All-New Marvel NOW! soldiers on with a plethora of new titles this month, with more to come in March. Awhile back, ArcGunner and I discussed what series we were excited for, and both of us placed X-Force on the list. Focusing on a covert ops team comprised of mutants Psylocke, Cable, Marrow, and Fantomex, this series promises to explore the shadowy side of the Marvel Universe that often resides below the polished surface. Is this new series actually worth picking up?
The place of Mutants in the Marvel Universe has been tumultuous since the beginning. Cable, feeling the mutant community deserves its own covert ops force to protect its interests, forms a new X-Force team in X-Force #1. This new team of misfits and miscreants sets off to stop a new weapon that’s fallen into the hands of the Chinese government. What follows is a wild battle and a discussion about the place of mutants in the modern era.
The concept of X-Force is strongly rooted in the 90s. For those that don’t know, the 90s are colloquially known as the “Dark Age” of comics: creators made their characters over-the-top in terms of violence and “badassery,” leading to the creation of many wildly muscled males toting massive guns and insanely sexualized women with waists smaller than their wrists. Cable, leader of X-Force, is one such character, with his massive mechanical arm, eye patch, and arsenal of oversized artillery. Over the years, however, some talented writers, such as Rick Remender, have written strong, interesting X-Force teams. Sadly, this new installment does not fall into that category.
X-Force #1 is, honestly, a mess. Writer Simon Spurrier starts off with a great concept: nations have covert superhuman teams to defend their interests and eliminate threats, so why not mutants? Sadly, the writing in this issue is all over the place. From Marrow’s jarring narration, to Cable’s troubling curtness, to Psylocke’s speech pattern that tries to remind everyone that, yes, she’s British, there is just something off about the way the characters speak and interact. The pacing of this issue also doesn’t help the situation, as scenes of wild action jump back and forth with quiet moments of characters speaking in front of television screens. Fantomex’s banter is the only redeeming quality of the writing, but even that isn’t enough to salvage the problems.
Meanwhile, Rock-He Kim’s artwork is interesting at best, downright overdone at worst. The linework, especially in the slower scenes, is distracting and overdone to such a degree that looking at some characters actually hurts. Kim’s uniform designs, and clothing drawing in general, is also rather poor. Still, I think Kim’s style does shine in the action scenes, especially when Cable punches a Chinese Dragon Robot in the face and Marrow destroys an entire airplane on her own. I think Kim may grow into a book which promises to be mainly action in future issues, but I fear I may drop this title before every seeing that idea come to fruition.
Don’t buy X-Force #1. It’s not a terrible comic by any means, but with a $3.99 price tag, even with the free digital edition, it’s just not worth your funds. I’m sad to have to give such a negative review, since this series certainly has potential, but alas I can only judge an issue for its own merits. If covert superhero stories are your interest, you’d be better served picking up Secret Avengers or previous incarnations of X-Force. I think I’ll wait and see if future issues receive positive word-of-mouth before picking them up.
-action scenes look amazing
-Fantomex is hilarious
-most dialogue is awkward
-art looks muddled in calmer scenes, of which this comic has many
-interesting concept feels rushed and poorly executed
Brett Simon is a twenty-four year old comic enthusiast. His brother owns 5 bagged-and-boarded copies of the original X-Force #1.
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