 52, has stood upon a pillar of awesome that it has painstakingly constructed as if it were a life-sized monument of Elvis made out of chewing gum. Now it's in the midst of it's biggest event to date, which is a lot like saying Hugh Hefner is in the middle of fucking the hottest girl in his mansion. Uncanny X-Force has already built a staggering tradition of awesome for a series that's barely a year old. It's a baby in comic terms, but it's still so cute that it's butt is till silky smooth and the Dark Angel Saga has ensured it stays smooth.
So far the saga has gone from watching Angel go crazy to seeing X-Force take a trip to the Age of Apocalypse to watching Wolverine share a moment with a Jean Grey from another world to seeing Angel go even crazier. Angel has now fully channeled his inner Apocalypse. He's now Arcangel and has all of Apocalypse's horsemen at his disposal. So far he's put them to solid use. He fucked up X-Force, abducted Psylocke, and took the life seed that X-Force worked so hard to obtain. So I guess that means he's also channeling his inner Bernie Madoff as well. Now with X-Force successfully bitch slapped, Arcangel sets off to embrace his new Apocalypse persona. That involves blowing up a small town in the middle of nowhere and laughing like Donald Trump laughs at poor people. What's the point of destroying a small town? Is it just to win a dick-measuring contest with Ghengis Khan? Well that's why there are other issues. It sucks we have to wait for this shit, but I wouldn't write these reviews in between hangovers if it wasn't worth it.
Uncanny X-Force #15 shows Arcangel using the ruins of that town he blew up to utilize the life seed. If you'll recall, that oversized bit of Celestial tech has enough power to kick start evolution or make an iphone run Adobe Flash. Guess which one Arcangel uses? That means he didn't just steal the life seed from X-Force. He stole the World, which if you'll recall was part of a major story involving Fantomex and Deathlok. So once again, Rick Remender ties the events of past arcs with present arcs and it crafts a piece so beautiful that it could be a tattoo on Carmen Electra's ass. Arcangel intends to use the time altering properties of the world to tap the power of the life seed. He also makes Psylocke, who he abducted if you'll recall, watch the whole thing. Okay, so he's a shitty boyfriend, but at least she can't bitch about him not having any ambition.
Once inside the world, Dark Beast shows off his inner Star Trek geek. He explains to Genocide (who if you'll recall is basically a kid in a killer robot outfit) that in the world they can speed time up around them while remaining in certain areas so they won't feel the skin on their scrotum sag too quickly. Using an area that should be familiar to Uncanny X-Force readers who read the Deathlok arc (a trillion supernovas of shame if you didn't), Arcangel and Dark Beast essentially insulate themselves from the time warping effects of the world. Then they power up the life seed and do what Charles Darwin probably only imagined in his wet dreams.
While Arcangel is pissing off Michelle Bauchman's voter base, Psylocke is still trapped in his base having to watch her boyfriend go all uber-powered tyrant. Not willing to have one too many things in common with Kim Jong Ill's wife, she fights back against her captor, Pestilence. But only after she makes a few remarks about how Arcangel is doing what he's doing because he loves her and in every healthy relationship there needs to be a submissive. Psylocke was more than justified to beat the shit out of her in the name of feminism alone. Unfortunately, all the feminazi rhetoric doesn't do shit when she comes face to face with Age of Apocalypse Blob. He ensures she doesn't get very far. He's like a walking prenup that keeps a woman trapped where she doesn't want to be.
Now wait just a minute...Age of Apocalypse Blob is in 616? When the fuck did that happen? A few issues ago, all the AOA characters stayed put. It was a big, emotional scene that had Wolverine whining like a little bitch again because he missed out on another chance to bone Jean Grey. It's an unexplained anomaly and Rick Remender hasn't had many, but it's not like he made it so the whole premise was impossible. He may explain it in a future issue, but for now it qualifies as a WTF moment.
Back in the World, Arcangel and Dark Beast are doing the kind of shit that would piss off card-carrying member of the Christian Right by watching an entire evolutionary saga unfold before their eyes. The visuals here are great and the whole fuck you to creationists is just a bonus. What's even more remarkable is how Arcangel and Dark Beast are treating it. They watch it with the same intent as a 13 year old watches his first porno movie. They see beauty in it. They're not laughing as people suffer and die. They're all for evolution. As part of this evolution, they see what look like frog men evolve along with some crazy purple foliage that looks like the kind of shit you see when your high on LSD. If I was Arcangel, I would be loving it too!
Someone who doesn't enjoy seeing the world turned into Arcangel's personal petting zoo includes Fantomex. As the bastard love child that was raised in the World (which is almost as bad as being raised by a drunk Charlie Sheen), he takes this shit personally. Well, that and he really wants to bone Psylocke. But seriously, who doesn't? Since Wolverine is still healing from having half his body burned off (no really, that actually happened in the last issue), Fantomex enlists Deadpool and Deathlok to enter the World and take on Arcangel. They arrive to find Arcangels perverse ecosystem in full swing. So they're on his home turf and undermanned. They might as well be taking a shit on Ted Nugant's lawn.
As expected, Arcangel detects their presence and shows up. Like my old neighbor who would attack with a weed-whacker whenever I trampled on her flower bed, Arcangel and his horsemen tear into X-Force. Naturally, Arcangel goes right for Fantomex and why wouldn't he? He's the guy that copped a feel from Psylocke while they were in the Age of Apocalypse. He's also a massive douche. So I'm really not sure who to root for. I just enjoy the mindless violence. Deathlok also gets a chance to flex his skills in ways he hasn't done since he got his ass handed to him in the previous arc. He's actually able to beat the shit out of Death because his body is...well, mostly dead already. It's a beautiful and gruesome scene that will make you jizz your pants and throw up at the same time.
Fantomex tries to put up more respectable fight against Arcangel. He even tries shooting him with this special gun with a special bullet. It's like a pick-up line where you promise to show a woman a very special package and ignore her disappointment after she unwraps it (assuming of course the package is your penis). He does manage to use said special bullet (which isn't his penis by the way) to hurt Arcangel. But that really doesn't amount to much. That's like giving a hungry shark a mild itch. It just pisses it off more and Arcangel just calls in Genocide. After seeing what happened to Wolverine, Fantomex wisely runs. He acts French so it's not as surprising as it sounds.
But there is some merit in retreating. Arcangel has the upper hand and the home field advantage. He's like Tom Brady on a hot streak. He can't be stopped. So Fantomex has to channel his inner 2007 New York Giants and try a little strategy. He catches up with Deathlok, who if you'll recall decapitated Death and presumably shit down his neck. He also captured Pestilence, aka that creepy drummer boy. Since he's still alive, that means he can tell X-Force where Arcangel is holding up. He's not going to give that information easy, so Deathlok channels his inner Dick Cheney to get the information. It's a beautiful think if you're a sociopath. For the rest of us, it's a disturbing act of desperation that is still so beautifully awesome.
Arcangel still has the upper hand, but X-Force is creating a mild itch that's on that tiny part of your back that you can't reach. So he's preparing to move forward. With the life seed in hand, he's ready to take this whole new evolutionary setup he's concocted and spread it all over the world. The actual world and not the fake world that Fantomex used to carry around next to his wallet and condoms. To do that he needs to anoint a guardian/successor. That way he doesn't end up going through that creepy kid face that the previous Apocalypse went through. Who would he choose for that? Well remember he does have his hot Asian girlfriend prisoner. If you're going to have a successor, you might as well make it a hot chick you're already banging!
For a comic that has been heavy on fighting, narcissistic ranting, and creationist bashing it's a nice way to throw a little drama in at the end. It also shows that while Arcangel has embraced his inner Apocalypse, he's not the complete douche-bag his predecessor is. There's even precedent. The AOA Wolverine tried to do the same thing with AOA Jean Grey. We don't know how successful he was. But Arcangel is going to make pretty damn sure that he's successful with Psylocke. It's easy to see how that's going to strain their relationship. I'm pretty sure there's no amount of couples therapy that deals with shit like this and that's what makes it such a compelling ending!
In the end, you can always count on Uncanny X-Force to tell a story that will have two parts drama, four parts over-the-top violence, and all parts awesome. This issue didn't hit as hard as the previous two issues. There weren't any huge moments that really made you feel like Hulk Hogan after his wife screwed him over in divorce court. However, it did successfully move the story forward in an engaging way. Rick Remender spent plenty of time developing Arcangel as his own Apocalypse and not the same poutly lipped douche-bag that came before him. Using the World from just a few arcs ago and the life seed made for an awesome combination that set the stage for a hell of a battle. X-Force's attack into the World and Deathlok's overdue moment to shine was like the chocolate sauce on top of a stripper's tits. It just completed everything.
It was as solid an issue as you would expect for Uncanny X-Force. At the same time, it felt like sort of setup issue. It wasn't filler by any means. What happened in this issue was important for the overall Dark Angel Saga. However, reading it will give you the feeling that Remender's primary focus for this issue was to prepare for the next. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but it still makes the issue come off as an extended ad for the next issue and if readers want shit like that they can always watch late-night infomercials. But so long as the issue was solid, it really doesn't matter if it felt like a glorified ad. It was still awesome as hell and maintains the high standards that Remender has established with Uncanny X-Force.
Now when a comic series is so incredibly awesome in such a consistent manner, it makes scoring it in an objective level a real bitch. It's like trying to decide which Playboy twins has the nicer rack. It just can't be done in a reasonable manner. This issue succeeded in every way you would expect, but you won't come away from this issue feeling blown away like discount-Tuesday at a Tijuana brothel. For that, I give Uncanny X-Force #15 a 4.5 out of 5. It's not perfect. In comparison to most comics, it is still in the major leagues rubbing elbows with Tom Brady and impregnating Brazilian supermodels. However, compared to it's own standard it's just setting the stage for something more awesome. If you go into withdraw between this issue and the next issue, that's okay. That's normal. It's nothing a little extra booze can't fix in the meantime. Nuff said!