Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Uncanny X-Force 14: Review and Spoilers

There are two reasons why I have thus far not reviewed any superhero comics. One is that I expect a lot of characters pushed on the public as superheroes. They may have shortcomings. They may face hard ethical dilemmas. They may not be perfect, but they have to be heroic. I have to not only find the stories entertaining, I have to admire the characters. The other is that I wanted to avoid turning this blog into a forum where people- myself included- behave like so many angry primates flinging complaints like so much excrement. Sadly, there may be some reason to be angry, or at least disappointed.

The X-Men haven't been anything like what I'd call heroic since Decimation. Furthermore, they hadn't faced what I would consider logical consequences for their unheroic actions, such as the formation of an assassination squad that has to debate among themselves whether or not it's acceptable to kill a child. But writer Rick Remender has accomplished the difficult task of bringing around what comes around while also making me care again about the characters. I could even almost admire Psylocke for the first time in years. Deadpool, whom I always found amusing though not heroic, I actually loved for the nerve and caustic wit he showed in pointing out that X-Force had brought their current spate of problems upon themselves- and upon the rest of the world.

Most moving is the child reassuring his very pregnant mother that everything will be all right, because Archangel and Holocaust are superheroes- just as Holocaust/Genocide incinerates them. I don't think Remender meant it that way. It's entirely possible that I'm overthinking this or reading too much into that brief scene, but it tragically illustrates the disconnect I see some fans make between actions and character. Even in the midst of the atrocities various X-Men characters have committed, some still brand them as heroes. It's refreshing to see that finally addressed in the X-books, as well as to see Archangel basically admit he's not a superhero.

The work of colorist Dean White is well worth noting for its appropriately moody range from dim, dingy gloom to fierce, ruthless vibrance. Artist Jerome Opeña could benefit from tightening up the pencils in some panels, but he demonstrates an excellent grasp of sequential storytelling, especially of how to draw a fight scene. Most importantly, however, is the story itself, and Remender's writing may well put an X-book on my regular pull list again if he keeps up the good work.

The preview of New Avengers: Fear Itself 16 proved a nice and hilarious bonus that addresses and piques curiosity about the following questions: Exactly what's Daredevil doing on the Avengers, how will he do, and how will his teammates deal with him?

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