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X-Force #3

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2008
By: Bryant Frattalone

Craig Kyle, Christopher Yost
Clayton Crain
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: X-Force #3 arrives in stores tomorrow, April 23.

Plot: The dead rise to kill what's left of mutant-kind.

Commentary: I don't think things have ever been so dark or desperate for the children of the atom. That's when the X-Men work best; when they are desperate. Cyclops with this new X-Force team is going beyond what Xavier would ever do to protect the mutant race, which doesn't exclude wholesale slaughter of their enemies. Now before the kinder, gentler reader starts ranting in outrage that heroes wouldn't behave in such a fashion, let's remind everyone that mutants are but a hair's breadth from being extinct. It's kill or be killed now. Kyle and Yost continue to crank up the death and danger quotient by using Bastion and the Purifiers to resurrect some of the most infamous mutant killers in X-History. The depths to which they go to achieve their goals are indeed sinister and despicable. The villains' temperament and motivation have to be that much worse than our heroes' in order for them to still seem heroic. The writers succeed in this regard although one particular resurrection and the ultimate means to reanimating these figures of X-Men epics gone by are both less than satisfactory. I was hoping when I saw the grave marker with "Creed" etched upon it that Marvel was going to right a grievously bad story wrong from Jeph Loeb's terrible run on Wolverine just a few painfully remembered months ago, but, alas, it is not to be. That's okay because with what ultimately turns out happening to this particular Creed corpse it wouldn’t have been satisfying anyway.

The techno-organic virus angle and the use of it have been done to death in the X-books, and it's simply used as means to an end here. Kyle and Yost will have to do some fancy meta-physics in the next few issues to get me to believe that Bastion's resurrection and mining of these particular individuals skills can work and avoid becoming just more techo-organic zombies and canon-fodder. Matthew Risman and Reverend Craig's subterfuge in regards to Rahne adds a depth of character to them beyond the mindless acolytes fulfilling their predecessor's dream. Risman now has his own agenda, although I doubt he'll survive to see it realized. We have the cold efficiency and super-intelligence of the machine in Bastion and the fanatical hate of the religious zealot at play here. X-Force continues to execute their mission with surgical precision with lighting strikes and covert rescues. Get in, get bloody and get out is their moto. We get some inner monologue from Warpath regarding his mounting rage at each new step the Purifiers take. I hope Kyle and Yost re-visit the idea of Wolverine as aged warrior instructing and taming the new young berserker who is James Proudstar. Logan has been down James' road many times, and it's only natural that he'd have words of wisdom for Proudstar. It'd be cool if Logan started off one of those conversations with, "Call me James, it was my name too."

Clayton Crain’s art continues to fit the bill here, and he seems to have toned down some of the grossly exaggerated anatomy he provided in the first two issues. Yes, give us stylistic renderings of these characters but keep them somewhat grounded in reality. The bulging chests and monolithic shoulders thing is just too much. He has a great grasp of the villains because his style adds an additional horror element to the horrible things that they do. He doesn't do as well with the secondary, stationary characters like Warren/Angel. He's just standing around talking in this book and just looks like some average guy with wings. Give us some cool visuals on even this non-player please.

Final Word: A solid third act for the X-Force, but the creative team needs to be careful in their next steps with all the old characters they've introduced that are new again.







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