The mutants’ very own CIA continue their exploits in X-Force #6, stopping an attempted…Santa assassination? OR DO THEY.
Joe Caramagna (Letterer), Edgar Delgado (Cover), Guru-eFX (Colors) Tom Muller (Design), Benjamin Percy (Writer), Stephen Segovia (Art), Dustin Weaver (Cover)
January 29, 2020
Look at that cover! It’s beautiful. Reminds me of some of the more classic X-Men covers of days past. Extremely well done work by Weaver and Delgado.
I’ve been remarking, as I’ve gone over this arc, that after some initial concerns and stumbles X-Force as a whole has really grown on me. It’s not perfect, but it’s fun, it’s taking pains to consider the consequences of its actions, and it’s continuing to escalate Krakoa’s international politics as a nation and its ensnarement in the dirtier actions world powers are so often known for. That continues here, as the team is deployed to the fictional country of Terra Verde after a treaty signing gone wrong.
The overall course of the issue is narrated by Beast, as he touts himself and his own brilliance, comparing himself to the conductor of a symphony. It’s a delightfully insufferable bit of character work, designed to make you roll your eyes, but with a pitch-perfect (see what I did there) payoff at the end. I take only one issue with it, and that’s his apparent disregard for the work of drummers, dismissing their contribution as “mindlessly beating drums and crashing cymbals.” Mr. Percy, I and my quarter-of-a-school-year’s training in snare drum would like to have a word with you. Jokes aside, I like Beast in this issue–I mean, he’s terrible, but it’s a kind of terrible that tracks, given where he’s been and what he’s done. He’s a far cry from the Beast many of us would consider “classic,” but he’s arrived to that point organically, and I’m curious as to whether he’ll ever find his way back.
I’m still not a fan of the way Percy writes Black Tom Cassidy; he paints him as a bit of a fool, and it’s not really consistent with his history as a character. Then again, that history has him as generally cruel and antagonistic, so when he’s on the side of the angels, perhaps new ground needs to be forged. Still, he’s always generally read to me as more…clever than he’s shown to be here, and I suppose I’d like to see a little more of that.
Stephen Segovia steps in to handle art duties for this issue, and while it’s a noticeable change, his style is in sync enough with regular artist Joshua Cassara’s that it’s not a discordant note so much as it is something to appreciate. His paneling is creative, and he gives a couple of characters moments to really shine–there’s an impressive double-page spread for Wolverine, and several fantastic panels of Marvel Girl (above). I particularly appreciated that he managed to draw her from below without resorting to an upskirt shot—what could be cheap is instead powerful.
He does fail a bit in the crowd scenes, but I’m not sure how much of that is his choices versus predetermined things in the script; there’s a later exchange that occurs on review of said scene that I would’ve liked to see hidden in the background as the events were unfolding. Still, that’s a minor nitpick. His work on supporting characters has a few great moments too; the “Santa” I referred to above is the President of Terra Verde, Manuel Cocom. He’s an older man, white-haired and with a full beard. He’s also fat, and that’s depicted plainly and without any kind of mockery; there are several panels in which he is shirtless, having his wounds dressed after an attack, and his physique is on full display. It’s good to see.
One of the data pages is some basic setup for the issue’s plot, but the second is a real gem; it’s written from the same kind of mysterious, omniscient viewpoint of other data pages in the series so far (seriously, who is writing these?), but it focuses on Xavier. Specifically, it focuses on his hopes that an event just like his assassination would occur, and provide exactly the tool he needed to turn mutants from “spoiled children” (his words) to zealously fervent defenders of the Krakoan ideal. It’s a chilling mode of thought to read about, and it really tracks with the kind of secretive, manipulative Xavier we’ve known in the past; he’s ultimately benevolent, focused on saving mutant lives, but he can play damned dirty in the pursuit of that goal when he wants to.
Next issue begins a new Domino-focused arc, so I don’t expect the cliffhangers of this one to be followed up on immediately, but I have to say, it’s just really, really nice to read a good one-off between arcs. I liked this a lot, both for the seeds it’s planting and for the character work done. The creative team in X-Force #6 is really…playing a great tune.