Sunday, July 29, 2012
Uncanny X-Force #28 - Time Twisting Awesome
Quick! What's bloody, brutal, disturbing, and doesn't involve Sarah Palin giving live birth in a slaughter house? If you voted Uncanny X-Force, then congratulations. You're not a right-wing douche-bag and you have a soul. But even if you lost your soul in a bet with the devil on Ricky Martin's sexuality, you could still find plenty to enjoy with Uncanny X-Force. Even without major tie-ins to the other X-books or big line-wide events like Avengers vs. X-men, it's been one of Marvel's most consistently awesome books. It's one of those rare comics that is like pizza or an orgasm. Even when it's lousy, it's still pretty fucking awesome.
Uncanny X-Force has been about as bloody as you would expect lately. It started disturbingly enough with Psylocke boning Fantomex. Then your rumbling stomach was replaced by a rock hard dick (or pussy boner for you ladies out there) when Mystique entered the picture and screwed over Fantomex in ways that are as literal as they are awesome. It all built upon a new threat that X-Force had been investigating called the Omega Clan. This group of Omega Red knock-offs not only roughed X-Force up. They led to the disturbingly awesome revelation that a new Brotherhood of Mutants had formed. Apparently, the X-men's enemies were tired of X-Force's whole secret kill squad policy and decided to give them the finger in ways that are as painful as they are explosive. It started when they managed to kill Fantomex, leaving his digital fuck-buddy EVA to save Psylocke. Then she met up with the rest of X-Force just in time for their base to be blown to hell by a fucking nuclear blast, courtesy of Fantomex's pet Ultimaton. It may sound like the freakin' apocalypse, but for X-Force it's still the equivalent of a bad hangover on a Monday when you're late for work.
Uncanny X-Force #27 ended with a bang. Uncanny X-Force #28 goes back a little further to show what happened in between the big boom. With the threat of instant vaporization imminent, X-Force had to improve and get Psylocke to mind-fuck Gateway (for some reason he's still hanging out with X-Force) into using his powers to transport them away before the big nuclear blast on the final page of the last issue went off. No one should have had any doubts that X-Force would find a way to escape, but one that involves mind-fucking a dying friend is pretty brutal. But then again if that shit bothers you, then clearly you haven't been paying attention to the last 27 issues of this series. That or you've got some kick-ass shrooms and we should talk.
So where does Gateway take them? Last time, he took them to a dystopian future run by Apocalypse. It was a future so fucked up that being incinerated by a nuclear bomb almost seems more appealing. But Wolverine got to see a live Jean Grey again so that was worth it. But as fucked up as that was, Gateway shows that he nor the Marvel universe have much originality left to spare because Gateway ends up transporting X-Force into yet another dystopian future. If you're done rolling your eyes, bear with me. It's 30 years in the future and for reasons not entirely clear, X-Force is immediately confronted by a future team of experienced killers in Cable, Hope, Deadpool, and a horribly aged Frank Castle. But before they can get to them, a future Deathlok approaches X-Force and tells them to follow him. Deadpool is immediately inclined to make a Terminator reference, but for once he restrains himself. That's something you might want to chalk up to memory because who knows when that shit will happen again.
Now I know Uncanny X-Force is supposed to be a grim and gritty book, but in a Marvel universe already crowded with dystopian futures this was especially groan-worthy. Granted, this dystopia isn't as bad as futures where super-intelligent apes treat humans like pets or hoards of angry women roam the land looking for men to castrate. It still reeks of the stench of cliche. Rick Remender has been pretty good at using novel approaches to Uncanny X-Force since it began. This just feels too underwhelming, but thankfully it's only one aspect of a much larger story.
The threat of ending up on the business end of this new dystopia's dystopian mojo leads X-Force to follow Deathlok into the sewers. Apparently every dystopia still thinks nobody is stupid and/or desperate enough to wade through raw sewage to escape such tyranny. And they wonder why they fail so often. But X-Force isn't too interested in learning about all the ways this new shitty future has gone to hell. Wolverine tells Deathlok there's enough shit to deal with back in his world and they need to get back, if for no other reason than to give his son the kind of discipline that doesn't give him a boner.
But aside from the logistics, there's also a nice moment with Psylocke and EVA. The big moment of the last issue was Fantomex's big sacrifice to save the woman who was generous/cruel enough to let him into her panties. This resulted in EVA taking over in Fantomex's absence. She reminded him that Fantomex knew what he was getting into when he sacrificed himself. Her pussy was just that powerful. However, Psylocke reminds her that she gave up her ability to give a damn in the Otherworld arc and it's still fucking with her.
These nice character moments that also lead to AOA Nightcrawler and Deadpool discussing why losing a healing factor sucks balls are part of the natural preservatives that make Uncanny X-Force so delicious. But the book at it's core is still about a more brutal side of the X-men. So once X-Force gets tired of smelling raw sewage, Deathlok takes them on a little tour of this tyrant's wet dream, which also happens to be a rip-off of Minority Report. That leads to some disturbing links between tyrants and Tom Cruise, but that's for another blog post. Deathlok shows them how the world has basically adopted X-Force's policy of killing people before they stir up shit. They witness some dystopian forces basically ripping a husband away from his wife and children to be killed because they've determined that he's going to kill those children. It sounds good on paper, but the way they do it is still a real dick move.
But how did all this happen? Why did the world suddenly determine that this whole freedom of choice shit was for pussies? Well, Deathlok explains that too. He tells them that X-Force basically failed with Genesis and he became the new Apocalypse. So X-Force expanded their ranks to other Marvel heroes and somehow convinced them that killing was okay. They were able to kill Apocalypse and the world was so grateful that for some reason they asked X-Force to use that policy to kill all the bad guys, which they did. And when there were no more left to kill, they started killing preemptively. And the mastermind behind this kill-and-fuck-due-process policy was none other than Psylocke, who in her future form looks strikingly similar to my 4th grade math teacher. Excuse me while certain parts of my body shudder in horror.
While the whole dystopian future may be cliched, this explanation actually makes a very compelling and disturbing point for Uncanny X-Force. It shows what happens when their policy of preemptive killing goes too far. It ties in nicely with some of the doubts Psylocke has been expressing in recent issues, leading to both a crisis of confidence and a willingness to bone Fantomex. Put that together, and it leads to a dystopian future. So while you may still roll your eyes at another alternate world for Marvel, at least Rick Remender made one that sent a clear and powerful message that helped refine the story.
Unfortunately, they don't get to debate the merits of preemptive killing. This is Uncanny X-Force after all. That means someone's going to start beating someone else to a bloody pulp. After telling X-Force that their shit is going to lead to a future dystopia, he skips the part where he tries to channel his inner Jehovah's Witness and tries to preemptively kill them so this future won't happen. So he's trying to end a murderous future through murder. That's at lot like doing shots of tequila to end alcoholism. Plus, it misses that whole part about Apocalypse rising to power. But then again Deathlok has never been known for being the most logical creature. How can you when your dick has been replaced by a machine with no vibrating function?
It doesn't really matter in the end because Deathlok makes such a racket that he gets his ass killed by the same dystopian police force they ran from when they arrived. Given Deathlok's tendency to make decisions that only make sense to a schizophrenic, it's not too surprising. Cable, Hope, Deadpool, and Frank Castle arrive to greet the time travelers. They seem to understand that just shooting them will take a massive shit on the space time continuum. But while Deathlok is now an even greater rip-off of the Terminator, the future dystopian police force end up facing another problem that threatens to re-enact some of the most fucked up non-incest scenes from the Back to the Future trilogy.
Psylocke somehow managed to slip away during the commotion. Unlike the others who thought Deathlok's whole rant about the morals of preemptive murder sounded like shit Glenn Beck would say when he was still a drunk, Psylocke took it seriously. Upon finding out that she was the cruel, sadistic bitch that led this future, she decided to slip away so she could do what needed to be done to end this shit. She fucking kills herself. And she doesn't do it in the quick, painless way that involves a shotgun to the head or auto-erotic asphyxia. She stabs herself in the stomach with a katana, a traditional method of Japanese suicide. It's messy, it's painful, and it's ridiculously badass. But like the death of Fantomex, it's somewhat underplayed which indicates this is one of those deaths that probably won't stick. Marvel simply can't kill a hot, sexy Asian chick that they've already killed once before. They know every teenage boy with an Asian fetish will revolt. But it's still a powerful scene from a character that has been on an emotional roller coaster for many issues now.
Rick Remender has always had a flare for the dramatics in Uncanny X-Force, if by dramatics you mean excessive violence, sex, and melodrama. With every arc of Uncanny X-Force, he tries to up the ante and do it in exotic locales. You can't claim he isn't making a similar effort with this arc. He's taken X-Force to alternate universes, miniaturized world's, and Montana. But taking them to yet another dystopian future in a world that has as many dystopias as the Duggers have broken condoms seemed a bit underwhelming. That's rare for an issue of Uncanny X-Force. Rick Remender does an admirable job of making this twisted alternate reality compelling by tying it directly to the recent events with Psylocke and Genesis. However, it still feels somewhat bland in a way that's only made up for by the heavy drama at the end.
Uncanny X-Force has very high standards and Rick Remender met most of those standards with this issue. Even if the whole dytopian future plot is more overdone than a romantic comedy with Hugh Grant, the story here still measures up to Uncanny X-Force standards. It just doesn't measure up as well as some of the other recent issues. The whole notion of the X-men beating Apocalypse and essentially making X-Force the military dictators of the world is every bit as cliched as it sounds. Considering what's been going on in the pages of Avengers vs. X-men, it almost seems like a poor man's version of the events in Uncanny X-Force. But while it may be underwhelming, it's still like saying one supermodel wasn't as hot at the other. This twisted future is still a big part of the story and one that fits nicely with the arc Remender is building.
Uncanny X-Force #28 was as solid an issue of Uncanny X-Force as you could ask for. It had the dark, gritty style that Rick Remender has made so distinct since this title began. There's some colorful wit with characters like Deadpool and Wolverine. There are also some notable twists. While these twists may not require that you re-insert your eyeballs, they'll still give you pause in a way that only seeing a naked old woman dancing on your lawn will. It's not the strongest issue to date, but it's yet another issue that continues a tradition of awesome that has made this series one of the best X-books on the market. Uncanny X-Force #28 gets a 4 out of 5. So Psylocke is going through an emo phase after losing Angel and boning Fantomex. Under the circumstances, that's probably the healthiest thing she could do. Hell, it could be worse. She could have been a hooker that accepted a free drink from Charlie Sheen. Considering what she's been through recently, I think we can all say that Uncanny X-Force is nothing if not a case study in extreme coping skills. Nuff said!