Review: X-Force #11
I must be honest, I really struggled to follow and enjoy this title. Writer Simon Spurrier shares with John Hickman a very broad vision, and long form story telling. Spurrier’s variety of this takes the form of subversive tales that force us to critically assess the superheroic status-quo. Spurrier flexes this artistic muscle with finesse on his current X-Force run. Admittedly this won’t be a book for everyone, Spurrier’s writing rewards patience, and sometimes re-reading. It took me 3 retries to really “get” his take on the classic franchise X-Force which has always been a subversive and unorthodox offshoot of the x-men so this pairing fits perfectly. If you stick with it long enough you’ll stumble upon one or more “connecting” issues that really binds all of his previous plot points and character developments together beautifully. X-Force #11 was one of these issues.
The book begins, with the inner narrative of Hope Summers who is now living as a tele-present digital life form. Hope or “Meme” as she is now called, reflects upon the broken nature of her teammates. To recap: Marrow is recovering fro m the revelation of losing her child voluntarily to artificially restore her mutant powers. Cable has been cloning himself and sustaining his consciousness through progressively spotty memory uploads. Fantomex is suffering a flaw in his programming that is making him more and more sociopathic. And Psylocke is addicted to killing.
The team have been working for a while as of this issue, covertly and unilaterally eliminating threats to mutant kind, or the mutant “nation” as Cable understands it. This has been a seemingly apolitical rendition of the outfit, operating outside the sanction of any mutant faction. The team’s missions have been taking an increasing toll on the members. Each of the members broken personalities have been chaffing under the yolk of their successive mission tasks. Things come to a head in this issue, when Fantomex’s programming paradox (superiority complex) makes him snap and he attempt to murder the team to satisfy his impulse.
What I loved about this issue is that it highlights the brilliance of Cable’s foresight. This my be symptomatic of his precognitive flashes…a new wrinkle in his power set. Despite the chaotic happenstance (and brokeness) of his team, this incarnation of X-Force is a resilient roster well suited to the mission landscape Cable has set them upon. I love the fact the team serendipitously stumbled upon a mission that Cable had forgotten. A critical mission involving mass mutant surveillance. Cable’s wisdom in initially sending Domino on this mission is reinforced when they are reunited and her luck manipulating abilities is the deus ex machina that saves the team from Fantomex.
The themes of power, information, surveillance, and tribal warfare are delicious hooks for anyone that’s a geopolitical nerd like myself. The mutant question has taken on a new form with newer implications given the recent events of the Marvel U. Ironically these far-reaching themes are explored with a team operating in the dark. Spurrier continues to weave his magic, it may have taken some time to take effect but it got me. If by any chance you’ve given up on this title at some point like I have, I urge you to give it a second or third try. It may read better as part of a collection, but honestly this X-Force title is a dark horse worth watching. One my favorite stand out moments was one where Cable was contemplating the utility of the mass surveillance installation the team infiltrated…and Hope/Meme interjected trying to remind Cable of who he was, lest he become the enemy.
Rock-He Kim’s Art took some getting used to, but I’m really loving it more and more. His interpretation of Fantomex’s mental digital landscape and hope’s avatar were simply breathtaking and really shows his diversity as an artist. The art combined with the colours give many of the panels a real polished look a bit reminiscent of Adi Granov’s or Gabriele Dell’otto’s art, really refreshing work here.
Story: Simon Spurrier Art: Rock-He Kim
Story: 10 Art: 9 Overall 9.5 Recommendation: Buy