Thursday, May 9, 2013

Uncanny X-Force #4 - Old Plot Holes And New Drama

What do you get when you take a strong black woman, an angry black man from the future, an hot Asian ninja chick, a Canadian midget and put them in a comic? First off, you get a comic that would make the average Fox News viewer or Glenn Beck supporter shit themselves. Second, you get the cast of Uncanny X-Force. No one could ever claim that this series doesn’t have a diverse cast with a gritty backdrop. But what exactly does this mix create? After three issues, three reviews, and many bong hits I’m still not sure.

This series has been among the re-launched X-books that has not been up to par with the quality of the other books. And I say that not because of the cast. I say that because the story is all over the fucking place. What happens is exciting and action-packed, but it’s lacking on details. We don’t know what the hell happened to Bishop or how the hell he ended back in the past. We don’t know what the hell is going on with the Fantomex twins, but we’re pretty sure it demonstrates a creepy level of incest/masturbation not seen since the Maximoff twins in the early Ultimate comics. Now I’m usually a very patient guy. That’s one of the many benefits to being a drunk. I always have ways to pass the time. But with so many other X-books raising the bar, this series that Rick Remender made synonymous with constant awesome has been getting left behind.

However, there is still a story to be told here. A new team of X-Force led by Storm and Psylocke has plenty of appeal, if for no other reason than to see two pissed off women fight for reasons that don’t involve a jaded ex. They started out just seeking a mutant that was getting people high with her powers. They ended up fighting Spiral and Bishop. There was some rather random developments with the Fantomex twins, but the less explored there the better. Uncanny X-Force #3 started putting the pieces in place, but it still lacked the details. With Uncanny X-Force #4, shit is ready to start blowing up again and without the aid of crystal meth no less.

The explosions begin with Bishop tracking down Spiral and Ginny to a subway station. I could probably make a fuckton of insensitive race jokes about an angry black man hunting down a couple of white women, but I’d rather not make friends with the KKK or end up on Al Shaprton’s shit list. I’ll just say that Bishop is still packing some strange new power (which hasn’t been explained) and he’s dead set on attacking Ginny (which also hasn’t been explained). I imagine there will be some serious delays on the subway because of this and for once it won’t be because some drunk fell on the tracks and tried to pick a fight with an oncoming train.

An equally destructive, albeit one that won’t affect anybody’s commute, is also unfolding in Bishop’s mind. At the end of the previous issue, Psylocke finally managed to break into Bishop’s mind, which apparently had been warped to a point where his thoughts manifested around angry bears. I’m not sure if that’s because of doing too much time travel or if Bishop was mauled by a bear as a child, but we get some very nice action scenes that show Psylocke kicking ass in the mental world as well as she does in the physical world.

But beyond the fact that Psylocke is undeniably hot when she’s kicking ass, she also learns that this may actually not be a result of Bishop just being fucked up. There’s another presence in his mind. It’s a very light tease that is not expanded on in the slightest, but at the very least it will offer some comfort to Bishop fans who think his character has been more shat upon than the handicapped toilet at the Buffalo Wing Factory. He’s not in control here. Another force is influencing him. Yet I’m sure that would not stop the Avengers from blaming him for all the shit he does and throwing him in a jail cell next to Cyclops.

However, Bishop seems blissfully unaware of the fact that a hot Asian woman is fighting giant bears in his mind. He’s still got a hard-on for fighting Spiral and Ginny, but not in the Catholic way thankfully. Spiral, who is drained from running and teleporting, decides to leave Ginny behind and confront Bishop head on. She’s got six arms and he’s only got some fucked up force in his mind with a bear fetish. It should be a fair fight on paper. Hell, I would bet money on it and probably lose my rent money for the next two months. But it still isn’t as epic as Psylocke kicking mental ass.

I would have loved to see how this battle played out, but instead we get one page (one completely wasted page in my drunken option) of Fantomex fighting…well, another Fantomex. This is another one of those gaping plot holes that involves a creepy level of incest/masturbation/a completely new form of fucked up that even a Tijuana hooker wouldn’t do. Fantomex (the one with the penis) is pining for Psylocke despite having a female version of himself to bone. So they decide to go after her. At least they’re within the same neighborhood, but before they can make any meaningful contribution to the story the evil Fantomex (it’s as fucked up as it sounds) barges in and knocks him off the roof.

I’m not trying to be anti-Fantomex here, but the way he and his split personality has been handled in this series makes him hard to give a shit about. This guy is still a douche and he’s not helping his case by essentially boning himself. It also doesn’t help that he’s had absolutely no effect on the story at hand here. I get that he’s still got a hard-on for Psylocke, but if he’s not even going to play a part in the story then why waste the ink? That’s like pouring paint thinner on chicken wings. It can only do damage.

Thankfully, that’s the last we see of Fantomex and his twisted tastes in incest. We go right back to the battle between Bishop and Spiral. It’s not a very epic battle, especially for an X-Force comic. But it is well-done in that it conveys the visceral grit that I credit the series for maintaining despite the plot holes. Whether because of his warped mind or those convenient bear powers that have only been partially explained, Bishop manages to subdue Spiral. But as he’s showing off his fancy new powers, Storm and the rest of the team arrive. Storm didn’t think that just attacking Bishop’s mind was going to do the job. They need a more direct approach and that happens to be X-Force’s specialty.

For Storm, the direct approach doesn’t mean a punch to the face or a kick in the nuts. It means a big fucking lightning bolt right down an enemy’s spine. While she more than any other character tried to approach Bishop as a former X-man and not the guy who ended up shooting Charles Xavier in the fucking head, she finally came to the conclusion that the only solution to this problem was lightning. Seeing as how Wolverine solves all his problems with his claws and Storm may be boning him, that makes perfect sense. And just to make sure Bishop is completely emasculated, Puck knocks him out. Because a man who gets shocked by an angry black woman and punched out by a Canadian midget just isn’t getting back up if he knows what’s good for him.

While Bishop may have to deal with much smaller testicles moving forward, his defeat at least offers something more compelling than just Storm, Psylocke, and Puck kicking his ass. For a moment, he snaps out of his bear-rage or whatever the fuck it’s called and seems to be disoriented. This lends further credence to Psylocke’s earlier revelation that there’s another presence inside Bishop’s head. It doesn’t fill in the still gaping plot hole, but it at least provides some of the materials to do so. And I’d rather get the duct tape and wood to fix a problem than to have the contractor just piss on the hole in my wall and drive off.

With Bishop now subdued along with his manhood, the team turns their attention to Spiral. Psylocke, still itching for a fight, confronts her. But Spiral isn’t in much a mood to fight. First she lost Ginny and then she got her ass kicked by Bishop. You can’t blame her for not wanting to fight. So instead of more mindless action, we get some much needed drama. It makes Sprial come off as less of a total douche and reveals that Psylocke is still dealing with some serious issues after her last stint in X-Force. Thankfully, Storm is there to console her in a way that I know fanfiction writers will go crazy with. I only ask that you hold off on it until we know for certain that the plot holes in his series won’t be filled. Okay, perhaps that was a poor choice of words.

So the fighting is over. Bishop is down. Spiral is all tuckered out. But that doesn’t stop Puck from doing a little boasting. The guy may be small, but he talks like he’s seven feet tall. And I guess someone must have caught this shit on a cell phone and posted it to youtube because Wolverine later finds out at the Jean Grey Institute that this little mission caused a public raucous. It seems somewhat trivial, but considering how Wolverine urged Psylocke to be discrete early on in this series this definitely has the potential to piss him off. And usually good stories happen when Wolverine is pissed off.

There are still way too many plot holes that have not been filled or are only partially filled, but one that does finally get some attention is Ginny herself. From the get-go, we really haven’t learned much about her. She’s come off as some scared little girl that Spiral is protecting for reasons that come off as creepy, but not quite in the Catholic sort of way. She is the one who was the source of that strange drug craze that Wolverine sent Psylocke to investigate. But she hasn’t shown that she’s more fucked up than any young girl who is still learning how to use a tampon.

Well that finally changes. Having run off from Spiral, just as she was instructed, she ends up at a bar in a hotel. Usually when an underage girl goes to a bar in a hotel, nothing good comes of it. Well this is no exception. Because after asking for a drink like an alcoholic who endured one too many AA meetings, she reveals that she’s still fucking with minds and using it to get booze. But I have to say it’s a lot more logical than just making people dance like idiots.

In my recent review of Uncanny Avengers #8, I preached the value of patience when following a comic. I still stand by those words. Awesome is always worth waiting for, but there was a caveat. It has to at least be hinted at or implied that being patient will pay off in the long run. If it doesn’t, that’s like buying a stock that offers no indication that it’ll make you any money. That shit may work for the Bernie Madoff’s of the world, but it doesn’t work for comic.

After four issues, this new iteration of Uncanny X-Force still has gaping plot holes and few hints as to when they’ll be filled or even if they’ll be filled. We still don’t have a fucking clue how Bishop came back from the future, what that other presence in his head might be, what crazy presence is driving Ginny, what the fuck the Fantomex clan is trying to do other than raise the bar for incest in comics, or how this new X-Force team is going to function. I want to believe that an effort will be made, but I also want to believe that Sarah Palin will one day realize why people call her an ill-informed dipshit and we know that’s not happening. I may be a drunk, but even I understand when something ceases to be practical at some point. That’s why I don’t make bongs out of dead rats and old blenders.

Despite these astonishing gaps, this issue did at least put all the major characters in the same general area. I guess that counts for something because the issue wasn’t all over the place like it had been in previous issues. And at least the hint of some strange psychic presence in both Bishop and Ginny offers some clues as to other forces being at work. But those forces were poorly explored and still left me scratching my head and searching for another joint.

However, I will give some credit to this issue being more concise. We now know that Ginny isn’t exactly and innocent bystander. And the drama surrounding Spiral, Psylocke, and Storm was nicely done. I’m sure there are any number of fanfiction writers who could make that scene into a casual lesbian orgy. Puck also went out of his way to look awesome so there’s definitely some merit there, but this series still has a long ways to go and I’m not sure I have the patience to wait much longer. Guess I’ll just need more weed in the meantime. I give Uncanny X-Force #4 a 3 out of 5. If you’re picking up this book hoping for answers, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re picking up this book to see beautiful women and vertically challenged Canadians kick ass, you should get some enjoyment out of it. Nuff said!


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