So this past Wednesday I picked up a copy of Marvel’s X-Force. It is my first issue since #3 hit and I got kind of tired of it’s ultraviolent schtick. X-Force, for those who don’t know, is a new team formed by Cyclops to do the X-Men’s dirty work. Where the X-Men are the face of mutant world, X-Force are the shadowy underbelly subscribing to a “by any means necessary” modus opporundi that typically sees their hands (claws, knives, etc.) drenched liberally in crimson. Given the rough times mutants have had in the past, and the events surrounding M-Day, a team that is willing to strike at enemies before those enemies strike at them is something I’m at least willing to buy.
As of right now it looks like the team consists of: Wolverine, X-23 (the teenage female Wolverine clone), Warpath, Wolfsbane, Domino, Elixer, Vanisher, and Archangel (early in the series Angel reverted to his metal-winged harbinger of death self, Archangel). Well I’m here to the report that the series is still as violent as ever, making liberal use of black, gray, and red and employing a realistic somewhat jarring art style that is a far cry from typical superheroics of other x-titles. Last week’s issue #13 was the lead in to X-Force/Cable crossover (titled Messiah War) with X-Force, at the tail end of this issue, sent forward in time to eliminate a one Lucas Bishop (who believes that the child born during the Messiah Complex arc is some sort of evil portent tied to his mutant-hating future). As a lead-in it served to tie up the current story arc, as X-Force seeks to stop the spread a deadly new strain of the Legacy Virus while at the same time rescue several captured mutants (Hellion, Surge, and Boom Boom).
The issue is narrated via internal monologue via Wolverine as he comments on Cyclops’ newfound willingness to use deadly force in stopping their enemies. At the same time he questions Cyclops’ willingness to sacrifice those in the present in order to protect the longevity of the mutant race by seeking to eliminate Bishop and protect the mutant child under Cable’s care. It is a strange dynamic, to have Wolverine criticizing the morality of Cyclops’ decicisions. On the other hand I’m really starting to dig the no-nonsense Cyclops-as-General of a Mutant Army role that the most-recent X-books have cast him in. He has, for me at least, always fallen under the Professor X’s lackey umbrella. To see him coming into his own as a powerful and confidant figure in the mutant world has been a fun and interesting experience. I don’t know if that is enough to keep me coming back to this series, but I’ll at least try and stick out the whole “Messiah War” business.
I also picked up Uncanny X-Men #507, a title that before Matt Fraction I had mostly ignored. I find myself enjoying his arc thanks to his deft hand high-octane superheroics, Marvel Universe politics, and slice-of-life characterizations of our favorite mutants. Of course while reading this issue the storyline following the “science team” left me a bit confused as Angel was front and center, and absolutely not a roving (err…flying) death machine. No sooner had I asked myself “why is Angel, Angel and not Archangel” did he shed his skin, almost literally, and absolutely destroy the creature that menacing the entire team. It was a moment that was as entertaining because of the visceral action as it was because of Beast’s reaction to his friend’s revelations.
The issue was full of other goodies as well, like Cyclops’ outright admitting to the Mayor of San Franscisco that he is building an army (or at least doesn’t care if people think he is). The latest arc dealt heavily with Colossus dealing with the “death” (trapped inside a giant space bullet, yeah) of Kitty Pride, mostly through extreme violence. If you haven’t been reading this title than next issue will probably be a good place to jump on as it looks to be the start of a new arc. Also, this issue may have seen to the return of “the” X-Villain, how what may change things for the team will be fun to see as long as Fraction is at the helm.
Last but not least I should briefly mention X-Factor by saying it is awesome and that you should be reading it like right now. Peter David has been pleading with fans to keep the spoilers down for a few months now and I, for one, will be heading his advice. This is a very character driven book that tends to focus on smaller, more intinmate and everyday situations rather than huge action set-pieces (it has those too though). It is a remarkabley different x-book with a writer with a strong command for his characters’ individual voices and unique personality. I firmly believe that Mr. David could write these folks sitting at home doing nothing and make it great reading. De Landro, Yeung, and Cox (Pencils, Ink, and Color respectively) make a formidable team in the art department and manage to craft a book with a darker pallete that is not oppressive and somehow manages to suit action scenes (and Sentinels, purple and all) as well as heavy conversation in a darkened church. Fantastic stuff.