X-Force - Once In a Blue Moon
It is rare, in the world of comic books, to read something truly memorable, touching and with the feel of completion. For the longest time my biggest gripe with how the industry handles itself is that they never let the characters rest and be themselves, always walking torwards the next big event. This keeps them from growing, from being in meaningful stories and from being consistent.
This last number of X-Force, however, confirmed to me that it is possible to write powerful stories in comic books. This is exactly what any writer should strive for when storytelling, and I will discuss why I think so in the following review.
This last issue is, at it's core, about Psylocke, and the dead-end she finds herself into when facing the reality that she must kill Archangel, a presence that has overtaken her lovers body in the most cowardly way. Archangel lies about what Warren supposely feels about Betsy, he taunts Psylocke for her weakness and plays the part of an entity too busy doing the work of beings in the sky to care about humans. He is the exact example why Apocalypse is so dangerous: he is not human, he does not care, and he will not hesitate to warp someone's life if he believes that's his/her destiny. Warren paid the highest price for running into En Sabah Nur, and the comic shows us exactly what he could have had. Betsy indeed loves him, and she didn't act like other writers usually treat her, as hopping into someone else's bed just to create some "drama". If anything, this comic book convinced me that she really, deeply, loves Warren, something that he showed us when going after Crimson Dawn to save her life. If anything else, this was Betsy's proof of love.
In the end of a surprising run, at it's core Uncanny X-Force was about it's characters, and mainly Betsy and Warren (a couple that went through a world of pain ever since they started, and who was throughly mishandled by writers along the years). I am glad that in between the action, the surprises and a team of fan-favorites like Wolverine and Deadpool, a true story was told about characters who needed the most. A trend in comics these days seem to be over-exposing their cash cows (again, Wolverine, Spiderman, Deadpool, etc...) to inumerous stories and arcs (senseless or not), rebooting them here and there, but this time they picked characters who needed their story told. And the result is incredible. So impressed I was with this that I would be willing to read a whole X-Force arc built around Dethlok's history, even if I despise that character wholeheartedly.
On the sidelines, I was very impressed with how the supporting cast got their attention. I was never a fan of Sunfire, but damn he has some cool moments, as AoA Bobby Drake, Dark Beast... Almost all characters have something to do, and show, and if this serves as a lesson to anyone who writes in the business these days, sometimes SIDELINING Wolverine can be very beneficial to the story, and the characters. Not everything is better with more Logan, you know?
This is the conclusion of the arc, but as much as the Archangel/Psylocke story was closed (sort of), we probably haven't seen the last of Clan Akkaba and it's nefarious plots. More than that, and it just goes to show how competent the writer really is, for all the loose ends and possibilities left in the arc, we are left with a sense of satisfaction that is rare to find in comic books these days. How many times have you finished reading an arc and sighed happily "This is exactly what I signed up for!"? To me these moments are rarer and rarer, and Uncanny X-Force was perfect in that regard. My initial motivation to pick it up was Betsy and Warren, so it's no surprise to me that at the end of this issue I was very content, but thinking as a fan, we now have a very new, fresh character in the scene (no spoilers), a cast of AoA characters that are still alive, a roster of villains that survived and apparently left with something to look forward to...
The arc ends, but the story lives on. I cannot stress this enough: this should be studied by writers/everyone in the industry.
Very good, very gritty, it blends well with the story being told. It doesnt make you wonder why certain characters are being drawn the way they are, or why it's so cheery when the mood is certainly pretty dark. All in all, incredible and pretty much as elite as you'll get in comics. There is a very specific moment with Warren and Betsy in which the artist's ability truly shines, and even with the smallest panels we are able to see just how emotionally powerful they really are. An excelent artist thrives in these moments, and I believe this one here nailed it perfectly.
Buy it. Talk about it. Even if future writers come to ruin Psylocke's character development, set her up with Fantomex, or ignore any changes at all made by this arc, still, this is what all comic book fans who were tired of reading "Wolverine vs Dracula" or "Wolverine/Spiderman" or "Wolverine/Wolverine again" were waiting for. A true, compelling story about the characters involved. Comic-bookish, but still powerful and meaningful. Every once in a blue moon we get to see something like this, and I believe that if we make enough noise, we might see more of it someday! (Sooner than later would be all the better, though).