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the other comic I read today

Remender's Uncanny X-Force continues to make me write hundreds of words about it, mostly variations of I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON. Also, I take back what I said about Remender being pants at plotting time travel; I think he's just pants at plot. And also exposition.

Uncanny X-Force #8-12 – Remender, Tan
This batch was a bit of a hodge-podge. #8 and #10 deal with an attack by the Shadow King and its aftermath: the Shadow King breaks Archangel free of the cage Psylocke put him in, so Archangel is now free to roam around in Warren's mind. That can't bode well, which is basically the entire theme of these issues. Also there was some public relations difficulties. Eh.

#9 was filler in every sense, as Wolverine takes a mission of revenger for Erik. I liked that it was a quieter issue, with a lot of landscapes and set pieces and not a lot of dialogue, but OTOH the point of the story was Wolverine killing a repentent SS officer because Erik asked him to, which I found less than compelling. The events have zero impact on anything else happening in the book.

#11 and 12 begin the Dark Angel arc, in which we discover that Archangel is running amok in Warren's mind, and we set off to find some way to cure him, which leads us to Dark Beast, who takes us to the Age of Apocalypse (I thought that was rhetoric for an actual age, an era, but apparently it's a dimension), where we meet a bunch of alternate version of people we know and fail to get what we came for.

The conclusion I am coming to is that even more so than other books, Uncanny X-Force - or at least this incarnation of it - is written directly and almost solely to die-hard continuity geeks. Frequently we are visually introduced to important plot elements whole pages – sometimes whole issues - before they're explained verbally. More than once I've learned some key aspect of an issue by reading the summary in the next issue. And they draw on so many different concepts, so few of which I'm familiar with. In these first twelve issues, I've run into (and often had to look up) the following:
· the Shadow King
· Archangel (who is apparently a horsemen of Apocalypse, but not one of the four of? we're playing very fast and loose indeed with the mythology we're supposedly drawing from)
· Deathloks
· omni-time (which, I still don't know what that is)
· the World
· Dark Beast (whom I assumed for a long time was our Beast, although I wasn't clear why he was imprisoned and apparently a bad guy)
· the Akkaba group and its four horsemen
· the Age of Apocalypse
· a death seed and a life seed of Apocalypse (which may actually have been introduced in these very issues, but so little is explained that I have to assume not)
· celestials

And other than the Age of Apocalypse event that I've vaguely heard of, I don't even know where I'd go to get background on these things. Every single plot element – except maybe Fantomex's floating kid!Apocalypse in its tank – is brought in from somewhere else with little to no explanation.

And even once the elements are here, the exposition is poor, which I think is due partly to another problem: Remender is terrible at worldbuilding. Like, Warren has a death seed of Apocalypse which is/came with Archangel, and we go to the Apocalypse dimension to get a life seed, and there's some blather about how a death seed and a life seed cancel each other, which is why it's helpful to us, but... WHY. What even does it mean to have a seed that's death? What do we mean by 'seed'? Why do we call it a seed instead of, say, a bomb or a embryo or any other metaphor? Do both seeds of death and seeds of life grow things? Does every dead Apocalypse (because apparently he's a villain that inevitably springs up again, like a mushroom) produce a death seed?

And in addition to the why, there's the HOW. There's some mumbling about celestials (I should probably look those up), that they want all dimensions to end up as nasty as the Age of Apocalypse (although apparently its worst nastiness is due not to Apocalypse, who is dead in that dimension, but to some other faction so far unnamed that has sentinels). I don't know why they would want this, though. More to the point, I don't see how they can enact these plans. What is a death seed, exactly? What's it made of? How does it work? On what power does it function? WHO KNOWS.

Even the X-men have an explanation of sorts for what they are, the all-powerful M-word. As pseudoscience goes, it's pretty pseudo, but we're still pretending it makes sense. Remender isn't even pretending here. There is nothing to hold onto. I'd like to suspend my disbelief, but there is nothing to tie it to.

The thing is, without the gorgeous Ribic art to motivate me, I'm uninterested in doing the work to figure any of this out, supposing there's anything to figure out. Possibly all that excitement I had was a fluke, inspired by good art.

(Speaking of, we meet alt!Jean in this, which is the first time I've ever seen any version of Jean alive except for a cameo of ANX!Jean in Wolverine & the X-Men, and dear heavens, is that her costume in all dimensions? Is it made of paint? That is the single worst heroine costume I have ever seen. And the cover of issue #13 has her in it, choking on the ground while alt!Wolverine grips her by the neck. *HISSSSS*)

All that, and Fantomex is being an ass to Betsy about Warren and badgering her to leave him and be with Fantomex on the basis of 'chemistry.' I'd say the chemistry was all in Fantomex's head, based on everything we've seen of their previous interaction, except his slimy speech ends with Betsy and Fantomex kissing, apparently consensually, so who even knows. *throws up hands*

I'll grant you this: this book gives me plenty of feelings. Grumpy ones, mostly.

Pithy conclusion: Uncanny X-Force - or at least this incarnation of it - is written directly and almost solely to die-hard continuity geeks. Don't read unless you know a whole lot more than X-men history than I do.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2013 09:13 am (UTC)
I haven't read any of the incarnation of X-Force you're talking about. I've been reading the Marvel Now one and finding that very confusing. I think Fantomex was a creation of Grant Morrison's over on Uncanny X-Men (a run that is a fan favourite but which I've avoided and will never read). I really can't stand the character.
Aug. 27th, 2013 04:09 pm (UTC)
I have to be honest with you, judging from the first two issues, I find the Marvel NOW incarnation considerably more comprehensible than the Remender version. Possibly that's because I haven't really gotten into the plot yet. The problem is that the new one keeps luring me with cover art - I really love Kris Anka's covers. And also I'm interested in Psylocke.

So what else are your regular monthly reads? Uncanny X-Men, I'm assuming, given previous conversations. Anything else?
Aug. 28th, 2013 09:51 am (UTC)
Oh, I like Psylocke fine. She's an interesting character. I just can't stand this Fantomex person.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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