by Etienne Paul, CMRO Contributing Writer
Written by Sam Humphries, Art by Adrian Alphona
Published: August 2013
Marvel is clearly running out of titles for its X-books because this is the second X-Force ongoing title currently in print. While I understand the links to X-Force in both books, it must be extremely confusing for casual readers because there is absolutely no links between the books. This is not a title for new readers, as the entire storyline revolves around understanding Betsy’s convoluted and contorted back-story. I have to hold my hands up and admit I was reaching for Google at some points because, despite reading a lot of X-stories in the last decade, clearly I haven’t read enough of them. Without going into the detail, because I simply don’t have a day, suffice to say that Psylocke and Spiral really don’t get along and she has interesting tastes in ex-boyfriends.
While I am on the subject of Betsy’s ex-partners, it cannot just be me, but does anyone else find the fact that a male and female clone of each other are that intimate with, for want of a better phrase, themself, just a tiny bit off putting? It has been bad enough in the past when there were some pretty ambiguous goings on between Magneto’s children, but this is downright creepy. For those that aren’t quite up to speed with 20+ X-Comics each month, I’m referring to Fantomex and Cluster, formally 2 of the three minds inside the original Fantomex, who decided that after you have been with Psylocke, the only way to top that, is with yourself.
This series has made the interesting choice of having two sets of artists and colourists for some issues and it’s left me feeling a bit like Fantomex, in two minds about it. It is really important for there to be a clear divide between the times in the real world, and the times Psylocke dives into other peoples’ minds. Seeing as the last two comics have been split in half in this respect, it makes sense for a separate art team to handle the psychic scenes so you know what’s real and what’s not. The problem is, I really don’t like the art of the dream sequences; it is not badly drawn, it’s just inconsistent from panel to panel, and the colouring is washed out. This is most likely entirely intentional to differentiate the two sequences, but it feels unnecessary. You could have kept the same artist, but changed the colour palette, or vice versa, but having both makes it feel like you are reading two comics that happened to get bound together accidentally.
This story cuts between Psylocke’s psychic communication with Logan and the retelling of what happened between Psylocke and Spiral, so it isn’t quite a continuation from the ending of issue five, it’s more of a filler issue. To be honest the entire series so far seems to be filler. Ignoring the convoluted history, the current story is extremely simple. Psylocke annoys Headmaster Logan; gets sent off to pick up Spiral who has been drugging people; picks up Puck and Storm along the way; beats up on Spiral; rescues young mutant, Ginny; get beaten up by twisted Bishop; Ginny disappears; and a side story of Fantomex on Fantomex love. If this was a 60’s comic all of this would have happened in the first ten pages of a single issue. While I appreciate the modern comic style of showing you the story, rather than explaining it with text boxes, this series is starting to make the first arc of ultimate Spider-man look rushed. With the amount of build up they are showing in these issues, I really hope that the following six issues do the climax justice.
This comic has a few oddities; EG – Logan repeatedly going on about how he’s only a headmaster and not into the slicin’ anymore, but he’s also in his own title named ‘Savage Wolverine’; it really leaves a big disconnect, even if it turns out the other title is a flashback. However, the art in the main story is extremely good; the interplay between the members of X-Force is great and Puck is about as entertaining as a comic relief character can be without being full on parody. This issue is not the best in the series so far, but it is at least half not filler and the storyline is definitely interesting enough to keep this on my reading list till the end of this arc.