Posted on Sunday, January 13, 2013
by Paul in x-axis
Podcast weekend! The podcast is just below this post, and has plenty of reviews. Go listen to it.
I’m still waiting for some of the books that I’m buying in physical form, so this is going to end up split over the course of the week. But let’s do the two recent relaunches now. (Actually, I’ve been toying with posting individual capsule reviews as separate posts anyway, rather than doing them all in a bunch on Sunday night. We’ll see about that.) Meantime…
Cable & X-Force #3 – This series got off to a rather slow start, but with this issue, it feels like it’s getting to the point. Thank heavens it had the accelerated shipping schedule for those first few issues.
Cable’s premonitions become rather more precise here. He’s expecting some sort of biological attack through a chain of fast food restaurants which kills humans but not mutants. This, apparently, is going to be an important tipping point in history which leads to, etc, etc, you know the drill.
That’s a storyline that has its own problems, depending on how relaxed you’re prepared to be about history. After all, some pretty bad things have happened in the past that were actually done by mutants, and they didn’t have the same impact – this issue even mentions Magneto’s attack on Manhattan at the end of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, which would surely have been a bigger deal. So you could query whether this is really a strong enough trigger to have the sort of consequence that the story demands of it. On the other hand, that way lies an endless inflation of threat; there’s something to be said for pulling back a bit even at the cost of strict logic.
The chain in question, Eat-More, is a glaringly obvious stand-in for Chick-fil-A, a chain which doesn’t exist in Britain, but which I gather has attracted some controversy in America by publicly aligning itself with social conservatives. Where the story gets slightly more clever is that Cable simply assumes that there’s no point just warning Eat-More because they’re obviously in on it. And while they are indeed anti-mutant bigots, it turns out that they’re not.
And all this raises rather more interesting possibilities for what we saw in issue #1; the natural reading of a scene like that is that Cable has a fiendishly clever scheme which will be explained in due course, but this issue points more in the direction of the heroes having actually committed a massive, massive cock-up. The threat is genuine and needs to be dealt with, but they’ve gone about it in entirely the wrong way and ended up causing all sorts of collateral damage which truly is their fault. I’m guessing that the angle here is going to be that Cable decides he has to take the flak for this himself rather than have the backlash affects mutants generally.
I like that idea; it’s a nice change from having the heroes be hyper-competent all the time. This version of X-Force are winging it and they’re not actually getting it right. For the first time, that’s piqued my interest.
X-Men Legacy #4 – Basically an issue of the X-Men trying and failing to subdue Legion (though they do get the two mutant twins he rescued in the previous issue, which looks as though it’ll come back to bite them in due course). It’s also the first issue of this book which actually feels to some extent like an X-Men story, though it’s not entirely clear whether that’s because they’ll be playing a regular part in the series, or simply because they’re being brought out as guest stars for the first arc.
Even so, it remains emphatically Legion’s solo title; the X-Men are written here as a bunch of thugs who need to chill out, with the arguable exception of Beast, who at least tries to be peacemaker. I can’t help thinking Spurrier overplays this a bit. Fair enough, the story is done from Legion’s point of view, and in that context the X-Men are the antagonists. But I’m not sure the story has really done enough to justify them acting quite so aggressively towards Legion as they do here. (Or David, rather – he expressly disavows the codename.)
The story seems to set up Blindfold as an opposite number for Legion; when she shows up in his own mind, she drops her normal speech patterns and talks normally, which seems a pretty clear suggestion that her problems are somehow helped by contact with him. Nobody else is using Blindfold right now, and I can see the logic in pairing up the two eccentrics. She’s a difficult character to write, though; she can easily become just a bundle of quirks without a personality underlying them all. It’s quite encouraging, then, that Spurrier is clearly creating a set-up where he can cut past all that.
I’m not sold on this issue – a lot of it is based around a take on the X-Men that doesn’t quite convince me. (And Spurrier still hasn’t figured out that David isn’t Scottish.) But there are interesting ideas in here too, and overall the series remains promising.