Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Cable and X-Force #1 - Gritty, Flawed, and Awesome
There are some people that are just more well-suited to a particular job than the average joe. Surgeons are well-suited because of their ability to not throw up at the sight of blood, puss, and undigested food. Mechanics are well-suited because of their ability to stick their hands into the guts of a machine and know how to not lose a limb. And politicians are well-suited because of their inherent ability to bullshit large groups of people. For a team like X-Force, who prides themselves on enlisting the help of X-men with certain personality disorders, some characters are just better at it than others. They're either trained killers, sociopaths, or so emotionally damaged that the thought of blowing a hole in somebody's head only reminds them that they skipped lunch. And few characters demonstrate that capability better than Cable.
There was a time not long ago where Cable was an integral part of the X-books because he was responsible for protecting the mutant messiah that would grow up to be an annoying, pissant little brat named Hope Summers. He did his job, but had to have a little R&R from all the time-traveling, ball-busting bullshit that Hope put him through. In the Marvel universe, the only R&R anyone gets is death. And after Second Coming, he had more than his fair share. Even after he came back in X-Sanction and was fully healed from the techno-organic virus, he remained on the sidelines. Hell, he didn't even do jack shit during Avengers vs. X-men when the world hinged on Hope's ability to not fuck up. She ended up doing so anyways, ignoring some of Cable's most basic lessons such as not ditching the people who sacrifice damn near everything for you or running away when shit gets heavy. I suspect he chose not to involve himself because he knew his brains would fall out of his head for rolling his eyes so damn much. Now that he's fully rested, he finally has the strength to deal with Hope's bullshit and get back to doing what he does best in leading a team of sociopath killers and carrying big ass guns. He's basically a walking trailer for the Expendables movies.
This brings us to Cable and X-Force, one of the big Marvel NOW! titles for the X-books. It's a book that puts Cable back in his element, shifting the focus away from him having to change the diapers of an annoying Jean Grey ripoff and getting back to basics with a new X-Force. Now like the guy who prematurely ejaculates when he's with a hot prostitute, Marvel is jumping the gun here because Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force hasn't ended yet. We still don't know the fate of the previous X-Force yet we're already getting a new one? Did All New X-men fuck with the space time continuum too much already? This may be one instance where Marvel just shrugs their shoulders and says, "It's magic. Assume Mephisto did it in exchange for more opportunities to fuck with Spider-Man." I usually despise that logic, but the promise of more X-Force and Cable being back in action is enough to make me overlook it. That and a few extra bong hits usually does the trick.
The new world of Cable and X-Force #1 has plenty to offer. It sets the tone early by jumping way ahead after Cable has recruited his full team Domino, Dr. Nemesis, and Colossus who apparently stopped whining after his sister fucked him over at the end of Avengers vs. X-men. Together, they emerge from your standard evil lair/chemical factory found in no fewer than a billion comic book plots surrounded by death and destruction. It may seem overly gritty to some, but if you know anything at all about X-Force books you know damn well that this kind of shit is obligitory in X-Force books. It would be like having a James Bond movie where he doesn't bone a hot chick. So save the bitching for something or someone more deserving!
Unfortunately for Cable's new team (for whom we have no explanation on how the fuck he got them together, mind you) that kind of death and destruction is a big no-no when it's not sanctioned by the government, the Avengers, or the voices in George W. Bush's head. This attracts the attention of the Uncanny Avengers, which makes for a nice little tie-in to the rest of the Marvel books. We usually don't get that shit in X-Force so I'll look at this as extra frosting atop a cake served right out of a war zon in Afghanistan. Havok, already pissed that Cyclops has given the Summers family a bad name, tries to get an explanation from Cable about why the fuck he's doing this at a time when mutants can't afford to be branded as terrorists. Cable's response...he shoots Havok in the face. Excuse me while I get some tissues and change my shorts.
Now usually everyone not named Dick Cheny doesn't support shooting people in the face. But after Havok proved to be a total douche in Uncanny Avengers and after doing absolutely jack shit in Avengers vs. X-men, he's more than deserving of a pounding migraine at the very least. When you bitch and moan about shit that you were perfectly capable of confronting beforehand, your whining has as much credibility as Donald Trump. Havok should consider himself lucky that being shot in the face by his nephew was all he got.
We go from a long overdue moment to a moment that could wait until the end of time for all I care. I've made no bones about my utter hatred for Hope "Jean Rip-Off" Summers. I could do no fewer than ten blog posts on all the reasons why she's the most annoying pissant little brat in X-men that wasn't created by Chuck Austin. But I understand that any story about Cable is going to involve Hope by default. He still raised her to be the annoying bratty pissant whose sole purpose as the mutant messiah was just to fucking let the Phoenix Force go once she got it. Right, like that shit requires a lifetime of training. And what did she do when the chaos was over and some of the people who sacrificed so much for her ended up in jail? She fucking left! If she wants sympathy, she'll have to pay a crack whore in withdrawal.
But I digress. Hope, despite enjoying all the comforts of having ditched the X-men and shrugging her shoulders as some of them suffer, has been trying to live a normal life at a fancy private school. Yet she still finds reasons to bitch and moan about it, which include still dealing with her mimic powers that led her to seeing one too many teenage boys naked. Fuck, hasn't this bitch discovered internet porn yet? But all she does here is piss and moan about how she's miserable when she's not getting shot at and how much she misses Cable. Cable knows this, but he keeps his distance from her as well he should. This bitch has caused him enough problems.
After checking in on Hope, he returns to his new base, which happens to be a shit hole junk yard in the middle of nowhere. It may sound like a questionable choice of residence, but when you come from an apocalyptic future I guess it's the closest you get to a Motel 6, minus the semen stains on the bed sheets. It also turns out he has a roommate in Forge. Now this is a little odd because Forge has been MIA in the X-books since the Ghost Box arc in Warren Ellis's Astonishing X-men. What the fuck has he been doing all this time and how the fuck did Cable get him to join his renegade team? We don't get an explanation unfortunately. But Cable does get a badass new cybernetic arm that shoots rockets. So it balances out.
While we don't get an explanation for how Forge ended up with Cable, we do get one for Domino and it's not just because she used to bone him (although that probably was a factor). Domino didn't seek him out or anything. She was just bored and was passing the time like she probably does on every Thursday night by going on a mission that involves infiltrating an AIM base armed with multiple layers of security, automatic sentry guns, and cybernetic dogs (not a metaphor). With her luck, it's amazing she doesn't get painfully bored by this shit. But her luck is even better this time because by the time she arrives, someone else has already done her work for her. Hope, having had shitty luck in finding Cable and being too much of a bitch to accept it, went ahead and finished Domino's mission in exchange for her help finding Cable. Since Domino would probably be too bored waiting for another life-threatening mission, she humors Hope's insufferable daddy issues.
While Domino helps Hope find Cable, he recruits another member for his team in Dr. Nemesis. Since Utopia is now defunct and the Jean Grey Institute already has an insufferable douche-bag scientist in Beast, he's out of a job. But as soon as he arrives at his junkyard base, he finds Hope there waiting for him. At first it looks like it's going to be an emotional reunion. It ends up being the kind of migraine inducing scene you won't see outside a Twilight movie. First, Hope just stands there all pissed and bratty, whining at Cable as to why the fuck he didn't come for her the moment he woke up. She's so pissed that she taps his telekinesis to kick up some shit. But all Cable has to do is give her that puppy dog look (or whatever the equivalent is for a guy as fucked up as him) and she forgives him. No explanation. No clues. He just says something incredibly bland and all is forgiven.
Now aside from this going against the utterly immutable laws of insane teenage emotional reactions, it basically avoids adding any more details as to just what the fuck has happened to Cable. The last time he was seen, he tried to kill the Avengers during X-Sanction and was completely healed from the techno-organic virus. Yet he clearly woke up and didn't see fit to help Hope out while the events of Avengers vs. X-men were ripping the world apart. You think a guy with foresight into the future would actually be useful, but fuck no! He just runs off and we don't know why. It's a very big blank and one that no awesome cybernetic arm can sufficiently overlook.
There is at least some hint as to how Cable ended up in need of new cybernetic limbs in the first place. After his reunion with Hope, he suffers a terrible headache (which is normal when dealing with Hope). However, these headaches are part of a new string of symptoms he's been dealing with since he was healed from the techno-organic virus. Dr. Nemesis and Forge try to help him, explaining that the process fucked with his internal wiring as if it wasn't fucked up enough to begin with. And in the process, it gave him brief visions of the future. And as they're assessing Cable's condition, one of those visions that Hope saw earlier manifests right on the TV screen. It's a somewhat random way to end the comic. Fuck, it doesn't even explain how the hell they ended up having to shoot Havok in the face and give the finger to the Avengers. Maybe I'm just too happy to see someone stick it to the Avengers after Avengers vs. X-men, but I sure as hell wouldn't mind an explanation for that shit. Sadly, we don't get it, leaving yet another glaring blank for this issue.
X-Force books have always had a certain gritty style to them that makes you want to drool and throw up at the same time (in a good way). For any X-Force book to be considered successful by any degree, it has to uphold that style for the same reason you don't tell Superman stories that involve Lois Lane being a crack whore. Well I can safely say with a semi-sober mind that this first issue of Cable and X-Force captures that style. From the tone to the artwork, this book definitely oozes with X-Force from all the right orifices. It involves renegade X-men doing the kind of renegade things that John Rambo, Chuck Norris, and John McClane do every other Friday. Dennis Hopeless established a clear theme for the book and overall, it's pretty damn awesome.
However, on a more detailed level this book has its share of flaws, the least of which involve a girl with red hair, green eyes, and ISN'T named Jean Grey. I won't say that Hope Summer taints every book she touches in the same way Joel Shoemacher tainted superhero movies to such an extent that it nearly destroyed the genre. She did make Generation Hope enjoyable at times. But this is one book where her presence really drags the story while fucking up what already happened in Avengers vs. X-men Consequences. I won't belabor how much Hope deserves to receive a long string of severe concussions delivered by Ray Lewis for completely ditching the X-men in Avengers vs. X-men and walking away when the very people that tried to protect her were screwed over and thrown in jail. I'll just focus on her constant whining, erratic characterization, and inability to be anything more than a Jean Grey ripoff that has since become useless.
But beyond Hope, the other major flaw of this book is the general lack of coherence in terms of what the fuck is going on and when the fuck it happens. Those are two very important aspects of any book. In the first pages, we see that Colossus is on the team and X-Force is in a situation that somehow warrants shooting Havok in the face. Now maybe I'm still pissed at Havok for being a douche in Uncanny Avengers #1, but that's pretty broad ass situation. It's clear this happens in the near future, but it isn't clear just how the fuck it gets there. In some ways that scene at the beginning is more appropriate at the end because most of the issue was about setting up X-Force as a team. And that didn't even go as smoothly as it should have. We didn't get too many hints about what Cable did when he woke up from his coma, how he convinced Forge to help him, and how he managed to set up shop in Nebraska without raising any eyebrows in a world where anyone with a Summers name has a target on their ass.
Some of these flaws can be corrected in future issues. Some, like Hope Summers, are lingering tumors that will continue to fester in this book for as long as Marvel cares to keep this outdated rip-off character breathing. But overall, the underlying premise of Cable and X-Force is well-established by Dennis Hopeless. It's just seriously lacking the details that would make it awesome. There's still time, but for this issue on its own I give it a 3 out of 5. I want it give it more just for that one panel that involved Havok getting shot in the face, but I refuse to be that petty to my readers. I may be a drunk, but I have standards. It'll give you a solid, gritty X-Force story, but with a shit ton of blanks that need to be filled in. In that sense it's like the Dark Knight Rises, but with Domino replacing Catwoman as the primary source of boners and Cable replacing Batman as the primary source of gritty brooding. So long as it doesn't involve Gary Oldman whining incessently, I'll take it! Nuff said.