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New Comic Book Day March 25, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

What do you do when you can’t go out to a movie, hit the gym, watch sports, or hang out at a bar? That’s not a rhetorical question. Seriously, what do you do? It’s a wholly relevant question when you’re living through a global pandemic and happen to be in an area that’s on lock-down. As I write this, pretty much everything is closed except grocery stores, hospitals, and gas stations. It’s scary and more than a little frustrating.

Thankfully, Wednesday morning still brings a brief reprieve in the form of new comics. It’s one of the few things I can still look forward to, although that might not be the case for much longer. I’m already bracing myself for the idea that new comics might be delayed because of this crisis. For a lifelong comic fan, it’s an inconceivably terrifying thought.

For now, though, New Comic Day is proceeding as usual, thanks largely the wonderful folks at Comixology. Seriously, these guys are a big reason why comic fans like myself can still enjoy this weekly batch of awesome that so enriches our lives. I really hope things continue to operate on their end without a hitch. There’s only so long a guy can last without new comics.

As such, my pull list this week is a little bloated. Does this count as panic buying? Yeah, it probably does. No, I’m not going to apologize for it. When every day brings terrible news about a worsening crisis, I think that kind of buying is forgivable. Please keep that in mind as I share my list and my pick of the week.

Stay safe and wash your damn hands!


My Pull List

Action Comics #1021

Amazing Spider-Man #42

Batgirl #45

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #8

Batman/Superman #8

Detective Comics #1021

Giant-Size X-Men: Nightcrawler #1

Hellions #1

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #49

Rick and Morty #60

Star #3

Supergirl #40

Wolverine #2

Wonder Woman #754

X-Men #9

X-Men/Fantastic Four #3


My Pick of the Week

What does a fair, just, and functional society do with their most deviant citizens? It’s a very relevant question for the real world, as well as the world of superhero comics. Ever since the famed Golden Age of comics, that question has been largely overlooked. Most stories end with the heroes throwing the villains in jail, getting a pat on the back, and telling kids to eat their vegetables. It’s simple, comforting, and frustratingly inane.

Then, a book like “Hellions #1” comes along and decides to stop running from that question. On top of that, it even dares to have fun while trying to answer it. After all, comics should be fun. They can also answer profound questions about the endless pursuit of a better society. It just takes the right kind of story and that’s exactly what writer Zeb Wells and artist Stephen Segovia set up.

The world of mutants and the X-Men have faced massive upheavals since the events of “House of X/Powers of X.” With the founding of Krakoa, mutants aren’t just looking to survive the endless attacks of killer robots, hateful humans, and superhero civil wars. They’re looking to build their own society and establish their own culture. It has been an arduous process that has spanned many books. “Hellions #1” is now part of that effort.

Specifically, it addresses the inescapable question of what to do with the mutants who aren’t necessarily supervillans, but are as mentally unstable as Deadpool in a chimmichanga factory. Many have popped up in various parts of X-Men lore. Most casual fans won’t know who Wild Child, Empath, Scalphunter, Nanny, and Orphan Maker are. However, you don’t need to know who they are to follow the story. You just need to know they’re crazy, violent, chaotic, and they have mutant powers.

While it would be easier for the powers that be on Krakoa to just shut them out of their growing society, that wouldn’t fit with their ideals. They founded Krakoa to help all mutants and not just the ones who look good in yellow spandex. That includes the psychopaths.

Wells and Segovia put together a quirky, but entertaining ensemble of characters together. They feel less like a superhero team and more like a collection of irritable psychopaths who just need something to do to keep them from being too psychotic. Fittingly enough, Mr. Sinister is tasked with doing just that, complete with the blessing of Charles Xavier, Magneto, and the rest of Krakoa’s leadership.

On paper, it sounds like the kind of thing that can only end in unmitigated disaster. In practice, it’s still a messy disaster, but one that can be aimed properly. Under the watchful supervision of Havok and Psylocke, this new team of Hellions is tasked with channeling their psychotic tendencies for good. It’s one of those ideas that sounds so crazy that it has to work.

Wells and Segovia don’t just throw this new team into the nearest conflict involving killer robots or angry aliens. Like many other X-books since “House of X/Powers of X,” there’s a legitimate effort at world-building and depth. There’s motivation, purpose, and vision behind each decision. The fact that psychotic mutants often make for hilariously entertaining moments is just a nice bonus.

It’s an approach that feels distinctly different from what petty, unevolved humans do with their deviants. If the final page of “Hellions #1” is any indication, there will be ample opportunities to test that approach. It’s bound to be chaotic, messy, and mentally unhinged. That’s exactly what makes it so entertaining and my pick of the week.

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New Comic Book Day March 11, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

I’m going to sound old when I say this, but comic fan under the age of 22 has no idea how good they have it. I remember being a comic fan as a kid. There was no comic shop within walking distance of my house. The grocery store sometimes had comics, but the selection was limited. Even when I got a subscription, they rarely arrived on time in the mail.

Today, it’s never been easier to be a comic fan. Thanks to Comixology and tablet computers, you don’t even have to put pants on to enjoy new comic day. Kids will never know the agony of waiting for the mail to arrive and hoping that your books aren’t late. If it ever snowed, then you were really screwed and with dial up internet, you couldn’t even get spoilers.

Now, it’s all so seamless. You wake up on a Wednesday morning, you check the Comixology app, and you download your pull list. You can do it all before you brew your first cup of coffee. For younger fans, it’s mundane. For older fans like me, it’s nothing short of comic book nirvana.

That’s why I’m so grateful to have services like Comixology at my disposal. It makes every Wednesday morning a joyous immersion into the medium I love. Today is no exception. What follows is my pull list and my pick of the week. The fact that I can enjoy all this without putting on pants makes it all the more enjoyable.


My Pull List

Amazing Spider-Man #41

Avengers #32

Cable #1

Ghost Rider #6

Gwen Stacy #2

Immortal Hulk #32

James Bond #4

Nebula #2

Star Wars: Darth Vader #2

Wonder Woman #753

X-Men #8


My Pick of the Week

There are few constants in the real world and even fewer in the world of superhero comics. Sure, it’s a running joke that nobody stays dead, everything reverts to a certain status quo, and a sizable number of characters are going to be Batman rip-offs, but there are still core tenants that help keep a franchise anchored to its core. For X-Men comics, those tenants are many, but include a handful of important constants.

Jean Grey never stays dead.

Deadpool never shuts up.

Gambit’s accent will always be sexy.

Cable will always shoot things with big guns.

There are plenty of X-Men comics where these uncanny themes play out in any number of forms. “Cable #1” focuses on the ones that make Nathaniel “Dayspring” Summers the battle-hardened badass that X-Men fans have celebrated since the early 1990s. For a character with such an insane backstory, it’s not easy to keep things simple. Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto manage to do just that.

However, they don’t just focus on giving Cable something to shoot with his oversized guns, although that is a major part of the plot. “Cable #1” picks up in a strange place during Cables exceedingly bizarre story, but it builds on that story in a way that’s both overdue and engaging.

The Cable who has been running around the X-Men comic isn’t the same old, grizzled Cable that Josh Brolin brought to life so masterfully in “Deadpool 2.” Instead, we’ve got a younger, bolder, and more hormonal version of the character. Some call him Kid Cable. Others call him a cocky little shit who murdered his older self. Both are equally right.

Since he first showed up in “Extermination,” his place in the X-Men’s world has been somewhat tricky. Cable has never been a team player or one to stand with the X-Men and take orders with a smile. That’s just not his style and “Cable #1” doesn’t radically change that. More than anything else, it embraces the more youthful quirks of Kid Cable while highlighting the explosive action that he often brings.

The details are simple. Cable is just one of many mutant resident of Krakoa who just happens to part of the Summers family. There’s an issue involving a young mutant being chased by a monster. Cable decides to help and brings his favorite guns. It doesn’t need much beyond that to be entertaining, but Duggan and Noto add a few extra twists that help set the stage for the character’s next upheaval.

The basics of “Cable #1” make the story entertaining, but it’s the more personal moments that make it noteworthy. Kid Cable, or whatever you want to call him, is not the same brooding time traveler who sneers at everyone. He does smile. He even flirts a little with the mutants his age. He’s even humbled somewhat when Cyclops enters the room.

These aren’t new concepts for most characters, but they’re new for Cable. They effectively humanize him in a way we haven’t seen in quite some time. You might still think he’s a cocky little shit who isn’t nearly as awesome as his grizzled self, but he’s still Cable.

He can still shoot big guns, fight monsters, and save innocent mutants. He still has the same appeal he’s had since the heyday of Rob Liefeld. Now, “Cable #1” sets the character up for a new set of challenges. Being younger and less cantankerous, it creates new opportunities for a character who hasn’t had many that don’t involve shooting things and teaming up with Deadpool.

I may be in the minority when I say that Kid Cable is growing on me, but “Cable #1” shows that his appeal has a place in the X-Men’s uncanny world. He’ll always be the grumpy old badass from the future at heart. This just gives him a chance to do more and I’m glad he’s running with it.

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New Comic Book Day January 29, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

When you’ve had a bad day, chances are it started out bad and only got worse from there. Conversely, when you have a good day, it often starts off promising and hopeful. I say that because when you’re a comic book fan and it’s Wednesday morning, you’ve already got a running start with respect to making your day awesome.

You never know how a day is going to go. You might screw up in ways that leave lasting scars. You might meet the love of your life. However, when you know that day involves new comics and all the awesome that comes with that, you have a small amount of assurance about how that day is going to go.

That’s not to say every New Comic Day is great. I’ve had more than a few that have been lousy, but that had less to do with the comics and more to do with other factors outside my control. I don’t know what factors will influence my day today, but I’m already optimistic, knowing I can wake up to a fresh stack of digital comics, courtesy of Comixology.

What follow is my weekly pull list and my pick of the week. This week was more stacked than most. That often happens on the last Wednesday of the month. I certainly don’t mind. The bigger the stack, my chances of this day being awesome. I hope other fellow comic fans out there have a similar outlook.


My Pull List

Action Comics #1019

Avengers #30

Captain Marvel: The End #1

Deadpool: The End #1

Fallen Angels #6

Justice League #39

New Mutants #6

Go Go Power Rangers #28

Thor #2

X-Force #6

X-Men #5


My Pick of the Week

Some characters will never escape the shadow of another. Robin will always be defined by Batman. Lois Lane will always be defined by Superman. Wolverine will always be defined by whoever sells him beer and whiskey. It’s not impossible to escape from another character’s shadow, but it is exceedingly difficult, even in comics.

That’s what makes “Fallen Angels #6” such a remarkable accomplishment. It’s not just the final issue of an arc that spun directly out of the events of House of X/Powers of X. It completes a personal journey for a character who, up until very recently, had been inextricably tied to another.

For years, Psylocke was Elizabeth “Betsy” Braddock. Elizabeth’s story was Psylocke’s story. A big part of that story was her mind getting stuck in the body of Kwannon, a Japanese mutant with ties to secret organizations run by ninjas and crime families. It wasn’t until a few years ago during the Hunt for Wolverine story that Kwannon and Elizabeth were finally separated.

While Betsy’s story has continued in pages of Excalibur, Kwannon/Psylocke was in a strange position. She’s no longer tied to Elizabeth Braddock. For once, she can tell her own story, but is that even possible after being so closely tied to another character for years?

I admit I was skeptical, but “Fallen Angels #6” has convinced me. Kwannon can be her own character. She can also be Psylocke, too. Betsy has her own story now and Kwannon’s is worth telling too. Writer Bryan Hill redefined, redeveloped, and refocused Kwannon’s story in the span of six issues. He even managed to create new bonds with characters like Cable and X-23 along the way.

The events of “Fallen Angels #6” is the culmination of that ambitious process. Kwannon finally confronts Apoth, a being with a god complex who is also trying to define his story with Kwannon’s. It’s something she has every reason to avoid. Watching it play out is dramatic, action-packed, and beautiful.

It’s not just a satisfying ending to a story. It’s a turning point for a character who badly needed it. Moving forward, Psylocke is Kwannon and Kwannon’s story is worth telling. It’s also worth being my pick of the week. It has gods, ninjas, and explosions of all kinds. What more could you ask for?

 

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New Comic Book Day January 8, 2020: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week

Christmas may be over, but for fans of comic books, every Wednesday is Christmas. With every new week comes a new batch of comics and the world is a little more awesome because of it. In the past, I’ve singled out a single comic and tried to do a thorough review. However, in the interest of being more concise, I’ve decided to switch things up a bit.

From here on out, I’m going to use each New Comic Book Day to share my personal pull list. These are all comics I go out of my way to read the moment they’re available, usually through sites like Comixology. Sometimes, I’ll buy more if I have some spare change by the end of the day.

From that list, I’ll still single out a comic that I highly recommend. Please let me know if you like this new format or if you prefer I go back to the old one. Thanks and to all my fellow comic fans out there, I hope it’s the first of many awesome New Comic Days for 2020 and the decade to come.


My Pull List

Amazing Mary Jane #4

Batman #86

Excalibur #5

Ghost Spider #6

Magnificent Ms. Marvel #11

New Mutants #5

Star #1

X-Force #5

Supergirl #38


My Pick of the Week

X-Force #5

Some comics have broad appeal and multiple themes meant to appeal to as many people as possible. X-Force is not one of those comics. You don’t pick up an X-Force comic looking for big philosophical insights on the universe, the human condition, or what it means to be a hero. You go to an X-Force comic when you want to see gratuitous violence, pissed off mutants, and reasons as to why Wolverine drinks so much whiskey.

This comic has all of those things, including whiskey. The plot is simple. A group of well-armed mercenaries have invaded Krakoa. In the last issue, they managed to split Wolverine in half. In issues before that, the ones who hired them peeled off Domino’s skin to tap her powers. Even by X-Force standards, that’s still pretty brutal.

What makes X-Force #5 my pick this week is how Wolverine, Domino, and an emerging cast that includes Forge, Beast, and Jean Grey respond. They’ve been hit. They’ve been brutalized. They’ve been wounded and scarred in ways that no healing factor can treat. Now, they have a chance to take it out on the people responsible and they don’t hold back.

The results are bloody, violent, and compelling on multiple levels. Krakoa is supposed to be a place where mutants can finally enjoy some semblance of peace. Certain people in the world just can’t have that. Those people aren’t going to be reasoned with or convinced otherwise. That’s where X-Force comes in. It’s a dirty, ugly, unsanctioned aspect of making Krakoa work, but it’s necessary.

X-Force #5 reinforces that to an extreme. It also hints at where they’ll have to direct their gratuitous violence next. With the possible exception of having a weak stomach, there’s every reason to love what this book delivers.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: X-Force #4

There are some people in this world, as well as fictional worlds, who will never be content to let things progress for the better. No amount of mutual benefit, understanding, or sincerity will be enough. They’ll always seek to destroy anything that might change the world they know, even if it’s for the better. They won’t just complain about it on social media, either. They’ll resort to the worst kinds of violence.

These are the people that X-Force deal with. Throughout their history in the X-Men comics, they’ve dealt with the dirty stains of humanity that never wash out, no matter how hard you scrub. They’re the ones tasked with confronting these threats, be they human or mutant, with a level of gratuitous violence that you won’t see outside of “Game of Thrones” reruns.

The need for X-Force, as well as their violent tactics, is one again reaffirmed in “X-Force #4.” At a time when mutants have made genuine progress through Krakoa and a new geopolitical role in the world, they’re still subject to hatred, attacks, and atrocities.

In the first three issues of the series, writer Benjamin Percy demonstrated that, despite having their own nation in the form of a living island and the ability to resurrect dead mutants, they’re still vulnerable.

Charles Xavier got shot. Domino was captured and had half her skin ripped off. The fact that any of this can happen, given all the resources at the X-Men’s disposal, is wake-up call and a reminder as to why X-Force isn’t just necessary. It needs an overhaul.

That overhaul begins to unfold in “X-Force #4” and in the midst of another mysterious attack, no less. While this one didn’t end with anyone getting shot or flayed, it did hit Krakoa in the wallet, which can hurt as much as getting shot. The nature of the attack and who is behind it remains a mystery, but X-Force is put on the front lines.

However, this is not the same X-Force that that Rob Liefeld brought to live during the grunge-fueled heyday of the 1990s. They’re not operating completely in secret as some secret kill-squad that everyone is better off not knowing about. Instead, Percy sets them up to be Krakoa’s version of the CIA, complete with its own Seal Team 6.

It’s somewhat of a shift for what X-Force has historically been in the X-Men comics, but it fits perfectly with the current situation surrounding mutants and Krakoa. Mutants are no longer scattered, isolated, and running from killer robots at least once a week. They have their own nation, language, and emerging culture. Protecting it requires something more organized than a shadowy kill squad.

That means more assistance from those who have traditionally argued against the merits of secret kill squads, such as Beast and Jean Grey. However, after seeing Charles Xavier get shot in the head and Domino get tortured, they’ve become a bit more pragmatic in handling these kinds of threats.

The events of the first three issues caught them off-guard. They try to be much more proactive in “X-Force #4,” investigating the attacks and organizing a response. Naturally, Wolverine is part of that response since many of the threats X-Force deals with require significant stabbing. Now, armed with Krakoan weapons provided by Forge and Kid Omega’s attitude, they’re ready to be a new kind of X-Force.

It may not be the kind of profane, brooding, blood-soaked X-Force we’ve seen in the past, but it feels appropriate for the X-Men’s current situation. Jonathan Hickman set up a very different set of dynamics for the X-Men through “House of X/Powers of X.” Percy just creates a version of X-Force that fits within the context of these dynamics.

Having a team like this doesn’t just feel necessary after the events of the first three issues. It feels personal. These weren’t just angry protests or hate threads on Twitter. Someone managed to attack their home and shoot one of their most powerful figures in the head. However one might feel about X-Force’s violent tactics, there’s no denying that they’re as motivated as they ever were.

For a quality X-Force comic, it’s not enough to just have ample violence and an attitude ripped from mid-90s heavy metal music. There needs to be a greater context to the added violence, preferably one that complements the current status quo of the X-Men comics. With “X-Force #4,” Percy succeeds in creating that context and artist Joshua Cassara gives it the necessary grit.

The overall lineup for X-Force is still somewhat small, but it has plenty of room to grow. After what happens on the final page, it’ll have to for reasons that are as obvious as they are bloody. The threat X-Force has to kill is still somewhat vague. Only a few details have come out thus far, but the only detail that matters is that they can hit Krakoa where it hurts and they’re not inclined to be diplomatic about it.

X-Force has always billed itself as a superhero team that relies on less-than-heroic methods to get the job done. They’re not a team that wears flashy costumes and parades alongside other, more reputable heroes. They do what they do in the shadows and don’t mind incurring some extra bloodstains to do it.

X-Force #4” starts with something bloody, but ends with something bloodier. Given the nature of the emerging threats they face and the wounds they’ve already incurred, it promises to get even bloodier with future issues. It’s everything you want in an X-Force comic and then some.

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: Deadpool #1

Sometimes, the right job finds you before you find it. I would even argue that’s how most people find the right job. Only a select few of us are born with the natural talent and the right opportunities to do what we love. Unless your name is Tom Brady, Elon Musk, or Taylor Swift, you usually end up in a job you don’t expect, but still embrace.

Take that premise to an absurd, vulgar, and violent extreme, and you basically get the life of Deadpool in a nutshell. As a kid, I doubt Wade Wilson thought he would grow up to be a wise-cracking, fourth-wall-breaking, sharp-shooting mercenary who frequently teams up with time travelers played by Josh Brolin. Then again, is it really less absurd than wanting to be an astronaut?

Deadpool, for all his insane antics and violent tendencies, often finds himself in in unexpected roles, but they’re usually roles that makes the most of his talents. Writer Kelly Thompson and artist Chris Bachalo take that concept, run with it, and inject it with some fresh absurdity in “Deadpool #1” by making him King of the Monsters.

That’s not a ceremonial title, either. That’s a real, actual role in the Marvel Universe and Deadpool essentially stumbles ass-backwards into it. It’s every bit as crazy, fun, and entertaining as it sounds.

Deadpool comics aren’t known for high concepts, cerebral plots, or fanciful world-building. These are comics built on a foundation of gratuitous violence, dirty jokes, and concepts that even a paste-eating fifth-grader can understand. Thompson embraces that style perfectly in “Deadpool #1” and even finds time to work in a few colorful cameos.

The story doesn’t begin with Deadpool making it his lifelong mission to become the new King of the Monsters. He’s not the kind of guy who thinks that far ahead. He’s just another gun-toting mercenary celebrating his birthday with a mailman he kidnapped. Like I said, he tends not to think that far ahead.

He then lands a new mercenary gig that involves traveling to Staten Island to slay someone who goes by the completely unsubtle title, King of the Monsters. The gig pays well and up front so Deadpool isn’t inclined to ask too many questions. There is a more detailed lore about who the King of the Monsters is and why they’ve set up shop in Staten Island of all places, but none of that matters to Deadpool

What matters is that it puts him in a position to inflict a little rampant destruction on a hideous, Lovecraftian monster that is beautifully rendered by Bachalo’s art. It’s simple. It’s fun. It’s everything you want a quality Deadpool comic to be.

Deadpool #1” checks all those necessary boxes, but it doesn’t stop at the basics. Thompson throws in a few bonuses as well, including appearances from Elsa Bloodstone and Gwenpool. While Elsa’s appearance is a bit more pragmatic, being that she’s Marvel’s premier monster hunter, Gwenpool just adds a little extra entertainment value.

Plus, she brings a baby shark with her. Yes, this comic has a baby shark in it too.

What other comic besides a Deadpool comic would that both work and make perfect sense? I challenge anyone to find one.

Even with those cameos and the quirky details, “Deadpool #1” still has a coherent plot. Deadpool becoming King of the Monsters is just part of it. Even if he didn’t set out to achieve that title at first, it’s not something he just shrugs off. He now finds himself in this strange new role that comes with responsibilities, crowns, and minions. He’s going to try and have a little fun with it. That’s just how Deadpool approaches things.

It ensures his story rarely has a larger, over-arching theme. Deadpool is not the kind of character who can carry an epic, Lord of the Rings level quest on his own. He just doesn’t have the necessary attention span. He just takes random jobs, follows them to whatever messy outcome they inspire, and takes it from there. The fact it includes so much R-rated entertainment along the way is just a nice bonus.

Deadpool #1” doesn’t reinvent the character or how his comics are crafted. Thompson and Bachalo stick to the basics, but still find a way to mix in some extras. Some of those extras even lend themselves to bigger stories that promise even more absurdities, some of which will require more monsters and more explosions. It’s every bit as appealing as it sounds.

It even makes the case that Deadpool is uniquely qualified for his new role as King of the Monsters. While he’s not a monster and is hardly qualified to be king of anything not associated with a Bea Arthur fan club, he knows how to handle himself around monsters. He knows how to slay them and get along with them. Isn’t that a prerequisite for any king?

Being so immature and unbalanced, Deadpool is uniquely suited to his new title. He may still be a mercenary at heart, but he now finds himself in an unexpected role that fully complements some of his most eccentric traits. It’s a fertile foundation on which to build Deadpool’s story. With monsters, violence, and baby sharks, I’d say Deadpool’s new reign is off to a promising start.

With that, I say all hail the new King of the Monsters!

 

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Jack Fisher’s Weekly Quick Pick Comic: X-Force #1

Even the cleanest communities need a functioning sewer system. That’s something that even the most wide-eyed, Utopian-seeking idealists understand. Throughout the history of the X-Men comics, Professor Charles Xavier and his X-Men have had to learn this lesson on many occasions. While they don’t outright abandon the idealism at the heart of Charles Xavier’s dream, they understand that less ideal methods are necessary.

That’s where X-Force comes in. Whereas the X-Men are the public photogenic faces of their heroic exploits, X-Force is the secretive, less scrupulous team that fights the ugly battles that need fighting. They are, in essence, the sewer system of Charles Xavier’s dream. Where heroes and idealism fails, they step in.

It’s a tradition that has gone through many eras, dating back to the X-Men’s heyday in the early 1990s. The threats and the circumstances have changed, but the tactics don’t. Even though the X-Men and the entire mutant race are in the best position they’ve been in since the Clinton Administration, there’s still a need for X-Force.

Writer Benjamin Percy, along with an impressive cast of artists, establishes the extent of that need in “X-Force #1” and does so in an appropriately brutal fashion. Charles Xavier may have set up an ideal environment for mutants to thrive, but that environment is still vulnerable to major threats who don’t stop at throwing killer robots at them.

The nature of these threats are vague, as is often the case with X-Force, but their motivations are clear. The new order that Jonathan Hickman built in “House of X” and “Powers of X” has shaken up the geopolitics of the Marvel universe. Mutants are no longer a disorganized hodgepodge of scared mutants, costumed heroes, and Deadpool. They’re a sovereign nation with valuable resources.

While this has set mutants up to prosper like never before, it also makes them a much bigger target. Instead of hunting mutants in dark alleys, there’s an entire country full of them and not all of them have trained in the Danger Room. It doesn’t take long for a shadowy group of masked mutant-haters to take advantage of that.

Initially, it’s hard to know how serious this threat even is. There have been all sorts of shadowy organizations who wear funny masks and dream of slaughtering every last mutant with a smile.  A few have a notable place in the X-Men’s history. However, they’ve never had to face mutants that are this well-organized.

These aren’t just mutant struggling to survive anymore. They have a living island to protect them. They have standing in the international community and they didn’t even need to threaten the planet to get it this time. On top of that, they have powerful psychics, living weapons, and Emma Frost’s sex appeal on their side. How can anyone threaten them?

This is where “X-Force #1” really makes its mark. It doesn’t just set up a new threat for X-Force to combat. It shows that this threat is capable of hitting the X-Men where it hurts. Their elaborate defenses, their legions of powerful mutants, and their emerging place in the international community isn’t enough. They can still be attacked. They can still suffer casualties.

It’s a rude awakening, especially after everything Charles Xavier did to make Krakoa the ultimate haven. It’s also shocking at how successful this attack is. Even those who aren’t traditionally associated with X-Force, such as Jean Grey and Beast, see first-hand how devious their enemies can be.

It’s a harsh reminder that they’re still living in a world that isn’t swayed by their idealism. While some might have their attitudes tempered by diplomacy, life-saving drugs, and Wolverine’s claws, others won’t stop until they’re dancing atop a mountain of mutant corpses.

Those aren’t people that the X-Men can confront through heroic means. This is the kind of challenge that needs X-Force and their less-than-ideal tactics. The last page of “X-Force #1” makes that abundantly clear. The only question is how far are they willing to go in order to respond?

Through its many iterations, X-Force has always had a darker tone to go along with its darker themes. Percy captures that tone perfectly in “X-Force #1.” He crafts a story that isn’t entirely built around X-Force’s harsher tactics and the lines they’re willing to cross. More than anything else, the story reaffirms the need for X-Force.

It lays a foundation that includes characters who are no stranger to X-Force’s methods, such as Wolverine and Domino. It also sets the stage for other characters to play a role, like Jean Grey and Black Tom Cassidy. In other eras, these same characters would oppose the very existence of X-Force or actively fight against them. However, in this new emerging order with Krakoa, they cannot avoid it.

X-Force #1” has most the defining traits that X-Force comics have always had. What makes it stand out is how it builds those traits around a world in which mutants have never had it better. This is as close as they’ve ever gotten to fully realizing Charles Xavier’s dream, but X-Force is still necessary.

It’s a sobering reminder. You could even argue that it’s a necessary reminder. After what happened on the final page, nobody in X-Force is going to forget that anytime soon.

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