Thursday, August 30, 2012
Uncanny X-Force #30 - Awesome Bites Back
Unless you're a politician or coach of the New England Patriots, lies only go so far. When you lie, cheat, and steal without a full compliment of lawyers and politicians in your back pocket, that shit is going to catch up with you. The heroes of Marvel and DC may be powerful enough to destroy potential earth-shattering threats, but when they lie they do a piss poor job of covering their tracks. The heroes and anti-heroes of Marvel are prone to lie every bit as much as that guy in a bar trying to pick up a girl by telling her he can get her a role in the next James Cameron movie. But you would think with the added powers and abilities of heroes, they would be capable enough of covering their asses with bribes, non-disclosure agreements, and lawsuits. I guess that's a lot harder when you're a secret kill squad.
Uncanny X-Force is not your typical superhero book in the same way getting a prostate massage from a cute female nurse is a sex position. These heroes are only as heroic as a kill squad will allow them to be. Hell, the first arc of the series culminated with a kid getting shot in the head. Moreover, the consequences of that shot led to some pretty fucked up events that few lawyers outside Mitt Romney's inner circle could cover up. In a ways, it's fitting that Fantomex was the one that set all this shit into motion because his specialty is deceiving people in ways that would impress Bernie Madoff. But since he doesn't have the money for lawyers, that deception eventually caught up with him and it's catching up with X-Force as well.
And it isn't just Fantomex's bullshit that is incurring the wrath of karma. All of X-Force is getting their ass tenderized by a new Brotherhood of Mutants that has taken their "kill these motherfuckers before they fuck up our shit" strategy and turned it against them. They already took kid-Apocalypse. They also killed Fantomex and blew up X-Force's base of operation. So it isn't just bad karma. It's like karma has a bad case of PMS and X-Force forgot to buy her tampons.
Uncanny X-Force #30 explores what the new Brotherhood has been doing with Kid Apocalypse (aka Genesis) while X-Force explored yet another dystopian future. There's a nice little scene with Genesis and Fantomex, who he thinks is his uncle. It helps remind the readers that while Fantomex was growing a new Apocalypse in the World, he attempted to make him less of an asshole by basically ripping off Superman and making him believe that he was just a good old boy from Kansas who was born with apocalyptic power. It's yet another one of Fantomex's huge lies and it isn't even of the douchy kind. Yet it's the one that the new Brotherhood is looking to expose thanks to Shadowking, who probably gets a boner by fucking with the minds of young kids. He's almost as bad as Jerry Sandusky in that sense.
Now Genesis's disappearance hasn't gone unnoticed. There's a brief scene at the Jean Grey Institute that shows Shadowcat and Beast getting understandably upset about his disappearance. Even they seem to know that losing the kid destined to become Apocalypse is bad news. Plus, they don't know where the fuck Wolverine is. But you would think they would be used to that shit.
That makes the new Brotherhood's triumph all the more satisfying I imagine. The X-me are clueless while X-Force is seemingly as dead as Fantomex, whose body they have mounted on a wall. To be honest, I would do the same if I killed someone who was as big a douche as Fantomex, but that's besides the point. The new Brotherhood don't seem to give much thought to the possibility that X-Force somehow survived Ultimaton blowing up. They just decide to kick back, shoot some pool, and wait for Apocalypse to join their ranks. Now maybe this is odd coming from an admitted stoner, but this is one instance where someone needs to be extra motivated and like Fantomex's bullshit that's going to come back to bite them.
But to get Apocalypse on their side, they first have to undo the innocent little shell that is Genesis. Now Remender could have just had Shadowking telepathically undo all the shit Fantomex did. But that's not bloody enough for an Uncanny X-Force comic. He would much rather see Genesis succumb to his inner Apocalypse on his own. So he, Sabretooth, and Daken prepare a little test to see if he's not quite as creepy as he seems. Daken tells Genesis that Sabretooth is going to walk into a gas station and start killing innocent people. The only way to stop him is for Genesis to get out and kill him first. It's a cruel, messy way to make a point, but it definitely sends the right message.
The attack on the gas station is messy, but not quite as bloody as we're used to seeing in the pages of Uncanny X-Force. Genesis makes a feeble effort to stop Sabretooth, but he avoids killing him. This allows Sabretooth to butcher several innocent people, which for him is no worse than pissing on an ant hill. Again, it's not as bloody as it could have been. Sabretooth didn't torture them first. He didn't shit on their faces or gouge out their eyes Spanish Inquisition style. He just kills them in front of Genesis in a way that will still require more therapy than Dr. Phil will ever be able to provide.
While it may not be as bloody as seeing Deadpool feed pieces of himself to Arcangel, the whole psychological torment element adds some very compelling elements to the scene. It's not unlike how the Joker fucks with people, trying to prove that we're all assholes at our core. The Brotherhood just does it with less clown makeup and more mindless violence. It's the kind of violence that almost makes you feel sorry for Genesis because he clearly is trying not to become Apocalypse. I say almost because you know this shit can't be avoided, especially when it's based around lies by Fantomex.
Since killing innocent people wasn't enough turn Genesis bad, the Brotherhood steps up their game by seeking out his parents. Keep in mind Genesis's parents are all an illusion, a lie Fantomex ripped out of old Superman comics. But to Genesis, they're still his parents so he makes an extra effort to try and save them. He breaks out of the camper where the Brotherhood had been holding them and tries to reach them before they do. He ends up failing miserably. By the time he arrives, Sabretooth and Daken have already slaughtered them. It's not too graphic, but then again his parents aren't real to begin with. That doesn't make the impact any less potent because you get the sense that it really does affect Genesis. It essentially symbolizes the kind of shit that can happen when you adopt this whole pre-emptive killing mentality.
At this point, Genesis stops playing nice and starts exercising his Apocalyptic powers. He attacks Daken and Sabretooth with the kind of force that most would expect of a young Apocalypse going through puberty. He blasts them in ways that make them look like they took a bath in Snookie's vaginal secretions and uses his powers to become that much less of a pussy farm boy. It's the first time Genesis has really flexed his powers and shown signs of being the Apocalypse we all know he's destined to become. But remarkably, yet not surprisingly he stops himself before he starts dissecting Sabretooth and Daken like Jeffery Dahlmer in a morgue. Despite thinking he had just lost his parents, he refuses to become the Apocalyptic asshole they want him to be. That says a lot about him or about how strong Fantomex's deception was. I tend to err on the side of Fantomex's deception being pretty fucking strong.
While Genesis was able to resist the urge to become too apocalyptic, it doesn't dissuade Sabretooth and Daken in the slightest. Unlike Fox News, they actually have the truth on their side. They know thanks to Shadowking that everything Genesis thinks about his life is a big ass lie. Now that they've opened the door for him to become an evil son-of-a-bitch, they can dig even deeper. They can expose Fantomex's lie completely. For a kid with Apocalyptic tendencies, that's some pretty heavy shit to process. And were it not for future solicitations of Wolverine and the X-men that showed Genesis still intact, you wouldn't be sure if he could resist his dark inclinations at this point. Maybe Sabretooth and Daken should have just gone the traditional route and got him hooked on weed and heavy metal.
Even though this book is called Uncanny X-Force, X-Force didn't even make an appearance. Usually, that would be grounds for a whole lot of WTF, but as he often does with seemingly fucked up premises Rick Remender finds a way to make it work. It's not enough to just have Shadowking tell Genesis that everything he thought about his life was a lie. Hell, that shit could have been handled in half a page. But Rick Remender finds a way to spread it out over an entire issue that turns into one massive mindfuck. And you know what? It's pretty damn awesome.
Now I'm not in favor of mindfucking anybody who isn't an ardent supporter of Rick Santorum, but Remender did something pretty amazing with this issue in that it actually made readers care about Genesis. It's not easy to forget that this kid is still Apocalypse. He's still destined to become the living embodiment of every creationists's fears about evolution. There was always a sense that sooner or later he would have to confront the horrible truth, but the way the Brotherhood is going about it in this issue makes for a compelling drama and intense character moments. It goes back to the whole nature vs. nurture dilemma that Remender first explored during the first arc. It's taking on a much more dramatic twist with Genesis as he's fighting the Brotherhood's influence. I don't want to get too attached to a kid I know will probably turn out to be the kind of guy that jerks off to genocide. But damn it, Remender is making that shit hard!
Uncanny X-Force always finds a way to break new ground. While the previous arc overplayed the whole dystopian future story, this issue once again made solid connections back to plots that have been unfolding since the very first issue. It takes elements of psychological torment and drapes them with the gritty, blood-soaked sheets of X-Force's awesome. Even though X-Force didn't show up and the action wasn't bloody enough in some areas, this issue still embodies so much of what makes Uncanny X-Force one of the most awesome X-books on the market. I give Uncanny X-Force #30 a 4.5 out of 5. The Brotherhood is going to great lengths to prove Freud wrong. They're looking to show that no matter how much you butter up a kid, you can still turn him into a sadistic asshole and you don't have to resort to parenting tips from James Dobson to do it. Nuff said!