Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: Uncanny X-Force: Final Execution Book 1

The sixth and penultimate volume collecting writer Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force rockets towards its conclusion here, the awkward title indicating that this is indeed the first half of the climactic act of the series.

The team begins to break up, with Betsy having satisfied her sexual curiosity about Fantomex and deciding to quit, and Fantomex following immediately in her foot steps because, it seems, he was mostly hanging around for Besty, anyway.

That leaves just Wolverine, the Nightcrawler who emigrated from the "Age of Apocalypse" setting and Deadpool, who is, in the book's first issue (drawn by Mike McKone) infiltrating a high-end super-weapons dealer. Before long, the three find themselves locked in combat with "The Omega Clan," an Omega Red, an Omega...Black (?) and an Omega...Blue (?), each programmed with memories of X-Force killing their families, for extra motivation.

They are just a couple of the villains in what turns out to be a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, lead by Wolverine's son Daken, Sabertooth and Mystique, and consisting of villains from throughout the book's run up until this point: The Shadow King, The Blob from Earth-AoA, The Skinless Man and now The Omega Clan. They kidnap Evan/Genesis, the clone of the Apocalypse child Fantomex killed at the end of the first story arc of the series (and who Jason Aaron used as a fairly important member of the ensemble cast of Wolverine and The X-Men), and then they proceed to cut out Fantomex's heart, totally killing him—which makes his sentient UFO friend EVA mutate into humanoid form, so the team is down a member but still has the same number of members. Then the BOEM blow up the UXF's secret HQ, Cavern-X.

Is this the end of our heroes...?

No.

They escape in a rather unusual manner, Psyclocke hijacking Gateway's body to send them all 30 years into a Julian Totino Tedesco-drawn future just before the explosion.

And what a future it is. Apparently, at some point in the near-ish future, Evan/Genesis did end up "ascending" and becoming Apocalypse, Wolverine gathered an army of an X-Force to defeat him, and the terrified world turned to X-Force for safety and order in the aftermath of the world. This futuristic world, complete with flying motorcycles, is now ruled with an iron fist by The Uncanny X-Force—Wolverine, Deadpool, "Magistrate Braddock,"  Frank Castle, Cable and Hope. Oh, and Ant-Man. Some of them even unironically wear Nazi uniforms, only with black armbands with an "X" on them rather than red armbands with swastikas, in case the fact that they've become fascists isn't apparent enough from the script.

Seeing only one way to prevent this terrible nightmare future, where X-Force's philosophy of preemptive striking has been taken to its extreme if logical conclusion (and, incidentally, Fantomex's experiment of nature vs. nurture with Evan has proven to be a failure, and it turns out that bad people really are just born bad), the young Psyclocke tries to take her own life, thus killing old Psylocke. This leads to a rather weird, reversed action sequence, in which the protagonist desperately tries to kill herself, while her enemies race to rescue her.

After two issues of this future, Old X-Force sends Young X-Force back to the present in a time machine operated by Nazi drag Hank Pym, but not before Old Frank Castle offers advice on people they should kill, and Old Wolverine whispers something of great import to Young Wolverine (something we're not privy to...yet).

In addition to McKone and Tedesco, Phil Noto contributes two issues' worth of art to this collection. The three have fairly different styles, but each section is pretty distinct from the other; McKone draws a section mostly set in a bright super-weapons shop, Noto draws the middle section in which The Brotherhood moves against X-Force and Evan/Genesis and Tedesco draws the section set in the future.

In this second-to-last book of Remender's run, he assembles a sort of villain team of greatest hits villains, sets them upon our heroes from all sides and has them racking up some pretty big wins (killing Fantomex and Gateway, taking Genesis from the Jean Grey School, destroying Ultimation and Cavern-X). He then sends our protagonists to a dystopian future for a last-minute gut-check, before they return in the seventh and final volume for the climax of the series.

Who will win? The good guys or the bad guys? (Or, in this series, I guess it's the Pragmatic-but-Haunted Guys Willing to do Bad for the Greater Good, or the bad guys?)

I can't wait to find out.

3 comments:

Scott Beattie said...

I skipped most of Uncanny X-Force, and, in spite of your mostly positive reviews, I have no desire to go back and read any of these. Even by X-Men standards, these things sound nuts.

Evan Dawson-Baglien said...

Has the way time travel works in the Marvel Universe changed? According to the official way it is done, if Psylocke kills herself it won't hurt Evil Future Psylocke, it will just create an alternate timeline where Evil Future Psylocke doesn't exist. The Evil Future Psylocke in this timeline will be fine.

Of course, the official way never made much sense anyway. How could Bishop have existed in the Age of Apocalypse timeline if that timeline's point of divergence is before the point in which he arrived in time? And why do people ever go back to change the past if doing so won't improve their universe in any way? It's also terrible from a dramatic standpoint, part of what makes the characters in "bad futures" so noble is that they sacrifice their entire universe to save the people of the past. The "creates a new time line" idea is Comic Book Death for a whole universe.

Caleb said...

Evan,

I...don't know. It seemed to work that way in some Marvel stories I read, and NOT work that way in others.

But as of right this second, it definitely works differently, as the conclusion of AGE OF ULTRON was that "time was broken," which meant rifts to alternate dimensions opened up here and there, sucking Angela from SPAWN into GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, sending Galactus to eat the Ultimate Universe and, I don't know, other stuff.