By: Dennis Hopeless (Writer), Salvador Larocca (Artist), Frank D’Armata (Colorist), VC’s Joe Sabino (Letterer)
Review: Much like I did with X-Men Legacy a while back, I caught up with Cable and X-Force by inhaling issues #1-5 in one sitting. The effect was akin to turning up late to an ice-cream party to find that the only flavor left is Peanut Butter Crunch and you’ve got to chug 5 scoops immediately in order to catch up with everyone else. Oh, and you’re allergic to peanuts. And you’re lactose intolerant. Come to think of it, why the smeg did you agree to this ice-cream party in the first place? What the hell is an Ice Cream party!? A more pertinent question: why have I spent $19.95 of my hard-earned Earth Dollars on Cable and X-Force? Because I’m an idiot, that’s why; no dodging the bullet on that one.
But even pudgy little idiotic old me can recognize a dud plot when he sees one, and Cable and X-Force has been lumbered with a big’un. Without going too far into specifics, Cable’s team has been converted into a kind of militant branch of the FDA. Their most recent mission? To get to the bottom of a contaminated meat ring (not a euphemism). They infiltrated the plant at the source of the outbreak and cleaned up the food chain, though in doing so a few innocent labourers got killed. “I worked in that plant…I hefted bags of flour and sugar with those men,” Colossus laments to Domino. “Now they’re dead and we are sitting here, hiding from the consequences.” It’s unclear what consequences he’s referring to; that he and his compatriots are now fugitives, wanted for the deaths of average working Joes… or the fact that his career path’s gone from top-flight X-Man to hair-net-rocking food safety technician. It’s probably a bit of both.
Elsewhere the rest of the team are also keeping their heads down. Cable is – inexplicably – in two places at once. First he’s trading laser guns for motorbikes with the Sons of Anarchy in a bid to sneak South across the border into Mexico, then he drops in on Hope at her foster home for yet another “you can’t come with me” chat and then… he’s back on the road again. I think. It doesn’t really flow well together and I’m reasonably sure the bit in the middle with Hope is a flashback (albeit with captions missing). Colussus is, as mentioned, drowning his sorrows with Domino (which takes the two’s relationship in an unexpected direction) but easily the most entertaining partnership is that of Forge and Dr Nemesis. This pairing is actually pretty hilarious as the two bond over incessant trash talk, Robot Wars and retro video games: “What I’m trying to tell you,” brags the Doc to Forge “You braggadocious peg-legged tinkerer – is that I was born to play time nuggets.” These two could almost carry the book by themselves.
Plot-wise things are creeping along at a snail’s pace. There’s not much to spoil; everything spins in place for about 20 pages and then right at the end Cable asserts his intention to formally re-establish X-Force. Big woop. The book’s called Cable & X-Force so we kind had this nugget spoiled about 6 months before the first issue even hit the stands. There is a Colossus-based cliffhanger that might raise a couple eyebrows out there but really, I dare the title to make that development stick around for more than two issues. It’s really just one hearty does of yawnsville outside of the few laughs Dr Nemesis provides and there doesn’t appear to be much on the horizon worth looking forward to. I can’t say it’s the worst X-book on the stands – I don’t read Astonishing or X-Treme X-Men for one thing – but it can’t be far off.
The art team honestly seem about as I bored as I am with the script. There’s nothing wrong with it per se – Larocca’s a pro and to my mind he has a pleasing signature style – but there’s precious few moments where he gets to put his skills to good use. There’s a lot of talking in rooms and quite a rigid panel structure in place; when you add D’Armata’s subdued colour palette of beiges and greys into the mix? It’s almost instantly forgettable. Even the inclusion of a Mecha-Ape smashing a giant Scorpion gets lost in the ennui. You know that’s a signal of bad times.
Conclusion: There is no accounting for taste. I know this because so far the Twilight films have grossed more than $2 billion dollars, Justin Beiber sells out arena tours the world over, and Cable and X-Force #5 is fifth on Marvel’s current list of Top Ten Digital Bestsellers. In a series where what little happened previously seemed irksomely pointless, this issue (where practically nothing happens at all) represents a new low. A few witty one liners from Dr Nemesis aside, this book is a scandalous waste of $3.99 and calls for deployment of the ultimate report card criticism: Must. Try. Harder.
Filed under: Marvel Comics, Reviews Tagged: | Cable, Cable and X-Force, Colossus, Dennis Hopless, Domino, Dr. Nemesis, FDA, Forge, Frank D'Armata, Hope, Marvel, Marvel Comics, Marvel Comics Reviews, Salvador Larocca, VC's Joe Sabino, X-Force