Last time I reviewed this comic — way back with issue #15 — I praised Clayton Crain for his “crazed” artwork. This issue’s a little murkier than that one, even darker than what has come before, with nearly every panel enveloped in blackness, but Crain is still the draw here. He’s the one who brings a kind of techno-gothic artistry to what is yet another story of dead heroes coming back to life as zombies.
You’d think we’d be fed up with those kinds of tales, after “Marvel Zombies” and “Blackest Night,” but “X-Force” doesn’t care how late it is to the superhero necro-debauchery. It embraces it, amplifies it, turning the mutant paradise one known as Genosha into “Necrosha,” a land of undead mutants.
Chris Yost zips through this issue pretty nicely, actually. He gives us snapshots of some of the larger battles, with one-panel Clayton Crain illustrations complete with captions of who is fighting whom. It’s a Night of the Living Secret Wars kind of thing, on fast-forward, as we race through the action to get to the machinations of evil. As we spend time with the Black Queen and her posse of goth minions.
The purpose here, apparently, is to show that Emma Frost isn’t the only ex-Hellfire Club Queen who has some bite to her bark. Selene, the Black Queen, is built up here as an immensely powerful force. As kind of a female mutant version of the guy Hank Azaria played in “Night at the Museum 2,” with a penchant for artifacts that will unleash Hell on Earth.
So she’s evil. And X-Force and company do their best to stop her.
I try to imagine how this story would work without the Clayton Crain art, and it’s just impossible. Even Steve Dillon, who provides the art for the Cable-and-Hope backup story, a capable artist if there ever was one, wouldn’t be able to give this “Necrosha” tale the demonic edge it needs. Crain was born to digitally paint this kind of story, a story full of twisted steel, circuitry, death, and sadistic smiles. This is his showcase, and he isn’t afraid to show us what he’s got.