Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cable and X-Force #4 - Not-So-Fast Awesome

Whenever I walk into a shitty movie where I didn't sneak in enough whiskey, I stumble out through the fire exit and run to the nearest bar to get drunk enough so that I forget I wasted my hard earned money. There's no way around it. The law of averages dictate that every now and then you'll pay good money for something that turns out shitty, boring, repetitive, or anything else that can be associated with a Glenn Beck rant. I like to think I've become pretty adept at avoiding this shit in comics, but no matter how good I am the law of averages, much like the laws for public drunkenness, always catch up with me.

I had high hopes for Cable and X-Force. It was a book that promised to answer some burning questions, namely what the fuck was Cable doing while the Phoenix Force nearly took a cosmic shit on the world? Dennis Hopeless was tasked with creating a new team and a new mission for Cable in the post-Avengers vs. X-men world. And in the first issue, there was plenty of promise for this title. His team ended up waving their dicks in the face of the Avengers too much and were branded criminals. We even got a brief hint of the future where they're both on the run, in deep shit, and dealing with an incredibly pissed off Colossus who already has a long list of reasons to be pissed off.

But that first few issue had its flaws and over the course of the next two issues, those flaws festered like an infected rectal wart. In my past two reviews I've had to take extra bong hits to keep myself from getting too frustrated by the repetitive, slow-paced, boring progress that this story has made. I get that Hopeless is taking his time and trying to give the readers an ominous sense of just how fucked up things have become for Cable. But it has long since gotten past the point of being ominous. After two issue that were pretty much the same fucking issue, this series has been by far one of the weakest X-books of Marvel NOW!

But like a shitty movie where I manage to sneak in some extra whiskey, I've stuck around. At least in the previous issue, we found out the source of these killer mutant blobs that Cable have been giving Cable crazy visions of the future. It ended up being a fast food chain of all things, basically what Chick-Fil-A only wishes they could be if they somehow had a magic poison that only killed gays, Muslims, and non-Christians. It's about as interesting as it sounds and after two repetitive issues, this series is out of excuses. Shit either has to make sense or I'm getting the fuck out of this shitty theater and hitting the bar.

The fourth issue of this series once again uses the same gimmick as the first three, showing a quick time-skip in the beginning and then trying to explain how everything got so fucked up. Non-linear time can be a beautiful thing in a story, but like golden toilet that has been shit on one too many times it can still end up stinking. And unlike the previous issues, this one isn’t even that ominous. All it does is show Cable and X-Force blowing up their base and lofting around, deciding that they’re going to need to lay low until this whole terrorist gimmick. Last I checked, Bin Laden tried that and got shot through the eye. So not only is very little revealed by this flash-forward other than Colossus may get a chance to bone Domino, it shows the X-men employing a tactic we know doesn’t even work in real life. So for future issues, I think Dennis Hopeless needs to find a new way to be ominous. Because when you become too predictable, you sort of defeat the purpose.

Back to the near past, the battle against the bloated mutated humans called “girthers” has begun to unfold. The mission for X-Force was pretty basic in the previous issue. They were supposed to break into this facility of vegetarian-enraging activity, destroy the virus that Ms. Wannabe Chick-Fil-A was using to poison humans, and get back in time to watch Simpsons reruns. Since a mission never goes that smoothly in an X-men comic, they now have to fight against these bloated girthers. It makes for the kind of battle that’s actually quite fitting for X-Force. They’re supposed to take on the missions that regular X-men can’t and what self-respecting X-man would want to fight an army of overly hungry fat-asses? Hell, if they want that, they’ll pick a fight with Eagles fans.

What isn’t quite as in line with X-Force’s traditional “kill these assholes and let Odin sort them out” approach is that they actually try to save these fat bloated monsters. These aren’t your typical manufactured monsters Weapon X shits out on a Tuesday. These are regular humans who have been infected by a virus and turned into contestants for the Biggest Loser. So Dr. Nemesis does make an effort to find a cure and Cable makes an effort not to shoot them in the head. But he still shoots them so I think it does balance out nicely.

While Dr. Nemesis is sedating the girthers, Cable and Colossus break off to try and salvage what they can from this mission. They would probably have better luck giving Chris Brown sensitivity training because they find out that the trucks carrying this fat-ass inducing virus are gone. Colossus reveals that while he was on watch, shit just started blowing up and he didn’t see who was responsible. It’s as contrived as it sounds. And while they’re trying to coordinate with Forge to track the trucks, Deathlok unexpectedly shows up.

Again, I’m not sure if Dennis Hopeless is trying to be ominous here. If so, I think he needs a new dictionary. I know Deathlok has been active in X-Force books recently, most notably Uncanny X-Force. It’s not completely unreasonable for him to show up in another X-book, but he doesn’t do jack shit here. Is he supposed to be behind the missing trucks? Is he supposed to be behind the shit storm we know X-Force will face in the near future? For all we know, he got lost looking for the shitter after having one too many beers. That’s how poorly organized and poorly detailed this scene is. I’m sure it’ll be revisited in future issues, but not even a fucking hint? That’s like a stripper that only shows you her ankle. You’re not going to get anything good out of it.

The confusing disorganization continues in this issue because somehow in between panels Dr. Nemesis has been able to start tests on a cure for the virus. I understand that comics can’t be too realistic. In the real world it takes an ocean of paperwork and multiple blowjobs to multiple bureaucrats to approve a drug that will treat half a symptom of a chronic disease. But somehow he’s able to set up his lab and start testing cures? How the fuck does that work and how does it all happen in between panels? That’s another issue that is utterly glossed over, so much so that you really don’t mind that one of his treatments goes horribly wrong and he ends making the girthers even more monstrous than before. It’s now to the point where even the Biggest Loser wouldn’t bother.

X-Force has to get back to non-contrived activities once more. Colossus and Cable return to help the others subdue the rest of the girthers. Domino even joins them by driving a truck through the fucking walls, a tactic usually reserved for corned ex-girlfriends but it works just as well against killer blog monsters. Again, the desire to not kill them when they’re clearly tempting them makes for good drama. But when the monster girther shows up, that conflict becomes a “Kill or be eaten like fried chicken at Homer Simpson’s house” scenario.

Dr. Nemesis reveals they do have an option that involves using a weaponized strain of the gunk they encountered a couple issues ago. While this does provide some nice connectivity for the arc, Colossus is dead set against it. This is a guy whose balls underwent significant shrinkage after the events of Avengers vs. X-men both because his side got screwed over and because his sister pwned him in ways that no sibling has ever been pwned. But it does help explain why he was so pissed in an earlier flash forward and adds a nice touch of drama to what is otherwise an obscenely disorganized issue.

In the end, however, Colossus doesn’t get his way. He tries to stop Cable, but he fails and he uses the weaponized gunk to neutralize the girthers. It’s ugly, it’s messy, and it’s pretty damn brutal. In other words, it’s basically what you expect from an X-Force comic. That is one detail that Dennis Hopeless hasn’t overlooked. The conflict with Colossus and his unwillingness to kill adds a badly needed element of depth into a battle that is in its purest form a battle against fast food monsters.

At the end of the issue we finally do catch up to that initial moment that was shown in the first issue. We finally see the moment where Cable and X-Force are standing over a pile of dead bodies while the authorities, including the Uncanny Avengers, look at them in the same way a pissed off husband looks at his wife while she’s banging the neighbor. But at this point, it really lacks impact. While we do have an explanation for why they ended up in the crosshairs of the Avengers, it’s an explanation that didn’t need to be so drawn out and disorganized. Hell, just a few panels that described evil fast food chains and the monsters they sought to create would have sufficed. And details like Deathlok’s unexpected appearance don’t really add many clues as to what they can expect other than being labeled terrorists. If this is how the first arc of Cable and X-Force ends, it ended way too late to be exciting. Hell, all it really does it make me hungry for a Five Guys burger.

It has taken four fucking issues, but we finally have an explanation as to why Cable and his new team of X-Force are right up there with the IRS and divorce lawyers in terms of being utterly vilified. Yet because this story has unfolded so slowly and followed such a formulaic path, I find it hard to feel anything from it. Like an overworked hooker, it just can’t get the blood flowing in the right direction. Cable and his team are terrorists for attacking a fucking fast food plant. Granted, the owner of the fast food joint is evil in a way that Chick-Fil-A only dreams about, but the way it plays out is just painfully bland and disorganized.

At least with this issue, the events of the previous issues and all those annoying flash-forward at the beginning make sense. If Dennis Hopeless intended this arc to make Cable and his team fugitives, I think he did succeed. And he did it with some rather novel concepts. I mean when was the last time the X-men had to battle monsters born from a conspiracy in a fast food chain? In the post-Super Size Me era, I think it’s entirely appropriate to have an enemy who hates mutants also be someone who sells cheap shitty food that would give any self-respecting vegetarian seizures. But the whole concept of the monster girthers and the way the battle played out was just too underwhelming. It had all the elements of an X-Force comic, but it lacked the dark and gritty impact that is supposed to make these books awesome.

The biggest problem with this issue and this arc is the organization. It could have easily ditched the whole flash-forward at the beginning, put that at the end, and have it make sense. But following the same pattern that the previous three issues have followed just makes it too formulaic and predictable. In addition, the whole issue with finding a cure for the girthers in the middle of the battle fucked up the sense of time and progression. Not only that, Deathlok’s presence seemed random and contributed absolutely nothing to the plot. It was still an awesome battle and one where Colossus’s desire to not kill the men added some badly needed drama. But in the end, it just fell flat.

If this comic were a movie, I would have walked out by now and tried to wipe a few cups of popcorn butter in the process. We already knew that this arc was going to end with Cable and X-Force becoming fugitives. The story that got them to this point was just too slow, too poorly organized, and too boring. While I’m curious as to how Cable’s team will function, I would rank that curiosity slightly below my fascination with the mole on my scrotum. I can only give Cable and X-Force #4 a 2.5 out of 5. This issue was an improvement over the previous issues, but in the most negligable possible way. All you need to know is that Cable and X-Force are criminals now and probably on the shit list of every fast food joint in the world. That may be good for their arteries, but it isn’t good for this comic so far. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go treat my arteries to a few juicy Five Guys burgers dipped in tequila. Nuff said!


  1. This is such an underwhelming series. It's all over the fucking place, and I leave interest by the third page.

    1. Well you didn't miss much, so consider yourself lucky.