Thursday, November 10, 2011
Uncanny X-Force #17 - Double Crossover Awesome
The are a few unflappable laws of physics in the world of Marvel comics. One law is that the killer instinct of a woman is directly proportional to a male reader's ability to masturbate to them. A second is that anything with the word "saga" in the title is setting itself up to be an epic or an epic piece of shit. For every Phoenix Saga, there's a Clone Saga. For every saga that fills us with joy, there's a saga that makes us spew diarrhea through our nose. The Dark Angel Saga has kept the noses of it's readers remarkably clean since it began. It's already lasted beyond six issues, exceeding the attention spans of most modern comic fans. However, through awesome storytelling and heart-wrenching drama this saga has managed to keep it. For this Twitterholic generation, that's quite an accomplishment.
Rick Remender hasn't held anything back. He's crossed this story over with the Age of Apocalypse world, he's taken a traditionally pussy-whipped character like Archangel and turned him into a badass demigod, and he's thrown in plenty of blood-soaked violence along the way. It couldn't be more complete without him wrapping every issue in bacon. The epic scale started to really come together in the last issue. Using the World as an incubator and the Life Seed as a cosmic equivalent to roofies, Arcangel gave Psylocke an Apocalypse-style makeover. All the while his horsemen and a few holdovers from Age of Apocalypse make it a point to bitch slap Wolverine and the rest of X-Force before they can reach them. It leads to Fantomex retreating like a pussy and to Deadpool getting shattered like an Iranian built rocket. It couldn't be more dire if they hired Herman Cain's publicist.
Uncanny X-Force #17 won't make readers any more optimistic from the beginning. At this point Marvel should be offering free Prozac samples with each issue. It starts off with a brief flashback that shows how Warren was once a nice, simple, rich guy that joined the X-men to do a little good and presumably impress the ladies. Then we go straight to the present where we see that the life seed did it's job. It turned Psylocke into another albeit much hotter Apocalypse knock-off. Remember that first law I mentioned about badass women and masturbation? I think it applies nicely here. While they swap spit, Wolverine is still getting his ass kicked by an oversized AOA Iceman.
It's really not looking good for Wolvie. Fantomex has played up his French persona and retreated, leaving only him to take on Arcangel, his homicidal bride that looks great in a thong, and a giant Iceman. That means he's completely fucked, right? Well there's one problem with that. Remember how Fantomex seemed to completely lose his balls? It turns out they only shriveled partially because he left the battlefield to get backup. What kind of backup could a secret kill squad get? How about the Age of Apocalypse crew? They'll keep their secret, kick some ass, and have plenty of incentive to fuck up Arcangel's shit before so that his romp with Psylocke is shorter than Kim Kardashian's marriage.
But wait a sec. How the fuck did the AOA crew get here? Okay, so maybe Gateway can port them, but that doesn't explain the how and why. A few issues ago, they were stuck in the AOA world staring down a Wolverine/Apocalypse threat that worked their asses over. How the hell did they pull themselves away from that shit in order to jump into this shit? It's really not clear, but seeing as how they played such a big role early in the saga it's nice that they show up again. It would just help to have additional details. Then again, there's still an issue left. That's 20 pages overpriced at $3.99 to clear this shit up.
Whatever their reason or method for showing up, they waste no time in fucking up Arcangel's plan. AOA Nightcrawler really shines here, teleporting right up in Arcangel's face and removing Genocide's helmet. That doesn't sound like much until you remember that Genocide is essentially a walking Chernobyl on steroids in a fancy suit. Even for Arcangel, that's going to be an inconvenience. At the very least it'll kill his boner just long enough for X-Force to get in and prevent another disturbing sex tape. Fantomex goes for Psylocke as you would expect. After all, he has shown an insatiable urge to bone her. But now that she's more homicidal than ever, who can blame him?
After a quick regroup, Wolverine enjoys a brief reunion with his AOA buddies and then Nightcrawler teleports him, Sabretooth, Sunfire, and Wild Child right into Arcangel's path before he could plant the Celestial life seed. Arcangel looks at this the same way most people look at a backed up toll booth. It's an inconvenience, but at least you know who to take your anger out on. There's no hesitation or reaching out to the Angel within. Wolverine and the AOA crew just rip into his Apocalyptic ass and he rips right back. It's a beautiful thing and adds to the overall epic feel.
While Wolverine and his buddies keep Arcangel busy, Fantomex goes to work on Psylocke in a disappointingly non-sexual way. Since he's French and can't resist a beautiful woman who walks around in panties, he tries to reach her and reminder that she secretly wants to jump his bone. She responds in ways that most women only fantasize about responding to snooty wannabe Europeans. She slashes his fucking throat with a psionic blade. Now this isn't the first time Fantomex has been bloodied in this story, but it keeps getting more satisfying every single time because that's how much of a douche he is. The problem is he's a very smart douche because in slashing his threat, she made Psylocke feel a smidgen of remorse. That's all a powerful psychic needs to enter her mind. What powerful psychic could pull this off? How about Jean fucking Grey? Yes, she's alive in AOA and yes this is yet another instance of Marvel throwing Jean Grey into the X-books without actually bringing her back. It's a dick move, but like Charlie Sheen at a Bangkok pharmacy he'll take what he can get.
Jean digs deeper into that kinky mind of hers, bringing up flashbacks of Psylocke's first encounter with Angel. It happens in a way I'm assuming most rich fucks meet, at an opulent social party at the Hellfire Club where the wine is so expensive it could pay for Donald Trump's hair gel for an entire week. They meet up in a way that looks like it was ripped right from a porno set. Angel and Psylocke meet wearing their traditional Hellfire outfits. They talk, they mingle, and undress each other with their eyes every step of the way. It's an interesting twist on Psylocke and Angel's relationship. It's almost as if their role playing and doing too good a job. Not sure if it's a flashback or fantasy, but it fits in nicely with the darkness they've both embraced.
There's just one problem with this flashback. It's not actually a flashback. This is Jean freakin' Grey we're dealing with so you can expect some pretty extensive mind games. She shows up as an extra and essentially breaks Psylocke and Arcangel out of their roles. It doesn't take much to convince Psylocke that the flashback isn't real, probably because Jean flashes her Phoenix potential and that's usually pretty damn convincing no matter what kind of a mind trip you're on. She's able to help Psylocke get control over her Apocalyptic persona. It frees Psylocke to get control and go after her boy toy. I kind of wish she stuck around so Remender could throw in some girl-on-girl innuendo between Jean and Psylocke, but I'm sure there will be other opportunities.
Now that Psylocke is back in control of her faculties (and not quite as hot now that she's not evil), Jean returns to the battle against Arcangel. She lends a Phoenix-guided hand to Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Sabretooth, and Wild Child while they take on Arcangel. It's really not much of a fair fight. Even with the Phoenix, Arcangel shows that he can deal with them the same way Bill Gates deals with a parking ticket. It's just no big deal for him. He even finds time to fuck with Wolverine, acting for a moment like the real Angel is trying to get through. This makes Wolverine hesitate just long enough to burn him to his metal bones (again). At this point I'm starting to wonder if Arcangel isn't just toying with them.
Having dealt with X-Force and the rest of the AOA holdovers, he returns to his less than humble abode to plant the life seed. He's taken everything that X-Force and the AOA can throw at him and he's dealt with it in ways that even Simon Cowell would admire. There really isn't much left keeping him from planting the life seed and effectively wiping the slate clean all over Earth (that entails exterminating all life in case that was too vague). However, when he arrives he finds that he has two more obstacles, Fantomex and Psylocke. Now dealing with Fantomex should be easy enough. He's the guy trying to bone his girl. But he went through a lot of trouble to make Psylocke his bride. Now she's back to normal and has a sense of humanity once more? That's a problem and there's only one issue left for her to be a big enough problem to stop. I get the feeling that no amount of relationship therapy will help them get through this shit.
The saga is almost over. The end draws near and for once that's not leading to a Michele Bachmann joke. Rick Remender has taken the Dark Angel Saga down many twists, but in many ways this issue starts to bring it full circle. The AOA cast returns and the drama starts reaching an apex. We get flashbacks, bodies being cut in half, and a little Phoenix action. These are the ingredients that make an X-men story truly epic and Rick Remender balances them masterfully. It isn't enough to just Arcangel beat the shit out of X-Force. Remender amps up the drama by playing up Psylocke's feelings for Angel and shows how Fantomex is such an unbelievable douche for taking advantage of them. Like I said, perfect balance.
The aren't many loose ends here, but some were left conspicuously open. It was a bit overly convenient for the AOA crew to show up when they did. If it was that easy to go back and retrieve them, then why the fuck didn't they do that from the beginning? When this story last left AOA, Jean Grey was staring down the twisted gaze of a Wolverine/Apocalypse problem that threatened to rip their world apart. What the hell happened there? Where the fuck is that story? There's still an issue to clear everything up, but as it stands now it's still pretty random. There weren't many hints as to what they left behind in AOA, but I can't really knock their presence too much because they played such a vital role in the events that unfolded.
With one issue left, I can only fane confidence that Rick Remender will leave no stone unturned. He's more than earned that confidence by finding so many amazing ways to make this series awesome. Uncanny X-Force #17 still stands by itself as an action-packed, heart-wrenching, ball-busting, constipation-curing thrill ride. It feels very complete, leaving everything in place for the final issue to be worthy of a true saga. For that, I give this comic a 5 out of 5. X-men Regenesis may be a big deal and DC's new 52 may be burning up sales charts and burning holes in the wallets of many comic fans. However, an awesome comic always finds a way to weave through the hype and kick the asses that need to be kicked. And X-men fans should be grateful that Remender has taken up the challenge. Nuff said!