X-Force #13

Story by
Art by
Clayton Crain
Colors by
Clayton Crain
Letters by
Cory Petit
Cover by
Marvel Comics

Bastion has come back for the X-Men with a massive mad-on and that, of course, means lots of bloodshed. Luckily for X-readers, X-Force specializes in bloodshed. Led by Wolverine, the team composed of Domino, Warpath, X-23, Archangel, Wolfsbane, Vanisher, and Elixir fight the battles on the fringe, the ones where collateral damage is counted on.

This is the second part of the "Suicide Leper" story, but the cover also flies the banner as a "Prelude to War." Rather odd to make the second half of a two-parter an intro to another story, but I suppose all you really need to know going in is that this group doesn't hesitate to get their hands dirty and Cyclops gives them missions to do just that.

To me, that's where this whole thing goes horribly wrong. Wolverine struggled for years to make himself more than just a killing machine, and to have him lead this group and partake in the killing so readily just seems like a decades-backward leap for the character. But it sells comics. Yost and Kyle use Logan as their voicebox in this story, narrating through Logan's mind. An interesting choice, to be sure, but it allows for a jaded insight to the actions and reactions of this team. Yost and Kyle treat Logan with respect through his thoughts, but his overall actions just seem contrived and forced. This team would be more palatable as a strikeforce if Logan were not on it, I think, but Marvel has stood behind the theory that Wolverine sells comics.

Crain's work here is masterfully rendered and would make for a fabulous videogame or cinemanga book. The characters seem over-rendered and the scenery overly blood-spattered. Certainly this is Crain's intent, and he pulls it off masterfully, but to me, it seems like an overly calculated move. Visually, most of his figures are awesomely rendered. Crain makes Warpath an imposing figure and Vanisher the piece of crap Logan calls him out as, but his Wolverine leaves a lot to be desired as it looks more like Dark Claw than Wolverine.

The book is not for the squeamish, nor is it for the casual X-Fan. This is a hardcore book with lots of violence and bloodshed - which makes no sense to me as garbled characters are still used instead of swearing here -- featuring shadows of some favorite characters. The upcoming battle with Cable and Bishop might help sort this book out a little, or streamline, but for now, to me, this book was just chaos.

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