Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Cable and X-Force #2 - Head-Pounding Awesome
I try not to get too politically correct on this blog, but occasionally comics will walk that fine line between being just another story and being a talking point on Bill O'Reilly's next show. Few topics are more sensitive than terrorism. I know I make a lot of dick, fart, poop, and titty jokes on this blog. But even I'm not drunk enough to make light of the real world horrors of terrorism. There isn't enough weed in the entire state of California to make anyone laugh at that. That said, I still try to find ways to keep the mood on this blog light-hearted and fun. And since Marvel's new series, Cable and X-Force, dips its toes in the choppy waters of terrorism I'll have to steady my alcohol intake to ensure I don't piss off more people than I entertain.
The very first issue of Cable and X-Force by Dennis Hopeless established a gritty new world that was perfectly suited for X-Force. It was a horribly flawed issue that was seriously dragged down by Hope Summers continuing to be an annoying pissant little brat, but it was the first X-book since X-Sanction to get Cable back in action. He's recovered from the techno-organic virus, but his body is still more fucked up than Keith Richards and not holding up even half as well. For that reason, he's recruited Forge to make him a new arm that shoots missiles. Because what's X-Force without a guy who can fire missiles? But more than anything, the first issue established X-Force not just as a secret X-men kill squad that shoots first, pisses on the corpse, and goes home to bone Domino. Their shenanigans in the post-Avengers vs. X-men Marvel universe has branded them a real terrorist organization and in this day and age, you can be sure that Dennis Hopeless has the ACLU on speed dial.
But part of what made the first issue sub-par was that we really didn't see how Cable's new X-Force team took on the terrorist role. The first scene showed them confronting the Uncanny Avengers after a rather bloody confrontation that left a few too many bystanders dead. It was tense, resulting in Havok getting shot in the face. But as awesome as that sounds, it didn't really explain how the fuck they got to that point. I mean I understand Cable's inclination to shoot Havok in the face. I just don't understand how the fuck they could have ended up in that position without a frat party going horribly wrong.
Cable and X-Force #2 offers yet another insight into the near-future and wouldn’t you know it? Colossus is still pissed off. Just like the previous issue, we saw that something has gone horribly wrong in one of Cable’s missions and it left a few too many people dead. While that may be an average Tuesday for X-Force, the Uncanny Avengers sure didn’t appreciate it. But unlike Havok, shooting Colossus in the head isn’t really an option here. He makes his discontent known to Cable and Cable looks like he left the last fuck he ever gave a few centuries in the future. It’s still a tense moment, but it’s hard to really feel the impact of such a moment when we still don’t know what the hell even happened to led to those dead bodies in the first place.
And just like the previous issue, we don’t get much of an explanation. Instead, we see more of what happened in the near past. After seeing Cable’s vision of some techno-organic creature attacking South Beach, Hope grabs her trusty jet pack while Domino gets a special bomb from Forge with which to deal with this pesky incident. They know that there can’t be a future without some beach for hot models and the rich snooty fucks that try to bone them. They arrive to find a lot of techno-organic goo and no topless sunbathers. It truly is a vision of the apocalypse. I may hate Hope Summers with the fire of a billion suns, but even I can’t help but root for her and Domino.
While Hope and Domino are having their girl time, Dr. Nemesis and Forge perform a little impromptu brain surgery on Cable. It's part of an ongoing mystery that began in the previous issue with Cable's ominous migraines. Now on the surface, it really doesn't seem like much. Who wouldn't have a migraine after having to deal with Hope fucking Summers for over a decade? But these migraines come with some ominous visions of the future. It may be an explanation as to why Cable left before he could make a difference during the events of Avengers vs. X-men. Or it could just be more proof that Hope Summers poisons everything she comes across. Hopeless keeps it overly mysterious here, but at least he's creating the possibility of an explanation about Cable's recent behavior.
Back in South Beach, there's more carnage than thongs for once. But while Domino is doing her part by attempting to blow up that giant techno-organic blob, Hope is helping the civilians. Now this is a perfectly noble, heroic effort. And it's made all the more heroic by being captured by a news crew. It's South Beach. It's home to plenty of news crews and voyeurs looking to snap photos of topless sunbathers. Hope is made to look all heroic here, rescuing kids and a family. I won't say it's not admirable, but there's a huge fucking problem here that the news crews miss.
I get what Hopeless is doing here. He's making Hope Summers seem somewhat more likable and showing that she still knows how to use Cable's training. But this shit doesn't exist in a vacuum. Just because you see Donald Trump drop a penny in charity bucket doesn't make him a fucking humanitarian. Hope Summers is this willing to help an innocent family yet she's completely unwilling to lend even the slightest hand to the people she fucking screwed over? Hell, she never even fucking apologized to Cyclops or the X-men for ditching them in Avengers vs. X-men after they sacrificed life, limb, and a beloved friend in Nightcrawler to save her miserable ass from Bastion. I'm sorry, but saving a few kids doesn't make up for that. She's still a pissant little brat that deserves to be shoved up Galactus's anus.
At least Domino shows that she's still both likable and incredibly boneable. She's able to luck out like she always does and detonates the bomb that Forge gave her to destroy the techno-organic goo. It's a bit flashy and doesn't have a whole lot of bloodshed, which is somewhat out of place for an X-Force book. But Hopeless makes it clear that this shit isn't just some random attack and since we already know Cable ends up shooting Havok in the face, the good publicity isn't going to last. Domino takes a sample of the material and leaves with Hope, allowing South Beach to return to the half-naked supermodels and rich European douche-bags it belongs to.
Later on after Cable wakes up from having his brain tweaked, he and Domino have a little conversation. Now since some readers may have lapsed or don't have much of an attention span without the aid of Adderal, I should probably point out that Cable and Domino used to be fuck buddies. It was quite a while ago, but it did happen and the tension here is still apparent. However, Domino makes it clear that seeing him again isn't soaking her panties as much as he probably wants. She's actually concerned that he's still pushing his aging ass to figure out these visions he's been having. He just got done raising an annoying Jean Grey ripoff. He can't keep doing this shit and expect to survive for very long. It's a nice, well-thought out conversation. I think it's probably the highlight of the issue, which isn't saying much.
In addition, this scene helps add a bit of a personal touch to Cable. The problem is it doesn't really feel that personal. Even though these two have a history, Hopeless doesn't really play up that angle. In a book where Hope Summers is being the arrogant bitch she always is, that's more than a missed opportunity. Part of what made Uncanny X-Force so awesome was that Rick Remender took every opportunity to add in some character drama whether it was with Psylocke and Angle, Psylocke and Fantomex, or Wolverine and beer. It seems like Hopeless isn't taking advantage of that here and that just limits the impact of the book.
Domino's advice does resonate in some ways though. Cable agrees that he doesn't have the strength to do this shit on his own. So he decides to go out and get some help. And if the ominous scene at the beginning of the book wasn't telling enough, he gets that help from Colossus. Now it's here where Hopeless actually does something awesome and recognize the events in other X-books, namely All New X-men. In that book the mutant powers of the Phoenix Five and a few others were fucked up. Since Colossus was a member, it makes sense that his powers would be fucked up too. And when Cable comes to him, we find out that it's true. He can't seem to stay completely metaled up anymore. That didn't stop him from getting a job as a security guard. Because that's what a guy does after he wields the power of a cosmic force and gets screwed over by his sister. He gets a job as a fucking security guard. I don't get it either, but it's not the first instance in this issue where it seems Hopeless hasn't thought this shit through. It probably won't be the last either, but at least it'll get Colossus back into the action and hopefully in a position to kick his sister's ass at some point and/or shoot Havok in the face again.
Perhaps I’ve been spoiled somewhat by the quality of X-Force comics in recent years. Rick Remender, Craig Kyle, and Chris Yost set a very high bar for the gritty world of X-Force and expecting every book to reach that bar would be like expecting every beer you drink to be freshly imported from a German brewery. It’s just unreasonable, unrealistic, and a bit of a dick move. But when it comes to having standards, I’m not going to apologize for the same reason I don’t apologize for demanding that ugly hookers with more stretch marks than teeth charge less than the young porn stars with fresh breast implants. I won’t say Cable and X-Force #2 fell flat on its face. It was an improvement, but it still left a lot to be desired.
I’ll try hard not to dwell on the blatant pro-Hope Summers bias that’s constantly displayed by the Marvel media. I think everyone who has followed this blog in recent times know where I stand on bratty puissant rip-off characters. But even though this issue makes an effort to try and explain what was shown in the first issue, it still left a few questions unanswered. Even if they are answered in the very next issue, this series is already starting to drag. And in this day and age when peoples’ attention spans are only as long as the most recent Kardashian headline, that’s just not going to work.
I will give Dennis Hopeless credit for mixing in the events of other recent X-books, namely All New X-men, when dealing with Colossus’s powers. Even though Cable and X-Force is clearly meant to be its own gritty little world for Cable to blow shit up in, it’s nice that it still fits into the larger Marvel framework. In addition, Hopeless does an admirable job of throwing in a little character development for Cable and Domino. That way Hope doesn’t completely ruin the scene. There’s a clear conflict here and one in which someone has fucked up in a pretty spectacular way. I’m still curious, but at the rate this story is going and the rate my bong is drying up I can’t get as excited about it as I want.
This was a fairly decent issue, albeit one where not much happened. There was some decent action and some tense moments, but it still lacks the excitement and tension you would hope to find in an X-Force book. Because of this, I can only give Cable and X-Force #2 a 2.5 out of 5. Maybe it is a little harsh, but as I said before X-Force books are held to a certain standard. And at the moment this series isn’t meeting that standard. Now that could change very quickly. Comics aren’t like boob jobs in that they can be rushed and not leave too many noticeable scars. But like boob jobs, when they’re done right it really doesn’t matter what came before it. It’s still an awesome sight to behold. Nuff said!