Thursday, August 16, 2012

Uncanny X-Force #29 - Emo Noir Awesome

When I was in high school, there was this girl who was so pessimistic about everything that my friends and I would play this game to see just how she could take any kind of news and turn it into Zoloft commercial. One time we told her this guy in the neighborhood who just lost his house won the lottery. She scoffed and said, "Big whoop. Now he'll just be a rich douche-bag that'll overdose on blow. This world sucks." Another time we told her that one our asshole gym teachers got fired because he came to work drunk and took a piss on the principal's desk. She said, "Big whoop. Now they'll just hire some old drill sergeant to bust our ass for the rest of the year. This world sucks." At some point, we ran out of things to tell her. She was just that much of a downer and didn't have the good sense to do what the rest of us do and get drunk to forget how much the world sucks.

I find myself thinking about that girl a lot lately because she reminds me a lot of Psylocke in Uncanny X-Force. Now I don't know what sort of crazy shit that girl from my high school went through to make her such a pessimist, but Rick Remender has documented Psylocke's descent into this dark world of Marilyn Manson-esque goth quite extensively. She lost the man she loved in the Dark Angel Saga. She had to kill her own brother in Otherworld. She even slept with Fantomex because for some reason she just couldn't bring herself to get drunk enough. Now in the current arc, she finds out that she's going to be the leader of yet another dystopian world where she treats any kind of disorder the same way Catholic nuns deal with young boys who keep Playboys under their desk.

Uncanny X-Force #28 had X-Force on the run yet again as they tried to navigate a dystopian future where their whole policy of pre-emptive killing became law. It's as if they entered a world where George W. Bush became dictator of the world. But when Psylocke found out that she was playing the role of Dick Cheney, she did what most reasonable women do when they get news that bad. She runs off and tries to kill herself. But unlike these pussy ass teens that only cut themselves with a razor blade, Psylocke jammed a fucking katana through her abdomen. By all accounts, it's a lot more effective.

Uncanny X-Force #29 has her on her last gasp of life, but in doing so she did to this twisted dystopian future what Marty McFly almost did to the space time continuum when he almost boned his mother. Time is a real bitch, but in the Marvel universe it's more like that annoying rectal itch that you can smear with lotion and ignore. The lotion (or maybe the rectal itch) is the Punisher in this instance. After he and the rest of Psylocke's peace through murder crew sense someone is butt-fucking father time, he hunts down Psylocke and stops her before she can twist her katana to finish the job. So in the future, even the act of killing yourself is regulated. It's disturbing how probable that is given the current political climate.

Like every politician during election season, bitch Betsy's dystopian forces are quick to attack any threat to them being unseated from power. After the Punisher rips the katana out of her hand before she can gut herself any further, she tries a different approach in throwing herself off a building. Perhaps she should have led with that. I know there's the whole belly cutting thing from kung fu movies, but when there's a dystopian future at stake I think the gods understand taking a less glamorous approach. Unfortunately for Psylocke, Cable shows up and catches her. Psylocke yells at him for allowing this fucked up future to happen. Like any guy who has no other hobbies aside from shooting people, Cable claims that her iron fist in the future is what holds society together. For most people, that's like keeping you in line by crazy gluing fire ants to your asshole.

But before Cable can take Psylocke away to put her on suicide watch, AOA Nightcrawler shows up to teleport her away from Cable's clutches. They surmise in as reasonable a way a kill squad can that giving Betsy over to the people working for her twisted counterpart is a bad idea. Bitch Betsy's forces attempt to get her back, but non-Bitch Betsy continues to tap her inner emo by grabbing one of Deadpool's gun and trying to shoot herself. You may think this suicide stuff is getting a bit excessive, but keep in mind you're reading Uncanny X-Force. This is the same series that shot a kid in the head in the first fucking arc. If anything, I'm surprised Remender didn't play up this angle earlier. Add a Linkin Park album and some goth makeup and you've got yourself a story that Edgar Allen Poe himself would approve of.

But like the asshole that walks in on the girl when she's in the process of slitting her wrists, Betsy's crusade of self-destruction comes to an abrupt end when her older bitchier counterpart gets through to her and uses her telepathy to shut her mind down. Now less we forget, Psylocke does not have a healing factor. So that nasty self-inflicted wound to the gut is still bleeding profusely. So it's not like making her take a nap is going to save her life. The timeline of this dystopian future is still unraveling faster than OJ Simpson's alibi. So both X-Force and Bitch Betsy's forces know they have to save her less Father Time butt fucks them back.

At this point, Psylocke blacks out as she's hovering at that thin line between life, death, or taking way too much acid. There might be some acid in the mix because while walking this line, she has one of the nicer near death experiences that doesn't involve seeing all your old relatives or getting sodomized by Satan's minions. She meets up with Angel again. Well, a dream version of him anyways. They go on this nice, pleasant journey through what looks like a beautiful field that would get bulldozed and paved for a Wal Mart in a second if it were real. This is where Remender really plays up the emotion where Warren essentially tells Psylocke she needs to stop obsessing over what happened to him and live on. He's essentially giving the finger to every Evanescence song ever written.

Emotion in a series like Uncanny X-Force may seem out of place on the surface, but Rick Remender has been known to utilize it before and he definitely does that here to great effect. He doesn't just do it so readers have a chance to stop dry heaving from all the violence either. This moment plays off all the emotional turmoil Psylocke has been experiencing since the Dark Angel Saga. It actually feels like a logical progression of the story, which may not sound like much if you read comics hammered and just look at the pages with the most tits. But it is definitely the mark of a comic that sets itself apart by being extra awesome.

After Psylocke has her moment with Angel, she wakes up in Bitch Psylocke's domain. She's understandably pissed, but Bitch Psylocke is about as relaxed as Tom Brady after he knocks up another supermodel. This scene plays up emotion of a very different kind. They start discussing the merits of imposing this peace by essentially scaling up X-Force's strategy of kill first and ask questions after you've had time to get drunk. What's interesting here is neither Psylocke convinces the other that they're right. They just make their position clear and they're left to prove themselves.

But what about the rest of X-Force? Did Bitch Psylocke just bring her back to have a little chat with herself in a way that isn't a symptom of mental illness? Maybe that would happen in comics that sucked, but this is Rick fucking Remender. The rest of X-Force came with them and along the way they learn more about the circumstances that led to this dystopian shit stain of a timeline. Bitch Psylocke's people aren't interested in seeing their timeline fall apart so they tell them more about the event that led to this future, which was hinted at in the last issue. It involved the new Brotherhood of Mutants and their influence over an impressionable kid Apocalypse. If they want a shot at any future, they need to find a way to stop these assholes and they can't do that if they go back knowing the timeline they create is this shitty. It's sort of a catch 22 for this dystopian future, but that's as close as you'll get to hope in any dystopian future I guess.

So Bitch Psylocke sends X-Force back in time to take on the Brotherhood and Kid Apocalypse. It seems like X-Force is coming full circle. This series started with them taking on a kid Apocalypse. It seems it'll have to end with them taking him on yet again. But visiting the future does tend to create some unusual wrinkles as every episode of Dr. Who has shown. This future offered an ominous yet strangely boner inducing hint at the end. After the team leaves, Bitch Psylocke and Bitch Wolverine share a kiss that would only be disturbing if you pictured them doing it naked. Or maybe you may be into the whole elder porn shit, but even if you aren't it definitely has an impact. Given all the other emotional shit Remender has thrown into this book, the emotions of every reader should be more beat up than a Mexican in Joe Arpio's jurisdiction.

I'm not usually too emotion unless I'm watching a football game I bet money on. There's a time and a place for emotional stories and there's a time and a place for savoring reckless violence and getting drunk with your buddies in a bar you later trash when they try to serve you light beer. Rick Remender has had plenty of blood-soaked issues of Uncanny X-Force that would make even Bill Belicheck raise an eyebrow, but every now and then he does reserve a few issues here and there for emotions. This issue was one of those issues and like the many other he's done to this point, he does it with the kind of skill that soak the panties of every woman that ever bought a copy of 50 Shades of Grey.

Psylocke's emotional journey took center stage here, not just from her present self but from her future cold-hearted bitch self as well. All the emotions going back to losing Warren up until the clusterfuck that also involved fucking Fantomex is given a greater context. In a sense future Betsy sees what all the murder, heartache, and stench from Fantomex's semen has caused her. In a ways Remender shows the reader how Psylocke got to this point and what makes it compelling is that she and X-Force left without a clear indication that it'll change. The end left an ambiguous hint that Psylocke was still on this path, but her kissing Wolverine (a guy whose Asian fetish is only as famous as his redhead fetish) also hints that something else happened along the way. It's the kind of depth that Avengers vs. X-men had until very recently and one that makes this issue one that will make you feel for Psylocke in a way that almost makes it hard to jerk off to thoughts of her in a kimono...almost.

The emotion in this issue was still coupled with some action. However, that action was a bit light and underdone. That's okay though because the focus on this issue was the emotion. Sometimes it was left too ambiguous, but it leaves the door open for other emotional plots to be revisited after X-Force is done bathing in the blood the new Brotherhood and putting another bullet in between the eyes of Kid Apocalypse. Uncanny X-Force has many different elements and Remender has explored almost all of them in recent issues. Uncanny X-Force #29 helps tie together a story that has been evolving wonderfully since the end of the Otherworld arc and for that I give it a 4.5 out of 5. So if you want an epic story that's so epic that the writers actually forget the point of actually telling, read Fear Itself or the latest issue of Avengers vs. X-men. But if you want an epic story that's epic because the writer is actually sober (or high) enough to make it a worthwhile story, read Uncanny X-Force. Nuff said!


  1. Only a 4.5? Picky picky...

    Psylocke is one of my favorite characters and I am so pleased to see her arc in this book. I'd say the Uncanny X-Force is mainly Betsy's book and I am so glad.

  2. Sorry if it sounded picky. I just didn't think this issue was awesome enough to warrant a perfect score, especially given the high standards that Uncanny X-Force has established. I agree that Psylocke is really shining here. I hope she continues to do so, even if it means boning Wolverine. lol


  3. Not only was this a great issue of Uncanny X-Force in it's own right, it lead to an absolutely hilarious review. My favorite lines are:

    I find myself thinking about that girl a lot lately because she reminds me a lot of Psylocke in Uncanny X-Force. Hee.

    and there's this humorous bit of sly commentary:

    They go on this nice, pleasant journey through what looks like a beautiful field that would get bulldozed and paved for a Wal Mart in a second if it were real. I had to stop and guffaw and that one.

    Actually, the only "flaw" in your otherwise excellent review is that you didn't point of the delightful scene where Deadpool has a slight "meta" moment where he totally rips on the Punisher's oh-so limited character tics. Besides making a good observation, this showcases how Deadpool should be used: to give an "emo" book some much needed levity.

    But otherwise great job to the writers of both the issue and the review!

    1. Thanks a ton for your kind words. It's good to know that the damage I do to my liver is not in vain. I know Deadpool had his moments, but for the sake of my liver I had to trim it down. Thanks again for your support and I hope it continues (as well as my liver function).