Sunday, May 13, 2012
Uncanny X-Force #25 - The Pressure of Being Awesome
We all make dumb mistakes at some point in our lives. We make the wrong turn during a poorly planned road trip in Arizona. We pick a fight with the wrong guy at a bar and end up with a broken nose. We sleep with the wrong hooker that turns out to have bigger balls than you. Nobody is perfect. Some are more fucked up than others and when you're on a secret kill squad you're fucked upedness rises by orders of magnitude. That's the level of insanity that Rich Remender has established in the pages of Uncanny X-Force and from the very beginning it's been a pretty awesome ride. There have been some bumps along the way, but it hasn't been enough to prevent that tingly feeling I get in my balls every time I pick up a new issue. Or maybe that's just from that hooker I mentioned.
Uncanny X-Force is one of the few X-books that has been untouched by the events of Avengers vs. X-men. How can it be when it has so much other crazy shit going on? They just lost Angel, who had his mind wiped and now he's more unbalanced than Mel Gibson at a Jews for Jesus rally. Then Betsy had to go and kill a member of her own family. Given all the losses she suffered lately on top of losing her ability to feel any kind of sorrow, she decided to pour sulfuric acid in the wound by fucking Fantomex. It's quite a low, boning someone who has a history of being a phony French douche-bag. But that's the kind of fucked up Betsy is in right now and that's the kind of fucked up Uncanny X-Force deals with. Even if your stomach wants to swap spots with your tongue, you can't help but read on.
Uncanny X-Force #25 continues to tell stories devoid of the influence of Avengers vs. X-men. It may or may not be a relief for some who are tired of seeing characters bitch about which side is a bigger asshole. Even as the X-men and Avengers wage war, there are still assholes than can only be handled by a secret kill squad. This time such assholes have X-Force visiting Paris to investigate an elaborate deal of sorts. It's the kind of investigation that only a deranged nut job with fewer working brain cells than a drunk monkey would dive into head first. So of course Deadpool is the perfect candidate. He drops right in on a guy in a fancy trench coat and proceeds to steal his appearance Face-Off style. The details are a little light unfortunately. How someone like Deadpool can pull off that kind of disguise so quickly is fucked up even for him. Remender is usually good about explaining this shit, but he skips over it and just has Deadpool making the switch and going undercover. The countdown for when his deranged mind leads him to blow his cover has begun.
Now if Rick Remender wanted to be merciful, he would be tactful about how he handles the events of the previous issue where Psylocke pretty much laid her pussy out on a silver platter for Fantomex. Well if you want tactful, go back to reading bullshit conspiracy theories by Dan Brown because this is Uncanny X-Force. There's no dancing around this issue. Remender gives us a nice overly blunt look at the infamous morning after Psylocke and Fantomex swap the desired body fluids. As someone who has woken up in bed with many strange women/psuedo-women (don't ask), I know it can be pretty fucked up. But Psylocke strikes a blow for feminists everywhere by essentially telling Fantomex she fucked him out of callous greed. She has no feelings for him. She goes so far as to say there's nothing in him to have feelings for. It's pretty fucking cold, but given what a douche Fantomex has been it's more than deserved.
Now to Fantomex's credit he does try to say that he had feelings for her, but given his history of douche-baggery that's a hell of a stretch. He may have just been better off saying he has an Asian women fetish and that would have been more understanding. This hook-up was part of what made the last issue a bit nauseating in the end, but I think Remender handled it pretty nicely here. Fantomex had a history of essentially pestering Psylocke, making her question her love for Angel in an effort to get into her panties. Well he got into her panties, but she killed any chance for an emotional entanglement faster than a girlfriend who has an ex-marine with fully loaded shotgun within reaching distance at all times.
While pillow talk and hot women breaking the hearts of insufferable douche-bags is always fun, Uncanny X-Force is still a book where certain people just need to be killed. Back in Paris, Deadpool has his disguise and he's allowed to infiltrate a special little place called the White Sky. It's essentially the Wal Mart of assassins, complete with an Austin Powers style fembot to give would-be clients a tour and if she's made in Japan she probably has working breasts. The pitch they offer to Deadpool (or the guy they think they're dealing with) is pretty compelling. White Sky pretty much grows their assassins Clone Wars style and programs them to be perfect, going so far as to implant memories that their targets killed their families or fucked their girlfriends over a pool table in your basement. They also go out of their way to call Deadpool's breed of assassins dated and unpredictable. It's insulting, degrading, and right, but to his credit Deadpool keeps his cool...relatively speaking. He still ends up getting attacked in the end. If an organization is equipped enough to make the perfect assassin, they're more than quipped to see through a bullshit disguise.
Back at Cavern X, Wolverine and AOA Nightcrawler are monitoring Deadpool's mission. Just as they get word that Deadpool has once again put himself in a fucked up position, they're approached by Psylocke who tells them she's leaving the team. All this killing and boning Fantomex has finally gotten to her and she has no desire to be part of it anymore. She even goes so far as to kiss Wolverine goodbye. Now this is pretty random, almost as random as her boning Fantomex. But it actually reinforces a valid point. She gave up her ability to feel sorrow and remorse during the Otherworld arc and it has affected her on a profound level. Why it would have her start randomly kissing men is not explained, but I'm sure Wolverine doesn't mind nor would anyone with an Asian fetish.
She's not the only one to leave either. Fantomex tells Wolverine he's finished with X-Force. He claims that no more Angel and no more money gives him no more reasons to stay. It's probably just code for having no more chance at Psylocke's pussy, but it's still a bullshit reason. It leaves X-Force pretty depleted, but moreover it shows that the whole life of being in a secret kill squad has a way of getting to people. Rick Remender has found ways to make that painfully apparent and it's definitely shown quite nicely here.
Once Psylocke leaves X-Force, she returns to the Jean Grey Institute. Why here instead of Utopia? Well Angel is still at the institute, but not the Angel she remembers. She meets up with Kitty, who tells her exactly what Rachel Grey told Iceman in the pages of Wolverine and the X-men. There's absolutely no trace of Warren Worthington III left in his brain. He's pretty much a blank slate and a pretty fucked up slate at that if you've been following his bizarre transformation in the pages of Wolverine and the X-men. Yet Psylocke insists on sticking around the guy she pretty much had to kill to save the world. It's like being an alcoholic and going to Ocktoberfest. It's not very healthy, but when you're that fucked up what else can you do?
Despite losing two members and having absolutely no strategy, Wolverine and AOA Nightcrawler continue the mission to save Deadpool from White Sky.They arrive to find some well-armed resistance that don't take kindly to clients that don't make appointments. So a nice bloody fight erupts, which is always expected and welcome in the pages of Uncanny X-Force. During the wanton violence, Wolverine does a little narrating to muse over how fucked up it is to turn people into living weapons. It may make for a good business model if you're in the killing biz, but given his history it's like a billion kicks in the balls. He also talks about how being in X-Force allows him to pretty much be the monster he was trained to be. Again, it's not a very healthy way to cope with his issues and he admits that. He might be better off getting therapy from Dr. Phil, but that would make for a shitty comic.
The battle against White Sky's underpaid administrative staff goes off without a hitch. Wolverine's anti-Cyclops style of having no strategy and just tearing into shit works okay here. Where it doesn't work is when the enemy hits him with some unexpected surprises. Pretty much anyone who is partially competent in battle or has played no fewer than two hours of Battlefield 3 online knows that unexpected surprises are the difference in most battles. This time it comes in the form of a new group of baddies called the Omega Clan. They have all the trappings and psychosis as Wolverine's old buddy Omega Red. And since they had the element of surprise, they were able to take them down and promise to ruin their day even more after having lost two members. In terms of bad days, this ranks right up there with walking in on your boss while he's fucking your girlfriend and eating the last of your mints.
The ranks of X-Force are being depleted, but the stories it sets up are still going strong. X-Force may have a very violent and bloody premise, but it has never shied away from drama. First it was drama between lovers with Psylocke and Angel. Then it was drama with family between Psylocke and her brother. Now that drama has spread throughout the team. The idea of being a killer on a kill squad has finally gotten to Psylocke and right when a new threat in the Omega Clan is emerging. It leaves Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Deadpool in a pretty tough position. It also puts Genesis and everyone at the Jean Grey Institute in the crossfire. It has all the makings of an awesome Uncanny X-Force story and it doesn't need to pit two superhero teams against one another to do it.
The only part that seems to be missing from this issue are the finer details. Little things like how Deadpool got his disguise and why Psylocke is suddenly okay with kissing people now just seem underdone. It's definitely implied that some will be fleshed out later in the arc, but it still feels a bit rushed at times. It's not excessive. The issue still carries itself at a solid pace, dedicating sufficient time to setting up the threat with the Omega Clan while continuing to explore the aftermath of the Dark Angel Saga. You never get any sense that Rick Remender doesn't have a plan. This isn't one of those comics where the writer just gets drunk and plays shit by ear. That's what fanfiction is for and Uncanny X-Force is way better than that.
This new arc holds a great deal of promise. Not only does it introduce a new threat, but it promises to bring the events of Uncanny X-Force right into the domain of the Jean Grey Institute. While Uncanny X-Force may walk to the beat of it's own drum, it still is a major part of the larger X-men universe and with stories this awesome that's definitely a good thing. Uncanny X-Force #25 may lack a few details here and there, but it's still as solid an X-book as you'll find. I give Uncanny X-Force #25 a 4.5 out of 5. If you cannot find something to like about a story that involves undercover agents, pity sex, and kill squads struggling to maintain their membership then you either have really fucked up standards or you have no soul. Nuff said!