Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Cable and X-Force #3 - Halfway to Awesome
There's a big difference between just hating something because your an asshole and hating something for a valid reason. Sometimes that difference isn't as big as I wish it was. There have been a number of occasions where commenters on this blog have accused me of bashing a comic book because of my own personal bias rather than my lack of alcohol intake. I always try to make sure that any bashing is due either because I'm piss faced drunk or there's a legitimate reason for it or a combination of the two. I'm pretty sure most of you can guess which I prefer. Now I haven't outright bashed Cable and X-Force after only two issues, but I have been pretty harsh and not just because one of my crack head buddies tried to use my whiskey for anal lube. While I love the concept of Cable formulating a new X-Force to give the finger to the Avengers, there have been times when I feel he's used that finger to give himself a bad prostate exam.
Cable and X-Force under Dennis Hopeless has been as gritty and bloody as you would expect an X-book to be. It has all the look and feel of an X-Force comic. What it doesn't have is a greater sense of coherence. And take it from a guy who has failed many breathalyzer tests. Coherence goes a long fucking way in a comic. The first two issues of Cable and X-Force have been incoherent mostly because they've basically been the same fucking issue. We get a glimpse of the future where Cable's team become terrorists, we zip back to the past to see that Cable has been dealing with a nasty hangover that involves visions of yet another shitty future, and Hope Summers still gets away with being a pissant little bitch. There have been some hints of awesome, such as the return of Colossus after ditching his sister after Avengers vs. X-men. But it's been so slow at developing that they might as well be mediators for the NHL labor talks.
But I'm not ready to give up on this series. I admit that the more I comics I read that involve Hope Summers whining about how her (adopted) daddy doesn't love her enough, the more I want to want to smear honey on my dick and sodomize a sleeping grizzly bear. With Jean Grey flexing her vintage awesome in All New X-men, Hope is quickly becoming more obsolete than Windows 95. But she's only part of the story in Cable and X-Force thankfully. Cable, who ditched the X-men after X-Sanction, is on another mission. It's been painfully slow learning what the fuck that mission entails and why it's more important than helping out the X-men when the Avengers are making them out to be assholes, but damn it I'm eager to learn!
The first pages Cable and X-Force #3 continue to follow the same fucking theme as the first two issues, giving the readers a brief glimpse into the future where Cable and X-Force have been branded as terrorists and the Uncanny Avengers are pissed after they made them look like pussies. But this time we don’t see tense stand-offs or dramatic moments where Colossus wants to really choke something. We get the Avengers confronting Hope freakin’ Summers, as if the little brat ever did more piss off Jean Grey fans. Even though the Avengers went through the trouble of helping her ditch the X-men and the Avengers so she could leave a normal life (which she got bored with in under two seconds, mind you), she doesn’t help them at all in tracking down Cable. Havok, his balls still missing after Cable shot him in the face in the first issue, shows her on a TV the shit he’s done and try to calmly explain why it counts as terrorism. She basically tells him and the rest of the Avengers to fuck off. We still don’t get an explanation, but seeing Havok look like an ass while the Avengers look like incompetent douche-bags still has some appeal.
Yet once again, we get no further insight into the future. The rest of the comic takes place in the past to help explain how everything got this fucked up. This comes even after it already got repetitive in the previous issue. At least that issue included Colossus being pissed off at Cable. Yet he doesn’t even show up and isn’t even mentioned. It’s all just more build-up to the moment where Cable shoots Havok in the face. I’m all for giving Cable a reason to shoot Havok in the face, as if he hasn’t already given enough. But at some point, seeing the same themes with the same flaws gets boring and there’s only so much weed I can smoke.
But I digress. While Dennis Hopeless keeps milking this whole past-to-fucked-up-present style, he does still take time to provide some greater insight into Cable’s mission. Since the first issue, he’s been having visions of the future and for once they don’t involve killer robots or cosmic birds torching the Earth. Instead, there’s a far greater threat…billionaire anti-mutant bigots with too much money and free time. An asshole CEO named Theresa Payton of a fast food chain NOT named Chick-Fil-A creates this disease that causes humans who eat some poisoned beef to turn into this deranged blobish monsters. And since mutants are immune, mutants get the blame. It’s basically the plot of Super Size Me, but except mutants are to blame and not McDonald’s. And in order to prevent this horrible future where people are now afraid to stuff their mouths with cheap greasy food, they have to take out the CEO and the infected meat. It’s a nice change of pace in terms of threats in that it isn’t a reborn Apocalypse or the Phoenix Force. That or I’m still pissed at the Papa Johns guy for jacking up the prices of his pizza to protest President Obama.
So the team gets to work, taking the Oceans Eleven approach by needlessly drawing out an elaborate plan to take down the CEO of a fucking fast food chain. I'm pretty sure you don't need to hack a mainframe in order to find out how much money the Chick-Fil-A CEO is funneling to gay-bashing enthusiasts, but that's what Forge does anyhow. He's supposed to give them network access while Domino scopes out this asshole CEO, who happens to look like a fat Martha Stewart mind you. I'm not sure why just busting down her door, saying they know all about her plan to poison innocent people, and threaten to give the information to Alex Jones on his next conspiracy rant wouldn't be equally as effective. But as it turns out, this CEO has ties to Cyberdyne or something because Forge gets caught by the CEO and a human-driven killer robot. I guess if you're a rich bastard in the Marvel universe, you're not part of the club unless you have robot body guards.
The emergence of killer robots definitely makes the mission more interesting than an Oceans Eleven movie ever could be without resurrecting Bernie Mac. But in between the planning, there are some other ongoing elements that haven't been directly addressed. One that was revealed in the previous issue was Cable's health. Apparently, seeing the future is killing him. I guess a future where Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are still taken seriously is damaging to anyone's health, but Domino is nice to point out that he hasn't informed Hope. Having recently watched him die, it's probably not a good idea to tell an already temperamental teenage girl that kind of shit. But again, nothing is done with it. It's just another reminder. If the pattern isn't painfully apparent by now, your whiskey is too strong or not strong enough.
Cable's health still remains a secondary concern while killer robot mechs driven by trigger happy humans threaten Forge and the mission. There's somewhat of an effort by Dennis Hopeless to make the CEO a bit less of a bigot than your typical Chick-Fil-A CEO. She doesn't hate mutants because she thinks some 2,000 year old book from the Bronze Age told her to. She just points out through basic logic that superpowered teenagers are dangerous. And that's entirely fair. You give a teenager the power to shoot lasers from their eyes and they'll either blow shit up or use it to try and get laid. However, she's not so much concerned about public safety as much as she is about how it's going to affect her business. So yeah, she's still an evil, amoral capitalist who has few redeeming qualities to anyone except Atlas Shrugged fans. Forge still doesn't buy it. He's able to escape the killer robots as X-men are so skilled at doing and keep the mission going.
The time eventually comes for Cable and the rest of X-Force to make their move as well. Naturally, Hope wants to go along since she can't seem to imagine a life that doesn't involve her shooting shit with big guns while whining about her adopted father. But Cable isn't having it. He's dying, remember? He doesn't need her fucking up the mission with her usual annoying attitude or being ungrateful to people who go out of their way to save her miserable ass. And rather than argue with her, he has Dr. Nemesis shoot her with sedatives. He justifies it as saying it's easier than arguing with her and he's completely right.
Now I'm not going to go on a rant and endorse sedating rowdy teenagers. I'm not going to say it's a bad idea either, but in this instance I'm all for it. It's not just because I despise Hope Summers as both a character and a concept. It's because she continues to offer nothing to this story aside from a mini-Cable attitude. That's completely redundant in a series where Cable is alive and kicking. To date, Hope really hasn't taken on any qualities that set her apart other than being a Jean Grey rip-off who keeps mimicking Cable. If she's to be a regular part of this series, she needs to do something distinct other than being a bratty little rip-off of better characters.
Cable and Domino ditch Hope back in her fancy boarding school dormitory. Domino gets stuck behind while Cable and Dr. Nemesis catch up with Forge. He brings with him more killer robots that need shooting and true to any X-Force book, shit starts blowing up. It's one of the consistent factors that are worth repeating and redoing because it's part of what makes an X-Force book awesome. Cable doesn't just shoot at these fancy killing machines that were paid for by the blood of fat, diabetic kids. He does it while cussing like the time-traveling badass we know and love. So of all the repetitive themes this series has demonstrated thus far, I'm glad he's keeping that one.
After they finish fighting off the robot guards, we skip ahead a bit to the main facility where all this already poisoned meat becomes more poisoned. They've already got Colossus working security inside while trying to coordinate with Domino so at this point it should just be a matter of blowing more shit up. Unfortunately, it never goes that smoothly in an X-Force book. Those fat, demented creatures that Cable saw in his vision of the future have found their way to the present. They're mean, they're hungry, and unlike most people poisoned by fast food they're a danger to others more than themselves. This is now what Cable and his team has to fight through in order to stop this horrible future where people have lost trust in fast food. It's still not clear how this ends with Cable shooting Havok in the face. And after two issues of this shit, it's getting increasingly harder to care about those reasons.
There are some things you can do over and over again yet still enjoy the hell out of them. Masturbation quickly comes to mind. So does seeing Glenn Beck make an ass of himself. But retelling the same story in the same way and not moving the damn thing forward is usually not on that list. I’m all for writers taking their time and being detail oriented in a story. I’ve read one too many comics where the writer and artist is like, “Fuck it, just make shit blow up and screw over a few characters. To hell with details!” See Avengers vs. X-men for an example of how this can go horribly wrong. I won’t say that Cable and X-Force has gone horribly wrong just yet, but after three issues of basically the same shit it’s getting boring in ways that weed can’t help.
This issue was an improvement, but not by much. We finally get a good explanation as to what Cable’s mission is and got yet another hint at how his new X-Force ended up getting branded as terrorists. It’s not the most novel concept, a bigoted billionaire with a grudge and too much free time. Hell, it’s pretty much a clear indication that the folks at Marvel don’t eat at Chick-Fil-A very often, but it still provides X-Force with a credible threat for which peaceful means will end up getting people killed. Dennis Hopeless continues to do a good job of putting Cable and X-Force into the perfect environment, namely the gritty kind where guns have to be regularly used and teenage girls have to be regularly drugged. It’s like a frat party, but with less beer pong. And it definitely gives the look and feel of an X-Force book.
The major flaw in this issue was that it just continued to drag shit out after the previous issue already done the same. We got yet another glimpse of the near future, but not much else. The plot with Colossus that was introduced in the previous issue did next to nothing in this one. The whole Oceans Eleven approach to attacking the Eat-More was painfully boring without George Clooney and Brad Pitt to spice things up. Hope continued to be the little brat she’s always been, but she continues to contribute nothing other than a character that unites fans in how pissed off she makes them. And the attempt to give Teresa Payton a valid reason for being an asshole falls about as flat as Bill Gates arguing he needs welfare. I get that some people get rich by holding grudges so they could go back to their high school reunion and wave their dick in the faces of everyone that used to make fun of them. But some grudges are just too petty no matter how much free time and money you have on your hands.
I really do like some aspects of this book. It has a number of appealing elements that keep me coming back like Rush Limgauh at a buffet, but this kind of repetitive bullshit is really making it hard to get excited about. It’s like good porno where the hot girl keeps throwing up at the end to kill the mood. Cable and his team become terrorists when a mission to stop a racist billionaire sociopath goes horribly wrong. We get it. There’s no need to keep dragging this shit out. As soon as this series spends less time on trying to establish how Cable and X-Force were screwed over and more time showing Cable shooting Havok in the face, then it will be a comic worth praising. For now, I give Cable and X-Force #3 a 2.5 out of 5. Nobody gets shot in the face, but it gives a massive middle finger to both bigoted billionaires and fat fucks who eat too much fast food. Even if it isn’t awesome, it’s still a good and wholesome message in an otherwise obscenely violent package. Nuff said!