In case you snorted a bad line of blow last week, the Dark Angel Saga ended in Uncanny X-Force in cock-smashingly epic fashion. I made it a point to emphasize with as many dick, fart, and poop jokes that this was by far the best comic book arc of 2011 and one of the best stories Marvel has birthed from it's overworked vag in a long time. It was dramatic, heart-felt, action-packed, and nearly brought the world to the brink of destruction. It had everything you could ask for without having Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johanssen go down on each other on an IMAX 3D screen. So if I have any message to the fine folks who randomly stumble across this blog of drunken ravings, I have one bit of advice for you. Get this arc when it comes out in trades! You cannot call yourself an X-men fan if you don't add this shit to your collection.
That being said, however randomly, the Dark Angel Saga is still over. And it's end didn't just represent the culmination of an ass-blastingly awesome arc. It represented the final issue of Uncanny X-Force in it's pre-Regenesis format. It's taken longer than any other X-book, but this series can now finally catch up to X-men Regenesis. Now that Wolverine is running a school on top of leading a kill squad, some shit has to change. In addition, they still have some hold-overs from the Age of Apocalypse. They need to sort some shit out before they move forward. Plus, there's the whole having a cloned Apocalypse that is now a young kid. So yeah, they've got a lot of shit on their plate and they need to work up an appetite if they're going to digest it all without puking.
Uncanny X-men #19 is the always mixed aftermath issue. Now these are the kinds of issues that can be easily glossed over because they don't usually involve a lot of shit blowing up. For some readers, that's a deal-breaker. For them, I recommend less booze and more sodomy. I'm of the opinion that such issues are necessary. Rick Remender left a lot of unfilled blanks with the Dark Angel Saga, chief among them the new Apocalypse, now going by the name Genesis. Fantomex was the one that created him (only after shooting the first kid in the head that is). Now that kid that has been growing up in a fantasy world ripped from Smallville has to adjust to life in the real world. And Fantomex makes it clear to him that he can't be a pussy about it or they're all fucked. It's more compelling than it sounds because this is an Apocalypse that wasn't raised to be the asshole tyrant that we know and despise. So how can he handle it? Well most kids his age go through a period where they're tyrants anyways so I don't imagine it being terribly different.
This Apocalypse-level potential for danger is coupled by the tough reminder that the Age of Apocalypse crew is still in 616. That includes Jean Grey (the non-dead, non-replacement version). She was part of the battle that took down Arcangel and she has her own Wolverine back in her world that had one too many drinks and went batshit. Yet the Wolverine of 616 is still not ready to see her go. Despite having a half-black, half-Mexican woman riding his bone, he's still intent on boning Jean Grey. They share a quiet moment in his room (fully clothed) mind you. He urges her to stay with him. She just wants to use his shower. She makes clear that she's going back to her world, but let's face it. Wolverine probably has a camera in that shower. If he's creepy enough to keep a lock of Jean's hair, he's creepy enough to film her and jerk off to it. This paints his fixation with Jean Grey in a pretty unhealthy way, but then again it was unhealthy to begin with. He's not so much a lost love as he is a stalker without a restraining order. So it's probably a good thing that AOA Jean is going back to her world with her Apocalypse-ladened husband.
Once the AOA crew says their goodbyes, they prepare to leave via Gateway. Wolverine and Jean share one last kiss with Jean making it clear they'll never see each other again. Even Sabretooth comes off as sympathetic. But not everybody is content to just walk away and leave this shit behind. AOA Nightcrawler decides to stay behind. His reason isn't just because Marvel wants to have Nightcrawler involved without going through the trouble of bringing him back (although I'm sure that's part of it). There are still hold-overs from the Age of Apocalypse in 616 and he wants to hunt them down. It makes sense. His counterpart is dead and unlike Jean, he doesn't have anyone that's trying to bone him. So there's an actual function to why he's staying and it adds yet another dimension to the world of Uncanny X-Force. It's not the real Nightcrawler, but it's close enough for now. It's like having to choose vodka over whiskey. They'll both get you drunk.
Once the AOA crew is gone, that leaves Psylocke to confront the key to the whole Dark Angel Saga. At the end Warren emerged from the snow, shriveled balls and all. However, he wasn't Warren. As Psylocke herself explains, Warren's mind and everything that made him who he was died. All that's left now is a man with no memory of who he is and who he was. So technically, Warren is dead. But this is comics. If there's no body, there's no death and this body is still all warm and lively. Yet he's a completely different person. That person is still drawn to Psylocke, but this is one instance where her being psychic is a real bitch. She knows this isn't the man she loves and she has to live with that. It's a powerful moment and one that shows while Psylocke and Angel's story isn't over, it's gained a hell of a complication.
The drama is all well and good, but there are also some logistical aspects to the Dark Angel conflict that took shape long before the story ever began. Over a large stack of beer that looks like something I saw at my last family reunion, Wolverine and Fantomex have a little chat. You don't secretly clone Apocalypse and raise him in a Smallville fantasy world and expect to get away with it. Now they have a new problem on their hand. They have a young Apocalypse who could have the potential to be the same asshole that repeatedly tried to sodomize the world before. Wolverine has a problem with that, but Fantomex has his reasons. He claims that he wants to see if someone like Apocalypse could be made a force for good. It's not just a passing hobby like building model airplanes or jerking off to German fetish porn. He's also the product of some fucked up cloning so this is as much for him as it is for Apocalypse.
Now I know I've made a lot of jokes about how Fantomex is a douche and I'm not changing my stance. He still is. But Rick Remender has shown many times before that he can add depth to a character. Fantomex is one of those characters that got as much depth as the last Michael Bay movie. This is the first time in quite a while that his origins as a guy who was created in an artificial world is addressed. It speaks to a much larger issue that goes beyond comics. It's the old nature vs. nurture conflict. Are evil tyrants born or made? Could you take a young Apocalypse and make him a force for good? Well Fantomex didn't think so the first time so he shot that kid in the head. Was it overkill? Fuck yes. But he's tried to make up for it with Genesis. It doesn't redeem him, but it does add some method to his madness.
What happens next is another first for Uncanny X-Force. Since this series began, it's been completely detached from the other X-books. It's never interacted with another title, but that changes in a big way. Beast and Kitty Pryde show up at X-Force's base. Remember, they're both top officials at the Jean Grey Institute. So it's kind of hard to hide a fact that Wolverine's running a secret kill squad. It makes for an awkward moment, especially when Kitty sees Nightcrawler and discovers the hard way that he's his Age of Apocalypse asshole self. But what's more amazing is Beast's reaction. Keep in mind, he ditched Cyclops for making X-Force. Yet he only expresses mild disappointment in Wolverine.
Now I've gone on rants about Beast being a whiney bitch before, but it bears repeating. Wolverine is doing the same thing Cyclops did. He he's running a secret kill squad that already killed a kid. Yet all he does is chew Wolverine out a bit before shrugging it off. He didn't even give Cyclops a chance when he thumbed his nose and walked out. Remender tries to have Beast offer an explanation, but even his brilliance only goes so far. Beast still comes off as a complete hypocrite. He condemns Cyclops, but he doesn't care that Wolverine not only continued X-Force but lied about it. I can tolerate a lot of bullshit, but I draw the line at hypocrisy.
Beast's attitude aside, this scene does gain some interesting developments. Kid Apocalypse, now calling himself the must less ominous name of Evan, agrees to join the Jean Grey Institute. So he'll have a chance to become something other than a tyrant bent on destruction. It certainly opens the door to new possibilities within the pages of Wolverine and the X-men. Now Wolverine has a heavy hitter on his side in an Apocalypse that's willing to fight for him. I'm pretty sure that behind the scenes he was giving Cyclops the finger. But they leave for the institute on a positive note and one with so many potential stories that you may have to put the comic down for a moment to prevent your head from exploding.
Everything seems set. It's not the kind of happy ending you get in a Bankok massage parlor, but it's more than sufficient. Fantomex seems to understand that. He knows he's been enough of a douche with Apocalypse to understand that he needs to keep his distance. So he stays behind at the base, presumably finishing Wolverine's beer and sharing fart jokes with Deadpool. But as he's reflecting, he gets an unexpected visit from Captain Britain of all people. Yes, the same Captain Britain that is Psylocke's brother. He seems to believe that Fantomex is guilty of a crime and needs to be held accountable. He may not have the same crimes in mind, but he's definitely got the right idea. Seeing as how this is a guy that tried to bone Psylocke, Fantomex and his balls are in some serious shit.
I'm a shitty liar when I'm wasted so I'll just up and say I take a certain level of satisfaction in seeing Fantomex get blind-sided like this. Yes, he did do some things to redeem himself in this issue. No, it wasn't enough to make anyone overlook the fact that he's still a douche. However, it does put him in a tough spot. He has to go on trial and given that he's the same guy that shot a kid in the head, even Johnny Cochran couldn't save his ass. It's a little random, but it was only a matter of time before Fantomex's bullshit caught up with him. It feels refreshing and logical that he finally has to be held accountable.
Aside from Fantomex's bullshit and Beast's hypocrisy, this issue hits all the right sweet spots in terms of an aftermath issue. If it was a vibrator, it would send any woman into fits of multiple orgasms. Is it as exciting as the last one? Fuck no. It can't be. But does it work? Fuck yes. It establishes a new character in Genesis. It links that character and X-Force to the events of Regenesis and the Jean Grey Institute. It effectively deals with the Age of Apocalypse crew in a way that isn't glossed over and sets Warren and Psylocke up for new drama. It leaves no stone unturned from the Dark Angel Saga. It ensures everything is in place both for the past and sets the stage for future stories. You can't ask for much more and if you do then you're just being a dick.
Rick Remender has been firing on all cylinders with Uncanny X-Force since it began. The Dark Angel Saga cemented this book as a pillar of awesome from Marvel's library. Now it is ready to move forward, but not without dealing with the repercussions that the Dark Angel Saga incurred. I could probably be nit-picky and point out that Beast's reaction was bullshit and the attack at the end on Fantomex was contrived, but I'm still high off the Dark Angel Saga (amongst other things) and there are far more egregious flaws in other comics. By and large, Uncanny X-Force #19 continues it's legacy of awesome and I can only give it a cool 5 out of 5 for maintaining such quality. So now the X-books are all caught up! They're all plugged into the post-Regenesis world and it's a good thing too. They're about to be unplugged again in 2012 for the big Avengers vs. X-men event. So here we go again, but why not? Gotta work fast, right? That Maya Doomsday prophecy isn't going to give us much room to work with. Nuff said!