Thursday, December 20, 2012
Uncanny X-Force #35 - Disturbingly Final Awesome
There are few comics these days that are worth sticking with from beginning to end. Some start strong, blowing your mind like three blow-jobs from three Playboy centerfolds in the span of 20 pages. Some are more forgettable than the last Adam Sandler movie, only really picking up towards the end when Marvel wants to cash in and/or piss off fans by doing some insane shit like swapping minds between characters. I wish I could think of a good example, but I'm a little hung over right now. My point is that series that are awesome from start to finish are rare and precious. They should be cherished in the same way a stoner cherishes his last joint.
Uncanny X-Force has been a monumental achievement in awesome since its inception. When the series started out, I admit I didn't know where Remender was going to take it. It just seemed like a comic book version of the Expendables, minus Stallone's slurred speech. You take some of the X-men's best known killers, stick them on a team, and give the Christian Right another reason to bitch and moan about violence in popular culture. But Remender has done something far more awesome than just piss off moral crusaders. He has created of a vast, compelling, concise, and comprehensive series of awesome. It didn't just focus on violence that involved killer cyborgs from the future, shooting Apocalypse in the head, or having a shark eat a man from the inside out. That shit was all pretty awesome, mind you, but Remender always found ways to balance it out with just the right amount of melodrama. Whether it was Psylocke's desire to save Angel, Fantomex's desire to bone Psylocke, Wolverine's desire to bone Age of Apocalypse Jean Grey, or Mystique's desire to bone everyone he's taken these characters on an incredible journey. It couldn't be more thrilling without every issue coming with a free hit of LSD.
But like all great rides or acid trips, they have to come to an end at some point. Rick Remender's run on Uncanny X-Force may not have had the longevity of Chris Claremont, but fuck if he hasn't made every issue count. Moreover, he's made sure that every story ties in with the others in some way or another. Going back to the first story with Kid Apocalypse, he's weaved X-Force through many difficult conflicts. The characters have been changed, scarred, traumatized, or in Fantomex's case shot dead by an underwear-clad Mystique. Hey, there are worse ways to go. But after the last arc, X-Force confronted another difficult dose of violence and melodrama. Nightcrawler betrayed them, Wolverine had to kill his own son, and Genesis got a little taste of his apocalyptic potential. Now that the adrenaline buzz has worn off, the final hangover can set in and we as readers are left to savor every last page of this epic run.
Uncanny X-Force #35, Remender's last issue on this series, has Wolverine and Psylocke dealing with the immediate repercussions of the previous arc, namely Wolverine killing his son and Psylocke dealing with Fantomex getting murdered by Mystique. Granted, it’s not her fault that Mystique is cunning enough to take her form, bone Fantomex, and then kill him. But Fantomex is still the reason why she ended up screwing over her own brother. If anyone deserves to feel the most screwed, it’s Wolverine. He’s the one that had to kill his pan-sexual son rather than wait for him to die of rectal trauma. His inner musings over his grave are a nice touch as well. Hell, I almost teared up knowing I may never read Remender write Wolverine’s inner lament like this again.
But unlike Wolverine, Psylocke does have a chance to go back and try to unfuck the situation she created with her brother. After blood stops spilling and Daken’s boner finally goes soft, she pays a visit to her brother. There’s not as much hostility as I expected between two bitter siblings. Maybe I’ve just seen way too much Jerry Springer, but there is some sense of resolution between them. Psylocke explains that Fantomex was a douche, but she doesn’t regret what she did. There’s really not much that Captain Britain can do when his emotionally damaged sister gives him that puppy-dog look. It’s like a spoiled rich girl asking her father for a pony. Psylocke doesn’t get the proverbial pony, but she does get closure.
Another character that gets an important dose of closure is Genesis. In the previous arc, he came dangerously close to living up to his Apocalyptic potential. He managed to avoid vindicating Daken and every other creepy undertone that he's ever demonstrated. He was even able to give up his Apocalypse armor to Captain Britain. But there's still the whole his life being a complete Smallville rip-off thing. So Deadpool pays him a visit at the Jean Grey Institute and basically tells him that regardless of whether your upbringing is a fraud, you shouldn't use that as an excuse to be the evil douche-bag everybody thinks you're going to be. And coming from a guy whose crazier than Lindsey Lohan's last urine sample, that actually carries some weight. And to prove once again that Deadpool is more awesome insane than he ever was sane, he leaves Genesis with some nudie magazines. Because if you want to prevent an kid with evil tendencies from crossing that line, you want to have him appreciate a world where beautiful naked women are possible. Excuse me, I just teared up a little.
Rick Remender continues to tie up loose ends, showing an attentive to detail that makes most other Marvel writers look like their either blind or drunk (or in the case of anyone who read Avengers vs. X-men, both). As he's done with numerous other arcs, he takes some time to revisit previous stories with unanswered questions, namely that little trip to yet another dystopian future where X-Force encountered a very strict yet still strangely sexy Psylocke. While there, Wolverine got an ominous message from his future self and it didn't involve avoiding a woman that claimed she was on the pill. He basically told Wolverine that he was going to have to kill Daken to prevent this future because Daken, had he lived, would have butchered the Jean Grey Institute. It put Wolverine in a very bad position, but in the end that's the job of X-Force. They kill those crazy homicidal motherfuckers so that others don't have to.
It's yet another instance of Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force tying together in a cohesive way that you don't see in too many other books. It's clear from this scene that he didn't just take his run on an arc-by-arc basis. He actually thought this shit through. You like to think that's standard practice in comics, but as we saw with Avengers vs. X-men that shit's either optional or discouraged. For that reason, I'll miss Uncanny X-Force even more because I don't know how many other writers will be this attentive to detail. Excuse me, I teared up again. Fuck, I need more tissues.
And it isn't just loose ends that Remender addresses. One of the biggest moments of the previous arc was the death of an underwear clad Mystique. Now this is one instance where I'm really okay with just letting a character die. Not just because I think Fantomex is a douche, but because that's probably the most dignified death any character can ask for these days. However, for some reason Marvel just isn't content to let him die with dignity. They'll keep characters like Jean Grey and Nightcrawler dead for years, but Fantomex? Who isn't half as pretty and or a tenth as lovable? Fuck no. He gets cloned into three different parts.
It was one of EVA's last protocols. Once they found Fantomex's body, she cloned him. However, she had more tits than computing capacity so she ended up cloning three bodies, one for each of Fantomex's brain. One is mean. Once is nice. One has boobs. Okay, so adding boobs is always a bit of a bonus. But it's still a somewhat cheap way to undo a death that would have had some impact. That's not to say it wasn't expected. Marvel already announced that Fantomex would be involved in the relaunched Uncanny X-Force under Stan Humphries. But it still involves clones. Clones in comics is like seeing your sister naked. It just doesn't feel right, even if you get a boner.
With Fantomex in a fresh new body, Psylocke decides to get him the fuck away from X-Force and back home to the Alps. There, they meet his mother, who has shown up in Uncanny X-Force before (and ended up dead). That seems to indicate that there's some mind-fucking going on. It leaves things a little open to interpretation just what the fuck is going on and that's probably for the best in a series that has fucked so many minds. Even so, Psylocke kissing Fantomex again is not a good way to end any series, no matter how awesome it is. Even if it isn't real, it's still pretty disgusting considering the circumstances. But at the very least, it creates a somewhat happy ending for which the background can fade, the credits can roll, and the Green Day song can start playing.
In the end there really isn’t much else to say about Uncanny X-Force that I haven’t said before in a drunken stupor. It’s been one of the few comics I’ve been able to enjoy drunk, sober, and everything in between. This final issue touches on many of the qualities that make Uncanny X-Force such a compelling source of Marvel-based awesome. Remender takes the time to tie up the loose ends from the end of a bloody, action-packed story that involved women in underwear, men being eaten by sharks, and fathers going a bit overboard with disciplining their sons. Yet at the same time he manages to make this issue feel like a fitting end to the series. After reading this issue, you really do get a sense that there doesn’t need to be another. The story is finished and the end is complete.
But as complete as it is, Remender still left a few details up in the air. The biggest omission was Mystique and AOA Nightcrawler. After the shit they pulled in the last arc, they barely got the slightest mention. Granted, Marvel has already announced that their story will continue in other yet-to-be-launched books, but a little teaser would have been nice. As every hooker in Germany will tell you, I like being teased and I think many other fanboys share my tastes, albeit in a different capacity. And, of course, seeing Psylocke kiss Fantomex again was a shitty way to cut to the credits. It wasn’t as disgusting as it was when they boned earlier in the series, but it did somewhat take away from drama of him being killed by an underwear-clad Mystique. If ever there was an epic death that need not be undone, it’s that.
Overall, those details are minor and rather trivial in the grand scheme of things. This epilogue to both the final arc and the series as a whole was fitting, satisfying, and a bit disturbing. But then again Uncanny X-Force has been disturbing in a great many ways since it began. Anytime a book can make a reader sick in a wonderful way, it’s a winner. No doubt about it. So with a bittersweet buzz from a few shots of Jack Daniels, I give Uncanny X-Force #35 a 4 out of 5.
Now excuse me as I tear up once more while raising what’s left of my drink to Rick Remender and this amazing series. It’s shot creepy Apocalypse kids in the head, given us the Dark Angel Saga, explored bizarre worlds, created villains who rip off faces for kicks, and had Mystique running around in her underwear on more than one occasion. I don’t know if we’ll ever get a series that utilizes that much disturbing awesome, but even if it never happens I’ll always have fond memories of Uncanny X-Force. Here’s to you, Rick Remender! May all your future endeavors be full of success, brilliance, and more hot underwear-clad Mystiques! Nuff said!