Friday, March 1, 2013

Uncanny X-Force #2 - Randomly Disorganized Awesome

I get accused of a lot of sexism. It doesn't always hold up in court, but it happens often enough that I get a hand-written thank-you note from Todd Akin every Christmas. However, I don't consider myself as misogynistic as my drunken rants make me out to be. I firmly believe that women can match men in a great many feats that don't involve standing while taking a piss. Women often claim men are exceedingly cruel and sadistic. They certainly can be, as evidenced by anyone who has looked up what Ivan the Terrible did in his spare time. But I believe women can be just as cruel. When I was in grade school, there were these group of girls who got a kick out of leaving used tampons and condom wrappers in the desks of other girls they didn't like. A part of me hopes that some of those girls became herpes laden sluts later in life, but for all I know they may be the wives of Congressmen (which could be worse when you think about it). However they turned out, those women showed me the kind of cruelty they were capable of. So the thought of a nearly all-female team of X-Force makes me both fearful and horny at the same time.

Uncanny X-Force was largely a sausage party under Rick Remender. Aside from Psylocke, each major character had a penis and that penis afforded them a special rank that didn't involve them lamenting over a lover who had his mind wiped. Granted, it was still awesome, but it gave feminists numerous reasons to want to attack Marvel with weapons grade PMS. Well under Stan Humphries, the sausage party has turned into a clam feast. Psylocke and Storm are now the alpha females of this new team. Storm has her new Mohawk and Psylocke has her new fuck-the-world attitude after being in X-Force gave her too many reasons to be pissed off. So they're a forced to be reckoned with and Odin help you if you have unbusted testicles when you face them.

Their first mission got underway in Uncanny X-Force #1. Storm and Psylocke were investigating a new drug operation that involved mutants. It led them to cross paths with Puck, the vertically challenged member of Alpha Flight whose balls may get a pass because he helped point them in the right direction. Unfortunately, that direction led to an encounter with Spiral, one of the only Marvel women whose boobs are only the second thing you notice when you see her. And somewhere along the way, Bishop came back from the future. We didn't get an explanation and the whole sequence of events was sloppy as hell, but fuck if it didn't have plenty of appeal.

That appeal continues to unfold in Uncanny X-Force #2 in the sense that we get to see Psylocke kicking all kinds of ass. The previous issue made it painfully clear that she’s still dealing with a long list of issues after the end of Rick Remender’s Uncanny X-Force run. And at the moment her best way of dealing with them is beating the shit out of a bunch of drugged party freaks. I suppose there are unhealthier ways to deal with psychological issues, but they don’t look nearly as awesome. The battle isn’t that much different from the battle we saw in the previous issue. But this time it’s just Psylocke opts to do more than just beat the shit out of these people. She decides since they’re already being mind-fucked, it’s okay to throw a little telepathy into the mix. Considering the kind of drugs that get passed out at certain parties, I doubt this is the worst damage that can be done to their brain.

While Psylocke is working out her issues with her own brand of extreme therapy, Storm and Puck take on Spiral in a battle for the source of this army drug-induced psychosis. To make things more complicated, that source appears to be a scared little girl who seems more clueless than Paris Hilton in a quantum physics lecture. The girl is scared of Storm and Puck for some reason. I guess mohawks aren’t as terrifying as a six-armed woman because Spiral tries to keep them from getting her. It leads to a battle that involves flashy, random, and disorganized action. First they’re in the club. Then they teleport on top of a roof. The fighting itself isn’t all that epic. It just ends up with Puck getting thrown off the roof.

Even if the fighting isn’t epic, it still is painfully unclear just why the fuck they’re fighting in the first place. Spiral continues to protect the girl, Ginny, who continues to come off as more ignorant and vulnerable than a dog that keeps trying to hump his reflection in a mirror. We don’t know what forces are at work here and aren’t even given a clue either. Is Spiral being mind-controlled? Is the girl herself an illusion? Or is there another source of this psychic bullshit? It’s completely unclear and Humprhies does little to offer any clues.

The only thing he does offer is a very pissed off Storm and Puck coming in for another attack. This time Storm isn’t content to just let Puck get himself thrown off the roof again. She throws in some high winds while Puck does what he does best and becomes…well, a flying human puck. In terms of superpowers its right up there with shitting fire crackers, but it’s a solid combination with Storm’s powers so it makes for a more epic-feeling battle.

However, the battle never gets a chance to unfold. Spiral manages to teleport herself and Ginny away from the club. It doesn’t just waste a perfectly good combo with Storm and Puck. It effectively ends Psylocke’s rampage against spaced out party-goers. I get the sense that she wasn’t ready for it to end. I think her beating up on random, drugged out strangers was actually good for her. She’s still clearly a very bitter and very pissed off woman. But now that the party-goers are free from psychic control, beating the shit out of them just isn’t going to have the same effect. So she’s stuck going along with Storm’s plan to hunt for Spiral and the girl, hoping that she’ll find more people to beat up in a therapeutic manner along the way.

The plot with Storm, Psylocke, and Puck has been fairly entertaining to this point even if the action isn’t always up to par. I would have been more than content if the first issue and this issue focused only on this plot. But in the first issue, the story got a little schizophrenic and started diverging into other random plots. One of those plots involved Fantomex, who is now three different individuals, exhibiting the kind of distressing sexual fetishes you don’t find outside of 50 Shades of Grey. Now that Fantomex has a female version of himself, he doesn’t need to try and worm his way into Psylocke’s panties. He can just literally fuck himself any time he wants and it isn’t an insult.

While I was hoping this would not find its way into this issue, Humphries essentially did the same damn thing. We see Fantomex and Cluster (his female half) sharing a romantic moment aboard a blimp-like ship over Budapest. And by romantic I mean swooning over each other after Fantomex presents her with stolen tooth brushes from famous people. I’ll say that again just to make clear that that I’m (mostly) sober when I say this. He got his other female self stolen toothbrushes from famous people. And this somehow counts as romance between this insanely creepy, exceedingly incestuous relationship. I’ve come across women with many twisted sexual proclivities and have the scars to prove it. I’ve never known of any woman whose panties are moistened by fucking tooth brushes. If that weren’t fucked up enough, this scene really doesn’t contribute to the story in any meaningful way. Fantomex just muses over Psylocke and how their dark counterpart may be after her. That’s it. There’s absolutely no mention of how this relates to the ongoing plot with Ginny and Spiral. Random shit in one issue can be overlooked if it fits into the story later on. But as we saw with Cable and X-Force, when that shit doesn’t link up and basically follows the same irrational path it’s a waste of ink and paper so horrendous that it would make Al Gore cry.

This horrendous waste forces the plot with Spiral and Ginny to move faster. Psylocke, Storm, and Puck start searching for Spiral. It’s not a very interesting search. Psylocke just does a search and picks up on the unique signature left by Ginny, which happens to be a tinkerbell-like fairy. There’s not much attempt at drama between the team or any effort to explore Psylocke’s serious personal issues, which Storm clearly noticed in the previous issue. It just skips right ahead to finding Spiral. It’s not just a missed opportunity. It’s essentially glossing over details in a way that Rick Remender went out of his way to avoid during his run. So while Humphries may still utilize numerous elements for an Uncanny X-Force book, namely a disturbed child, it certainly doesn’t have the refinement.

They manage to find Spiral fairly quickly. She and the deadpanned girl are holding up in your typical abandoned building. She’s still just protecting the girl with no effort to give a reason why. Then Storm, Puck, and Psylocke show up and try to talk some sense into her. Now I know Spiral doesn’t have a good history with the X-men. She’s never liked them and would probably show up at one of their funerals just to take a shit on their grave. But she’s never opposed the X-men without having a reason to do so. And she really doesn’t give much of a reason outside this creepy girl that we know nothing about. On the surface, it should be a scene of high drama. But the way it plays out ends up being more bland than an economic lecture by Ben Stein.

If there was any chance for high drama, it was utterly ruined by yet another random twist that involves Bishop showing up and attempting to blow them up for no fucking reason. I mean he’s the guy who shot Charles Xavier in the fucking head. Now his only instinct is to shoot any X-man he sees? He reappeared rather randomly in the previous issue and his return was already confirmed before this book even came out so it’s hardly surprising. At the very least, Humphries does try to tie his return to the plot with Spiral because he demands to take Ginny. Again, he doesn’t give a reason so it’s a very loose connection at best. Storm and the others are understandably confused by his abrupt return, as am I. The last time they saw this guy he was trying to kill the mutant messiah that ended up saving their race. So there really are a lot of blanks here and little effort is made to fill them.

The only thing that is made clear is that Bishop is packing some serious new heat. He’s able to blast Storm, Puck, Psylocke, Spiral, and the girl with a blast that looks like a mix between the Phoenix Force and a forest fire. On the final page he demonstrates the extent of that power by engulfing himself in a fiery halo that looks like…a fucking bear. I could smoke any number of joints and still couldn’t come up with any ideas on what the fuck this Phoenix/Bear Force entails or how Bishop got it. I figure it will be addressed in future issues, but in this issue where shit has already been so random and disorganized it only succeeds in inducing migraines. That also makes this the last comic you want to read if you’re hung over.

I’ll say it again. Fuck, this book is chaotic. It couldn’t be any more disorganized if it were operated by FEMA. Shit was pretty random in the first issue as well, but this issue only served to link up some of that random shit in the least logical way possible. I’ll give Stan Humphries credit for making a smooth transition between issues, but that’s not necessarily a good thing when all these different plots fail to come together in even a semi-coherent way. The main taglines to this book is “Hot X-women fighting” and “Bishop is back motherfucker!” Those make great teasers, but it’s hard to get exciting about that shit when it fails to make sense to both a drunk and sober reader.

I try to give every comic a balanced perspective, even if that means reading books drunk and sober. I will say that this issue does succeed in creating the kind of gritty action that X-Force fans have come to know and love. The battles against Spiral and a crowd of drugged out ravers were well-done and fairly entertaining, but in the end not much was accomplished from this battle. And while Bishop’s return did eventually link up with Psylock and Storm’s mission, the obscenely creepy sub-plot with Fantomex did not. All it did was prove that narcissists would gladly fuck themselves if they could. And I don’t need my faith in the human race being tainted any more than it already is. If I want more examples of narcissistic assholes stroking their egos (among other things), I’ll watch Fox News.

Uncanny X-men #2 just did not make enough sense to be awesome beyond the most superficial of details. Yes, the art was great. Yes, the action was fun. And yes, it did technically move the plot forward. But beyond that, it didn’t do jack shit. Stan Humphries is essentially throwing too many plots into the bowl without taking the time to mix them. Anyone who has ever made pot brownies knows that this rarely results in something that will bring joy to more than just a handful of people. I certainly want to see what happens with this girl and what the fuck happened to Bishop in the future. However, is it really so much to ask that it make a lick of sense? I think not. I give Uncanny X-Force #2 a 2 out of 5. This book is why you don’t cook bacon without greasing the pan. In the end you’ll only ruin the pan and ruin most of your bacon. And lost bacon is every bit as tragic as lost awesome in a comic book. Nuff said!


  1. Sloppy & disorganized, as you said.
    Poor Uncanny X-Force has descended into midget porn with too much bleeped out cussing. Not cool.

  2. Sam. The writer's name is Sam Humphries.

  3. About the "fiery image", I think that's the Demon Bear. It's a spiritual entity/manifestation/whatever that's been an recurring subplot for the New Mutants (and particularly to invoke a bunch of "mystical Native American" tropes involving Dani Moonstar and Warpath.)