Thursday, March 19, 2009

REVIEW :: Loving X-Force: No Shame In My Game

A few months ago, I wrote (in the pages of the newspaper I edit, Creative Loafing) that X-Force was one of my favorite comic books of 2008. Shortly thereafter, a blogger at made fun of my pick.

I guess I’m not supposed to like a comic like X-Force. But I do. And I’m proud of it.

And, really, what’s not to like? I mean, if you like comics starring spandex-clad heroes, that is, there’s a lot to like.

The comic features an interesting mix of heroes from the X-corner of the Marvel Universe (guys and gals like Warpath, X-23, and Archangel, among others) and shows them doing what readers have wished the X-Men would do for decades: putting down the bad guys permanently. Honestly, how many times can the world’s most popular mutant heroes get impaled, poisoned and shot before they say enough is enough?

And while the heroes are interesting, X-Force’s villains are even more enthralling. Since the first issue, writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost have thrown a legion of classic bad guys at the team — from the Demon Bear (ala the old New Mutants series) to Bastion to the Purifiers, Magus and even Cameron Hodge. I come from the school of comic reading that says a hero is only good as the villains he/she faces … which makes the X-Force crew pretty freakin’ good at what they do.

Now, those great qualities aside, is X-Force a perfect comic book? Of course not.

One of my biggest gripes with the book is the use of the character Wolfsbane. The shape-shifting hero from the old New Mutants series has always possessed a ton of potential, but in X-Force she seems to be the resident punching bag. And in the latest issue she’s been reunited with her old-time lover from Asgard. I thought I was reading a high-octane action comic, not Young Heroes in Love.

One other complaint: If you’re gonna be a black-ops team of heroes willing to murder your enemies, then don’t whine about it. I’m sure it’s difficult to create stories about people who have little regard for human/mutant life (at least when it comes to their foes), but I’d like to see everyone involved with the book just be courageous and wholeheartedly take a bloodthirsty walk on the wild side.

Still, despite these gripes, I really dig X-Force.

So there.

Carlton Hargro is Editor-In-Chief of Creative Loafing. You can read more of his writing at their website.


Ostrakos said...

While I haven't read a single issue of the new X-Force, just looking at the covers and reading the solicits makes me think this book epitomizes EVERYTHING that was wrong with the X-books in the 90s. Granted I read those books, but I was also a teenager then. Noting that the team fights villains-90s villains, mind you!-like Bastion and Cameron Hodge does absolutely nothing to make me think the book is any different from what I'd expect, and I plan to stay far away. In general, I feel like Marvel is trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator with a lot of its books these days, which is why I've pretty much given up on them.

Andy Mansell said...

Carlton-- your insights and opinions on super heroes are great. We hope you consider joining us for one of the Heroes Discussion Groups. They are a lot of fun!!!