Clayton Crain’s artwork has its good days, and its bad days, and there’s no denying that “X-Force” #25 is undoubtedly the latter. As the final part of “Necrosha,” there’s a lot riding on this issue. When the results fall short, it’s disappointing. And for all the book’s flaws, it’s the artwork that lets it down in the end.
The problem is simply that things are too dark. It’s hard enough to identify which characters you’re looking at in some panels of this book, let alone discern what they’re actually doing. Clayton’s artwork has always been a little more disjointed from panel-to-panel than most, but when large chunks of story are further obscured by the murky colors, reading the issue becomes a chore — assuming it’s possible at all.
It would help, too, if the story’s ending made a huge amount of sense. As near as I can tell, X-Force are able to prevent Selene’s ascension because they have painted their faces in the tradition of Warpath’s ancestors. As far as a plot twist goes, it’s not particularly convincing — though, admittedly, it might work much better if the visuals were easier to decipher.
A more problematic matter is that Selene never really feels like a threat. Her goal to “become a god” is a nebulous one, while the armies of the undead that she commands never really do the sort of damage that such numbers should. And when the solution involves barely more than X-Force’s business-as-usual approach of knives and guns, it’s hard to feel like a satisfying conclusion has been reached.
The story isn’t a complete failure. The plot, thin though it is, does hang together coherently and there are some character moments that offer a satisfying emotional component to the conclusion, like Elixir and Wither’s final confrontation, for example. It’s just not enough to offset the story’s many failings.
“Necrosha” never felt like the crossover it was billed as, seeing that “New Mutants”/”X-Men Legacy” got scant mention throughout. It’s now pretty clear that it was really just an “X-Force” storyline with lofty ambitions that struggled to be realized in the execution. Ultimately, after months of build-up, it’s hard not to come away feeling. . . underwhelmed.