Spoilers for X-Force #2 –
Long story short: the mission is find the bastard who is turning mutants into weapons and caused the Alexandria innocent, a fictional event of terrorism. Everything seems to tie into this event – not just the rescued mutant turned weapon (now named Meme) but also Hope’s coma, and Marrow’s re-powering. A mutant member of Saudi intelligence is willing to give them information, in return for Cable and his team taking on an assassination job, or a “hit” as it’s known in the biz. The mark just happens to be the next in command above him, making him, by the end of the issue, the new commander of his division, and maybe even a future ally (one with more power now too). As it all goes down we learn that Meme’s body (held in a special storage system) is just a biological home for a wandering consciousness that prefers electronics, and she joins Cable’s cause as a helpful new member. We see that Cable’s telepathy and telekinetics are still burned out, and he has just enough pre-cognition to see a few seconds into the future. That doesn’t sound like much more than a fully loaded version of Spider-Sense, but it’s enough for this grizzled war veteran, especially as his new suit and head unit are revealed to have a psionic capabilities of a yet to be specified nature. There’s also a transporter. After the hit is done and they get the info, they now have a new mark.
Last time I promised you a description of what kind of X-Force series this new one would be. Here’s another answer to that question. Like he did with X-Men Legacy before it, Si Spurrier is using this X-Force book as a deconstruction. Over the course of its run, Legacy was an X-Men comic about X-Men comics. Through the eyes of Legion, we had an outsider’s view of the X-Men franchise. The components, the tropes, and the history of it were analyzed and commented on, a lantern hung on the basic assumptions to shine a light on them. Deconstruction can just offer commentary, giving you something to think about, or it can be used to take existing tropes to build something new, or take them in a different direction. Some deconstructions point out contradictions, while others highlight virtues. A common tactic is to introduce real world issues and problems, or to take one or a few aspects of something fantastic, and ground them in a reality to see how the rest plays out.
This issue’s narration is handled by Cable, who begins by communicating with Wolverine, Polaris, Mystique, Magneto, Cyclops, and Havok, all rulers of various mutant nations, as he sees them. As he updates them on the latest threat to mutantkind, he accuses them (both silently and occasionally out loud) of representing fractured clans of a broken tribe, too preoccupied with infighting to stake a claim in the world. He takes a stab at pre-fab statements, for example, but it’s not preachy, Spurrier even allows some of his targets to sting back. That’s another beauty of it, how self-awarely he uses these tropes, these tools of the comic book storytelling trade. The way the de-powered and re-powered Marrow is technically “not a mutant” for example, at least not in the spirit of the concept’s creation, is specific in its description of her status. Whether a trope is used or subverted, it’s pointed out. This writer shows you exactly what he’s doing. Nothing is taken for granted, and everything is spelled out, or at least will be in time. There’s a great formula of taking a label, inspecting it, and then throwing it away. Previous X-Force incarnations have been explicit in their mission to indulge in as much killing as possible, but without necessarily amping up the violence, this X-Force has still found a way to say “no more Mr. Nice guy.” This team, this Cable, he doesn’t care about Mr. Nice Guy, or whoever his opposite ism, unless they can help him with his mission. It’s not about defining “good” or “bad” or playing in the defining morals sandbox – playtime is over, there’s no good or bad, there’s only success, or . . . . .or nothing, really, there’s only success and what it takes to achieve it. This Cable is just relentless.
The blood smears are a great effect.
Given Spurrier’s penchant for quoting them, literally naming a character after memes comes as no surprise!
Fantomex gets all horny for anyone doing violence, I love it!
These are some of the best descriptions of powers I’ve ever seen. Cable’s, Marrow’s, and Dr. Nemesis’s are all artistically articulated.
Star Wars reference – once again, with the Disney merger, get used to that.
My rating: 4.95/5
Spurrier has done it again – made an X-Men comic that’s about X-Men comics, only now it’s X-Force, so instead of psychedelics and mindscapes and feelings it’s tactics and war and the future and the safety of mutantkind. This might just be the new best comic out there.
To hear more from the other x-pert, make sure to tune in to the All About X-Men Comics Podcast!